This was one of a few books I didn’t own, so didn’t reread it six-thousand times. I do have a vivid memory of it though. Not of reading it, but of how in fourth grade this book was on a shelf in the back of my classroom at school that we could read whenever we finished all our other work early. That happened to me a lot, and there were no other BSC books there, so I picked it out a lot (well, whenever the other girls in my class didn’t beat me to it). However, I don’t think I ever read it after that year. So, I remember it sitting on the shelf more than the actual plot.
The girls hear about some “Phantom Phone Caller” who calls houses to find out if anyone is home and then breaks in. He is hitting some houses in a town a few miles away from Stoneybrook. Since it is a really early book, they haven’t become master detectives yet and act like the little girls they really are, and just get scared. At one point, Mary Anne’s father even tells her she can’t baby sit until the guy is caught. So, they come up with all sorts of dumb plans to protect themselves – inventing a code in case they need to call the police, making burglar alarms out of pots and pans, and coming up with a system where they bring the club record book to school so they can memorize where everyone is sitting.
Claudia starts to get some creepy phone calls while she is baby-sitting. This basically consists of the phone ringing and then no one being there when she answers. The same thing happens to Kristy. This IS the Phantom Callers M.O., so the calls actually could be classified as creepy – although the caller’s whole point in making the calls is that he only robs houses where no one is home. So, as long as they answer and prove someone as home they should not have to worry too much. Stacey and Mary Anne (before she stops being able to sit) don’t get phone calls, but still creep themselves out while sitting.
It all comes to a head when Kristy and Claudia are at a joint job for the Newtons. They hear someone outside and Claudia calls the police. It turns out it is Alan Gray. He had been stealing the club notebook and calling her/spying on her because he wanted to ask her to the Halloween dance at school. Surprisingly, Kristy says yes, despite complaining about Alan being annoying for the whole book. Mostly because she is so surprised he likes her. And I guess I do remember her and Alan going to some dances early on before Bart showed up.
No one thinks to ask about the phone calls Claudia had been getting, but a couple days later, Trevor, the boy of the moment that Claud likes, calls and tells her that he had been doing the same thing as Alan. Then he asks her to the dance and she is thrilled. Meanwhile, the real phantom caller is caught a few days later.
- “Today, for instance, I’m wearing purple pants that stop just below the knees and are held up with suspenders, white tights with clocks on them, a purple plaid shirt with a matching hat, my high-top sneakers, and lobster earrings. Clothes like that are my trademark.” I wouldn’t brag about that being your trademark, sweetie.
- This early, Claudia says that clients still call them all individually. Wow, later on, that would be cause for a Kristy to put a hit on someone.
- Kristy and Mary Anne wear kilts and plain blouses? Okay….
- Would the end of fifth grade be that long ago, if they are at the beginning of seventh grade now?
- The girls are worried that if the Phantom Caller broke in to a house they were sitting at, he would be listening on an extension when they called the police, so they come up with a code where they call another BSCer and ask about hair ribbons, and then THAT girl calls the cops. But none of them can remember it. It is hysterical, because it is not that hard. The entire code is:“Have you seen my red ribbon?”
- Why would anyone give Karen a book called “The Witch Next Door”? That is just encouraging her to be annoying.
- Stacey is baby-sitting Charlotte (who is seven at this point) and suggests watching MTV. MTV? With a seven-year-old? She also says they’ll be able to hear music on it. Remember when that was true?
- I guess I don’t need to worry about Stacey corrupting Charlotte. The Johanssen’s don’t have a cable box yet, so they can’t watch MTV.
- Mary Anne comes up with a bunch of crazy burglar alarms that you would see on Home Alone when she is sitting for David Michael. Then the dog sets them off. The Kristy and her family come home and set one off and laugh at her. Even Kristy laughs at her, when you know Kristy has been just as scared as Mary Anne about the Phantom Caller. Nice friend.
- Janine admits she hides candy all over her room too. That seems….out of character.
- Claudia is so scared when she is sitting that she tries to convince Nina Marshall to stay up late to keep her company. This poor three-year-old is like, “no, it is my bedtime.” Great baby-sitter.
- I feel like this is opposite land. Stacey and Claud wear jeans and sweaters to a Halloween dance and Kristy wears a plaid jumper and red turtleneck. They couldn’t talk her into anything else. Seriously, I feel like I got a joke copy or something.
- Kristy is always talking about how annoying Alan is (in this book and in later ones). Well, they basically reveal Alan teases her because he likes her (as though that is not obvious). Kristy seems to forget that in later books, but doesn’t she wonder if he annoys her so much because she essentially dumps him when she meets Bart?
- They talk about how successful the BSC is becoming because they have each earned about fifteen dollars in the past couple weeks. How much do they charge that they earn that little money?