I was so glad to find this book, because I lent my original copy to a friend, and never got it back before she moved. I owned almost every book, and all of them over about #30. But there was always a big hole in my shelf for this one and it drove me crazy. But I guess that is karma. But as a result, I remember wanting to reread this book more than I remember actually reading it. The only specific thing I remember is how the little kid is practicing for some crossword competition and is always using a dictionary. It always seemed like cheating.
The BSC has another new client, Rosie Wilder. Rosie needs a regular sitter for a few weeks while her mom is taking care of her sick mother. Rosie’s mom is a typical stage mom and has Rosie over-scheduled for all sorts of concerts, lessons, auditions, etc. Rosie even does some professional acting, in fact, Claudia recognizes her from a carpet commercial. Rosie also does well in school and can play multiple instruments. She’s preparing for what is supposed to be a big crossword competition, but actually seems a little lame.
Anyway, Rosie’s also a bit of a brat and asks her sitters questions that make them feel stupid. I know that’s not hard with Claudia, but this is a little more so than normal. Claudia asks Janine to come over and help tutor her. This works okay at first, but then Rosie insults Janine’s intelligence and she takes off. Note that Rosie doesn’t know things that Janine doesn’t….she just thinks that a high schooler should be able to answer the questions she has. All the girls from the BSC try to bond with Rosie, but she surprises them by saying she likes Claud best.
Claud realizes that Rosie’s actually a secret artist. Claud’s thrilled about this and encourages Rosie. She doesn’t understand why Rosie won’t tell her parents. But when the Wilders do find out and start to think of how to foster another talent, Claud realizes that Rosie just wants to paint/draw by herself. She also finds out that Rosie doesn’t like always be performing, or prepping for performances. She just wants to be a normal kid. This is the excuse for her being such a brat. Claud encourages Rosie to talk to her parents, who eventually let her cut down her activities to only a few – including art. We also find out that Rosie is obnoxious because kids at school make fun of her, and I guess were supposed to think that the situation will improve when Rosie is not so miserable and overscheduled. But that part isn’t really mentioned specifically.
Meanwhile, Claudia has been working on a series of paintings of junk food. Kristy gets the idea that Claud should have her own art show in her garage to show her paintings to the neighbors. Claud lets Rosie show some of her paintings there as well, so everyone is happy and the Wilder’s are okay with Rosie being an artist. Claudia even manages to sell three paintings – to Watson, Ms Besser (the teacher who helped the girls with the fundraiser for the Zuni kids), and Janine.
- When Mrs. Wilder calls, Claudia just puts her hand over the phone and tells the other girls about the jobs. But…isn’t that against club policy?
- Claudia leaves a note for Mrs. Wilder and Rosie corrects her spelling. Which seems somewhat less obnoxious than when Karen Brewer insisted on writing “Crushers” on her softball “uniform.”
- I can’t think of anything more boring than watching people solve crossword puzzles. I certainly can enjoy doing them, but watching other people do them? And yet, the contest – which is after school – has three kids solving crossword puzzles on a big blackboard in front of an audience. On that is full of elementary school kids.
- Not only is it boring, but the school’s crossword puzzle contest is also kind of dumb. Rosie previously won a contest within her class, then within her grade. Now, she’s about to go to the school finals where a kid from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades compete to see who solves a puzzle first. So there are only three of them, and I’m kind of surprised the school would make such a big deal about something only three kids were involved in. Also, they each have a different puzzle that is appropriate to their grade level. Now doesn’t that make the contest a bit unfair?
- It turns out that Rosie didn’t end up using the dictionaries in the crossword competition. She was just using them when practicing, I guess to learn words.
- The tag line on the cover of the book is, “How could a seven-year-old make Claudia feel so dumb?” Well, my question is, how can anyone NOT make Claudia feel dumb?
- It’s actually kind of nice of Kristy to come up with an idea just to help Claud show her art. She’s almost always trying to twist things into advertising for the club.
- Rosie’s main technique for solving crosswords (before the competition), is to ask whoever is around the answers. Then, she insults them when they don’t know the answer. “You passed third grade? Really?” seems to be her favorite.
- Stacey’s sitting for Rosie when someone comes over to see Rosie audition for this televised talent show. So, it’s Stacey, Rosie’s agent, and the producer of this show. Which, seems inappropriate. Doesn’t a parent/guardian need to be there? I don’t think an agent would count in that situation. And wouldn’t most professional acting auditions occur at a theater/studio/wherever? Not just in someone’s living room?
- The other ridiculous thing about the audition is that Rosie has a scene prepared, but needs someone to read the part of the father. And, so they make Stacey do it, and she is completely horrible. She keeps reading the stage directions and stammering. But I don’t understand why they would pick Stacey to read. If you believe that the audition happened at Rosie’s house, and that they didn’t know she would need a scene partner, wouldn’t the agent have been a better choice?
- At Claud’s “art show,” mostly just neighbors show up, which is fine. But some random dude who was driving by and saw the sign, decided to stop and check it out. Then he starts trying to have a serious discussion with Claud about her art. I guess he was just being nice/interested, but it all comes across as a little weird.
- Mr. and Mrs. Wilder are a little pissed when they catch Rosie doing something as worthless as drawing. But when Claudia tells them she’s good, they start thinking of all the ways they can work it into their schedules.
- The book is called “Claudia and the Genius” on Elm Street, but Rosie doesn’t seem particularly smart – at least not book smart. Yes, she does well in school, but not exceptionally so. Not that she’s dumb, but I wouldn’t use the word genius. She is just involved in a lot of activities, and is forced to spend all her time practicing and studying.
- Jessi tells Rosie that she saw her in a carpet-cleaning commercial that had a bunch of cartoon monsters (acting as dirt). Rosie makes a point of explaining that the monsters were not really there when she filmed it, they were added later. Does Rosie think Jessi doesn’t know that? These girls may believe in ghosts, but certainly not monsters.
- Mary Anne outfit: “She wore a loose-fitting open shirt over a teal turtleneck with off-white chinos and white sneakers.”
- Claudia suggests that Edward Allen Poe is the author of The Owl and the Pussycat.
- Claudia refers to her art show as a “multi-media extravaganza,” but really, they are all paintings. Which does not quite fit the definition of multi-media.
- The job for Rosie is Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from after-school until 8:30. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but that conflicts with a BSC meeting. Yet, no one ever mentions this, or references how Claudia would have to skip a meeting to go on the job.
- This book is kind of anti-climactic, because after we spend 90% of the book setting up Rosie’s issues with her parents, the resolution is almost a throwaway line. Basically, Rosie just tells Claud that she talked to them and they are cool with her cutting down on her activities. No fight, nothing. I mean, Mr. Wilder talks about how commercials are going to pay for Rosie’s college, and Mrs. Wilder’s whole life is about being a stage mother. And they barely react?