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.

1 comment:

  1. I'm excited about the upcoming posts too! They're always fun to read.

    I also remember the blue as a flavor and color part. While I don't like blue candy, I know exactly what you mean about the taste. They try to claim it's "blue raspberry" but that's just nonsense.