Monday, December 2, 2013

“No one’s going to horse-nap your dumb pink pony.” BSC Mystery #4: Kristy and the Missing Child (1992)

Before I begin, let me say that one day I hope to be employed by the National Centerfor Missing and Exploited Children. Therefore, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Last time I reread this book as an adult, I was sitting there thinking, “You know, if this was real life, they would have been more likely to find his remains…” and imagining the rest of the book as an episode of Bones. Charming, huh?

After a Krushers –Bashers practice game, Jake Kuhn walks home alone. He never makes it and is missing for about two days. Everyone is worried and the BSC organizes some search efforts. Eventually, thanks to his friend Matt, Jake is found in the basement of a house being built in a construction site. Kristy ends up a heroine.

Meanwhile, Mary Anne is failing home ec, but “invents” Jell-O Jigglers and somehow, that leads to her passing.

Interesting Tidbits

You know me. I like to start with the cover. Other than the fact that the boy in green is Matt (because he always looks the same and he’s on at least 3 covers) I have no idea who the kids are supposed to be. I’m pretty sure this is a scene from later in the book, so maybe I’ll get back to you.

The book starts with the first sitting job Kristy’s ever had with the Kuhn family. It would be funny if it weren’t so typically BSC. I can almost see a meeting about this book: “We want to have a kid go missing. What’s a family we haven’t exploited too much yet?”

Jake’s having a Ninja Turtle birthday party and he gets to be Donatello. That was always my favorite Turtle, too. (If I’d had themed birthday parties, my ninth birthday probably would have been a Turtle party.)

Even if she hates to sew and cook, I still can’t picture Mary Anne failing home ec. Classes like that tend to be based on effort and improvement, so as long as she was trying, I can’t picture the teacher failing her.

I’m not even going to try to guess how Claire lost her sneakers at Krushers’ practice.

Nannie made chocolate chip cookies and added extra chips. Bart, DM and Kristy are shocked that they’re so good. Really? More chocolate always equals better….

Mrs. Kuhn’s first name is Caroline, and Mr. Kuhn is Harry.

Mallory gets Adam to do what she wants by referring to him as “My dearest darling favorite triplet-with-a-name-beginning-with-A.” She has the brothers do a table setting race, which could be dangerous. (I’m picturing broken dishes and forks to eyes.)

Oooh, missing child = emergency BSC meeting! Although, this is one of the few times when there was actually an emergency leading to the meeting.

Kristy’s shocked that Mary Anne lost her temper over her sewing. Even meek people have tempers, Kristy. Better she throws a tantrum over a hem than over the bullcrap you pull sometimes….

Were there really kids on milk cartons in the 1990s? We always got plastic jugs of milk, so I don’t remember ever seeing a missing child on a milk carton.

Kristy’s mom drives a green station wagon. Sweet.

Mrs. Kuhn doesn’t think that the BSC emergency meeting is a helpful thing, and I have to agree. They just sat around and discussed how they couldn’t believe Jake was missing. Pointless.

I love how, despite the fact that the Kuhn family has barely been mentioned before this point, everyone in town is friends with them. Nannie and Ms. McGill are friends with Mrs. Kuhn, while Sharon’s known Mr. Kuhn since they were small.

Heh. Stacey, Patsy and Laurel are eating popcorn covered in various toppings. Stacey lets the girls pick their own toppings. Patsy just grabs a random container and ends up having popcorn with maple syrup. Doesn’t sound too terribly bad, but not only does Stacey tell Patsy her popcorn looks gross, she also says, “Ew—I mean, that might be good.” It’s actually good to see one of the babysitters not think everything their clients do is so adorable.

Patsy’s convinced she’s seen her dad’s distinctive car, but both Jake (at the beginning of the book) and Laurel kind of dismiss her thoughts as wishful thinking. What cracks me up about this is that Laurel keeps talking about Patsy as a little kid and acting like she’s so much more mature than Patsy is. As I established just recently, Laurel is six and Patsy is…five.

Real book: Stacey reads from The Indian in the Cupboard to the Kuhn girls.

Claudia made a sign for the search party and spelled three out of four words correctly. It’s got to be a record.

So I’ve reached the part where they’re searching around for Jake, and Kristy’s on a team with Stacey, Matt, Haley, DM and Charlotte. The boy in the striped shirt on the cover could be DM, but then who is the blond boy? (I’m totally obsessed with this today.) This is when they check the giant drain pipe.

Charlotte: “I want to be profound. What is profound, anyway?”

Kristy actually cries because she feels responsible for Jake disappearing.

Why the hell would Mrs. Kuhn call Kristy to let her know there’s a lead? Wouldn’t it make more sense to call Nannie or Elizabeth?

Okay. Here’s what I don’t get about MA and her being the worst home ec student in the history of the world (other than what I’ve already mentioned.) MA keeps screwing up Jell-O of all things. I pretty well suck at cooking, but that’s a simple, straight-forward recipe. I fail to see how she could even come close to screwing it up. I could make Jell-O when I was eight. But apparently, sometimes her Jell-O doesn’t set, while other times, it’s hard as a rock. If she’s that bad at following directions and measuring, shouldn’t she be failing science, too?

Kristy thinks it’s funny that Mary Anne is failing home ec. What a wonderful best friend she is.

Is it just me, or does it seem odd that Mrs. Barrett, whose home is often a wreck, is “one of those people who never runs her stockings or spills tomato sauce on her blouse.”

Another real book: Buddy made a diorama of Charlotte’s Web.

Oddly out of place: Kristy gets distracted by what her face would look like to someone trying to kiss her. She keeps leaning in to the mirror at different angles. I guess the ghostwriter was trying to lighten things up?

Sam is drinking milk out of the carton right in front of Watson, who apparently doesn’t care. Hmmm.

Kristy hopes that Jake is with his father because then he’s not lost somewhere, hungry and scared. She says she can’t imagine any father doing that. The vast majority of younger children who turn up missing are family abductions, while most older children who disappear are runaways. Only a small percentage of children who are lost are actually kidnaped by strangers.

Kristy’s dad does “something with horses” and lives in Petaluma in this one. It was only a year after this was published that Polly Klaas was abducted and murdered in Petaluma, California. She and I were the same age and that’s why I’ve always had an obsession with missing children. If this book came after that event, I’d think it was ironic.

They slip in all the safety tips about what to do if a stranger tries to kidnap you into a conversation between Elizabeth, Watson, Kristy, DM, Karen and Andrew. And suddenly I’m back reading Missing SinceMonday.

And of course Kristy saves the day by finding Jake and gets an award for it at the school’s awards night. It’s pretty ridiculous. The person who found Jake was Matt Braddock, not Kristy. She just happened to be the “adult” with him when he came up with the idea.

Heh. Bart calls the police and Mrs. Kuhn from Jugtown after he and Kristy find Jake. He also buys Jake a bunch of junk food and throws it down the hole to him. Luckily it falls within his reach, because he injured his leg. I keep picturing it bouncing out of Jake’s reach and getting perverse pleasure out of it. I’m a twisted little cruller sometimes.

Oh, good. Kristy doesn’t actually take credit for finding Jake, which is something that would have been very much in her character. She makes sure the newspaper reporters interview Matt and know he’s the one who located Jake.

When Kristy’s describing the awards night outfits, she says Mal, Jessi and Dawn were just wearing jeans. Did they forget to put on their shirts?

Pete Black thinks he’ll be class clown (I would not have picked him for that award, and neither did the rest of the class), but he’s also the MC because he’s class president, so he comes out wearing a clown costume. (He also made me laugh earlier in the book when he showed Kristy a drawing he’d made for an automated Jell-O launcher that could launch Mary Anne’s Jell-O and kill from large distances.)


Kristy: dress (she almost wears this); jeans, sweater, loafers

Bart: white button down, acid washed jeans (hawt)

Claudia: black jumpsuit with a red belt

Stacey: tie-dyed leggings, short dress that looked like a man’s shirt (does anyone else think Stacey and Claudia stopped behind some trees on the way to school and swapped clothes?)

Mary Anne: skirt she was hemming earlier in the story


  1. The blonde " boy" is Haley, Matt's sister.

  2. I used to fail at making Jell-O. It wasn't until I was in high school, learning more about chemistry and had a computer and access to the Internet that I learned that 1) Jell-O made in metal bowls tended to develop a hard crust and 2) Jell-O made in plastic bowls took longer to set. So I started making Jell-O in glass bowls or casserole dishes.