Monday, April 7, 2014

“Did you know my mommy is the boss of the whole library?” BSC #35: Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook (1990)

I know I read this as a child. I just have absolutely no memory of it. Tessie and I were discussing it after I reread it circa 2010. (BTW, my picture is of Tessie and me. I'm the one on the right.) This is an overview of our conversation:
Me: Hey, remember that BSC book when an old guy living in a nursing home messes with the BSC’s heads and tells them his house was haunted?
Tessie: Oh yeah! And then he dies and they get all freaked out! What was the name of that one? I know it was a Kristy.
Me: Umm, no, it was a Stacey. It’s called Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook.
Tessie: No, I’m pretty sure it’s a Kristy.
She used to own a copy of this book, so you know it’s a winner if she owned it, yet didn’t read it enough times to remember it. She remembers everything!
Anyhoo…I just pretty much summarized the entire plot for you up above. It is the most pointless “mystery” ever. I think the only other thing you need to know is that Charlotte is staying with Stacey while her parents are out of town and she gets sick.
Interesting tidbits
The cover: Oh, look at the house! It’s scary! Charlotte actually does look kind of freaked out, but humorously, they’re not even looking at the house.

Whenever they mention that Stacey’s dad lives on the Upper East Side, I get the theme song to the Jeffersons playing in my head. “We’re movin’ on up…to the East Side!”
I can’t imagine allowing my thirteen year old to drink cappuccino, as Stacey does. I guess this is just supposed to be another sign that she’s really sophisticated.
Finally, an explanation of Boontsie, Stacey’s awful nickname: it’s what her dad calls all toddlers. It’s still stupid.
First sign of the apocalypse?  Stacey wears a pink shirt with red socks!
And, on page 22, Stacey’s already being condescending about Stoneybrook and small town gossip. She’s all, I guess when you live in a small town, anything is news. Please. Even funnier is the fact that, even though she claims to not be interested in the news about the house being torn down, she keeps bringing it back up.
Claudia finds a box of wheat crackers in her box labeled charcaols. So close, yet so far away.
Stacey’s surprised when Charlotte is upset that her parents are leaving her. A) Her grandfather is ill, so she’s probably a little worried about him. B) Her parents aren’t leaving for the day or even an overnight…they’re going to be gone for a week. And no matter how mature Charlotte may be, she’s eight. I remember being left home for four days with family friends when I was seven and hating it, even though I liked my hosts.
How can Charlotte and Stacey play Clue? You need three people for that. I’ve tried to play it with one other person before and it just doesn’t work.
Charlotte loves The Cosby Show.
Stacey reads Charlotte’s Web to Charlotte and reads Summer of My German Soldier on her own. She also puts a copy of The Long Winter in the room Charlotte is using.
Stacey won’t let Charlotte go in the house being torn down, yet they walk around the outside of the building, on the private property. She gets points for keeping her safer, but hello? Trespassing? And they’re still in a construction site. It’s really not that safe.
Stacey references The Amityville Horror while looking at the spooky old house.
Speaking of the house, here’s a list of reasons why it scares our supposedly-sophisticated teen heroine: She sees a face in the window; Charlotte hears clanking sounds that Stacey says are pipes; they come across a giant swarm of flies; they hear moaning sounds.
Charlotte is way too excited to go to a BSC meeting. I can get that, because I always wanted to hang out with the older kids when I was that age. But she even wants to pay dues. Even the regular members don’t like doing that.
Charlotte answers the phone Abby-style: “No job too small!” I’m more than a little disturbed by that.
This book is full of the babysitters letting their charges play games that are annoying but distracting. Stacey teaches Charlotte how to play War even though she thinks it’s boring. Later, Kristy lets DM and Karen play the Name Game with people and then objects. (I always loved playing that at their age, but we always made sure to do Art, Chuck and Mitch after we ran out of people we knew…)
Kristy reads Ozma of Oz to her brothers and sisters.
And now Stacey’s bitching about the pediatrician’s office. Although I want to dislike this because it’s mostly over-done jokes about the reading selection (a Reader’s Digest from 1979) I actually liked it for a couple reasons.
1.    She makes fun of Goofus and Gallant from Highlights, saying she’s always thought of Gallant as a goody-goody. I’m reminded distinctly of both my sister saying the exact same thing and a moment in Clerks: The Animated Series where Randal says he’s going to sue the makers of Highlights. (I’m trying to track down a clip of this.)
2.    She actually sounds like a regular thirteen year old girl in this whole chapter. They make a point of saying that Stacey and Charlotte are like sisters; well, sometimes sisters don’t get along (something Stace acknowledges later.) Stacey finds Charlotte’s whining annoying and she’s embarrassed to be at the pediatrician’s office, reading a magazine for small children.
Is Stacey’s mom getting some compensation for Charlotte staying with her family, or is all the money going to Stacey? Because even if Stacey is watching Charlotte most of the time, she’s going out of her way to feed and supervise her, and she’s the one legally responsible for Charlotte while her parents are away.
Heh. Here are mysteries I’d read: Laine and the Hotel Safe Mystery and Laine and the Ghost of Elvis. Those are the mysteries Stacey said you’d find in NYC, paraphrased by me into BSC book titles.
Caludia speling tyme! Wordes, sentense, libary, knewe, coud, referense, libarian, Gabie, Miryiah. She also uses grate for great and to for too.
And now Stacey and Charlotte are hallucinating a fire in the window of the old house. (Until I finished reading, I thought maybe it was the sun hitting the window at just the right angle that was causing it.)
On that note, I’m wondering if Blue Balliett ever read this book. There are a lot of similarities between the “haunting” of the house in this book and the events going on in the Robie House in The WrightThree. But that book (and the two in the same series—Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game) are totally awesome and I highly recommend them.
Claudia thinks she feels a hand on her arm while looking at the old house. “They probably wanted to steal my soul!” Stacey: “More likely they wanted to steal your Ding-Dongs. Even spirits like junk food.”
Smorgasbord at the Pikes: two cans of cold Spaghetti-Os, baloney and grape jelly sandwich, baloney and peanut butter sandwich, bread and butter, a fried egg, cereal, a ham sandwich, and carrots, yogurt and wheat germ. (Guess which one Dawn ate.)
I know I always think it’s stupid how the kids in these books are always putting together projects like lending libraries and haunted houses and stuff, but I’m always amused when they put together a play. I guess that’s because I can think of at least four plays I helped put together as a kid, including one with a Double Mint commercial in the middle of it. This time, the Pikes put on The Wizard of Oz. They make Dawn play the Wicked Witch (ha!) and get to Emerald City in a space ship.
Mr. Pike actually walks Dawn home. I’m surprised there’s not more of this type of thing going on in these books. I mean, these are really young girls and they’re sometimes leaving sitting jobs at 10pm. I would want my imaginary 13 year old (the one who’s not allowed to drink cappuccino) to be escorted home too.
Mr. Hennessey, the owner of the house, talks like a character from an old Wild West movie. I guess it’s supposed to show how old he is, but it’s just stupid. He tells the girls all kinds of wild and crazy stories about ghosts living in his house, but obviously he just enjoys scaring the girls. I mean, a man whose nose looks like it’s made of rubber?
I know that Charlotte loves mysteries, but how responsible of Stacey is it to keep taking her by the ‘haunted’ house and scaring her with stories about it? Charlotte’s not sleeping and she’s having nightmares.
Stacey sees flames again, only this time, she’s the only one seeing them. I think I’ve come to a few possible conclusions about the house.
1.  The construction (destruction?) crew broke a gas line, causing people standing over the line to have hallucinations.
2.    Stacey be trippin’ on some LSD.
After the house comes down, Stacey runs back to Mr. Hennessey at the nursing home, only to learn he’s passed away. I think it’s supposed to be sad and spooky, but it comes across as a total cop-out.
Charlie and Sam talk to some of the work crew and actually get plausible explanations for all the things everyone saw bar that last set of flames (I stand by my theories.) The first flames—and the face in the window—were a worker with a blow torch. The clanking and moaning sounds were from the pipes, and the horde of flies was actually a swarm of bees (which is actually way more scary than flies in my opinion.)
Stacey: blue tank top, white jumpsuit, white pushdown socks with blue hearts (how “sophisticated”), wide blue patent leather belt, necklace of plastic sea creatures (ditto); same white jumpsuit (wouldn’t it be dirty after a train ride? Those trains aren’t exactly clean) pink shirt, red socks; short skirt with pink polka dots, suspenders, oversized white shirt (with suspenders? Wouldn’t that bunch up and look awful?), pink hightops, pink heart earrings
Claudia: tie-dyed t-shirt dress

Coming soonish: The next book is one of my favorite. That’s all I’m going to say.

1 comment:

  1. My theory about the last stuff Stacey saw is that she had a hallucination related to her special Ann-brand of diabetes. We're not far from Stacey's Emergency.

    And oh, I must have been so sheltered. With the name game, I knew you could do Art or Bart, but I never thought of Chuck!