Monday, August 11, 2014

“Since when does an animal trainer wear a Cub Scout uniform?” BSC #54: Mallory and the Dream Horse (1992)

Scout, my new cat, keeps trying to attack the book while I’m reading it. I think this is some kind of commentary on Mallory being a bit of an idiot in this book. I really hate to see what she’d do to the books where Mal is truly an idiot.
Mallory’s parents agree to let her take riding lessons. She wants to take them with Jessi, but the Ramseys say no. Mal ends up falling off a horse and being scared to get back on (so many jokes, so little time). Eventually she takes part in the competition, where she ends up in the middle of the pack (neiiiiiiigh!), and decides she would rather look at ponies than ride them.
Meanwhile, Nina Marshall (did you forget about her? she hasn’t been around much!) has a Blankie she takes everywhere with her. The kids at preschool keep teasing her about it, but she’s stubborn and won’t stop taking him. Finally, in an act of ‘whoops’ problem solving, Dawn washes Blankie, who falls apart in the washer. Dawn convinces Nina that she can take a little piece of Blankie with her everywhere she goes, but no one will have to know he’s there.
Interesting Tidbits
Doo doo da doo, doo doo! Cover time! (Sing it to the tune of ‘Hammer Time’.) Mallory looks both older than I am and totally blurry. I’m actually mostly disturbed by the girl on the left (who has stolen Dawn’s fashion sense.) She’s got this really creepy look on her face while she’s offering the horse an apple. What did she lace that with?

I’ve always wondered why Jessi and Mal would want to hang out at Mal’s house when Jessi’s house must be much quieter. Although, then they’d have to hang out with Aunt Cecelia. Scratch that thought.
Stacey is the reigning Queen of Dibbleness. And I about spit my drink all over the place…
Should I mention how Mallory dressed up her Barbie while playing with Nina? Sure, why not? It’s in the outfits below.
Oh, can I relate to Nina. I had a Blankie I loved so much that when it fell apart like Nina’s did, my mom bought me another (and I was older than Nina at the time.) I didn’t take it to school with me, but I did have the same kind of problem at preschool. I was a serious thumb sucker. I started preschool a week later than the other kids, and none of the kids in my class sucked their thumbs. I heard one other girl say, “What a baby…she still sucks her thumb,” and I stopped sucking my thumb just like that. My mom had tried everything to get me to stop for two years before that. I guess I just needed a little peer pressure.
I’m a little frightened. When I was thirteen, I made a whole presentation to my parents, complete with visual aids and charts and stuff. I forget exactly what I wanted them to agree to, but it worked. I had mostly based it upon an episode of Full House where DJ successfully gets things swapped around so that she has her own bedroom while Stephanie and Michelle start sharing, but I used a lot of the same techniques Mal does while asking for permission to take riding lessons. Scary.
Oh, and Mal totally teaches kids to ask for more than they expect to get so that they can bargain. It’s actually…really, really smart.
Okay, here’s where ‘Mal is an idiot’ shows up. (Scout has quit trying to eat the book and is asleep on a chair.) She is so excited after all her classes that she keeps reporting to Jessi about everything that’s going on. Jessi keeps trying to sound enthusiastic, but she’s really not that good at it. (I have a friend…umm, actually, she’s the same friend that I ditched at summer camp…who has always been into horses. 99 percent of what I know about horses I’ve learned from her. And I remember sounding as enthusiastic about hearing about her dressage lessons as Jessi is about Mal’s lessons. Only in my case it was more confusion than jealousy.)
In this book, Eleanor can barely talk. She speaks in toddler-appropriate bits like, “Nap done” and such. Yet the next time I remember her showing up in the plot at all in #81, she speaks in sentences. If these books involved aging like real life, it would actually be appropriate.
Mallory’s rich horsey classmates include Kelsey, Allison, Amber, Megan, Kyle (a girl), and David. She spends all this time chatting their ears off and then thinking they’re friends, but none of reciprocates.
Okay. Question time. I know that literary names are often symbolic: a character named Esperanza (which means hope) who is the only one in her neighborhood who is going to go somewhere and be someone; another named Dolores (“our lady of sorrows”) who deals with one tragedy after another. Then there’s stuff like giving all the sisters feminine names (Meg, Beth, Amy) except the tomboy with big dreams (Jo). So, given that Mallory has a dream horse named Pax (“peace”) who is very easy to ride, why would she ever consider riding a horse named Gremlin? Of course she falls off!
When I was younger than Mallory, I took six English riding lessons. I loved them all the way until the end. In our last lesson, I was cantering when all of a sudden the saddle slipped. I lost the reins and was hanging upside down on a cantering horse. My instructor caught me pretty quickly, but my mother decided that if the instructor couldn’t even put the saddle on the horse tight enough, she wasn’t really a good one to teach riding. Not as bad as Mal’s fall, but I still remember that and wonder why I ever got back on a horse again….
Was Mal’s doctor trying to blind his opponents so he could win his golf game? (See his outfit below.)
Yay! A joint notebook entry between Claudia and Stacey! Not only is there some creative spelling (relayted, intire, nayborhood, preform instead of perform, arn’t, laff), Claudia suggests that the four youngest Pikes are related to Mal, therefore they must be “Looney Tons” [sic]. Aren’t these girls always so nice to each other?
Oh, I forgot to mention (which tells you how “thrilling” this C plot is) that Vanessa, Margo, Nicky and Claire are putting together a talent show. It’s as dumb as it sounds. (You know it’s bad because the triplets are staying the hell out of the way of it, and they’re usually up for most of this type of thing.) They gather a huge number of kids in the backyard while Stacey and Claudia are babysitting. Vanessa stands on a chair and shouts at everyone to sit down and be quiet. She has their attention, even more so after the chair closes on her and she falls to the ground. (And I, in Claudia’s words, laffed and laffed.)
And oh, good heavens, are Claudia and Stacey snarky and bitchy and awesome about all the “talents”. They’re worse than I am and I love them for it. One of Stacey’s comments is the title quote.
I’d forgotten this part! One of the snobbier girls invites everyone from the class to her birthday party. Mallory decides (again!) that this thinks they’re friends. She goes to the party, feels out of place because she’s dressed wrong and no one talks to her.
All throughout this book, Mal keeps reminding me of a girl I used to work with that is on my Facebook. Whenever she has a first date with a boy, she actually updates her status to indicate she’s in a relationship. A couple days later, when he indicates he doesn’t intend to keep seeing her, she switches it back to single. And then moans and complains on FB about it. They both come on far too strong and assume a friendship/relationship after one event, forgetting that these things need to grow and develop.
Wait a minute. Mal makes a big deal about how her riding lessons are on Saturday mornings, so it won’t affect her other scheduled activities. So how is her final lesson on a Thursday afternoon?
Ha! Mal mentions that you have to be careful cinching the saddle or the saddle will turn upside down. If she only knew….
Wait another minute. When Mal’s riding class was first introduced, there were twelve kids in it: eight girls and four boys. Later, there are six other kids in the class. And now, there are only six kids in the whole class. Yet, when I listed the names of the classmates, there were at least eight kids in the class, because I mentioned seven other names. This one was ghostwritten by two people, so do you think all these mistakes are because they didn’t talk to each other?
The best laugh of this whole book? When Blankie gets all ripped up, Nina shouts at Dawn, “You killed him!”
Mal wonders how to tell her parents she doesn’t want to continue riding lessons. She paid for half of the lessons; wouldn’t, “I don’t have the funds to do more lessons right now,” be sufficient?
Or, she could, you know. Be honest with them.
Aww, this is sweet. Mallory’s riding instructor (whom she calls Lauren but one of the other students calls Ms. Kendall) has Mal all figured out. Mal is the only one without a riding habit—she followed the basic minimum attire by wearing a helmet, boots and gloves with her jeans and regular clothes—so Lauren actually stops by Mal’s house the day of the horse show to loan her a habit and give her a pep talk.
Jessi: You should warm up before the horse show like I do before a ballet. Mal: I should do pliés?
And we’re back to there being twelve riders in Mal’s class. Consistency, ghostwriters. Consistency.
Speaking of consistency…During the Claudia/Stacey chapter earlier when everyone was rehearsing their talent acts, Charlotte was there with her dog Carrot. (Carrot tried to run off with Blankie.) Yet Charlotte and Becca are about the only kids in the neighborhood not participating. Mal and Jessi watch them during the talent show.
Also, the girls mention they don’t want to participate after what happened to them during the Little Miss Stoneybrook contest. But only Charlotte was part of that.
The triplets as crowd control is an ironic statement, right? Right??????? (Mal says she knew their big mouths would come in handy someday.)
I hope I didn’t disappoint you all with my lack of bad horse jokes. All the ones I know are a little too first grade even for me.
Barbie: red and white tights, long shirt made of sweatshirt material (since when does Barbie have clothes like that?)
Dr. Calloway (Mal’s doctor): neon yellow pants, electric blue polo
Mallory: gold and brown kilt, gold cotton sweater, penny loafers (sounds adorable! I’d wear it!)

Next week: It’s time for some testosterone, folks! We’ll be making fun of Logan’s Story.


  1. Congrats on the new cat! Wonder how much book destruction there will be if you read Mallory Pike, #1 Fan.

    1. Scout would probably shred it. She's my feline BS(C) detector.