Every time I read this book, I could not figure out when it was supposed to take place. It was summer vacation, but it couldn’t be that first summer when the girls had actually just finished seventh grade, because I think they actually say they are already in eighth grade in this book. But early into eighth grade (the first time) Stacey moved away and Mallory joined the club, and this takes place before then. So, in BSC land, there was either an extra summer between books ten and thirteen, OR they went on this great vacation the same summer that Stacey and Mary Anne went to Sea City the first time.
That is the only thing I can think of when I look at this book. I still have my original copy, which I read so many times that the cover fell off years ago. I probably could tell you anything about the plot, but the first thing I think of is that I don’t know when it takes place and it still bothers me.
The set up is the original five girls, plus the Pikes and Kristy’s family are on a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas and a 3-day trip to Disney World. Mr. Pike won the trip through his company and invited Stacey and Mary Anne to come as mother’s helpers. You would think if someone won a vacation for their “entire family” there would be some kind of limit, to prevent the sponsors from having to pay for twelve tickets. But whatever. Watson hears about the trip, and his inferiority complex kicks in, and the next thing you know the entire Thomas/Brewer clan is tagging along. He invites Dawn and Claudia, just because. Anyway, as a “thank you” everyone is writing a trip diary, and that is what we are supposedly reading in the super special.
Of course, each girl has her own little adventure.
Kristy: Meets an old guy named Mr. Staples who is taking the trip because his wife recently died and his kids thought it would help him move on. It is kind of sad. Kristy bonds with him a little though and keeps telling him he should meet her grandmother. Also, she and Dawn fight a lot because Kristy is a slob and Dawn is neat. But they make up at the end. Obviously.
Claudia: Starts getting letters from a secret admirer and is all excited. Then she meets a guy in person, and starts hanging out with him. She likes him, but still wants to know who the secret admirer is. By the end she finds out he was the secret admirer but was too scared to tell her. The guy lives twenty minutes from Stoneybrook, so they actually could keep up a relationship, but he is never mentioned again. It still made me think life in 8th Grade would be super exciting.
Stacey: Does NOT fall in “luv” on this vacation. I am shocked. Actually, she does meet a boy, but he is a seven-year-old in a wheelchair. She, Claire, and Margo Pike hang out with him and his parents a lot. The kid is having risky heart surgery after the trip and (of course) is okay afterwards.
Dawn: Meets a boy she has nothing in common with. Finds him attractive anyway. Fights with Kristy. Blah, Blah, Blah.
Mary Anne: Meets a girl her age named Alex who is a pathological liar. Mary Anne thinks she has found a true friend because Alex tells her she is an orphan, only she (Alex) was lying. Mary Anne is pissed when she finds out, and Alex begs her for forgiveness. It turns out she lies a lot because her parents are famous singers and she likes attention. Mary Anne doesn’t really forgive her at the end. Good for her, why should she forgive a stranger for messing with her?
Mallory: Is not actually in the BSC at this point, but gets some chapters anyway. She does her lame Harriet the Spy thing. It is boring. She also is allowed to wander around by herself at Disney World. At age eleven. That is ridiculous.
Byron: Has a lot of chapters for someone not in the BSC or any sort of spin-off. They are all about how the triplets, Nicky, and David Michael are obsessed with treasure hunting. They think they find a treasure map in the Bahamas and it turns out to be machine diagram. They sort of do find “treasure” though, because Byron finds a bracelet that Dawn had lost. So, they are sort of satisfied.
Karen: She breaks a bunch of rules and is generally annoying and obnoxious. She gets lost at Disney World and is unfortunately found again.
- I never realized until this reading….Sam and Charlie are barely in this book. They are mentioned as going, and then hardly ever again. It is weird.
- The contest Mr. Pike wins is for naming a product through the company he works for….isn’t he a lawyer in later books? That doesn’t seem like the type of contest a law firm would be having.
- Kristy lets Karen wander around the cruise ship by herself. They are at the pool, and Kristy lets her go back to the cabin by herself to get her earplugs. I can’t imagine letting a six-year-old wander around a cruise ship by herself. Especially one like Karen who might decide to hang off the edge or something. When Karen gets herself a manicure and soda, she doesn’t even get in trouble.
- When Karen gets her manicure (which had to have taken awhile), Kristy just sits by the pool worried about her. Shouldn’t she have called Watson or someone or started looking for her?
- I totally remember this Claudia outfit: “I put on my new blue-and-white bikini and over that, a pink sundress with spaghetti straps at the shoulders and big blue buttons down the front. Then I accessorized. I tied a pink-and-blues scarf around my waist, knotting it in the middle, added my snake bracelet and feather earrings, wound my hair up on top of my head, and finally put on these white sandals with long laces that you crisscross up your legs and tie in a bow.”
- The Pikes sleeping arrangements are like this: Mr. and Mrs. Pike in one room, Stacey, Claire, and Margo in another, Mary Anne, Vanessa, and Mallory, in a third, and all the boys in the last one. Does something seem wrong with that picture to anyone else?
- It kind of sucks for Mary Anne and Stacey that they have to baby-sit on this trip while Dawn, Kristy, and Claud get to hang out and do whatever. At least in the later books they are either all baby-sitting or all on vacation.
- Dawn borrows an outfit from Claudia to hang out with her date in Disney World: “a white tank top under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high-top sneakers, and a beaded Indian belt, which we looped droopily around my middle. In my hair we put lavender-and-white clips that looked like birds. I thought they were just any kind of bird, but Claudia swore up and down that they were birds of paradise.” Birds of paradise? Really?
- Seriously, letting an eleven-year-old run around Disney World alone? No fucking way. I can see letting her hang out on a ship alone, but Disney World? No way. I don’t care how responsible you are.
- Wow, Karen is a brat. She is at this breakfast where all the Disney characters show up and she tells them it is her birthday so the whole room sings happy birthday to her. Watson actually yells at her, but then doesn’t follow through with any punishment. Wimp.
- You know the book is from a long time ago when Michael Jackson is referenced as something cool.
- The end of the book there is this scene where Alex tells Mary Anne why she lies all the time and Claudia finds out that her “boyfriend” is also her secret admirer and they both find out the two are siblings. It is probably supposed to be this big climactic moment, but it is actually just really boring.