The main thing I remember about this one, is that I really liked how we got to see more about what happened when Mary Anne visited her grandmother in Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic. There was a whole chunk of time we only got to hear about through letters Mary Anne wrote during the trip. Here, we get the full story.
I also remember being a little surprised about the portrayal of Mary Anne’s father (and I know I made a similar comment about the Prequel). But in the early books, Mary Anne’s father was always portrayed as strict and (at least to me) a bit distant. But, based on her autobiography, he was very understanding and they had a close relationship.
It’s Mary Anne’s turn for her autobiography. Like the others, hers is split into four mini-stories. The first is from when she was six, and her class was having a Mother’s Day Tea Party. The teacher tells the class that if someone doesn’t have a mother, or whose mother can’t come, they can invite another adult in their lives. So, Mary Anne invites her dad. However, when she tells the rest of the class this, they laugh at her for taking a man to a Mother’s Day tea party (they don’t realize her mother’s dead). So, Mary Anne invites Mimi, and thinks if she doesn’t mention it to her dad again, he’ll forget. But of course, this doesn’t happen. Richard and Mimi both show up, and Mary Anne’s afraid that her teacher will yell at her, and that her dad will be mad she asked Mimi. But, since most teachers won’t yell at a six-year-old with a dead parent, she’s nice about it, and Richard tells Mary Anne he doesn’t mind that she thought a woman should go.
Next, we jump to the summer after second grade. Kristy’s mom had signed her up for a camp-like thing for the summer, where the kids take swimming or art lessons every morning. Because there weren’t spots open in the “cool” classes, Kristy gets stuck in ballet. She talks Claudia into signing up as well, and gets Mrs. Thomas to call Richard and sign up Mary Anne. Mary Anne’s too shy to want to dance in front of other people, but she’s afraid to tell her dad, because he seemed happy that the classes helped with child care issues. So, Mary Anne’s miserable, but makes it through. But, at the end of the session, they have to put on a recital. Mary Anne totally freaks out. The morning of the recital she throws up because of how nervous she is. Her dad tells her that if she’s really that upset about dancing in front of people, she doesn’t have to do it.
In fourth grade, Mary Anne’s at least slightly less shy. She makes friends with a new girl in school named April. April wears red glasses that Mary Anne likes and thinks would look good on her. When the school gives a vision test, she fails on purpose, hoping they’ll give her a pair. However, her dad has to take her to the eye doctor first, and Mary Anne’s worried she won’t be able to fool him. Then when she looks at the glasses the doctor has on display, she decides she doesn’t want glasses after all, and plans to pass the test. But, it turns out she really did need glasses, but only for reading. She’s a little upset, but after everyone tells her she looks good in glasses, she decides she doesn’t mind much.
The last story’s sort of like a deleted scene from Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic. It starts out with a quick summary of that book, and then goes in-depth on what actually happened during Mary Anne’s visit with her grandmother. The first couple days were very awkward. Mary Anne’s grandmother kept talking about when Mary Anne was a baby, and asking her if she remembered her grandfather (who had just died). Mary Anne’s all, I was a year old, of course I don’t remember. Her grandmother also keeps making digs at Richard, and about how he “took” Mary Anne away from them. Mary Anne finally snaps and yells at her, which ultimately leads to them talking things through. They spend the rest of the trip bonding and talking about Mary Anne’s mother. When she gets home, Mary Anne tells her dad she loved her grandmother, but definitely wants to keep living with him.
- Mary Anne mentions being fascinated by Janine as a kid, because she could read while she was walking, just like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I think she’s the wrong age to be referencing the most recent Disney movie, but I guess she heard the story elsewhere. I do think it’s cool to see the point of view of someone who doesn’t hate Janine.
- When Mary Anne first says she’s going to invite her dad to the tea party, Alan Gray’s the one leading the laughter. Kristy gets right up to punch him in the middle of class, but the teacher yells at them and is to distracted to tell Mary Anne it was okay to invite her dad.
- Now, I would think the teacher would know about Mary Anne’s mother (from parent-teacher conferences and all), so you would think she would make a point of reassuring Mary Anne about who to bring. And the fact that Kristy and Alan’s fight’s what distracted her doesn’t really make sense. The whole reason Kristy got up was because of Alan’s reaction to Mary Anne.
- When Mary Anne was younger, her father took her to a restaurant every Sunday night, to teach her how to “behave properly in public.” Which seems ambitious of him.
- When they’re kids, Mary Anne complains about her horrible baby-sitter, and she, Kristy, and Claudia say that someday they will baby-sit and be GREAT. Which seems a bit unrealistic. I mean, the only time I ever thought about baby-sitting at that age was when I wanted to be like the girls in the BSC.
- In the eyeglasses story, Mary Anne says fourth grade’s the first time she, Kristy, and Claudia aren’t in the same class. But in Claud’s autobiography, Claudia says fourth grade’s the first time since first grade that she’s been in the same class as Kristy.
- For someone usually so shy, Mary Anne made friends with April quickly.
- This book really shows the difference between Claudia and Mary Anne…When Mary Anne tried to fail the vision test, she made a point of finding out what the test was, and she came up with a system for getting it wrong, without looking obvious (such as saying an “E” is a “B” instead of “T” or something that looks nothing like an “E”). Meanwhile, when Claudia failed at trying to fail a test.
- I can identify with Mary Anne, because I always wanted glasses as a kid. I thought they would make me look older (I always looked young for my age).
- By the end of the eyeglass section, Mary Anne, Kristy, and Claudia all seem like pretty good friends with April. But, was there ever any reference to an SMS student named April? I know she could have moved again, and that people don’t always stay friends, but it would have been cooler if they made the character Emily Bernstein or someone else who isn’t in the BSC, but that we’ve seen.
- When Mary Anne goes to the eye doctor, she’s all worried that the doctor will find out she failed the school vision test on purpose and report her to “school authorities.”
- I probably said this back when I wrote about the original book, but it was really, really, crappy of Mary Anne’s grandparents to say that if Mary Anne didn’t live with them full time, they didn’t want to see her.
- We get to read a portion of a letter we only hear about in Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic, one that Mary Anne’s mother wrote her before she died. It goes on about how she hopes Mary Anne loves the farm her parents live on and how knowing Mary Anne will have them (as well as Richard) makes her feel better about dying. Which is kind of sad, and makes her grandparents look even worse.
- When Mary Anne asks her dad about visiting her grandmother, she says she wants to go soon, “before school starts.” And there’s a picture of a plane ticket dated in August. But, school was definitely in session in the book where this was supposed to have happened. The whole thing started because the kids of Stoneybrook were researching their backgrounds.
- Mary Anne’s plane ticket has her flying out of Stamford and into Des Moines. But would she have really flown out of there? I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it seems odd that with all the BSC travels, they wouldn’t be flying out of one of the big NY airports.
- Does Mary Anne’s grandmother really expect her to remember things that happened when she was a year old?
- Here’s what we learn about Mary Anne’s mom: She got straight A’s, hated cooking, but liked sewing, and attended a Rolling Stones concert.
- So, Mary Anne’s mother was almost twenty-five when she died….which seems really young and sad.
- Mary Anne gets an A+ on her project, which puts her above all the other BSC autobiographies (so far). She also turned in early, because she’s the type of person who would do something like that (and I don’t mean that in a bad way).