Sunday, February 21, 2016

“That’s because Kristy would kill us.” BSC #105: Stacey the Math Whiz (1996)

Okay. Let’s talk for a second here. Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned mediocrity?
I mean, in the early book, Stacey was the BSC treasurer because she liked math and volunteered. She says she’s good at it, but that could just mean she gets Bs compared to Claudia’s D-s. Or maybe she just thinks she’s good at math but isn’t really. In any case, by the time you hit this book, Stacey is like the Good Will Hunting of SMS. She’s the queen of calculus and the princess of trigonometry.
What’s my point? Can’t any of these girls ever be ‘good’ at something or ‘like’ something without being world-class at it? I get that Claudia is not a good student; I like and support that. But I think it would mean so much more—and be more realistic to those who liked it—if she was a good artist without being world class. I mean, the girl wins every art contest she enters, even against stereotypical (beret and goatee) adult artists.
That’s Stacey in this book, too.
There are two Stacey-related plots dancing around each other. Stacey is flattered into joining the mathletes. With her help, the team wins every competition. Meanwhile, Stacey’s dad loses his job and spends all his spare time with Stacey, taking her out to expensive dinners and shows. He gets tickets for a U4ME show that is the same time as the state finals. Stacey has to decide where her priorities lie. She realizes that her dad is asking too much of her, by assuming she’s always going to jump whenever he’s free. He eventually gets a new job and goes back to his old self—but promises that he’ll make more time for her in the future.
In the b-plot, Stacey has been tutoring Lindsey DeWitt in math. She says Lindsey is stubborn and exhausting, but the truth is, she’s not learning anything from Stacey. Claudia takes over her tutoring and brings the math down to Lindsey’s level, and suddenly she gets it. (It’s really a rehash of book #63, when Claudia learned nothing from tutoring with Stacey, but learned tons when she was helping Shea Rodowsky.) Lindsey takes part in a ridiculous Math Fair at SES and even correctly solves one of Stacey’s mathlete problems.
Interesting tidbits
The cover. Stacey’s having way too much fun with the ‘wheel of mathematics’, and the kid behind her, Jason the nerd, is totally thinking, ‘I hope no one can tell I just crapped myself.’

Or not.
Just for the record: I have never read this book before. You have been warned.
Stacey keeps Capitalizing Everything to Make It a Title. First it’s The Stacey McGill Guide to Third Grade Math and then The Stacey McGill Philosophy of Appearance. (I’m hearing Tiffany from Daria in my head: “I love philosophy.”)

Claudia’s philosophy on junk food? (No, I’m not going to capitalize that.) If any element of it could maybe potentially be healthy, then it’s health food. That includes the peanuts in peanut M&M’s, and the powdery ‘cheez’ substance on Chee-tos. Uh, if you say so, Claud.
Ha! Stacey suggests Kristy kind of has a Winona Ryder feel. I wonder if this is back when she had that pixie hairstyle? I always wanted that hairstyle but never had the guts for it….
Abby’s hair must grow super-fast. She cut it short, to match Anna’s in book #104. This book is about a month later, and it’s already long again.
I love it when the BSC characters have images for words. Whether it’s Claudia thinking of prunes when her mother says ‘prudent’ (which seems to fit, as anyone who would say prudent would probably eat prunes, too) or Stacey visualizing pancakes stuck to a griddle when she says ‘unflappable.’
Apparently Stacey’s parents’ relationship has improved from ‘wanting to kill each other’ to ‘not wanting to kill each other.’ I guess that’s nice for them, but even more so for Stacey herself, who is always getting put in the middle.
Who has leftovers when they eat lobster? I’m not even sure that would reheat okay…
Claudia spelling: kno, wating, breth, nite, hapened, blaim, Linsy, horified, hadnt’. She also uses your for you’re and feint for faint. But the best bit of all is that she calls herself Claudia the Tooter and says she tooted ‘Linsy.’ Growing up, we never used to euphemism toot for passing gas, but I know it’s big these days. It’s what my nieces and nephews use. They would think Claudia the Tooter was hilarious.
There’s something funny about Claudia correcting Buddy when he says he’s the Abdominable Snowman.
Mistake: Ryan DeWitt is spelled Byan.
I love it! Claudia actually tells Stacey how awful her math notes were after her first tutoring session, saying, “You’re much better at understanding than explaining.” Basically, Stacey’s problem is that she’s using adult words to explain math…to an eight year old. Claudia, whose own math skills were much more slowly acquired, had to take those adult concepts and break them down. Sometimes, she probably did this on her own; other times, the teacher did it for her. It’s therefore a lot easier for her to explain things to Lindsey in a way she’ll understand.
Stacey’s first mathlete match is between SMS, Stoneybrook Day, and Kelsey Middle School. She thinks she won’t run into anyone she knows, because she doesn’t know anyone at KMS and only Shannon and Bart at SDS. I think that might be the last time anyone mentions Bart in this series, although I’m probably wrong. (And of course, her parents and the BSC are all there.)
Abby, Kristy and Claudia totally embarrass Stacey (and MA and Mal), by shouting and dancing when she shows up on stage. I think Jessi’s reaction is best, though: she’s staring at them ‘as if they’d lost their minds.’ You can picture her subtly shifting her chair away from the rest of the club, pretending she doesn’t know them. Brilliant.
The head of the math department at SDS is named Reverty Schmidt. I had a small laugh at that name just before the members of the SMS team did the same. Glad to know I have the maturity of a fictional thirteen year old…
I’m having more fun doing the math problems Stacey gets than reading the book. I do very well with number-y problems, but not so well with anything that involves drawing or shapes. I’m very spatially-challenged, but I still try to solve the problem before Stacey does. Several I solved easily, including a couple of old problems that are in every book of brain teasers out there.
Stacey’s dad has a serious case of road rage. He’s like I would be if I had to drive through NYC. (Not that the interstates in Kansas City are a treat…my favorite is getting on 35/29 and having to get over four lanes of traffic to make a left-exit in less than a mile. Fun.) He reminds me of my dad…not in the driving-sense, but in the cheapness sense. He drives around like a nut trying to find a street parking space because he calls parking garages a rip-off. I once had to walk four miles to Wrigley Field because he didn’t want to pay a fee to park. (Stacey’s dad ends up with a parking ticket, so you see how well that worked for him!)
Stacey’s dad went to NYU. I’ve always imagined that Stacey would go there as well.
Ha? Stacey dreams with visions of sugarless plums, instead of sugar plums. At first I thought that was cheesy, but it’s growing on me.
Stacey’s having a Claudia moment: when Ms. Hartley, the mathlete coach, calls the team a juggernaut, Stacey pictures a jug of milk in outer space.
Riiiight. The families of Stoneybrook really are pathetic, aren’t they? Several BSC client families show up for Stacey’s third meet, the southern Connecticut district championship. You can’t find something better to do on a Saturday? (Besides, one of those families was the Barrett-DeWitt clan. Ya really think two eight year olds, a six year old, a five year old, a four year old and two two year olds are really going to sit still and watch middle schoolers do math? Seriously.
Oh, now that’s not nice. Buddy keeps making fun of Lindsey for being stupid, since she needs help with math. I think Buddy forgets that he had to be tutored for his reading not that long ago…
Mal sums up her sitting job by turning it into a mathlete-style math problem. This line was funny, too: after Nicky unravels an entire roll of toilet paper (who does he think he is? My cat?) and claims it’s for his math fair project, Vanessa quips, “What’s it called, arithmetoilet?”
Stacey is running late for school. Claudia and Mary Anne, waiting for her, actually bet on whether she overslept (MA) or had a hair emergency (Claudia). Claud wins.
The title quote is Claudia’s take on why people just don’t blow off BSC meetings. (Mary Anne suggests Stacey should not be blowing off mathletes for the U4ME concert because she’s a member of the team and shouldn’t let her teammates down, same as the BSC members don’t let each other down.)
Ooh, it looks like…uh, special…driving runs in the McGill family. Stacey says riding with her mom is like riding a bull. Isn’t there a book where Ms. McGill points out that she didn’t learn to drive until she was much older? I’ve read so many books at this point that I can’t remember when that happens.
Abby and Jessi make their notebook entry into a list of ‘What we learned at the SES math fair.’ There are only three entries, and only #3 is any good. Abby writes: “Even third graders can make you feel stupid.” That sounds like the story of Claudia’s life.
What is everyone doing for the ‘math fair’? Buddy has a booth about probabilty (spelling all his). Haley and Charlotte have teamed up (with Matt) to do math-related tricks. Lindsey’s project is an old math brain teaser about how you can turn a triangle made of ten dots around by moving only three of them. Vanessa—unsurprisingly—explains the math of poetry. Margo’s booth is about making change, while Nicky’s is about how to effectively estimate.
Oh my god. Jessi and Abby make an awesome math/poop joke. It’s too awesome for me to even repeat.
This is disappointing. No new characters (except a girl whose mom does her math fair project for her, who’s pointless) and no outfits. Stacey says she and her dad go to Zingy’s and buy her a new outfit, but we never get to hear about it.
Next: Mystery # 28

“Oops, I have to use the Vanessa toilet.” BSC Mystery #27: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost (1996)

Enough with the ghosts already, BSC! There is no such thing! Even Scooby Doo would reject your ghosts at this point.
The Kishis’ old friends, the Hatt family, comes to stay with them for a while. The Hatts used to live in Stoneybrook, and they own the old lighthouse (that of course has never been mentioned before.) Years ago, a tragedy happened at the lighthouse when a teenaged boy named Adrian Langley jumped out of a window and into the water. Mr. Hatt spotted him in the sound and pulled him out, but he died of trauma and exposure anyway. Mr. Langley and a lot of other people in town blamed Mr. Hatt, so the family left town. Someone keeps sending the Hatts threatening messages, and the BSC (who are helping clean up the property) keep seeing someone/hearing voices while on the property. It turns out to be one of Adrian’s friends, the leader of a gang Adrian wanted to join. He had locked Adrian in the lighthouse, leading to his death. Mr. Langley realizes Mr. Hatt wasn’t responsible for his son’s death, and the Hatts move into their own house and are never mentioned again.
Meanwhile, the Veehoff comet is going to be visible soon and it’s all the kids want to talk about. Because little kids are so into astronomy.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. It’s pretty standard for a mystery cover, as it shows Claudia looking fearfully at something that really doesn’t deserve that reaction. I mean, it’s not even dark and sinister looking!

So apparently, Abby and Claudia planned a whole I Love Lucy routine, recreating a scene from the show…and all the Barrett/DeWitt kids found it hysterical. I call bull on that one. Probably a lot of kids wouldn’t even know what I Love Lucy was by 1996. I remember watching it some in the 80s, but much preferring The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island or even Diff’rent Strokes.
“I used to think algebra was a type of lingerie.” Sure you did, Claudia. Sure you did. This, from the same girl who said that she used to think Alice in Wonderland was a woman’s name: Allison Wonderland. Oh, and she believed her dad’s friend, Mr. Hatt, when he told her his first name was Cat-in-the.
Claudia’s mom says she doesn’t think something is prudent. Claudia automatically thinks of prunes; I think of Dana Carvey’s George Bush imitation. “Naganna do it; wouldn’t be prudent.”
Leave it to the BSC to believe that a comet coming to town will cause people to turn into werewolves or vampires. (Anyone else think that Mal would be a huge, huge, huge Twilight fan if these books were written now?)
OOH, I like this. Claudia acknowledges the fact that the BSC members all call Richard by his first name. It kind of makes sense for them to think of him that way, because Dawn calls him that, even if they always think of Mal’s dad as Mr. Pike (to give an example). But Claudia points out it’s even funnier for Richard because he’s such a formal kind of guy. He does seem like the type who, before he married Sharon, would have been horribly offended if his daughter’s friends called him by his first name. (Growing up, I always called all my parents’ friends by their first names, but I know that’s not always the norm for kids.)
Claudia’s countdown of the coolest places
            2. New York City
            1. Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont
Hmm, interesting. Both Jessi and Mal claim to be victims of Oldest Child Syndrome, in which parents are hardest on the first born and ease up as kids go by. Claudia claims it isn’t true in her house; her parents are stricter/just as strict with her as they are with Janine. I’m tempted to agree with Jessi and Mal, though. I’m not sure parents are even aware they’re doing it to some extent. My mom swears up and down that my sister and I were raised completely equally and that we had the same curfew all the way through growing up. Um. My curfew was nine until I was seventeen, and then it was eleven until the day I graduated high school. My sister’s curfew was ten until she turned sixteen, and then eleven until the day she turned eighteen (six months before she graduated.) There are thousands of other examples, too. But I also figured a couple things out as an adult. When my parents set a rule, I just followed it. My sister would whine and plead and beg and bend the rules until my parents changed it…which is why she always got away with so much more.
Claudia confuses halitosis with trichinosis. And I’m quite frankly impressed that she knows what either of those are.
Janine’s being a bit bitchy in this book. She keeps rubbing it in Claudia’s face that she has a boyfriend and Claudia doesn’t. And then, she’s making fun of Claudia’s math skills.
Oh, nice. The Hatt family is being put up for free in the Kishi’s house, in order to avoid the expense of a hotel. I understand it must be hard for their two daughters—moving across country, leaving behind all their friends, etc.—but the two of them insist they must share a room at the Kishis’. What I don’t understand is the parents’ not reasoning with them and telling them they’re lucky they’ll have a bed to sleep in at all. (That’s what my dad would have done.) The whole family hasn’t even arrived yet and they’re already causing problems.
Ha! Claudia and Janine remember Steve Hatt as Thtevie, because that’s how he said Stevie with no front teeth. Janine even calls him that when he first arrives—not to his face. But Claudia is mortified when Mr. Hatt calls her Dodee-a, which is apparently how she said Claudia when she was tiny.
Leave it to Claudia to color-coordinate the lighthouse. Although, come to think of it, it is kind of lame that Mr. Hatt thought that he’d paint the whole thing white. Whoever heard of an all-white light house?
I’m so not surprised that Abby, in a notebook entry for a sitting job for the Hobart boys, would throw out some stereotypical Australian-isms. She says it wasn’t shrimp on the bahhh-bie weather. I used to watch an Australian soap opera when I was young. One of the characters was a young girl who came into her aunt’s house wearing a cowboy hat and announced, “Howdy!” She then followed this up by explaining, “That’s cowboy for ‘g’day!’” My sister and I (seven and nine) about fell over laughing, and this became an on-going joke in our family for years to come. I can only imagine what Abby would do with that one.
Claudia spelling: May be (maybe), wright (right), infact, mite (might), beleave, tho.
This book keeps cutting off the last letter of words in the right-hand margin of handwritten entries, and it’s driving me nutty.
Oh, good plan, Mr. Hatt. He hires members of the BSC to help with the cleanup. That’s kind of odd to begin with—since when did they become hired hands for any purpose? But then he takes Stacey and Mary Anne up to the lighthouse, and Mary Anne is scared the whole time. I think just about anyone would have been a better choice. (I know he didn’t know that, but still…)
Mistake! The Pikes have a new telescope (of course they do) and pretty much the entire sitting job consists of supervising each kid’s turn on the new mechanism. The kids are lined up in reverse-age order. (This book confirms the final ‘official’ triplet birth order, by the way). Vanessa is taking her turn and stops to make up a poem. She gets into a little fight with the triplets (see the next note), and Nicky steps up to the telescope, saying it’s now his turn. He’s younger than Vanessa and would have gone before her. That should have been Byron who stepped into her spot, according to the order established earlier in the chapter.
The title quote comes when Mal points out that the comet was named after Shelmadine Veehoff, who discovered it. Margo points out that astronomers should name comets after regular people. This leads to each member of the family naming things after themselves: Adam tree, Claire picnic table, Margo cloud, Nicky bush, Byron house. After Jordan proclaims the whole world is named after him, Vanessa calls him greedy. He then says the title quote and Vanessa loses her place at the telescope while chasing him around the yard. (The resulting fight is broken up when Mal invites everyone inside for a ‘Mal and Jessi snack.’)
“Aaaaagh. How could I possibly sleep, knowing I might be living in a house full of criminals?” I love you, Peter Lerangis. I really do.
Thanks, Janine. I’d always wondered what QED meant, and she explains it quite well—and at Claudia’s level.
Stacey must be taking stupid pills. The BSC is going to go help the Hatts paint the lighthouse, and she shows up wearing high fashion. She looks at Claudia, in an old, dirty coat, and asks if it’s going to be messy. Paint, Stacey, paint. Common sense, Stacey, common sense.
Claudia is concerned that both she and Stacey are hearing voices at the lighthouse. I suspect it’s a case of group schizophrenia, which I just made up right here and now. Sounds good, though.
HA HA! At the comet party, the kids all have their own superstitions, most of which are too stupid to even repeat. But Ben Hobart still keeps riling the younger kids up by telling them historical superstitions about comets. The best response? Ben mentioned that ‘in olden days’, sickness always followed a comet and someone would die. Suzi mentions she’s got the sniffles and Buddy responds that no one is sick, “Just Ben—sick in the head.” Kristy is eventually able to talk the kids out of all of their worries.
Claudia wonders why there’s a gargoyle over the entrance to SHS, as it ‘doesn’t fit the architecture.’ Most of the BSC members think the gargoyle is gross, except Abby…who calls it a hunk. (Now we know Abby’s ‘type.’ Strong, silent and…made of stone.)
Oh, this is soooo realistic. Paul Langley, the son of the man who keeps being mean to Mr. Hatt—and the brother of Adrian Langley, the boy who died after jumping out of the lighthouse—agrees to let the BSC see his brother’s room. All it took to convince him was Claudia showing him the note she’d found in the lighthouse; before that, he didn’t even acknowledge Kristy when she spoke to him.
Heh. After someone sets off a smoke bomb or something inside the lighthouse, Mr. Hatt is livid. The message out front referred to a party Steve Hatt was throwing in the lighthouse for his high school friends. Mr. Hatt decides that they won’t cancel the party—instead, they’ll invite everyone, including the BSC and all the Hatt family friends. He thinks this is a great idea, but Steve can’t believe his ears. I just love the fact that what was sure to be a drinking, sex-fueled romp now includes Steve’s parents and little sisters.
Janine is actually really juvenile throughout this book. She uses Steve Hatt to make her boyfriend jealous, but when she catches Steve with another girl, she goes back to her boyfriend…and makes Steve jealous in the process. Well, she is sixteen after all, even if she normally acts and sounds like a thirty year old….
And of course, they catch the bad guy, who was really just a confused young man. And no one admits to making a statement that creeped Claudia out while she was in the lighthouse, so she’s still scared of a ghost. Yawn.
New characters
Steve, Laura and Caryn Hatt (16, 12 and 10)—36, 32 and 30*
(I’m guessing on Steve’s age, because I can’t find an actual age for him. He might be 15 or even 14 instead…)
Claudia: high-collared ‘dentist’ shirt, Chinese silk jacket, orange scarf belt, black flared pants, orange hair bandana
Janine: gray pleated wool skirt, white Oxford shirt
Stacey: black cashmere coat, silk scarf
Who’s next: It’s Stacey! Oh noes!

“Don’t blame me if they banish you to the dungeon.” BSC #102: Mary Anne and the Little Princess (1996)

How is it possible that I haven’t vlogged Mary Anne before now? Y’all are warned, I kinda get a little…nutsy…in this one.

A new girl has moved into Kristy’s neighborhood. Her name is Victoria Kent, and she’s twenty-ninth in line to the British royal throne. Her parents are very busy working for the United Nations, and even though Victoria has a full-time nanny, they hire Mary Anne as a companion for Victoria—someone to help her adjust to American culture. MA likes Victoria, who is keen to learn American slang and adjust to American culture, and relates to a little girl who feels neglected and cast aside by her parents as they jet back to Europe constantly.
In the subplot (which I actually LIKE!) Sharon and Mary Anne are home alone for most of the book, and Mary Anne catches on that Sharon is using her as a Dawn alternative (which sounds like a laundry detergent…hee hee!) She keeps cooking MA foods Dawn would like, buying her Dawn-like clothes, and so on. It’s a lot more realistic than the average BSC b-plot, no?
Interesting Tidbits
How cute are Mary Anne and Victoria on this cover? I almost don’t have anything to mock…

Ooh, goody! Peter Lerangis wrote this one. I may have more fun with this than I thought.
Mary Anne is reading Catherine, Called Birdy. I can’t remember if I read that one or not, although I know I read The Midwife’s Apprentice.
Since when do middle school teams have championships? We barely even had sports teams at all, so I don’t know if that’s normal.
Interesting backstory fact: MA’s mother, Alma, played college basketball.

When a moving van comes down the street, everyone stops and stares. (I think this is a universal thing.) But when toys start coming out of the van, the person who is most excited is Kristy—she marches right over with a BSC flier, which she hands to the moving man. Logan: “She’s possessed.”
This was even funnier: When the moving man tells Kristy the last name of the new family is Kent, the kids wig out at the possibility of Superman (Clark Kent) moving in. Linny points out that Superman doesn’t play with dolls, so Logan suggests that SM has a daughter. Kristy: “We’ll have to charge extra. We’ve never had to sit for a kid that could fly.”
Sharon-itis: tennis balls in the dishwasher; credit cards in the laundry detergent. Oh, and she’s an hour late picking Mary Anne up because she forgot to change the time on her computer. Thank goodness machines do that automatically these days…
Claudia’s having ‘adjustment problems’ with being in seventh grade again, which is Mary Anne’s polite way of saying she’s whining like a little bitch about being stupid and humongous. Claudia: “What’s the difference between shall and will?” Abby: “One’s feminine and the other’s short for William.” Claudia: “And I’m the one who was left back?”
I promise I won’t copy every conversation in this book. I don’t have that kind of time.
Mary Anne inadvertently psycho-analyzes Claudia, so Kristy suggests that she put up a stand like Lucy in Peanuts. I know Kristy’s kidding, but I honestly think Mary Anne, if she could get past absorbing everyone else’s problems, would make a good therapist.
How are we introduced to the BSC this time? I’m glad you asked. MA says you can guess everyone’s souls by looking at them: Kristy’s eyes, which are always moving and observing; Claudia and Stacey’s wardrobes (natch); Abby’s hair, which is a little wild. No one else has a soul, apparently.
Trivia tidbit: Richard’s firm is called Harte, Mudge, and Whitman, but is more commonly known as Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream. Reminds me of how, when I was a child, I used to nickname my doctors so I could remember which was which. My orthodontist, Dr. Lazara, was Dr. Lizardbreath; the pediatrician I saw (and hated) in my teens was Dr. BeProud; the GP I switched to after I told my mom how much I hated Dr. BeProud was Mr. FancyPantsArmani.
Richard’s gift to Mary Anne from his business trip: He promises to bring her back some bratwurst. Umm, thanks? I know they’re what Dawn would call carnivores, and Milwaukee’s not exactly known for its souvenirs, but still.
Oh Em Gee. Claudia just corrected MA’s grammar…and she was RIGHT!
The title quote is Claudia’s response when MA says she will call Victoria by her given name unless told to do otherwise.
More Sharon-itis: she once dropped coffee grounds in the pancake batter. That’s understandable, and it makes more sense than most of the stuff Sharon is said to do. At this point, I guess they were just trying to find different things for Sharon to have misplaced, but it went from coffee grounds in pancakes/remote in the fridge (which I have to admit I’ve done before), to the WTF factor of her credit cards in the laundry detergent.
“I don’t know where I parked my brain this morning.” Well, there’s one more thing Sharon’s misplaced. I wonder where she’ll find that—in the garage?
Sharon also has apple cider on her cereal, because her kinesiologist told her to lay off the dairy. Sharon. That’s what almond milk is for, honey.
I feel for Mary Anne. Remember last time her dad went away on business, how she, Dawn and Sharon were ‘bachelor girls’ and made a pigsty of the house for a while, and she missed her father terribly? This time, it’s just Sharon and MA, and Sharon leaves her a note (signed ‘Mom’) asking her if she wants a very organic, healthy, non-Mary Anne dinner that night. Think about this for a second. If we suspend belief—which is something we have to do regularly in BSC books, for all kinds of reasons—then in the past year, Mary Anne has moved, gained a whole stepfamily, lost her best friend/stepsister to the other side of the country, and her father has started traveling on business. That’s a lot of upheaval, for both MA and Sharon. No wonder Sharon is kind of treating MA as her daughter (which is sweet) and as a Dawn alternative (not so sweet, really.) Also no wonder why it makes Mary Anne cry.
I know these books are aimed at ten year olds (give or take a few years) and that I wasn’t exactly normal at that age (or now), so I have to ask. If you asked 100 ten-year-olds, how many do you think would tell you that the English celebrate Thanksgiving? Now that I’m thinking it over, it would probably be a pretty high percentage, but my first instinct was to go low.
Hmm. In the beginning of a chapter, right after the notebook entry, MA notes that Kristy calls Mrs. Porter Morbidda Destiny and then crosses it out. Which is fine, except for the fact that it’s not accurate. She does say Morbidda, but it’s not crossed out…
Karen, to her friends and brothers, regarding Victoria: “Be polite. Don’t ask her any dumb questions.” Umm, it’s nice of her to remind everyone to be polite, but the rest of that comes out all kinds of rude on Karen’s part, like she assumes her friends are stupid. Not that I’m surprised, though. Karen’s not exactly known for her tact.
Victoria is a sassy little thing, snapping at Miss Rutherford (her nanny) with a biting wit. I understand now why she and Abby get along so well during that super special.
Mary Anne gets a ride in a limo to and from each job at the Kents’ house. Is anyone even the littlest bit surprised that Mrs. Prezzioso stood outside and took pictures of her getting into the limo? No, me neither.
Come to think of it, though, it’s not like MA couldn’t be going to the airport in a limo, or going to a very fancy school dance or something. Mrs. P has no idea why she’s getting into a limo, unless someone else has told her. (The limo driver thinks it’s hilarious, and keeps doing a Robin Leach imitation about MA’s marvelous lifestyle.)
Victoria is watching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? There have been two shows with that name that I know of, but considering she says it’s “too hard”, I’m assuming she’s watching the game show. Not only did I absolutely love that show when I was a kid, but I also still have the theme song memorized. “And back!”
This, I like. Victoria drags MA and Miss Rutherford to the Washington Mall, freaking out because it’s one of the largest in the country. She originally insisted upon eating a Fridays until she saw a McDonalds (they don’t call it that, which is funny considering Jessi actually ate at a Burger King once, but let’s go with it.) MA isn’t really a Mickey D’s kinda girl, but says waiting in the long line and eating the bad food was worth it…just for the value of seeing Miss Rutherford eat a mcnugget for the first time. I mean, the woman calls it “processed gristle” which is 99% accurate.
Miss Rutherford is a horrible stick in the mud. She keeps making ridiculous rules for Victoria—such as if not making eye contact with suspicious people. Victoria starts off by asking the obvious question: how is she supposed to know if someone is suspicious? But then, when Miss Rutherford continues to be prissy about it, Victoria insists that she would prefer to kiss suspicious people than follow the rules.
Heh heh. Victoria references Home Alone 2 when they go to the Plaza.
Stacey starts her notebook entry: “For the eyes of the BSC only. Not to be used in a court of law.” Because that will work.
Wow. Sharon gives Mary Anne serious insight into Victoria after hearing about how Victoria’s parents blew her off. She suggests that the child is so standoffish because she’s afraid to let people get close to her. She’ll be headed back to London in six months or so, and it’s really hard to make friends you know you’ll leave again, anyway. Sharon suggests it must be hard for Victoria to watch her parents—basically two of the three people she knows in the country—fly away from her all the time, and the time she spends with them is hard because she knows they’ll just leave again. She then says she understands, because she’s ‘an expert on losing family members’ (and because you just know she feels that way about Dawn and Jeff.) This leads to a very sweet moment where Sharon apologizes to MA for the way she’s been acting recently and says she’d feel the same way if she lost MA, because she loves her, too. The two of them cry and hug.
Mary Anne, stop trying to make Victoria be friends with Karen. I could understand inviting Melody or Maria, both of whom go to school with Victoria, over, or even Hannie, who seems nice enough. Karen…megh. I don’t blame the girl for not wanting to play with her. At all.
And the book ends with Sharon forgetting to turn on the oven for the turkey. Ahh, Sharon!
Mary Anne: pleated wool plaid skirt, white Oxford shirt, wool cardigan, argyle knee socks, penny loafers
New Characters
Victoria Kent (8)—28
What is next? Mystery #27!

“Elementary, my dear Spier.” BSC Super Mystery #3: Babysitters’ Fright Night (1996)

Hooo, boy.
Abby, Kristy, Mallory, Mary Anne and Stacey go on an SMS-sponsored trip to Salem, Massachusetts. While they are there, a giant yellow diamond called the Witch’s Eye goes missing. There are many suspects, including an author who wanted to study the diamond’s curse, the diamond’s owner, and a man who wants to buy it. The diamond turns out to be hidden in a plastic pumpkin Abby bought at the gift shop and called her ‘pet’ pumpkin. The culprits are one of Mal’s favorite authors and her co-conspirator, the guy who had asked to buy the gem. Abby actually literally kicks both of them (though not in the ass, sadly) and the BSC is once again the victor.
Meanwhile, the Stoneybrook sitters help the kids put together a parade for Halloween, which is so snooze-worthy that I almost didn’t mention it.
Le Covere! (That’s ‘French’ for…the cover.) We have some universally bad fashion here. Stacey’s horrible perm and oversized letterman jacket/short skirt combo…Mal’s far-too-big-for-her-face glasses and Bill Cosby sweater…Mary Anne’s tie-dye and really big pants combo. Yuck, yuck and YUCK.

Ooh, the set up for this one is all Abby. I am fairly certain that’s the only time that ever happens. Interestingly, though, Abby says that the last trip she went on with the BSC was also scary, referring to super mystery #2. I guess she blacked out on Hawaii, huh?
Mallory tries to cast a chill-out spell on Kristy. She says she got the idea because Jordan found a book of spells and claims to be putting spells on the other two triplets. If that’s so effective, why isn’t he casting spells left and right, on everyone?
Mary Anne actually agrees to babysit during her Salem trip, during which she’s also supposed to be learning and doing homework. This is yet another sign that if she stops babysitting for too long, she’ll DIE!
Stacey is all about the economic history of Salem, spouting facts like it was the home to the first millionaire in the U.S. That doesn’t surprise me too much.
Stacey was not thrilled by the movie version of The Scarlet Letter. I think the Demi Moore version had just come out then, so I don’t blame her.
This is funny:
            Mallory: What is the curse on the Witch’s Eye?
            Stacey: I don’t remember. Something awful.
            Abby: Curses usually are. *rolls eyes*
Stacey’s actually being pretty funny in this one. Mal points out a guy who is reading a newspaper but never turning the page, instead looking at one of the other suspects, Martha Kempner. First Stacey says that he’s not ‘date material,’ and then suggests he’s not turning the page because too much MTV means that he’s a slow reader with no attention span. Finally, she critiques his outfit and says he’d be lousy as a spy.
Mary Anne and Stacey are in the museum when the Witch’s Eye turns up missing. Stacey finds a clue and memorizes it—it’s numbers and she has a savant brain for memorizing any number she sees. That’s really convenient that that fact never came up until now.

Mary Anne eavesdrops on a conversation, but stays in the bushes long after Agnes Moorehouse, the owner of the diamond, has left. Suddenly she realizes she’s skulking in the bushes and being extremely suspicious. She also finds a clue: a disguise in the form of a wig, custodian’s outfit, and sun glasses someone had stashed in the bush. Apparently, this is a crime straight out of a sitcom, where you can just steal a custodian’s uniform and it will magically fit you. (Although there is that episode of The Office where Jim is wearing a woman’s warehouse uniform…)
Abby is with Mary Anne when she finds the disguise, and she tries to smart off to the cops, stating she helped MA subdue the wig (which MA thought was a dead creature, causing her to scream). She also almost tells the officer that she’d never met MA before in her life, but the officers have no sense of humor, and she’s not that stupid.
Meanwhile, back in Stoneybrook…Jessi and Shannon are sitting for the Pikes, who are both Halloween-crazy and believing/pretending that Jordan actually knows how to cast spells. This was the best part:
            Jessi: Maybe Jordan put a spell on the whole family and made them invisible.
            Shannon: Shh! Don’t give them any ideas!
Oh, and Mal calls Jessi in a panic, because she NEEDS the mystery notebook now! Shannon suggests the Salem-bound sitters could just write down their notes and put them in the notebook later, when they’re back in Stoneybrook, but Mal won’t listen. It’s actually pretty hilarious. She’s waaaaaay too attached to that notebook. Shannon actually connects that fact to Jordan and his obsession with the spell book.
There’s a whole C-level plot about how both Alan and Cary are on the Salem trip. Alan keeps pulling childish pranks on Kristy, while Cary makes snarky comments. It comes up again later, so hang on here…
The title quote is what Kristy says when MA is disappointed that Kristy already knows about the theft. Abby: “Agatha Kristy strikes again.”
Abby calls the front desk and asks if anyone had checked in or checked out since the robbery. And the front desk actually tells her! Remind me never to stay there….
Suspects: the ‘newspaper spy’, who is probably actually some type of law enforcement; Mrs. Moorehouse, the diamond’s owner; and Harvey Hapgood, who offered to buy the diamond before it went missing.
There’s this sixth grader named Eileen who is Mal’s roommate during the trip. She’s one of those quiet social outcasts with bad fashion sense; every school had some of those. Cokie and Grace keep being cruel to her, and she just takes it. The BSC can’t take it, but other than Mal inviting Eileen to eat dinner with them the first night, they don’t do anything about it, either.
Abby starts wearing her ‘pet pumpkin’ on a clip on her belt, and she actually gets attacked by someone trying to get it off of her—only she doesn’t know that’s why at the time.
Claudia spelling: sugestions, corse, Salim. She also uses ware for wear. Oh, and it’s a joint notebook entry between Claudia and Logan, which I think is awesome, even though it’s really brief. They are sitting for the Brewer/Thomas crew and the Papadakises. It’s annoying because Karen’s being super-pesty and keeps trying to scare everyone by talking about ghosts. Claudia and Logan keep assuring Andrew that it’s not true, but Karen responds, ‘It could be.’
Stacey actually calls Claudia in order to discuss the wardrobes of the Salem-bound sitters so that Claud can help plan costumes. That sounds cute, except that they’re on the phone for an hour. That can’t be good for their hotel bill, or for Stacey’s ability to get her homework done.
This is even funnier than Mal’s unhealthy obsession with the mystery notebook. Jessi tracks down Mr. Wu, the husband of one of the teachers on the trip, in order to take the notebook to him. (He’s going to join his wife in Salem for the rest of the weekend.) When it arrives, Abby notes that Jessi stuck the notebook in an envelope, taped every possible opening shut, and wrote Personal and Confidential all over it. As Abby notes, that doesn’t looks suspicious or anything!
“We’re not here to talk the politics of shoes.” That’s Mary Anne’s attempt at smoothing over a disagreement between Stacey, who thinks that high heels make your legs look longer, and Abby, who points out how bad they are for your body.
Costume time. Don’t you love yet another BSC Halloween? Amazing how they have two in one year. Kristy is Sherlock Bones, with a magnifying glass, a necklace made of dog bones and biscuits, and a fake mustache. Mal is a pumpkin patch, covered in pumpkin-themed items. Mary Anne is a cat, and Stacey is mother time, with a clock painted on her face. Abby is—shocker here—a soccer player. Again. Alan is a vampire, and Cary is rat man, whatever the hell that is. Cokie and Grace are witches, which is appropriate. I mean, they can’t dress as bitches, so this is as close as they can get.
Alan actually leaves a ‘bite mark’ on Kristy’s neck. It’s red permanent marker, set to look like vampire fangs, but Abby worries for a moment that he actually bit her. That would be unfortunate, because then Kristy would need a rabies shot.
BRAHAHAHAHAHA! Abby wears a waist pack—what was once was known as a fanny pack. (My mother wore one for going on twenty years, but because she got her first one while we lived in England, she always called her a bum bag. ‘Fanny’ means something altogether else in England.) She actually has hers stolen because the thief—dressed as a ghost—is looking for her pet pumpkin. Unfortunately for the thief, the pumpkin is part of Mal’s pumpkin patch. Since the thief doesn’t know that, he/she uses the room key from her bag to ransack Abby and Stacey’s room.
After Cokie starts torturing Eileen again, Mal actually steps up and steers Eileen away from the two of them. Later, she invites Eileen to hang out and drink cocoa with the BSC. I know Mal is a lot of negative things, but I like the fact that she doesn’t put up with bullying. Although, I did have to roll my eyes when she equates Cokie’s treatment of Eileen with the Salem witch trials, suggesting that if someone had stood up against the madness, it might never have happened. I get the connection—the witches were just people who were different or weird, and that’s why they were called witches—but she’s making it sound like the BSC just changed history by standing up to Cokie.
“This mystery was growing more mysterious.” Thank you, Mal. You just made my ultimate dream come true, but connecting this series even more closely to Scooby Doo. (I am really trying to find the clip of when Fred says this in Scooby Doo Meets the Addams Family. He also says, “Hey look, gang, a door,” and points at a door. That has to be the most ludicrous line in the history of Scooby Doo, and that’s saying something.)
Stacey wants to turn the mystery into a mathematical equation so she could solve it right away. If that were possible, then mathematicians would = cops. Even without being a mathematician or a police officer, Stacey think she’s solved everything:
            Stacey: I have it! I have it!
            Abby: The flu? The meaning of life?
Actually, she just figured out that the numbers she memorized earlier in the story are a safe combination for somewhere in her hotel.
The BSC knows something is horribly wrong because Kristy missed an emergency BSC meeting! Of course, they don’t know that Kristy was jealous because she missed the ‘excitement’ earlier when the robbery happened, so when she found a ‘clue,’ she went off to the museum to explore for herself.
When I grow up, I totally want to be a newspaper spy. I don’t know what they do, other than they pretend to read newspapers in hotel lobbies, but that’s what the BSC keeps calling one of the suspects.
It is awfully convenient that a) all the suspects continually tell the front desk where they are going and b) the front desk has no problem sharing that information with random teenagers. This mystery would have been dead in its tracks a while ago without that bit of loveliness.
Oh, and it turns out that none of the suspects actually went where they said they were going, as a tiny bit of sleuthing figures out.
More costumes, these ones worn at the parade in Stoneybrook: Emily Michelle is a rabbit and Karen, a jack in the box. The Rodowsky boys are all monsters (yes, but what about their costumes?) Becca is a princess, while Squirt is King of the Kitchen (wearing a pot on his head. I guess that’s a thing now?) Jordan, who still believes in his magic spells, is Merlin. Only he winds up admitting his spell book is a poetry book, and Claire—who thought he was going to make her fly—throws a tantrum. Fun times….
Oh, this is lovely. When the electricity goes out…on Halloween night…in a ‘haunted’ inn…with a thief on the loose…and Kristy missing…one of the teachers goes around handing all the kids candles and match books. Um, what? I think a smarter way to avoid burning down the inn would be to insist that all the kids come to one central spot and then for the adults to light candles around them and not let them touch them.
Kristy references From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, only not really by name. She gets a little ways into the title and then decides that since she’s locked in a museum in the dark with someone following her, she should just use the information: she hides in a bed in the museum display, like Claudia and her brother do in that book.
The person who is following Kristy? Alan. Only he’s not actually following her. Cary set both of them up with fake clues. I don’t know why Kristy fell for this, because she knows Cary’s done that before. (Penguins, anyone?) Kristy and Alan team up to scare the living shit out of Cary for scaring them.
Also, Kristy realizes that Cary basically keeps surveillance on the BSC at all times. He knows every detail about them. Well, duh. How else is he so good at torturing and pestering them? It’s what makes him head and shoulders above Alan. (Kristy also realizes she and Alan used the same ruse to get away from the chaperons, making Kristy fear that her teachers trusted her and Alan about the same amount. Heh, heh, heh.)
This is interesting: Cary thinks Kristy is babysitting, and states that he would never bring the little girl to the museum in the dark, saying she’s far too responsible for that. It puts a slightly different spin on Cary. Originally I thought he liked to torture Kristy because she was an easy target; she’s very simple to rile up. But this makes me think that Cary sees Kristy as the only one who is his equal, with whatever implication that may have.
So our newspaper spy, whom I theorized was some kind of law enforcement, is actually an insurance investigator. Assuming he does what I think he does, he investigates cases of insurance fraud and potential insurance fraud. I work in that field, only on a smaller scale (investigating cases of employees stealing $.99 hideous Halloween decorations and raiding their coworkers’ purses.)
Abby muses the difference between deduction and induction. All I can tell you for certain is that I learned the difference at one point but cannot remember any further. I think I’ll look it up when I’m done here.
Abby gets attacked by the bad guys and knocks both to the ground by performing soccer fouls on them. Only Abby would think to play sports at a time like that. (Of course, I can’t knock it. It would probably be really effective.) Afterwards, she’s like, “That was excellent!” Mary Anne sternly disagrees.
This is the best part of the whole story. Against all logic, Kristy shows up just after the two suspects are apprehended by the newspaper spy and the police. The BSC were in a random other part of the hotel, which they didn’t even know existed until just then. Stacey asks how Kristy found them, which is a good and valid question (as is where she has been, which Mary Anne asks). Kristy shrugs the question off, probably because the ghost writer didn’t have a good answer. She’s too upset that they solved the mystery without her!
The diamond’s owner gives each of the girls a pumpkin charm—a new pet pumpkin—for their help in solving the case. Mal gets all embarrassed, but Abby embarrasses everyone more and says, “No problem. Happens all the time,” in a dismissive tone.
Eileen: oversized dingy black outfit; oversized purple dress, puffy orange windbreaker and clunky shoes, red hat with white snowflakes
Claudia: orange and black hand batiked shirt, one orange sock and one black sock, Doc Martens covered in Halloween stickers
Stacey: black jeans, black turtleneck, silver crop top, black boots (it actually says she wore black boots twice)
Kristy: corduroys, Oxford shirt, sweater vest
What’s next? #102. I have not read this one yet, so this should be interesting. I’m predicting a lot of horrid British accents and slang…