Monday, September 1, 2014

“You’re a hunk, Old Hick.” BSC Mystery #5: Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic (1992)

I really wanted to make fun of this book hard, but instead, I just felt sad reading most of it. I think, even though Mary Anne makes some pretty silly assumptions and leaps of logic, we can all relate to her urge to know about her past and where she comes from.
Mary Anne’s been having very vivid dreams that feel real, full of people she doesn’t know. Meanwhile, Stoneybrook’s having a Heritage Day, so all the kids in town are talking about heritage and their ancestors. Mary Anne has no memories of her mother or her mother’s family, so she starts digging around in the attic. She discovers that she lived with her grandparents for a while after her mother died and decides her father gave her away. (Rather than, you know, the logical idea that he let her grandparents help him out while he was grieving and pulling his life together.) Eventually, she tells him the truth and gets to go visit her grandmother.
It would have been much more interesting if the secret in the attic was a twin that MA never knew she had that Richard and Sharon kept locked away. Mwahaha!
Interesting tidbits
I used to LOVE when I would pick up a book and read the spiel inside that started If you purchased this book without a cover. I always wanted to get a coverless book so I could go to the police to turn in the person stealing books. It’s like how I used to watch every episode of America’s Most Wanted with the hope of recognizing criminals. I don’t think I ever outgrew that urge, either.
And back to the BSC. Let’s look at the cover:

It’s pretty boring over all. Mary Anne actually looks pretty cute, though.
Ugh, I hate when these books begin in the middle of something and then the main character says, “You must be so confused. Let me explain.” This one does that not once but three times in the first chapter. Sloppy, sloppy writing. First Mary Anne says, “You’re probably wondering who me is.” Then she does the, “Is that kind of confusing? I’ll back up and explain.” And then she mentions that she’s off topic and goes even more generic.
Dawn’s having a Sharon moment. Her clothes are scattered all over the room, but she knows exactly where they all are. (This was totally me growing up.) I guess this is supposed to demonstrate the difference between MA, who planned and laid out her outfit the night before, and Dawn, but it seems kind of incongruous with the normal neat-freak Dawn.
Mmm! Pour me a bowl of Health-i-os! I feel like Dawn has eaten that before.
Y’know, I think the BSC is responsible for the obsession I had with bodysuits and unitards in fourth and fifth grade. I always wanted to have a “cool” wardrobe full of them. I had a couple of bodysuits later, in sixth or seventh grade, but they definitely were never actually cool. And thankfully, I never had a unitard.
I’ve always wondered about Kid Kits. I get the appeal of someone else’s toys—that’s why I always loved playing at Tessie’s house when we were kids. Her toys were way cooler than ours. (She felt the same way about our house, even though her family had Peaches and Cream Barbie, the Heart Family and 300 Little People, and all we had were a Tonka truck and some Maxie dolls with permed hair…ah, the 80s.) But Mary Anne’s kid kit includes a Barbie and a game of Candyland. What family with small children doesn’t have Candyland anyway?
Oh look, Charlotte’s just skipped into third grade…despite the fact that she was in second grade last year. I feel like that’s a fairly simple fact to keep straight. I don’t understand why they had a bible for the series if they never used it.
Charlotte’s great grandmother was named Berit Marie Hjielholt. Try saying that three times fast. Oh, and Char’s all excited about reading Berit’s diary and letters back to her mother…but she grew up in Denmark and then moved to the U.S. as an adult. I doubt either the letters or diary would be in English.
I don’t blame Mary Anne for wanting to seek out her family history. I felt that way at her age, and I grew up with both parents. My dad feels that way, and he’s a 50-something year old man who is now obsessed with genealogy. (Thanks to him, I now know I’m distantly related to Celine Dion.)
Nicky, like Charlotte, is making a family tree. Apparently, having a large family is a Pike family tradition, as one of their ancestors had ten brothers and sisters whose names all started with P. I’m trying to imagine which of the Pike kids will follow in that tradition and which ones will decide to buck the tradition and not have kids or only have one or two.
Through a series of events, Stacey winds up taking the triplets to the graveyard. She finds it all creepy, but they’re having a grand old time. I’ve always loved old graveyards, especially when they’re all poetic, as Jordan says this one is. For example, the grave of a small child says, “How many hopes lie buried here.” My nephew is buried in the “babyland” of a cemetery, and most of the stones for the babies and small children are pretty repetitive. There’s a lot of “Rockabye Baby,” “Now I lay me down to sleep” and “In God’s arms now.” Teah read a beautiful book when she was pregnant with her son that included the line, “You are an angel, my darling, a star, and my love will find you, wherever you are.” His grave has a star on it and part of that line.
“Cutest jumpsuit” is an oxymoron. Especially when said jumpsuit is turquoise.
More “Dawn as Mini-Sharon” info: Dawn hates doing laundry. Yet in another book, I swear Dawn made a comment about doing her own laundry because Sharon turned her undies pink or something. (This is also the other book when Dawn eats Healthios, only without the hyphens.)
So the BSC puts together a booth for the Heritage Day event, since it benefits the historical society. They decide to make cardboard cutouts of Stoneybrook “celebrities” like Old Hickory (and they know what he looks like how?) and Sophie. No one knows the Sophie story except the BSC, though. Lame.
Hahahahaha! This is probably only funny to me, but I don’t care. Mary Anne barely speaks during a BSC meeting, and later she comments she felt like an anthropologist observing typical American teenage babysitters. I read that right during a conversation on the television between Booth and Brennan about the anthropological need for sex. (Sometimes I love being autistic. I don’t know anyone else who could read this book and follow an episode of Bones at the same time. “Why can’t I go home?” “Didn’t you just hear the news? You’re dead!”)
Isn’t it convenient that, right after MA discovers she lived with her grandparents for a while, her grandma calls for the first time in more than ten years?
Dawn should know better than to take three kids to the town hall when only one of them had something to do…especially the Rodowskys. At the very least, she should have brought crayons and a coloring book or some other activity for Jackie and Archie to work on while Shea was researching.
When the BSC paints their cardboard cutouts, a paint war breaks out. And I thought immediately of this:
Heh. Logan removed his paint covered shirt, which totally embarrasses Mary Anne, especially because Kristy shouts, “Woo!” I’m trying to decide if she’s trying to make him blush, or if she actually enjoys seeing him shirtless. I could see Kristy and Logan dating…if he weren’t with MA.
Mary Anne takes Charlotte to the heritage picnic because Char’s parents can’t go. MA feels out of place because she’s the only one not a mom or a little girl. I’m more shocked by the fact that Corrie Addison is there with her mom. I guess, every now and then, her parents actually care about her and Sean.
I knew there was a book where Shannon’s parents got names! Shannon went to a family reunion where she had to wear a nametag that said, “Shannon, daughter of Ted and Kathy.” I’m just glad her dad isn’t named John like almost everyone else’s. (Although, if Ted is short for Edward, then he has the same name as Stacey’s dad.)
The title quote is what Dawn says when she has her picture taken with Old Hickory so they can have a display “sample” in case people can’t figure out the purpose of their booth.
Claudia spelling time! The sign for the booth says, “Pose with Stonneybrook’s Selebritys.” Well, she got two out of four right. You’d think they’d learn to start spell checking her before she starts.
I know I wondered in writing recently about whether Logan and Shannon ever spent time together. The BSC works their booth in shifts: Dawn, Mary Anne and Kristy; Claudia, Jessi and Mallory…and Stacey, Logan and Shannon.
This conversation was fabulous. I really wonder what Richard thinks about Dawn after reading this:
            Dawn: Maybe I can find some more about Jared Mullray.
            Richard: Jared Mullray?
            Dawn: You know, the crazy guy whose ghost haunts our house.
            Richard: Oh, right, that Jared Mullray.
Richard is actually really sweet in this story. I feel bad for him, in many ways. He tried really hard to raise MA the best he could, but he was also grieving and in pain. Maybe keeping things about his wife from MA wasn’t the best idea, but he didn’t know that. As soon as MA asks about her mother, he tells her everything. He says MA looks and acts so much like her mother; originally, it hurt, but as she aged, it became a comfort.
Maynard, Iowa, sounds like Elburn, Illinois, where I grew up, although Elburn didn’t get a traffic light until 1995. We were thrilled to get a McDonalds in 1998. (Now, it has at least half a dozen traffic lights, a number of fast food restaurants and is a ‘real’ town.)
Ha ha! Farmer Bob! He’s the boy Mary Anne goes on a “date” with in Iowa. One of my college roommates married a man her friends call Farmer Bob.
Yay, more Claudia! She writes a letter to “Mary Ane.” She also spells Stacey’s name wrong (Stacy). Other spelling: plam (palm), cactis, projict, scuptur, detales, sinse, latley. She also uses their for they’re. (She’s totally indignant because Stacey says she’s wearing earrings shaped like palm trees, while Claud insists they are ‘cactuses.’)
I love Richard’s handwriting. He has small lower case letters with huge capitals, and he prints.
I swear MA once said her mother hated to cook, as MA does (mostly because she apparently sucks at it). Yet it’s established that MA’s mom made a lot of applesauce cakes in this book, and in a later mystery, they bake another of her mom’s cakes. Maybe Alma just liked to bake?
Mary Anne: pink sweater, chinos, boots
Dawn: denim skirt, turquoise necklace (but apparently no shirt. Ooooh!); turquoise jumpsuit
Claudia: white bodysuit covered in a white lacy shirt, black skirt with white polkadots, lacy white leggings, red hightops (does this scream Madonna, circa mid-80s to anyone else?), black and white papier-mâché jewelry
Stacey: pink jumpsuit that matches Dawn’s
Jordan: knickers, vest, cap (he’s an “old fashioned newsboy”), green sneakers with orange laces
Next week: It’s the story you’ve been waiting for! I can’t wait to start mocking #57 Dawn Saves the Planet

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