Friday, November 27, 2009

“Peaches just happens to be one of my favorite people on the planet”…….BSC # 78: Claudia and Crazy Peaches

Memory Reaction

I really don’t have a very strong recollection of this book. I remember that it existed and the basic plot, but I don’t remember what I thought of it. I am pretty sure I thought it was predictable. Because, the back of the book says that something bad happens to a pregnant person (in slightly different language), and at that point I was old enough to know that meant she lost the baby. If it was an earlier book (and I was younger), I might have been more surprised, or thought it was sadder. But since I knew it was happening, I don’t think I was that affected by it.

When I decided to recap this book, I was thinking it was called, “Claudia and the Crazy Peaches”…which doesn’t really make a lot of sense if you know Peaches is a person (which I do).

Revisited Reaction

Claudia’s aunt, Peaches, announces that she is pregnant. Claud and her family are all thrilled, as one would expect. That same day, Peaches calls back to say that she quit her job and is moving to Stoneybrook (along with her husband Russ). The people they sold their house to want to be in it in a week-and-a-half, which is unfortunate, since the house Peaches and Russ bought won’t be ready for another month. But Claud’s mom insists that they stay at the Kishis’. Now, for the record, Peaches is two months along at this point.

Claudia loves Peaches, because her aunt likes to go on “adventures” and will drag Claudia with her. They go shopping for new baby supplies, plan fancy dinners, etc. Claud starts to blow off her homework, because that is what Claudia does anyway. And when an adult is telling her it is okay, she does it even more so. So when Peaches wakes Claudia up at 11:30 pm on a Friday night to go get pizza, Claudia goes. Apparently Peaches had a craving, the place didn’t deliver after 11, and she didn’t want to wake Russ or go alone. But, Peaches doesn’t leave a note. So, when Mrs. Kishi wakes up and sees Claudia’s room empty in the middle of the night, she freaks out.

When Claudia and Peaches get home, Mrs. Kishi does this whole, “I’m so disappointed in you” speech. Claud yells back that it is all Peaches fault, and stomps away. The two don’t talk for a couple days, and then have another argument when Claud whines about helping Peaches look at decorating supplies. This makes Peaches rant about Claudia being a sulky teenage. A few days later, Peaches has a miscarriage, and Claudia decides it is all her fault for making Peaches upset. But, Peaches tells her that isn’t true and they make up.

There is also this subplot with Natalie Springer, this character from the Little Sister books. Poor Natalie doesn’t have a lot of friends, and the BSC decides to get involved to get her some. And of course, they connect her with Charlotte and Becca and the three bond over jump rope songs. Supposedly, they become super close, but we never see her hanging out with Becca or Charlotte in later books.


  • The word miscarriage is not actually used once in the book. They just say she “lost the baby.” I guess it is kind of like how in the fifties, TV characters would say they were “expecting,” but never that they were “pregnant.”
  • Claudia owns a pair of shoes that she decorated with red sequins to look like Dorothy’s slippers.
  • This is a hypothetical outfit, I guess. Claud says she might “cover an entire jean vest with tiny safety pins and funky plastic charms from a gumball machine and wear that with a jean skirt and bright red cowboy boots.”
  • The ghostwriters really go out of their way to make Janine seem lame, don’t they? Claud tells us about a time Peaches and Russ took her and Janine to a park when they were kids. She says how Russ climbed trees with her, Peaches hung from the monkey bars with her and Janine…..stood around and smiled. Just cause she is a genius (and likes studying), doesn’t mean she wouldn’t play in a park as a kid. Even Doogie Houser liked to have fun.
  • Claud’s is working on a sculpture made of non-biodegradable things, and she’s calling it “Forever Yours.” I actually think that sounds like a cool idea.
  • Apparently, Peaches and Russ lived in Stoneybrook when Claudia was little. She tells us one of the reason she likes them so much is how Russ was always looking out for them. She remembers a time when there was a storm and Russ wanted to make sure her family was okay. He had a broken leg so he couldn’t walk, and the roads were closed because of trees falling down, so he couldn’t drive. He ended up riding over in a golf cart. But, if the roads were full of fallen down trees, how did he ride a golf cart? It is not exactly a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
  • “Peaches” is not her aunt’s real name (obviously). Her real name is Miyoshi, but her husband just started calling her Peaches and the name stuck. We don’t hear why he started calling her peaches though, and I think that is the more interesting part of the story.
  • Fun fact: Claud’s mom’s name is Rioko.
  • This is an actual quote: “I’m the BSC vice-president. Not because I have any presidential skills, but because I have my own phone and number. Pretty neat, huh?” No Claud, it’s sad. It’s like how kids used to hang out at the Delanys’ to use their pool, but didn’t really like Max and Amanda.
  • I like that we hear Claud talking about having a cousin, or wanting to have a cousin. Aside from when Kristy’s mom got married, we hardly hear anything about these girls’ extended families. The only one who really talks about it is Jessi. I know not everyone has big extended families, or at least are not close to their extended families, but what are the chances that out of seven girls (eight if you count Abby), none of them ever mention other relatives?
  • Minor continuity error: Claudia’s mom tells her that Peaches is going to call her at 4:00 to give her some news. Which, she does. And she says she is pregnant right away. But then at the BSC meeting, Claudia says that she found out Peaches was pregnant less than an hour ago. Now, we all know the BSC meetings start at 5:30. So….how’s that less than an hour? Can Claud not even tell time now?
  • When Claudia first sits for Natalie, Natalie asks her to be her friend. Claud is all, “of course.” So then Natalie starts showing up at Claud’s house and calling her all the time (this is a seven-year-old). And Mrs. Springer is totally fine with it. Which shouldn’t really be that surprising. She’s basically getting free baby-sitting and we all know how much parents in Stoneybrook like to push their kids off on baby-sitters.
  • When Claud tells the BSC about Peaches, they all have stereotypical reactions. Kristy says to make sure Peaches exercises, Jessi tells her to listen to classical music (so the baby hears it in the womb and wants to become a dancer), Shannon tells her to speak French to the baby from birth, so she’ll have an ear for languages, etc. It’s so cliché it is painful to read.
  • I’d be so embarrassed if I was Natalie…Jessi basically calls up a bunch of neighborhood kids and tells them to come over to meet Natalie and be her friend. And when they get there, James Horbart is all, “so is this the girl we are supposed to meet?” Right in front of Natalie. That’s so awkward.
  • According to Kristy, Karen worries about Natalie because she doesn’t have a lot of friends. Hey, Karen, if you see someone with no friends, and you think they are a nice person, maybe you should try being their friend. Then you won’t need to feel bad for them.
  • Isn’t two months kind of early for someone to go out and buy baby furniture? I’m sure if I was pregnant, I’d be excited and want to start looking, but still. I mean, don’t lots of people wait until three months before they even tell anyone?
  • Another note about shopping at baby stores: Isn’t one of the points of baby showers that you don’t need to run out and buy a million things yourself?
  • Natalie teaches Charlotte and Becca a jump rope song called “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,” which I totally remember doing back in elementary school. And, I now have an urge to go out and jump rope.
  • Claudia teaches Natalie to make her favorite kind of sandwich – peanut butter, mayonnaise, and banana. That sounds repulsive.
  • Stacey, however, says her favorite kind of sandwich is cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Which, I order in delis all the time, and always get questioned by the person making it. It is like no one can believe you would eat a sandwich like that.
  • When Janine hears about Peaches being pregnant, she wants to watch the Miracle of Life. I had to watch that in health in 8th grade (and 9th grade….and 12th grade) and the birth scene totally freaked me out. At least, the first time I saw it.
  • This is kind of sad…Natalie wants to play “Lovely Ladies,” which is the stupid game Karen invented. But she actually has no idea what the game is, or how to play. She just wants to do it because she heard Karen talk about it.
  • Claudia wants Mary Anne to teach her to knit so she can make something for the baby (since Mimi taught Mary Anne to knit and Peaches is Mimi’s daughter). I think that’s actually kind of sweet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“Drop-dead incredibly hunkified gorgeous”……….BSC # 65: Stacey’s Big Crush

Memory Reaction

All I can think of about this book is how horrified I felt. I have always hated to watch other people embarrass themselves. And Stacey does that so many times in this book. I know the joke is about Stacey always being in love, but usually she seems relatively level-headed. And I remember thinking how crazy Stacey was…not for having a crush on her teacher, but for thinking they had a chance. And even more importantly, for telling him all this.

Revisited Reaction

This is yet another story about Stacey falling in “luv” with someone. This time, it is Wes, the 22 year-old student teacher of her math class. Wes is apparently gorgeous, and Stacey looses her mind about five seconds after she sees him. The other girls in the BSC tell her the age difference is too much, but Stacey doesn’t seem to care.

Stacey keeps volunteering to help Wes out after class. And I guess Wes is too naïve to realize that having a 13-year-old girl around all the time could be a bad idea, and so he keeps asking her for favors and complimenting her work in class. He even gives her a ride to a BSC meeting, because Stacey had stayed late helping him. And through all this, Stacey seems to really think he might be into her as well. She keeps thinking he’s going to ask her out or something.

And then, only a week after she meets him, Stacey makes me cringe in embarrassment, because she spends hours writing a supposed love poem, and then gives it to him. He pretty much runs out of the room and ignores her for a week. And then, Stacey makes me cringe even more because she goes to explain to him that she gave him the poem because she loves him. She thinks he must have misunderstood the poem. Wes clearly has no idea how to react to this, because he basically stands there in silence until Stacey runs away.

Wes’s student teaching position ends soon after that, but he is conveniently going to chaperone the school’s spring dance. Stacey goes to the dance alone (she had turned Sam Thomas down, because she thought Wes would want to take her), and spends most of it staring at Wes. She asks him to dance, and he says yes, because he’s an idiot. However, he dances with other people as well (students and teachers). Stacey asks him to dance again, when it’s a slow song, and he suggests they wait for the next one. When Stacey says she WANTS it to be a slow dance, he explains that he is actually not that into her, and that there is too big an age difference between them. Stacey feels like an idiot, but overall she takes it pretty well.

The subplot involves Mary Anne and Dawn goat-sitting for their neighbors who have a farm. Of course, Mary Anne and Dawn bring the goat on all their sitting jobs, which creates all sorts of chaos.


  • When describing her parents’ divorce, Stacey makes a point of telling us that her dad pays alimony and child support. Do they usually give that detail? It seems a bit out of place.
  • Before she sees him, Stacey thinks Wes is going to be a nerd because his full name is “Wesley Ellenburg.” That’s a bit judgmental from someone’s whose real name is Anastasia.
  • When Mrs. Stone (the goat owner) asks Mary Anne and Dawn to goat-sit, Stacey keeps thinking that they are talking about a human-being who eats garbage and needs to be tied up to a barn. Then she feels like an idiot. I think it is supposed to be funny, but really it is so obvious that it is supposed to be a joke that it isn’t funny.
  • On Wes’s first day of teaching, Stacey walks into her math class and thinks, “Tom Cruise is in my class.” Remember when Tom Cruise was synonymous with hot, instead of crazy?
  • All the other girls think Wes is good-looking, and some of them get pissed that Stacey keeps stealing time with him. I can’t ever remembering having a teacher that was so hot I wanted to help him out of class, or when anyone else did. But this happens all the time on TV shows and in books.
  • I can understand Stacey thinking her teacher is hot. But, the whole thing where she seriously believes he is going to ask her out, is ridiculous. She keeps rationalizing her behavior too. Like, “oh, he must have been uncomfortable when I said I loved him because we were at school. If I talk to him later he would have said how he felt.” I mean, really? She honestly thinks they have a chance?
  • One thing I do like, is that to impress Wes, Stacey keeps spending extra time on her homework and trying to turn in perfect work. It’s much nicer than hearing about girls who pretend to be stupid to get a guy.
  • The BSC makes me feel old by talking about how old a 22-year-old is.
  • According to my cousin, the rule when dating a younger man/woman is to take half your age, and add 7. So, Wes, who is 22, should only date someone between the ages of 18 and 30. Stacey, who is 13, should really only date people her own age.
  • Stacey is such a little stalker. She spends all her time between class walking the halls trying to spot Wes. If this book took place today, she would probably have made his Facebook page the home screen on her computer.
  • Wes makes a point of announcing to the whole class that Stacey was the only one to score a 100 on her homework assignment. (This is on his second day, so he doesn’t realize she’s a stalker yet). Even though she is pleased he is happy, she feels embarrassed. At least that is one normal reaction. But I think most teachers would have left the student’s name out of an announcement like that.
  • Some guy in the class goes, “big whopp” when he hears about Stacey’s grade. So, then Stacey explains to us, “That’s ‘whoop’” as in “’whoopee.’” What other “whoop” would it have been?
  • Wes’s student teaching takes place over three weeks, which seems incredibly short. I remember having student teachers that observed for a little while, than taught while the regular teacher was there, and THEN got to teach by themselves.
  • Elvira (the goat) keeps eating people’s garbage, including Mary Anne and Dawn’s (where she is staying). So, Richard goes out and gets garbage cans with locks on them. Why would he buy all new garbage cans when the goat is only staying there a couple weeks? Why not just put the garbage where the goat can’t reach it?
  • Most of the parents in BSC-land are okay with this random goat coming on sitting jobs. Mrs. Newton is a little hesitant, but decides it is fine. However, Mary Anne can’t bring the goat to the Prezzioso’s because that family is “fussy.” Because only unreasonably fussy people wouldn’t want a goat at their house.
  • I’m not sure why, but Stacey decides Wes likes skirts better than pants (on her). So, on her second day in his class she wears a dress whose description I remember well: “A short rayon challis tank dress [her] mom had ordered for [her]. It was navy with white polka dots. The fitted top tapered down into a flared skirt, with white buttons down the front.” It is strange how familiar some of the outfits are. When I was younger, I didn’t think that would be the thing that stuck with me.
  • The back of the book says that Wes is Stacey’s substitute math teacher. But a substitute is different than a student teacher.
  • Wes lets Stacey help fill out his W4 form, so she gets to find out his Social Security Number, birthday, height, weight, and blood type (although I’ve never seen those last three on any W4). And Stacey just finds it all soooo fascinating.
  • Wes also lets Stacey help with his grading, by folding over people’s names in the grade book, and having her average out test scores. Again, I’m not sure how appropriate that is. Stacey was able to figure out which grades were hers, and I’m sure she could’ve figured out other peoples’.
  • When Wes is giving her a ride, he moves his hand to shift gears and accidentally brushes Stacey’s. She thinks he didn’t even need to shift, he was just trying to touch her.
  • Stacey thinks Wes is a good teacher, and he does seem to be good at interacting with the class as a whole. But he seems a little clueless/scatterbrained to me. He doesn’t know he had to return paperwork the school gave him (like the W4), he doesn’t realize he had to fill out progress reports, etc. And he doesn’t seem to know how to handle Stacey’s inappropriate crush. I guess it is because he is inexperienced, or because we are seeing him through Stacey’s eyes, but I feel like they could have made him a bit smarter about it.
  • Sam Thomas calls Stacey to ask her to the upcoming dance, and Mrs. McGill tells her there is a boy on the phone. When Stacey asks if it's a boy or a man, her mom just laughs. Shouldn’t she be wondering what “man” Stacey is expecting to get a call from?
  • Sam is actually pretty sweet, because the dance was at the middle school, but he found out about it (from Kristy) and wanted to tell Stacey he’d take her – I think he thought she was worried about asking him, and wanted to put her at ease.
  • Apparently, some other girl asks Sam, but I don’t understand where she would know him from. He goes to a different school and they don’t live in the same neighborhood.
  • Charlotte Johnasson has her own crush on a boy in her class. She writes him a poem, and in her case is successful at attracting the boy. But then she gets annoyed because he starts running after her reciting his own poems. My favorite is, “Roses are red, red’s the same as scarlet. Sugar is sweet, and so as Charlotte.”
  • The owner of Elvira tells Mary Anne and Dawn that they should keep her in a pen or tethered to the garage. Mary Anne and Dawn keep her on a long tether, so she can wonder around the yard. But then they complain about her getting into the garbage cans.
  • When Dawn brings Elvira to the Newtons, the goat gets away and eats garbage from a couple down the street (the Goldmans). Stacey tells us they were robbed last year, and I think that is a reference to “Claudia and the Phantom Phone Caller.” Which is great continuity.
  • Stacey’s dress for the dance: “A calf-length silk/cotton dress with pastel floral print, a scoop neck, and a shirred skirt that was split to above the knee on one side.”
  • Kristy also dances with a teacher, Mr. Fiske. I swear there was a Mrs. Fiske in another book, but I could be mixing that name up with someone else. But more importantly, I don’t buy any students dancing with teachers like that in 8th grade.
  • Another dance outfit: “Jessi looked sensational, in an indigo blue unitard with a matching open-mesh oversized cardigan.” I don’t think the word “sensational” should ever be used in the same sentence as “unitard.”
  • Wes wears a tux to chaperone the dance. Um…why? Based on Stacey and Jessi’s outfits, it’s not a formal dance or anything. I'd expect middle school kids to make fun of a teacher for that.
  • And, for a final note, here's Stacey’s poem. One note – she originally had the last line read "two young lovers," not "people." But she decided that was too much.

I see two stars in summer’s night.
Hovering, lost in blinding light,
Each so dull, in heavens net,
So each remains, as yet unmet.

But Fortune moves in strangest ways;
It lengthens nights, it shortens days.
May this night end, and day begin
And bring two young people back again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I wish we hadn’t fought so much while you were here….” BSC # 64: Dawn’s Family Feud

Memory Reaction

I have this really strong memory of making fun of this book. I like when that happens….it makes me seem like less of a dork than when I realize I loved something that was so ridiculous. The main point that bothered me is all the postcards Dawn supposedly writes while away for three days. I can only remember writing a few postcards as a kid, and all of them were when I was away for two weeks or more. I never bought that these girls would send so many.

I also remember thinking it was so weird that we had a Dawn book here, and then had another one three books later. They were usually pretty good about alternating.

Revisited Reaction

Jeff Schafer is coming to visit and Dawn is really excited to see him, as is her mom. Richard is a little nervous because he doesn’t really know Jeff and he doesn’t know how to bond with him. Mary Anne falls somewhere in the middle.

The first couple days, everyone is getting along and having a good time. The Schafer/Spiers are planning to go to Boston for a long weekend, and then end Jeff’s visit by having a family portrait taken. However, before they leave for their trip, things get a little tense. This is mainly because while Mary Anne and Dawn are in school, and Sharon is at work, Richard arranges to take off and spend time with Jeff. Unfortunately for Jeff, Richard’s idea of a good time is going to a museum. Jeff ends up pretending to be sick to avoid spending another day with him. This annoys Mary Anne, who defends her dad. However, Dawn thinks Mary Anne is criticizing Jeff, so she defends her brother. They end up barely speaking. By the time, they all leave for Boston the whole family is bickering over everything.

Once in Boston, Jeff turns into a spoiled brat. He complains about everything just for the sake of complaining. Dawn sides with him, because she wants him to be happy, and the family ends up splitting up for the first two days of the vacation. On the last day, Sharon and Richard remember that they are parents and can tell their kids that they have to spend the day together. But, Jeff remains a spoiled brat and Dawn and Mary Anne keep fighting.

Everyone is still tense when they get back in Stoneybrook and are posing for the photographer. What finally snaps them out of it is when they look at some Polaroids that the photographer took at the start of the shook. Everyone agrees they look horrible and laugh about it. They’re then able to shake off the fight and enjoy one last day together.

Meanwhile, the Barretts suddenly need lots of sitters. AND they’re having a crisis about mixed families too. It’s amazing how that happens, huh? The issue is that Mrs. Barrett has a new boyfriend, Franklin, who has four kids. The Barrett kids like Franklin, until they find out he’s got kids. When Mrs. Barrett and Franklin arrange an outing for all the kids to meet, everyone is tense and the trip ends up being a disaster. The BSC keeps getting hired to help watch the kids while Mrs. Barrett and Franklin try to make the kids like each other. Guess what finally makes the kids get along? A plan from the BSC, that’s what. Shannon and Claudia convince the kids they’ll have more fun playing together, which makes everyone like each other.


  • Dawn says she “hates to say it, but her mother is a slob.” I really don’t think she hates to say it at all. I mean, she says it all the time. She clearly gets a kick out of it.
  • Looking back, there’s a lot of foreshadowing about Dawn leaving for California. She says how there’s a hole in her since Jeff left, and she hates being apart from him and her dad, etc. She always does that a little, but it’s definitely more pronounced in this one.
  • There is a scene where Richard talks about using “hospital corners” to make a bed that’s really familiar to me. But, I know I didn’t understand Dawn’s explanation of it as a kid, and I don’t now either. It doesn’t seem much different than the regular way to make a bed.
  • It’s really annoying to keep writing, “Schafer/Spiers”, but that’s how Dawn keeps referring to them in the book, so I’m following suit.
  • Since when is Dawn relaxed about cleaning like her mom? Wasn’t she supposed to be the super-organized one who kept things in order for her mom? Cause in this book, Dawn says she is more casual and Richard and Mary Anne are the neat ones.
  • Did we know Mrs. Barrett’s first name is Natalie? I feel like that is a continuity error, but I can’t remember why.
  • One of the reasons Jeff is in a bad mood is that his “Connecticut friends,” the Pike Triplets” like baseball better than soccer. And when they mention having plans with another friend, Jeff thinks they don’t like him any more. So, then the boys spend a week with no contact, then the triplets come over to say goodbye. I think it’s just a plot contrivance to have Jeff in a bad mood, but keep a happy ending.
  • Claudia outfit: “Black overalls that she had splattered with pink and green and yellow globs of paint. Her purple tennis shoes matched her purple long-sleeve T-shirt…on top of her head perched a little white painter’s cap that she’d also splattered with paint. She looked awesome.”
  • Speaking of Claudia’s outfits, has anyone seen this awesome quiz?
  • Jeff says that he’ll probably have to watch a really dorky movie on the plane, like The Care Bears Meet the Smurfs. He’s just making up a title, but I think that would be a hysterical movie. In a, “it’s so bad it’s good” way. But I’m a dork, so I may not be the best person to judge.
  • This was another familiar scene – Dawn thinks some other kid getting off the plane is Jeff, because he is wearing a green-and-white striped shirt. I think it’s just supposed to show that it has been awhile since she’s seen Jeff, but it comes off as really weird. Would she really not recognize her own brother
  • The Schafers/Spiers do have a good time going to see a really bad movie called “The Mutant From Outer Space” because they spend the whole time laughing at it. When they sarcastically say there should be a sequel, an usher at the theater says there is one. But how often is there a sequel already made when the first one is still in the theaters?
  • Jeff’s really a total brat in this one, and I don’t know why Dawn keeps siding with him.
  • Ha, when they are away, Richard spends the whole time reading from a guidebook. I guess that’s where Mary Anne gets it.
  • Mary Anne asks if the Boston Tea Party was an actual party. Now, seriously? I can see Jeff asking that. But not Mary Anne. If someone did not do any American history in elementary school, or in 6th and 7th grades, they WOULD do it in 8th. And the Boston Tea Party is one of the first things they would learn. So someone who’s been through 8th grade twelve times would know about it.
  • Because Jeff is a brat and refuses to do anything Richard suggests, Richard and Mary Anne end up doing one thing, while the Schafers do something else. I am not sure why Richard and Sharon put up with it, especially considering they want to be doing these things together.
  • At the hotel, the family has two adjoining rooms book…supposedly one for the kids and one for the adults. But Mary Anne insists on staying with Sharon and Richard. Bet they loved that. They’re still newlyweds, right?
  • So, say you are Mrs. Barrett, and you and your new boyfriend want your kids to meet. Considering that your kids are a bit…active, shall we say? Would you arrange for the kids to come over and hang out for a casual day/dinner? Or would you plan an elaborate outing that involves taking seven children to the zoo, the park, a picnic lunch, and a play?
  • Since Dawn is mad at Mary Anne, she tries to dress down for the portrait. She wears, “A jean skirt, red cotton T-shirt, and blue chamois shirt knotted at the waist.” What is with these girls always mentioning fabrics? Do we really need to know the T-shirt was cotton to picture the outfit? And, how many thirteen-year-olds know fabrics?
  • For the photo, Mary Anne tries to wear an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, and Jeff wears a stained T-shirt and jeans. However, Sharon makes them all change into nice outfits.
  • The Barrett kids and Franklin’s kids are all surprisingly cool with their parents dating. They only get upset when they find out there are other kids involved. And they later say that was only because their parents were tense. They even start talking about how they think their parents should relax and have fun. Now, I’m not saying everyone reacts badly to their parents divorcing/dating again. However, the Barretts were upset about their parents in earlier books, so it seems weird to not have them even slightly upset.
  • On the way to the airport, the Schafer/Spiers sing a bunch of California related songs, including the theme song to The O.C.
  • Do people really do sing-a-longs on car rides with their families?
  • When the Schafers/Spiers are sent proofs of their photo to go through (to decide what is getting blown up), they get to see all the pictures of themselves pissed off. But, the photographer took those with a Polaroid. And everyone made up before he started taking the real pictures. So…why are thre proofs of them?
  • Dawn thinks they should blow up the picture of them looking annoyed so that they remember to never fight again. And that is what they do. Except they decide to get two blown up and hang them next to each other. And they put them over the mantle in the living room. I can see keeping the angry picture to be funny, but to hang a full sized version of yourselves looking bad in the living room where anyone can see it? I don’t see it happening.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

“Doesn’t that sound spooky?”………Baby-Sitters Little Sister # 1: Karen’s Witch

Memory Reaction

I was always a little disappointed that the first Little Sister book didn’t start with Karen’s version of the first BSC book. Or maybe the book where Kristy’s mom got married. I think I even had a dream once, where they came out with a Little Sister prequel, called “Karen’s Fancy Dress.” I guess I have always loved the whole concept of retelling a story from multiple perspectives. Not that that makes dreaming about the BSC any less embarrassing.

Revisited Reaction

This was the first Little Sister book, so it is really only an introduction to Karen. Or at least, an introduction to her perspective (we already met her as a character). Because of that, it has real no plot. It just covers the span of one weekend where Karen and Andrew are visiting the “big house.”

On her first night, Karen thinks she sees her neighbor Mrs. Porter (AKA Morbidda Destiny) fly out her window on a broom. So, Karen spends most of the weekend spying on her. She becomes convinced that Morbidda Destiny is having a witches’ meeting at her house. When people start arriving (for what turns out to be a garden club meeting), she makes her friend Hannie go crash the meeting with her, to “protect the neighborhood.” The two of them make up some lame spell, ring the doorbell, and demand to go to the “meeting.”

For some reason, Morbidda Destiny actually lets them in. I think she’s just confused/surprised to see them, and doesn’t want to be mean to little kids. Karen basically walks in and says she has to give a speech, then announces that she knows they’re all witches. And she threatens to tell her parents. Cause that would scare off someone with magical powers. Imagine how many lives would have been saved if someone told their parents about Lord Voldemort having powers. Meanwhile, Hannie is just standing next to her crying.

Everyone basically laughs at Karen, (although a few are supposedly pissed off). I really wish we got more of people laughing/yelling at her. But instead, Karen’s misery is sparred because her grandmother is a guest at the garden club meeting. Grandma yells at Karen, makes her apologize, then drags her and Hannie out. She sends Hannie home, then goes to “the big house” and tells Watson and Elizabeth what Karen was up to. They only yell at her a little, then say she is only in a little trouble because “she thought she was doing something brave.” All she has to do is write an apology note. It makes a rather lame ending.


  • I know in later books Karen refers to herself as a “too-too” (or maybe it was “two-two”). But, it isn’t used in this one at all. However, there is a little spiel about how she is lucky to have two families, but it can sometimes be hard. I think it’s pretty much Ann Martin’s own PSA about divorce, and how it impacts kids.
  • On Karen and Andrew’s first night visiting their father, Kristy baby-sits for them because Watson and Elizabeth go to the movies. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but what’s the deal with Watson abandoning his kids when they are visiting him? I know Karen is hard to deal with, but she is his daughter.
  • Why do I remember Karen, David Michael, and Andrew’s tooth brushing ritual so vividly? They always brush together, and then they spit at the same time to try and get as much foam as possible in the sink. I think they set a “record” in every single book.
  • Why does everyone nurture Karen’s witch obsession? Maybe she wouldn’t go and accuse neighbors of being witches if people in her family didn’t read her books on witches every night.
  • Karen isn’t really very nice to her friends. She basically bullies Hannie into doing everything she wants.
  • Hannie recounts a bunch of times that she and Karen got in trouble for something Karen wanted to do, when Hannie thought it was a bad idea and Karen insisted they did it anyway. But, this doesn’t convince Karen not to crash the meeting. In fact, Karen is even surprised that they do get in trouble later.
  • The girls steal leaves from Morbidda Destiny’s garden to use as charms. Now, if this woman were a witch, wouldn’t her garden have evil powers?
  • After Karen’s grandmother drags her home, she says she is worried about her friends laughing at her for what Karen did. I guess she isn’t one of those proud grandmother types.
  • Considering the grandmother is Karen’s mother’s mother, the scene between her Watson and Elizabeth is pretty low in drama. Wouldn’t it make a better story if Grandma started lecture Watson about not watching Karen enough? And how he was never a good enough father/husband. I mean, I can appreciate showing a functional blended family, but it is just not as fun.
  • Sorry for the short (and late) post this week. I just moved and have been super-busy, not to mention having limited Internet access for the past few days. I should be back on schedule next week.