Monday, July 28, 2014

“Funny, I thought only we could prevent forest fires.” BSC #52: Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies (1992)

I’m back and my kidneys are (almost) back to normal! This was one of my favorites as a kid. I wanted to be a babysitter and I totally wanted to take the “Modern Living” class featured within. I haven’t read this one since probably 1995, but I’m betting it’s full of ‘delicious’ egg puns, which you can bet I’ll report for you.
So. The SMS eighth graders are taking the aforementioned class, which isn’t really about modern living so much as about being married and having children…which not everyone does. Mary Anne and Logan are (conveniently) in the same class, so they ‘marry’ each other and have to be parents to an egg baby. Of course, all the BSC take this very seriously and learn life lessons from their eggs.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. Slap some yoga pants on Mary Anne (instead of her very early-90s leggings) and she could be a soccer mom on her way to watch Logan, Jr.’s team lose. (This actually happens in the book, down to the twins’ outfits, with one exception: The Salems have a side-by-side stroller.)

Deep thought time: Mary Anne says she loves Jeff, but she doesn’t spend much time with him. How well does she even know him? He hasn’t been her stepbrother very long, and she only gets to see him during about every-other school break. I guess that’s a better way of phrasing it than, “I guess I like Jeff; I kinda have to, because he’s my stepbrother.”
Ooh, an incident of Sharon-itis! She put the hedge clippers in the bread drawer. MA also mentions finding her sweater in the freezer and the remote control in the bathroom. Honestly, anyone could do the last one…or maybe that’s just me. (Actually, I usually find it next to the fridge when I’m looking for it.)
Heh. Mary Anne suggests that the opposite of outgoing is ingrown. It’s like Ten Things I Hate About You: “I know you can be overwhelmed and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?” “I think you can in Europe.”
Mary Anne thinks she and Logan are ready to get married. Um, really? I could see that attitude if she were seventeen, but she can’t even drive a car for three more years. And I realize she and Logan have been together, on and off, for 42 books, but it’s not even a whole school year, technically.
Shawna Riverson is an idiot. She doesn’t know the difference between a wedding and a marriage or between a condiment and a commodity. She also never heard the phrase, “Better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Ooh, scandalous! The school’s allowing same-sex marriages, as there are four more boys than girls in the class. (Connecticut actually was one of the first states to legalize it, but not until 11 years after this book was published.)
Ah, Logan the misogynist. He and MA are given a homework assignment to figure out whether they can be financially independent. (They flip out after discovering they can’t even afford one month’s rent on a two-bedroom apartment with their current, 13-year-old pay.) Logan insists they HAVE to live at his house, because he’s the man.
Actually, wouldn’t it have been funny if he’d tried to convince his parents to let Mary Anne stay over, because they were married? There’s never any insinuation of sex in these books. Real teenagers would be dealing with ‘how far to go’ and hormones. These girls barely kiss most of the time.
Ah, Smokey the Bear jokes. Those never get old. (See the title quote.)
When Mary Anne refers to her egg-baby as ‘her,’ Logan asks how she knows it’s a girl. Um, I know that they were just told to treat the eggs as babies and refer to them as children, but it’s a flippin’ egg. I would have sarcastically replied, “I looked in her diaper.”
I’m trying to remember all of the eggs’ names. I know Mary Anne and Logan name theirs Samantha, Sammie for short. Kristy is married to Alan (natch) and their son is Izzy. Stacey’s is named Bobby and someone else’s—Dawn, I think—names theirs Skip. It’s really disturbing that I remember that. I think what actually disturbs me even more is that I remember being really irritated at not knowing what Claudia named HER baby.
For the record, here are some things I would have considered naming MY egg baby, if I ever had one: Eggbert (actually the title of a Degrassi Junior High episode on this topic), Eggberta, Eggidio, Eggeria, Egguskina, Omelet, Overeasy, Poached, Scrambled, Chicken-Embryo. (The non-food-ish ones are actual names, just with an egg-stra G added by yours truly.)
I remembered this, too: Kristy and Alan get way over-involved in their egg baby, trying to stimulate its brain cells and worrying over whether its nervous when Kristy takes it on a sitting job. She talks on the phone so long over their egg’s social development that she actually loses her sitting charges…and the egg.
And suddenly, I love Linny and Hannie. They’re taking the ‘missing’ Izzy situation about as seriously as I am. Linny: If I were an egg, where would I go? Hannie: How about the refrigerator?
Then they start with the puns. (Actually, Mary Anne says they started “cracking jokes” so I think she beat them to the puns.) The two of them (and Kristy, once she discovers Sari is playing with the egg) use egg-sactly, egg-cellent, egg-zample, egg-citement and egg-straordinary. Linny also says he hopes no one cooked and ate Izzy.
Logan and Mary Anne decorate their egg with flowers. Wouldn’t a face make more sense?
Kristy actually makes Dawn smell Izzy to make sure the egg isn’t spoiled.
I’m actually glad I read the notebook entry that leads up to Stacey’s sitting job for Bobby and Alicia. She mentions that she went through a phase when she was afraid of pigeons “for no good reason.” I’ll give you several good reasons to be afraid of pigeons. They’re fat and grisly. They’re rats with wings. And if they can’t find a better perch, they’ll land on your head. You have to trust me on this. I have photos, and I'm hoping my mom will scan them so you can laugh.
Exhibit A:

That's me in Italy in 1989. I was eight. I am still afraid of pigeons to this day.
Ooh, Stacey’s turn for deep thoughts. She wonders what it must be like for her mom to be single with a “kid”. (I’m sure Stacey doesn’t think of herself that way, even though she is.) Before that, she was the only one not taking the egg project overly seriously. She now thinks it must be very scary being a parent.
Oh, and I’m convinced that the only reason the Gianellis ever became BSC clients was so they could make a few jokes about Bobby the egg meeting Bobby the human.
Please forgive any random typing or spaces you may see while reading this. I (inadvertently) adopted a new kitten recently and one of her favorite games is jumping on my laptop to try to catch the curser. It’s adorable…unless she does it while I’m writing a research paper or something like that. (On a side note, I am now officially a crazy cat lady.)
I was right; Dawn’s egg is named Skip. But Dawn wanted to name him Douglas, because Skip sounds like a cartoon chicken wearing a beanie. Well, Dawn, he is an egg…
Does anyone believe that the Pike boys would really agree to ‘marry’ their sisters and adopt egg babies? Yeah, me neither. Moving on.
Although I did laugh hysterically when Vanessa “killed” her egg baby trying to color it with a crayon. “Poor, poor nameless killed egg.”
Mary Anne and Logan actually contemplate what their teacher does with their egg babies after the class is over. Two words for you: trash can. Better yet, one word: dumpster.
Logan’s been ridiculously overprotective of their ‘baby’, but when he has to say goodbye to Sammie, he suggests that she’s been a good egg. And he’s back to being a regular teenaged boy.
Once again, Jessi is randomly spelled Jessie. I think one of the people who typed up the books (or edited it or something) had a friend/relative that spelled it that way.
That’s it, that’s all. There were NOT enough egg puns for my liking.
Claudia: sequined shirt, stirrup pants (“maybe black”), low black boots, turquoise earrings, sparkly nail polish (This doesn’t sound ‘wild and trendy;’ it sounds like 2/3 of the girls in my sixth grade class. Unless they were all wild and trendy too…)
New(ish) characters:
Bobby and Alicia Gianelli (7 and 4)—29 and 26 (this is the first time they’d appeared in a BSC book, although Bobby had already been in Little Sister books)

Next week: I get to re-blog #53 Kristy for President, almost exactly a year after I blogged it originally.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

“I had taken a vacation with lunatics.” BSC Super Special #8: Babysitters at Shadow Lake (1992)

Watson’s aunt and uncle want to leave him a cabin in Massachusetts in their will, so they encourage him to take the family up there to see if it’s something he would like to accept. Watson lets the kids bring friends, leading to a grand total of (ahem) 20 people going on vacation together. Everyone gets their own story (including DM and f***ing Karen):
Kristy: really wants to show Watson how much they love the cabin. She also convinces her friends to spend the night on Shadow Island.
Claudia: decorates the little speed boat and enters in in a boat show with much larger craft.
Mary Anne: I think when they wrote this up, they forgot MA. She doesn’t have a plot line. She’s mostly just babysitting for Karen. I’m so sorry, Mary Anne.
Stacey: Sam keeps pestering her, and it takes her forever to realize he likes her. (Um, he’s a fifteen year old boy! Does she expect him to be mature about it?) Eventually, they get together…which lasts for a dozen books or so….
Dawn: is a moron. She decides there must be a mystery (and, because that’s not stupid enough, a Lake Monster.)
Mallory: is annoying. She keeps getting bug bites, so she’s crabby and wears a jungle ensemble with mosquito netting on it.
Jessi: meets a hot guy and forgets all about her 'boyfriend', but then decides that she and this guy are just friends.
Karen, Hannie and Nancy (the Three Musketeers): spend all their time cleaning up a playhouse they find in the woods and making a bet with the boys.
David Michael, Linny and Nicky: try to build a fort that’s better than the girls’ playhouse, but lose the bet. Linny and Nicky, who don’t really know each other, don’t get along so well.
I have three really strong memories from this one, but I’ll put them into the tidbits as they come up.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover! Just two weeks ago, I mentioned this cover, not knowing it was coming up so quickly. I made the comparison between 1980s “Weird” Al Yankovic and Mallory; you be the judge:

Okay, so she doesn't have a mustache, but other than that it's pretty close, right? Besides Mal, the girls all actually kinda look cute here. I LOVE Kristy’s outfit (minus the scrunchie) and would totally wear that. In a good move, they do not have Dawn roasting a marshmallow. Can you hear her whining about processed sugar? Yeah, me too. Only other thing I have to say is that if Stacey is trying to whisper to Mary Anne, she should cup her hand the other way.

In the letter from Watson’s Aunt Faith that introduces the plotline, she mentions that Watson hasn’t been to Shadow Lake since he was twelve, yet the same caretaker still cares for it. Let’s try to guess Watson’s age here. He’s bald, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything (I went to college with a bald guy, for example). I’ve always pictured him being somewhere in his late forties. (Back then, to me that was “really old”—my parents were young parents and not even close to that age.) For shits and giggles, let’s say he’s fifty. It’s then been 38 years since he’s been to this cabin. Either the caretaker is ancient or he was ridiculously young when he started being the caretaker.
More clues to Watson’s age: he hasn’t seen his aunt and uncle for twenty years, since he was “a very young man.” I’m guessing that puts his age closer to 45, or even younger.
Oh, lord. Kristy wants a gavel to start BSC meetings.
Dawn actually considers (in her entry for Watson’s book) whether it’s okay to call him Watson or not. It does seem kind of weird. I mean, it’s normal for kids to call adults by first name sometimes, but considering that they always refer to all the other adults by Mr. or Mrs. So and So, it’s unusual. I guess it would be kind of awkward to call him “your stepdad” all the time when addressing Kristy.
Did I tell you all how much I love Charlie? When there’s too much luggage for the cars, he suggests leaving Karen behind so there’s more room.
Why, oh why, would you bring Boo-boo to the cabin in the woods? What if he gets loose and runs off?
Stacey teaches the “Three Musketeers” the Great Chicago Fire song about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. I used to love that one as a kid, especially because it was REALLY annoying to others.
Jessi draws a floor plan of the house, and all I can wonder after seeing it is…where’s the front door? Do you have to walk in through the kitchen? (Okay, I also wondered why Aunt Faith and Uncle Pierson needed a cabin which can sleep twenty-eight.)
Do you believe that all eleven girls (seven members of the BSC, Three Musketeers and Emily Michelle) are scared of spiders? They all jump out of bed and freak out when Karen thinks she sees one. Shouldn’t there be at least one sane one?
The title quote comes from Stacey’s assessment of things, only partway into day two. Well, Stacey, you’ve been on vacation with Sam and Dawn (who are the main reasons she says this) before and you survived. Maybe you should know when enough is enough.
Kristy calls Mary Anne “Miss Encyclopedia of Bad News.” I…actually like that. MA does tend to jump to negative conclusions.
This is one of my favorite super specials. Not as high as #4 (just for sheer ludicrousity (not a word, but don’t judge me)), but up there. It’s the dialog; it’s crisper and funnier than normal. It does appear this one was not ghostwritten, so that may be why.
Here’s example #2 of the dialog. Right after MA suggests that Mal could be being bitten by a deer tick (which led to Kristy’s comment as above), Sam suggests that Stacey should be bitten a lot by mosquitos because they love sweet blood. (This could be a diabetes joke or a comment on her personality; you choose.) Kristy calls him Dracula. Sam replies that he’s a man of many secrets, and Kristy says, “Man? You don’t even shave yet.” I love this, as it actually sounds like a brother and sister talking.
OH HELLS YES! Here we go. I am going to transcribe this whole conversation, as it is one of my favorite things in all of BSC-dom.
Mal and Jessi were supervising Andrew and Emily who were trailing Kristy, who was trailing Dawn and Stacey on their monster hunt. I took my eyes off Karen and her friends long enough to glimpse Stacey, who was holding her hand to her forehead and gazing across the water.
“Yo!” shouted Stacey.
“Yo?” repeated Mal.
“She’s from New York,” I heard Kristy say to Mal, who nodded knowingly.
It goes on, but the only other bit that I have to share is when Dawn decides the shape Stacey sees looks just like the Loch Ness monster and Stacey replies, “Nessie is a close, personal friend of yours?”
I may require alcohol to get through the Karen chapters (even though I am on painkillers and that’s a bad combo.) If I stop making sense, I’m sorry. I hope you understand.
It’s always bugged me how Karen (and a lot of the other kids) never use contractions and the sentences are always much simpler. I guess it’s supposed to sound the way a second grader would write; it made sense when I would pick up the Little Sister books. But reading it in these books puts my teeth on edge, and not just because it’s Karen.
Karen flat out lies and disobeys Mary Anne. But then she mentions The Secret Garden and all is forgiven. Will no one actually punish Karen?
Kristy has a problem with her over-thirty mother wearing a bikini. Well, honey, if your mom still has a bikini body after giving birth to four children, she should flaunt it!
The girls are kind of bitchy to Mallory. Yes, she looks like a dork in her mosquito-proof headgear, but she’s their friend and she has a problem. Yet instead of sympathizing with her, they make her walk ten paces behind them. And Kristy tells her she’s an embarrassment.
Ah, this brings back memories. Jessi agrees to give her lovah boy (his name is Daniel, because you know I love to be precise about these things) a dance lesson, but first she has to rewind the tape. Those were the days.
Real books: Maniac Magee and The Hero and the Crown.
Linny and Nicky spend a whole chapter arguing. They only stop when they find a common enemy: the girls.
This makes NO sense. The bet the kids make involves doing each other’s chores for a month. That would be okay for Linny and Hannie, who are siblings, and maybe even for Karen and David Michael, who do sometimes live together. But is someone supposed to drive Nicky over to Nancy’s house so he can do her chores (or vice versa)?
Yay, Claudia spelling! Michele, waht, geting, thicking (thinking), satruday. She also keeps misusing words: boot for boat, shoe for show, the Faith Person instead of the Faith Pierson, Lack for Lake. More amusingly, she spells Andrew as Andrea, Emily as Emil and Kristy as Kirsty.
Andrew’s suggestions to decorate the Faith Pierson: a turkey, a pirate, a crayon, a hobo, Gumby and a Hershey bar.
Ah, a Sam chapter. Awesome! (And I’m not kidding about that. I actually enjoy Sam’s point of view. In fact,  I wish we could have had chapters from more of the older siblings, like Janine and Charlie.)
I guess Sam feels the same way about Karen as Charlie does: he hears someone singing a song and thinks Karen’s in the boy’s dorm. When he finds out it’s Andrew, he thinks, “Oh no, there’s going to be two of them!”
Mary Anne is reading The Wind in the Willows.
Oh, my second memory of this book (The first was the “Nessie” scene where Stacey says yo.) Dawn takes EM and Andrew to the dock to look at the boats. Emily keeps saying “boot,” even though the other two keep correcting her with “boat” and she said it properly earlier. However, they find out she was referring to a cowboy boot decoration on one of the boats when she later says “boot on boat.”
More Claudia spelling! Parad, decrated, prety, yestruday, whith. Also Kristy ‘road’ in the boat.
Claudia dresses the Faith Pierson up like the Lack Munster.
“You must be crazy, Kristy…You’re not playing with a full deck. You’re a few bricks short of a load. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”
“I get the picture.’’
“Wait, can I just say one more thing?”
“Be my guest.”
            “The cheese has slipped off the cracker.”
I have used ‘the cheese has slipped off the cracker’ many times in my life. It has served me well. And, well, I guess I have Dawn (and Ann M. Martin) to thank for that.
I always liked when Jessi would pop a sense of humor into the books. It seemed to happen randomly through the series, until Abby came along (and kind of stole that thunder.) Mallory overpacks for their night on the island and then describes all the things she has in her bag: she’s got mosquito spray, tick spray, general bug spray, etc. This leads Jessi to ask “Who’s General Bug?”
Mallory mixes up the theme song to the Beverly Hillbillies with Gilligan’s Island. I laugh because my dad used to tell us bedtime stories by reciting the lyrics to those songs. “Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed…” I joke that someday, I’ll be able to tell those ‘stories’ plus the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Nanny.
Mal says they don’t plan on using the tents they brought to the island, but you’d think someone with as many insect bites as Mal has would want to sleep in a tent. (It would have been interesting if they’d kept up the ‘Mal gets eaten alive by insects’ thing in later books, the way they do with the ‘Mary Anne sunburns’ thing.)
Ooh, a DM spelling mistake! He keeps spelling fort as forte and were as where. (I went back to his earlier entry and found a few more: figthing/figth, bild.) He still has better spelling than Claudia. Oh, and I think he has the same handwriting as Logan…
Kristy sure is creative with the descriptions of disgusting smells. After the Three Musketeers bathe themselves in perfume, Claudia suggests the bedroom smells like cabbage and sewage. Kristy suggests it’s more like the combination of a fish head and old chicken skin in the garbage disposal.
According to this book, Quint is eleven (I’d always thought he was older for some reason).
Kristy actually dreams that Stacey and Sam are getting married, but Sam is late to the wedding because he’s making prank calls.
This one still makes me laugh after all these years: Claudia’s cleaning out the refrigerator, but after she keeps announcing all the gross things she finds, she gets removed from the job and made to clean the grill.
Two notes from the epilogue. First, a funny: Mallory writes a complaint to the people who make the insect repellent she used on the trip, complaining that it didn’t work. In return, they sent her a coupon for her next purchase of the bug spray. Second, when Watson writes to his aunt to accept the cabin, he calls Kristy his daughter (rather than stepdaughter). She’s beyond happy about that.
Claudia: pink tank top over white tank top, black and pink bicycle shorts, three pairs of flop socks (hawt), neon yellow sneakers
Stacey: black leggings, long black t-shirt with a starfish on it, black flop socks, high tops; Hard Rock Café shirt and wrinkly shorts
Mallory: yellow sundress (which looked awesome with her safari hat and mosquito netting)
Kristy: drawstring shorts, shirt with Pokey and Gumby on it
Jessi: jean skirt, yellow tank top, flop socks, high tops

Coming up next week: #52 Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

“The opposite of yes. Two letters, beginning with N!” BSC #49: Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street (1991)

Claudia gets a whole bunch of babysitting jobs for Rosie Wilder, the titular genius. Rosie’s good at everything…piano, singing, tap, violin, etc. So good, in fact, that her parents take her from audition to audition and she spends all her day in rehearsals and practices and is miserable about it. The only thing that actually makes her happy is art…and I suspect that’s just because her parents haven’t discovered her talent and sucked the fun out of it. Rosie, with Claudia’s guidance, eventually talks to her parents, who agree to let her scale back her activities to just those she actually enjoys.
Meanwhile, Claudia combines her two main interests and has an art show called Disposable Comestibles. Yes, my friends, all of the art is junk-food themed. Rosie even gets to show a few drawings.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover:

Rosie and Janine look an awful lot alike (you know, other than size and, um, race). And Claud’s all sad. And looks like she has a mustache. Plus, the tagline? “How could a seven year old make Claudia feel so dumb?” Too easy. Not going to touch it.
I was really hoping to collect all the BSC bookmarks mentioned on my cover. When I was a kid, I had them all but Kristy. It’s how I learned what all the babysitters’ birthdays were. (I’m pretty sure one of my books has the bookmark still attached. And it is…Stacey!)
Claudia tries to dissect a commercial. Give it up, Claud. Commercials have their own logic that we mortals cannot understand. (And because the BSC ghostwriters are not so good at foreshadowing, the little girl in the commercial is none other than Rosie.)
Claud is one of those people who can’t figure out how to work a VCR. She would have such an easier time these days with a DVR.
Claudia actually liked reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Oliver Twist. Huh. (I’ve never read either; the TV show of the former ruined any interest I may have had in it; and the most Dickens I’ve read was A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol.)
I think I figured out why every book’s chapter 2 (and often, chapter 3) are just reruns of all the previous books. Can you imagine how short these books would be if we didn’t get the explanation of Claudia’s almond shaped eyes or the club notebook? Those of us who used to read them in two hours would have finished them even faster.
Suzi Barrett’s first name gets spelled as Suzie at one point.
Mrs. Wilder’s first name is Ginger. As a kid, I always wondered if that was her given name, or if it was a nickname (for something like Virginia or because she was a redhead as a child).
When Mrs. Wilder calls, Claudia doesn’t take her information and call her back (as is their usual policy.) She just cups her hand over the mouthpiece to the phone. As a kid I thought that made more sense…most of the time. Now, I picture Mrs. Prezzioso hearing everyone groaning when someone announces she wants a sitter and things like that.
I suddenly had a flashback to a book I read as a child that had genius spelled as jenius or jeanius on the cover. (Because if Claudia had written the cover, that’s how it would have been spelled. Possibly even jeenyus.) I feel like it was about a little boy with a pet gerbil. Oh, I was close! It’s called Jenius: The Amazing Guinea Pig. The protagonist is a girl (named Judy) and I do remember it being a guinea pig now, as I’d never heard of guinea pigs before that book. It was written by DickKing-Smith, which makes sense. He came to author’s day at my school in England along with another local author (Bel Mooney, author of I Don’t Want to! and a host of other stories about her daughter Kitty.) I read everything he ever wrote (including Babe: The Gallant Pig--better known as The Sheep-Pig--the basis for the movie Babe.)
How does Claudia know house styles and types of trees?
Of course, Rosie has to correct Claudia’s spelling. But then, who hasn’t had the urge to go into their book with a pencil and correct her notebook entries? (Okay, so maybe that’s just ME.) Speaking of, we actually don’t get any Claudia notebook entries this time around. Ultra-mega-sad face.
Stacey gets embarrassed because she has to act out a scene from The Brash and the Beautiful (I’d watch it!) with Rosie. It could have been worse, like a love scene or something.
Is it pathetic that I tried to answer all of Rosie’s crossword puzzle clues? I didn’t know them all, but I did know several. (The title quote is Claudia’s response to being asked to continuously help with crossword clues she didn’t know.)
Mr. Wilder is George.
It’s probably good that the Wilders stopped with one child. Think about how inferior Claudia feels to Janine and then imagine if Janine were also talented in every other way and her parents were stage parents. Are you vomiting yet?
The name of the show Rosie appears on is…Uncle Dandy’s Star Machine. Not only is that such a ripoff of shows like that from the 1950s, Uncle Dandy sounds like the nickname you give that relative that the kids are not allowed to be alone with. Plus, the whole show is such a joke. Uncle Dandy’s toupee nearly comes off, his shirt comes untucked, and the sign for the show says UNCLE ANDY’S TAR MACHINE.
I think I like Rosie best when she throws a temper tantrum. It’s the only time in the whole book she sounds like an actual seven year old.
I can’t imagine that a crossword puzzle competition would be fun to watch. Plus, since all the kids were doing different puzzles (according to grade level), you could only watch one at a time.
Claudia says kids don’t see the point in her junk food artwork. When I was a kid, I would have rather gone to Claudia’s art show than an art museum.
Alan Gray shows up, and because he’s Alan, he has to be a dork and do things like put gum on the floor and post his own art on the wall. (Although, I had a book as a kid that recommended doing something similar…staring at a blank patch of wall at a modern art museum and seeing how long until other people stared at it with you.)
Awww. Janine buys one of Claudia’s paintings. I totally heart her.
New characters
Mary Rose (Rosie) Wilder (7)—30
Claudia: paisley vest, striped button down shirt, tuxedo-stripe (?) black spandex stirrup pants (NOOOO!) held up with black suspenders.
Janine: white blouse, gray pleated skirt
Mary Anne: off white chinos, teal turtleneck with open shirt over it, white sneakers. (I repeat…NOOOO!)
Mrs. Wilder: Laura Ashley dress (of course, dahling)
Coming next: Super Special #8, Babysitters at Shadow Lake

Again, I don’t know when this will be. I’m having surgery coming up soon which should hopefully fix my health problems, but I don’t know when it will be or how much it’s going to knock me down. Add to that the fact that it’s research paper time again (whee!) so things may be spotty for a couple weeks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

“Only one Pike kid at a time can go on strike.” BSC #47: Mallory on Strike (1991)

Confession time: When I was a kid, I kinda secretly wanted to be Mallory. I only had one sister, and we didn’t really get along at the time, so I wanted to have seven brothers and sisters so that I could actually have friends in my family. Now, reading these books, I feel the same way about Mal as I do the oldest Duggar daughters: I pity them for having to help raise their younger brothers and sisters. I know a family with a whole bunch of kids (eight back to back, like the Pikes, then an eight year gap and five more, back to back again). They had a nanny to help out with raising the younger children, and although the older kids DID have to be responsible for certain things (chores like making school lunches, supervising tooth brushing, etc) they were mostly just allowed to be teens. Certainly, the two oldest siblings who I was closest to never had to break up arguments between younger sibs, and they weren’t expected to be unpaid babysitters on a regular basis.
So, as you can tell by that comment and the title, Mallory decides to go on strike for being an unpaid babysitter at her house. She had the opportunity to enter a Young Authors contest but wasn’t getting any quiet time to work on her story. After an accident on a sitting job, she decides to take a complete sitting hiatus. She finally talks to her parents, who agree to give her a day just to herself, and she finds she misses her brothers and sisters, so she gives them a day for them.
Interesting Tidbits
I’m sitting here, looking at the cover, and thinking about the evolution of the cover-Mallory. She’s pretty cute on her first couple covers. Then, somewhere around 1990, she morphed. Her glasses became massive and they gave into Mal’s idea that she’s an ugly duckling. She doesn’t look too bad on this cover, other than her hideous outfit, but give them another year. Think SS#8, where she looks like Weird Al. And then, somewhere around 1995, they actually started making her look like an eleven year old and she was cute again.

Mr. Dougherty! I love it when I recognize the teachers from other stories. He’s the one who went to Europe with the BSC and snuck out to see Virginia Woolf’s house. Here, he’s Mal’s creative writing teacher.
I feel like a lot of the Mallory books start with her complaining about how crazy her siblings are. In this one, the triplets are dressed up like “a weird ad for Sports Illustrated” and Claire thinks they’re boogiemen and kidnapped their mother. Margo’s been playing with makeup. Then the hamster gets loose (twice), Adam and Jordan get into a fight and something happens to the dinner casserole.
Wait. Mal says only she and Nicky wear glasses, but I’m pretty sure Vanessa does, too.
Heh heh! Dibble is back!
There’s this weird moment after Mal turns down a sitting job. No one else is free to take it, so Kristy says, “I’ll call Shannon Kilbourne.” What’s with the last name? It’s not like she’d call Shannon the dog, and how many other Shannons does she know?
With eight kids, do the Pikes really have dessert at every dinner? And do they really ‘make’ it all the time? Mal ends up making chocolate chip cookies for dessert at her mother’s insistence.
Here’s my problem with Mal in the early part of this book: she never sits her parents down and explains how little time she has to write or how important it is to her that she get quiet writing time. She makes a schedule and is determined to stick to it, but she never shows it to her parents so that they can RESPECT it. So her mom ends up asking her to make dessert for the family so that Mrs. Pike can make phone calls for the library. (Of course, I have an issue with this, too: Mal makes chocolate chip cookies. If I were her, I would have paid Nicky to go to the store and pick up a bag of Chips Ahoy or something. Instead of spending an hour or more baking.)
Mallory is kicking herself because Buddy cuts his feet. He was riding his bike barefoot, something she says a good babysitter would not have let him do. I used to ride my bike barefoot all the time…until I had an accident like Buddy’s. And who was watching me at the time? Yeah. My mom. That could have happened to anyone. (Besides, I’m going to go back to my old standby of ‘who lets an eleven year old babysit three small children anyway?’)
Once again, we get one of those odd moments where, during a sitting job for one of the other sitters (in this case, Jessi) the person telling the story is referred to in third person: “On the other hand, she thought maybe they would feel better if they acted out their frustration with Mallory.” It keeps up through the chapter, so I guess it’s just a style choice, to remind us we’re seeing Jessi’s way of thinking. But it’s really odd.
This is kind of awful, but also pretty hilarious: Margo and Claire put on a “ballet” that they call Mean Old Mallory. And instead of stopping them or trying to sort things out, Jessi just sits back and laughs.
Oh, I just love this. Kristy gets an unplanned, emergency sitting job because her mother and Watson have to rush out. And then David Michael’s friend shows up. At first Kristy’s upset because she’s already babysitting for four kids (instead of going shopping like Mary Anne, like she’d planned.) Then she becomes indignant because the friend’s parents don’t like him to be left “without adult supervision.” Apparently, Kristy considers herself an adult. (A few minutes later, she’s crabbing at Karen and Andrew as much as they’re crabbing at her.)
Ha ha ha ha ha! Boo-boo eats the ham out of all of the sandwiches Kristy prepares for lunch. I can just see that happening.
I just love the title quote I used for this one, which is something Mr. Pike says. I want to tell my internal organs the same thing.
The Teeter Streeter is really cool; you’ll look like a geek and act like a fool. Sometimes, just every now and then, the girls in these books act like real people.
Is Pamme Reed a real person? I need to try to remember to Google that. (Answer: There are real Pamme Reeds, but this one is fictional.)
Yay, happy ending. Mallory loves everyone and they all love her.
Mallory: navy wool skirt, white blouse, navy vest, penny loafers; jean skirt, jean jacket, red tights, earrings by Claud
Mr. D (yes, a teacher outfit! I love it!): brown corduroy jacket with leather patches at the elbows, red and yellow plaid shirt, baggy tan chinos
Kristy: sweatpants, t-shirt that says GO KRUSHERS!
Jessi: purple jumpsuit (if anyone can find a more horrible combination of words than ‘purple jumpsuit’ please let me know), gold turtleneck
Pamme Reed: Indian-print skirt, white blouse with puffy sleeves, leather vest, boots

Coming up next: #49, Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street. However, I will make no claims as to when that will be. I’m going to be seeing a lot of doctors in the next few weeks, and then one of three things will happen. 1. They’ll fix my kidneys, so I’ll be back to normal and the blog will continue as scheduled. 2. Things will continue as they are now, in which case I won’t have much energy to work on the blog. 3. They’ll tell me my ‘good’ kidney is shutting down, in which case I’ll end up on disability and dialysis…and will have lots of extra time for blogging. (I hear you all cheering, but let’s not hope for that one, okay?) I’ll try to have #49 for you for next weekend, but no promises. I may have to cut back to every other week instead of every week. But I’m not giving up!