Sunday, November 2, 2014

“Maybe we should call ourselves Kristy’s Killers.” BSC #63: Claudia’s Freind Friend (1993)

This is another one of the infamous BSC “issue” books, but I remember actually liking this one a LOT as a kid. Now that I know that AMM used to be a teacher, it actually makes sense. Everything about how Claudia and Shea feel about their tutoring feels pretty realistic.
So Shea’s just been diagnosed as being dyslexic, and since he’s feeling depressed about it, the Rodowskys want BSC members (who are closer to his age and not ‘adults’) to tutor him. It doesn’t go well until Claudia starts tutoring and letting him help her with her spelling. Claudia’s also being tutored by Stacey, who’s being a hardass about the tutoring. Claudia writes a journal for Stacey but also keeps a secret diary making fun of Stacey.
The B plot involves a bunch of secret admirer notes that keep showing up at Claudia’s house during BSC meetings. They’re short, unsigned and unaddressed, so no one knows who they’re directed at. MA thinks they could be from Logan and Kristy thinks they could be from Bart, etc. They wind up being from their sitting clients.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Welcome to the 90s! Claudia’s gone grunge (actually, that looks a lot like what I was wearing yesterday…hmm…), while Shea’s doing the purple-green thing that my sister was so into in this time era.

Ooh, Claudia’s reading “When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple” which was one of my favorite things I read in English class in school. It’s also the basis for the Red Hat Society.
Kristy gets mad at Mallory for being late for a meeting…when she had a sitting job until 5:30.
Hee hee hee! Claudia says that complaining makes things easier (which is my life motto). So Stacey teaches her the word ‘kvetching,’ which is not one of her vocab words, but which she’ll actually remember.
I’ve seen a lot of other people comment on Claudia’s lack of spelling before. Other than being amused by it and keeping track of it, I’ve never really wondered too much about it. But I’ve seen comments along the lines of ‘If Claudia’s not dyslexic, then what the hell is her problem?’ Well, some people are not good spellers, but that doesn’t make them dyslexic. They could, however, have a different learning disability. In Claudia’s case, it always seems more like she just doesn’t make spelling a priority. If you can read what she’s written enough to understand it, then it’s good enough. She doesn’t reverse letters or words or write things backwards. I’ve seen everything from kids Claudia’s age still confusing b and d to people seeing ‘hot water’ as ‘water hot’ or even ‘retaw toh’.
All I want to do when I read the chapters with Shea in them is give him a hug. We all have things we’re not so good at, and for kids like Shea, all they get to hear about most of the time is what they’re lacking and what they’re doing wrong. Mary Anne has the first tutoring session with Shea and he writes a really good letter and just needs help with fixing his spelling and reversals, but he just sees all the things that are wrong with it.
Ooh, consistency. Claudia says the Rodowskys always have junk food on hand. In #24, when the kids are all eating lunch, most of the kids have sandwiches and carrots sticks and stuff like that. The only actual food mention I remember is Haley drinking apple juice (because she either spits it out or snorts it through her nose while laughing…I forget which one.) Meanwhile the Rodowsky boys have soda and donuts. I don’t know why I remember this kind of crap. I think in that case I was wondering why Haley was sitting with all the boys instead of with her friends.
The teacher in me keeps wincing every time someone works with Shea on his homework. I think of ways they could do things that would be better or easier. I think there are sometimes where it would be appropriate to NOT focus on the fact that Shea can’t spell. Like maybe just for science homework, have the tutor write the things down and let him copy. There are sometimes where the idea is more important than the spelling/writing.
These days, they’d solve a lot of Shea’s problems in non-reading/writing subjects by letting him type and use spell check.
We don’t get any actual Claudia spelling until chapter 7! After Stacey tells Claudia to keep a journal (which Stacey will read and correct), Claud starts a second ‘private’ journal, where she doesn’t worry about spelling so much: studey, especially sinse, english, morre, moore, (both are supposed to be more), tho. Oh, and she spells Stacey wrong...but Anastasia correctly.
Actually, Stacey’s tutoring style is so much worse than the BSC’s style with Shea. I know she’s trying really hard to be serious, because the threat of Claudia flunking is real. But if you want a kid to get into studying, you work with their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and make the work fun. (Remember when Mallory tutored Buddy in reading and had him read Encyclopedia Brown and write comic books?) Claudia’s got that figured out, too. I mean, she takes the notecards for her vocabulary/spelling words and decorates them based upon how they make her feel. It works for her, too, because she actually remembers how to spell most of them a couple days later.
The title quote is part of a notebook entry Kristy writes about a combination sitting job (for the Kormans)/Krushers practice.
There’s absolutely no consistency as to who is on the Krushers. For example, Kristy says that Bill and Melody are Krushers and so is James Hobart. Obviously, none of those kids were around in #20 when the Krushers were formed, but they also weren’t in the last book, which had a whole Krushers subplot.
More Claudia spelling! Cokey, jellow, baby-siters (this is an improvement over babby-siters), espechally, becuase, posibly, freind, tuder (tutor), corects, pairent, dummer, resorces, beeing. She also uses herd for heard.
Claudia should totally make friends with the Rodowsky boys. When she asks them what they want for a snack, Archie and Jackie suggest she should drive them to the mall (how, exactly?) and get them some Ben & Jerry’s.
The spelling’s finally getting good. Shay, becuase, disabilaty, reguler, exsellent, tuter, freind. She also spells tutor as tooter, which my niece and nephew would love. (They use the word ‘toot’ in their house instead of fart.)
Real book: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. DM wants Stacey to read it to her.
After she and Stacey get into a fight, Claudia actually refers to her as ‘Stacey the Killer Tutor.’
I’m terribly mature. I had a good laugh over this sentence: “Normally, I don’t mind being in the closet.”
So the final note the BSC gets invites all of them to come to the Rosebud. Since they decide it must be from Cokie and Grace and therefore a set-up, they all decide to dress up as badly as possible. Unfortunately, you don’t get too much detail. (See below.) Obviously, when they show up for the meeting, it’s not Cokie and Grace but the Rodowskys, the Braddocks and the Arnolds. (Strange combo of kids, but whatever. That’s par for the course with the BSC.)
Oh good. Another mention of Harriet the Spy.
So Shea has obviously developed a crush on Claudia. He wants to sit next to her, writes her a little love note (okay, not really a love note) and then purposely bumps her with his elbow. Were he a little older, he’d totally be flirting with her.
I knew there was at least one book where Dawn went to a dance with Pete Black. He’s either gone out with (or asked out) every eighth grade member of the BSC except Kristy and Abby.
I’m actually more interested in which kids are dancing together than whom the BSC is dancing with. The Arnold twins are dancing with two Pike triplets, while Jackie and Hannie are doing the “sock hop” literally…hopping around shoeless. Jamie dances with his mother, and Claudia dances with Shea.
Claudia: oversized shirt and jeans (‘spillproof’ for sitting at the Rodowskys); tattered jeans, lime green shirt with a bleach spot, kelly green socks, orange-red lipstick; oversized blue and white striped shirt, socks with blue spots, blue bike shorts, red high tops, dangly earrings, red ribbon in her hair (no, this is NOT her bad outfit!)
Cokie: lime green dress that matches the Jell-O served at lunch that day at school
Nanny: pink silk dress with pink and silver sash, silver flat slippers
Jessi: stained white t-shirt
Stacey: a dozen colors of eye shadow; black jeans, black Doc Martens, golden shirt with black buttons
Kristy: really bad ‘topknot’ hairstyle

Next week: #64 Dawn’s Family Feud

1 comment:

  1. Dawn and Pete also go to the January Jamboree in MA's Makeover. That was their first date together. When does Pete date Claudia? I believe you and everyone says he does but I dont remember it. (It must be in one of the books I haven't read.)