Sunday, February 21, 2016

“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!

1 comment:

  1. I had a hard time with this book, simply because every time they referred to Mr. Hatt, I promptly thought of South Park. :P