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!


  1. I love your blog and look forward to it every week! Good luck with the doctor's appointments!

  2. Holy cow, good luck with your health issues! Geez.

    The bit with the cat stealing the ham out of the sandwiches? My husband's cat did that last week, and I immediately thought of this scene!

    And good catch with the Mallory covers. I hadn't noticed, but when you point it out...yeah.