Monday, May 5, 2014

"I said she was probably eating ground up cow knuckles, but she said she didn't care." Baby-sitters Club Chain Letter

Prepare to feel gypped…I didn’t have time this weekend to sit down with a super special, but I also didn’t want to break the chronological-order thing I had going. (I am SO OCD sometimes.) So I cheated.
I wasn’t going to include the Chain Letter because it is so stupid, but I figured it was a good way to sneak a book in this weekend when I just didn’t have time to read a ‘real’ book. There’s not really a plot to this—the BSC is separated and scattered and they write each other postcards and letters. Among what they’re writing is a chain letter Kristy gets from her cousin, wherein you have to tell one person a secret you’ve never told anyone before. Rather than sum everything up here, I’ll just break down each piece of correspondence.
Tidbits (they’re not even interesting!)
The whole stupid book starts with a get well soon card from Karen…because NO BSC book is complete without her! It’s how we learn that Kristy is spending her vacation in the hospital, having had her appendix removed.
Kristy is so bored in the hospital that everyone is sending her cards and calling her and so on. She gets the chain letter from her cousin Robin. In an actual good moment of continuity, Robin is mentioned way back in book 1 because she’s diabetic. But she must be Kristy’s cousin down her dad’s side, because she didn’t come to Watson and Elizabeth’s wedding or anything.
Oh, and Robin’s secret, if you must know, is that she once broke a perfume bottle and blamed it on the dog. (She also has stationery with robins on it. I think that would get old really fast…)
Kristy sends her note to Stacey and spends a whole page whining about the hospital before she admits her secret: she hates her dad. Here’s my thing: why is that a secret? Sure, she’s never said it before, but I sometimes hate my dad for similar reasons. I think I ‘got’ Kristy’s emotions toward her dad long before my parents got divorced. I think even those whose dads couldn’t be said to have abandoned them in any way will completely understand that.
Claudia writes Janine a postcard. She starts off, “How are you”…which is an improvement for her…until you read the rest of the sentence: “and who are mom and dad.” She keeps spelling museum wrong and starts up a thread that carries through the book asking if the BSC answering machine is working. The funniest part is at the end when she asks why the museum would put in a ‘statu’ that was missing an arm and part of its nose. I’d think that if anyone would understand the artistic value of that, it would be Claud.
I wonder, reading this, how each of the BSC a) decided who to send their secret to and b) knew who’d already been chosen. Stacey sends hers to Mal, which makes sense given the secret (she once dyed her hair red, as Mal will dye her hair blonde next week when I finally read that super special). And I get why Kristy picked Stacey for her dad story; she’s got divorced parents too.
Funniest part of Stacey’s letter to Mallory is that Stacey and Claud (who are in NYC together) went shopping at Bloomingdales with Stacey’s dad. Claudia bought leopard print socks, saying you can’t find stuff like that in Stoneybrook. Stacey: “My father said he wasn’t sure you’d want to find it anywhere.” (The title quote is what Stacey said about Claudia's vendor hot dog.)
Dawn sends Claudia a postcard about how she, Mary Anne, her dad and Jeff went to Disneyland, even though she practically grew up there. (Mr. Schafer sure is nice to keep letting his ex-wife’s stepdaughter visit him.) Well, Dawn, don’t ask Mary Anne where she wants to go if you’re going to get huffy about going there. Of course she’s going to say Disney. All tourists would say Disney!
Mal and Jessi are in Sea City together as mother’s helpers (again), so Mal leaves her note under Jessi’s pillow. She admits that she once cheated off Jessi on a test. I like this for a couple reasons: Mal’s a nerd, and it shows that even nerdy people sometimes feel the urge to cheat. Plus, Jessi actually already knew because she caught Mal doing it. (She sends her a note telling her they’re still friends anyway.) Plus, Mal’s handwriting is going all over the place on her note—it’s not in perfect straight lines, which is more realistic than you usually see in the letters and postcards.
Jessi’s stationery is covered in horses. Are we surprised?
In her chain letter, Jessi admits to Mary Anne that she and Becca were once playing pirates and Jessi actually played with fire and made a hole on a rug. (The letter is very long and completely crammed onto a small piece of paper…I kinda blanked out reading it. The rest seems to be about the surprise party for Kristy the BSC puts together.) I like this because it’s almost realistic—she eleven, and eleven year olds make mistakes.
Stacey sends Kristy a postcard in reply to Kristy’s secret. Two comments. A) Should you really write about someone’s “deep dark secret” on the back of a postcard where anyone could see it? B) It’s a NYC postcard, and Stacey wrote on the other side, pointing an arrow to a building and saying, “My apartment (just kidding.)” I love when Stacey tries to be funny. I really do.
Logan is in Louisville with Lewis, so he writes MA a letter and Lewis keeps interjecting. My favorite part is when Lewis asks about the weather and Logan asks him if he’s ninety. Lewis says old people don’t just talk about weather and Logan retorts, “No, sometimes they talk about bocce ball.”
Mrs. Kishi leaves an actual memo to the BSC about Mrs. Rodowsky calling the home phone and signs it Mom (Mrs. Kishi). Heh.
Mary Anne sends her secret to Claudia, and this is the only significant part of the book right here: she tells her that she was once having trouble with school and home and her father sent her to a therapist. I’ve read enough other people’s commentary on the BSC to know that a lot of people never read this book, and spent a lot of the later books going HUH? when that would come up. I know it’s mentioned several times in the books after this came out, such as #85, when Claudia refers a child to the therapist Mary Anne saw, and #93, when Mary Anne goes back to see her again. I think it’s a really nice thing. I’ve had a lot of therapy through the years and it’s nice to see a well-established, not psycho character saying they’ve seen a therapist. “If Mary Anne needed a little help, then I guess I might, too.” It’s a positive message. (Even Claudia tells MA she’s proud of her for admitting she needed help.)
Margo sends Stacey a postcard, just to tell her she saw Toby with an ugly girl and that the new lifeguard at the beach is also ugly. I guess they have to have something “funny” every so many notes, so Margo finishes the letter with pictures of an eye, a heart and a ewe, then explains, “That means I love you, not I love sheep.” That would have been much funnier if it was, say, Nicky.
On her letter to Dawn, Claudia spells her friend’s last name wrong and doesn’t capitalize it. I’m not going to pass on all of her misspellings (I know; you’re so disappointed) but she does tell Dawn it is the chan leter. And spell her best friend’s name wrong. Her secret? Well, first off, let me say that if we assumed that all of these “secrets” were mine, I’d probably feel the worst about Claudia’s. She stole from Mimi. It was only a dollar, but she was old enough to know better.
Oh, and she wants to know where Sharon took her answering machine to be repaired. Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to buy a new one?
There are some really disturbing “photos” of Dawn and Mary Anne that look like they came from a photo booth. I’ve looked through this book maybe ten times before and never saw them until now. For some reason, they were in the letter from Claudia to Dawn, so I’m not sure where they’re supposed to be in the book.
Jessi needs to be a secretary or something someday, after she’s had some typing lessons. She makes a professional-looking memo and tells each person to read the note, cross of their name, and pass it on. I’ll blame most of the mistakes on a crappy Sea City typewriter.
Dawn has the stupidest secret of them all. She tried to convince MA that she saw Cam Geary in first class on their flight to California. She thought it was funny at the time, but now she can’t figure out how to tell Mary Anne the truth. And then MA writes a mushy love letter to Cam about how they were on the same plane. She calls him ‘my dearest Cam,’ and says I love you. I wonder if she’s ever told Logan about this??? I mean, I know it’s just a hopeless crush, but Logan’s not exactly a prince. He’d probably get all pissy and jealous.
Heh. The book ends with Kristy’s thank you card to Robin. The only important thing I got out of that? Jessi admitted to her parents what happened with the rug, and they are expecting her to pay for a new rug. As well they should.
Next week: I really, really will read California girls.

No comments:

Post a Comment