Wednesday, January 22, 2014

“We are babysitters, not magical, flying boys.” BSC #12: Claudia and the New Girl (1988)

Why did I hate this one so much as a kid? I don’t think I ever made it past chapter five before. It’s really not so awful. Anyhoo, Claudia meets the titular new girl, Ashley Wyeth, who thinks art isn’t just a hobby—it’s a way of life! She compliments Claudia as an artist and Claud starts skipping BSC meetings and get even farther behind on her homework than normal. The BSC members, backing up what I said last week about them being a clique, get mad at her and behave in ways that seem out of character for them but that are realistic for thirteen year olds. Claudia tells Ashley she likes to live “big” and not have a narrow focus on her art. She gets an honorable mention in an art show for a half-finished sculpture of Jackie Rodowsky and seems to think she can keep Ashley as a friend (although I don’t think she’s mentioned again until book #85.)

Interesting tidbits

The Cover. I capitalized Cover because, the tag on the photo, it says Claudia might give up on the Club—and it’s all the new girl’s fault! I realize Club is capitalized in the name of the BSC, but when it’s by itself, I don’t think it deserves capitalization. This scene almost sorta happens in the book. (That’s Archie Rodowsky with the girls.) Also, regarding Ashley’s outfit…I went through a phase where I wanted to dress like that, but couldn’t afford to.


Aww, the book is dedicated to the readers! I feel loved!

Heh. I kinda like this part. Claudia’s not paying attention in English class. First she wonders about a fly, and then about fly family reunions. Her teacher catches her not paying attention, and Claudia says she feels powerful because she seems to have the power to ruin her teacher’s day.

Speaking of English class, it is full of Newbery winners—my favorites! Claudia said she read Sarah, Plain and Tall (which, it should be noted, is probably at a second grade reading level). Claudia hasn’t been keeping up with the reading because they’re discussing The Westing Game and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Honestly, she should LOVE those books! They’re mysteries, and excellent ones to boot.

Does Claudia ever spend time in the ‘resource room’ in other books? In my high school (and in most of the ones I’ve worked in) ‘resource room’ was code for ‘special education assistance.’

Mimi says the second she met her husband, she knew she would marry him. That’s really sweet.

Holy crap, there are a lot of outfits so far. I do find it sort of odd that Claudia and Ashley get dressed up to go to art class and sculpt, which tends to be a messy endeavor.

I can’t decide what’s so funny about Claudia psychoanalyzing people based upon their art portfolios, but I definitely see some humor in it. Maybe because it’s a complete counterpoint to the fact that she’s in remedial math and thinks pharaoh is spelled farrow?

Claudia makes fun of Archie’s name. Nice. Then she accidentally makes Shea cry. I want her to come babysit at my house!

More Kristy lunchtime grossness: apparently, this day’s school lunch looks like a squirrel that got run over. (Claudia refers to the lunches as revolt-o. I am going to start referring to all disgusting things by that term.)

I can almost understand Stacey getting jealous of Claudia spending all her time with Ashley. It’s very age-appropriate to worry that your best friend could get stolen by someone else, especially given that Stacey’s only lived in town for a year and kinda gave up all her other friends in favor of the BSC.

Myriah is six in this book. Later, she goes back to being five, which she remains for the rest of the books.

The Perkins girls have stuffed animals named Mrs. Xerox and Mrs. Refrigerator, which they have covered in makeup. Dawn has to drag the two of them—also covered in makeup—out to the elementary school because Jeff got in trouble. Myriah offers to give both Jeff’s teacher and Jeff himself makeovers while they are at the school.

Ashley decides to sculpt an inanimate object, which she explains to Claudia is something “not alive.” Claudia assumes this means she’ll sculpt dead things, which makes me think of animal carcass artwork…which I’ve seen before. (Really not attractive looking or smelling.) Instead she sculpts a ‘noble’ fire hydrant that wins first place.

Claudia doesn’t seem to be too astute. She can’t figure out her friends are mad at her, despite the fact that she’s stopped sitting with them at lunch and has missed 2 and ½ club meetings—until they start leaving her passive-aggressive notes all over her bedroom. And in the club notebook.

Stacey keeps making fun of Ashley’s bell-bottom jeans. As if they’re any worse than 99% of what Stacey wears. But then she cries over Claudia ditching her. Again, age-appropriate and semi-realistic, as is the passive-agressiveness.

The opening quote is something Kristy says—appropriate, given she’s the one to play Peter Pan later on. Mary Anne cries in sympathy to Stacey’s tears, then can’t stop crying. The others start suggesting happy thoughts for her to pull it together, which leads to the Peter Pan reference.

You know Dawn is mad at Claudia for missing meetings, not just because she makes up a childishly mean song about her, but because she volunteers to help eat all of Claud’s junk food.

I had to look up how to short sheet a bed. Despite the fact that it shows up all the time in books, I’ve never done it or had it done to me.

Finally! It’s a flippin’ Claudia book and we made it to chapter 13 without having any of her awesome misspellings (other than farrow.) Freinds, Aslhey (really?), explian, apologise, aplogise, (in the next sentence after the last one, too!), speling (ironic), abot, Ballons, Wrinkel, carfuly, scupture (twice), sclupture. She also spells her art teacher’s name, Baehr, as Bear, which is logical.

Best moment of the whole book: Claudia calls to talk to Kristy and Karen answers. She starts blathering on about old Ben Brewer and Boo-Boo and ghost hypnosis. (I am NOT kidding. I wish I were.) Instead of listening to her, Claudia totally cuts her off.

More real Newbery winners: The Twenty-One Balloons, which I think I’ve read but can’t remember the plot of, and A Wrinkle in Time, an Ann M. Martin favorite, which Claudia actually enjoys.

Claudia makes friends with the BSC again by writing a really lame poem that makes Mary Anne cry. (There’s a shocker, right?) Stacey (again, when did she get to be funny? They must have dropped that in the later books) says, “Lunatics!...we have a club full of fools.”

How does Kristy not know what a mentor is when Ashley says she’s Claudia’s art mentor, yet she knows what apoplexy is?

Mistake! One of the BSC’s classmates is named Mari Drabek. She’s mentioned in several other books. This might be her first appearance; I’m not sure. In any case, when they say that she got third prize, her name is spelled Mary.

Outfits! Lots! Sorta!

Ashley: hiking boots, long pink-flowered skirt, loose blouse embroidered with flowers, silver bangles, braided hair not held in place by anything, six different earrings; puffy white blouse, long blue-jean skirt, hiking boots, beaded bracelets, denim headband; petticoat and work boots; bell-bottoms; long dress with ruffles at the bottom; long knitted vest over a long shirt and a long skirt that all clash

Claudia: short pink cotton dress, white tights, ballet slippers, side ponytail, palm tree earrings
New Characters
Shea and Archie Rodowsky (9 and 4)--35 and 30

Next week: We say au revoir Anastasia in #13 Goodbye, Stacey, Goodbye

P.S.: For those following my fanfiction, The Boys of Summer should be posted in its entirety by the end of the month! I’m already in the planning stages of my next work within the same universe.

1 comment:

  1. "Does Claudia use the Resource Room in other books?"
    In book 63, Claudia's Freind Friend, Mrs. Hall offers to get her some help in the RR to study for a test coming up but Claud talks her out it, preferring to study on her own/with her friends. Mrs. Hall agrees but says that if Claud fails the test, they will do more than just talk about Claud using the RR.