Sunday, May 22, 2016

“This raisin is practically mummified.” BSC #112: Kristy and the Sister War (1997)

Compared to the other books in this time frame, I like this story a lot. Why? Another glimpse into the life of the dysfunctional Kilbourne family, paired with a dose of Pike triplets. What’s not to like?
Shannon is busier than normal, and Tiffany and Maria both feel like neither she nor their parents have time for them. Kristy encourages them to try to make Shannon’s life easier so she’ll have more time, but that backfires and Shannon ends up angry at her sisters. So they declare war and pull pranks on her. Kristy manages to broker a peace deal between the sisters.
Meanwhile, all the middle schools in Stoneybrook are pulling together for an ‘all-school’ dance, which leads the kids to decide to have an ‘all-kids’ dance. Only trouble is that the kids want to plan it all themselves, but they’re all paying more attention to whom they want to take as their dates than the planning. In particular, Maria and Tiffany both zone in on Jordan Pike, leading to even more Kilbourne-sister fighting. Once Abby declares the kids dance a date-free zone, the planning goes much more smoothly and everyone has a good time.
Interesting tidbits
The cover: Oh look. Universally bad fashion sense. On the plus side, they finally got Maria’s hair right.

What is with the Brewer-Thomas crew and naming their pets after people? I never stopped to think about it, but DM named their dog after their neighbor and Karen named her rat after her little sister. I don’t know which is a bigger insult, but if the family every gets another pet, it should be a potbellied pig or a donkey, so the insulting naming can be completed.
Charlie’s newest nickname for Kristy: Your Royal Cluelessness. I do love the relationship between Charlie, Sam, and Kristy, how the three of them are always teasing one another, but the love is there behind it all. (I’m remembering in SS#8 when Sam says he’s a man of mystery, and Kristy laughs at the idea of him being a man. I’m so glad I don’t have older brothers….)
Kristy compares Mary Anne to a ‘facial tissue’ by describing her as ultra-sensitive and ultra-gentle. I’d be more concerned if she starting calling her ultra-absorbent, myself.
Maria says the title line while she and Tiffany are trying to bake snickerdoodles. Since when do snickerdoodles have raisins, anyway? The worst part is that the girls make a huge mess baking the snickerdoodles while Kristy is babysitting, and Shannon has to clean it up because she’ll be the only one home that night. Kristy makes a big point of saying how she’s a responsible babysitter a couple paragraphs earlier, so why doesn’t she clean up before she leaves?
Tiffany and Maria’s list of ways to help Shannon is sweet, though mostly misguided. I can’t believe Kristy let them ‘help’ with Shannon’s algebra homework—by changing the Xs to numbers—or thought it would be a good idea to clean Shannon’s bedroom. I don’t think Kristy would want David Michael and Karen cleaning her bedroom, after all. Forget the fact that they used a greasy rag to ‘wash’ her window and smeared upholstery cleaner around instead of Pledge. Have they never heard of privacy?
Claudia spelling! Exitmint (aren’t those the butter mints you get when you leave some restaurants? Never mind. Even Abby wouldn’t approve of that pun.) Havent, committe, enything, thats. She also uses reel for real, but she spells more words correctly than incorrectly.
The kids that get together to be the representative committee of all the elementary schools are an odd bunch. First, let’s consider the fact that there are two public middle schools in Stoneybrook. Yet we have representatives of only one public elementary school. By my calculations, there should be at least two, more likely four. (Two schools to feed into each middle school, which feed into the same high school. But what do I know? I went to a KES that was the only school that fed into a KMS, which was the only school that fed into a KHS. And yes, all the Ks were the same.)
Then there are the random kids who come over. The meeting is held at the Korman house and includes the Kormans and the Kilbournes, who all go to SDS. Then Karen and the Papadakises come over, and they all go to Stoneybrook Academy. That makes sense, since they’re all local. But the kids from SES? The Pike triplets, Becca and Charlotte. I know the triplets had to be there or the story loses a plot line, but they seem like the last kids in town who’d be interested in planning a dance. And are they friendly with these other kids at all? Tiffany calls Jordan out by name the first time he speaks, so she knows the triplets well enough to tell them apart. Becca and Charlotte are similar in age to Maria, Melody, Hannie and Karen. They’ve all done events together before. I could picture Maria being good friends with the two of them, frankly. Maybe the triplets have hung out with Bill and Linny once or twice? I think the whole thing would make more sense if Vanessa and/or Nicky had come with them.
I’d completely forgotten about the subplot in which Claudia and Mark set up Kristy with one of Mark’s friends, mostly because he’s ‘big into sports’ and so is she. Um, that could describe a lot of guys. It’s not a very rare quality or anything.
Not only do Maria and Tiffany decide to war with their sister, they actually draw up a declaration of war and a list of acts of war. Between this and the fact that Tiffany is a ‘natural leader’ at the dance committee meetings, you almost expect her to go into politics.
Their first act of war made me laugh. They used Shannon’s name the way the Smurfs used to use the word Smurf. The only thing about the Smurfs I really remember (other than that god-awful theme song, which is now playing in my head) is that they used to use Smurf and Smurfy all the time: “It’s a Smurfy day,” and “Go Smurf yourself!” Okay, I don’t think they ever said the second one, but you get the idea. The two of them sit at the dinner table, ignoring their sister, saying things like, “Shannon you,” and “You’re Shannon.” That would definitely work to annoying someone.
Actually, I think the best part of this whole sister war is Shannon’s response. She figures out very quickly that her sisters are trying to get a reaction, so, since they’re going about getting her attention all the wrong ways, she ignores them. It’s very similar to when my nephew used to throw temper tantrums and I’d just step right over him and go talk to his sister. Once he realized I wasn’t going to give him an audience, he quit. The only problem for Shannon is that her sisters are just getting more and more mad when she’s not giving them the attention they’re seeking.
Kristy agrees to let Claudia take her shopping before her blind date with Mark’s friend. Claudia, though, doesn’t make any concessions to the fact that it’s Kristy she’s shopping with, so she drags her into a fancy boutique where a plain white t-shirt costs $79. Like me, Kristy’s never seen the point of overpriced clothes. She goes home after her mall expedition and puts on a $5 t-shirt.
Ooh, book foreshadowing. Claudia and Kristy go on their double date. Kristy’s not too impressed with her date, but she’s even less impressed with Claudia’s boyfriend, Mark. He’s late and doesn’t apologize, and he ignores Claudia during their date and mostly talks to his friend, Kristy’s date. She thinks Claudia can do much better. And we all know they break up in the next book.
“History books of the future will probably show that it was the Spaghetti Incident that ended the Sister War.” I love that Kristy’s treating this like it’s a real political incident, where incidents like the Sweater Situation need to be capitalized.
Kristy thinks Tiffany and Maria are too young to be interested in dating. Tiffany’s age is established as eleven in this book, despite the fact that she’s sometimes ten. That’s the same age as Mal and Jessi, both of whom have had sorta-boyfriends. And Maria is the same age as various characters throughout the series that the BSC has followed the ‘romances’ of. I’m thinking specifically of #51, when Laine thought the BSC was ludicrous for being interested in the romantic interests of the Arnold twins, Nicky and James. And I had a boy I ‘dated’ when I was eight; we even kissed each other. Although, in Tiffany and Maria’s case, I think it really is just something for the two of them to bicker over.
My favorite prank, besides the Smurfy one? The girls put ‘sorta-purple’ hair dye in Shannon’s shampoo. End result? She looked like Barney, until she washed her hair with normal shampoo.
Remember how I said Shannon was ignoring her sisters’ bad behavior so as not to give them an audience? Well, she wasn’t doing it on purpose. She doesn’t even realize that her sisters are craving her attention until Kristy points it out.
Continuity: kids mentioned at the final planning meeting for the all-school dance include Shannon’s friends Greer, Lindsey and Polly. Also, some of the kids mentioned as living in Kristy’s neighborhood, who go to Kelsey, are there.
Here’s the problem with this all-school dance. There were adults, such as Mrs. Kilbourne, on the dance committee. But these adults are nowhere to be found when it’s time to put the plans into action. The committees all decided on things like food, music, and decorations. Then they roped in more people to help actually put the food, music and decorations together…and those people think the plans are still open for debate. About the only people who aren’t trying to change things are Kristy, who doesn’t really care, and Stacey, who suggests it would be more prudent just to go with the already-made plans.
Alan also has a nickname for Kristy: Your Kristiness. He calls her this right before she drags him into the middle of the floor during the planning session and forces him to dance with her. It’s an odd moment, and so not Kristy. I could picture Stacey or even Shannon using that method to calm everyone down, but Kristy? Nahhhh…
Maria said her father was reading briefs at the dinner table, and Kristy pictures him reading the label on a pair of underpants.
I’m amused by which kids have little things for each other in this book. Linny and Charlotte are interested in each other, while Bill keeps punching Hannie in the shoulder. (Abby calls that a sure sign of love in a nine year old.) Melody really wants Nicky to dance with her, although Nicky’s not interested in ‘stinky girls.’ Oh, and Tiffany’s convinced she’ll get her man because she’s an older woman.
Haha, lesbian fanfic fiends! Shannon and Kristy go to the dance together, and Shannon’s convinced they’ll have a great time. Hell, the two of them start off the dance by dancing together.
Awww, even Alan found a love match. He met a girl from SDS who enjoys pranks and gross outs as much as he does.
Allegedly happy ending for the Kilbournes, who agree to spend more time together. But I imagine that will be a temporary fix, and before long, everyone will go back to being too busy and pretending the family doesn’t have problems. (“Growing up in a repressed household is so boring next to this stuff. We always have to pretend problems don’t exist. Gets pretty inconvenient when there are odors involved.”) Maybe I’m jaded? Or perhaps I’m just realistic.
Shannon: purple lycra…everything. (Bad Shannon!)
Maria and Tiffany: SDS uniforms (gray and green plaid kilts, white shirts, gray sweater vests)
Maria: jeans and a sweatshirt
Tiffany: overalls, red turtleneck
Claudia: jumper made of overalls, covered in embroidered designs; pink corduroy mini-skirt, lime green sweater and scrunchie (“Careful. Don’t hurt yourself with that scrunchie.”); tux
Kristy: green turtleneck, blue jeans; flowered skirt, fleecy vest, cream blouse
Cokie: Dalmatian go-go boots, leopard mini-skirt, zebra top

Next: #113

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