Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“I can see she’s in bad shape. Her hair has even fallen off.” BSC #68: Jessi and the Bad Babysitter (1993)

This was one of the rare books after #40 in the series that I just never read as a child. I think this one and mystery #11 both came out while I was sick or grounded or something, because my collection skipped from #67 to #69 and mystery #10 to #12 (which was the last mystery on my book shelf.) I’m not sure if I just decided to spend my money on something else when I bought the later books or that I’d figured out basically how this one ended because the ‘baby babysitter’ didn’t join the club.
Since Dawn just left and Mallory’s all mono-riffic (although no one knows that yet), the BSC is overbooked. Kristy decides they need a new club member, so Jessi recommends a new friend of hers named Wendy who babysits. Wendy seems like a good sitter, but she’s regularly late for meetings and jobs and routinely takes sitting jobs without offering them to the club. Eventually she quits, robbing us of the opportunity to see Kristy lay the smack down on her.
Meanwhile, the Barretts miss Dawn, so they come up with the idea to make a video to send her that winds up being a mashup of Snow White and Captain Planet, and it’s as ‘interesting’ as it sounds.
There’s also this funky little C plot about Margo being extra-secretive because she’s been shoplifting. I guess this is because they realized they’d never had a Margo-centric plot in something like 100 books by this point.
Interesting Tidbits
Love the Hershey Kiss painting on the wall on the cover. I know that there’s a whole plot about Claud and junk food artwork and I didn’t find it all that appealing then, but it actually kinda looks delicious here.

Oh, and you know Wendy is a ‘bad’ babysitter…because she chews gum! And this cover, of course, is the one that gave birth to Incredulous Kristy, one of my favorite BSC memes. (Interestingly, she’s looking at Jessi, not Wendy.)
By the way, you can make your own Incredulous Kristy at Here’s my attempt:

Jessi says Squirt is two, but he’s usually described as being ‘one and a half’ or even, sometimes, younger.
In the first four pages of this book, there’s a partial summary of book #16, #36, and #67. Oh, and they briefly mention #30.
Becca and Squirt are watching Flipper, and rather than whining about being forced to watch crap like that (like I did at her age), Becca is actually enjoying it. Sometimes I think AMM and the ghostwriters forgot that this series is set in the 80s/90s, not the 60s, since everyone loves Flipper, I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver and the like.
Mallory calls out sick from a BSC meeting, and instead of worrying about her health, Kristy’s like, “This is a disaster! We can’t be two sitters down!” For once, I actually get it. The members just got three calls in a row for the same time…when they already all have jobs. Dawn calls a short time later, though, and Kristy refuses to hand the phone over to MA until Dawn promises to come ‘right back.’ Knowing Kristy, she means on the next flight.
I’m trying to figure out this logic: Mal stayed home from the BSC meeting on Wednesday and home from school on Thursday. Yet her parents still let her babysit (with Jessi) for her brothers and sisters. She falls asleep on the couch and Jessi does all the work. Wouldn’t Mrs. Pike either a) stay home, knowing Mal wasn’t feeling well or b) arrange an alternate sitter? My favorite moment from that sitting job is that, when the boys come back inside, they all toss their coats everywhere and Adam throws his right on top of Mallory. Yet she sleeps on.
How does pay work when Claudia takes the first two-thirds of a sitting job and Jessi takes the last bit? Mrs. Barrett would have to physically pay Jessi, and I’m sure Jessi would pass a fair share of the money along, but that could work out badly.
Speaking of the Barretts, I remember thinking when I was a kid that it was weird that they would call Marnie’s happy face the ‘ham face’ as they do in this book. Not because it’s a stupid nickname for the way the ‘ham face’ is described, but because Buddy’s real name is Hamilton, Jr., and his father goes by the name Ham.
It’s interesting that Dawn made a ‘no guns’ rule for the Barretts and it stuck. I mean, she’s not one of their parents, so she doesn’t really get to make decisions like that.
Suzi wants to put on a play of Snow White and the Seven Zorbs (sic). She comes up with six dwarves: Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, Doc and Sneezy. It took me a minute to figure out she was missing Happy, which is more than Mary Anne manages. (I always forget Bashful myself.)
The story the Barretts come up is extremely complicated and horribly dated, these days. Even though I can still sing the Captain Planet theme song, I bet most tweens these days* would have no idea who that is.
*I ran across a girl and her mom at my favorite Savers who are also gathering up the whole BSC collection. She and I had a nice talk about the books, and then her mom actually tried to convince me to hand over a copy of #116 that I found before they spotted it. (I left with the book.)
Mary Anne and Jessi take the Barretts and select Pikes to buy accessories for the video. Interestingly, Mal was supposed to go but since she doesn’t feel well, she convinces Vanessa to go in her place. MA and Jessi insist because it’s “a lot of kids to keep track of.” Um, it’s Buddy and Nicky and Margo and Suzi. Two sitters should be plenty.
I remember some time back I pointed out that, of the Pikes, they all have their “things”, except Margo. I guess Margo’s going to be the Pike who has ‘problems’ as she grows up. It starts with shoplifting, then suspensions from school, and then when she’s a teen, it’s getting high in the ‘party corner’ with a bunch of guys…. Heh.
Apparently, Suzi is a top-notch actress. She really gets into her part.
The play the kids put on reminds me of the one I was ‘props master’ for at Girl Scout Camp when I was a teen. It was Snow White and the Five Dwarves (we didn’t have enough actresses). The girls decided to put their names in a hat and draw roles, so one girl with absolutely no acting talent ended up as the Prince. No one minded, because none of the others wanted to play ‘a boy’ anyway.
The title quote is Buddy’s ad lib after a collapsing Carolyn’s Snow White wig falls off (thanks to an apple poisoned by pollution.) He also gets grossed out when Snow White (now Marilyn) kisses him: “Yuck! That’s gross. It’s cheek pollution!”
And then we have to listen to the details of a Dawn sitting job for characters we’ve never heard of before, where she and her charges…make a video. At the same time as the BSC video is being made. Riiiiiiight. (Also, why would you name two kids in the same family Jenny and Jeannette? Those names are just way too similar.)
Has Jeff always had a thing for the Grateful Dead, or is that just in this book? (Although it solves a fanfic problem for me! Hee hee!) (Answer: It's also mentioned here.)
Just before Kristy was going to suggest that things weren’t working out with Wendy (who hasn’t been mentioned since chapter 10, and this is chapter 14), Wendy quits the club. I like Stacey’s take on things: She wasn’t nearly as upset about the whole Wendy thing because she figures that Wendy and Kristy are just two of a kind: ‘headstrong and determined to do things their own way,’ as Jessi says. I love that Stacey has a really good read on Kristy; this isn’t the only time she’s been able to figure Kristy out. I can’t remember every incident, but she definitely figures out Kristy has a crush in SS#15 before Kristy does.
And of course, Shannon just happens to be free(r), starting days after Wendy quits, so she can take over the role of  alternate officer until Dawn comes back.
The BSC goes roller skating because they are all miraculously free one afternoon. Even Mal skates, despite being tired. Mal, Shannon and Jessi are on regular skates while Kristy, Claudia and Stacey are in roller blades. No mention is made of what Mary Anne is doing, so maybe she’s not skating at all (even though we knowshe does sometimes.)
I just realized that there are only two more Jessi books left for me to blog, one I don’t (yet) own, and another I’ve never read.
Just for fun today, we are going to play a game with the outfits. I’m not going to tell you who wore them; you get to guess. I may or may not give the answers in the next post.
1. Oversized white shirt, black vest covered in beads, neon green leggings, black beaded ballet slippers, one bead earring and one green hoop earring
2. Faded lavender sweat outfit under a blue terrycloth robe
3. Hot pink stirrup pants, fuzzy pink sweater, neon green pads and helmet
4. Jeans, brown leather jacket, black and silver helmet
Costumes (I will not make you guess who is who here)
Suzi as the Wicked Queen: mom’s dress, bright red lipstick and a crown
Adam as the Magic Mirror: his dad’s bathrobe, even though he complained it looked like a dress
Vanessa as the Woodsman: green tights under gym shorts, a blouse, and a felt hat
Marilyn/Carolyn as Snow White: black wig, blue cape and apparently, nothing else (racy! I guess the BSC is making a porno.)
Buddy as Captain Planet: a Captain Planet Halloween costume
Haley as Swamp Thing: green crepe paper
Marnie as Dopey, Margo as Sneezy, Matt as Grumpy, Nicky as Bashful, Laurel as Doc, Norman as Happy and Sarah as Sleepy: ‘Zorb’ hats, pointy ears, and character appropriate accessories
New characters:
Sally, Jenny and Jeannette Clune (10, 8 and 6): 32, 30 and 28

Next week: Mystery #11: Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum


  1. I'm glad you held on to #116! Finders keepers.

  2. The whole "bad babysitter" thing drove me nuts. Wendy was a very good babysitter -but not a good BSC member.

    1. Since she was never told about the rules she didn't know she was breaking them (like being at all the meetings and offering jobs around). The only bad thing she did was showing up late to a sitting job. But yeah, other than that, she was fine, just not a good fit for the BSC.

  3. 1. Claudia, 2. Jessi, 3. Claudia again, and 4. Stacey

  4. Isn't Margo's "thing" that she throws up all the time? Air sick, car sick, merry-go-round sick Margo is always getting sick and in front of Stacey who hates puke.

    And I think Stacey is skating in all pink with neon green pads.

  5. What I love about this book is how your suppose to think Wendy is a bad sitter and yet in the first chapter Jessi left a toddler unsupervised while she and Becca played in another room.