This wasn’t a book I owned, so I didn’t read it that many times. I do remember what happens because every time the Arnold twins were featured, we got the background story on how Mallory helped them start wearing different clothes. And the other main plot of this book is that several of the girls get their ears pierced, which is mentioned in almost every book. I also remember thinking that Mal’s parents must be really strict, because I got my ears pierced when I was six.
What this book really makes me think of, is a scene from one of the BSC Videos. It’s the one where Claudia’s trying to sell her jewelry, but Karen steals it because she wants more attention. However, at some point there’s a reference to the Arnold twins. One of the girls complains about the twins using a secret language and Jessi volunteers for the job, saying she can use Pig Latin to tell them “ime-tay or-fay ed-bay” or “time for bed.” It’s truly burned in my brain as though I saw it yesterday. I’m not sure why that part is and not other things.
Mallory feels like she’s babyish/nerdy/whatever and wants to cut her hair, get her ears pierced, get new clothes, wear contacts…..and generally just not be 11. This seems to be the background of almost every Mallory book, but I guess this is the first time it’s fleshed out.
This is the book where we’re introduced to the Arnold twins, who become regular clients. Mallory gets a steady job with them that’s supposed to last couple months. Her first day, she makes the mistake of saying they look cute dressed alike and the twins turn into brats. They take off their bracelets with their names on them, so Mal can’t tell who’s who, and they babble in a made up “secret language.” When Claudia sits for them, the twins switch places, so that Carolyn ends up at Marilyn’s piano lesson, which pisses off the teacher and Mr. and Mrs. Arnold.
Eventually, Mallory thinks to use Pig Latin when sitting for them, to show them what it’s like when someone leaves you out of a conversation. She ends up teaching the girls how to speak it, and bonds with them. The twins tell her they hate dressing alike and being called “adorable,” and they’re annoyed with people who can’t tell them apart. Mallory encourages them to talk to their mother about this and of course, Mrs. Arnold agrees to let them start picking out their own clothes and dressing differently (because parents will agree to do anything if a BSC member recommends it). Mallory goes shopping with them to pick out some items, and as soon as the girls dress differently, their friends at school try to tell them apart. So, everyone is happy.
The twins’ success convinces Mallory to talk to her own parents, and she gets permission to get a “cool” haircut and have her ears pierced. Then Jessi gets the okay to get hers done, and Claudia gets permission to get a second hole in one ear. The BSC all goes to get this done together, because in BSC land, stores will pierce holes in 11-year-olds ears without their parents around. At the last minute, Dawn ends up getting two holes done in her ears. Afterwards, all these new piercings get mentioned in the character descriptions in every book.
- We open with the entire Pike family driving to the mall in one car. Don’t they normally use two cars when the whole family’s traveling? Or is that just on vacations? Either way, ten people in one car’s a tight fit.
- Mallory says that Kristy only asks if people have been reading the club notebook on Mondays, but I could swear she does it much more in later books.
- Speaking of the notebook, Claudia sat for the Arnolds on Saturday, and by Monday’s club meeting everyone had already read about it in the notebook. How exactly did they get that done? Do they pass the book around at school or just read it before the club meeting?
- Claudia ends up drawing two different smiley faces on the twins’ hands to tell them apart. I guess I see why she did it, but it seems a bit mean to do. It’s like she’s marking them.
- I kept thinking that one of the girls should just ask Mrs. Arnold how to tell the twins apart (they have a mole on different sides of their faces).
- Mallory books always have a lot of outfit descriptions. Here’s a Claudia one: “A T-shirt she’d painted herself, tight blue pants that ended just past her knees, push-down socks, and no shoes. From her ears dangled small baskets of fruit.” She’s in her room at the time, I assume she wore shoes to school.
- Mary Anne actually has a worse outfit: “A short plum-colored skirt over a plum-and-white striped body suit. The legs of the body suit stopped just above her ankles, and she’d tucked the bottoms into her socks…the neat thing about her outfit was that she was wearing white suspenders with her skirt.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use the word “neat” to describe suspenders.
- Dawn: “This cool oversized blue shirt. One of the coolest things about it was that it was green inside, so that when she turned the collar down and rolled the sleeves up, you could see these nice touches of green…she was wearing a green skirt – and clogs.” I remember that outfit, I always thought a shirt like that seemed cool.
- We get a mention of how (ever since she broke it) Claudia’s leg hurts when it’s going to rain. Is that believable? I’m honestly not sure. I do know they mentioned this in some books, but I think the references to it died out as the series went on.
- Do I even have to mention the unrealistic-ness of kids getting their ears pierced without a parent present?
- After the twins switch places on Claudia, the Arnolds tell her how disappointed they are in the job she did. When Claudia’s telling the BSC about it, she says they “scolded” her. It just seems really off. Does anyone really use that word? Let alone someone who can barely spell their own name…
- Also, it seems a bit bitchy of Mrs. Arnold to yell at Claud for this. This was the first day she met them, and they lied about who’s who. How was she supposed to prevent that?
- Mallory keeps describing how Mrs. Arnold’s over-dressed, or at least over-accessorized. She calls it “fussy” and talks about how she has matching everything. I guess this makes sense considering how she dressed the twins, but I don’t remember her being described that way later on.
- Mallory’s reading the book Dicey’s Song. I haven’t thought about that book in ages, but I definitely read it. I believe I read the whole series.
- As a kid, I loved hearing the description of how to speak Pig Latin in this one. I’m not sure if I knew how to speak it before then or not, but either way I liked seeing the explanation written out.
- Google actually has a search page in Pig Latin.
- One of the twins’ gifts is “jump sticks,” which makes me remember how much I wanted one as a kid.
- I know how they always say the Arnold twins are different people, but they don’t really tell us that much about them in this book, just that Marilyn’s musical and Carolyn’s into science. That’s not an in-depth description of their personalities, it’s just a list of their hobbies. However, I think we’re given more in-depth descriptions later on in the series, so I won’t complain too much.
- Mrs. Arnold seems a lot like Mrs. Prezzioso in this book – the twins are always wearing dresses that are super frilly. What kind of parent has the time to always make sure their kids are dressed up and looking nice? Don’t these kids ever run around outside?
- While shopping, Marilyn tries on a $135 mohair sweater. Who puts clothing that expensive in the children’s section of a department store?
- Mary Anne complains that her dad won’t let her get her ears pierced, but I thought in other books she didn’t even want them.
- When Mallory asks if she can use her baby-sitting money on clothes, her parents are like, “of course,” as long as she’s sensible. So, what’s with all the complaining about how she can’t wear the clothes she likes? I’m sure her parents wouldn’t want her to wear anything too slutty, but it doesn’t seem like they need to pre-approve every outfit. I think they just don’t want to be the ones to pay for the “cool” (and impractical) things.
- Mrs. Pike actually seemed fairly laid back about the ear piercing thing. I don’t know how many times Mallory’s supposed to have asked before, but in this one she pleads a little and swears to never wear anything “wild.” Her mom just says, “oh, I got mine done when I was twelve, you’re close to that. But you need to wear fun, crazy earrings sometimes or what’s the point?”