I think I sort of stole my original copy of this book from my cousins’ house. They had it on a bookshelf in their basement, and I started reading it while I was there. My aunt told me I could bring it home to finish reading, and I never gave it back. I don’t think they minded though. My cousins were both boys so I don’t even know how the book ended up in their house in the first place.
In terms of the actual plot, I remember that a snake gets loose and a hamster has babies, but that is really it.
Jessi has what she calls a week off coming up – even though she still has school - because the Braddocks (who she sits for regularly) are on vacation and her dance school is closed. At first, she is looking forward to the time off, but she ends up taking a pet-sitting job for the animal-crazy Mancusis. This is the couple with multiple dogs, cats, birds, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and a snake. Kristy didn’t want the BSC to accept a job like this, but Jessi talked her into it.
So, for a week Jessi goes to the Mancusis and takes care of the animals. At one point Claudia brings over Jamie Newton and Nina Marshall and Mary Anne brings over the Perkins girls to see the animals. It is fairly dull except for the point where Mary Anne lets the snake get loose, and she and Jessi freak out a little. But super-girl Myriah Perkins helps find it.
Throughout the week, Jessi notices that one of the hamsters is acting “strange,” as if hamsters actually do anything anyway. But this one keeps sleeping in the corner instead of with the other hamsters, and it tries to bite Jessi. She finally takes it to the vet, and finds out she’s pregnant. The hamster ends up giving birth on Jessi’s last day on the job, and the Mancusis offer her a hamster. They also extend this offer to the BSC, but Mallory is the only one who takes them up on this. These hamsters end up being referenced regularly in future books.
The subplot is actually the (relatively) more interesting one. Kristy’s being more bossy than usual and it leads to some arguments with the older girls. The girls are also annoyed that she won’t just trust them to read the club notebook, and instead she asks them about it every day. Mallory and Jessi try to stay out of the fight, because they’re wimps who think that being President of the BSC actually gives Kristy power over them. And because they think the eighth-graders won’t stay their friends if they don’t think they can walk over them. Which makes me wonder why Jessi and Mal consider them such good friends.
The fight eventually leads to Claudia, Mary Anne, and Dawn insisting on new elections (Stacey is in NYC at this point). I’d completely forgotten this whole storyline, until I got to the part where they discuss new elections – when I remembered how it ended. Jessi and Mal are nervous about whom to vote for, because again, they’re wimps. But Jessi eventually decides to “listen to her heart” and votes for everyone to stay in the same roles. It turns out everyone else agrees, because the vote is unanimous to keep Kristy’s President, Claud’s VP, etc. Even Mary Anne votes for herself to stay as Secretary, Dawn votes for herself to stay as Treasurer, Claudia votes for herself to stay as VP, and all of them vote for Kristy to stay as President. They all make up and Kristy swears she’ll stop being so bossy and annoying about the notebook. But, I’m fairly sure she still asks this in later books.
- You can tell this book is early, because Jessi only says she might become a dancer someday and that Mallory might become an author someday.
- When giving the club backstory, Jessi says that Kristy or her brothers usually watched David Michael after school, and when they couldn’t, Mrs. Thomas made a bunch of phones calls. But isn’t what happened really that Kristy and her brothers had a day to watch them, with another sitter working on the other days? And the sitter cancelled, which led to all the phone calls and Kristy’s whole idea?
- Jessi says that Shannon and Logan were made associate members to help fill the void left by Stacey moving. But, that’s not true either. Someone better make Jessi study her BSC history before they let her narrate another book.
- Kristy says she hates the idea of pet-sitting because of her very first sitting job through the BSC, where she ended up sitting for a couple dogs. Which is good continuity. So, one point for the ghostwriters.
- During one argument, Mary Anne, Claud, and Dawn point out that Kristy doesn’t really do anything for the club besides come up with ideas….which they all do in addition to actual responsibilities. They actually have a pretty good point there.
- In the early books, they have pretty good continuity about Jessi having a regular job for the Braddocks, but that seems to stop later on. Was there a point where they actually mention her stopping, or did they just forget about it?
- The reason the Mancusis call the BSC is that their pet-sitter canceled at the last minute. When she hears this, Mallory is all, “that’s so irresponsible.” Way to be judgmental, Mal.
- It’s kind of wrong that while Jessi is sitting she lets all the neighborhood kids come and visit. She doesn’t let them feed the animals or anything – because it’s “her responsibility - but still. I’m sure if the Mancusis wanted little kids running around their house, they would have had their own children instead of running a zoo.
- The snake gets loose because Mary Anne took the cover off his cage to get a better look. That seems like something Mary Anne would never do in a million years.
- Of course, six-year-old Myraih Perkins knows that snakes are cold blooded and would most likely be found on the porch (where it is sunny).
- Jessi goes to the Mancusi’s before school, and then again right after school, and doesn’t finish until it’s time for the BSC meeting. That’s gotta be about three hours a day. I’ve never had pets, but it seems like an insane amount of time to spend taking care of your animals.
- Claud outfit: “This one consisted of an oversized, short-sleeved, cotton shirt with gigantic leaves printed all over it, green leggings – the same green as the leaves on her shirt – bright yellow push-down socks, her purple high-tops, and in her hair a headband with a gigantic purple bow attached to one side.” If it weren’t for the purple sneakers and headband, that seems semi-acceptable. At least for the eighties.
- Jessi outfit: “An oversized shirt – a white sweatshirt ballet shoes on the front…with jeans and regular socks and regular sneakers.” Jessi outfits are just not as fun to describe.
- “New elections” is probably a silly term, since they never even had real elections to begin with. They all just chose what they wanted.
- Hey, amazing coincidence. Kristy’s sitting for Jack Rodowsky, who’s running for a class “office” at this school. He wants to be the person who gets to feed the class rabbit. But he’s worried they will vote for the girl who can walk down the hall without falling. I can understand why he would be worried about that.
- Kristy tries to “help” Jackie, by telling him how to appear neater and more responsible, and Jackie actually calls Kristy out on being bossy. Interesting, because he was never able to do that with Jessi.
- Mary Anne asks Jessi and Mallory what they think of new elections – but then says their positions won’t change. If I were them, I would say, why not? Just cause they can’t sit at night doesn’t mean they can’t collect dues or anything.
- At one point, Mallory’s name is written with a lower-case “m.” So, maybe I’ll take back the point I gave the ghostwriters. I mean, don’t you learn in kindergarten to capitalize a person’s name?
- When she is at the vet, a kid in the waiting room has a white cat and she tells Jessi he’s deaf. Apparently, this happens a lot with white cats. That must be true, or else Ann Martin knew at least one white cat that couldn’t hear. Because I am pretty sure that in the Mallory mystery there is a deaf cat.
- Jessi hangs around at the Mancusi’s house the day they are supposed to return, because she wants to be there to tell them about the hamster having babies. But I’d be really annoyed if I got home from a long trip and was totally exhausted, only to have some random kid there.
- I can see people thinking Mary Anne’s the perfect secretary and Kristy the perfect President, but saying Dawn’s the best Treasurer is sort of random, since it was really Stacey who was perfect for that job.
- Jackie ends up losing his election, so Kristy talks to his mom and offers to hook them up with one of the Mancusi hamsters to make him feel better. I guess it’s good that she talked to his mom first, but it’s sort of a rude thing to ask out of the blue like that. Especially since she says it will be good for Jackie. These girls need to learn how to not butt in.