Monday, July 27, 2009

“I didn’t want you. Not this you. I wanted my old friend, Laine Cummings.”…..BSC # 51: Stacey’s Ex-Best Friend

Memory Reaction

This book always kind of made me sad, because around the time it came out my own best friend and I were drifting apart. We never had a huge blow out like Stacey and Laine do in this book, we just ended up in different classes and were involved with different activities. But I always kind of wanted Laine to come back and be friends with Stacey again. Even if she was kind of bitchy in this book.

Revisited Reaction

Stacey’s friend Laine has a week off from school and Stacey convinces her to come visit Stoneybrook for a week. Stacey has school, but she figures Laine will have enough fun that it doesn’t matter. When Laine shows up, she starts by totally dissing Stoneybrook for being too small and out in the “country.” Stacey did this when she first moved to Stoneybrook too, so it isn’t that big a deal. But Stacey notices that Laine is acting more snobbish than she used to, and she can’t stop talking about her 15-year-old boyfriend and how everything is so much better in NYC.

Stacey introduces Laine to some of the kids at SMS. Pete Black gets this huge crush on her and invites her to a Valentines Day dance. Laine agrees, but only making it obvious that middle school dances are totally beneath her. But, while at the dance Laine is rude to Pete, and then tells him she doesn’t want to dance, only to run off and dance with some other dude three seconds later. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Stacey, and they get into a huge argument – eventually leading to the girls leaving the dance early and Laine going back to New York early.

Stacey knows deep down that this isn’t just another fight, it is the end of a friendship…and even writes a letter to Laine sending back the friendship necklace Laine gave her when she moved to Stoneybrook.

Subplot: The BSC is planning a Valentines Day dance for the kids they sit for. It is a Valentines “Masquerade” where the kids are supposed to sign their names with code. The Arnold girls are all into it because they both have crushes on someone, and the BSC thinks Carolyn likes Nicky Pike, and think Nicky likes her back and spend all this time discussing how cute it is, and wondering what they do for “dates.”


  • Every once in awhile they reveal more depth to Stacey than the “loves boys and shopping” type. Like, her pig collection. I know it is referenced in other books, and it makes another appearance here.
  • Stacey’s outfit to meet Laine: “A purple shirtwaist top over flowered leggings, [her] cowboy boots…a purple hair ornament made from shoelaces, and long dangly silver earrings.”
  • Laine’s outfit for arriving in Stoneybrook: “A jean coat with a fur collar…black Capri pants edged with lace, very chick black ankle boots, and on her head, a brillant red oversized-beret.” Capri pants with ankle boots? And capris in February?
  • Stacey has a sleepover with the BSC and Laine and it is a little tense. They finally relax when they find out that To Kill a Mockingbird is on TV and decide to watch it. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous book and movie. But would 13-year-olds really be excited about watching it?
  • Stacey gets permission for Laine to come to school with her, and expects Laine to be excited about it.
  • Apparently Stacey and Mal have this code where Mal hangs a white towel out her window if she can walk to school with the BSC and a red one if she has to walk with her family. It is built off a phone code Stacey/Laine had when they were ten, but Laine makes fun of it now.
  • Laine is surprised that students can’t leave SMS during the school day. Seriously? It is middle school.
  • What the hell is a gossamer? Pete tells Laine her hair is like a gossamer.
  • Laine’s boyfriend calls her “Babe” and she calls him “Heart”…his real name (or at least what we are told is his real name) is King, so the “Heart” refers to the King of her Heart.
  • When King calls the McGills, he actually says, “How’s Babe?” Then Laine is all, “Hi, it’s me, Babe.”
  • The Hobart boys are originally planning on wearing suits and neckties to the Valentines Day party. First, how many boys would be excited about it? They are 4, 6, and 8. And second, are their parents that out of it?
  • Mallory and Ben Hobart have a fight while studying together. It is about…whether is to look things up by subject or author in the card catalogue. That makes it seem like so long ago.
  • Stacey makes this big deal about tells us that Laine goes to the Friday BSC meeting with her. But then they all act like it is the first time she is there. So did she just leave Laine home alone Monday and Wednesday.
  • When Kristy hears about Laine’s older boyfriend she asks, “Can he drive? Vote? Then what’s the point?” (Paraphrased). I kind of see her point. If you are going to brag about dating an older guy, you might as well get something out of it.
  • Laine tells the BSC baby-sitting is not a “real job” and the girls should be getting regular paychecks like adults. Why? Don’t rush into needing a regular job.
  • Laine also makes fun of the BSC for sitting around talking about the love life of little kids. I will agree with her on this one.
  • Laine’s dance outfit: “Black leotard, long black jacket, black leggings over black stockings, black shows.” Why would you where leggings over stockings? Am I missing something?
  • Stacey’s dance outfit: “A red top and a very short jean skirt.”
  • Mrs. McGill tells Stacey and Laine they look 15, and Laine is all “people tell me I look 18." I really doubt she looked that old.
  • Laine is shocked that Mrs. McGill is driving them to the dance, and they are meeting the guys there. Stacey points out that even King can’t drive, so I am not sure what Laine was expecting.
  • The BSC all agreed to meet at the door to the dance and go in together. Stacey tells us they sometimes like to stay together like a pack. Sometimes?
  • Laine is horrified that Pete wears sneakers with his suit to the dance. Personally, I am shocked about the suit. In middle school, the only really dressy dance we had was our eighth grade graduation one. Sometimes girls wore dresses, but not fancy ones and boys never wore suits. Even in HS, the only dressy dances were “Holiday” dances and prom.
  • On Valentines Day (to the kids party), Stacey: “Red leggings, red ankle boots, a bulky red sweater, and red barrettes.”
  • At the kids party, it turns out that Nicky and Marilyn Arnold like each other, but first there is this weird misunderstanding because he thought her name was Marylin. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I generally think knowing my name is a strong requirement when deciding whether to date a guy.
  • It turns out Carolyn liked James Hobart, and he liked her, so there are happy endings all around for the kiddie scene.
  • Do eight-year-olds even exchange cards like that on Valentines Day? Really? Aren't kids still in the "they have cooties" stage at that point?
  • Stacey writes a “good-bye” type letter to Laine where she says she didn’t make Laine come to Stoneybrook. But…she kind of did.

Monday, July 20, 2009

“Cooties, cooties, Mallory has the cooties”…..BSC # 69: Get Well Soon, Mallory!

Memory Reaction

This book is where I learned what Mono is. In fact, it is where I learned it existed. As a result, every time I was over-tired in high school I thought I had mono (although I never actually did have it). It also made me think that mono was some horrible disease. And, not that it is a great one, but I don’t think it was as bad as it was portrayed in this book. At least, not typically. No one I actually knew had as bad a case as Mallory. I remember her not being able to baby-sit for multiple books…which must have been months BSC time. The few people I knew who had it missed much less school.

Revisited Reaction

Mallory has been sick a lot and has been extremely tired, and she finds out that she has mono. She starts to feel a little better, but the doctor tells her that she has a serious case, which may drag on for months. She is out of school for weeks, and is barely allowed to get out of bed. I think she only leaves the house twice in the whole book….both times to go to the doctor.

Her parents tell her that even when she goes back to school, she won’t be allowed to participate in extra activities like archery or baby-sitting. Mallory tells Kristy she has to “drop out” of the club. I am not sure why they have to be so official about it, but I guess it is in character. Even though this is right after Dawn went to California, the other girls decide not to “replace” Mallory.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make Mallory feel better, since the BSC is in the middle of planning a Thanksgiving charity event where they bring kids to visit the senior citizen home. So, when they ask Mallory to help out by making phone calls from home, she blows it off. She is hoping that if she is rude enough, they will replace her. But, the BSC doesn’t let her get away with it. Then, after the senior event, recreate it to show Mallory how much they love her.

Meanwhile, the Pikes were supposed to go to New York City for Thanksgiving to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. But since Mal is still sick, the whole family can’t go. Her siblings are pissed about it, but by the end don’t seem to mind. Mainly because they didn’t see the relatives who invited them on TV (meaning they didn’t miss their own shot at being on TV).


  • This book takes place between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Which makes it yet another Halloween that the BSC celebrates.
  • I actually remember this part really well. Vanessa is practicing her “waves” for the parade and explains that there are three types, “the windshield wiper,” “screwing in the light bulb,” and “the flap.” I think I may have practiced the different “types” myself when I first read it.
  • Mal’s doctor tells her she might have “mononucleosis.” I know that is the official name, but does any one really call it that? Even doctors? (At least when they are talking to kids).
  • Awe, I feel bad for Mallory. Her brothers keep teasing her for having the “kissing disease” and she is worried kids at school will think she kissed Ben Hobart. It is pretty normal for eleven, but at the same time, I think the whole exchange sums up everything about Mal’s character.
  • This book is short on outfits, but we do get to hear about Mal’s pajamas: “They’re made of white flannel with tiny pink rosebuds printed all over them, and pink lace at the collar and cuff.”
  • The BSC actually changes Mallory’s status to “honorary member” since she isn’t allowed to sit. It is even changed on the back of the book where they list the girls names – I think it stays like that for multiple books. It just seems so unnecessary. Would it be SUCH a big deal to keep calling her a “Junior Officer”? It is not like she has to act as president or anything.
  • So, the BSC is doing this charity thing for a senior citizen home. It seems…. convoluted. They raise money to put baskets together as gifts, so they ask for sponsors. But they don’t make enough money, so the kids all promise their parents they’ll do chores in order to get the extra money. Then on top of this, they set up some kind of carnival for the senior citizens to give them something to do.
  • Mrs. Pike’s cousin is the one who gets them tickets to the Thanksgiving parade. Now, these are tickets to bleacher seats. Now, I can see someone getting a few extra tickets. But getting ten tickets to just handover to the Pikes and all their bratty kids?
  • When they make baskets to give to the senior citizens, the BSC encourages the kids to pick out toys as gifts. I understanding the thinking, and the wanting to do something different, but it also seems a little…. insensitive.
  • I know people eat dinner early on Thanksgiving, but the Pikes eat really early. They eat their appetizers (stuffed mushrooms and vegetables and dip) while watching the parade. Which starts at about 9:00 am on the east coast. Not only is that early…but how early did Mrs. Pike wake up to have things done that early? Maybe my family is the weird one, but it seems unrealistic.
  • On Thanksgiving, the BSC stops by the Pikes to visit Mallory. Now, this is nice of them, but I wonder how realistic it is that all of them were allowed. I mean, when I was a kid we went to my grandmothers for the day…and it was not in town. Are we supposed to believe that none of these girls had plans like that?
  • So, we do have one regular outfit, another Mallory one: “A blue velvet skirt with a matching bolero jacket and a white silk blouse.” Not as fun as a Claudia one, but not as embarrassing either.
  • Mal’s parents almost make her eat dinner on the couch because she is too weak to sit up at the table. Okay…. seriously? It is not like she would be running a marathon, she would be sitting at a table eating dinner. How much energy could that take? I mean, this is almost four weeks after she was diagnosed. Is she really so sick that after all that time, she can’t even sit up at a table?
  • Dawn calls from California on Thanksgiving, and says how it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving there because it is seventy degrees. But I distinctly remember her complaining about seventy-degree weather when she was back in Connecticut. There is just no pleasing that girl.

  • This book is actually kind of boring, because we get everything second hand. Mallory lies to Jessi and Claud about not doing work for the carnival/charity/thing to get them mad at her. But we don’t see them fight. We just hear them tell Mal she made them fight. It is sort of lame…the fights between the girls are always the most fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

“Sleeping Beauty’s sleeping on the job”…..BSC # 42: Jessi and the Dance School Phantom

Memory Reaction

The main thing I remember about this book is how Jessi keep talking about leg warmers. Because the “phantom” steals her leg warmers, or destroys them (or whatever), and she keeps buying new ones. But it always seemed strange because she never mentions wearing them to practice in other books. I think they just added it to this one so that there would be more things to get messed with. Also, I am trying really hard, but I can’t remember if I have ever actually see someone wear leg warmers.

I know that the basic plot of this one has some girl harassing Jessi hoping to get her to give up her part as lead in some ballet, and I am testing myself to see if I can remember which one it is. I want to say it is the “old” girl from her class (meaning, like 16), but I think she is only a suspect.

Revisited Reaction

So, we start this one with Jessi in the middle of yet another audition to a dance performance. This time it is Sleeping Beauty, and surprise, surprise, she gets the lead. She is super-happy about it, until the first rehersal. Someone steals her toe shoes from her bag. She knows she didn’t lose them, because she remembered packing them the night before, but she just can’t find them. Of course, Mme Noelle (her teacher) is very upset, but they get through the rehersal. Later, Jessi gets a note saying “Beware.” She figures out that the note is from a classmate that wants her to drop out of the show so they can take over the lead part.

As rehearsals go on, more things happen. Some of her leotards are stolen or ripped up. The same thing happens with her toe shoes and warm up clothes (including leg warmers). She also gets notes saying generic threats like “drop out, or else” and “beware.” At one rehearsal, Jessi even slips on some water and strains her ankle (but not badly enough to have to drop out of the show).

She recruits the BSC’s help and the girls sneak into a rehearsal to spy on her classmates and figure out who is guilty. They narrow it down to three: Katie Beth, the girl who was jealous of Jessi when she first joined the class, Carrie, the “old girl” who needs good parts on her resume when she graduates, and Hilary, this girl with a pushy stage mother. One day, Carrie is out sick and Jessi still gets a note, so Jessi decides it isn’t her. Then Katie Beth pushes Jessi out of the way of a piece of scenery that fell, so Jessi decides it isn’t her. That leaves Hilary.

She ends up confronting Hilary by having her write something and proving the handwriting matches the notes. Hilary confesses, and claims she did it because of all the pressure her mother puts on her. She apologizes and….Jessi lets her go. Seriously, what is up with that? These girls are all way too forgiving. Anyway, Hilary stops her tricks and decides to give up dancing after the performance. And the show goes well, Jessi is fantastic, yada, yada, yada.

Subplot: The BSC is putting on a pet show…or, they are having one for the neighborhood kids. This causes a bunch of arguments between families over who has the best pet and within families about who gets to enter each pet. But Jessi has the brilliant idea to give everyone a prize, so everyone is happy.

  • Jessi tells us how the room would be full of neon if the girls in her dance class were allowed to pick out their own leotards. I know we can’t see the girls in these books, but I think we should all be grateful that didn’t happen.
  • In this book, we are told that Dawn wears casual clothes in lots of bright colors. Is that what “California Casual” means?
  • So, clearly, I was wrong about Carrie being the phantom. But I realized it really quickly. The first day of rehearsals, when Jessi is missing her shoes Mme Noelle wants to end the rehearsal. Then Hilary is all, “no I think we should look one more time.” And of course, they find them two minutes later. So, it was pretty obvious at that point.
  • It is not really clear if Hilary actually causes Jessi to hurt her ankle, but she does leave a note that says, “I told you so. From now on, watch out.” But if Jessi thinks she did, she should really tell someone. Notes and one thing, but causing physical injury is another.
  • How come the parents of the kids these girls sit for are always so open-minded? Mallory is telling some story about how the Perkins girls and their dog were making a mess in the bathroom (washing the dog), but adds that Mrs. Perkins was okay with whatever the girls wanted to do. It is like they want to give the BSC funny stories without having them get in trouble.
  • Jessi makes a bunch of comments about the girls in her dance class being catty, but we don’t get to hear much of it. The worst is saying that one of the girls is “over-the-hill.” The only person we hear saying something even close to mean is Hilary, which should make it obvious she was guilty.
  • Linny Papadakis has a pet turtle that he paints for the show, and leaves him in the backyard to dry. Which of course leads to the turtle getting wet and ruining the paint job. But why is Linny letting his turtle loose in the backyard? Couldn’t he get lost that way?
  • Charlie drives the entire BSC to one of Jessi’s rehersals, helps sneak them in to watch, then drives them all home. Again, I have to ask. Does this guy not have a life?
  • Mallory thinks that one of the girls in Jessi’s class is so nice that she must be faking it, but Jessi refuses to consider her a suspect. Wasn’t the point of having the BSC watch her rehearsal to get a second opinion on her classmates?
  • If the BSC went to the trouble of going to a rehearsal, wouldn’t it make sense for one of them to hide in the dressing room to see if they could catch someone messing with Jessi’s stuff?
  • I am not sure why Jessi thinks that Katie Beth saving her from getting hit with scenery means she isn’t the one sending her notes. Just because she didn’t want you dead, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want you out of the show.
  • Jessi doesn’t tell any one but the BSC about what is happening because she doesn’t want her parents to worry and she doesn’t want to her dance teacher to think she is making trouble. But Madame Noelle actually comes out and asks her what is bothering her and she says nothing.
  • After Jessi has figured out Hilary is the one sending her notes, she comes up with a plan to corner her alone in the dressing room, and tell her that Madame Noelle needs her to write a sign. Then she spends two days obsessing over it while waiting. But when she puts it into action, she realizes she never thought of what she was asking her to write. Smooth.
  • At the pet show, Jessi, Mallory, and Kristy aren’t judges since they have siblings entering pets in the show. Which makes sense (although it doesn’t really matter, since again, everyone is getting a prize).
  • Now, Mary Anne isn’t allowed to be a judge because she “loves her kitten, Tiger, so much that she might be biased toward any cats that were entered.” That isn’t really giving Mary Anne enough credit, is it?
  • They give everyone at the pet show a prize. But I would think some kids would still be upset, since some of the prizes are “smartest” or “cutest” and others are things like “most unusually colored shell” and “shortest legs.”
  • Early in the book, they announce the parts and we are told Carrie is the Bluebird of Happiness. In the middle, Jessi tells the BSC that Carrie is the Lilac Fairy. Then at the end, Jessi tells us that she dances with Carrie as the Bluebird of Happiness. I almost didn’t notice that error, but it was definitely there.
  • When they go to the performance, Stacey wears a tuxedo. Isn’t there another book where she does that? Or was that Claudia?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“Was I becoming a New York snob?”…..BSC # 18: Stacey’s Mistake

Memory Reaction

This is another one where I remember hearing about it in other books more than actually reading it. But, I know that in the other books that have the girls going to NYC, they reference the time the girls visited Stacey and they got in a fight.

Revisited Reaction

The people in Stacey’s building decide to have a meeting to decide how to help the homeless. I guess that is generic an issue as you can get. And I am sure you can do so much for the homeless in New York City in one afternoon meeting. But anyway, this makes a bunch of families call Stacey to baby-sit that day. Since Stacey can’t sit for five families by herself, she invites Claud, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Dawn to come help. The girls also think this is a good excuse to visit.

When the BSC gets there, they act like….well, like 13-year-olds who have never been to New York without their parents. And Stacey acts like a stock up snob. She keeps getting embarrassed that Dawn is afraid of mice and that Mary Anne keeps quoting travel books. Then, she has a party to introduce her New York friends to her BSC friends. It doesn’t go well, especially between Claudia and Laine, who are clearly jealous of each other.

The girls agree to call a truce for the sake of their sitting job. They almost lose a kid at the Museum of Natural History, but find him (obviously). They end up getting along again by the end of the job. Then Laine calls with free tickets to a Broadway show, complete with a limo ride there. They go and have a great time, etc, etc. And they manage to enjoy the rest of their weekend together.


  • I hate when they start the book with a character in the middle of a thought – then switch to, “You must be confused.” It just seems so unnecessary.
  • Stacey equates Mary Anne’s feelings on New York as “having a crush on it.” Which….may actually be accurate.
  • Stacey is surprised that Claudia brought a huge suitcase with her for one weekend. Uh, has she met Claudia? Stacey also gets annoyed that they have to bring the suitcase back to her apartment before they can go out to lunch. What did she expect?
  • Stacey thinks having a suitcase with wheels is embarrassing. She claims only grandmothers have suitcases with wheels on them. Personally, I would never buy a suitcase without wheels. I’ve traveled along and the wheels are a lifesaver.
  • This cracked me up. In the Hard Rock CafĂ©, they see a “Save the Planet” sign, and Dawn says, “That’s kind of 1960s isn’t it?” Guess they hadn’t written “environmental nazi” into her character yet, huh?
  • Stacey gets embarrassed because Kristy orders filet mignon, “fill-it mig-nun.” The waitress knew what she meant, but Stacey is all embarrassed that it makes them look uncool. Believe me Stacey, the waitress is just thinking about how she got stuck with a table of five teenagers who aren’t going to tip well. She doesn’t care if you’re cool.
  • Mary Anne gets stopped by a security guard in Bloomingdale’s because she puts a tester compact from the make-up counter into her purse (thinking it was a free sample to take). I really….can’t see Mary Anne doing that. Claudia, yes. Mary Anne, no.
  • Claudia actually writes a letter to her parents saying Mary Anne almost got arrested, but “don’t tell her father.” Why would she tell her parents if Mary Anne didn’t want her dad to know. The Kishi’s are pretty strict, I think they would tell Mr. Spier something like that.
  • Mary Anne insists that everyone listen to Stacey when getting dressed for the party. Then she totally ignores Stacey’s advice and wears, “a ruffly white blouse, a long paisley skirt, and these little brown boots.”
  • All we hear about Claud’s outfit is that she wore “her black outfit.” How disappointing.
  • Dawn’s party outfit: “An oversized peach-colored sweater dress, lacy white stockings, and black ballet slippers.
  • Stacey’s party outfit: “A short yellow dress that flared out just above my hips, white stockings, yellow push-down socks, and these new shoes [her] parents hate.”
  • Just so you don’t think I am leaving Kristy out, she wore jeans, a turtleneck, and a sweater.
  • Laine’s outfit (which Stacey claims makes her look 19): “A short black dress, black stockings, and simple black flats. On one wrist, was a single silver bangle bracelet. One her dress was one of those silver squiggle pins.”
  • At the party, Kristy is actually pretty into this guy friend of Stacey’s and ends up chatting and dancing with him all night….until Claudia cuts in, which leads to more bitch-fighting. However, the reason Kristy is so into the guy? Stacey tells her he is a sports fan. I think it was Tiff who first pointed out that is not really a rare thing in a guy. So, it is weird to talk about how Kristy is not interested in guys, except for the “rare time” she finds one who likes sports.
  • I know they do this to do the “notebook style” into in each chapter, but I HATE when they write letters to their families when they go on a two night trip. Dawn even writes a letter to Jessi on the train ride HOME. She even says how dumb it is in her note. Seriously, no one writes that many letters on such a short trip (at least no one I know).
  • Claud is kind of bitchy when she meets Laine. She’s all: “You’re the one Stacey had that huge fight with over her diabetes.”
  • Mary Anne is pretty bitchy too….when she realizes that blabbing travel stats isn’t impressing Stacey’s friends, she tries making fun of Dawn (for being so scared of the city). I am usually up for trashing Dawn, but I’m not her best friend.
  • This book is called “Stacey’s Mistake,” implying that she made a mistake inviting her friends to New York. But really, her friends are the ones acting normal. She is the bitchy, annoying one.
  • I can’t even be bothered to learn the names of the kids they sit for in New York. Two of them are Henry and Grace, who we see in at least one other Stacey book. But the others? Will never be heard from again.
  • At Central Park, the girls see, a guy with a long white beard riding an adult-sized tricycle…and pulling along a wagon of kittens. It just strikes me is so bizarre, I wonder if it was inspired by something real.
  • The BSC ends up giving a bunch of the kids piggy-back rides as they walk home from the park. How long do you really think a 13-year-old could carry a four or five-year-old around like that?
  • The kids all decide to sing “For they are jolly good sitters” because they just love the BSC sooo much. I just don’t see kids doing stuff like that. Especially when they have only met most of them that day.
  • I know it is just a plot device to give the girls a sitting job, but it seems so dumb for the adults to all be having a meeting to help the homeless.
  • Apparently no one had told Stacey until this book that Jeff moved to California. Glad they are keeping their friend in the loop.