I do remember the plot of this book, because I keep picturing a scene where Jenny and Andrea Prezzioso are involved in a modeling photo shoot. However, thinking about it, I’m sure this is the book where Mallory officially rejoins the BSC after having Mono. And that is what is standing out to me as the real “plot.” It’s actually a little surprising, because this book’s only four after the one where she got sick. For some reason, my memory was that she was an “honorary member” for ages, and was so excited when she was FINALLY back to being a regular member. But four books isn’t really that long. I guess time does really move slower when you’re a kid.
Mrs. Prezzioso calls the BSC needing a daily sitter, indefinitely. The job’s only for Jenny, not Andrea (the baby). Mrs. P doesn’t give a reason, and no one thinks to ask (at least at first). The BSC doesn’t usually like regular jobs, but they decide to do this one anyway. Mary Anne takes the job three days a week, with other girls filling in on the other two days. As Mary Anne’s walking there on her first day, she thinks about how nice it is that Jenny isn’t as bratty is she used to be. Which, of course, means Jenny’s regressed. When Mary Anne gets there, Jenny’s all dressed up and obsessing about looking “good.” She won’t play outside because she’s worried about getting her dress dirty, she insists on changing her entire outfit when she spills a tiny drop of juice, etc. And she’s not exactly nice about sharing this attitude with others.
After a while, Mary Anne finds out WHY Mrs. Prezzioso needs a sitter for Jenny every day – Mrs. P’s turning Andrea into a baby model. Apparently, Andrea’s an adorable, wonderful baby who hardly ever cries and isn’t bothered by strangers. Mary Anne figures our pretty quickly that Jenny’s acting like “Miss Priss” because she’s jealous. Then, Jenny asks to go along on an audition with Andrea, and Mrs. P says yes (but only if Mary Anne can chaperone). On the audition, Mary Anne and Jenny see how much attention Andrea’s getting first hand, which makes Jenny even more jealous.
Watching the audition makes Jenny want to be a model too. So then, Mary Anne gets to watch Jenny get head shots taken, go on an audition, etc. Because how could Mrs. Prezzioso handle all that without a BSC member? Unfortunately, Jenny’s not a perfect child, so she doesn’t have as much success modeling as Andrea. This makes her more frustrated, and she starts acting like a total slob. Mary Anne’s all, “I have to talk to Mrs. P about this!” But when she tries, Mrs. Prezzioso basically says she already knows Jenny’s acting out to get attention, but she and Mr. Prezzioso don’t know what to do about it. Luckily, they don’t have to do anything, because the situation works out all on its own. Don’t you love when that happens? Jenny finally does get a job, and goes, does okay, then comes home and decides she doesn’t want to do model anymore, she’d rather play on the kickball team the Pike triplets started.
Speaking of the Pikes, there are two things going on at their house. Mallory’s pissed, because she’s STILL recovering from Mono. Her parents won’t let her do anything except sit at her own house…which she’s doing all the time. In fact, she’s sitting at her own house more than when she was active in the BSC. On the BSC’s suggestion, Mallory finally confronts her parents and they let her rejoin officially. It's actually a much smaller part of the plot than I had remembered. The triplets, however, have decided they are too old to need a sitter. The kickball team they start is their way of declaring independence. At first, the team is a mess because the triplets can’t make up their mind about rules…sometimes they can’t make any and the game’s totally unorganized. Other times, they piss people off because they make rules people don’t like. The BSC decides not to interfere….but finally Mal gives them “advice.” This helps the triplets figure out how to get the team to work. And then it’s never mentioned again.
- Mary Anne actually mentions that she recently stopped an "arsonist" from burning down the library (sort of). I always loved when they mentioned the plot of other books.
- So, this isn’t the only book where the triplets talk about being too old for sitters. I actually agree with them, at least in part. When I was ten, I wouldn’t have a sitter unless it was at night. Granted, I was the youngest in my family, but still.
- Mary Anne thinks that Jenny’s acting strange, so she looks through some psychology books her father has. She decides Jenny has an “obsessive” personality. At a high level, this actually does fit the descriptions we get of Jenny, but consulting books seems like overkill when you’re dealing with a four-year-old.
- The BSC’s all surprised that Mrs. Prezzioso is pimping out her baby…or as they call it, being a stage mother. But really, wouldn’t the Prezziosos be your first guess if you heard a BSC client was trying to be a child model?
- Mary Anne describes Shannon as having a “ski jump nose,” – something we’re pretty much always told. It always made me picture a super-pointy nose, which didn’t seem as pretty as Shannon was supposed to be.
- I guess it was done for suspense, but I don’t understand how we go so long without knowing where Mrs. Prezzioso and Andrea are going. Mrs. P does leave a number, but isn’t one of the first rules of “good sitting” that you always find out where the parents are going?
- When Mary Anne takes Jenny out to play, they stumble on the kickball team. And Jenny starts pointing out the kids by full name. Would a four-year-old really know everyone’s name like that? I’m trying to think of how many full names I knew as a little kid…I think I knew my immediate neighbors and people I was in nursery school with.
- At this point in the series, Pow, the Barretts dog is living with the Pikes...something about Marnie having allergies. I have a really vague memory of the book were this took place. But for some reason, I feel like the Pikes were anti-pets in earlier books (or at least anti-dogs…they did have a hamster).
- How many modeling agencies could there be in Stoneybrook? Or even in Stamford? They’re pretty close to New York, so I’d think most modeling work would be done there…with only smaller jobs happening in Connecticut. But Mrs. Prezzioso seems to have jobs or auditions every day, and she doesn’t mention going into the city.
- When Jenny gets her head shots taken, the best picture is the last one the photographer took, and it was of her yelling out “the end!” She was smiling, because she was tired of taking pictures and glad it was ending...You’d think that would be a sign that she wasn’t cut out for this line of work.
- The kickball team has all their practices on the grass…I’m not sure if it’s a baseball field-type grass or someone’s yard. But whenever I’ve played kickball (and the last time was in middle school gym class), we played on the blacktop.
- Mary Anne calls Dawn in California, and Dawn answers the phone, “Schafer residence.” Now these girls were ALWAYS doing that, and I always thought it was weird. I could kind of see it when they’re sitting…because they’re trying to be super-professional. But in their own homes?
- The BSC gets kind of annoying in the plot with the triplets. They decide that since the triplets declared their independence, they shouldn’t step in to solve any problems/fights. Instead, we have to hear them sit around talking about how hard it is to not step in and help….since being SO much older, they obviously have enough added knowledge and experience to do everything right.
- Mal’s parents are really kind of awful. They don’t let her do anything besides go to school and baby-sit for her siblings. And they apparently really take advantage of this…I hope they pay her well.
- The triplets come home after one of their kickball practices and are upset that no one showed up. They complain that not even their own “brothers and sisters” came. But, all three of the triplets were there (since it’s “their” team), and they only have one other brother.
- I love that the Prezziosos had a total read on the situation with Jenny before Mary Anne said anything. Mary Anne is sitting there, trying to start the conversation, and Mrs. P just starts talking about how they know Jenny’s acting out cause she’s jealous. Usually, the parents are so clueless, and the BSC saves the day. Here, the BSC really doesn’t do anything besides baby-sit.