Sunday, May 22, 2016

“I felt as if a big day-old Swedish meatball had lodged itself in my throat.” BSC #113: Claudia Makes Up Her Mind (1997)

The Claudia-related ridiculosity continues in this classy little number. Claudia’s doing so well in seventh grade that, against all reason and logic, the school gives her a choice. She can either continue in seventh grade or go back to eighth grade. Meanwhile, Claudia has another choice to make, between her loser-slacker-hottie boyfriend Mark and her cute-sweet-maybe-gay friend Josh.
In the sitting plot, the kids decide to throw a Color War as well, with dubious results.
Interesting Tidbits
Le Covere! “Two boys…two grades…How will Claudia ever decide?” Well, Mark’s doing his best Zach Morris imitation with that shirt, and he’s also looking at anything but Claudia. Meanwhile, Josh is doing his best puppy dog impression….

First thing we establish: seventh grade is tres immature, with spitballs being thrown and girls squealing about it. Yet that wouldn’t be too out of place if you replaced Brandon and Bonnie with Alan and Cokie….
So it’s Color War time, a fun SMS tradition that we’ve never heard of before. Each grade picks a color that everyone must wear for the week, and then the grades compete, with the proceeds going to a charity chosen by winning grade. Sounds like fun, honestly. But Claudia’s upset because the seventh grade picked orange for their grade color, saying no one looks good in orange. Umm, she wears orange in a LOT of books. She’s right that it’s not a color that looks good on most people, but it’s not unknown for her to be dressed largely in orange. (And later she finds an orange outfit right in her own closet.) Josh’s response to Claudia’s horror: “Let me guess. You flunked homeroom.”
Josh + Peter Lerangis = gold! First Shira says to ignore Josh because he ODed on Cocoa Puffs that morning, then Josh suggests that Mark can’t help Claudia with the Color War because he’s too involved in “all that extracurricular hanging out.”
Abby chastises Kristy for being bossy by pointing out that the BSC is not a dictatocracy. If Kristy had her way, it would be!
Stacey, regarding the orange seventh graders: “What’s your charity, Fashion Victims of America?” No Stacey, that was you in book #111….
Alan signs up to be eighth grade color war coordinator. He’s got way-girly handwriting, similar to Kristy’s. Josh asks if he’s Claudia’s ex, based upon her reaction to him. Claudia thinks that’s absolutely disgusting, which I find really funny, given the series ends with her dating him.
Claudia’s list of suggestions for the Color War, spelling intact: limrix, stilt race, battel of the rock bands, best originle outfit, race to pull 100 yards of dentle floss across football feild, janiter’s mop toss, hi score on vidio game to be agrede upon. There’s also another entry that might say cheet match or chest match. I think the second makes more sense, assuming she meant chess. Also, Claud’s friends suggest a bake off, a hog-calling contest, art contest and ‘weird foot races’, which sounds awesome until they explain it means three-legged races and stuff like that. (I was imagining ‘weird foot’ races, rather than weird ‘foot races.’)
When Claudia gets a note from the guidance counselor, wanting to meet, her first thought is to panic and assume that she’s getting booted back to sixth grade. This degrades into her being sent to reform school. ‘Cause, likely. But no more stupid than what actually happens.
Mrs. Amer says Claudia hasn’t been in seventh grade for very long and is doing very well and is cognitively working above the seventh grade level. Here are my thoughts on that. 1) She’s actually been in seventh grade for a year or more at this point. She was moved in October and went through an entire year, on to summer vacation. This is likely November based upon the one book a month progression. (This is confirmed later in the book, when Claudia mentions Thanksgiving decorations.) So that argument is very bunk. 2) If she was cognitively way above eighth grade, why did they ever put her back in seventh? 3) I’ll answer that question. She was put back in seventh grade because the subjects start building on themselves about this time. It’s definitely true for math and English; not so much for some other subjects. So since she didn’t retain seventh grade information, they put her back in that grade to re-learn it all. Which makes the argument for putting her back into eighth grade ridiculously stupid.
The Papadakis kids actually threaten Abby that she’ll never sit for them again if she doesn’t agree to take them to the kids Color War that was arranged behind the BSC’s back. Future mafia members, maybe?
It’s interesting that both Mr. Kishi and Janine are advocating for Claudia to go back to eighth grade. Mrs. Kishi’s response is nicer (“I support you whatever you decide”) but if Claudia were my daughter, I’d be more like, “You’re doing well in school for the first time, and it’s really important that you get a solid foundation before head off to high school.”
Favorite image in this book so far: Josh threatening to beat someone up for Claudia. Since he’s mentioned as being short/hinted at being prepubescent, I’m sure he’s really scary to other guys.
The title quote is Claudia’s reaction to debates about her choice.
Awww. Josh reminds me so much of a guy I had a huge crush on when I was about fifteen. That’s probably why I like him so much. He lives the opposite direction from the school from Claudia, but says he doesn’t mind walking, because he’ll reach his house eventually anyway. “Columbus proved it.” And he gets so flustered when talking to Claudia that he starts babbling.
Alan’s way of showing his admiration of Kristy: he picks his nose over her lunch tray. (And we’re supposed to think that the seventh graders are all immature?!?) Claudia gets back at him by writing a backwards KICK ME on his chair and then feeling glorious when people kicked him later in the day.
I love that Claudia is the only person in the whole of the universe who doesn’t realize that Josh has the hots for her. I’d say she was clueless, but Tessie went through the same thing one time. Her: “You knew he liked me? Why didn’t you tell me?” Me: “I thought you knew! He wasn’t exactly subtle!”
Ha ha! Kristy wrote the word butt! Ha! (I’m now officially as mature as Alan and Brandon-the-seventh-grader.)
“I’d kiss the ground you walk on if it wouldn’t ruin my orthodontia!” Josh admits his crush for the first time. Sooooo sweeeeet! And then he asks Claudia if they can go to a PG-13 rated movie, because he never gets carded. Heh.
Anyone surprised that Claudia won a Snickers eating contest, decided to go back to eighth grade, and got together with Josh at the end of the book?
Claudia: plaid skirt, purple leggings, lace-up boots, white linen skirt, black tie, vest; orange rayon bowling ensemble; orange striped harem pants (I have no idea what these are, but they sound absolutely awful) and navy blouse

Next: #115

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