Sunday, October 30, 2016

"What does drool have to do with anything?" BSC FF #5: Kristy Power! (1999)

Don't forget the exclamation point. It's exciting!
A substitute English teacher assigns a biography of a classmate to Kristy and company. Kristy is paired with Cary Retlin, who isn't exactly making life easy for her, by giving vague answers and refusing to discuss certain topics. Kristy decides to check out Cary's room and winds up reading his diary, which contains information on a secret that Kristy had been wondering about. Kristy later blurts the information out loud, causing Cary to get horribly upset. Later she finds out it was actually a story he was writing--first person from a character--and he's upset that she was snooping in his private things, not that she knows the 'truth' about him.
Meanwhile, some parents are up in arms over a reading list the same teacher gave the students. The same woman who was protesting at the library in mystery #13 has a daughter in Kristy's class and complains that some of the books are inappropriate.
Interesting Tidbits
Kristy starts the story by explaining that she and Cary are archenemies. The examples that she uses, though...the first two are superheroes (Batman, Superman) which, if any BSC member was going to be into comics and superheroes, it should be Kristy. Then she mentions Men in Black, which just seems wrong. Any reference to movies that came out when I was in high school should not ever make its way into the BSC.
"I used to picture millionaires in top hats and tails. Now I know they wear sweatsuits." I just can't picture Watson in a sweatsuit, and I can't explain why. I still don't have a clear picture of him (and neither did the ghostwriters and illustrators...that's why he's skinny in some books and fat in others), but whenever I think of him, I see him in a button down shirt. Even if I think of him in a sweatshirt, he's that guy who has the collar of his button down shirt peeking out from under the sweatshirt.
Real books: The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace. The latter one disturbed the hell out of me the first time I read it.
Other pairs for biography writing: Alan and Cokie (heh), Claudia and Jeremy (of course), and Rachel and Logan. The teacher claims he pulled names out of a hat, but does anyone actually believe that?
Cary asks for a truce and mentions the events of #123. Kristy gets pissy when he says she annoys him. She's like, how could I possibly annoy him? And I laugh and laugh and laugh. (For the record, I totally get why some people ship these two.)
More real books: The Outsiders and The Red Pony. The assignment is to choose a book that speaks to you and explain how it moved you. I never really liked Catcher, and as I said, Peace disturbed me. I've never read Pony, but I borrowed The Outsiders from the library so many times that I came home from school one day and there was a copy of it on my bed. I still have that copy, twenty two years later, and it's very well read.
Cary Retlin must know my husband. Compare these questions:
Me: What are you up to today?
Hubby: Five-seven.
Kristy: Where were you born?
Cary: In a hospital.
Is this a guy thing, or a smartass thing? Or is that the same thing? (In the next chapter, Kristy and Cary discuss 'normal' topics like politics and basketball, and Kristy says it feels weird...because nothing is ever normal with Cary.)
Interviewing little siblings seems like a good idea, until you think about the kinds of things they would say. Cary's youngest brother Stieg just wants to reveal every 'crime' Cary has ever committed.
Cary is a big fan of surrealist art and M.C. Escher.
Cary's big secret? His journal entry makes it sound like he was expelled from his last school for hacking the school computer. This being Cary, though, you can never be sure.
Kristy's actually waxing nostalgic about the bulletin boards, lockers and cafeteria in SMS, wondering how she'd feel if she never saw it again. My first thought was...well, you'd move on to a new school, with new bulletin boards, lockers and--if you're lucky--maybe even a cafeteria. But I sort of like the idea that Kristy would cling to stuff like that, even if she says her friends would think she was crazy if she said it out loud.
When Kristy's class was all griping over the fact that 'Ted', the sub, was being investigated for the book list he provided the students, I had one thought: Aren't teachers supposed to have their book choices approved? Or choose from an already-approved list? And then Mr. Taylor (the principal, remember?) says that half of the problem was that Ted didn't have the book list approved. (To be fair, every book I've heard mentioned so far is one that is often read in school, but they're also all on the challenged books list.)
More challenged books (not from Ted's list this time): To Kill a Mockingbird, A Light in the Attic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and In the Night Kitchen.
"Sometimes you have to be loud to defend what you believe in." --Elizabeth Brewer. So that's where Kristy gets it from!
The title quote is Kristy's reaction to Cary's first questions to Sam. He then promptly kicks her out of the interview.
Cary learns all about 'the spaghetti incident', which is so bad that Kristy responds more strongly to that than to Cary knowing she once peed on Santa's lap. I know you're supposed to wonder...and wonder...and wonder what this spaghetti incident is, but I can't think of anything spaghetti-related that could be worse than peeing on Santa.
Uh-oh. Kristy says she now finds Cary sort of interesting. Next thing you know, she might actually like him!
The poor sub who takes over for Ted has her hands full. The class is all up in arms--even Merrie, whose mother started all of this. They refuse to do the sub's assignment, and instead, they just want to talk the situation over. But she winds up being pretty cool, and letting them map out a plan of what they're going to do and how they're going to do it.
I remember having a manager once who was talking about his son's fourth grade reading assignment. He'd been assigned to read Shiloh, a book I read at that age and LOVED. As soon as dad found out there were curse words in the book, he complained to the teacher. Teacher gladly found son another book to read, but dad tried to convince teacher to take the book off the shelves entirely, and was telling me the story because he was OUTRAGED that she wouldn't do that. I remember saying, "Look, my parents didn't let me swear when I was ten either. And me reading that book didn't change anything. But I knew that shit was a bad word, and the fact that the dog owner named one of his dogs that solidified for me that he was a bad man who didn't treat his animals right." (We won't discuss that Scout is often called Scouty Shithead these days. It's a term of endearment.) He honestly didn't see the harm in dictating what other people's kids were allowed to read, simply because it offended him.
To update on the other dangling plots, Claudia and Stacey have an argument over Jeremy, while Mary Anne is upset over whether or not Kristy will invite Logan to her Christmas party. (She tries to be adult about it, and says that Logan can come...but do you don't think he'll bring a date, do you?)
Haha! During Ted's speech at his hearing, various protestors keep shouting. My favorite is when a woman yells "Save our children!" while he's explaining that he was just trying to give the students a choice. The parents are acting way more immature than the children. Mr. Taylor has to keep glaring at the protestors and threatening them.
Another book: Homecoming. I'm trying to remember that one. Is it a Gary Paulson (sp?) I'll have to look it up. It's the one Kristy winds up reading. (It's actually Cynthia Voigt. I never read that one, although I did read Dicey's Song, with the same characters.)
Cary Retlin: Portrait of a Psychopath--what Kristy calls her biography when she realizes that Cary led her to believe she was reading his journal. She's mad at him, even though she knows she shouldn't have been snooping in the first place, so mad that she actually calls him a booger-head. (She writes several pages on how horrible Cary is, then crumples it up and starts over. With a less silly title.)
Nannie asks Kristy if Cary is her love interest...while waggling her eyebrows. I suddenly love Nannie.
Kristy's having a Christmas party, which she's planning like it's the most important event in history. Claudia: Is Prince William coming? (No, but Mal and Dawn are home for Christmas.)
Ooh, foreshadowing a potential Stacey-Jeremy breakup. (I haven't read the next two books. I just know Stacey is single after that.)
Kristy's one question for Cary that she never gets answered? Why his family left Illinois. (My guess? His dad got a new job.) Cary says that he was accused of witchcraft, so his family left in the middle of the night. And that's how Kristy knows things are right between her and Cary once again.
Kristy: dark green corduroys, red turtleneck
Stacey: red woolen miniskirt and mini jacket
Claudia: red and white striped stockings, white dress with red polka dots, tree earrings
Mary Anne: navy velvet dress
Dawn: white denim miniskirt, green silk blouse
Ted: red corduroy pants, red flannel shirt, red polar fleece Santa-esque hat
Next: #6

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