Monday, February 3, 2014

“What do you know about bulking up?” BSC #20: Kristy and the Walking Disaster (1989)

They should rename this book “Let’s make fun of Jackie Rodowsky again!”

The little editor’s note at the end of the book makes it clear that Ann M. Martin wrote this book because she “had fun” writing about Jackie. He’s written like a cartoon character, but he’s so nice and sweet that the BSC can’t help forgiving him for the disasters that happen around him. The title of the book is kind of mean, because Jackie’s actually a decent player. He’s just klutzy and messy. (I am going to keep track of every accident he has though.) Kristy has another one of her “brilliant ideas.” (Cue Blair Warner from The Facts of Life.) Because there is a whole bunch of BSC clients who want to play softball but are too young or scared to try out for Little League, she starts Kristy’s Krushers to fill the void. As she mentions about 5 million times through the book, the average age of the players is 5.8. Kristy meets Bart Taylor who also has a similar team (although his players are older) and the Krushers play the Bashers. They don’t win, but they prove they’ve got team spirit and guts. It’s like watching reading Rudy. And Kristy develops a krush on Bart.

Interesting Tidbits

Cover love! Other than Kristy and Jackie, I have no idea who these kids are supposed to be. They’re all kinda adorable though. (But a rather large proportion are blond…)


Mary Anne brings Tigger to the meeting, and he keeps distracting everyone by being adorable: playing with ribbon, sitting in a shoe. Then he completely disappears…only Mary Anne doesn’t notice for a while. He turns up on Janine’s computer.

How does Amanda Delaney know so much about Bart? Does she know his brother or something?

Kristy does math: She figures half of boys are normal and half are jerks, while in her neighborhood, half of both groups are snobs. So Bart has a twenty-five percent chance of him being a decent human being. (I’m surprised she thinks half of the boys her age are normal.)

I’m trying to figure out why exactly most of these kids can’t join t-ball or other softball teams. Not Little League necessarily, where you’re expected to have at least a little talent, but a lot of communities have less-competitive softball teams for kids. It’s not like Kristy and Bart were the first people to come across the idea that kids who aren’t particularly talented might still like to play.

Jackie “oopses”: Makes a giant mess trying to make pink lemonade; threw a baseball into the neighbor’s gutter; knocked over some stuff in the garage; tripped on a shoelace.

Kristy decides that twenty kids is enough. I can’t imagine any thirteen year old wanting to take on twenty kids by herself voluntarily, especially when one of them is a toddler. (My niece is two and a half and she’s tenuously potty trained and is a handful all by herself. Good thing Gabbie Perkins is so angelic, right?)

Also, shouldn’t she need permission slips and legal documents? Watson and Elizabeth could be sued up the yin yang if one of these kids breaks a bone or gets a concussion while playing, which is always a possibility.

In this story, Hannie is seven while Linny is still eight, and Buddy is still seven and Suzi is still four.

Kristy makes a list of questions that need to be answered such as “Where can we practice?” and “How often should we meet?” The final question is about whether Bart likes her. She presumably shows the list to Watson, as he helps her find answers to all the other questions. I’m really hoping she erased the last question.

Ugh. This is embarrassing to write, but when I was a kid, I would have been with Karen. I would have hated that the team was Kristy’s Krushers because it’s not proper spelling. You all have to know how much it’s killing me to agree with Karen on anything.

Claudia spelling! First off, I announce with much glee, that she and Mal are babbysitting. Mal is presumably sitting right next to her as she is writing, as it’s a joint entry, and yet she spells her name as Mallery. How did Mal not correct her? Especially since later, when she says that Claire is compertive, Mal corrects that to competitive. (She also uses expect for except.)

Nofe-air! Nofe-air! I’ll buy that Claire throws tantrums when she strikes out or when her team loses or something, but Mallory says she throws them when she watches ball games on television, too. What the #*$@? That makes zero sense.

Kristy should have thought about how she was going to sign for Matt before she had him join the team. There must be books out there specifically on how to sign for sports. Heck, there’s a book on how to sign every curse word imaginable. I almost bought it myself. They keep signing stuff like “monkey” and “oven” instead of baseball terms.

More Jackie “oopses”: gets his gum stuck in a catcher’s mask; knocks loose a tooth, which Claudia then has to pull out; breaks a window in the school.

I think it’s funny that Kristy is grossed out by loose teeth. I happened to love losing teeth. I was still losing molars when I was Kristy’s age—I remember one just fell out of my mouth in eighth grade grammar class—and I didn’t get my adult canines until I was nearly twenty.

Unintentionally humorous. Jessi is sitting in the stands with Marnie Barrett, who is two. She’s feeding her Cheerios like she’s a nine month old. Marnie doesn’t really talk and is essentially a baby. Kristy mentions how much stuff you need with a two year old. Yet Gabbie, who is only slightly older, is like a mini-five year old, with a vocabulary, who would never sit in a stroller eating Cheerios.

I’ve always wondered why Haley, Vanessa and Charlotte never asked Becca to come cheer with them. I know she’s supposed to be shy, but so is Charlotte, and she’s into it.

I love Haley. The Bashers show up at a Krushers’ practice to check out the competition. One of them distracts Bart so they can all be rude about the Krushers players. They call Jackie Pig-pen and Gabbie a baby. They call Jake fatso and then, when Matt makes a loud animal-type sound, they call him a dummy loud enough for everyone to hear. Haley gets in the boy’s face and says, “That ‘dummy’ is my brother and if you call him a dummy one more time, I’ll personally rearrange your face.” Not only is she Matt’s protector, she’s only too ready to punch boys in their faces. She’s the girl I wanted to be at that age.

I love that whenever Watson sounds like a sentimental sitcom dad, Kristy says he sounds jerky. What kind of jerky? Beef or venison? If he were really being jerky, instead of saying stuff like, “It doesn’t matter if you lose tomorrow as long as you try your hardest,” he’d say, “Kristy, you jackass…[insert something rude and unpleasant here.]”

The title quote comes from the scene where Charlie jokingly tells his brothers and sister to bulk up before the game, so they start carbo-loading or something.

Sam and Charlie must be so popular with their classmates. “What did you do this weekend?” “I ran the refreshment table at my sister’s little kid softball team’s game….Why are you laughing?”

More Jackie: he is ‘testing’ a bat when it flies out of his hands and knocks over the refreshment table. A cake flies off the table and ends up covered in lemonade. (Sam, Charlie, Jessi and Dawn save the rest of the baked goods. I’m surprised Dawn was willing to save something with processed sugar in it); nearly hits the pitcher with the bat while batting.

A very true sentence: “Karen just cannot be subtle.”

One last Jackie moment: he knocks over a lamp while talking to Kristy on the phone.

New characters:

Jake, Laurel and Patsy Kuhn (8, 6 and 5)—33, 31 and 30

Bart Taylor (13)--38


Kristy’s coaching outfit: jeans, Krushers’ tee and sneakers and collie cap (jeans do not seem very sporty and even cover Kristy agrees.)
Next week: Because the next book is another Kristy (#24), I’ll be popping back/forward in time a bit to do The Summer Before. #24 will be next after that, followed by #25 to take us out of the month of February.


  1. This may be my least favorite book. I found just so boring, which is weird because I've been a coach of kids' sports: a third-grade soccer team, (assistant coach) middle and high school cross country (head coach), and high school track and field (assistant coach). But this book just drags for me.