Sunday, December 27, 2009

“All in favor of disbanding the Baby-sitters club raise your hand”….. BSC # 100: Kristy’s Worst Idea

Memory Reaction

This is a book that came out after I stopped reading the BSC series, so I don’t exactly have a memory of reading it. I do have a memory about seeing the book come out, and I may have told this story before. ButI had read book # 99, and saw in the back of the book that the next one was about the club possibly breaking up. I guess I thought it was going to be the last book in the series….and that it was ending with everyone going in separate ways. It just seemed like a horrible end, so I never bought the new book. My thinking was that I’d rather pretend they just went on as a club forever. When I found out later that the books did continue, I decided I didn’t miss them, so there was no need to start again.

Revisited Reaction

The book starts out at the end of summer/beginning of school. Kristy’s just gotten back from a family vacation in Hawaii, and she insists on holding a meeting on Labor Day. The other BSC members are a bit resentful, and not because they didn’t get to go on this latest vacation with the family. They’re annoyed because they were supposed to do things with their families that day. They complain a little, which is the first step towards Kristy deciding to disband the club. That’s right, Kristy of all people, decides that her great idea had never been that great.

The first step in this path is that Jessi has a new ballet class that’s going to meet on Fridays….during BSC meeting. Jessi asks if they can change meeting days to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Which just sounds wrong to me. The rest of the club thinks this is fine, but Kristy pretty much freaks out. She thinks if they change the meeting time, the club will never be the same. But ultimately, they convince her. A few days later Mallory reveals that she was invited to join a special writing group that meets Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:00, and she asks to change Wednesday’s meeting time to Tuesday. I don’t know why they can’t just excuse Mallory and Jessi from these meetings, especially since Mal’s group would only be for six weeks. But these girls aren’t exactly known for being logical. However, Kristy does not want to change a second meeting time.

We also find out that while Kristy was away, Abby acted as club president and the girls had some festival/event thing. Since it went well without her, Kristy is feeling a little insecure and decides she wants to do her own event, “The Fall into Fall Festival Block Party.” The other girls act like teenagers for once and say they don’t want to put time into another project. This, of course, pisses Kristy off. It gets worse because now that the girls are in eighth grade (again), they all have a lot more homework then the last twelve times they were in eighth grade. Maybe the teachers think this is the way to finally get students to pass? Meanwhile, Abby and Mary Anne get to a meeting late, Claudia and Mary Anne get into a fight….basically everyone is just generally slacking off a bit, at least in Kristy’s eyes. And they seem to think it just isn’t fun anymore.

During all this, Kristy’s still trying to have her festival and get the club back on track. Then, Jackie Rodowsky has an accident and falls out a tree he was climbing, while Kristy’s sitting for him. He’s okay, but has a sprained ankle and Kristy blames herself. This is the straw that breaks the camels back. When the girls get into an argument at the next BSC meeting, Kristy suggests disbanding. The other older members slowly agree – only Jessi and Mal want to stay together. But, a majority vote to end the club, so that is what they do. Claudia leaves a message on her answer machine announcing this to parents, but says individual members will still sit. I’m apparently really pathetic, because part of me was still a little sad to read about this.

Kristy regrets the decision the next day, and is hoping other members do too. But, everyone seems perfectly happy. Claudia, however, is annoyed because parents keep calling her house upset, and saying how disappointed they are that the club broke up. I guess because, without easy access to baby-sitters, they may have to actually spend time with their kids. The horror. Especially for Watson. The parents do call some of the girls for individual jobs, but some of their regular clients start asking other teenagers in town to sit as well. However, Kristy refuses to take any individual jobs because she’s still upset about what happened to Jackie.

Then, Jackie has another accident. And the girls all rush to the hospital to see him, although it seems a bit out of character for them to do that. Anyway, when they get there, Jackie says he hurt himself while riding his bike to Kristy’s…..because he wanted to apologize for getting hurt and making split the club up. Seeing Jackie gets Kristy to start feeling a little better about the original accident, and gets her to agree to take a sitting job with the Pikes. While there, Mallory accidentally closes a door on Claire’s hand, and then feels horrible about it. But Kristy’s all, “it was an accident, you did nothing wrong.” Which makes her realize that Jackie getting hurt wasn’t all her fault either.

So, she calls all the girls to Claud’s house to talk about getting back together. It turns out that they all miss it some….the only one who needs convincing is Claudia, who’s worried about school. But, they convince her to agree. Since some of them are a little hesitant about jumping into the deep end of BSC-land, they rejoin for a one month “trial period” with the plan to keep meeting permanently if they all still happy.

High/Lowlights

  • The cover shows all seven girls in Claud’s room fighting. I like to think that was done on purpose as a callback to the cover of Kristy’s Great Idea.
  • This book takes place right after Super Special #13, which apparently has most of the BSC going to Hawaii on a school trip (which is ridiculous), with Kristy going with her family later on. I’ve never read it, so I’m not sure if the events they reference in this book actually happened in the Super Special, or if they are just adding random backstory. It’s a bit disorienting not knowing everything that happened previously.
  • Kristy says that she’s tired from the long flight back from Hawaii “yesterday.” She mentions that that Hawaii is two hours behind California in time. However, this is only true in the winter. Hawaii doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, so in the summer, it would be three hours behind California. That should be a pretty easy fact to check, ghostwriters.
  • Kristy says that Mary Anne left multiple messages on her answering machine, almost in tears because no one was answering the phone (when the family was supposed to be back). I don’t really buy Mary Anne being that worried. She’s sensitive, yes, but she’s smart enough to know that flights sometimes get delayed.
  • Janine’s annoyed that the Kishi’s left a family barbeque early so Claudia could host the BSC meeting on Labor Day. I mean, if Janine thinks you shouldn’t be working, it’s a big deal. Also, I can’t believe that parents as strict as the Kishi’s would leave early to accommodate the club. But then….they’ve let the girls meet there without Claudia. So, I guess it makes sense.
  • Jessi isn’t at the meeting, because her family acted like real parents and didn’t let her leave a family party early to accommodate a club.
  • She was wearing, “a bracelet of dyed, braided shoelaces, along with a blousy ruffled shirt that looked like it once belonged to Captain Hook; mismatched high-top converse sneakers; and baggy, pinstriped men’s suit paints, gathered at the waist with a bungee cord.” I guess I don’t have to tell you that Claud looked “totally cool” in this outfit. Although, I think it seems a bit impractical to be wearing during a Labor Day barbeque.
  • Kristy wants to have apple picking at this fall festival she is planning. And since there are no apple trees in Stoneybrook, she wants to tie them to trees with strings. No wonder the other girls aren’t into her idea.
  • Kristy also wants to have “maple sugaring.” I can’t believe she knows what that is, let alone that she expects to do it.
  • When she sees it’s causing an argument, Mallory actually says she won’t bother joining the writing group. Way to give up part of yourself for your friends, Mal.
  • Kristy wants some neighborhood kids to help her hang apples from trees (to practice picking them). Hannie Papadakis says she won’t climb trees to do this because it is dangerous. And of course later, Jackie gets hurt climbing a tree. I am just going to pretend they meant that as foreshadowing instead of it being a happy coincidence.
  • How does Cokie Mason keep passing classes? I remember in a book where she does a group project with Mary Anne, Cokie’s final speech is cribbed directly from some book. And in this book, Cokie reads answers in class that are copied from a book. If Kristy and Mary Anne notice this, how come teachers don’t?
  • When Claudia tries to point out that they don’t really have to have meetings, parents could leave messages with the times they need, and get a call back…Kristy freaks out. She’s all, “remember when meeting times were sacred?” I am not sure that it is that healthy to have club meetings like that be sacred.
  • When Kristy’s playing with Archie Rodowsky, who’s driving around in a little play car. She plays the part of a gas station attendant and fills his “tank” for $10…..it would be so nice if that was an accurate price.
  • Abby says Jackie has a “Sadim touch” – Sidam being “Midas” backwards, since everything Jackie touches breaks instead of turning gold. I was thinking it was actually a semi-smart nickname, but I found out it actually a real-ish term.
  • How come Watson and Kristy’s mom bothered adopting Emily? In every scene she’s in, Nannie is the one taking care of her. She is even feeding her breakfast in a scene where Watson and Elizabeth are both present and cooking for the other kids. I can understand needing help, especially since they both work, but Nannie does everything.
  • This book is similar to other BSC books, in that Kristy talks about having elaborate breakfasts in the morning, even on school days. They were always describing these in the series. I don’t remember my family ever sitting around the table and eating fresh bacon and eggs on school days. Who has time?
  • This scene’s kind of funny. The day after the club breaks up, Mary Anne tells Kristy, “I’m so upset.” Kristy thinks she’s talking about the BSC, but really Mary Anne’s just upset because the cafeteria is serving some diluted pesto sauce at lunch.
  • The parents reaction to the BSC splitting up seems a bit much – Mrs. Arnold cried, Mr. Papadakis wanted to pay them a retainer to stay together, and Mrs. Wilder (another parent) wanted to give them a counseling session. I mean, are baby-sitters that hard to find?
  • Claudia says she is “D – E – D. Dead” because she doesn’t understand her homework. Which make me think of this and this.
  • Claud also misspells Mary Anne’s last name. How long have they known each other? Spier isn’t even that hard to spell either.
  • Two other SMS students tell Kristy that the BSC had a monopoly on baby-sitting and they’re glad the BSC is split, so they can have a chance at jobs. And Kristy’s all, “we just wanted to be good sitters, not the only ones in town.” Which, isn’t exactly consistent with her behavior over 99 other books. I’m glad someone pointed out they weren’t always fair to other potential sitters.
  • Kristy actually makes fun of (in her head) one of these other girls for not thinking to change Lucy Newton’s diaper when she was crying. She actually gets all condescending when she gives these other girls tips. But then she find out the other girl got paid more than the BSC did. Karma’s a bitch, huh?
  • Stacey and Claudia see the Newtons at the mall, and Jamie won’t say hello because he’s mad they don’t sit for him anymore. Is any four-year-old that into his sitters?
  • Cokie Mason even gets a sitting job for another BSC client….the Hsu’s. And she makes them go shopping with her. Which of course, infuriates Kristy.
  • So, Jackie gets admitted to the hospital, Dr. Johansson calls Charlotte, who tells Stacey, who tells the rest of the (former) BSC. And they all rush to the hospital. I don’t understand why. I mean, I know they like Jackie, but even when the club was intact they wouldn’t all run to the hospital like that.
  • Shea Rodowsky on adverbs: “It’s a verb from an advertisement, like ‘brush teeth’ or ‘eat Wheaties.’”
  • Shea Rodowsky on pronouns: “Like the New York Knicks. A name of a pro team.” This is what happens when you have Claudia tutor someone.
  • This book must be really late, because they girls joke about running the club by fax or even using the net. And Kristy is all…"be serious." But things like this do now exist. Although, they don't seem to include 13-year-olds.
  • However, the BSC mentioning the internet is just wrong.
  • But speaking of the series not ending....am I the last person to find out about a new BSC prequel? This is what happens when I get too busy to go online too much.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

“I couldn’t believe it. It boggled my mind. It flipped me out just to think about it”…………..BSC Mystery # 6: The Mystery at Claudia’s House

Memory Reaction

My strongest memory of this book is not about the plot, but about the cover of the book itself. Because while the first five mysteries had blue covers, this one had a purple one. And then following this book, the mysteries alternated colors…similar to how the regular books did, only with darker tones. But having those five blue covers in a row looked so weird on my bookshelf.

In terms of the story itself, I’m sure I liked it, since it was back when the mysteries were semi-realistic. Now, I wish I could say that as a kid, I solved the mystery before Claudia did. Because I remember that the secret was that Janine had a boyfriend, and thinking about it now, it seems obvious. But I am not sure it would have been obvious to my eleven-year-old self.

Revisited Reaction

Claudia notices that Janine’s acting “strange” lately. She’s been wearing makeup and different clothes, coming home late, and got caught lying to Mr. and Mrs. Kishi. She actually gets grounded for going to eat pizza when she said she was at the library (the rebel!). Claudia also suspects that Janine’s been looking through her (Claud’s) room. Then, an even weirder thing happens. Janine asks Claudia to give her a makeover. Some genius she is.

Despite all this, Janine refuses to say what’s going on or why she’s acting strange. So, Claudia decides to be a bratty little sister and spy on Janine until she finds out what the story is. And when she can’t figure out what’s going on, she decides to recruit an eight-year-old to help. The kid is Derek Masters, who’s back in Stoneybrook for a few weeks while his show is on hiatus. Since he guest starred on a kid detective show, Claudia thinks he can help solve the case of the weird Janine (which would have been a more interesting title). Since Derek doesn’t ask Claudia for fashion tips, I guess he is smarter than Janine, so it’s not so wrong for Claudia to ask him. But, in the end, he doesn’t help Claudia figure anything out.

While tailing Janine, Claudia sees her meet a strange (but hot) guy, and she can’t figure out who he is. He must be really hot, because Claudia keeps telling everyone over and over. When she sees Janine and the guy a second time, Janine is getting into his car. Claudia’s worried that he’s some kind of cultist/criminal and tells her parents. They confront Janine, and we learn that Janine’s been acting weird because she got a boyfriend and was embarrassed to admit it. He’s super-smart too and apparently hated when Janine wanted to wear makeup, so she goes back to being her boring old self. But with a hot, genius boyfriend. And the Kishis all meet the guy and like him, and he likes them. Go, Janine.

The sub-plot is kind of mixed in with the rest of it, because it surrounds Derek. When Derek isn’t helping Claudia with the “case,” he’s dealing with the fact that he will have to kiss a girl on the next season of his show. To hide the fact that he’s scared, Derek tells Nicky and the Pike triplets he has kissed lots of girls. So, they try to get him to demonstrate (on Vanessa, Becca, and Charlotte). But he can’t go through with it, and eventually fesses up. But, none of the characters really care, so I’m not sure why I should.

High/Lowlights
  • This book is awesome because not only do we get a ton of Claudia outfits, but we get Claudia making over Janine. And we get Claudia making fun of Janine’s clothes.
  • Claudia outfit: “lace leggings, purple tie-dyed T-shirt dress, and purple high-tops.” This is the type of outfit I always wanted to wear when I read these as a kid.
  • Claudia says she’s embarrassed to write in the club notebook because of her spelling mistakes. As she should be.
  • Mrs. Masters says she’ll be needing a lot of sitters while the family is in town, because she and Mr. Masters are busy “managing Derek’s career.” Although, we also find out he has a separate agent. Does this mean neither of them work and they just live off Derek?
  • Does it really make sense that the Masterses would keep their house in Stoneybook to come back to on hiatuses? I know a lot of kid actors go to regular school between movies, but it seems harder to do with a TV show. Especially since most TV shows would be on hiatus in the summer.
  • What kind of TV show has eight-year-olds kissing people?
  • Why is it that when they talk about some girl on Derek’s show having black hair and blue eyes, which is an unusual combination, I know that it matches exactly what they say in earlier books?
  • Even more embarrassing, when I was in high school I was obsessed with Dylan McDermott, and he made me think of how the BSC books said it was so unusual to have black hair and blue eyes.
  • Another Claudia outfit includes, “this pair of black-and-white-checked stretch pants,” which she pairs with a black shirt with white polka dots. “The dots next to the checks made [her] feel a little dizzy, but [she] decided that the total effect was just what [she] was looking for.” Now, that outfit, is one I’d never want to copy.
  • Just two pages after Claudia puts on this checked and polka-dot ensemble she makes fun of Janine for wearing orange nail polish and blue eye shadow together. Let me repeat that….the girl who wore an outfit knowing that looking at it made people dizzy, is putting down another person’s fashion statement.
  • The rest of Janine’s outfit includes: “a gray kilt, a pale-blue-button-down shirt, and a gray crew-neck sweater.” Now, I actually have worn outfits very similar to that. It makes me feel old and boring.
  • When Mallory and Claudia are sitting for Mal’s family, the Pikes leave a half-hour early. So, Mal was on her own with all seven kids. And yet, her parents won’t let her pick out her own clothes?
  • Claudia refers to all her black blouses and all her white blouses being dirty. All of them? How many does she have?
  • Another Janine outfit: “Navy-blue crewneck sweater, worn over a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. Pleated knee-length gray wool skirt. Gray knee socks. Brown loafers.” Not that exciting, but not offensive to the eyes or anything.
  • In one chapter, the ghostwriter wrote “crewneck sweater” as “crew-neck sweater” and in another as “crewneck sweater.”
  • Claud’s new outfit for Janine is actually pretty decent, since Janine was insisting on nothing too dramatic. It’s a black skirt, a white shirt, and a blue-and-green sweater, with some boots instead of Janine’s typical loafers.
  • Janine totally freaks out when Claudia puts mousse in her hair. She has no idea what it is or how to get any. It’s kind of funny, but I’m not sure how realistic it is. Even if Janine wasn’t that into fashion, I would think she’d be aware of the existence of hair product and drug stores.
  • So, the BSC’s sitting around talking about what Janine’s deal is, and they’ve got some typical guesses like she’s running for student council, or impressing a teacher. Then, Mallory suggests she has a boyfriend, and everyone laughs at what a silly guess it is. Then, Claudia sees Janine with the hot guy. And instead of saying, “I told you so,” Mal is all, “maybe he’s a spy and Janine is handing information to him.”
  • Yet another Claudia outfit: “A royal-blue sweatshirt dress.” It’s not really detailed enough to make fun of, but based on her record I’m going to assume it looked awful.
  • One afternoon Claudia’s having a Devil Dog as a snack and Janine’s eating rice cakes. Now, this is supposed to be showing how different the two of them are, but way back in "Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls," Janine said she hides junk food in her room too.
  • And another one of Janine’s post “make-over” outfits: “a gray wool skirt (one of her old ones, which she’d hemmed to a much more interesting length, a pink oxford shirt…and [Claud’s] red sweater….her fingernail were still orange.” Claud thinks the pink and red and orange clashes a little, and I would have to agree. But really, if Claudia wore that, all the BSC members would swear she looked totally cool.
  • When Janine gets caught lying about eating pizza, Claudia tells us how if she had been caught in a lie she’d have told her parents she went to get pizza after the library. I’m kind of surprised a kid’s book gives tips for lying to your parents.
  • When Kristy goes on a sitting job for the Masterses, Todd (Derek’s brother) doesn’t remember her. So, Kristy explains that she used to baby sit for him. But, did he? Cause I thought Jessi had all the Masters’ jobs in his first appearance. Kristy had a regular sitting job during the vampire movie, but that was later.
  • When Claud does Janine’s makeup, Janine looks in a mirror and is surprised she’s looking at her own reflection. This is similar to the makeover Kristy got at summer camp. Now, I’ve had makeovers where other people did my make up, and I’ve never had a problem recognizing myself in the mirror.
  • So, Derek is helping Claudia find out what is going on with Janine. They have this idea to get Janine to confess the secret she’s keeping by acting out a mock courtroom, complete with a speech about why lying is bad. The excuse for this is that Derek needs help with his homework, and Claudia is too dumb to do it herself. I am pretty sure this was the plot of a Brady Bunch episode.
  • And….of course, the lying speech didn’t work. It just makes Derek admit he has never kissed a girl and is scared to. Shocking! I can’t believe any one could pass seven without being kissed. Anyway, Claud and Janine just tell him to admit the truth to the Pike boys (since they are the only ones who seemed to care). But, I think this ending happened on the Brady Bunch too.
  • I have to give Claud some leniency for not realizing the guy Janine was meeting was her boyfriend, since the first time she saw them, the pair shook hands when they greeted each other. Janine admits later that at that point, they hadn’t reached the kissing stage. But they do by the end, and Janine is all happy about it. Again, go Janine.
  • Claudia tells Janine not to correct all of Derek’s grammatical mistakes, because he is just a kid. And Janine says, “I will try to resist the impulse.” Which just totally cracked me up.
  • Janine’s pretty pissed at Claud for tattling, which is one of the few times we actually see “mean Janine” being mean. But she gets over it and the two are friendly again by the end.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

“What’d you do? See Meatballs or something and think camp would be the coolest, funnest place in the world?”…….BSC Super Special # 2: Baby-sitters’ S

Memory Reaction

I don’t remember a lot about this book, but I do remember a lot of the plot surrounding Mary Anne and Logan. Seriously, it is burned into my brain that Mary Anne gets in trouble for sneaking out to see Logan, and when she gets banned from something for three days and is all, “oh how sad.” Then her counselor tells her how she once snuck out to see a boy. Then Logan gets in trouble for starting a food fight, and he gets a similar punishment, and is all, “oh how sad.” Then his counselor tells him he started a food fight once too.

I think I only remember that because it seemed so unbelievable that they would have such similar experiences and it felt out of place. I mean, it was done to be funny (or something), but the BSC books did not usually go for plot devices like that.

Oh, and this book may or may not have been one of the reasons I begged to go to camp when I was thirteen.

Revisited Reaction

While watching the Parent Trap, the girls in the BSC decide it would be fun to go to camp. They all end up signing up for two weeks at Camp Mohawk. Stacey’s living back in NY at this point, but the rest of the girls talk her into going as well. In addition, the BSC inspires some of their siblings and clients to go, and there ends up being 23 people from Stoneybrook. Seven from the BSC (including Logan), six of Mallory’s siblings (Claire was too young), Karen, David-Michael, Becca Ramsey, Charlotte Johanssen, Haley and Matt Braddock, Buddy Barrett, Shea and Jackie Rodowsky, and Nancy Dawes (Karen’s friend).

The older BSC members are going as CITs, or “Counselors in Training.” This is an excuse to get them to baby-sit while off at camp. Basically, they help the counselors with the kids, but have some free time, and get to do things like attend a dance and movie night with the boy’s camp. Mallory and Jessi are too young to be CITs, but on their applications they write about how much they like baby-sitting, and so they get to be “Juinor CITs.” This means that they are regular campers, but get the “special project” of helping some 8-year-old girls prepare a dance number for Parents’ Day.

All the older girls end up assigned to different cabins so they have their own little adventure.
  • Kristy: Is assigned to Becca and Charlotte’s cabin and has to deal with the fact that Charlotte is crazy-homesick. She also has to deal with her co-CITs, who insist on giving her a makeover for the big dance. They do, she’s actually impressed with how she looks in make-up, but was happy to take it all off after the dance.
  • Claudia: Falls in “LUV” at first sight with some guy CIT she saw when some boys visit her cabin to officially invite the girls to the CIT dance. She moons over him until the movie night when they finally talk. He’s totally into her as well, and they get to spend two evenings together (a movie night and the dance) before going home.
  • Stacey: Gets poison ivy, a cold, impetigo, pinkeye, and a ton of insect bites. She ends up spending several days in the infirmary. That’s what happens when you take a city girl out of Manhattan.
  • Mary Anne: Her fellow CITs don’t believe she has a boyfriend, so she writes this flowery note to Logan for them to “find.” When they read it, they talk her into sneaking out at night to walk around the lake to see Logan. She gets caught, but earns the respect of the other girls. However, she is embarrassed that Logan saw the note, since it wasn’t the type thing she usually gave him. But he seems to like it anyway. She earns their respect again when another CIT asks to pierce her ears. Mary Anne tells her to go ahead and do it, but the other girl can’t go through with it.
  • Dawn: Is intrigued a camper that is quiet and bookish. Then, on an overnight camping trip in the woods, her cabin gets lost and ends up back at camp 24 hours late. And the quiet girl saves the day, of course.
  • Mal and Jessi: Get a total of three chapters between them, even though most of the other girls get three or four each. They have the same story, which is: Their cabin mates are really bitchy to them because they think Mal and Jessi are babies. A couple of them are racist on top of that. But Mal and Jessi cast Charlotte and Becca as twins in the dance/skit they are preparing and this magically gets a couple of them to apologize.
  • Logan: He gets teased by his fellow CITs when they hear about Mary Anne sneaking around the lake. He even starts a food fight over it. But his friends come around when they meet Mary Anne at the dance.
Stacey asks everyone to keep a diary of their experiences so she can have a complete record of the trip….and this is the traditional framework for how the Super Special is written.

High/Lowlights

  • So, Camp Mohawk is one camp, owned by a couple – The Means. It has a boys’ camp on one side of a lake (where Mr. Mean’s in charge) and a girls camp (where Mrs. Mean’s in charge) on the other. We find out that both camps have cabins, a mess hall, an infirmary, an arts and crafts cabin, etc. This seems really impractical to me, because it they’re paying twice for the same staff/services. Why not have one of all the general stuff and just have separate sleeping cabins?
  • The campers at Camp Mohawk range in age from 6 to 11, but you have to be thirteen to be a CIT. I guess all twelve-year-olds who want to attend are just screwed?
  • There are two adjoining cabins for each age, with six campers, two CITs, and one counselor on each side. Has anyone been to camp where the cabins were that small? The one I went to had about twenty kids in each, and some age groups had more than one cabin. But, every camp book I’ve ever read had cabins with really small numbers of people – I guess to make the story easier to follow.
  • Also, what are the chances that every single age group would have the same number of campers (for both genders).
  • The number of cabins also means that Camp Mohawk has 144 campers and 48 CITs, at any one point in time. This means that the Stoneybrook crew accounts for about 10% of the customers. I wonder how the camp survived before that? Seriously, the camp has that many new customers from one place and it doesn’t affect their total attendee-number?
  • Dawn is a CIT for one of the 11-year-old cabins, but not the one Mal and Jessi are in. And Dawn’s campers all seem like cool, friendly, girls, while Mal and Jessi get stuck with the bitchy racist ones.
  • The only two BSC members who are in the same cabin are Jessi and Mallory, so we end up with almost no interaction between all the girls. The only chapters where they talk to each other are in the first couple chapters, and then the chapters about the CIT dance.
  • Apparently, there’s one person at Camp Mohawk with an actual Mohawk….a counselor named “Mohawk Jo”. She actually showed up at camp with it dyed red and blue, so when Mrs. Means complained, Joe washed out the dye and just had a normal Mohawk. However, Mrs. Means thought she had won some battle because the color was gone. Kristy describes this as “smart.”
  • This book sucks in terms of outfits, because everyone has to wear the camp uniform – shirts, shorts, socks, and sometimes sweaters that have a teepee on them. But we still get several instances of people describing their whole outfits they way they normally describe Claud’s outfits. If I thought the ghostwriters were smarter, I’d call it satire.
  • For example, this is Logan’s outfit: “I put on my teepee shorts and polo shirt and tied my teepee sweater casually around my shoulders. Then I put on my teepee socks and my Reeboks.”
  • Stacey points out that the Mohawk Indians are part of the Iroquois Nation….who lived in longhouses, not teepees. I can’t imagine how it feels to be thirteen and see a continuity error in something.
  • Mallory puts up with a lot with her siblings. Since Margo gets carsick, Mal carries a barf bag onto the bus, and sits with sick Margo on the drive up.
  • Claudia writes a letter to Mimi that starts with, “Hi, Who are you?” I mean, poor Mimi has enough problems with language after her stroke, and Claudia goes and writes something like that?
  • The bathrooms are apparently in separate cabins. That seems a little….not smart. I know camping is roughing it, but what if a six-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night and has to pee?
  • Mallory makes armbands that label her and Jessi as “Juinor CITs.” Even Jessi knows it’s just going to make them look like more of an outcast. But she puts them on anyway, because she wants to be a good friend.
  • Not only does Stacey get sick, but she’s the CIT assigned to Karen’s cabin. Poor girl.
  • Mrs. Means gives a talk the first night of camp about how Lyme disease has only recently become a problem. And that makes me feel old, because I remember hearing about Lyme disease when I was pretty young.
  • Is it wrong that this book is how I learned what the term “oreo” meant?
  • Kristy makes a point of telling us how she feels different from her fellow CITs because, despite having to wear a uniform, she brought the wrong shoes and stands out. The shoes in question are a pair of blue Velcro “ponies” instead of laced white sneakers. And on the cover, they make a point of showing Kristy in blue shoes…but ones with laces.
  • At the dance, everyone starts cutting in on each other. This happens in several of the BSC books, and I don’t buy 13-year-olds doing that.
  • In Stacey’s cabin, the adjoining cabin does this traditional prank where they “Christmas” the other cabin – put Christmas decorations, powder snow, and stockings with token gifts. They say that no one knows which Age 6 cabin will Christmas each other when, but if one cabin hasn’t heard about it, don’t they kind of know they’ll be the “victim.”
  • So, on the last day of camp, all the parents come and watch a show. Then we hear that the Pikes are driving around to the other side of the lake to pick up the boys. So….do they not have a show on the boy’s side? Or is it later so parents can go to both of them?
  • Kristy’s co-CIT is named Tansy, who claims her name means tenacious. And Kristy is all, “I looked up my name in a baby-name book and couldn’t find it.” And I have to call bullshit on that, cause I have the same name and have always been able to find it in name books. It doesn’t have an interesting meaning, but it’s there.
  • As soon as I started reading this scene, I remembered it: Claudia finds an inch worm and puts it on her co-CIT’s bed to “see how she would react.” Then when the other girl screams, Claud is all, “Oh, I guess that’s how!”
  • I remembered this too: Claudia going to the canteen with her campers, and them being amazed at the HUGE pile of junk food she got.
  • They make a point of explaining how no one can remember/pronounce the name of the lake at the camp….and every single time the lake is mentioned, it’s spelled differently. Like, Dekadonka, then Deckasaga, then Dekanawida, then Demidonkey, etc. I’m sure I didn’t notice that as a kid, but I think it’s hilarious.

Friday, December 4, 2009

“Are you trying to tell me you were arrested?”…..BSC Mystery # 24: Mary Anne and the Silent Witness

Memory Reaction

This book is really close to when I stopped reading, so I remember feeling like the books were getting increasingly bad/unrealistic. I would say this was just me getting older, although I do think the books were more realistic early on. But I do remember not believing that thirteen-year-olds would be tracking down blackmailers.

I am also pretty sure that this book has yet another scene where a member of the BSC is interviewed by the cops with no parent present. Seriously, what is with the Stoneybrook Police Department?

Revisited Reaction

This one didn’t seem convoluted when I was reading it, but when I was starting to recap it, it did. There are actually two “mysteries” that end up converging at the end.

To start, there is a developer in town, Reginald Fowler, who wants to pave over a park and turn it into an office complex. The girls are all influenced by Dawn, and decide this is an environmental travesty. They all write letters to the newspaper expressing their disappointment about it. The letters get printed, along with an editorial from a reporter about how the “youth” is na├»ve, but has the right idea. So, then other people write their own letters saying the BSC doesn’t understand anything about economics (which is true) and the office complex would help the town (which is not necessarily true). This whole thing goes on in the background throughout the book. Everyone is waiting for a town hall meeting, where Fowler’s proposal will be voted on by the town council.

Meanwhile, the girls have new clients, Luke and Amalia Martinez, who are the source of the second mystery. The family’s regular sitter (a high school girl named Allie) quit right after there was a minor fire in the Martinez’s garage. So, the BSC is sitting there every day, but are alternating which girl shows up. And you’ll never believe this! The Martinez’s house is right down the street from where Fowler wants to build the office complex. What an amazing coincidence. In fact, Fowler would need to buy their house to implement his plan. However, Mr. Martinez tells Mary Anne they won’t sell their house to Fowler for any price (which would prevent Fowler from moving forward).

Luke Martinez is very suspicious of all his sitters. He insists on following them around everywhere they go. He is also very reluctant to answer questions. Then, Mary Anne, notices that someone scratched the words “don’t tell” into a window next to where Luke was sitting. On one job, Luke runs off and Mary Anne follows him into the woods. She hears glass breaking, then sees (or thinks she sees) Fowler talking to a teenage boy. The boy drops a brick as he is leaving, and Mary Anne goes to pick it up. At this point, the cops show up and end up bringing Mary Anne in for questioning about it. They tell her Fowler was in San Francisco, so she couldn’t have seen him.

So, one “mystery” is that the BSC doesn’t trust Fowler and are trying to take him down. The think he is sabotaging a sawmill at the park, and wonder if he was also involved with the fire at the Martinez’s house (to try and get them to sell). The girls do a bunch of research at the library and read old newspaper articles about Fowler. They notice that his birthplace is different in every interview he gives, but his date of birth is always the same. One of these locations is Stoneybrooke, England, so the girls decide maybe he was born in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. It turns out there were two boys born in Stoneybrook on Fowler’s birthdate – twins named Samuel and John Wolfer. Since this is an anagram of Fowler, the girls decide their Fowler is one of the twins.

The second mystery is about who started the fire at the Martinez’s house and why Luke is so suspicious. The BSC decides that not only did Fowler start the fire, but that Luke knows about this. They conclude that Fowler is threatening Luke to keep quiet. But, this isn’t totally true. Someone was threatening Luke, but it was Allie’s boyfriend, not Fowler. It turns out that Allie had her boyfriend over while she was sitting, and he was smoking cigarettes in the garage. This is what caused the fire, but Allie and the boyfriend didn’t tell anyone. It turns out that she quit because she felt guilty.

Now the boyfriend WAS being blackmailed by Fowler – or at least the person he thought was Fowler. It was actually the twin. The twin, was forcing the boyfriend to damage things in the park and in the houses nearby. The two of them were the people Mary Anne saw in the woods. From what I can tell, the worst thing they did was try to flood a person’s house. His hope was to get Fowler’s plan denied because…well, I’m still not really sure.

The gist of the explanation is that the twins’ mother died, so Fowler wants to destroy Stoneybrook since he has sad memories about it. The twin was sabotaging him because he wanted to preserve the memories. But that isn’t the most realistic motivation. And we never find out why either twin changed their name or why they haven’t spoken in years. The twin gets arrested (I guess for threatening a teenager into minor vandalism)

As for Fowler’s plan, it gets crushed. Luke finds a map in the woods that shows Fowler’s “long-term town plan,” which includes building three shopping malls and a new highway (that would go through Mary Anne’s current backyard). Because all developers make a huge map outlining their long term plans like that…and then leave it laying around where anyone can find it. I guess Fowler is friends with Stoneybrook’s counterfeiting crowd.

Luke shows the map to the town council at the meeting, and they vote against the plan. So, the park is saved, the sawmill in the park gets protected by the historical society, and Fowler is basically run out of town. I know we’re supposed to be glad the park is being preserved, but it’s kind of badly written cause Fowler didn’t even do anything bad.

High/Lowlights

  • Mary Anne refers to when Stacey quit the club, and says she hated when “we were all mad at her.” Because Mary Anne couldn’t have decided on her own to not be mad at Stacey. (Although, being mad at someone because your friends are is probably realistic for 8th grade).
  • The girls all sign their letters to the editor with their titles. Like, “Mary Anne Spier, Secretary, Baby-Sitters Club.”
  • The day the articles are printed in the paper, most of the kids and teachers had already read them and were talking about them in school. The teachers I can buy, but 8th graders reading the newspaper before going to school? I only did in Middle School if it was a day I had to bring in a current events article for homework.
  • This book made me ship Mary Ann and Cary Retlin. He lives across the street from the Martinez’s, and is really nice and helpful to her.
  • Mary Anne says that after she is brought in for questioning, the newspaper article about the incident doesn’t mention her name, but mentions she is one of the “youth” who is protesting against Fowler’s plan, so anyone would know it was a BSC member. That doesn’t really seem appropriate for the newspaper to do. And how would the newspaper even know that? Aren’t the cops the ones to not release the name to the press (as opposed to the newspapers not releasing the name to the public)?
  • I really don’t get why Fowler changed his name. Or why he lied about his birthplace in newspaper articles. He was doing this way before he came to Stoneybrook, so it is not like he was hiding his Stoneybrook connection from the town.
  • I also want to know what kind of interviews Fowler was doing, where every single one listed a birthplace and a birth date. That’s the kind of thing you’d see in teen celebrity magazines, but in articles/interviews about a business developer?
  • So, when the cop brings Mary Anne in, it’s her first day at the Martinez house. And when Mr. Martinez gets home and sees the cops, he is all, “Mary Anne could never do such a thing.” This is true, but how would he know that in one day? And considering that he had no idea what his regular sitter had been up to, I’m thinking he’s not the greatest judge of character.
  • When the cops bring her in, Mr. Martinez tells Mary Anne, he’ll call her dad. Don’t the cops need to do that?
  • Mary Anne sees Sergeant Johnson at the station and he asks to be the one to interview her. Then he tells her dad (who is at the station), that he’ll just interview Mary Anne alone. And Richard agrees! Unbelievable. That is even more inappropriate than a teacher driving a 13-year-old home.
  • Kristy’s so insensitive. When the article in the paper about Mary Anne being questioned appears, she’s all, “this is horrible publicity!”
  • Does the BSC chip in for Claud’s junk food? There’s some scene where Claudia buys a bag of doughnuts for all the girls going to the library. Combine that with all the food she has at her meetings and it really adds up.
  • Don’t the parents ever think it’s weird when three sitters volunteer to go on one job for no additional cost? Or that the girls are volunteering for projects cleaning out a garage?
  • Also, I wouldn’t want a bunch of teenagers I barely know to be cleaning my garage and deciding what should be tossed and what should be saved.
  • This is so ridiculous. The BSC sets up a plan to trap Fowler and his twin. Then they call Sergeant Johnson and have him come as “backup.” What the hell kind of police officer lets 13-year-olds go on a sting? Would that even be allowed in court?
  • Mary Anne finds out that the old sitter was lying about the fire starting because she said the garage door was open when it started – only there were soot marks on the roof of the garage, which couldn’t have happened if the door was open. Are we supposed to believe that Mary Anne found that and the trained members of the fire department didn’t?
  • I really do like Cary Retlin. He is sort of a smarter Alan Gray. He sends the BSC a note saying how a section of the park is being re-named “Baby-sitters walk,” and signs it as the head of the Stoneybrook Parks System. They totally fall for it, but Janine points out Stoneybrook doesn’t have a parks system.
  • The book ends with Kristy declaring war on Cary Retlin. And judging by the next book preview thing in the back of the book, Mystery # 25 does involve Cary. And weirdly, I can’t remember I’ve read it or not, which is kind of rare for me.
  • So Mary Anne calls information a million times asking for people with the last name wolf, wolfer, wolfman, etc. She claims that she uses a different accent everytime, but I can’t picture her doing that. At all.
  • At the town meeting, Mr. and Mrs. Martinez show up with Luke, and they let him be the one who raises his hand and presents the map to the council. Would a town council really let some eight-year-old speak at a meeting? Shouldn’t one of his parents at least stand with him when he gets up to talk?
  • Now, for the record I do care about the earth and try to be as “green” as the next person. And I agree that it would probably suck for a park to be paved over or for a small town to be turned into a block of highways, shopping malls, and office complexes. But Fowler’s made into such a villain when he really didn’t do anything wrong. He’s a businessman with a plan to make money.