Monday, May 17, 2010

“I have a lot of memories of growing up here on Bradford Court,”…..BSC Portrait Collection: Claudia’s Book

Memory Reaction

I was more excited about this book than Stacey’s autobiography, mainly because Claudia’s book had characters we know in it, mostly Kristy and Mary Anne, but also their classmates, families, etc. I found it more interesting to read about the three girls interacting as kids, than to hear about what Stacey did long before she’d ever heard of Stoneybrook.

However, I did have one major problem with the book. I remember that there’s a section where we find out where Claudia went to some special school for awhile in elementary school – something that was supposed to help her learn. Now, she comes back to the regular school at the end. But it annoyed me, because it seemed like something that would be a big deal, and would have at least been mentioned somewhere in the 100 + books that existed at the time (including mysteries). Now, I understand that they had to include things we hadn’t heard about to be interesting, but it still felt a little bit forced.

Revisited Reaction

So, this is Claudia’s turn at her autobiography, the second in this little special edition mini-series. Like Stacey’s, the book’s divided into a few key events from Claudia’s childhood.

On her 6th birthday, Claudia has a circus theme birthday party. Her birthday’s in July, so she actually gives out her invitations on the last day of school. It turns out that kindergartens don’t always give stuff to their parents, because the only people who show up are Mary Anne and Kristy. So, Claudia’s upset and cries, but then Kristy and Mary Anne (and probably Mr. and Mrs. Kishi) get Mr. Spier and Kristy’s family together to give Claudia a real celebration.

When Claudia’s in second grade, she and a couple classmates are afraid of the tooth fairy. So, when Claud finally loses her first tooth, she freaks out about putting it under her pillow. She ends up stuffing clothes under her blanket, and hiding in the closet to “trap” the tooth fairy. Instead, she just sees her mom come into her room. Mrs. Kishi doesn’t notice that Claudia’s not in bed, but Claudia sees her, and figures out that there’s no tooth fairy. She decides not to tell her friends about this, which is nice of her. She doesn’t mention whether she let them know they shouldn’t fear the tooth fairy, or let them keep worrying about it.

When Claudia’s in fourth-grade, she does poorly in school and gets a horrible report card (shocker!). She hadn’t done well prior to that, but I guess it becomes more obvious. The school does some testing for learning disabilities, have parent-teacher conferences, etc. Ultimately, they decide Claudia should attend the Stamford Alternate Academy, which is a private school where kids can “work at their own pace.” Claudia’s horrified at the idea, and decides to deliberately flunk what she thinks are entrance exams. Of course, they are just placement tests. Claud starts going to the school, and does well academically, but is miserable. She doesn’t talk to the other kids, stops seeing Kristy/Mary Anne when she’s home, and even stops working on her art. Her parents end up letting her transfer back to Stoneybrook Elementary because they think her happiness is more important than getting good grades. I wonder if they’ll say the same thing when she’s twenty-years old and still in high school.

When Claudia’s eleven, she goes on trip with Kristy’s family. It’s just a long weekend at the beach, because Mrs. Thomas hasn’t married Watson yet, and can’t afford cruises to the Bahamas. The trip’s actually for Sam and Charlie’s baseball team, so they are off playing, Mrs. Thomas is watching them, and Claudia and Kristy get stuck watching David Michael. They end up losing him temporarily, but find him playing with some kids on the beach. Claudia decides that Kristy’s life isn’t as easy as it looks, and is impressed with her responsibilities.

And that’s pretty much it for Claud’s life so far, or at least her pre-BSC life. She gets a B- on the project (A+ for content and design, but points off for problems like spelling her life-long friends’ name wrong).

High/Lowlights

  • Claudia briefly mentions the time she was in kindergarten and drew a butterfly as her self-portrait. That would be nice continuity, if it weren’t for the fact that she did that in first-grade.
  • It did make me laugh that Claudia mentions which paper her birth announcement was in, since that was such a big issue in that book where she thought she was adopted.
  • When Claudia asks Janine about when she was born, Janine mentions how she remembers eating alphabet soup for lunch that day, and had found all the letters except y and z. I just think that’s amusing.
  • Claudia invited her kindergarten teacher to her birthday party? Really?
  • Claudia’s outfit for her 6th Birthday: “Black tights and [her] tall black rainboots and [her] red jacket with the brass buttons. [She] had a T-shirt with a lion’s head painted on the front, and [she] wore that under the jacket.” I’m trying to decide if her fashion sense improved or got worse since then?
  • Mary Anne and Kristy’s clothing hasn’t changed much. On the day of Claudia’s party, Mary Anne wears a flowered dress and Kristy wears shorts, a T-shirt and “her best” sneakers.
  • What kind of parents let their almost-six-year-old just pass out invitations at school?
  • If no one RSVPs to a party, do you still go all out with food and decorating? You’d think Mrs. Kishi knew at least one other parent she could call about it.
  • In the flashbacks, everyone we know has the same personality as they do in the “present.” For example, when Claudia tells Kristy that they’ll be a face painter at her birthday party, Kristy’s all, “oh, make sure to have smocks to cover people’s clothes.” When she's SIX!
  • Claudia talks about having lunch in her kindergarten class. But isn’t kindergarten traditionally a half-day class?
  • Claudia says one of her earliest memories involves Mary Anne and Kristy. They’re playing in her backyard when workmen are putting a cement path in the yard. The three of them go over and start running their hands through it and drawing in it (while it’s still wet). So, Mimi has to call the workmen back, but then she lets the girls each leave one handprint in the corner.
  • Kristy tells Claudia that their fourth grade teacher’s “cool” (she heard from Charlie), and specifically mentions her having a southern accent. These girls are really big on accents, aren’t they?
  • Claudia first goes to visit the “alternate” school and take her tests on the last day of November. So, it’s pretty amazing that she finds out she got in (after taking the tests) the week BEFORE Thanksgiving.
  • If Claudia was smart, when she found out the placement tests weren’t entrance exams, she should have admitted failing them on purpose, and said she really didn’t need the extra help. But if Claudia was smart, I guess she wouldn’t have been there to begin with.
  • Kristy and Mary Anne’s classes are putting on plays based on books, and Kristy wants to do Harriet the Spy. AMM really loves that book, huh? I wonder if she pretended to be a spy as a kid?
  • Claud thinks they should do Nancy Drew, which shows her taste in reading hasn’t progressed much since she was nine. Of course, I’m still reading BSC books, so I probably can’t judge. But I read a lot of other things too.
  • Claudia and David Michael convince Kristy to not tell her mom about him getting lost. She agrees, and says they should all take a vow to never tell anyone, not even Mary Anne. So, it’s nice of Claudia to put it in her autobiography.

17 comments:

Maria said...

Her 6th birthday party always bothered me too! Why would a 5 year old be responsible for this?

Love your comment about whether the Kishi's would still feel the same when she was 20 and still in high school.

Kindergarden has been a full day class for as long as I know. I was in kinder in '89 and it was a full day experience. I teach Pre-K now and it's a full day class, but I have heard of some pre-k's being only half day.

Crabcakes and Evelyn said...

FYI, you mean "lose," not "loose." Sorry, it's a huge pet peeve.

Lenora said...

When I was in kindergarten, you could either leave at twelve, or stay the full day. Either way, you ate lunch. Now, they have to stay the full day.

HelenB said...

The whole "Claudia actually has a learning disability" things irritated me on so many levels. For one things, in the earlier books she's not stupid, she's just lazy (and, of course, not a good speller). I hated that as the books went on she got more and more stupid; her having a learning disability makes sense, given that she struggles so hard, but if her parents KNOW she has problems, why do they put so much pressure on her rather than finding her ways to help with it? It made the Kishis look bad in so many ways :/

Nerd Girl said...

I had all-day kindergarten. All of my siblings did, too. And even when we had occasional half-days all throughout school, we had lunch before leaving for the day.

Lila said...

At my elementary school in Northern VA, parents had the choice of putting their kids in AM or PM Kindergarten. I don't know about the kids in PM, but in AM we had a small snack and milk or juice. We never ate in the cafeteria.

And I agree with HelenB! Claudia was kind of a smartass early in the series and she was smart! I wish that they hadn't made her stupider as the series went on, but maybe they were hoping that some readers would better relate to her?

dolly said...

Claudia talks about having lunch in her kindergarten class. But isn’t kindergarten traditionally a half-day class?



bitch a lot of schools have full-day kindergarten know what you are talking about

Paigealicious! said...

<3 Dolly

Anonymous said...

in my kindergarten we had half days for the first few months, then "stay days" where differnt kids stayed for half day and others stayed whole day, and then full days for the last part of school.

dolly said...

Paigealicious!



shut up you horny bitch

Amiee said...

I'd completely forgotten about the butterfly self portrait thing until you mentioned it!

Kristy is responsible from an early age seriously!

nikki said...

If the BSC was first published in 1986 and the girls were 12, it would have been around 1979 when they were in kindergarten. Yes, at that time almost all kindergartens were half days. It's only been more recently with the surge in standardized testing that some school districts have moved to full-day kindergarten. FWIW, those school districts that did provide full-day kindergartens prior to this, were usually in low-income districts. And I think we can all agree that Stoneybrook Connecticut was likely NOT a low-income district.

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

I was in kindergarten in 86, and it was half day. But I guess I am getting old....scary thought!

booboobrewer said...

It never surprised me that Claudia invited her teacher. Kids love their elementary school teachers...some of the teachers at my school held special events for their students outside the school.

charmecia said...

i love claudia and all, but i gotta admit the bitch needs some help. i mean make up your mind ann, is claudia LD or not?


i still like claudia though, but she really needs to improve on her spelling(im the one to talk look at how i write my blogs)

Anonymous said...

In my small Southern town, I was in kindergarten in 1979-1980 (yep, I was roughly the same age as the BSC'ers when the books began) and kindergarten in Public and Private schools was all-day.
And how did y'all hand out party invites? In my day the kids did take them to school & hand them out at recess. It was a HUGE deal! Of course, like Valentines, you had to have an invite for every kid in your class if you gave them out at school. And yes, quite a few were shoved in desks or bookbags and forgotten, which lead to tears. I grew up in a reckless time. LOL
I would read these books while I was babysitting younger girls and would marvel at their (the BSC)'s nerve. I would never approach the real-life parents the way they did.

Isabel Escalante said...

Some students have invited me to their birthday parties. Last year, I attended 2 student birthday parties where I was invited by the mothers.