Friday, August 29, 2008

“We could take their kids off their hands for a day….” BSC # 24 Kristy and the Mother’s Day Surprise

Memory Reaction

I am almost too embarrassed to write this. Because I don’t actually remember this book too clearly, and the reason for that is, when I think of the scene where Kristy’s mom and Watson bring Emily Michelle home for the first time, my mind flashes to the episode of the Brady Bunch Grows Up (or whatever it was called), when Jan and her husband adopted a girl from Vietnam (I think) and everyone was gathered to see her. I have trouble differentiating what was in what, and I can’t remember anything else from the book.

I don’t know what the saddest part about that story is.

Revisited Reaction

Okay, so the basic premise is that Kristy wants to get her mom something great for mother’s day. She comes up with this idea to give her mom a break, and decides to extend it by giving a bunch of moms in town a “break” and volunteering to take care of the kids for a day. Since parent in Stoneybrook can’t get enough time away from their kids, they love this idea. So, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, the BSC takes a group of kids to a carnival in town and then to a park and back to Claud’s house. They get the fathers to help out by making lunches and doing the dropping off/picking up. We even get a guest appearance from Stacey who comes to town to help with all the kids. The day itself goes smoothly and everyone is happy. It is your typical BSC event.

Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom keeps talking about wanting another kid. They all think she is pregnant, but it turns out she and Watson are just adopting a kid. And they did it without telling anyone. Cause it is easy for rich people to cut corners, I guess. At the end they just tell everyone, guess what, we adopted a baby, we are on the way to pick her up. So anyway, Kristy decides that her new sister is the real Mother’s Day Surprise. How sweet. No, really it is.


  • On one page the ghostwriter refers to “M & Ms” and “M and Ms.” I don’t care which is right, but at least be consistent. We are talking about two different spellings on the same page.
  • Yeah, remember when you were seven and thought it was funny when someone told you your epidermis was showing? Karen is at that stage in this book. Cause she is always annoying.
  • Kristy’s mom had Charlie right after college. That means when her husband left her and she was forced to work full time and raise four kids, she was about thirty. Wow, good for her (seriously).
  • Yeah, Kristy is way too excited about the idea of another sibling. What kind of kid (with 5 siblings already) wants a baby around the house? At least David Michael and Karen/Andrew act realistic about the idea of it.
  • Kristy gets all awkward talking about Mother’s Day in front of Mary Anne cause she has no mother. Shouldn’t Mary Anne be used to it by now? I mean, used to hearing people talk about Mother’s Day, not used to not having a mother. Anyway, at the end of the book, MA does and gives her dad a gift. It took her a long time to figure out a book was a good idea, so I wonder what she is going to do in a month when Father’s Day comes up.
  • Kristy, Mal, and Jessi get away with making this their Mother’s Day present. I think that is not fair to the rest of the girls in the club. They have to spend a day working for free and still buy a present.
  • Mal outfit: “Jeans with zippers up the bottoms of the legs, and a sweatshirt that said Stoneybrook Middle School.” I don’t think I have ever seen pants with zippers up the sides, but I see them referred to in BSC books all the time.
  • Jessi was wearing: “a purple dance leotard, and jeans.” How come Jessi always wore colored leotards when she had to wear black ones to dance classes?
  • Another outfit: “Mary Anne’s hair was pulled back in a pony tail and held in place with a black-and-white checkered bow that matched the short skirt she was wearing.”
  • Dawn wears a necklace that says “I’m Awesome.” No, you are not Dawn.
  • Now, we get to Claud. “A tame dress – with a red neck tie! Then she had on these new, very cool, roll socks. When she pushed them down just right, they fell into three rolls. The top roll was red, the middle was peacock blue, and the bottom was purple.” I think I had socks sort of like that in elementary school. Don’t judge, it was the eighties.
  • Stacey gets permission to come help with the outing, even though it means blowing off mother’s day with her own mom. Nice.
  • There is all this foreshadowing to Mimi’s bad health. That’s kinda sad.
  • Stacey outfit: “A tight fitting pink jumpsuit over a white T-shirt, lacy white socks, and those plastic shoes, what are they called? Jellies.” Kristy’s confusion, not mine. But anyway, jellies seem like the worst possible thing to wear for a day at a carnival with little kids. And I don’t think you are supposed to wear them with socks.
  • “Claudia wore a pale blue baggy skirt over black and blue spotted pants that tied in neat knots at her ankles. On her feet she wore purple high tops. And [Claudia and Stacey] both wore all this jewelry and these accessories like big, big earrings, and headbands with rosettes on them, and nail polish.”
  • Kristy just invites the BSC over to hang out and be at the house when her mom and Watson get back with Emily. Doesn’t she think it should be….I don’t know…a family moment. I mean, they make food and a banner so Emily will have a happy first sight. But they don’t think of how they are overwhelming her with a bunch of strangers. It is all-irrelevant, cause Emily is asleep. But it is still rude of Kristy.
  • Kristy decides Emily is the best mother’s day present ever, but obviously Emily is not a present for HER because Kristy is not a mother and doesn’t get presents on mother’s day.
  • Maybe my mom is strange, but she always says she liked doing things as a family on Mother’s Day.. I mean, I am sure she would have enjoyed a break from annoying children, but she still enjoyed time with her family. I am just pointing out more evidence that the parents of Stoneybrook suck.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"It's a heart, the tell-tale heart.".....BSC Mystery #34: Mary Anne and the Haunted Bookstore

Memory Reaction

I never read this book when I was a kid, so I don’t have a memory of it (obviously).

Revisited Reaction

Okay, this one is a little complicated...for a BSC book anyway. Mary Anne is doing a school project on Edgar Allen Poe. She picks him for this project because a mystery bookstore is opening in town called Poe and Co – so of course, she ends up with a sitting job for the kids whose father, Mr. Cates, is opening the store (they live above it). At the job, Mary Anne finds out the guy needs help setting up the store, so she volunteers the other girls to help out. Then weird stuff starts happening, like Mary Anne hearing a heart beating sound, someone finding the word “nevermore” carved into the wall, seeing what looks like a grave in the basement, a raven flying into the store, etc. It is all Poe themed, which the ghostwriter points out because 8-year-olds don’t usually pick up on stuff like that.

There is also some other odd stuff, because the book store is opening in a house that was owned by an author named Gable, who doesn’t actual exist. I mean, in BSC-world he existed, but in the real world he does not. According to Stoneybrook legend, Poe visited Gable at his house several times. Also, this Gable guy died and no one knows how or what happened to his body or where his last works are. This kid Alex, who is a descendent of Gable thinks Poe murdered Gable and stole all his work.

The BSC thinks someone is trying to hurt the dude’s business, especially because some of the weird stuff ends up in an newspaper article about the store. They don’t seem to realize that the business is getting more calls after this article. THEN, they do a fingerprint test and realize the owner is behind everything and STILL don’t get it. But finally, Mary Anne remembers some Poe story that talks about newspapers and sensationalism and they get it. They are a little pissed at the owner for using them (he kept asking Mary Anne to solve the case for them), but it all works out in the end.

Sub plot: It rains a lot, so they set up a sunny day festival. Yes, it is as dumb as it sounds. They also spend a bunch of time trying to get these new kids used to Stoneybrook and to make friends. They do, but I am assuming it is a situation where we never see them hanging out with the Pikes again.


  • It is raining all the time, so we get to hear about everyone’s raingear.
    • Kristy: A baseball cap, jeans, a Krusher’s T-shirt, a windbreaker, and running shoes.
    • Abby: a green poncho over her jeans and shirt.
    • Mary Anne: Umbrella and raincoat.
    • Claud: None, sadly, because it is her house and she didn’t have to go outside to get to the meeting like everyone else.
    • Stacey: a long navy coat with a matching wide brimmed hat.
  • We do get a Claudia outfit though: “A pair of jeans, but they weren’t like anyone else’s jeans. She’d painted raindrops down each leg. Over the jeans she wore a long white shirt and a gray vest. The vest had little umbrellas painted all over it. For earrings, she wore paper parasols attached to gold chains.”
  • Mr. Cates is obsessed with Poe, so they name a black cat they find “Pluto” after some Poe story. They want to keep the cat in the bookstore, because “all mystery bookstores needs a cat.” Personally, I would avoid any store that let a cat wander around, but that is just me.
  • Mr. Cates agrees to pay the BSC for helping set up the store, but is that like, legal? I am sure if he had to actual hire contract workers to paint his store he would need to pay more than he is giving the BSC.
  • So, this kid, Alex Gable is a descendent of the Gable author guy everyone keeps talking about. His father used to own the house that is becoming a bookstore. So he hangs around a lot, because people always hang around property they have just sold. He is really obnoxious and talks about how his great-great-whatever was a better writer than Poe. Then he meets Stacey and just smiles at her.
  • There is also a woman names Professor Kingslover involved….she teaches at Stoneybrook University and is this uber-superstitious chick who freaks out at the sight of an open umbrella, always wears a 4-leaf clover pendent, and carries a rabbits foot.
  • Mr. Cates has to run an errand, but needs someone to stay at the house for a delivery, so he lets Mary Anne and Logan hang out alone. I know the BSC is super reliable, but would he really let a 13-year-old he barely knows stay at his empty house with her boyfriend?
  • Heh. Tom Cates (one of the kids) runs into the bathroom at the movie theater whole Claud is sitting. She is stuck in the lobby calling for him, and Alan Gray thinks she was abandoned by a date. Or pretends to think that. We need more Alan in these books.
  • Mr. Cates ex-wife was named Anabel Lee, and his kids think he only married her because that is the name of Poe’s wife. That is really weird.
  • The Cates’ parents are recently divorced, but it is described as the mother recently “leaving.” They don’t spend much time explaining the details of that, but one of the kids does get a sweet scene with Kristy about dealing with parental abandonment.
  • Tom asks Kristy what she did for her father to leave, but Kristy just says (like she really believes it), nothing, the guy was just an asshole. Well, she doesn’t quite say that. But it seemed like a mature reaction.
  • The back of the book teases us with “Mary Anne loves reading spooky stories. But can she handle living in one.” I must call bullshit on that. Mary Anne does not now, nor has she ever liked reading scary stories. That was Dawn. Mary Anne even says so in the book.
  • Mary Anne hears the construction workers complaining about how their job is annoying and thinks they might be purposely sabotaging their job, so Mr. Cates closes the store. Mary Anne, people might complain, about their jobs, but they still want to earn money.
  • A reporter from Stoneybrook news shows up, sees MA and recognizes her as someone who has solves mysteries. Seriously, she is all, “I knew you looked familiar. You are a member of the Baby-Sitters Club. You girls have quite a reputation.”
  • The girls actually get a fingerprinting kit from the triplets and get fingerprints from all relevant parties. They trick them into drinking coffee and pull off the prints. It sounds really lame, and gets lamer, when they can’t even figure out who the person is when the finger prints match.
  • Stacey gets all into making mud pies at the sunny-day festival. It is even her idea. How sophisticated.
  • Oh, and they find a secret compartment inside a desk that has papers from the nonexistent author. So, Alex and his dad get to publish his book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“I’m so flattered that the girls want me to join their club”……BSC #14: Hello, Mallory

Memory Reaction

I think I read this book after I had read other Mallory books, so I knew Mal and Jessi were going to end up members. But I liked it anyway, because it showed how Mal and Jessi came to be in the club. It was like a TV show pilot, because it set up how the books are going to be structured for the rest of the series. I always thought it was interesting to see pilots after later episodes of a TV series, and I guess I thought the same thing about this book.

Revisited Reaction

So, this picks up right after Stacey moved back to New York. The girls think of inviting Mal to join the club, and she is super excited about going to a meeting. It is kind of sad what makes her happy. Then again, I was happy today because tech support fixed the printer at my office…so maybe I shouldn’t judge. Anyway, the weekend before, Mal is sitting for her siblings and Nicky breaks his finger playing volleyball. It is not Mal’s fault, but the BSC blame her and decide to put her through all sorts of rigorous tests to see if she is good enough to join the club. These involve a written test where she is supposed to draw the digestive system, which you know the rest of them could not have done. Mal ends up walking out pissed off.

At the same time, she is also making friends with Jessi, who just moved into Stacey’s old house. The two decide to start their own club, where they will sit together for the price of one (since they are only eleven). No one hires them except their own parents, but even this pisses off Kristy because “the Pikes are a good customer.” Anyway, with Stacey gone, the BSC is super busy and desperate for help. This makes them give Mal another chance, and she insists on bringing Jessi. The two girls go on trial sitting jobs as a final test, and the BSC promises not to be as harsh as they were earlier. Mal’s job goes well, and that is how the book ends. But as we all know, Mal and Jessi both end up in the club.

Subplot: People in Stoneybrook are racist. I know the whole “Jessi is black” thing has become a joke, but in this book people really do treat her family badly.


  • Mallory doesn’t understand why Claire needs to draw attention to herself because she is the youngest in the family. I would think being the youngest in a family of eight would need to draw attention to herself.
  • Ah, yes. Mal’s dorky BSC meeting outfit: “My red jumper that said Mallory across the front, a short sleeved white blouse, and white tights with little white hearts all over them.”
  • Jessi is new in Mal’s homeroom, and the teacher, who sits everyone alphabetical, puts Jessi next to Mal, and moves everyone who comes after “Ramsey” down a seat. Doesn’t that seem destructive? Why not just stick the new person at the end? Is the teacher that anal about the alphabetical order thing?
  • Mal says she has never had a best friend because she spends so much time with her siblings and reading. Well, that was her choice, wasn’t it?
  • Wow. Girls in Mal’s class are racist bitches. They say things like “Can you believe that new girl is black?’ and “She doesn’t belong here.” I have to give Mal credit because she is all, “So?” and actually challenges them.
  • Jessi knows some really lame jokes. For example: “How many stupids does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to hold the bulb and two to turn his legs.” I mean, that couldn’t have even been original when this book was printed.
  • Heh. Mal gets in a bunch of digs at Claud’s lack of intelligence. When Claudia tries to give her the definition of “oral” Mallory snarks/narrates “I bet you anything Claudia did not know the meaning of that word before today.” I bet you anything Mal doesn’t know what else that could refer to. Later, Mal corrects Claud when she mispronounces digestive system and mixes up soy formula/soy sauce.
  • Mrs. Perkins has a baby in this book, but it is a total after thought…not like some books where the girls actually sit for the other kids while the woman gives birth.
  • Jessi talks about how she would never get a lead in a ballet because she is black, but you know she ends up getting all the leads.
  • Is Kristy really surprised Mrs. Pike would hire Mallory to sit? It is her own daughter of COURSE she is going to use her. Especially considering how bitchy you where to her.
  • The woman who lives across the street from the Ramseys’ actually yells at her daughter to not go near Becca. But on the plus side, Dr. Johannsen encourages Charlotte to play with her. Not everyone in town is racist.
  • Jessi is worried that people won’t want her to sit because she is black, and Kristy is all, “well if anyone said that, I wouldn’t sit for them either.” I think this actually happens in a later book.
  • The BSC spends like a chapter realizing they treated Mal like crap and didn’t give her fair tests. So, it is a shame she will keep getting the short stick for the rest of the series. This is the stuff I didn’t necessarily pick up on when I was younger…the small ways it was stacked against her.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

“I mean really go back.” BSC # 67: Dawn’s Big Move”

Memory Reaction

I think I liked this book, because after this one, stuff started happening in the BSC. Dawn moved to California, Mal got Mono, Stacey quit. It is kind of like the turning point for a second era in the BSC. I know I have said I don’t like change, but in retrospect, it is nice to have books that serve as a kind of “tent poles” for the whole series.

Also, even though I didn’t like Dawn leaving, I ended up liking all the books of her in California. I know there was a lot of them, because I remember getting annoyed at how she had about three summer vacations there when it was supposed to be a six month trip.

Revisited Reaction

This is one of those “Dawn is a spoiler brat” books. By that, I mean, this is a Dawn book. Anyway, it starts off with Dawn talking about how much she misses California and how she wants to see her dad and Jeff. Her mom says she can go for Thanksgiving, but this isn’t good enough for Dawn who declares she wants to go back for six months.

So, her mom and dad manage to deal with the logistics of their bratty child switching schools in the middle of the year, changing their custody agreement, buying plane tickets, etc. Dawn just expects everyone in the BSC to be happy for her, and gets annoyed that all Kristy can think of is the club. Later, when people get used to the idea of their friend leaving and ARE happy for her, she is annoyed that they are not missing her enough. Like, I said, she is a brat. She actually almost changes her mind at the last minute, but her family puts their foot down for once and doesn’t let her. Good for them.

There is also this really dumb sub-plot that involves something called “Run for Your Money.” It is some charity thing that seems to be some kind of field day where families from Stoneybrook compete with families from another town. There is WAY too much time spent on it.


  • Dawn goes on and on about liking the fall and how California DOES have seasons thank you very much. Um….Since when does she like cool fall weather? In her first book, she complains about 60-degree weather.
  • If school has just started, it is got to be mid-September, so Thanksgiving can’t be that far away. Don’t be such a brat about waiting less than two months to go visit your dad, Dawn.
  • Underwear races? Where you peel off you clothes while you run to reveal stuff like boxers, a bathing suit, long johns, etc? What kind of event is that? Dawn, Mary Anne, and Sharon make poor Richard get heart boxers and a Simpson’s tank top for it. I can’t believe he goes along with it.
  • But if I did believe Richard rehearsed an “underwear race,” I would at least think that he would have the decorum to do so in his backyard where the neighbors wouldn’t walk by and gawk at him.
  • Dawn just announces she wants to go back to California in the middle of a pleasant day. Actually, she says, “I want to go home!” Then is surprised her MOTHER takes it personally. She thought Jeff was being a brat when he did the same thing, why is she surprised now?
  • This run for your money thing is so weird. There are events like water balloon hot potato and three legged races. It sounds like something you would do in elementary school, not a town wide event.
  • Dawn gets upset because the 32-year-old Carol says things like “wow” and “cool.” Well, I am only 27, and I say both those things constantly. Does that mean I have five years before I stop.
  • Dawn’s mom tells her dad she can pick her clothes out herself because she is 13. Now…when I was 13, I didn’t pick all my clothes out myself. Mainly because I couldn’t buy them all myself. I had a say in what I wore, but I didn't go shopping by myself.
  • Jessi visits her old house in Oakley and gets upset that the new people who live there cut down some trees…..okay, I can actually sympathize with that, the same thing happened where I grew up.
  • So the BSC enters a team in the stupid run for the money thing, and Mal wants to enter Pet Races. Oh, Mal.
  • No one wears anything that seems comfortable to this run for your money thing….Dawn wears a bathing suit under a sweat suit with sneakers, Richard wears, jeans, a sweat shirt, and brown “walking shoes.” Sharon wore shorts, leg warmers, and sneakers…all really weird clothes for an athletic event.
  • Of course, one of the BSC events involves dancing so Jessi wins it for them. How original. I am surprised it wasn’t a health food eating contest so Dawn could win it for them, considering it is a Dawn book.
  • Dawn figures out she is getting a surprise party, but keeps guessing the place wrong. She then thinks she is wrong and is disappointed. Of course, about five minutes later she gets her party and is validated.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

“I’m in LUV with that blonde, tan hunk of a lifeguard!”….. BSC #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey

Memory Reaction

When I was little I was in the fan club, and I read that Sea City, where the Pikes go on vacation in this book was based on places Ann M. Martin went as a kid - Avalon, NJ and some other Jersey Shore town. Since, I used to go to Avalon every summer, this thrilled me to death so I automatically loved any Sea City book. Never mind that the town she describes is nothing like Avalon, so it is clearly based 90% off whatever that other town was.

Revisited Reaction

Stacey and Mary Anne are mother’s helpers and get to go with the Pikes to Sea City for two weeks. When they get there, Stacey gets a crush on a lifeguard (excuse me, she falls in “luv”) and decides he is in “luv” with her too, even though he is 18 and only talks to her if he wants someone to get him a drink/snack. Regardless, Stacey completely blows off her job. The Pikes are too busy blowing off their own children to notice this. Eventually, Stacey sees the lifeguard making out with some other girl and is heartbroken for about 36 hours. Meanwhile, Alex, some guy mother’s helper, has been hanging out with Mary Anne, while she actually does her job and watches the kids. Stacey meets his cousin Toby and immediately falls in “luv” with him. Not that she is a flake or anything. Anyway, Mary Anne and Stacey go out on a double date with Alex and Toby and both really like the guys. Mary Anne and Alex exchange engraved rings and Toby gives Stacey her first kiss.


§ This is right after Kristy’s mom got married, and Stacey is all nervous about going to a “mansion” for a goodbye party the BSC is having. So, she “dresses up” in “this new pink shirt…big, bright green and yellow birds were splashed all over it. I put it on with a pair of baggy shorts, looped a wide green belt around my middle, and hunted up some jewelry.”

§ When they go to the part at Kristy’s, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey drive over together and make Dawn go herself. That is a little bitchy.

§ The back of the book makes it sound like this is a Mary Anne book. It talks about how Stacey is in “luv” with someone who is too old, and how can Mary Anne tell her? It makes the conflict seem like Mary Anne’s. That is not very good writing/marketing.

§ Stacey points out that they will be helping Mr. Pike too, and should be called “parents’ helpers.” How fair and modern of her to notice.

§ Stacey starts packing for a two-week trip the day before she leaves.

§ The house they rent sounds gorgeous and huge. It is also right on the beach. I want to know how the Pikes afford such a sweet rental every year, because unless Sea City is not as nice a town as it sounds, that is not easy to get.

§ Bikini outfit time: Stacey’s was “skimpy (and we’re talking very skimpy) and yellow, with tiny bows at the sides on the bottom part.” She brags (to us) about how well she fills it out.

§ Mary Anne is almost too embarrassed to wear her bikini in public. It was “a pale blue bikini with white stripes running across it.” Stacey makes sure to tell us the top isn’t as filled out as hers.

§ When you type the word “bikini” a lot, it starts to look really funny.

§ The lifeguard’s name is Scott Foley.

§ Mary Anne doesn’t put any lotion and gets sunburn. After that, Stacey keeps talking about what extreme lengths Mary Anne is going to stay covered up. The crazy cover up talk, and Mary Anne’s tendency to get sun burned will continue in every book where Mary Anne goes outside from now until the end of the series. I wonder if she ever actually tries being outside with lotion on?

§ Stacey keeps offering Scott sodas and just getting them from the Pikes kitchen. I wonder if she pays them back for that stuff.

§ Miniature golfing with the Pikes sounds like hell. They also don’t seem to know the rules. Don’t most courses have a maximum stroke limit? And if not, you don’t just let a five-year-old hit the ball thirty times on every hole. And you certainly don’t have ten people play on one course at the same time and torture the people behind you.

§ Back at home, Karen and Andrew wash Watson’s old car with steel wool, and take all the paint off. Watson decides it is an excuse to paint the car purple. I can’t decide if he is joking or not.

§ Kristy actually asks her vet if she makes house calls. I THINK she is humoring David Michael though.

§ Stacey’s date outfit: “A white cotton vest over a pink cotton sundress and [I] tied a big white bow in my hair so that it flopped over the side of my head.”

§ Mary Anne’s date outfit: “Yellow pedal pushers, a yellow and white striped tank top, and a oversized white jacket.” She borrowed it from Stacey, but if she really doesn’t fill out her bikini as nicely as Stacey, how does she fit in her clothes?

§ Toby gets a full description: “His brown hair was sort of waved back from his face. It was held out of his eyes with a blue headband…his eyes were a beautiful deep brown…his shirt was amazing – tan with silly pictures of cowboy boots and cactuses over it. And his sunglasses – black bands with narrow slits from side to side to see through. Totally cool.”

§ When they get back, Mary Anne apologizes to Stacey for getting angry that she wasn’t pulling her weight. She says it is because she understands how she felt about Scott. And Stacey is all, “I guess I wasn’t pulling my weight.” But SHE never apologizes for making Mary Anne do all the extra work. Lame. Mary Anne really needs to work on that.

§ This book is dedicate to June and Ward Cleaver. No, seriously. It does say under that they are an alias for someone names Noel and Steve. But it is still weird.