Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“I guess that you’re shouting.” Claudia’s Book (1995)

Before I begin, let me state for the record: the ‘photos’ in these books are hilarious. I wish I could figure out how to upload them without a scanner for your enjoyment. Let’s just point out that in every photo except the one with her as an infant, she’s rocking a side pony.
The ‘plots’:
            Baby Days: exactly what it says. Not too interesting
            Happy birthday to me: Nobody shows up to Claudia’s sixth birthday except Kristy and Mary Anne
            The Truth about the Tooth Fairy: Claud thinks the tooth fairy will steal all her teeth, until she learns her mother is really the tooth fairy
            Boo for Fourth Grade: Claudia starts falling behind in school, so her parents send her to an alternative school. But she’s so miserable and depressed there that they let her go back to SES…even though she’s flunking out.
            The Sea Rose: Claudia goes to the beach with Kristy and her family. They lose David Michael and Claudia realizes how hard Kristy’s life can be.
Interesting tidbits
Woo! A whole book full of Claudia spelling! *insert high pitched excited scream*
Claudia says she sees the world as a big circle with her at the center. That sounds egocentric, but at the same time, on some small level, it’s accurate for a teenager. Kids are the center of their parents’ world, and while her friend group may not revolve around her exactly, it’s an understandable thing. It’s like those diagrams they make you make in thought modification class where you draw a dot that’s you, a circle of close friends and family, a larger circle of friends and coworkers and acquaintances, etc.
In this book, Claudia’s dad is a lawyer. Just like Mal’s dad and Mary Anne’s dad. I’m pretty sure he was an investment banker or something similar in an earlier work. Why can’t anyone ever be a garbage man or a construction worker? I once floated a theory that Abby’s dad wasn’t really dead…her mom just told her that because he was in prison for life without parole….
Ha ha! Claudia calls Stacey and just says, “Hi…math.” It’s like a Stacey code.
Although, Stacey does know Claudia very well. She tells her the autobiography assignment is a self-portrait…where the medium is words. Not only is this mighty poetic for Stacey, but it is also a very positive way to phrase things for Claudia.
“An Artists Life by Claudia Kishi.” So far, six words and only one mistake. But there’s more: Connectticut, anouncement, stoneybrook, gazett, bussiness.
Good continuity points for whoever remembered that Claudia’s birth announcement was in the newspaper that had since gone out of business.
It’s a couple days after Claud’s birthday right now (July 11), but I’d like to point out that she shares it with my childhood best friend and also my nephew (the “Bubbler.”)
Claudia says she doesn’t remember being born. Is this supposed to be a surprise?
Four-year-old Claudia muses on the potential taste and texture of concrete. Yum? She said she was interested in junk food even then, but it sounds more like teeth-breaking food.
More spelling: tramatic, hapened, beatiful, kindergarden, elementery.
Not surprised Claudia is very good at jigsaw puzzles. She says that she liked to match colors, but it’s more that she has very good spatial awareness. (I have no spatial awareness. This is why I suck at puzzles and run into doors and stuff.)
Claudia says she had two pigtails and a flowered blouse in her picture in kindergarten, but the artwork shows a solid shirt and (as I mentioned earlier) a side pony. The label on the picture: “Me, Kristy and Mary Ann in kindergardin. Prakticaly grown up!” (BTW, kindergarten Mary Anne has no neck. Hee hee!)
So the Kishis solve the ‘no one shows up to Claudia’s birthday party’ problem by moving the party into the Spiers’ backyard and having the entire Thomas and Spier families join them. I’ll buy that; it’s nice for Charlie and Sam to be there, as well as Elizabeth. But does anyone buy that either Richard or Patrick (Kristy’s dad, who is still around at this point) would let Mr. Kishi paint their faces like a clown?
This I like: Janine’s present to Claudia was her very first mystery book, which got her hooked on reading mysteries.
More spelling: strate, truble, atention, wurst, wurld, secund. Also, grate for great.
The section about the tooth fairy reminded me of how my first grade teacher tried to teach us about graphs by making a tooth loss graph and adding to it every time someone lost another tooth. There were twenty four of us, and my name was at the end (because I had moved in during the school year). And everyone had between one and six teeth lost…except me. (Like Claudia, I didn’t lose my first tooth…it was pulled. And that wasn’t until I was nine. I HATED that graph.)
Various people who get mentioned during Claudia’s younger days: Alan, Pete, Rick, Emily, Cokie
Second grade Claudia also has snacks stored in her bedroom. Must be nice to get an allowance big enough to allow that.
Claudia calls the tooth fairy the t.f. and makes stupid tooth fairy traps for her. They’re dumb when seven year old Claudia makes them, and even stupider when the 13 year old sitters make them.
Claudia got a Susan B. Anthony dollar for her tooth. Her mother had said that she got a special prize because pulled teeth were worth more. Teeth seem to be worth $20 these days, which is ludicrous. And what about that woman who allegedly gave her daughter $600?
Claudia finds out the truth about the t.f. and isn’t upset…she’s relieved. Most kids seem to feel a little ripped off when they find out.
Spelling! Discuvery, realy, favorit, tho, wasnt, promis, terible. She also uses forth for fourth and tim for time.
Claudia’s fourth grade teacher sounds pretty nice. She knows Claudia is struggling, so she lets her do things like do some of her book reports orally with illustrations because the important thing is the reading comprehension and not the written presentation. (Sometimes, that is the focus, which is why Claud did have to write some of them.) It’s like I said when poor Shea was having trouble with his science homework: if the facts are the important part, then he/other struggling students should be allowed to do things like dictate their work or draw pictures or what have you.
I also like that when the Kishis determine that Claudia doesn’t want to go to the Stamford Alternative Academy, they let her sulk and throw tantrums for a few days before sitting her down and telling her to knock it off. They let her have her feelings, but don’t let them dictate their behavior—they think they are making the best choice for her. That’s the problem with too many parents these days: if the kid throws a big enough of a tantrum, they get their way.
I kinda love the teachers at Stamford Alternative Academy. When Claudia doesn’t do her homework, they have ‘conferences’ with her as to what’s holding her back from doing her homework, asking for her input on to how they can better help her. Then they ask her whether she’ll be able to uphold her end of the contract (ie, do her homework) without them having to contact her parents. All while looking like she’s wounded them.
Claudia’s parents deny her request to go back to SES…until she stops doing art projects, refuses an ice cream sundae and doesn’t want to shop. Then she starts sleeping all the time. Quite obviously, she’s depressed by that point.
More spelling: autobiograffey, altho, sumer, vacashun, relize, somone.
The title quote is Claudia’s response when Kristy shouts, “Guess what!” at her.
Eleven year old Claudia packs almost as much as thirteen year old Claudia does. The only reason she has less in her suitcase was because her mom was helping her.
The Thomases actually have a rear-facing seat in their station wagon that folds down. The few times I’ve ever rode in one, the rear seats were sideways, one on each side of the trunk.
Claudia gets the first experiences of real sibling rivalry when she spends time with the Thomases, between Charlie teasing the girls, Sam and Kristy slipping ice into each other’s clothes, and Kristy threatening to strap David Michael to the roof.
In a photo of the Thomases and Claudia at the beach, Kristy’s face looks incredibly flat. Also, she’s taller than Claudia.
At one point Claudia says David Michael is five. One chapter later, Kristy says he is four; he says he’s four and a half. If it’s two years prior to this story (Claudia = 11), then he should be five, or even five and a half.
The lifeguard runs into the ocean to save someone. Since DM is missing at this point, Claudia assumes that a shark must have eaten him. (DM kept asking the same lifeguard about sharks earlier.) Way to be dramatic, Claud.
Interesting. Claudia’s parents actually offered to get her a computer as well, and she’d turned them down. I’d always thought it was unfair to buy a computer for one child and not the other. (On the other hand, they do things like set up adarkroom in the bathroom for Claud, so maybe not so uneven.)
Claud gets a B-; A+ for content, but she still needs to work on things like organization, grammar. Oh yeah, and spelling her lifelong friends’ names correctly.
Six year old Claudia: lion tamer outfit of black tights, black rain boots, red jacket with no pants (oooh!)
Nine year old Janine: Laura Ashley dress
Five year old Mary Anne: pink flowered dress, pink tights, Mary Janes
Five year old Kristy: navy shorts and shirt and her best sneakers
Next: Mystery #20

1 comment:

  1. $20 for one tooth?! We got a dime. My oldest daughter lost two teeth last month; she got a chocolate coin and a dollar for each.