Tuesday, April 29, 2014

“Shouldn’t we be saving our food for when we really need it?” BSC #39: Poor Mallory (1990)

So, as you can guess by this original title, Mal’s dad loses his job. So not only is Mallory poor, but she’s feeling sorry for herself because she’s sitting for the Delaneys of the $400 cat and giant, ostentatious fish fountain. Mal encourages her brothers and sisters to be thrifty and do odd jobs to earn money. Otherwise, she’s concerned that they’ll have to go on welfare. Meanwhile, her mom’s temping and her dad’s job hunting/moping around the house. It takes him less than a month to find a new job. (Good thing he didn’t lose his job now.)

Meanwhile, Amanda and Max Delaney are having trouble because they got a new pool and can’t tell which of their friends likes them and who just likes their pool. Mal finally suggests they invite them over and say they can’t use the pool because there are no free adults. Only one girl doesn’t show up, so the kids figure out who their real friends are.

Interesting Tidbits

And of course, I have to start with the cover. I think Mallory moved to California when she wasn’t looking, as everyone’s swimming…during the school year. Plus, all the kids are blonde. And Mal’s totally ignoring them while she has a mope.


Why is Mal voluntarily singing a song the triplets taught her? Normally, she seems to find them and their behavior a little embarrassing, yet she and Jessi are singing the songs on the way home. Even worse, Mal continue singing after Jessi leaves, only to realize how gross the song is while she’s singing it. Didn’t she pay attention to the lyrics before she began singing it out loud…in public?

This book pretty much confirms what I’ve always suspected about the Pikes: because all four boys share a room, they have the master bedroom. Mal says Mr. and Mrs. Pike’s bedroom “isn’t very big.”

I always wondered, when I was a kid, about the birth order of the triplets. I know now that it’s Jordan, Adam and Byron. I had to laugh when I found that out, because whenever I refer to them, I always say their names in the opposite order. That’s also the order Mal uses in this book when she introduces them. I picked up three other random Mal books (#29, #80 and #92, if you must know) and she either uses that order or alphabetical to refer to them—never the correct birth order.

Mr. Pike calls Mrs. Pike to let her know people are being laid off at his company (they use that term and ‘fired’ like they are the same thing.) So instead of waiting to find out whether he actually will lose his job, she just up and tells the kids so she can ‘prepare them.’ That sounds like a not-smart idea, especially if he hadn’t lost his job. They would have worried for nothing.

Mal actually says, “But it’s especially bad when you have eight kids, a wife—and a hamster.” We all know that hamster is such a financial burden.

I am going to count the number of times the “word” dibble comes up in this story. Wait for my final number at the end of the entry. (For the record, dibble is a word, according to my spell check. Dibbly is not.)

I have sparkly nail polish on my toe nails. According to Mal, I’m totally sophisticated!

I have to chuckle every time they put an ellipsis (…) in the text before they reveal that Logan is an associate member, usually in conjunction with an exclamation point. (For example, “Guess who are other associate member is…that’s right, Mary Anne’s boyfriend Logan!”) Because with the pro-feminist thing that keeps popping up in these books, you’d think there’d be less surprise that a boy babysits. It would even things out a bit. (And I still maintain Logan only joined the club to get into Mary Anne’s pants.)

The title quote is what Nicky says when the Pikes sit down for dinner right after Mr. Pike loses his job.

Mrs. Pike says that on days when she’s temping and Mr. Pike has a job interview, Mal may need to babysit for free. Then, in the next chapter, the BSC offers to give Mal a M-W-F month long job at the Delaneys’ and give her as many other jobs as possible. So…what’s going to happen if the Pikes need her to sit for free? She’ll already be busy.

Apparently, Mal has never sat for the Delaneys before. I guess because they haven’t really appeared since before Mal joined the club. They never attend all the crazy group activities the BSC puts together.

The Winslows live next door to the Delaneys. AMM must know someone with that name, because it’s also Sunny’s last name.

Mrs. Kilbourne works in this book. Yet later, in Shannon’s Story, the whole problem is that she doesn’t have a job and feels purposeless.

A brief mention is made to the Pikes’ having had a cat. I was going to compliment the ghostwriter on that little bit of trivia (the cat was named Sarge and is mentioned in book #1) but this book was actually penned by Ann M. Martin herself.

What month does this book take place in? I’m in chapter 6 and that hasn’t been established. It must be either very early in the school year or very late, as it’s warm enough for the kids to go swimming. In New England.

There is a Timmy is using the pool while Stacey is sitting. The Delaney’s rule is that the kids have to be “good swimmers”—which means swimming the width of the pool without stopping. (That’s a really lame definition of a “good swimmer”, but I guess it works, as you only really need to be able to swim half the width of the pool—or less—to get to the edge.) I’m working under the assumption that this is Timmy Hsu, as he is the Delaney’s neighbor. But isn’t Timmy the kid who later nearly drowns in the same pool (then owned by the Kormans) in Mary Anne to the Rescue? I don’t have a copy of that one yet. (I checked the BSC wiki my coworker/friend Kinsey found. [“I just wanted to find out who exactly Byron and Haley are!” Yeah, I talk about my fic too often at work.] It is Timmy Hsu who nearly drowns because he got into the deep end and couldn’t swim. This is either a mistake by the ghostwriters or it’s a different Timmy.)

You know it’s bad when Karen is actually the nicest non-babysitter in part of the story. The first time all their friends ditch them, Amanda and Max are left alone with Stacey…and Karen. She’s the only one who didn’t leave just because the Delaneys wanted to get out of the pool. It’s probably the only time I can actually say I’ve liked Karen in a story. (Second sign of the apocalypse?)

Mal comes home and finds her dad in front of the television with a box of crackers and a glass “of something.” Vodka, perhaps?

Vanessa’s been pretty “glass half full” throughout most of the book. The triplets and Mal are all getting made fun of for being poor. Vanessa points out that Becca bought her a popsicle so she didn’t feel left out. Meanwhile, Jordan wants to hit an ex-friend with a baseball, so you know how well he’s taking things, and Byron’s “sensitive” so he’s the one concerned about whether they’ll be homeless.

Mal has to keep explaining financial concerns to Claire so that she understands where the money goes. Claire actually apologizes for it. But then Mal launches into a complicated explanation of what a mortgage is instead of saying, “Houses are expensive, so people pay for them a little each month for a long time.”

Do little kids usually have desks in their rooms? All the kids in BSC books do. I didn’t even have a desk in my room when I was a teen. I always did my homework at the kitchen table, or in front of the television while watching soap operas.

I like the Papadakis kids a lot in this book. They point out that Karen and DM are going over to the Delaney’s just to use their pool (David Michael doesn’t even like Amanda and Max) and that it’s mean to treat them that way. And that’s coming from a couple kids who don’t even like Amanda and Max themselves.

Amanda is reading Superfudge. I will always love Fudge books.

I really do feel bad for Amanda and Max. Sure, they’re brats. And yeah, Amanda can be bossy. But she knows she’s sometimes bossy and she actually acts concerned about whether she’s driving her friends away. Both kids’ feelings are really hurt when they’re friends only like them for their pool.

And of course, the BSC can’t solve their problems unless their sittees have a parallel problem for them to see. Mallory actually points out to Amanda that they have similar issues.

Mal totally tells off the girls who have been making fun of her at lunch. She sounds totally mature and totally-un-middle-school.

Amanda and her friends play Snail, even though she and Max still think Stacey’s a weirdo.

Becca and Jessi get way too excited because Aunt Cecelia goes out for the afternoon and Jessi’s in charge. They eat the least-nutritious snacks they can find and relax.

Vanessa’s doing hairstyling for money on the playground. (I wonder where she learned to French braid. Does she ever help Margo and Claire with their hair?) Funniest part of that story is that Becca says she made one girl look really nice...by giving her a side ponytail.

The return of Secret Agents! Vanessa teaches Charlotte and Becca how to play. Most disturbing is that Jessi just lets them go outside to spy on people without asking where they’re going or anything. She just tells them not to be pests. (It works out okay, as they were apparently spying on her.)

This made me laugh. Mal’s father tells her, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Since she doesn’t know what that means and this is before you could just look stuff like that up, she calls Kristy. Kristy’s able to explain it, as Watson is the King of Clichés.

The Pikes don’t have any rules, but apparently, Adam is not allowed to say he’s going to “blow cookies.” That sounds like something a set of parents who won’t let Mallory wear oversized shirts with leggings would say.

There’s a weird moment when the triplets are talking about their odd job service and Adam mentions they painted all of Sharon’s lawn furniture. But he says “Dawn Schafer’s mom’s lawn chairs.” Wouldn’t they call Sharon Jeff’s mom, or has Jeff been gone for long enough that they forget him when he’s not around? And how many Dawns do they know, anyway?

Mal keeps kicking Adam under the table because he keeps being a smart-ass during dinner. Maybe she was right when she called him “The Terror of Slate Street”?

Another real book: Uncle Roland, the Perfect Guest. I haven’t read that one, but hey, if Mary Anne and Mal like it….

The BSC has a sleepover at Mal’s and they prank call the girls who were bitches to her. I can’t picture that being something that some of these girls (Mary Anne, mostly) would be okay with. But Mary Anne actually insists on doing the “pig farm” call because she has a great imitation of a southern accent.

My favorite moment of the whole book: Adam has a “slime gun” that he uses to slime Claudia and Kristy at the beginning of the slumber party. (This is why they should stick to Kristy’s or Mary Anne’s for slumber parties.) Mal’s dad says he’ll take care of it…which he does by finding the gun and giving it to Mal with the suggestion that she put it to good use. I love you, Mr. Pike.

New characters(? Some of these guys may have appeared in earlier stories, but I’m not sure.)

Angie, Huck, Timmy, Cici, Meghan (Max and Amanda’s friends)

No outfits unless you count the swimsuits, which are not described.

So Mal seriously uses dibble or dibbly 6 times! Meanwhile, she says stale (the opposite of dibble) 4 times, and Jessi says it once.

Next week: We get to change coasts and pretend to be California girls.


  1. The birth order of the triplets isn't consistent. Sometimes Adam is the oldest, sometimes Jordan is. Because what is continuity, again?

  2. Maybe Mrs. K. Got "fired" too.