How was everyone’s holiday? I should have read this one last week. I actually (gasp!) enjoyed most of it. (Of course, that may be because Christmas is actually over!)
Mallory comes up with the idea of a non-commercial, old-fashioned Christmas, an idea the Pikes love. But then Vanessa enters them into a contest and the prize they win is being filmed for the Christmas episode of what’s essentially a reality show. At first they like it, but the camera crew quickly gets in the way of their holiday and Mr. Pike winds up firing them.
The subplot surrounds the nursing home and a fundraiser the BSC helps with. It’s more realistic than most of their big-event storylines because the BSC didn’t plan and organize it; they just pitch in.
Ze Cover (Sorry, I’m watching Les Mis while writing this; I’ll try not to get too overtly French…or more accurate, cockney British):
Mallory starts off by writing yet another story based upon her own life. LAME!
I’d eat friddiggity for dessert with Margo! (That’s how she pronounces frigidity; it reminds me of how Tessie would have pronounced it at seven...and how it kept coming out of my mouth today.)
Is it sad that I’d rather read Mallory and the Seven Simian Siblings than this book?
This makes me laugh mostly because it’s (bordering on) true: “By the time Claire is eleven, she’ll have an apartment of her own, a personal butler, and a salary.” Now, I don’t believe that, but I do believe that the Pikes will get more lenient with each progressive child. (I still hold a grudges over this fact in my own life.)
Oh my word. A food the Pike triplets won’t eat! Byron looks disgusted at the suggestion of lamb stew. Vanessa: “Lamb stew, Lamb stew/Start with some herbs then chop up the ewe!” Margo: “Ew!” Vanessa: “Exactly.”
I hate to admit how much like Mallory I used to be. Obviously I don’t have seven insane brothers and sisters. But she and Jessi went down town, pretending to be French refugees, hoping to find some kind soul to shelter them from the cruel world. I’ve never done that with someone else (in public) but I spent a large amount of my childhood pretending to be someone else.
I’ve only just started chapter two and there’s already been about six conversations I want to record exactly. Apparently the BSC has the same kind of word skills that Margo does: nobody (except Mal the nerd) knows what ‘a tizzy’ is. (I’m reminded of SS #15 for three reasons: first, Claudia talks with her mouth full and Stacey instructs her to swallow, which happens in that book; second, the conversation between the various club members reminds me of the conversation between Claudia and Dawn when Janine calls Claudia a laggard and they don’t know what that means. Also Mal uses a word that no one else knows the meaning of. My suspicion is confirmed: they are ghostwritten by the same person.) Of course, it doesn’t help that Mal attempts to explain a tizzy by saying it’s the same as being in a dither. Really, what eleven year old knows words/phrases like that? (That’s right. A really nerdy one.)
Ha! Mallory hates being called a junior member—can you blame her? So she gets a bit of satisfaction by being taller than Kristy is. Speaking of, is it just me, or are all these girls on the tall side? We had a missing thirteen year old in our local area this week, and she was 4’11”. Kristy is the shortest BSC member and she’s taller than that. I’m pretty sure I was less than 5’ at that age.
“Kishi Scientific Ener-joy Theory.” I subscribe!
Typical Abby. Her BSC/car analogy: Kristy is the headlights, Claudia the chassis, Stacey the gas gauge, Mary Anne the engine, Abby herself the bumper. (I guess Mal and Jessi are the cupholders and the like, because they aren’t mentioned.)
Mal is, I think, the only BSC member to come straight out and suggest that Kristy is jealous of Abby, which is the first thought I had when I read a book with Abby in it.
Mrs. Pike suggests that they’re going to be arrested by the Christmas carol police for butchering the 12 Days of Christmas. (Sample lyric: five silly-billy-goo-goos) Can we arrest some pop stars for the same reason?
When the producer, Mr. Henry, arrives, he explains the reality show he’s filming while using a large variety of big words. Adam does exactly what I used to do as a kid: he agrees with everything that’s said, and then when Nicky asks him what that meant, he says, “I don’t know.” I feel there are a lot of adults who behave that way also.
You know it’s bad when Claudia is correcting Abby’s word usage.
Wow, I didn’t know that Aunt Cecelia had a good side. But a store clerk finds it by suggesting she’s Jessi’s older sister. (What do you expect from a store that sells Jessi a box of ‘tchotchkes’ labeled “Junque”?)
Mallory. Shouldn’t you be able to tell the difference between Marilyn and Carolyn, especially since you were the one who helped let them have their own style?
The title quote is what Haley says when Margo drops cheese on Claire's letter to Santa.
The Pikes are, in some ways, the perfect family to film for a reality show: There are a ton of ‘characters,’ they’re nuts, and they love the camera. My favorite moment during the filming of cookie baking: Nicky drops some eggshell into the cookie batter and this is apparently fabulous. The camera crew not only gets a close up on the shells in the batter; they film Margo going, “Mmm, crunchy!” while Nicky freaks out. Meanwhile, Mr. Pike is laughing his ass off. (I’m not sure why; this sounds like a normal day at the Pikes.)
Mallory goes to visit Uncle Joe and he’s watching an acne cream commercial at top volume. I’m tempted to call 1800-ZIT-GONE just to see what you really get.
Interesting. Becca still sorta believes in Santa, yet Margo and Nicky, who are younger/the same age, no longer believe, and even Claire’s suspicious. I get this, though. It would be hard to maintain the Santa story when you have a bunch of older kids in the family scoffing over the suggestion. I remember that as soon as I stopped believing, my sister did too. It’s possible that Jessi was better at pretending for Becca’s sake than, say, Vanessa and the triplets would be.
Is anyone surprised by the BSC member’s responses to being filmed? Mary Anne ducks away to stay off camera. Kristy films a ‘commercial’ for the BSC while explaining their involvement with the nursing home. Abby hams it up, putting on a bib and knit baby hat.
Vanessa is full of butchered Christmas carols. I wish I were that quick on my feet. (I’m going to have to write them down for next year. There’s only so far you can go with annoying co-workers with Soap Opera Digest carols…)
I’ve never done television, bar appearing in a few news segments. (I’ve appeared in the police blotter for impersonating a dead body, but that’s another story all together.) I can only imagine how irritating it would be to have to redo spontaneous moments in order to catch them on camera. Part of the ‘joy’ of the holidays is the fun and unpredictability, especially with kids involved. So moments like Margo and Nicky falling off the sled should just be allowed to happen and not be recreated for film.
Innnnnnnteresting. Robert invited Stacey to a concert for the same night as the babysitting event. She turned him down because she had the previous commitment. (And because she just barely got back into the club five books earlier.) But she is unbelievably cranky about it. I love this because it’s realistic. You know there has to be moments when these girls don’t want to participate in whatever giant activity that’s planned, for whatever reason.
Kristy embarrasses Logan by pointing out he’s a boy. You’d think he’d already know that.
Heh. The babysitters are unprepared for once. While running the ‘nursery’ at the nursing home by supervising the kids, they don’t have any place set up for changing diapers. (They learn this the hard way.)
Mallory refers to Adam as the Terror of Slate Street. I like it. (It does let his brothers off the hook a little too easily though.) Also, I’m not sure how that happened. Adam wasn’t one of the singers that were looking angelic—Jordan, Nicky, Vanessa, Margo and Claire were.
Points for consistency: even though I didn’t mention it last week, Mallory mentioned that the Pikes do Secret Santa. I’ve done this in the past, but apparently, in the Pike household, you have to grant your Secret Santa’s wish. Mallory gets Adam, who asks for some kind of slithery creature, so she buys him a toy snake. Vanessa gets Mallory, who asks for the greatest Christmas book ever written. Vanessa’s way of granting that wish is actually really sweet: she gives her a blank book and tells her to go write it. Awww!
Later, you get to see a few other Secret Santas: Vanessa gets a newspaper that says she was elected president. (Of all the people in the house, she’s not the one I would have predicted would want that.) And Byron, who asked for his own phone, gets a toy telephone that had been passed down through all the siblings as babies. He uses it to order a large pizza order.
How is no one in the Pike house up at eight in the morning? You’d think Claire and Margo at least would be out of bed by then.
You know that the television situation is bad when the triplets start throwing tantrums. Byron screams at the top of his lungs when they call cut right before he’s supposed to open his present, and later Jordan whines that he hates Christmas. Claire and Margo throwing fits is one thing, but ten year olds is something different. It’s what makes the Pikes kick the camera crews out entirely. (I’m not saying ten year olds don’t/shouldn’t throw tantrums. I’m just saying that there’s usually a very big reason behind it.)
I know that the Pikes wrote into the contract that they could cancel at any time, but can you just imagine how much money would be lost in a move like this? I think the company could possibly still scrape together a special with the footage they already have, but it does kind of ruin the effect to not actually have Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
I think this is the first time I’ve ever looked at the ‘scrapbook’ at the back of a Mallory book. The picture of the Pike family is kinda hilarious. Vanessa and Margo both look way older than the triplets.
No outfits again. Sorry!
Everyone have a happy new year. I’ll see you in January with my take on The Ghost at Dawn’s House…I hope