Thursday, May 22, 2008

Where would I find another baby-sitter as good as Mallory….BSC #47 Mallory on Strike

Memory Reaction


This is embarrassing. When I was little…I …I liked Mallory. Please don’t think less of me. Actually, liked might be the wrong term. She certainly wasn’t my favorite BSCer. But I identified with her because I wanted to be a writer. So, I remember being really impressed with her in Mallory on Strike because she wrote a really "long" story and won an award. The longest thing I had written at that point was a couple pages.

None of this means that I didn’t realize Mallory acted like an idiot in this book. Just that her writing a story impressed me.

Revisited Reaction

This book is all about Mallory being a martyr. Stoneybrook Middle School is having a Young Author’s Day. This is sort of a combination writing contest/writing workshop.

Mal only has four weeks to write her story, which she doesn’t think is enough time, especially with bratty siblings around. She should try writing a whole novel in that time. She also has issues because her mom completely takes advantage of her. Mrs. Pike asks Mal to baby-sit at the last minute or make lunch for the other kids. Because Mal is too dumb to think of going to a library or someplace quiet, and because she doesn’t know how to say, “sorry I can’t right now Mom, I am working on this important project for school,” she can’t get anything done. She ends up turning down a bunch of BSC jobs so she has time to write, but won’t tell the other girls why. Again, because she is an idiot and a martyr and wants her friends to be pissed at her.

Finally, by chapter 11, we get to the part where Mallory goes on “strike.” Which is really just her being immature and announcing she is not going to do anything but write. Since her parents are actually reasonable people, they tell her of course they won’t bother her when she has an important project to do. Then they give her a “special day” to make up for taking advantage of her. After she finishes her story, she wins an award and feels great. But then she feels guilty for acting like a bitch to her siblings and gives them their own “special day.” There is way too much use of the words “special day” in this book.

High/Lowlights

  • These books could never keep track of what color Mal’s hair was. In this one, it is chestnut brown, but I know in others she complains about her red hair.
  • It really isn’t fair for Mal’s mother to always expect her to help out. I understand her kids are brats and it is hard to deal with, but that is Mrs. Pike’s own fault for not using birth control.
  • “Claudia can wear anything and it looks great. Like she’ll wear polka dot leggings with a short red skirt. Then she’ll wear a long-sleeved T-shirt with a black vest (covered with cool pins that she made herself) over that.” That sounds like something Minnie Mouse would wear. And trust me, no one looks good when dressed like Minnie Mouse.
  • Claudia makes her own jewelry, and “sometimes she’ll wear a pink flamingo in one ear with a palm tree in the other, and then put a tiny gold monkey on the top of the palm tree.”
  • Mallory’s dad asks her to make PBJ sandwiches for Claire to have a doll tea party with. Who makes real food for their five-year-old to play tea party with?
  • I wonder if Mal’s parents pay her when they ask her to drop everything at the last minute and baby-sit?
  • There is this scene where Claud talks about how good all these fancy French dishes are at Chez Maurice’s. It seems a little inconsistent with her being clueless at the French Restaurant she goes to in the California Super Special.
  • Mal wants to impress her teacher so she wears her “navy blue wool skirt and knit sweater vest with a white starched blouse and penny loafers.” Just to clarify she is trying to impress the teacher by looking studios, not hot. This is Mal, not Stacey.
  • There are only ten people in Mal’s creative writing class. She was specially invited to join because of her writing talent. Would a class like that exist at the sixth-grade level?
  • How come Marnie Barrett, who is two, is essentially a baby, while Gabbie Perkins, who is two-and-a-half, speaks and walks like an eight-year-old? I realize those are important months, in terms of development, but it still seems like to sharp a contrast. Kind of like the difference between 3-year-old Angelica and 2-year-old Chuckie on Rugrats.
  • Claire and Margo make up a play called “Mean Old Mallory,” because Mal is so bitchy about not having enough time. Jessi cracks up through it, which is kind of surprising. But later she claims watching the girls try to dance was the funny part. She is totally lying, though.
  • Mal ends up taking a couple weeks off the club to write, and Jessi almost cries. Those girls are way too close.
  • Kristy gets offended when she is sitting for her siblings, and the parents of David Michael’s friend don’t want to leave him there without parental supervision (and don’t think Kristy qualifies). Shocking, some sane parents in BSC-world
  • Mal, if you want people to treat you with respect, you should try acting like an adult. That means not making posters that say “Mallory on Strike” and wearing them over your shoulder.
  • On Mal’s “special day,” her parents basically just take her to the mall to go shopping with Jessi - the out to lunch and to a movie. They don’t pay for anything except lunch, so I don’t see why it is a huge deal.
  • Mal’s shopping outfit: “my jean skirt and jacket, bright red tights, sneakers, and multicolored earrings that Claud had made for [her].” Red tights? Uber-mature.
  • Jessi’s shopping outfit: “a new purple jumpsuit with a gold turtleneck, which made her look taller and more like a dancer than ever.”
  • Mal’s too chicken to try on clunky boots at Zingy’s (a punk store that shows up in a bunch of these books), so she asks Jessi to. Because she wants to know how they feel, and thinks Jessi trying them on will accomplish that.
  • The special day Mal sets up for her siblings is sort of lame. It would probably impress Margo and Claire, but none of the older kids. She takes them to a “circus” put on by the Barrett kids and then takes them to the park where she buried “clues” that lead them to “treasure.” By treasure, I mean a cardboard box of trinkets.
  • For the stupid treasure hunt, Mal and Jessi hide the clues in the park in the morning and bring the kids back later. Wouldn’t a park be crowded? With people who move the clues? And if you hide the treasure in the sandbox, wouldn’t some other kid find it and take it?
  • Mal wins best overall fiction for the sixth grade, which can’t be as impressive as it sounds. Not all the kids in the sixth grade entered, and the ones that did, didn’t all enter in the “overall fiction” contest. I am thinking she beat out about 20 kids. At most.

16 comments:

BadKat said...

If you count my step-siblings, there were 8 of us. If I would have declared strike one of two things would have happened.
1 - Everyone would have ignored me.
2 - My mother would have kicked my ass for being a spoiled little brat

I swear I used to dress like Claudia, her outfit in this one sounds remarkably similar to my look in grades 4-6. Although she lacked my Mall Hair and super-teased bangs. I blame my parents for letting me dress my self and letting me be my own person.

nhbsc said...

I used to like Mallory so much too. I also remember reading this the first time and being all "you go, girl!" toward Mallory. Then I read it later, and I thought Mallory was a brat. It's crazy what a couple of years does to our brains....

Lauren said...

I always remember this one as the one where they make Mallory clean up after Byron spills a drink. Because ten year olds can't clean up their own messes, but eleven year olds can.

Mary Ann said...

"It really isn’t fair for Mal’s mother to always expect her to help out. I understand her kids are brats and it is hard to deal with, but that is Mrs. Pike’s own fault for not using birth control."

THANK YOU! Ugh, I hate kids... and as a Navy wife, I am one of the few wives that does not have any, and I can't stand when people complain about how bratty/troublesome their kids are. Hello, its not my fault you decided to start popping them out like pez at 19! I guess sometimes the BSC does relate to my life... sort of. LOL.

BadKat said...

Mary Ann,
I could not agree more, you are totally awesome!! Lets go kick children together!!

annakelly said...

When you said that you identified with Mallory, I knew what you meant - I, too, was a budding 11-year-old writer. But while that made me like her a little more, it didn't make her less boring.

And to answer your question, there would not be a special writing class for sixth graders in real life. Most of the elementary schools that I went to were kindergarten thru sixth grade, and I have a hard time imagining Mal as SOOOOO much more mature than her one-year-younger brothers.

Mary Ann said...

I'm game, LOL.

whineyiney said...

DUDE. I totes remember reading this one. I remember thinking that Mallory going on strike was a great idea. Now, I agree, she was just a brat. Why not just say something? Why be so dramatic?

Donica said...

I love kids... as long as they're not mine. I'd like to borrow a couple for a day or so and then return them back... you know... like a grandparent? Spoil them so they like me best. heh.
I'd like kids in the future, but not now...
I can relate to Mallory, so I never minded her. Not being the oldest of a bunch of kids (I'm the baby of five) but writing and kind of being an outsider, and picked on and all that... so i could relate to her...
and sometimes you just want to smack those pike parents for making mallory do everything for her siblings that at that age should very well be able to do. (Wipe up a spill? Wash hands? Seriously now.)

colleenn said...

I'm a bit late in commenting because I just remembered the existence of this blog and now need to catch up.

I also pathetically identified not only with Mallory, but with Jessi as well, because I was a wannabe writer AND dancer. Oh yes. :P

Mallory's "mature" red tights really are a step up on the maturity scale from those white tights with red hearts she wore to her first BSC meeting. So I guess that's something.

I also just recently read (for the first time) book #80, Mallory Pike: #1 Fan. Very similar plot involving Mallory and a special writing project and her being a total brat. In that one she gets to meet her favorite author (whom she has conveniently just now decided is her favorite), and she is working as her assistant as she simultaneously writes her own first play. She gets hung up on the notion that good writers must write from their own experience or they're not being "honest," but then she finds out that her favorite author had a really traumatic childhood whereas the main character in her books has a loving idealized family. And oh noes, Mal is thrown into turmoil because her favorite author is not being honest and therefore can't be a "good" writer! So Mal is really rude to the author (who was nice enough to let some random 11-year-old work for her) and QUITS HER JOB OF A LIFETIME rather than just asking her politely about any confusion she had. Any half-decent writer would have set her straight that obviously not all writing comes from personal experience. She also writes a really mean-spirited play about her family with characters like Valery and Renessa where Valery is the ultimate victim who can never get her writing done because of her awful siblings. What a brat. Anyway. This comment was entirely too long. That book just annoyed me because I'm trying to get into grad school for playwriting and to watch Mal write a terrible play and treat a real author like crap just really got to me. If you've already reviewed #1 Fan I sincerely apologize for this rant being in the wrong place. I'll be caught up soon. :)

Paigealicious! said...

Mallory was also my favorite when I read these as a child. However, like you, I have since realized that she is lame.

Anne said...

"Mal wants to impress her teacher so she wears her “navy blue wool skirt and knit sweater vest with a white starched blouse and penny loafers.” Just to clarify she is trying to impress the teacher by looking studios, not hot. This is Mal, not Stacey."

To be fair, isn't Stacey's idea of dressing up to impress a teacher *cough* Wes *cough* to dress in a Laura Ashley dress? Oh Stacey, Laura Ashley is not hot.

Jordyn said...

Okay, confession: I still like Mallory. Lameness and all. There's something almost endearing about a character being that much of a loser.

Anonymous said...

* It really isn’t fair for Mal’s mother to always expect her to help out. I understand her kids are brats and it is hard to deal with, but that is Mrs. Pike’s own fault for not using birth control.

I hope it's supposed to be funny cause it's an awful thing to say.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Vanessa, who is 2 years younger than Mallory can help Claire and Margo wash their faces and she can make sandwiches for her sisters. The triplets can clean up their own milk and not act like little jerks all the time. No wonder Mallory was so upset! If parents expect their older children to do practically everything for the younger children, they have too many kids.

Anonymous said...

i still like mallory lol. she was my fave because i definitely related in her frizzy hair, glasses and loving books and writing, though i was waaay more arrogant. i really liked her maturity and how responsible and practical she was sometimes (don't hit me). i also liked mary anne and stacey was quite the bitch sometimes, but her books were a lot of fun.