I think I only read this once, since it’s definitely from the later end of the series. But I do have a pretty vivid memory of it. Specifically, I remember thinking it didn’t make sense. As I’ve said before, that’s a reaction that is directly related to how late a BSC book was published. Anyway, the deal in this book is that the Pikes get on some reality-like show, and I remember thinking how the Pikes kind of screwed the production company/tv station. Mr. Pike supposedly had it in the contract that they could just give back the money and call the whole show off…..but it seemed unbelievable that that would be the case. .
I also remember the gift that Vanessa gives Mallory in some kind of secret Santa exchange. Mallory says she wants the greatest Christmas book of all time, and Vanessa gives her a blank notebook, with a note, “It hasn’t been written yet, get to work.” Which just seems really sweet, I think that’s why I still remember it.
Mallory has the idea that her family should have an “old-fashioned Christmas,” meaning making a lot of gifts and decorations, having a lot of holiday themed meals, etc. Her family likes the idea, so they plan on doing it. Then Vanessa enters a contest a local TV is having, about a “special way” of celebrating the holidays. The winner gets to have their own little reality show – they’ll be filmed throughout the month of December, for a special that will air NEXT Christmas. They also get $10,000 for their trouble. Clearly, the Pikes win, and they agree to do this. But after awhile, they all start to get a little annoyed with it. The director of the TV program, Mr. Henry, keeps making them reenact scenes that the cameras missed or read lines he has written. Then they cause chaos while visiting Santa at the mall, because Mr. Henry tries to get the Pikes to the front of the line. On Christmas Eve, the Pikes finally reach their breaking point. They end up giving back the $10,000, kicking out the camera crew, and having Christmas on their own.
There’s also a minor sub-plot involving Stoneybrook Manor, the senior citizen home Mallory’s Uncle Joe lives at. The Manor’s having some craft sale/fundraiser and of course the BSC volunteers to help out, so we get to see all sorts of preparation scenes. Meanwhile, Uncle Joe, who was supposed to go to the Pikes on Christmas, cancels when he finds out about the camera crew (but shows up after they’re kicked out).
- I’m not sure kids would be so into the idea of an “old-fashioned Christmas.” I would think they’d still be worried about not getting enough gifts with a rule like that. But maybe I was just a shallow child.
- Speaking of being a child, when I was 7-ish I visited Santa at the mall and told him I wanted all the BSC books that I didn’t already own…And he asked me what the BSC was. I remember being very confused about how he couldn’t know such a thing.
- The Pikes version of the Twelve Days of Christmas: “Twelve velociraptor eggs, eleven socks-a-sticking, ten bags of Snickers, nine leaping wombats, eight soggy tacos, seven bologna-and-peanut butter sandwiches, six silly-billy-goo-goos, five hornet stings, four crawling nerds, three stooges, two curdled gloves, and some garbage in a bare tree.”
- Mallory says when her dad was out of a job her family used up ALL their savings. But at the end of that book, weren’t Mr. and Mrs. Pike all, “thanks for trying to raise money kids, but didn’t you know your dad was getting severance?” Also, there’s a thing called unemployment payments. I’m sure it’s expensive to raise eight kids, but if they really went through all their savings then, they couldn’t have very much to begin with.
- Of course when they call the senior citizens’ home to volunteer at their fundraiser, they get asked to run the “day care.” Because there can’t be an event in Stoneybrook with out a BSC-run day care.
- There’s actually a spelling mistake in Jessi’s notebook entry. She writes, “I NOW that I will never again….” Unless I am reading her horrible cursive wrong, that’s definitely an error. Has that ever happened in a non-Claudia chapter.
- The whole contest seems so random and badly timed. Mallory gets the idea about the “old-fashioned Christmas” the day after Thanksgiving, (which means Vanessa entered the contest after Thanksgiving). So, the station has time to run this whole contest, select a winner, and get in several weeks of filming before Christmas. But after all that, won’t be airing any footage for a year?
- There’s this weird scene where Jessi’s in a store with Aunt Cecilia (that seems like a craft store or thrift shop), and she’s digging through a box of old frames. Aunt Cecelia’s all, “Do you think your parents are made of money?” Which is weird cause it isn’t an expensive thing. And because Jessi’s spending her own money.
- The BSC gets some of kids they sit for to make crafts to sell at the fundraiser/sale. How many people are really going to buy crafts that seven-year-olds made? I know it’s for a good cause, but still. People would probably prefer to just give money.
- Claire’s the only Pike who believes in Santa….and apparently, even she is starting to doubt. Isn’t that surprisingly cynical of the Pikes? I would think Margo, and maybe Nicky would still buy into that whole story.
- The department store the Pikes visit is named “Lears.” Hmmmm, I wonder what it’s supposed to be modeled after.
- Kristy’s height is apparently 5’0. Which doesn’t really seem that short. I was shorter than that in eighth grade, and I wasn’t the shortest person in my class. Granted, I was about the fourth shortest. But they usually make it seem like Kristy’s sooo much shorter than everyone else. Mallory herself is 5’1, which actually seems tall for an eleven-year-old.
- Mr. Henry makes the Pikes attach a video camera to the roof of their car when driving home from getting a Christmas tree, in order to get a point-of-view shot. As in, the point-of-view of the TREE. WTF?
- I think this may be the first time Mal says that she and Jessi don’t like being called Junior members. I kind of see their point. They really do just as much as everyone else.
- Kristy’s desperate to get the BSC on film in the special. She ends up offering the director three nights of baby-sitting for five minutes of filming. At least that girl’s consistent.
- The Pikes might want to tell their kids that a) there’s something in the world called taxes, and b) even if there weren’t, $10,000 isn’t enough to buy a Ferrari.
- Is my family just abnormally late, or are the Pikes abnormally early? Uncle Joe comes over on Christmas, and after eating, opening gifts, and playing games he leaves….at 2:30 pm.
- Like they did on one Thanksgiving, the BSC just shows up at the Pikes house in the afternoon. Do none of these girls have families of their own that require them to stay home on holidays?
- This was written in 1995, way before the reality TV craze. So, I guess the Pikes thought being filmed would be like a documentary and are disappointed. Mr. Pike ends up accusing Mr. Henry of “filming a lie,” by staging/recreating scenes, instead of really objectively filming a “traditional wholesome Christmas.”
- As I was re-reading this, the deal with the TV station makes even less sense then I remembered. I would think that the station would make the Pikes pay a fee for backing out…the station hasn’t just lost money filming, it’s gotten screwed out of a show for next year.
- According to Nicky, the secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies is to use twice as much brown sugar as white sugar. Is it weird that I’m tempted to try that?
- Mallory says that on Christmas, after the BSC left, she fell asleep and her dad had to carry her to bed – something that hasn’t happened in years. Now, I guess this book may have been written years after the one where she got Mono, but she was definitely carried to bed once in that one.