Sunday, November 22, 2015

“Mary Anne? Is there a reason you want to wait for the bus in the middle of the road?” BSC Super Mystery #2: Babysitters Beware (1995)

I should, in theory, like this book. It’s the sort of book that rewards you for having read earlier books. I’ve always enjoyed that sort of thing on television, whether it was introducing a plot point and then letting it go for so long you forgot about it and then bringing it back up years later (hello, Angela’s real name), or silly self-referential comments (“Would both Alex Yankou and Pete Riley please report to the office?”)
That said, this book BITES! It’s convoluted and the parts that are supposed to be scary are silly and cheesy. The best way for me to lay it out is to literally just make a list of what happens and then tie it together…maybe. Some of it doesn’t tie really well.
1.    Abby and Kristy witness what appears to be an attempted robbery next the Rodowskys’ house, the Seger family
2.    Someone throws a brick through Kristy’s front window and spray paints “You’re next” on her door
3.    Mary Anne and Logan each get notes that look like they are in the other’s handwriting, that say weird things like “Stop crying” and “Why do you do the things you do?”
4.    A fire starts in Claudia’s back yard while she, Janine, MA and Stacey are in the house
5.    Claudia, Mary Anne, Kristy and Stacey all keep getting creepy phone calls—hang ups and someone whispering “You’re next”
6.    Abby finds a photocopy of a photo of the four who keep getting the calls and Dawn in the recycle bin next to the photocopier at the library
7.    Someone sticks a note on Tigger’s collar that says…you got it… “You’re next”
8.    Stacey nearly gets hit by a car with a Springfield Business Bureau sticker on it
9.    Then, at Shadow Lake for some skiing, Stacey gets stuck in the chair lift
10. A snowblower buries Kristy in a little mini-avalanche
11. Someone removes a Closed sign from a black-diamond trail and Claudia nearly falls into a ravine
12. Mary Anne catches someone breaking into the Seger house and the Segers’ son is arrested for it
13. After a blizzard starts at Shadow Lake, someone snaps Kristy’s monogrammed ski poles in half and then Stacey sees a woman from the ski lodge skulking around with a gun
14. Stacey’s insulin goes missing, and some other, less serious stuff occurs in the cabin while the sitters and Kristy’s brothers are in the other room
15. Mary Anne, Shannon and Logan all get locked in the house of their suspected stalker and don’t get in trouble; his wife just says, “You have to stop him!”
16. The Shadow Lakers get chased down the trail by a deranged lunatic, but the woman they saw lurking turns out to be a police officer. They think that’s the end of things, but it turns out the lunatic is really someone else, who attacks them and threatens to throw Stacey in the lake
So what the $^#! is going on here? Woodrow Tate, son of Karl Tate, the villain from the dog-napping mystery, is out to get revenge on the BSC members for what happened to his father. He’s responsible for the vast majority of the above weirdness, but Ol’ Karl himself joins him at Shadow Lake in an effort to stop his son. After Karl gets arrested, Woodie keeps after the BSC. The Seger storyline has nothing to do with the rest of it—it’s just coincidence—and you never do figure out what’s going on with the notes between Logan and Mary Anne.
Interesting tidbits
The cover. Ooh, Scary! But Andrew seems more interested in the snow than the deranged dude outside.

This book’s claim to infamy: It is the introduction of the mystery notebook and Mallory’s near-obsession with it. I think she likes that notebook more than she likes Ben Hobart…or even Misty of Chincoteague.
Books referenced in this flashback: #2, #81; Mysteries #7, #10, #11, #14, #16; Super Special #8 +
Kristy catches DM and Karen watching a really cheesy horror movie and tries to get them to turn it off…because it’s freaking her out. This is the response. Karen: “Don’t worry. He doesn’t eat her yet.” DM: “And it’s really fake-looking when he does.”
It’s insinuated that, even though it hasn’t been mentioned since SS #8, Kristy’s family spends a lot of time at the cabin on Shadow Lake. She always feels left out, so Watson let her bring some friends this time.
SS #12 marked the beginning of something important and realistic in the BSC-verse. The BSC was split up for that book, with half in California, and half in Connecticut. In SM #1, part of them are in Maine, part in Connecticut. Everyone but Mal and Kristy go to Hawaii in SS #13, and some go to Europe while some work a day camp in SS #15. That’s true in this book too, with Kristy, Stacey, Claudia and Abby at Shadow Lake and Mary Anne, Mal and Jessi back in Stoneybrook.
Kristy suggests that Shannon’s life is booked years in advance. I can picture adult Shannon pulling out her date book and telling her fiancĂ©, “Sorry, we can’t get married for at least four years. I’m booked up until then.”
Bad pun alert! Mallory points out how much insulation is in her basement, and Abby says, “I see you’re warming to the subject.”
Stacey calls Abby One Tough Cookie because she’s willing to stand up to Kristy. I don’t think that makes someone a tough cookie, but I do see how that would be refreshing in the BSC.
Archibald. Heh. I love the name Archie, but I’d probably just name the kid Archie.
I love that Abby is still so new that people don’t know who she is yet. It’s not like the BSC would send around a flier with her name and photo on it when she joined the club. Mrs. Rodowsky only knows who she is because she’s wearing a nametag that says, “My name is Abby Stevenson, get out of my way.” Oh, Abby.
Oh, Abby, pt. 2: She thinks it’s ‘excellent’ that someone is casing the neighborhood to plan a robbery. Honestly, though, the rest of the BSC feels the same way about it—they just don’t say so in front of Sgt. Johnson.
Really bad pun #2: Abby thinks it would be a crime not to give everyone a clue about the attempted robbery.
The main thing Kristy and Abby relay about the robbery is that the guy they saw running away had “evil, ski-mask framed eyes.” I actually like that turn of phrase.
I love the BSC logic of “I don’t want to worry my parents, so I won’t tell them about all the freaky-deaky and illegal things that are happening around me. I’ll just solve it myself with my middle school friends, and maybe our favorite pedophile detective.” At least Kristy has an excuse for it this time: she’s afraid Watson will have another heart attack. (I never said it was a good excuse.)
Mary Anne’s dressing up for a big date with Logan…to celebrate football season ending. The most interesting part about it is actually the fact that he says he’s going to take her to a ‘real’ restaurant, as opposed to all those fake restaurants they usually go to.
The title quote is what Claudia says when MA stops in the middle of the street after thinking someone’s watching her.
YES! Claudia’s responsible for starting dinner, so she contemplates serving Twinkie casserole with Dream Whip topping. (In reality, she just has to make a salad and set the table.)
Claudia spelling! Smoak, beleieve, hapenned, purpos, firefigters. She also uses off for of.
You know this mystery is really getting to the BSC, because a) Kristy let a meeting run UNTIL 6:10 ONE NIGHT!* and b) they actually forget to answer the phone when it rings. It’s like they forgot they weren’t Scooby Doo in the mystery machine and that their real purpose for getting together is to, y’know, line up babysitting jobs.
(*You have to wonder why Charlie didn’t come ring the doorbell and ask where the #$*! Kristy and Abby were. I have my theories on this. One is the popular fan fiction idea that he likes driving Kristy to meetings so that he can spend time with Janine. Then there’s the boring suggestion that he was studying in the car while waiting. I actually prefer the theory that Charlie isn’t actually Kristy’s brother at all, but a robot in disguise as a teenager, a la Vicki on Small Wonder.)
Claudia worries about Stacey getting “killed dead” skiing on trails that are too hard for her. I wonder what happens if you don’t get killed dead? Zombie Stacey anyone?
Kristy’s the one who suggests having a mystery notebook, but Mal volunteers to go through the gigantic club notebook and find all the clues from previous cases and put them in one place. That must have taken her hours, so it’s no wonder she’s so obsessive about the notebook in later books.
Zounds! A Shannon chapter! She calls Kristy a PI and WOA—“Private Investigator and Woman of Action.”
Mallory’s on a stakeout. That sounds so much more fun than saying she’s sitting at the Rodowskys’.
Really Bad Pun #3: Someone calls Kristy Agatha Kristy. I heartily approve and endorse this pun. (Shannon wonders where Abby gets all her awful puns, but I just hope she doesn’t stop…at least for the rest of this book.)
Kristy describes Claudia as sneaky, devious and excellent…because she knows how to manipulate Janine into giving her information.
Once again, you know something horrible has happened…because Abby’s being deathly serious. The photo Abby finds while digging through the recycle bin is from “The Mallory Book” (Mystery #7). Mal and Jessi were on the ends of the photo and got cropped out…which is symbolic of this whole series to date. But it also explains why they (and Abby) aren’t getting the crank calls.
Mal says she’s not built for stakeouts…because she has red hair. She suggests it’s why she’s the first one called on in class, but I always pictured her being that kid who sits in the front row and looks like she knows what she’s doing. It’s not her hair, it’s the word NERD written across her forehead.
Volume One of the Autobiography of Mallory Pike: Chaos and Catastrophe. I’m not surprised Mal would think she needs a multi-volume autobiography. Come to think of it, that’s probably the reason that she and Jessi didn’t get Portrait Collection books. Hmm…
A final Mal note before the chapter ends: Mal thinks her parents’ obsession with insulation has become unhealthy, because when she arrives home, her mother asks if she’s wearing enough layers. That’s actually funny, and more subtle than most of the jokes in this series.
In case you forgot Stacey was from NYC, she compares something to an express subway train.
“We’re part of his little phone terrorist circle.” Has anyone noticed how many of my favorite quotes in this book are either Claudia (like this one) or Abby? Why not share the love and let Stacey or Jessi say something awesome every now and then?
Speaking of Claudia: Stasey, proboly (that’s how I used to spell it when I was about six), acident, Abbey, polise, sombody, somthing. She also uses shuck for shook and too for to. I have to give her a little bit of credit though: she spelled Kristy correctly.
It's weird to have Abby refer to Watson as ‘Watson’ in one paragraph and then as ‘Mr. Brewer’ in the next. He’s Watson when he’s talking to Kristy and Mr. Brewer when he’s not. They need to be consistent about it. (I mean, when I was growing up I always referred to Tessie’s parents as ‘Greg and Mona’—not their real names, but you get the picture—and my friend Kelly’s parents as Mr. and Mrs. Kellysparents or later as Mama and Papa Kellysparents. But I didn’t just randomly decide to call Mr. Kellysdad Steve one day and see how that went over. I still think I couldn’t call him by his first name to this day.)
YES! Abby says that Karen is “…plugged into Mars. I’ve never met a kid like her.” That doesn’t sound like a compliment, which means I now officially love Abby. (BTW, Karen even annoys her own father on the way to Shadow Lake. He just doesn’t come out and say so.)
Jessi ponders Mal’s life philosophy, which I think is like pondering why Emo kids are so mopey. But she comes up with “Insulation equals Isolation.” I’m not sure what exactly it is that’s making Mal sulk all the time, but I suspect it has more to do with seasonal affective disorder (this is right before Christmas) than the actual insulation.
Actual (although ineffectual) foreshadowing of sorts: Becca had spotted a man with a blue tattoo on his face, much like the one she and Charlotte had seen while playing detective in M#10—the guy who ended up being the counterfeiter. So Mal and Jessi take the Pikes (and Becca) out for the day to look for blue tattoos. Vanessa suggests that the tattoo-faced guy could have broken out of prison to exact revenge on the BSC. Between that and all the references back to earlier mysteries, it should have been easy for first-time readers to see where this story was going…at least, that the suspect related to one of those earlier crimes.
They finally find the guy Becca has seen making salad at the pizza place. Mal’s so distracted that she tries to order a blue pizza.
Claudia has her priorities straight: when she and the other girls at Shadow Lake go skiing, she refuses to leave until she puts a Ring Ding in her pocket, for ‘nourishment.’
Whenever someone who writes in cursive (Kristy, Mary Anne) wants to put emphasis on something in a notebook entry, they switch to print. It’s odd, especially because they used the Dawn-handwriting font for Mary Anne’s printing.
When Mary Anne sees someone break into the Segers’ house—the same house they’d been staking out every time they sat for the Rodowskys’—she calls Sgt. Johnson, and then Logan. The Rodowskys come home before Logan gets there, but they’re not mad MA invited her boyfriend over, given the circumstances. A) I’m not sure I’d believe her if I were them. B) How the hell is Logan, with his 13-year-old boy skinny body, going to protect her from anyone? Honestly, not that he’d be much better in ‘protecting’ her, but she’d have been better off calling her dad.
CBC: Crime Busters Club. Don’t encourage them, Sgt. Johnson…even if they do your job better than you do.
An emergency meeting at Shannon’s house! That seems sort of odd, but I love it nonetheless. I always feel like, when they have emergency meetings at house with younger siblings, the sibs should be eavesdropping or being pesty.
If Logan really thought Mary Anne was sending him threatening notes, why did he agree to go ‘rescue’ her from burglars? Or show up at Shannon’s for the meeting?
Actually, the best part about the meeting at Shannon’s is the fact that she keeps whipping out the phone every time someone has an idea and just calling about it. When Kristy’s in charge at meetings, they seem to have to run everything by her first. Shannon seems to enjoy the freedom to just do whatever she’s thinking, without checking with the others first.
Watson and Elizabeth go to get supplies before the blizzard gets too bad and take the little kids with them. Sam tells them not to worry, because he’s there. He flexes his muscle. Stacey calls him a ‘nerd body builder.’ Later, the two of them talk, finishing a D-level plot about her worrying about him trying to get back together with her (since they first got together at Shadow Lake). He admits he’s just using her for flirting practice, which I love.
I’m trying to place the first time someone refers to a Pike-family station wagon as a Pike-mobile. I thought I’d coined that one, but Shannon uses it in this book and I’m thinking it’s happened a few other times throughout the series.
OH! I knew there was a book where Logan, Shannon and Mary Anne were in a bad guy’s house together. I just didn’t remember it was this one. Shannon’s dog Astrid chases a cat into Karl Tate’s house. They have to get her back out and she refuses to come when called, so they open an unlocked door and walk in. Trespassers! (Logan even makes the argument that they’re not breaking and entering, since the door wasn’t locked.) Somehow, they get locked into his former office…with the dog.
Spelling! Waching, scarry, readding, becaus, madeup, traped, maneiac. She also uses moor for more.
Claudia keeps getting freaked out during the blizzard, pointing out how horror-movie-esque everything is. To be fair, it’s more because of the woman outside with a gun than the snow, but she refuses to let anyone split off from the six that are locked into the house (four babysitters, plus Charlie and Sam).
Mistake! During the Claudia chapter, someone rips open her pillow and spills her red nail polish in the mess. But it says Claudia’s red nail polish instead of my red nail polish
Shannon should get a job as a mediator. She solves the Logan/Mary Anne fight by making them talk about it.
I love this notebook entry: “Did I ask for this? When I joined the BSC, I wanted a job, some friends. By friends, I did not mean acquaintances in low places. You know, like maniacs. And convicted felons…”
Abby pelts a chunk of frozen snow at Karl Tate, and the police officer they’d seen with a gun earlier, Kris Renn, compliments her aim. (She manages to knock him out.) Because she’s Abby, she decides to enter the Olympics in ice hurling competition.
Horribly awful pun: The BSC solves mysteries with flare.
Is it awful that when Woodie Tate threatens to toss Stacey in the lake, I really wanted him to follow through?
Woodie asks, “My father. Karl Tate? Remember him?” Um, yes. Even if we didn’t remember back when he was kidnapping dogs, much to Mallory and Dawn’s horror, he was literally arrested (again) two chapters ago.
Abby goes to throw something at Woodie, but instead Stacey just elbows him so he’s the one who falls into the lake. I almost wish she’d elbowed him in the groin instead of the stomach, but there you are. I’m clearly just a horrible person by this point.
Ooh, that’s it. Even though they don’t really mention Christmas in this book, I’ll quote the TV episode I was binge watching when I started this sucker: “Happy holidays, broomhead!”
Claudia: purple leggings under black bike shorts (NOOOOOOO!), t-shirt that says “This might be art”, suit jacket, Doc Martens with red socks
Stacey: black leggings, turtleneck sweater, cowboy boots, black suede vest
Mary Anne: thin, lace edged sweater, skirt, belt, patterned stockings

Next: We start 1996 with #93. I’d say I’d cry, but y’know. It’s a BSC book. If I were going to cry, it wouldn’t be because someone died, but because there was too much Karen in it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

“Jake didn’t seem to mind being compared to a dish of ice cream.” BSC #91: Claudia and the First Thanksgiving (1995)

Happy Turkey Day! It’s a little early, but since many stores are setting Christmas already, I guess we’re not that far off. Let’s go on.
You know I ‘love’ when the BSC addresses an issue, but does it in a mild, preteen-friendly kind of way. This book surrounds issues of censorship. Claudia’s drama class (another one of those short takes classes) writes a Thanksgiving play to put on with the SES third graders. The trouble is, they research the holiday and then write up a play comparing and contrasting the way things were, then and now. For example, the main character is shocked that Pilgrim women are considered the property of men, and she mentions that these days some Native American tribes protest Thanksgiving and consider it a day of mourning. Parents and some of the teachers read the play and protest; many of them feel that the Pilgrims should be applauded for coming to America and ‘taming the savage natives.’ The class decides to censor their play for the third graders and another group of students put on the original play using a middle school cast.
Meanwhile, everyone’s Thanksgiving plans mysteriously fall through, so the BSC families all get together as Kristy’s for the holiday.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Claudia looks like she’s wearing a snood, with a matching vest.

Oh, Claudia. She starts the book making a pun, but then she ruins it by explaining it’s a pun. It’s like a book I once read where one of the characters made really horrible jokes all the time, but made them even worse by saying, ‘Get it?’ afterward. This pun isn’t even good enough for the ‘really bad pun’ tag.
Now she’s color-coordinating her breakfast with her outfit. That’s okay, because it seems like the rest of her family color coordinated too.
Chapter one is chock-full of outfits! I love it! Although, I can understand it when Jessi shows up at a BSC meeting with her leotard under her clothes (since she runs straight from ballet class), but why does she wear them under her clothes a large chunk of the time?
Ah, math jokes. Stacey loved the Math for Real Life short takes class, but Claudia would have rather had a Learning to Hire an Accountant class.
Some of these short takes classes do sound pretty interesting. The one the eighth graders are finishing is called Learning to Read and it’s about learning how to interpret what you read in the newspaper, such as reading different sources and determining how they slant the news. I learned all of that in journalism class in high school: where an article is placed, how prominently, how the headline is phrased and how things are reported, etc. (For example, there’s an old story that I’m not sure is true about the Soviets back in the day reporting that they came in second in a race and the Americans came in second to last. They didn’t mention that there were only two contestants, the Americans and the Soviets.)
Claudia points out that all the holidays are at the same time, right as the weather gets bad. She suggests moving them to the spring, but I kind of think that there’s a conspiracy involved here. They put all the holidays in the bad weather so that (most) people don’t get depressed as the days get shorter and the weather gets terrible.
Betsy Sobak gets reintroduced in the beginning of chapter two, where it’s insinuated that the BSC has been babysitting for her ever since #19, even though she hasn’t been mentioned in more than sixty books.
Thanksgiving is Claudia’s favorite holiday. I would think it would be Halloween or Easter, just because of all the junk food potential.
The kids in Claudia’s drama class: Stacey, Abby, Erica Blumberg, Rick Chow, and ten others who don’t get mentioned.
Abby gives the movie version of The Incredible Journey four barks, which Stacey follows up with four meows. The BSC comedy team? I give them half a star.
Stacey calls Thanksgiving the Thanksgiving of Doom, but she seems to think it’s funny, because she keeps snickering about it. I’m mostly amused because it’s the second time the Pike family have been invited to sit in the seats for the Macy’s parade but haven’t been able to go.
Kristy asks how many people it would be if you combine all the BSC families that will be in town over Thanksgiving—everyone but Shannon and Logan—and Stacey instantly gives her a number. How does she know? There are variables. For example, will Karen and Andrew be there? What about Jeff and Dawn? Maybe Nannie is going to visit her other daughters, who will be together for the holiday….
Kristy’s idea of a good conversation starter: “Listen, you know Thanksgiving?” That’s a set up for a smart-ass reply if I ever heard one.
I love how Charlotte was in second grade in the early books, they always mention her skipping a grade and yet here she is…in third grade.
I love the fact that the eighth graders don’t give a copy of the play to the third grade teacher, the elementary school principal or ANYONE outside their class and teacher until the roles have already been cast. This story would have gone very differently if they had. It’s like all the stories of school newspaper censorship. Legally, schools have the right to censor their students on some levels, although they cannot punish them just for having opinions and voicing them. It’s all very complicated, with several court cases involved. My high school newspaper had what’s called a Tinker Clause in our constitution, promising that the school could not censor our work at any time, but most schools don’t have such things, meaning that the administration is allowed to censor the writing of the students for the ‘greater good’ of the student body.
The title quote comes after Laurel calls Jake’s acting ‘super-duper extra-special,’ which is the name of a frozen treat at the ice cream parlor.
When the BSC asks the Brewers to host Thanksgiving dinner, Kristy says, “It’s only thirty-six people.” There’s nothing funnier than Nannie snorting back laughter and trying to hide it by taking a drink of coffee.
By the way, that thirty-six people doesn’t include Karen, Andrew, Dawn, Jeff, or the ghost of Ben Brewer. But as we all know, he only eats ghost pate and other delicacies in the attic, anyway.
“I wondered what Susie’s mom thought we were painting. Naked Pilgrims?” This made me laugh because I started picturing Adam and Eve wearing fig leaves in the background of the play.
I like how Jessi sums up the A-plot of the story: “They’re scared. It’s easier to believe fiction than fact.” Honestly, the problem isn’t that it’s easier to believe fiction. It’s that the parents and teachers who are upset at the portrayal of the first Thanksgiving grew up being taught one narrow point of view, and like Claudia said in her commentary on newspaper articles, how a source feels about something slants how they report is. (She reflects on this herself after the whole event is over.) Americans have always grown up reading the WASP male point of view, and now that other people want to portray a different view—female, Native American, African American, Muslim, atheist, gay, transgender, or whatever—other people get offended and yes, scared. It’s hard to accept that you haven’t been taught the whole truth your whole life.
I’m also not surprised by the roles our principals play in the fight that breaks out. Stacey’s back stage at the time, so she stays out of it and tries to distract the kids. Jessi’s there for Charlotte and Becca, so she does the same with those two. Claudia goes outside and worries about the outcome. I’m sure NO ONE is surprised that Abby, who was onstage directing, is in the middle of it. Not only is she a loud mouth (ha!), but she’s also sort of a feminist. She’s got that ‘I’m a minority and no one’s going to put me in my place’ thing going that I’m surprised they didn’t play up more with Dawn. I guess they couldn’t think of Dawn as minority too much, although Abby points as much to sexism as she does discrimination of the Jews.
Ooh, I like this too. Claudia points out that the story of Thanksgiving they teach kids isn’t made up; it’s just ‘polished’ to present a prettier picture.
Ms. Garcia uses one of my favorite quotes: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” She says she doesn’t recall whom she’s quoting, but it’s most certainly Voltaire.
Betsy, who had played Alice, the girl who learns how women and minorities were treated in the original play, had to be given a new part, so she plays the governor. She doesn’t care that her part is smaller…because her costume now includes a mustache she can twirl. You have to love how easily kids are reconciled to some losses.
This I love. During the middle school production of the uncensored play, protestors for ‘family values’ and ‘free speech’ are siding off against each other as they do in real life all the time, both outside the school and inside. When they start drowning out the actors and actresses, the principal actually comes on stage and yells at them to stop! He says they’re entitled to their free speech, but by agreeing to come inside and watch the play, they agree to follow the rules of common courtesy.
Claudia: “I wondered…whether the people who censored our play and tried to prevent us from exercising our freedom of speech realized that the only reason they could protest at all was because of the same right to freedom of speech.” I wonder this all the time. I hear people complaining frequently that their First Amendment rights are being restricted because they’re not allowed to take other people’s First Amendment rights away. (Kim Davis, anyone?)
There was no Claudia spelling in this book until chapter 14! Atenshun, clints (clients), parteis, Thankgiving (I have been trying to type it that way all through this entry!) and peple.
I’m trying to do some math here again. (Oh, please shut up. I can hear you groaning across time and space.) All the sitters and all the siblings of the BSC come together at the Pikes while all the adults go to Kristy’s to cook. Let’s stop and think about logistics for a moment: It’s a potluck, so each family brings a dish or two. This is who is at Kristy’s house:
Elizabeth, Watson, Nannie, Mrs. Stevenson, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey, Aunt Cecelia, Richard, Sharon, Mr. and Mrs. Kishi, Ms. McGill, Mr. and Mrs. Pike. That’s 14 adults in one kitchen using one stove and one oven. Madness! Some of them should go over to the Stevensons’ since they live right there and all.
Meanwhile, here’s who is over at the Pikes’, being sat for:
The triplets, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo, Claire, DM, EM, Becca, Squirt. That’s only eleven kids…with the following sitters:
The BSC, Anna, Charlie, Sam, Janine. That’s a great ratio of 1:1…that’s made even better when Dawn shows up part way through. (Although, why is Dawn there and not Jeff? C’mon, people! I need more Jeff in my life.)
Honestly, the babysitting’s not really babysitting for the most part. Abby and Anna are baking with a few kids, while Mary Anne’s helping make decorations with a few others. Charlie, Sam and Janine are pitching in quite a bit. Sam even helps Vanessa with her poems.
Sam sets up a turkey hunt for the triplets, who have to clean their room. This cracks me up…he tapes the turkey origami to the broom, knowing that sweeping’s the last thing they’ll do after they’ve fully cleaned. (Actually, they probably wouldn’t have gotten it at all, except Mal forces them to finish up by dusting and sweeping.)
Come to think of it, why wasn’t Nicky cleaning too? After all, he shares a room with his brothers. Maybe he’d already made his bed and put away his toys.
Dawn comes in the middle of events and Claudia doesn’t even notice at first; she just hands Squirt to her. (Based upon the language, he peed all over Claudia right before that.) She shrieks so loud that everyone comes running and gives her a giant hug. Abby comes up behind them and, in my favorite line of the book, says, “You’re not Dawn, are you?”
Janine points out that some vegetarians won’t eat ‘anything with a face’ and then wonders whether oysters have faces or not. Oh, and then she tries to explain to Claire how to set the table, only to be thrown when Claire asks her ‘why’ the knife blades go in toward the plate. (I don’t know either, other than to guess that it’s safer if the knives are sharp.) Janine finally just says, “Because, that’s why.” Sounds like my mom.
Yes! A moment later, Claudia observes the adults setting an adult table as well, and overhears Watson tell Sharon the same thing about knives. (She does not, however, ask him why.)
I think the dining is a little haphazard at this dinner: instead of the BSC sitting together and various kids arranged age appropriately (Becca, Vanessa, DM and Nicky at one table, for example), Claudia ends up at a table with DM, Sam and Margo.
Ha! In the reader letter at the end, AMM says that her oven once caught on fire on Thanksgiving and the fire department had to come put it out. I wonder if she was cooking or if that was when she was growing up. I bought a copy of her biography but have only skimmed it so far.
Claudia: baggy yellow pants, red Doc Martens with yellow and orange laces, leaf-pattern shirt over red and yellow tie dyed waffle weave shirt, yellow and white scarf in her hair, and pumpkin earrings
Mrs. Kishi: navy dress and pearl earrings
Mr. Kishi: navy pinstripe suit
Janine: navy skirt, navy sweater and pink shirt
Stacey: blue turtleneck, black cropped wool jacket, black jeans, black boots
Mal: jeans, red plaid flannel, sweatshirt
Jessi: purple leotard, jeans, lavender sweater

Next: It’s super, and it’s a mystery! Other than that, I’m leaving it dangling.