Thursday, February 5, 2015

“I haven’t heard any reports of ancient coins being used to buy gummi worms at the candy store.” BSC Mystery #11: Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum (1993)

A new museum has opened in Stoneybrook, and Claudia decides to take Corrie and the Arnold twins to see it. While they’re there, a theft takes place. Later, the BSC goes to try to figure out where the stolen coins have gone, since everyone was searched upon leaving the museum. They discover a couple of things: a man who is always there every time Claudia goes to the museum, and a sculpture that Claudia has seen before that seems ‘different’ to her somehow. It turns out that a custodian had stolen the coins and hidden them in a secret compartment in the sculpture. Claudia happens to be there when he retrieves them, thus solving another mystery just by being in the right place at the right time.
In the really-super-annoying B plot, Claire decides she needs to be a star, Karen style, and pisses everyone off in the process. She goes as far as to ask Rosie Wilder how to get an agent, then decides she doesn’t want to be famous after all.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: You all know how I hate leggings, but I actually kind of like Claudia’s outfit. If those were tights, I would crave a pair, the same way I want those shoes she’s wearing. I have a ‘thing’ for hot pink. Oh, and Corrie (on the left) is totally a mini-Claudia, since she’s wearing pink leggings, too.

The funniest part of the cover? It says ‘What kind of crook would steal art?’ Umm, no one stole any art. The theft involved ancient coins.
Claudia decides that she doesn’t need to apply herself at school because Van Gogh probably didn’t know how to solve for x. I’m amused by her attempt at logic.
Janine is in awe of Claudia’s art critic-y knowledge, when she discusses the influences of Don Newman’s sculptures.
We’re introduced to the BSC members by a discussion of what animals they would be. Kristy would be a dog, Claudia would be a parrot, Dawn, a dolphin, and both Mal and Jessi, horses. All of these seem appropriate for me. Meanwhile, Stacey wants to be a jungle cat, which I don’t really buy. I can’t picture MA saying she’d be a koala, even if it actually suits her. I’d believe she’d say a cat, which is what Shannon says. Shannon wanted to lie in front of a fire all day, but that doesn’t sound like her. She’s far too active.
The museum is interesting. There’s a science room, a music room, an art room, and my favorite part, the Discovery Room. It consists of activities designed to show what it’s like to have various disabilities. Most of the exhibits in the whole museum are interactive and designed to be touched. I’d love that museum.
Carolyn tries to explain one of those electricity machines to Claud, who cuts her off. She’s afraid Carolyn will pull a ‘Janine’ on her and give her too much information on the subject.
When the fire alarm goes off, Claudia sees the following: a group of scared Brownies, a janitor, and a guy with one blue and one green eye. (He’s a chimera! I forget how it happens, but chimeras have two different sets of DNA. It’s quite possible for a chimera to give DNA samples that don’t match their own children.) Claudia pays extra attention because Nancy Drew says to pay attention to potential suspects.
Claudia cleans her room the same way I did as a kid: by shoving everything in the closet or under the bed without actually cleaning.
When they learn there will be a black tie event honoring Don Newman at the museum on the last day of his exhibit, Mal suggests that only rich patrons will be invited. The girls all look at Kristy, because Watson is rich. Well, Shannon lives in Kristy’s wealthy neighborhood too, and she’s at the meeting. Shouldn’t they assume her parents are rich, too?
If you had as many kids as the Pikes do, would you really take all of them to the mall at the same time to shop for clothes? My friend Zee has four kids, and she doesn’t even take all of them shopping at once. She doesn’t even like to take them all to the grocery store.
When Nicky is grossing Claire out by playing ‘see food’, Mrs. Pike tells him to only play that with his brothers because the rest of the family members aren’t interested. I guess this is what happens when you get tired of fighting with that many boys; it’s easier to tell them to gross each other out than to not be gross at all.
There just are not enough things to mock in this book.
Claudia says Mallory collects words. Not only is this a good pastime, it’s good for making other people feel inferior, or being condescending (which is the word that makes Claud make that comment in the first place.)
Claudia totally steals the museum curator’s resume off his desk. Turns out just about every museum he’s ever worked at has been robbed while he was the curator. His name is Mr. Snipes and I’m totally picturing Wesley Snipes even though he’s described as being extremely pale.
Claire wants to be as famous as Michael Jackson, Roseanne, and the elementary school principal. I have no words.
Claudia helps Claire send off her video to an agent in her quest to become a star. The problems with this? A) It’s Claire’s only copy of the video. What if the agent doesn’t send it back? B) She doesn’t ask the Pikes for permission first.
Claudia decides to contact the artist whose work doesn’t ‘feel right’ to her at the museum. Conveniently, as happens so often in these books, he lives nearby. Also conveniently, he’s the only Don Newman living in the area. Normally you’d think they’d have given Claudia a bunch of numbers. So she calls him and he invites her to the gala event that’s being held for his exhibit.
The title quote is what Stacey says when the BSC is going over the suspects again. Mary Anne reminds the group that there was a Brownie troop at the scene of the crime as well as the other suspects.
When Claudia meets Don Newman, she tells him her suspicions about the Mr. Snipes and then drags him out of the party to tail the curator. She drags him all over the museum in her quest to find out what’s going on with his sculpture…and he’s not only okay with that, he enjoys it!
Even though Claudia babysits earlier in the story, we don’t get any of her spelling until all the Stoneybrook characters write Dawn a letter in chapter 15. Claudia goes last and delights us with the following; whish, mistery, ahsome (I actually love that one!) desserv, creddit, evryboddy, coolist, nigth, museem, partys, freinds. She also uses trusty for trustee, two for two and hole for whole and then signs the letter Claudia Nancy Drew Kishi.
So what’s the deal here? It turns out that Mr. Snipes was experienced in securing museums that were high-risk for theft…hence why so many of his former museums had actually been robbed. The chimera guy (one blue eye, one green eye, remember?) was actually a federal agent specializing in art theft. He tells Claudia she’d make a good federal agent herself. But trust me, she’d need to learn to spell first.
The BSC celebrates solving the case with a pizza toast, of course.
Finally, Claudia writes Don Newman a note, enclosing a sketch she did of his sculpture, complete with the following errors: thot, parntner, allways, famouse, robery, sinserly.
Claudia: side braid, red and white striped shirt, red leggings, black high tops; red leggings, white man’s shirt, vest; pale green silk kimono
Claire: spangled tutu, feather boa, high heels; same high heels with a pink dress
Next week: I get to make terrible mono jokes at Mallory’s expense.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Snipes will now be Wesley Snipes in my headcanon.