Wednesday, October 29, 2014

“Being your answering service is not my main ambition and function in life.” BSC Mystery #7: Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs, AKA The Mallory Book (1993)

I’ve been referring to this book by the wrong name for ten years, and I still have to think twice before I can remember the correct title.
Dawn is pet-sitting for the Mancusis when their Great Dane Cheryl goes missing. She feels horribly guilty, but the BSC doesn’t realize there is a mystery until Kristy’s dog also gets dog-naped, and there’s a whole epidemic of missing dogs in the area. The BSC follows up on a small clue and then is in the right place at the right time to figure out that the new local pet shop provided dogs for clients by stealing them.
Meanwhile, the Krushers and the Bashers are combining forces to combat another team from a nearby town. The younger members protest the fact that the combined team (the Krashers) consists only of the older members of the teams.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover explains this book’s alias. Years and years ago, my sister and I had a hot mess of BSC books covering the floor while we were cleaning. I was rearranging the books and I asked my sister to pass ‘that Mallory book.’ She handed me this book, because Mallory is on the cover and she didn’t look at the name.

That has got to be Vanessa with Mallory and Dawn; glad to see her glasses are as stylish as Mal’s. But her cheerleader costume is wrong; she’s supposed to be wearing a jean skirt. Oh, and Mal looks almost exactly like my sister’s childhood friend Sarah.
I got all excited for a second because I thought this one was German, but I'm thinking it's maybe Dutch? (Babelfish seems to agree.) I love that they call Dawn Betty.

Do you think maybe this was a Dawn book just for the sake of alliteration? It is pretty decent, I admit.
Dawn starts the book by musing about how useless gerbils are. And I laugh, because I’ve said the same thing about hamsters.
Okay, Dawn and I have a few things in common in the first two pages of this book. 1. We both don’t eat red meat because we don’t like it, rather than because we want to save cows. I actually hate cows, and as far as I’m concerned, everyone else should eat MORE cows. 2. She likes to exaggerate; she says the Mancusis have five million pets. That’s, like, my favorite thing to do.
I love the early 90s flashback of Frank the talking bird singing, “You got the right one bay-be!” from the old cola commercials. (I think it was Pepsi).
By the end of chapter three, we haven’t even gotten into the drama of the A plot or the B plot.
When Dawn is getting ready to take the Mancusis’ dogs out, she makes the mistake of using the word ‘walk.’ Of course, the dogs go nuts. So Dawn spells it…and one of the dogs still goes nuts. My childhood best friend’s dogs could spell both walk and treat, and also went crazy if you just brushed your hand against their leashes.
Ooh, Claudia spelling! Tripplets (guess whom she was sitting for), aktully, cardbored, stuk. She also uses your for you’re and their for there. But the real shocker is that she manages to spell refrigerator correctly!!! Half my coworkers can’t do that. (There is no D, people!)
Snack time with the Pikes: PBJ, the icing off the top of the cake (but not the cake itself), PBK (peanut butter and ketchup…I guess it could be PBC for peanut butter and catsup, but they spell it ketchup in the book), Fig Newtons with Marshmallow Fluff.
The only clue so far to the mystery: this same green car keeps showing up. Dawn and Jessi see it while walking the Mancusis’ dogs, and then it’s stalking the Krushers practice.
Nofe-air! Nofe-air!
Best. Conversation. Ever.
            Dawn: What’s that I smell?
            Sharon: Tofu and vegetable curry. With brown rice on the side. Plus, I made
some seaweed salad.
Mary Anne (entering): What is that smell? Did the garbage disposal back up?
Ha ha ha ha ha! The fun part of the conversation is that Sharon actually made a different meal for Richard and MA, but MA promises to at least try a bite of the curry (which, by the way, is making me hungry even though I just had some awesome southwest-two-bean-chili.) But then she takes a tiny nibble and proclaims she’s full. Richard says he’s also full to get out of trying the curry, but he’s a terrible liar.
Ooh, emergency BSC meeting.
Everyone’s taking notes during a stakeout, so we get more Claudia spelling! Collor, instedd, shoarline, realy, goten, pensils, chassing.
Dawn decides that the green car must be related to all the dog-napping, so all the BSC members go around town looking for it. Kristy and Dawn spot the car or one like it and go to the cops to report it. The cops totally blow them off, which makes me think of two things. First, I know that officers are very busy and don’t take kindly to people who dick around with them, but it would only take a few seconds to look at what they have. Second, the BSC members take themselves sooooo seriously. Kristy and Dawn are so horribly offended when they are dismissed, because they have these awesome detective skills and can’t understand why the officer can’t see that!
I’m trying to puzzle this one out: Mallory made the original missing poster for Shannon, yet the one DM sees is full of Claudia spelling: Mising dog, name: Shannun, breed: Bernaise Mountin dog. They are constantly using the copier at Kristy’s mom’s job, so you’d think they’d have just copied Mal’s poster.
Members of the Krashers: DM, Nicky, Jackie, Matt, from the Krushers, and Jerry, Dave, Joey and Chris from the Bashers
The title quote is what Sharon says to Dawn when Dawn freaks out because Sharon went out for a little while. But really, weren’t most moms of teenagers human answering machines before real answering machines invented?
When Kristy, MA and Dawn discover that the green car belongs to Karl Tate, a rich (and important) businessman, they decide that the car must be a red herring. And all I could think of was A Pup Named Scooby Doo.
To cheer themselves up, MA and Kristy drag Dawn to the new pet store, where they actually see Karl Tate arguing with the owners. Before that happens, though, Dawn keeps getting antsy because the other two want to stop and look at all the pets for sale (which seems like perfectly normal behavior to me.) But after they see Karl Tate, they’re standing in front of the fish tanks and Dawn makes a really bad pun: “Something fishy is going on.”
Oh boy! Two stakeouts in one book! We don’t get Claudia spelling this time, though. She doesn’t go on this one, same as Stacey didn’t go on the first one. (Stacey does, however, kick Kristy in the shin during this one. Hee hee!)
Has anyone ever set up a burglar alarm like these girls do all the time in these books? No? Okay, moving on.
Dawn throws a temper tantrum because she wants to follow a car. (Stacey thought she might have seen a dog-napping just before both she and Dawn arrive at Krashers practice.) She’s actually stamping her foot.
Another awesome conversation:
            Claire: How are you this silly-billy morning?
            Dawn: I’m silly-billy fine.
            MA: I’m goo-goo fine.
Kristy and Bart made an age cut-off to decide who got to play on the Krashers. So how do they justify Jackie and Matt (who are both seven) being on the team, while Margo (also seven) doesn’t get to play?
Okay, giant coincidence time: While watching the Krashers game, Dawn just happens to see Cheryl, the dog who was stolen during her pet-sitting job the week before. From there, the mystery comes together. Karl Tate was in cahoots with the pet store owners. Whenever someone came in looking for a breed of dog, they would find and steal a dog of that breed and then sell it.
Margo actually asks for Dawn’s autograph.
Claudia: blue minidress with polka dots, white leggings, white dot earrings (I had an outfit that looked just like that in 1993, except that it was a black dress with bows and I wore bow earrings.)
Claire: jeans, sweatshirt, wedding veil

Next week was supposed to be #62, but Tessie’s in the middle of moving and she packed up my only copy of the book. Which means I’ll get it back in 2016 if I’m lucky. I’m looking for a new copy, but for now we’ll go on to #63, where we wonder what exactly is the source of Claudia’s spelling problem.

“How about if we rendezvous at the front counter? I’ll be the guy holding the chocolate shake.” BSC #61: Jessi and the Awful Secret (1993)

Despite what I said last week, there will be no making fun of anorexia. (Even I have standards, no matter how low they may be!) There are enough other things to make fun of in this book anyway!
Jessi’s dance school is offering a free ballet class for underprivileged kids. Jessi and her classmate Mary volunteer to assist with the class, and Jessi notices that Mary is dieting to the extreme. She decides (with the help of the BSC) that Mary is anorexic. Eventually, she tells Mme. Noelle, who helps Mary get the help she needs. Meanwhile, because some of the kids are really getting into the ballet class, Watson agrees to fund a scholarship so that two of the children can continue.
In the B plot, Kristy’s been busier than normal, while Shannon’s been less busy than normal. Shannon starts hanging out with all the other BSC members, and Kristy gets jealous and accuses her of stealing her friends.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. Mary looks younger than Jessi, which we know isn’t true, because Jessi’s the youngest member of her class. Other than that, it’s not bad. I’m assuming those kids are Martha and Devon.

I don’t remember how many times I read this as a kid, but this is the first time I’m rereading it as an adult. I’m looking for all the signs and symptoms of anorexia as I read. The first time Mary is mentioned, Jessi notes that she’s a control freak and a perfectionist. A few pages later, she mentions needing to lose weight.
Um….special. Jessi mentions that Mal thinks she’s ugly, but she’s not that bad. Then, she says that Mal is so nice and wonderful inside that when you spend enough time with her, she starts to seem pretty. I get the idea behind this, but it’s actually pretty insulting. (I really, actually do get this. I wasn’t cute in middle school at all. Bad, huge glasses, terrible acne, greasy hair in a bad style, plus awful mid-90s clothes. I’m a hell of a lot cuter now.) Wouldn’t it be nicer if Jessi just said, “Mal doesn’t think she’s pretty, but she actually is.”
At one point, Schafer is misspelled as Shafer, despite the fact that it was correct earlier in the same paragraph.
I’m trying to figure out what it is about Claudia that she can look cool wearing something that the rest of the world would look terrible wearing. They say that in a lot of books. Is it because Claudia is Japanese-American and 'exotic looking'?
There are four other teens helping with the children’s dance class with Jessi and Mary. One is Vince, whom Jessi is able to distinguish from the other boy because Mary says he’s a snob and he looks like a snob. (Apparently, in BSC-land, you have to be blond and rich to be a snob. Vince is blond and stands up very straight. The only other time I can remember them worrying about snobs it was Amanda and Shannon, and they’re both blonde, too.) Then there are Darcy, Raul (whom Mary thinks is cute) and Sue.
The kids in the class include Devon, Martha, Nora, Jane, Yvonne, Cherisse, Alphonse,
I don’t know why, but I had a good laugh when Jessi feels the need to explain that Linny is a boy.
I would have loved the game Let’s All Come In as a kid, except for the fact that Karen rules the game with an iron fist. The Karen thing aside, I do think it’s unfair that the boy (usually David Michael, but Linny this time) is forced to be the bell hop every time they play.
More signs of anorexia (Jessi picks up on these ones): Mary is constantly checking herself out in the mirror, more than the other dancers do, and pinching at her alleged tub or chub. (Tub is on the stomach, chub is on the thighs. My mom says this is technical terminology. Thanks, mom.) She also wears oversized clothes, which keeps people from seeing how much weight you’ve lost, and of course, she barely eats and pushes the food around, breaking it up, so it looks like she’s eaten something.
So of course, because Mary’s not eating, she gets faint and nearly passes out. I could never be anorexic because I nearly did that because I didn’t have enough protein for breakfast this morning.
The title quote is what Jessi’s dad says when she asks him to pick her up at Burger King…but wait outside for her. She’s already embarrassed by her dad. They grow up so fast!
Kristy keeps getting irritated because she’s super busy and doesn’t have time to hang out with Shannon, so Shannon is calling all the other BSC members to chill instead. (I guess she’s between activities?) But Shannon calling all the other members is her idea, so I’m not entirely sure why she’s so huffy. Maybe she should just take fewer sitting jobs herself? Then she’d have time to hang out, too.
Kristy’s going out with Bart for the evening, so Stacey babysits for the Thomas/Brewer crew. Elizabeth says that Kristy, Sam or Charlie should be home by eleven. Um, really? Kristy’s in freakin’ middle school! I had a ten p.m. curfew until I was 18. Now, I know my mom was a little…overprotective…but eleven seems a little ridiculous for someone who doesn't even wear a bra yet.
I guess it’s not so silly in BSC-land, because Shannon’s curfew is also eleven.
Mary faints in their regular Friday ballet class. Mme. Noelle suggests she eat some chicken soup to ward off the ‘virus’ she has. Jessi suggests the advice is wiser than Mme. Noelle suspects. But Mme. Noelle’s not exactly a noob. She’s been a dancer and a teacher for a while, so she must have seen eating disorders over and over again.
There’s this thing about how it’s harder being a minority ballet dancer than a white dancer. Raul, who is Latino, keeps raging that Mme. Dupres, who is running the free dance class, expects nothing out of the kids because they’re poor and a number of them are minorities. Later, he says that Mme. Dupres was too hard on Devon when he was being disruptive just because he’s also Latino and poor.
Kristy asks Jessi to come sit at her house because everyone else is going to hang out with Shannon. But here’s what made me laugh: Kristy’s going to be a planning meeting for the spring dance. Doesn’t that sound more like something Stacey, or maybe Claudia or even Dawn would do before Kristy?
Jessi actually asks Aunt Cecelia for advice about Mary. Not only is AC helpful (and gives the right advice), she actually compliments Jessi. She tells Jessi she has good instincts.
Claudia spelling: usualy, deap, breth, relly, nock, thogh, Tifany
One of the girls in the class, Martha, has clearly taken ballet lessons before, but insists she never has. Eventually her mother admits that she’d scrimped and saved to enroll Martha in classes, but stopped because someone told her that there was no room for people of color in professional ballet. But seeing Jessi in the class makes her feel better about it, and Martha tries for (and gets) one of the scholarships.
The other kid who gets a scholarship is Devon, who was a problem for the first few weeks of the class. However, after Mme. Dupres kicks him out of class one week, he comes back and behaves and develops some good skills.
Claudia: neon green tank top, fuchsia stirrup pants, oversized white man’s shirt, colorful woven belt, ceramic bead earrings
Jessi: (don’t get all excited; it’s just dancewear) neon green leotard, blue workout pants, yellow slouchy socks (so…very…bright…)
Mary: big white shirt, gray sweats
Next week: Mystery #7: Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs

Friday, October 17, 2014

“Hide! Seek!” BSC #45: Kristy and the Baby Parade—British Edition (1991)

This was one of the rare books after #40 that I didn’t own. We had a 4 pack of 41-44 and then our collection started in earnest with #46. But I didn’t really mind. I remember cringing a LOT when I read this as a kid. I’m sure it won’t be any better now.
The BSC has been thinking a lot about babies recently. They take an infant care class and then decide to enter the local baby parade. They agree to make a float on the theme The Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe but then they don’t communicate properly and it ends up being a disaster. They agree to talk more and be less selfish in the future.
Meanwhile, Kristy has been helping Mrs. Prezzioso prepare Andrea’s buggy (stroller) for the parade. For some reason, she decides that if the Ps don’t win, she’ll get fired from her standing job with them. But of course, Andrea does win.
Interesting tidbits
Best first sentence ever! “I admit it, I was bored.” <insert me laughing for 2-3 minutes>
Brit-isms for chapters 1-3: mum instead of mom, Cluedo instead of Clue (the bored board game), making biscuits instead of cookies, buggies instead of strollers, favourite instead of favorite, Mohican hairdo instead of Mohawk, maths instead of math, neighbourhod instead of neighborhood, chairman and vice chairman instead of president and vice president, leaflets instead of flyers, they’re eating Hula Hoops at the meeting (even I had to Google that one, then realized I used to eat those all the time--I wore them as rings on my fingers and ate them off), barbecue beef potato crisps instead of barbecue potato chips, nursery school instead of preschool,
Does it bother anyone else when Kristy refers to her grandfather as ‘Nannie’s husband’ rather than Grandpa or some other familiar term? Jessi does the same thing; it’s always ‘Aunt Cecelia’s husband,’ not Uncle George or whatever his first name might be. (Come to think of it, Aunt Cecelia’s husband died pretty young. I mean, it’s possible she married a much older man, but it seems to me he died in his fifties or so.)
How did Kristy play Cluedo/Clue or Monopoly with DM and EM? Those games are way over a two year old’s head. She’s probably even a little young for Candyland.
Not to mention the fact that Kristy says she’s played a whole list of games with the two of them, including a marathon game of Monopoly. First off, Monopoly, played properly, always takes all day. I once played a game that went on for nearly 16 hours and still had no winner. Second, how long is this sitting job?
Every time these British books talk about how much Stacey loves maths, I get a song stuck in my head. It’s something my friend Heather made up back in Class 2 in Swainswick Primary School in Swainswick near Bath, in 1989 or 1990. Long story short (…too late): There used to be a park in the maths cupboard!
Ha ha! Stacey has the coolest clothes this side of the Connecticut state line. I guess there are cooler dressers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island then.
I like the description of Claudia as Refreshments Officer. It’s so much more accurate.
Is it just me or do barbecued beef potato chips sound gross? I’m not a fan of barbecue chips in general. Of course, I used to love prawn (shrimp) flavored chips, so I can’t really judge.
Chapter 4-6 Brit-isms: nappies instead of diapers, wind instead of gas (the burping kind),
Jessi asks what ‘colicky’ means, but in SS #11 (which admittedly hasn’t happened yet), we learn that Squirt had colic as a baby, so she should theoretically already know that.
Heh! When the BSC takes their infant care class, they meet a lot of pregnant women and some with newborns. One of the Salem twins starts screaming and no one can figure out what’s wrong with it…except Kristy. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that he just needed a diaper change. You’d think that would be one of the first things anyone would check.
I’m all for cloth diapers, which the Salems use, but I do have to wonder if they use a diaper service. I would think having newborn twins would be hard enough without having to wash diapers all day long.
What are the chances that no one in BSC-land needs a sitter during every single infant care class? I guess Logan and Shannon could be free, but it’s just one of those tossed-off details that we’re not supposed to think about. Although, Logan and Shannon both come to the ‘graduation’ ceremony, so I guess families needing sitters are just screwed then.
It’s pretty weird that there’s actually a graduation ceremony to which they’re supposed to invite friends and family. It’s just a four week course, not high school! Charlie actually comes, proving once and for all that Charlie has absolutely no life. Add to that the fact that all of Claudia and Mallory’s families show up and…yeah.
I like the fact that the Prezziosos aren’t as dressed up now that Andrea is around. It’s realistic that Mrs. P wouldn’t have the time (or energy) to spend making Jenny look like a porcelain doll.
Claudia spelling! Evur, cource, babys, notised, reely, din’t, exsept, inkredibly. Oh, and because she’s British, she wants to know “Have you lot ever notice how inkredibly cute Lucy Newton has got lately?” And my spell check actually changes inkredibly back to incredibly!
Chapter 7-9: trainers instead of sneakers, Hallowe’en instead of Halloween, a daft idea instead of a stupid one
I like Jamie’s logic: whenever people stop to talk to Lucy, he tells them how old he is and his birthday….because if they know when his birthday is, they might buy him birthday presents.
Heh! Kristy likens the wig Mrs. P wants Andrea to wear in the parade to her neighbor’s cat. I’m picturing that exactly.
Chapter 10-12: Girl Guides instead of Girl Scouts, hiring a costume instead of renting it.
I was reading a Jessi notebook entry. Normally, I don’t have problems reading the entries, not even Claudia’s, because the handwriting all looks computer generated like a font. But there was one word I had to finally work out by context clues because I couldn’t read it. I finally realized it was the word nappies. When they’d redone the book for the British version, it looks like they left the word diapers and didn’t realize it until too late. So they whited it out and then someone wrote nappies in.
I remember when Elmo wasn’t on Sesame Street very much! I actually liked Elmo until you started being able to tickle him. To quote a woman I very much admire: Teeki hates Elmo, and if she ever meets him, she’ll punch him in his face!
Here’s the problem with the float for the baby parade: no one’s talking. Mallory’s planning costumes and Stacey’s mixing paint colors, but they aren’t discussing colors, so they’re clashing. Claudia’s making the shoe but not telling Stacey how big it is, so Jessi doesn’t think she has enough paint. Okay, now for the big question: If Jessi sees these problems, why doesn’t she speak up and point them out? Same goes for Dawn, who comes over and says the exact same thing! She at least gets points for wanting to point it out. Jessi says they’re all working so hard, they shouldn’t disturb them. That’s really stupid.
Ooh, the next notebook entry makes chapter 11 sound like the ‘Dawn is a bitch’ chapter. Looking forward to it! Ha ha!
Okay, I suddenly love Nina and Eleanor Marshall for being realistic little kids. They’re playing hide and seek with Dawn. Nina (who is four, remember) hid behind a lamp that was much smaller than she was, while Eleanor (two) just turned and looked at the wall. I remember when Bee was two she used to hide the same way. If she can’t see you, you can’t see her.
Sad. Dawn’s really not that bitchy. Actually, everyone who worked on the float is kind of on edge because they just figured out what the others knew a couple chapters ago: the float is a lump, there’s not enough paint, and what little there is clashes horribly with the costumes. Dawn just happens to be the first one who snips; all she says is that the costumes looks stupid.
Ch 13-15: kerb instead of curb, shopping centre instead of shopping center or shopping mall
Charlie agrees to pull the awful float with his car in return for a small fee, but after seeing it, he puts on a floppy hat and a pair of sunglasses. You know the float’s got to be bad because normally Charlie’s all too happy to help the BSC out with stuff.
The signs on the float say Their was an womman who lived in a sho, and Thair was an old womann who lived in a shue. Let’s talk about two things here. First, Claud manages to spell the same words wrong on each sign, but two different ways. That doesn’t sound normal. I could understand if both signs said Their was an old womman who lived in a shue, because that’s phonetic. Second, why in the hell are they still letting Claudia make signs? I mean, she doesn’t even have nice handwriting particularly. Have one—any—of her friends letter the signs and then she can go to town decorating them. Or at the very least have someone—Mary Anne springs to mind, because she’s usually nice about stuff like this—spell everything for her on a paper and let her go to town.
Kristy totally hates the old cowboy who led the parade…especially when he starts singing. I feel her pain. It’s like having to work with my manager who loves country music, only much worse because the songs are cheesy and live.
Charlie took the ‘shoe’ float to the dump and got a lot of satisfaction from watching it get crushed. I like!
Claudia: oversized red blouse with black buttons, green and white tie dyed leggings, black high tops with untied laces, watermelon earrings
New characters:
Ricky and Rose Salem (infants): 23

Next week: Is it okay for me to make fun of anorexia? #61 Jessi and the Awful Secret

“Oh be quiet. You sound like a horse.” BSC Super Special #9: Starring the Babysitter’s Club! (1992)

Make sure you don’t forget the exclamation point. After all, it’s exciting, right? Right???
A musical of Peter Pan is being presented at SMS. Jessi’s joined the school paper and is doing an insider’s view of the play, so she’s asking everyone to turn in notes. Here are everyone’s plot lines, in the order they first get a chapter:
Jessi: Acts like a jerk through the whole book. Seriously, she’s much bitchier than normal. She wants to be Peter Pan, but winds up an Indian, so she drops out of the play but ends up assistant choreographer and then has to play Nana and the crocodile.
Kristy: Plays Peter Pan and keeps forgetting her lines, partly because of Dawn.
Dawn: Plays Wendy. Keeps changing the lines so the play is less sexist. Also wishes her dad could be there, but doesn’t even tell him about the play.
Stacey: Plays Mrs. Darling to Sam’s (her current BF, remember?) Mr. Darling. Finds him more annoying than normal.
Cokie: Yes! There’s Cokie! I kinda heart her, although not as much as when she called Mary Anne and Claudia flat-chested in SS#15. She plays Tiger Lily and acts like a brat. Among other things, she turns the janitor’s closet into her own private dressing room.
Claudia: Is the set designer and worries about Cokie’s taunting about the scenery falling down and killing someone.
Mary Anne: Despite her insistence than she’s not going anywhere near the stage, she winds up as the backstage babysitter, supervising all the little children who are not being needed at that point. Gets annoyed with Mallory and has to deal with Jackie.
Mallory: Is the apprentice costume designer and mostly neglects her duties. Instead of keeping track of costumes, she keeps horning in on Mary Anne’s babysitter shtick. Also gets embarrassed having to measure people.
Logan: Plays a pirate named Noodler and spends more time goofing off than working. He actually gets kicked out of the play at one point.
Jackie R: gets the part of Michael Darling. (I bet the director regretted that decision after he got to know him better.) Is afraid of the crocodile costume.
Sam: Has been acting like a goofball because he wants to prove to his friends (who have been calling him a cradle robber) that he’s having a good time with Stacey.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. It’s notable for having Logan on it, front and (slightly-off-)center. But it’s a bad, bad cover. The main issue? It’s a giant spoiler. I remembered being mad somewhere near the beginning of the book that I already knew Kristy was going to play Peter and Dawn would be Wendy. But the giant ending-ruiner is Jessi dressed up as the crocodile, which doesn’t happen until chapter 21!

I’m still trying to follow Jessi’s logic. It goes like this: I can dance, therefore I will be Peter Pan. Without any thought to the fact that Peter Pan also needs to be able to sing and act. Besides, it’s not like the dancing in a musical is the same as a ballet. Maybe if she took jazz and tap too, like some girls I went to school with.
I’m trying to figure this play out. It’s not an SMS play, because high school and elementary school kids can also try out. But most of the roles go to middle school students. Hmm.
Gross lunch time: Kristy likens her mystery meat to something Boo-boo dragged into the house.
Here’s what everyone is going to audition for.
Kristy: Nana/crocodile
Dawn: Tiger Lily
Stacey: whatever small part she can get
Jessi: Peter Pan (duh)
“You guys could never be spies,” is what Kristy tells her friends (BSC and Logan). This is obviously before BSC stakeouts became a ‘thing.’
Dawn’s such an individual and she doesn’t care what other people think. So why does she consider not trying out for Tiger Lily just because Cokie is as well?
Karen throws a temper tantrum on stage, because she wants to be Tinker Bell. (Tinker Bell isn’t really a character in the musical—she’s represented by light and a tinkling noise.) I remember clearly hoping that meant she wouldn’t get any part at all. Instead, of course, because no one ever really tells Karen no, they actually create the part just for her. BRAT!
Matt Braddock is listed as being eight when he’s introduced; he’s usually seven.
Heh. During the Cokie chapter (where you learn who got which part), she writes her introduction (in all caps) and calls Jessi a twerp and then crosses it out. In this book, she’s actually pretty accurate. Later, she finishes her chapter by trying to undermine Claudia and Mal in their crew jobs.
I’ve always remembered this: Because Cokie and Grace aren’t particularly good students, when the two of them go to their teachers/guidance counselors/whoever and say things like, “I’m not good at math, but I’d do better if I could do it earlier in the day,” so they can get more classes together.
Cokie and I actually have something in common: we want to correct her friend’s spelling. Oh, and we both watched General Hospital when we were in eighth grade. (Okay, maybe I still do.)
Ooh, Claudia spelling! Confussing, whanted, husbend, senery, desiner shes. Oh, and the funniest bit is that she spells both Kristy (Kirsty) and Jessi (Jessy) wrong.
Claudia doesn’t really have a plotline, so she gets to narrate the meeting after Jessi doesn’t get Peter Pan…and Kristy does. Jessi makes a good point when both Kristy and Dawn (who ended up with the two biggest roles in the play) are griping about it. They shouldn’t complain, because they got what they wanted…just a little larger. (It’s like really wanting a baby and then getting upset because you’re having twins.) But then she ruins it by saying that she was told she was too good for the role and had too many starring roles already. (I don’t remember if you actually find out what was said, but Jessi’s way of saying it makes it sound like she’s making it up.*)
The title quote is Kristy’s response to Jessi snorting at her.
The head costume designer is named Savannah. Mal says she doesn’t go by a nickname because she doesn’t have a good one. Well, not everyone needs a nickname, even if their name is three syllables. I mean, does Vanessa have to go out and get a nickname now?
Logan totally blames the fact that he was kicked out of the play on Dawn’s woman’s libbing and Kristy’s inability to remember her lines. Okay, those things did annoy the director, but take some responsibility for your actions, Logan! (Logan says that he didn’t deserve to be kicked out of the play, but it’s a total teacher move. In order to get control over all the cast, he had to make an example of the first person to get out of line.)
Here’s the real question over Logan’s firing. If no one’s working with the pirates, why are they even at the rehearsal? I’m a little like Mary Anne and I’ve never wanted to be in a play, so I’ve never been backstage. But I’ve seen enough television and read enough books to know that generally, only those people needed for a rehearsal go to that rehearsal.
I had a ‘first edition’ of this from when it was first published—I think I got it for Christmas—but I don’t remember whether the card that’s in this one was in my book. It’s all the BSC sitting with Santa and has AMM’s signature on the back with the words Seasons Greetings. Santa looks freaky.
Jackie spelling: writting, hapens, Michal, costums, Mary Ann, speshul. Oh, and he’s keeping a dairy.
Jessi actually keeps thinking that, because Kristy’s having trouble with her lines, the powers that be will just up and fire her and let Jessi fill the role. (Like she doesn’t have an understudy or anything. If Kristy were going to get fired, her understudy would probably get the role instead.)
*You do find out that Mr. Cheney did indeed tell Jessi that. It’s possible her phrasing was more trying not to make Kristy feel bad, but it doesn’t seem that way. (Mr. Cheney did also tell Jessi that she’s a very talented dancer with stage presence but that her dancing and acting were…so so.)
I had a good giggle about this: Stacey hears a giggle while she’s performing on stage, but she can’t look around because there’s no stage direction in the script that says: Mrs. Darling checks around the stage to see who’s making fun of her.
“Sing out, Louise!” I had to Google that before I found out it was from Gypsy.
Sam spends his entire diary entry contemplating how he doesn’t understand women.
My favorite moment in the whole book: David Michael and Bill tie a bunch of shoes together and then consider gluing them to the floor. Mary Anne catches them, and all they have to say is “Oops.”
More Jackie spelling. He’s actually doing okay until he gets to rehursl. (That’s his third try.) He also tries twice to spell dictionary.
One of the Pike triplets throws his hat out the bus window on the way to the dress rehearsal. After that the teacher supervising them makes a no-talking rule. Jackie thinks the teacher should have made a no-hat-throwing rule instead.
Jackie deals with his fear of the crocodile during the dress rehearsal by throwing a Styrofoam rock at it and shouting crocabunga. He gets a serious lecture afterward but still tells his mom it was the best day of his life.
Claudia spelling: scenry, expeting, rehursal (slightly better than Jackie), wallope, senery, specticuler (spectacular), performance, nerly, nervus. She spells Kristy wrong again and says she imaged something instead of imagined.
Stacey shows up at Claudia’s and starts doing ‘what ifs’ with her fears. Claudia tells her that she sounds like Mary Anne, the “demented version.” I have to smile at that, even though it doesn’t say good things for what they think about MA.

Of course, the play goes off well. Dawn (who didn’t eat all day) doesn’t faint or barf or change her lines and cries when Richard brings her some roses during the curtain call.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

“I promise not to suck my thumb or spit baby food on him.” BSC Mystery #6: The Mystery at Claudia’s House (1992)

This is one of the mysteries I solved very early on as a child. In fact, I figured everything out on page 33. That’s when Janine shows up at breakfast wearing eye shadow and nail polish, and I went, “ZOMG! Janine got herself a boyfriend!” (Okay, I really didn’t say ZOMG back in 1992, but if I were reading it for the first time now, that’s likely what I’d say.) This book also has another OH HELL YEAH! moment for me, which you will discover in the tidbits.
Claudia keeps discovering the mess in her room is in disarray. Someone else has been in her room, moving her stuff. She eventually realizes Janine has been taking her clothes and wearing her makeup. Janine is being secretive and lying to their parents, but she eventually comes clean: she’s got a boyfriend!
Claudia lets Derek Masters try to help her solve the Janine mystery, but he’s got a problem of his own. He’s going to be kissing a girl on his show, and he’s told all the kids in town he has lots of kissing experience. But he lied, because he’s never kissed a girl before.
Interesting tidbits
The cover of this book threw me off when I was a kid. The first five mysteries all had blue covers, so I assumed they all would. Then here comes #6 with a purple cover.  That said, this is always pretty much exactly how I’d pictured Claudia’s room…only with more artwork on plain white walls and a lot more makeup on her vanity.

Any time Derek Masters shows up, I keep waiting for someone to explain the difference between actors and characters to Becca. She has a crush on one of the boys on Derek’s show, and she always refers to him as Lamont, his character’s name. It’s fair enough to have a crush on a character. (I’m still mourning the fact that Sweets died this week on Bones, after all.) But given the fact that Derek looks and acts nothing like his character Waldo, shouldn’t it be pretty easy to explain the difference between Lamont and the actor who plays him?
I have a feeling there will be a lot of outfits in this one! Tee hee!
When Claudia first tells her friends that someone else was in her room, they tease her because they can’t see a difference between Claudia’s mess and Janine’s version of the mess. Jessi suggests the FBI is after Claud, but Dawn (of course) thinks a ghost was involved.
Derek guest-starred on a show called Kid Detectives and now he thinks he knows all there is to know about crime solving. It sounds pretty silly, but no more so than the BSC going around solving crimes.
Ooh, I just had a thought! In a couple years, when they have their drivers’ licenses, the BSC can buy a van. The gang can take Shannon the dog and drive around in their van, solving mysteries.
Claudia rushes away from breakfast to catch her bus. But doesn’t she usually walk to school?
Stacey suggests that Janine was trying to look sophisticated by wearing smeared, poorly applied eye shadow and orange nail polish. Claudia says the nail polish clashes with Janine’s outfit, but that’s coming from someone who purposely wore an outfit that made her feel dizzy.
Stacey then suggests that Claudia call the cops, because she’s not taking the Janine-thing as seriously as Claud is. After that, Claud pictures Janine being booked for meal tardiness and incompetent makeup application.
Janine asks to borrow Claudia’s red sweater, and Claudia’s surprised because Janine never wears ‘wild colors’ like red. Since when is red wild? Sure, it’s a little bolder than black or navy blue or gray, but it’s not as if it were hot pink or turquoise or something.
I love the fact that Claudia catches on right away to the fact that Derek’s never kissed a girl in his life, even though everyone else believes him when he says it’s no big deal and he’s done it tons of times. The triplets and Nicky are trying to get him to kiss Vanessa, who is okay with it until Derek actually agrees to kiss her. Then she runs off, screaming. (Ahh, I remember the days when my friends were like this. I was that weirdo in elementary school who kissed the ‘bad boy’ just to show everyone that kissing was no big deal.)
Claudia gives Janine a makeover at Janine’s request, and she actually does a good job. She doesn’t try to make Janine look like her; she sticks with her regular style (blouse-skirt-sweater) but adds a little more color, and she shows her how to subtly apply makeup.
Ooh, here’s my OH HELL YEAH! moment. When I was a teen, my mom bought a box of Popsicles. My sister asked what flavors the popsicles came in and I told her: orange, grape, lime, cherry and blue. Her: Blue is a color, not a flavor. Me: It is too! I remembered reading something where a character had said that, but I firmly believed that to be true. Blue popsicles/lollipops/etc. never taste like anything in nature. I was about ten pages into this book when I realized that this is where it came from. Derek is the one who insists to Stacey that blue is both the color and the flavor of Todd’s popsicle. In fact, he says that’s true of all popsicles.
The Pikes call Derek, who asks Stacey if “those guys” can come over. Stacey responds, “Which guys? Donatello and Michelangelo and Raphael and Leonardo?”
Claudia’s having a schadenfreude moment: she’s reveling in the fact that Janine got grounded. She lied to her parents, saying she was studying at the library. Mrs. Braddock mentions in passing that she saw Janine at Pizza Express that same night. Her parents end up telling her it’s perfectly okay for her to go to Pizza Express, and they would have let her go if she’d asked. She’s grounded only because she was lying. Ahh, good parenting.
But since Janine won’t tell Claud what caused her to lie to their parents, Claudia decides to handle things the mature, responsible way: she’ll tell Janine she’s there for her if she ever wants to talk. I’m just kidding—she actually decides to put a tail on Janine and spy on her.
I had to laugh when Claudia spends Janine’s entire grounding being overly solicitous to her parents. She’s determined to be “the good daughter” for as long as she can milk it.
Derek’s logic behind Janine’s problem: she was abducted by aliens and brainwashed. Or she’s a kleptomaniac who’s stealing all over town. (How does Derek know what a kleptomaniac is? He’s eight!)
I’m with Mary Anne. It’s not a good idea to encourage kids to spy on others. Claudia comes over during MA’s sitting job to get Derek to help her tail Janine. But being Mary Anne, she gives in.
Heh. When they had no idea what was going on with Janine, the BSC kept suggesting various ideas. Mal’s the one who thinks maybe it’s a boyfriend. Now that they (Claudia, MA, Derek and Todd) spotted Janine with a boy, Mallory suggests that the guy is a spy and he’s after something Janine’s working on in the chemistry lab.
Did anyone take ‘civics’ in third grade? I mean, we did citizenship and current events all through elementary school, but we never called it civics.
Kristy comes up with the idea that Claudia should invite Janine over while babysitting for Derek, for her to help him with his ‘civics’ homework. But of course, Janine doesn’t wind up being touched by the insistence that they must always tell the truth—Derek does.
Claudia actually lets Derek and the Pike boys plot on how to get even with Vanessa, who accepted money from her brothers to kiss Derek, then ran off with the funds. (They decide to find ugly baby pictures of her and blackmail her with them. And Claudia approves!)
When Claudia confronts Janine by saying she knows Janine’s been using Claudia’s phone when she’s not home, Janine just shouts at her to mind her own business and stalks off. I loved this, because Janine’s usually portrayed as a clueless creature—she’s not usually acting like a normal teenager. This was regular teenaged behavior; the only way she could have made it more realistic was by shouting “I hate you!” and slamming the door.
When Claudia tells the BSC about Janine’s boyfriend Jerry, they all have different responses. Mal thinks that a secret romance is great, while Jessi’s disappointed that Janine wasn’t a klepto or something else interesting.
The title quote is Claudia’s response when Janine—still angry with Claud for spying on her—tells her to act like an adult when Jerry eats dinner with the family.
Of course, Janine eventually forgives Claudia and they dish about Jerry and the dating life. And Derek’s actually disappointed when the kissing scene he was supposed to film is put off for a year.
Claudia: lace leggings, purple tie-dyed t-shirt dress, purple high tops (take away the high tops and I’d actually wear this. Sad but true!); black and white checked stretch pants, red belt, black shirt with white polka dots, red ankle boots, black and white barrette, red heart earrings (would never, ever wear this, for the record); royal blue sweatshirt dress
Janine: pre makeover: navy crewneck sweater, white blouse with Peter Pan collar, gray pleated wool skirt, gray knee socks, brown loafers (totally adorable!); post makeover: short black wool skirt, white oxford shirt, blue and green patterned sweater, black boots; gray wool skirt, pink oxford shirt, red sweater

Coming soon: I’m excited for the month of October. We’re going to start with SS #9, followed by our final British version: we’re heading back in time to #45. (I will blog #60 in place of #75, at which point we will be all current.) After #45, we’ll end the month with #61 and one of my other favorite mysteries: #7.