Sunday, February 21, 2016

“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!

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