Friday, April 11, 2014

“Haley washed the mirror as if she were washing a bomb.” BSC Super Special #4: Babysitters’ Island Adventure (1990)

Bloody hell! I loved this one so much as a kid I almost wanted to save it and do it last. And I still love it now, just for its sheer ridiculousness. If you couldn’t tell by the title, this is the one where Dawn and Claudia have an Island Adventure, stranded on an island off the coast of CT with Jeff, Haley, Becca and Jamie. Everyone’s individual stories? Why, I’m glad you asked.
Dawn: realizes she’s not as great in a crisis as she thinks she should be. Spends a lot of time taking care of Jamie, who gets very ill
Claudia: is the heroine of the book, working out a way to collect water to keep them all alive and also arranging their rescue
Kristy: cancels a Krushers/Bashers game because her friends, a player and a cheerleader are missing. Gets into a fight with her lovah boy Bart over it.
Mary Anne: gets into a fight with Dawn because Dawn caused a fight with Logan. Tells her she never wants to see her again, so of course she’s all teary when Dawn disappears.
Stacey: has a fight with her dad because she cuts short an overbooked, exhausting weekend in NYC to come back and help look for her friends
Mallory: has no plot. She’s just there for her friends when they’re upset and helps search
Jessi: has to deal with Aunt Cecelia, who’s mad at Jessi for being left home alone with Becca and Squirt for the weekend.
Interesting Tidbits
As they used to say on one of my favorite television shows, “Okay, gang, let’s rewind!” Before I begin snarking about this one, I need to discuss its logic a little. I realize that’s stupid, but I just wrote a whole paper on the ‘logic’ behind the so-called war on terror and G.W. Bush’s awesomely-circular reasoning, so this can’t be any worse, right? Right?!?
·         1. First assumption we have to make is that Dawn and Claudia would actually take a sailing class. Dawn, I’ll accept this assumption for. She’s earthy and nature-y. But Claudia? So far, the only outdoors-type activity we’ve seen her get into is skiing. But we needed someone to play the heroine (not heroin, which I also just wrote a paper about! If I spell it wrong at some point, I apologize) and Claudia was the best choice. She’d be more likely to go sailing than Stacey, first off. They describe Mal as level headed and Mary Anne as organized and Kristy as a power source, so it wouldn’t be surprising if any of them kind of took charge while Dawn fell apart. Claudia had to be the one to go, so I’ll forgive the logic fault behind this.
·         2. Next, we have to assume that these parents would actually trust the BSC enough to allow their kids to get in a BOAT, supervised only by a thirteen year old. Jeff, of course, isn’t a big deal in this respect, because he’s with his sister. That’s family; I’ll buy Sharon allowing that. Becca isn’t too big of a stretch either. Dawn and Claudia aren’t related to her, but she’s like a member of the family anyway. I’ll even accept Haley’s parents letting her go, since she’s nine and would be with a friend. But the Newtons have to be runner up for the Stupidest Parent of the Year Award. Jamie is four. Four-year-olds generally aren’t known for their swimming ability, and yet they allowed him to get in a tiny boat with a random neighbor of theirs, when he’d been sick recently? That sounds like a terrible idea from the start!
·         3. Let’s not even discuss the actual winners of the Stupidest Parents of the Year Award, the Ramseys, who thought it would be a great idea to leave an eleven year old in charge of an eight year old and toddler for the weekend. Hello, Child Protective Services? This especially bothers me because Aunt Cecelia lives near enough to just drop everything and be at the Ramseys’ in a very short period of time. She probably could have come and spent the weekend there.
All this, and I haven’t even opened the book yet! Hee hee!
The cover! Let’s forget for a moment that Mal looks hideous or that Kristy has no neck. Let’s forget that Mary Anne is one of those goofs who has to wear a nautical outfit to watch people get in a boat or that Jamie has a bowl cut (that look needs to go back to 1980 and never come back). Let me just point out that if Haley weren’t wearing purpley-blue, I would probably not be able to tell her and Jeff apart.

Alternate officer = substitute teacher. That’s not a bad analogy.
In Jeff’s first appearance in the book, Dawn keeps calling him dweeb and he calls her geek in response. Ah, sibling love.
Okay, one last piece of logic-ing, related to one above. Claudia and Dawn are trying to make their boat crews even. By what stretch of the imagination is Becca and Jamie and even crew to Jeff and Haley?
Both chapters three and four are from Dawn’s point of view. I get that Dawn and Claudia are going to have more chapters than everyone else, simply because of the nature of the book. But so far, three of the four chapters have been Dawn…and the fourth was a Mary Anne. Claud hasn’t even had a chapter yet.
Claudia spelling time (as chapter 5 is hers): Satruday, afternon, mabe, woldnt, fiar, freinds, figt, picknick, insted, baskit, wold, helthy, couldnt. She also spells Mary Anne as Mary Ann, tried as tired twice, and has an awesomely run-on, nonsensical sentence: “I fell bad for Dawn on the other hand mabe if she cont cousin cons keep her mind on the race Ill win but then it woldnt really be fiar.”
Did no one check the weather report for the day of the race? I know storms can come up with no warning, but you’d think there’d be some warning of storm that big.
Everyone say it with me. Missing BSC members equals…wait for it…Emergency BSC meeting! Although, this probably actually does qualify as an emergency for once.
As soon as they get stranded, Haley decides they must be on a ‘desert’ island. I completely get this logic, even though it’s coming from a fictional nine year old and not Ann M. Martin herself (this book is not ghostwritten). Deserted island sounds an awful lot like desert island, and when people in cartoons/movies/television get stranded, it’s usually on a desert island.
Real books about people stranded on islands: Baby Island (which Becca has also read, although Haley brings it up) and The Cay (Jeff’s selection.)
Dawn actually asks if anyone has matches, and then gets upset when she thinks Jeff really does have matches. Silly girl.
I actually like that silliness settles over the crew the first evening they’re castaways. Because a) it sounds realistic and b) better to read that than read about them all crying and wanting their moms, which would also be realistic.
Jeff mentions they’re on Gilligan’s Island. Wouldn’t that have been more appropriate if Mary Anne were along? And Mallory, since she’s almost a Ginger? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)
And then, in the middle of the action, we get to hear about how much it sucks to be Stacey and have divorced parents. And I’m yawning.
This made me laugh. Claudia mentions at one point that she used to think that if they kept sailing past Greenpoint, they’d hit England and Jeff thinks they could be in Nova Scotia. But according to the map at the beginning of the book, they were heading south. Wouldn’t it be more likely that they’d hit Long Island, seeing as they’re in Long Island Sound?
More Claudia spelling (there’s going to be a lot in this book, I expect!) didnt’, expet, iland, butiful, realy, caracter, wether, cleered, agian, thot, wehn. She also used exited for excited.
This was one of the things I’ve always remembered about this book: Becca gets the idea to spell ‘help’ with seashells on the beach, only the older girls realize the shells are the same color as the sand.
The remaining members of the BSC (just Jessi, Mal, MA and Kristy) have their emergency meeting at the Pikes’. Kristy says they’ve never had a BSC meeting anywhere but Claudia’s room, but wasn’t one of the plot points of #2 that they had emergency meetings at school and Trevor and Alan were looking at the record book? Plus I feel like they’ve held other emergency meetings in other places.
Kristy takes minutes during the emergency meeting, while she’s talking. She says it’s hard to do, but why doesn’t she delegate it? Mallory would be an excellent choice, as she’s the only other member there who isn’t missing a sibling.
Jeff decides to instruct the younger kids on how to build a fort. He originally wants to do it in case they ever need it for shelter, but Claudia “corrects” him by suggesting that he means it would be really fun. Dawn references the night she and Jeff babysat together. Last time I read this book, I didn’t realize it was something that had actually happened in one of the books.
There is a bookmark in the middle of my book with the ‘BSC vacation checklist’ on it. Among the listed items to remember to bring is a favorite BSC book. I remember going on one vacation and having fifteen BSC books in my bag for a week-long trip; the year after, I ended up bringing five and every Lurlene McDaniel book I owned for three-week trip.
No one can get a hold of Mr. Schafer to tell him his kids are missing. Richard and Sharon are helping to search while MA is sitting home moping, so she tries to reach him again. What was she going to do if she actually got a hold of him? Can you imagine her trying to break that news to him? “Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m Dawn and Jeff’s stepsister. They went boating and didn’t come home…” Yeah, me neither.
Another thing I’ve always remembered about this book: How stupid the news reporters were. They ask Sharon how she feels about her kids being missing, which is a very dumb question and not likely to get a response you can air. She says, “How do you think I feel?” instead of what I would have said, which would have been some version of “Get that microphone out of my face,” with a couple of curse words thrown in.
Third memory: Haley throwing a temper tantrum when the kids find out that Claudia’s boat got pulled out with the tide. Jamie tells her to go to her room, which I find funny in kind of sad way.
By second night, there are indeed people on the island whining that they want their moms. Surprisingly, it’s Dawn and Claudia rather than the kids.
Two points I want to make, randomly, before I start chapter 16. I feel like, of all the super specials that don’t include a kid’s point of view, this is the only one crying out for one. We get to hear from several Pike kids through the series (I know there’s a Byron and Margo and maybe others), a couple of Barrett kids, Karen (of course) and David Michael and even Andrew in a super mystery. And of course, Jeff shows up in a couple of those, so why not this one?
Second, sometimes I feel like they put up a wall with all the names of the kids in the series on it and then threw darts to decide who was going to be the focus of a book. It’s the only way I can figure out to explain why some of the characters are so over-exposed. And then they’d get to a story like this one and go, “Who haven’t we focused on for a while? Oh, we’ve never told a Haley story, so let’s throw her in there. And it’s a long weekend, so let’s bring Jeff in from California. Becca? Okay, toss her on board.”
Claudia spelling! Mornig, frist, wehn, mondy, forhead, releeved, becuase, anyboddy, paniced, thoght, colect, realy, brians. She also uses fell for felt and hopped for hoped.
Claudia really was using her brian for creating a water collector! (My aunt and uncle brought me and my cousins all Mickey Mouse ears from Disney when I was very small. I have a cousin named Brian; his hat said Brain, so my uncle spells about as well as Claudia does.)
Kind of off topic, but I suddenly remembered a trilogy of books I read about kids surviving a sinking boat and being stranded on an uncharted island. Their story was much more dramatic than this one, featuring smugglers, a kidnapping, a kid with a rap sheet, and an atomic bomb. They actually try a water collector like this but it doesn’t work, so one of the kids (who got sent on the boating excursion because he had no friends and spent all of his time watching the discovery channel) actually set up a distillery for removing the salt from the ocean water. Later, they build a raft much like the one Dawn suggests.
Claudia actually cleans up the trash pile in their cave.
The moms in this story are so awesome with the reporters. Stacey’s mom actually rolls up the car window on one reporter’s microphone.
Mallory doesn’t even get a chapter until chapter 18; by then, there have already been two Kristys, two Staceys and two Mary Annes.
I’ve never quite understood this: when the Pikes go out to search, they take two boats. The oldest six Pike kids, Kristy and Stacey are all going searching, and Mr. Pike, instead of organizing by gender (logical) or by pairing oldest-youngest (also logical), splits them in half by taking the Babysitters and Jordan while the other four go with Mrs. Pike.
Stacey’s the one to spot the first piece of Dawn’s boat. She’s also the first to go to pieces about it. (Horrible pun intended. I’m so sorry.)
Time for more awesome spelling, courtesy of Claudia Lynn Kishi: Mondy, mornig, afternon, somthing. She also uses tired instead of tried, and apparently, everyone was just mopping around. Hey, she already s\traightened the trash….
Watson actually says “Resume yourself” when Kristy jumps up for no reason. He and Richard should hang out together.
Jessi actually uses the operator to place an emergency call to Kristy when she can’t get through.
Claudia spelling: It’s still ‘mondy afternon.’ Frist, colecter, singal, insted, relly, arond, reskew. She also uses grate for great and spells Batman as batmen.
My favorite part of this entry, though? When Claudia suggests she’d make more money as an inventor than as an artist. She didn’t really invent anything…she put a tarp on some sticks to collect water and aimed a mirror at an airplane. Those were both really good ideas, but they weren’t inventions.
As soon as they know they’re getting rescued, the islanders get serious senses of humor. Claudia tells the rescue plane to have the Coast Guard bring Ring-dings. Haley says (in a deadpan) that it took them long enough to find them, and Jeff swears to Dawn (who was supervising Jamie and thinks they were all kidding about being rescued), “It’s the truth. Batman’s honor.”
The first thing Becca tells Jessi when they’re reunited? How she got so hungry she actually ate fish.
At the end of the story, before they get taken to the hospital to be checked out or get a chance to take showers or change, the girls get thanked by the mayor for being heroes. The drawing accompanying this is pretty interesting. Jessi, Dawn and Mallory are all the same height as the mayor, and Claudia comes up to Mallory’s nose.
Heck, in the next photo, Haley’s taller than Claudia. Did Claud shrink on the island or something?
In the epilogue, Dawn makes everyone talk about what they learned during this adventure. Stacey’s and Jessi’s are my favorites. Stacey says she learned it is possible for her to push her parents around when necessary. (She says she’s kidding, but I don’t think she entirely is.) And Jessi starts off by saying, “If Aunt Cecelia stays a second longer, I am going to scream.”
Claudia: tank top, drawstring pants, unbuttoned button down shirt (for a boat race! Silly girl!), big earrings; long-sleeved polo shirt tucked into jeans

Coming soon: I’ll be back next weekend, assuming I’m able to suffer my way through #37 Dawn and the Older Boy. Would everyone be okay if I just quit reading the Dawn books all together? (Just kidding. Actually, there aren’t really too many Dawn books left I really hate—just #37 and #57.)


  1. i just love yoru blog i wanted to compile everyone in the bsc world with real birthyear but it too hard, keep up your good work

  2. Stacey going to pieces. Oh, you.

    I really liked how Claudia got to feel smart and competent in this book. Even if she didn't invent anything, she did a good job in the situation.

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ghostwriter! I just watched Ghost Story on YouTube. I had the biggest crush(es) on Alex and Rob. And I now think Jamal, too, was pretty cute/hot and if I were a 14 year old girl, I would so be holding his hand right now. But I suppose I should mainly be commenting on the BSC part of the post, so here goes.

    I find it so interesting seeing how others view the characters. Even when we all basically have the same pictures (at least North Americans would have the same pictures as each other) we see different things in the depictions.

    For instance, back in the day, I never had trouble telling who was Stacey and who was Dawn in the pics. that feature both of them. (For instance, SS2 - Stacey on the left and Dawn on the right.) Or even the pics. including only one of them but not necessarily knowing from context or textual clues who was whom. (Mallory On Strike - Dawn on cover with Mal, Nicky and Claire/Margo.)

    Then I became part of the online community and saw people commenting on how they couldn't tell which was whom between Stacey and Dawn that I began to doubt (though not necessarily change) my choices.

    But with this cover, we saw the kids totally differently! (And I'm meaning this as a good thing.) Back in the day, I thought (not that I thought about it so much then, certainly less than I think about it now) but I came up with that Jaime was the one in the purpley-blue and that Jeff was the one in the yellow and Haley was the one wearing the blue and white stripes (looking kind of girly to me).

    But recently, I've started to look more closely at the cover and (along with the help of some opinions from others), I now think the kid in purple is Jamie (so, okay, THAT didn't change for me) and the kid in the yellow is Haley and the kid in blue is Jeff. This is because the kid in blue has lighter blond hair, kind of the way Dawn's is described and Dawn's hair on the cover is just the same light colour on the ends. Also Dawn has her hand on that kid's knee and I'd hope she wouldn't be that comfortable, i.e. touchy-feely, with either Jamie or Haley to do that. So it has stuck in my mind that purple = Jamie and I now think blond kid is Jeff so that leaves yellow kid to be Haley, even though yellow kid totally looks like a boy. (But then again so too do Kristy and Mal look like men. I personally think Kristy looks more hideous than Mal on this cover. Recently I've been trying to decide on my favourite and least favourite covers for each baby-sitter and right now this one is tying/vying with Kristy and the Snobs for my least fave Kristy.)

    Jeff and Haley is not a comparable match to Becca and Jamie. Whoever had Jeff in their boat would have a definite advantage.

    I'm okay with Mal not having a plot, I think it's kind of nice that she can just be there for her friends when they need her.

    I never thought Stacey was entirely kidding about pushing parents around, either.

    One thing you didn't mention is that Mary Anne says she'll go home in the interim between Claudia and Dawn's first race and come back for the finish. Dawn mentions MA's fair skin and that no way could she stand out in the sun for a six-mile race. Okay, fine. But how would she know when to come back? Why wouldn't she just take a book along and go read it inside?

    I think I will leave off here. (Sorry for the length.)

  4. I had to come back and add that I took a(nother) close look at the cover this morning and I got to looking at everyone's shoes. MA and Dawn are both wearing different shades of blue shoes. Everyone else is wearing white shoes, with the exception of the kid in the yellow/green combo who I now (again) believe is Jeff Schafer. The reasons for this are:

    Dawn's hair colour (which I am fully aware that I compared to the kid in blue's hair in my previous comment) seems to be blonde with an abundance of red/brown. If you take the darkest part of Dawn's hair and compare it to the kid in yellow's overall hair, they're fairly similar.

    Also, as I was looking so closely at everyone's shoes, I caught sight of the kid in blue's shoes. She (as I now again believe this is Haley) has a flower design on her white shoes. She also has a patch/outside layer of a pocket on her outer shirt that is a flower. And she has ruffled socks. Not that boys can't wear flowers or ruffles but this looks pretty girly to me. Also I believe Jeff Schafer would no more wear flowers or ruffles any more than he'd join MA's sewing class, if he'd been in Stoneybrook at the time. (I don't believe he would have, despite Dawn's comments to the contrary.)

    Third, if I remember correctly, the kid in the purpley-blue ensemble matches the inner illustrations of Jamie. At least the one near the end where he comes home from the hospital and the other 'Islanders' are there to meet him.

    I hope you make it through Dawn and the Older Boy, if only to get to Dawn Saves the Planet sooner. (I assume that you are going to try to post about both of them as you mentioned trying out book 37.) I look forward to book 57, as it's one of my favourites, for the sheer ridiculousness.

    Thanks for letting me ramble again.