Monday, December 7, 2015

“Taking peaches to the hospital? Is this some kind of ancient birthing ritual?” BSC #97: Claudia and the World’s Cutest Baby (1996)

I have never read this one before, and here’s why: I could just tell from the back cover that Claudia was going to be a grade-A first-class pain in the ass through the whole book.
Peaches finally has a baby, a little girl she names Lynn—Claudia’s middle name. She names Claudia as godmother and Claudia takes her role too seriously. She acts as if, as an experienced babysitter, she knows more about parenting than poor naïve Peaches and Russ. She spends all her time at their house. As a result, she quickly gets on their nerves. After Claudia wakes Lynn up when she just got her to sleep, Peaches snaps at Claudia about a variety of things that had been building up all book long. While Claudia is mad at Peaches, several of the BSC members go on a school trip to Philadelphia. A girl named Melissa follows Claudia around and drives her nuts the whole trip. After Melissa convinces her to ditch the group, they wind up lost in Philadelphia alone. Claudia chews her out, and Melissa later apologizes and says that she was trying so hard to be cool she didn’t realize she was being a pest. It makes Claudia think about how Peaches and Russ must have been feeling. She agrees to give them more space.
In the subplot, the Arnold twins are sneakily watching a scary movie during Logan’s sitting job. It freaks them out so badly that they are still scared when Mary Anne sits for them. They wind up watching a ‘making of’ special and seeing how all the scary things were faked, and then they make a movie of their own. This literally takes three chapters out of the book and is completely pointless.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. LOVE Claudia’s outfit. And DAMN, baby Lynn’s got a lot of hair.

The story starts with the Kishis looking at an ultrasound of the baby. Claudia thinks ultrasound pictures are hideous, but the rest of her family is busy trying to name the baby. (Not really their job, by the way.) Peaches and Russ must know they are having a girl by this point, because the names they suggest are Arianna (Janine), Hideyoshi (Mrs. Kishi—it was Mimi’s sister’s name) and Mimi (Claudia).
Since we’re discussing names here, I have an opinion on the names in the Kishi family. Mrs. Kishi is Rioko, because her mother wanted to honor her Japanese roots. Mr. Kishi has an all-American name, John. And then their daughters’ names are even more telling. The same source for the Jewish-name essay from last week has another discussion about the image of various names. A lot of times, parents project an image of what they want their child to become based upon the name they use. It could be something as simple as using a traditionally feminine name for your daughter versus using a unisex name (Christina v. Alexis, for example). There’s also the idea of what kind of image the name brings up. The author mentions three types of image. Some names are artistic, like Claudia. It’s melodious and just sounds a little arty. On the other hand, some names are serious and studious. I’m not sure that Janine is on the official list, but it’s a much more serious name than Claudia is. A lot of time in literature, the types of names used portray the image you’re supposed to get of the character before the story even starts. For example, in Little Women, the three more traditional sisters are Meg, Beth and Amy, while the tomboy sister with big dreams is Jo. It’s definitely true here: Janine’s name is a little bit staid, much like Janine herself, her clothes and personality. Claudia is artsy, so her name is more artistic.
Claudia makes a horrible science joke: physics is the art of putting bubbles in soda.
Ha! Continuity: Claudia thinks she was switched at birth. It doesn’t mention it, but obviously this is because she knows she wasn’t adopted.
Heeeey, here’s a fanfic idea! Claudia knows she wasn’t really switched at birth because she’s got Mimi and Peaches’ genes. What if…Claudia was really Peaches’ daughter, born when she was really young, so her sister and brother-in-law adopted her? Would explain the connection between them and also why Claudia and Janine have such different names.
“I don’t know why I don’t weigh 300 pounds.” I don’t either, Claud.
Logan’s take on the ultrasound picture? “What is this? Some kind of underground fungus?” To be fair, this is before anyone tells him what the picture is. Plus, Peaches faxed the photo over, so it’s a grainy ultrasound made grainier by the fax.
Stacey, regarding Abby: “Who turned her on?” That’s a dumb question. Abby is always on. You need to ask how to turn her off.
“They talk about Saddle Club characters as if they’re real people.” I don’t know anyone who does this about their favorite book series. *Whistles shiftily and walks away*
The title quote is Abby’s response to Peaches going into labor. Obviously, she hadn’t heard Claudia’s aunt identified by name.
Claudia’s whole family rushes to the hospital because Russ calls. But when they’ve been there for a while, they find out she’s only at one centimeter and sometime later, they induce. I don’t know why the Kishis didn’t go home and wait for a call saying the baby had been born.
I like Russ. Mrs. Kishi asks how ‘she’ is, and he says that she has ten fingers, ten toes and a strong cry. Mrs. Kishi says she meant Peaches, and Russ responds, “So did I.”
After Logan hears that baby Lynn was born, he says, “Does she look like the fax?” Can you tell this is a Peter Lerangis book?
Why do all these characters know so much about classic television? Usually it’s I Love Lucy, but last week Abby was watching Leave it to Beaver and this week Logan’s familiar with Mary Tyler Moore. I can understand the first two—sorta—although I personally always found Beaver boring. But I never would have sat down to watch Mary Tyler Moore when I was a kid. It’s not really kid friendly humor, although I love it now as an adult. Maybe it’s something Logan’s parents liked to watch, kind of like how I’m familiar with Barney Miller even though it’s not really kid friendly either.
Claudia careful constructs a banner, checking to make sure all the words are spelled properly. And then Janine makes fun of her punctuation. (She writes Welcome, Home Lynn.)
Ha! Claudia refers to a swaddled Lynn as having the ‘baby burrito’ look. My friend Zee still ‘burritos-up’ her son with special needs every night when he goes to sleep, even though he’s four.
Claudia doesn’t seem to realize that, by staying all day, “helping” (by breaking their coffee maker) and inviting her friends over, she’s draining Peaches and Russ’ already precious stores of energy. I really don’t blame them for eventually kicking her out.
Real books (which Mary Anne reads to the Arnolds): Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and There’s a Nightmare in my Closet, The Catcher in the Rye (which Mary Anne reads to herself).
Continuity: Claudia overpacks to the point of ridiculousness. She only needs two changes of clothes, which should fit into a backpack, but she has a huge suitcase overstuffed. Not a surprise. Abby: “Claudia, how many times did I tell you not to pack your suit of armor?” and later: “The wardrobe that ate Philadelphia!”
Claudia, regarding the class trip visit to the U.S. mint: “I love mint!” Ha! Leave it to her to think about food even though she just ate off a buffet.
I like this one: Claudia suggests that Abby has a writer, and that’s how she comes up with all her ‘lines.’
I don’t know why, but I feel like Peaches and Russ used to have a different last name. I was thinking Anderson, for some reason, but please don’t quote me on that. Claudia is eating breakfast and sees cling peaches on the same buffet as eggs Benedict, so she starts freaking out. I just plowed through earlier books with Peaches in them (#26 and #78) and didn’t find any last name, so I must just be hallucinating that, though.                                       
Of course Abby wanted to run the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art while humming the theme to Rocky. Who wouldn’t?
The movie the Arnold twins make with Kristy? The Twins who Mutilated their Babysitter. Plot self-explanatory.
Another awesome movie title? Home Alone 13, Lost in Philadelphia, starring Claudia and Melissa.
Mrs. Bernhardt, who is one of the Dollies from book #75, is the teacher who took all these kids to Philadelphia. She’s mad as hell at Claudia and Melissa after they wander off and get lost, but eventually tells them that she once wandered away from her parents…at the Grand Ole Opry. That’s so perfect.
Umm, after getting in so much trouble—and getting lost—that afternoon, why in hell would Claudia suggest sneaking out after ‘lights out?’ Even worse, they don’t get in trouble for that, so the lesson to girls reading these books is ‘You’ll get away with it the second time!’
So Claudia calls her aunt and apologizes, promising to call before showing up from now on, and only stay a short time. Yay, happy ending.
In the author’s note, AMM mentions her first words, which were ba—bird—and ackaminnie—ice cream. Sound familiar to anyone?
New Characters
Lynn Benedict (newborn)—19

Coming up next: Mystery #25. I do love me some Cary Retlin, y’all.

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