Sunday, August 7, 2016

“Between Haley and Josh, I was beginning to suspect we’d had a pod invasion recently.” BSC #128: Claudia and the Little Liar (1999)

Welp, here we are. Four more original series book, one each for our original four characters. All the Abby, Mal, Dawn and Jessi books are finished…we’re moving on.
Claudia babysits for the Braddocks, and inadvertently busts Haley in a lie. Haley then starts a smear campaign against the BSC and Claudia in particular. In the end, Claudia and the Braddocks talk to Haley and learn that she’s been trying to throw attention off the fact that she’s struggling in school. She says she told one small lie and got away with it, so she let it snowball out of control. Once her parents and the BSC forgive her, she turns back to her usual sunny self.
Meanwhile, Claudia and Josh are having problems. In the end, they decide they’re better off as friends than dating.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. The facial expressions here are priceless. I also love that, as time moved on, most of the characters eventually changed styles to be more modern. Stacey finally ditched her perm in the late 90s when girls no longer wore them. Haley was originally described as having short hair with a tail, but those went out of style around the same time as perms did. So she’s just got a bob on the cover.

Josh is helping Claudia before a BSC meeting—they’re decorating uniforms for a ridiculous girls’ basketball league the kids in town put together—and leaves just as the first few members show up. What’s notable about it is something Claudia picks up on right away: various club members describe him as ‘cute’ or ‘adorable,’ which makes him sound more like a puppy than a boy.
The Braddocks are going to school for a PTA meeting about the spring dance. What elementary school has a spring dance?
I’ve always been interested in when the clients blame BSC members for what goes on in their houses. Remember back in #21 when Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold switched places, and Claudia got blamed when the wrong one went to a piano lesson? That always seemed completely unfair to me. It was the first time Claudia had ever met them, and they were identically dressed and, you know, identical twins. She shouldn’t have been held responsible for not knowing which was which. In this story, Haley doesn’t want to do her homework, but her parents and Claudia insist. She futzes around upstairs for a while and then hands Claudia a book report for her to look over. When the Braddocks get home, Claudia tells them that Haley’s report is on the dining room table…and learns that she just printed out last month’s report instead of doing her new one. Instead of blaming Claudia, like Mrs. Arnold did, the parents blame their daughter, who lied and manipulated.
This was funny: when Haley gets grounded for her lies, Kristy needs another player for her basketball team, so she makes Stacey fill in. Stacey, whom she had roped into volunteering to help coach, pretty much against her will…and whom she harshly coaches (and benches!)
Girls on the basketball team: Haley, Vanessa, Karen, Charlotte, Becca, Sara. Most of the girls are described as ‘eight and nine year olds Stacey didn’t know.’ But I have two thoughts about that. First, Karen is seven; did she get on the team by nepotism or something? Second, Charlotte, Becca and Vanessa aren’t usually into sports, so why are they playing?
“You can’t trust anyone over nine.” Seriously?!?
Claudia is reading The Case of the Artful Crime, which Google tells me is a real Nancy Drew mystery.
The title quote is what happens during a ‘weird’ date with Josh. He’s acting odd and distant, and Claudia remembers the movie Invasion of the Body Snatcher. She later refers to the alien that has taken control of Haley’s body.
Claudia is the perfect person to have these problems with Haley. First, having had her own problems with schoolwork—and having said the exact same things about homework being a conspiracy by teachers to ruin your free time—she gets where Haley is coming from. She’s also become the people-reader of the group, the one who gives good relationship advice. When she overhears Haley and Vanessa talking about her on the phone and calling her a tattletale and traitor, she knows that it shouldn’t hurt, because Haley’s just venting, but of course it does hurt. She’s human and has feelings.
Haley starts telling everyone that the BSC members are spies, so when Abby sits for the Rodowskys, Shea and Jackie hide from her. Archie doesn’t…but only because he wants to spy with her.
Mary Anne solves the Haley problem by suggesting role playing. Haley tries, like most people do, to make herself look better by diminishing everything she’d done wrong. She claims Claudia ordered her around, refused to let her talk on the phone about school work, etc. Between her parents and Mary Anne—an impartial party—pointing out the imperfections in her story (“If you were only on the phone for a second, when did Claudia have time to force you to get off?”), she admits that her story isn’t absolute truth. And finally, she admits that she didn’t want to do her book report because her book was flying right over her head and she didn’t ‘get’ it.
Kristy puts her best players as starters in the basketball game. She says that Haley’s a strong player, but with her grounding, she didn’t practice enough, so she’s second string. She also includes Charlotte on second string, which isn’t too surprising, but Karen is also on the second string. I can argue that she’s younger and likely smaller than the rest, but I’m really just taking pleasure in the fact that Kristy second-stringed her own (annoying) sister.
Not much to say about this one, but that’s probably a good thing. This is the type of problem I could see the BSC having on a regular basis. A lot of kids lie about everything they can get away with, and it’s completely normal for them to blame anyone who spots their lies for their problems. The basketball team suddenly popping out of nowhere is stupid, but otherwise, a very realistic story.
No outfits in this one except boring basketball uniforms. Poop.
Next: #129


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I always found Claudia pretty relatable.