Sunday, October 24, 2010

“It’s lily-livered and chicken-hearted! Check your script”…..BSC Mystery # 8: Jessi and the Jewel Thieves

Memory Reaction

I was really glad when I tracked down a copy of this book, because it’s one I have a lot of memories about. The first is that it has a totally unoriginal plot – two people think they overhear criminals plotting something, only to find out later they were actors (or something similar). Now, when I was younger, I didn’t know it was unoriginal. But then I went through a phase of watching old TV shows, and saw this exact plot on episodes of both I Love Lucy and Three’s Company (and possibly others). Both of these shows were on before the BSC existed, but I hadn’t seen them before I first read this book. So, when I saw those particular episodes, I thought, “hey, that’s just like the Jessi Mystery!”

The other thing that stands out in my mind’s that Stacey explains to Jessi how to take a cab and how much you’re expected to tip. She tells her a trick for figuring out 15% is to take ten percent and add half. For the longest time I thought of that every time I was in a restaurant figuring out tips.

Revisited Reaction

Jessi’s friend Quint is in some big ballet performance in NY, and he invited her to come see it. She’s staying with Stacey, who’s visiting her dad for the weekend. On Friday night, Jessi’s at Quint’s apartment for dinner and they’re hanging out by an open window that looks out on the building next-door. They overhear two men arguing about stealing some jewels. Then, because open windows go both ways, the thieves hear Quint’s mother calling out their names. This makes Jessi and Quint worry that the thieves will stalk them to get them to stay quiet (or something), but they also think the police will laugh at them if they report it. So, they decide to “search for evidence.”

The next morning, Jessi’s back at Quint’s and they overhear the same two men (Frank and Red) talking, and then see them leaving the building. So, of course Jessi and Quint follow them. They trail the “thieves” all over the city, but never find any evidence, or even information, about where/when this jewel heist’s going to take place. They lose Frank and Red in the afternoon, but later that night Jessi sees them in the audience at Quint’s ballet. This freaks her out, because she’s sure she and Quint are being followed.

Jessi and Quint decide to follow Frank and Red again on Sunday. However, they lose them, because the thieves go in some fancy jewelry store that kicks Jessi and Quint out. But back at Quint’s, they see Frank and Red return to their apartment pretty quickly. Jessi and Quint overhear their argument, which is pretty much word for word the argument they had the other night…and is the biggest hint that these guys aren’t real criminals. But, the ghostwriter wanted to spell it out, so then we hear Frank flub his line. Red laughs, they mention scripts, and Jessi and Quint realize the two are actors. Their immediate reaction’s to crack up, and I really like that they don’t mind laughing at themselves.

Now, this whole time, Jessi has been a little worried about talking to Quint. See, she’s decided that she isn’t ready for a serious boyfriend, let alone a long-distance one. She wanted to tell Quint that they should just be friends. She manages to do this at the end and he agrees. And then I think we go awhile without hearing from him again.

Not even worthy of being a subplot: Jessi’s parents and Aunt Cecilia are out of town this same weekend (for a wedding), so Becca gets stuck staying at the Pikes. She’s miserable at first, but Mary Anne gets her to feel better. Dramatic stuff, huh?


  • At the BSC meeting, the girls are talking about their sitting jobs at the Pike house on the upcoming weekend. On Sunday, there’s only one sitter needed, because as Mal said, “My parents are taking us older kids to a concert.” Which sounds like a really weird way to phrase things. Why not, “My parents are taking me, Vanessa, and the triplets to a concert”?
  • Jessi tells us that she and Stacey have to miss a BSC meeting on Friday because they’re taking a 4:30 train to NYC. But then at the train station, they board a 5:05 train.
  • Jessi thinks the cab driver will appreciate her kindness at giving a dollar tip instead of 90 cents. As he should….I mean, with ten extra cents you can buy, what? A piece of gum? That’s a big deal.
  • Jessi and Quint lose Frank and Red at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because they see a sign saying “Pay what you wish, but you must pay something,” and realize they don’t have any extra money. But couldn’t they theoretically pay a really small amount? I mean between the two of them they should have been able to come up with a few coins at least.
  • The cover of the book has the teaser line that, “They don’t have criminals like these in Stoneybrook.” Which is true. In Stoneybrook they have worse criminals.
  • Two chapters are devoted to sitting jobs at the Pikes, one on Saturday (by Mallory and Mary Anne) and one on Sunday (just Claudia). Only at the beginning of the Saturday chapter, the notebook entry’s dated Sunday and is in Claud’s handwriting. In front of the Sunday chapter, the notebook entry’s dated Saturday, and is in Mary Anne’s handwriting. That’s probably something I wouldn’t have noticed as a kid, because I often skipped those notebook pages.
  • I’m trying to figure out the relationship between Frank and Red, and what type of show they are in. They seem to live together, and spend pretty much the whole weekend together either rehearsing or going to the Central Park, art museums, jewelry stores, and the ballet.
  • Byron gets Becca to try pancakes with ketchup on them. What’s with the Pike’s and horrible food combinations?
  • The entire BSC comes to the train station to welcome Jessi and Stacey home. When they were gone two days. That seems like overkill.
  • At Claudia’s sitting job for the Pikes, she wants to do something special with the kids. So she decides on an art project where they “make dragons.” Which seems really random. But, the kids get into it and make a bunch of cardboard creatures with yarn, paint, and other stuff.
  • Jessi keeps referring to Quint as the first boy she ever kissed. But isn’t he also the only boy she’s kissed? I would think that’s how she’d phrase it.
  • Mr. McGill says he wants to take Stacey, Jessi, and Quint out to lunch – his treat. Stacey tells Jessi to pick the place, and Jessi picks the Palm Court, the restaurant in the Plaza. Now, I’m just speculating here, but that’s likely an expensive place, right? Isn’t it kind of rude to pick something like that when the other person’s paying?
  • When Mary Anne’s sitting at the Pikes, Becca tries to “run away” so she can sleep in her backyard. She asks Mary Anne to come with her, so Dawn comes to the Pikes to be the second sitter (with Mal). I wonder if she got paid for this. Is it weird that that’s the first thing I thought of?
  • Stacey laughs (but not in a mean way) when Jessi asks she can read the comics in the New York Times. Because no one in NY would ever read a comic strip. Everyone in that city’s sophisticated and only reads serious stuff. Even thirteen-year-olds.
  • I must be getting old, because when Jessi and Quint complain about getting kicked out of the jewelry store, I just feel like I agreed with the store. Who wants eleven-year-olds with no intention of making a purchase hang out in their store?
  • Jessi and Quint want to follow the thieves, so when they get in a cab, Jessi jumps into another one and says, “Follow that cab.” She says she always wanted to do that, which I guess I can understand. The cab driver goes along with it cause he thinks they are just kids playing a game. I wonder what would happen if someone did that as an adult.
  • Jessi’s worried about telling Stacey about the thieves, cause she thinks Stacey will worry about her. But when she finally tells her, Stacey’s excited, because as Jessi says, “everyone in the BSC loves mysteries.” This line sounds really familiar, and I’m starting to think it’s included in almost every mystery book.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

“I’m just saying that he was acting like a man with a secret”…….BSC Mystery # 31: Mary Anne and the Music Box Mystery

Memory Reaction

Sorry, but this is another that I didn’t get to as a kid. So, no memory.

Revisited Reaction

Dawn’s grandparents (who Mary Anne now calls Granny and Pop-Pop) are away on a cruise for their anniversary when their basement floods. It causes a bunch of damage, so Mary Anne and some of the other BSC members help Sharon clean up. While doing this, Mary Anne finds an old music box hidden in the wall that’s wrapped in a note saying “do not open or you will be cursed.” Mary Anne asks Granny about it over the phone, but Granny says it isn’t hers, then claims they have a bad connection and hangs up. So you know it really IS hers, although Mary Anne doesn’t realize this. Mary Anne doesn’t tell the BSC members about the box until bit later, but when she does, they open it and find a picture of a sailor and a note that reveals the guy who gave the girl the box was leaving for someplace far away.

Meanwhile, Sharon hires a plumber who happens to have grown up in the house across the street from Granny and Pop-Pop. Mary Anne also finds out that Granny grew up in the house next to where she lives now, and is still friends with someone who lived on the same street. Mary Anne decides that the plumber’s acting “weird,” basically because she sees him looking in an old desk that’s nowhere near any pipes. After the plumber mentions needing to dig in the yard to fix some pipe/draining problem, Mary Anne decides that two friends of her grandparents are acting weird as well.

Sharon and Mary Anne also find a bunch of old letters in the basement, and Mary Anne reads some that Granny had written as a teenage girl. She finds out that Lydia, a girl who grew up in Granny’s current house, had been in love with a boy her father didn’t approve of. Mary Anne thinks the music box must have been a gift for the girl, who hid it from her disapproving parents. I guess she also thinks Lydia never bothered to retrieve the box after she turned 18/moved or whatever. Which I think makes it a little less romantic. But whatever.

Also, from the letters, Mary Anne finds out that Lydia’s father embezzled money from the bank he worked at. It was never found, and neighborhood legend says that it was buried in the yard. So, the BSC figures out that everyone’s acting weird because they thought someone would find the money. Finally, the plumber’s father shows up and just starts to dig himself, with everyone watching. They find a box with old papers but no money. And that’s the end of that.

Everyone’s a little disappointed, especially Mary Anne. But she isn’t disappointed about not finding the money, she’s upset about not finding out who owned the music box. Later, Mary Anne goes to borrow some jewelry from Sharon and sees a bracelet that was in the photo in the music box. From this she realizes the music box must have really belonged to Granny (who had given Sharon the bracelet). Granny admits this and tells Mary Anne about the guy who gave it to her (her first love who died in the war). She’d never told anyone before, and Mary Anne promises to keep her secret.

Subplot: The Barrett/DeWitt’s are almost done with the addition to the house, even though they started it like thirty books ago. Coincidentally, the contractor at the Barrett place also helps out at Granny and Pop-Pop’s, so the BSC uses sitting jobs to spy on him. But it turns out he’s just a nice guy, and he helps the kids build a playhouse.

  • I don’t know why everyone was so excited about the idea of digging up money. It was on Granny and Pop-Pop’s land, so random people couldn’t have just claimed it. Also, it was STOLEN money. Wouldn’t they have had to notify the authorities?
  • Although if everyone knew the story about money being buried, you’d think they would have tried to find it years ago. Granny would know about the stories.
  • Suppose Lydia’s father did bury the money he stole to keep the cops from finding it….wouldn’t he have found time to retrieve it at some point in the next 50-some years? I mean, what’s the point of embezzling money if you’re not going to spend any?
  • The recap of this book makes it seem convoluted, but it really was kind of boring. There wasn’t much of a mystery.
  • I was hoping to find out that all the “old” people had killed someone in the past and buried him in Granny and Pop-Pop’s yard. Then we could have had a book called, “Mary Anne and the Prison Visit,” where she goes to visit them.
  • The letters Mary Anne reads say that little-girl Granny saw Lydia (the girl who used to live in her house) and her boyfriend burying something in the middle of the night. But I don’t think a teenage girl was burying her father’s papers. So…that part really makes no sense.
  • The music box got hidden in the basement because when Granny and Pop-Pop moved in she stuck it down there.
  • Oh, so the note about the music box being cursed was just something random that Young-Granny wrote to prevent other people from opening the box.
  • One of the more interesting parts in this book, is that Mary Anne keeps having vivid dreams about a young sailor. Then, when the BSC opens the box, she sees that the guy in the picture is the same person she’s been dreaming about. I was expecting to find out that the guy was a young Pop-Pop, which would explain how Mary Anne could picture his face. But it isn’t, and we get no other explanation for the dream.
  • I’m glad Mary Anne ignored the curse warning and opened the music box. It shows growth from her previous experience.
  • Does anyone else find it annoying and unrealistic that the BSC is always correcting kids’ grammar?
  • Sharon and Mary Anne find a bunch of board games in Granny and Pop-Pop’s basement and laugh at the idea of them playing Clue and other games. But what’s wrong with senior citizens playing board games?
  • Did we know Sharon was a Realtor before this book?
  • The music box plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which turns out to be Young-Granny and her “first love’s” song. They also called each other “Little Star and “How I Wonder.” That seems like an odd choice of song.
  • Claudia and Stacey were sitting for the Barrett/DeWitt kids while they were building the playhouse, so they decide to dress for the occasion….
  • “Claudia had on her favorite painter’s pants. They used to be white, but…now [they’re] splattered with paint in every color of the rainbow. To complement the pants, Claudia wore a tie-dyed shirt…that features a huge yellow peace sign surrounded by star bursts of orange, red, and purple.” Orange and purple? Ew.
  • “Stacey was wearing a pair of pink denim overall shorts with a white baby T underneath. Purple Doc Martens and a white baseball cap…completed the look.” Now, that sounds cute, at least for a thirteen-year-old.
  • The note in the music box referred to L.S. and H.I.W., and the BSC spends hours researching town records for people with those initials, but don’t find anything, most likely because the letters actually refer to Little Star and How I Wonder.
  • After the BSC finds out about the stolen money, they decide to let the adults hear them talking about finding a box while digging in the yard. But this isn’t really thought out, because the adults ask to SEE the box, and Mary Anne has to say they were just playing a game.
  • Sharon’s throwing a surprise party for Granny and Pop-Pop’s anniversary and the guests are supposed to arrive at 6:00 on a Friday, with the guests of honor showing up at 6:30. But somehow, Mary Anne has time to get home from a BSC meeting, get dressed, borrow jewelry, and put out food, all before anyone gets there.
  • In a totally obvious plot twist, the kids build their playhouse in a shed, and when they finished, found out it’s too big to get through the door. Which I could buy if the kids built the thing themselves. But the contractor was helping them. Shouldn’t the size of the door been the first thing he noticed?
  • Lydia (the girl in the letters) and her boyfriend did get married and are now a nice boring old couple. I’m sure you were concerned.
  • At an anniversary party for Granny and Pop-Pop, Mary Anne opts not to where her yellow-checkered sundress that Logan likes, and to wear her “floaty, flowered skirt” that he thinks makes her look like a hippie instead.
  • This book takes place right after the BSC’s cross-country RV trip. But wasn’t THAT at the end of summer? Because Dawn said she was supposed to stay in Stoneybrook until the end of summer, but left two weeks early to go in the trip. But it’s still summer in this book.
  • Mary Anne says that Sharon knows what people like to eat at a party, even though she’s a vegetarian herself. But this is the opposite of what we saw way back in the first Dawn book. But maybe she learned from that experience.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We may have a new kid to baby-sit for at the Papadakises soon”…….BSC #62: Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever

Memory Reaction

I think this book was the first time I heard of a foster home, and it probably gave me a very unrealistic impression of what they were. I mean they had the Papadakises take in this girl for a few weeks, then she went off to live happily ever after with family, and we never saw another foster kid. There were very few references to the fact that a lot of kids don’t end up with family or that some foster homes are not actually mansions that are regularly visited by the world’s best baby-sitters. (Do the Papadakises live in a mansion? They live across from Watson and next-door to the Delanys, so I guess it’s likely).

Also, I remember how when Lou first arrives, Kristy and David Michael are watching from across the street and can’t tell if she is a boy or a girl, because she had short hair and was wearing baggy non-feminine clothing.

Revisited Reaction

The Papadakises have decided to become a foster family, or at least the BSC version of one. They take in an eight-year-old girl named Lou (Louisa). Her mother has been out of the picture since she was a baby, her father recently died, and she and has now been separated from her brother. Also, her dog ran away and never came back. So, Lou’s got some issues, which make her act out. She talks back, she taunts Hannie and Linny (as well as Karen and David Michael), she traps the cat in a pillowcase, and she just generally puts down anything the BSC or other kids suggest. Kristy dubs her the “worst kid ever.”

After a couple of weeks, Dawn sits for the Papadakises and sends Lou to her room for throwing cookie dough at Hannie. Later, Dawn sees her crying and comforts Lou while she talks about some of the things that have happened to her. This makes Dawn realize that Lou’s actually sad and is mean as a defense mechanism. Which, I kind of thought was a given from the beginning, but I guess a kid might not. Before we find out if the conversation with Dawn made a difference in Lou’s behavior, a social worker shows up and tells Lou that she and her brother are going to live with their (recently found) aunt and uncle. Lou freaks out a bit because she thought her mother was going to turn up. But Kristy talks to Lou and gets her to calm down. She ends up leaving on a positive note and seems legitimately happy, especially since she’ll be with her brother, and her aunt and uncle bought her a puppy.

Subplot: SMS is having an auction to raise money for new computers. It’s supposed to be all student donations, and the BSC tries to come up with something cool to donate. This desire grows stronger when Cokie Mason gets her hands on a certificate for an unlimited 3-minute shopping spree at some music store, and makes that her donation. Cokie keeps going around bragging about it, which pisses off the BSC. Kristy gets the idea to write to celebrities asking for memorabilia to use as donations. The week before the auction, they get all sorts of responses, including a jacket that Cam Geary wore in his latest movie and a baseball signed by every player on the team that “just” won the pennant. So, even though it’s “not a competition,” the BSC pretty much upstage Cokie at the auction.

  • Claudia outfit: “She was wearing purple-and-white-striped tights, Doc Martins…a short black ruffly skirt that looked like it was part of a women’s Olympic figure-skater’s costume, a purple cropped sweater with silver button covers on the black buttons, and a scrunchy black velvet hat decorated with purple and red velvet flowers.” I actually think that sounds like something you could see today.
  • Stacey outfit: “Today she had pulled her blonde permed hair back into a complicated braid threaded with green ribbon. The ribbon matched her shoes. She was wearing silver Capri pants, and oversized shirt with a green belt, a green checked short skirt, and gold leaf-shaped earrings.” Except for the silver pants with gold earrings, I kind of like it.
  • The BSC’s description of foster families seems a bit white washed. They say that foster kids stay with families until relatives are found or until they are adopted. And that maybe some kids have to stay in foster homes until they are adults.
  • On Lou’s first day she needs to walk back to the car to get her stuff. So, she jumps on the hood of the car, walks up the windshield to the roof, and then does a flip-type thing to slide into the (open) door. I guess this was supposed to show she was a bad-ass, but I think it kind of sounds like fun.
  • Mallory asks if Lou was as bad as the Barretts back when they were the “Impossible Three.” Which really isn’t fair. It was only hard sitting for the Barretts because of Mrs. Barrett. The kids didn’t really act up.
  • I remembered this as soon as I started reading it….Hannie’s home work assignment was all centered around dinosaurs. She had math problems, writing, spelling, and art about them. I remember thinking that it was kind of a cool way to teach/learn, although I’m curious how it was worked into math.
  • Karen and her friends spend the whole book building and decorating a playhouse, and during her freak out, Lou just totally trashes it.
  • On a sitting job Jessi thinks how younger kids admirer older kids or stuff they do, just because they’re older. I just find it funny because I’m pretty sure Jessi and Mallory are both like that themselves.
  • There’s a slightly humorous scene when Kristy’s searching her attic (for auction donations). She’s trying to talk her younger siblings into helping, but Karen’s all, “oh no, the ghost of Ben Brewer will get us.” So, David Michael replies, “I thought Ben haunted his bedroom, is he going to bother us in the attic too?” This causes Kristy to reply that “Ben’s not going to leave his bedroom.” And Andrew took that’s confirmation that there was a ghost somewhere and refused to help. I can just picture that scene so easily.
  • At a sleep-over, the BSC tries Fritos dipped in butterscotch. That sounds extremely disgusting. But, it does give me flashbacks to sleepovers I had at age eleven.
  • Lou really doesn’t seem bad enough to be the worst kid Kristy ever met.
  • When the social worker tells Lou about her aunt and uncle, and Lou flips out, the social worker just turns to Kristy expecting her to calm Lou down. Isn’t a social worker supposed to be trained to deal with situations like that?
  • The social worker “finds” Lou’s father’s brother and his wife, and says they were excited to hear about Lou and her brother. But why did they “just hear” of the kids? Had the uncle just not talk to his brother for ten-years? Did he not know his brother died?
  • At Lou’s good-bye party, Karen starts telling Lou about Morbidda Destiny. So, are we supposed to believe that Karen knew Lou for weeks, and never mentioned the whole witch for a neighbor thing? It’s usually the first thing she tells people.
  • Why would celebrities donate so much stuff for some random middle school? I mean, I’m sure they get requests for much bigger causes than computers for kids in Connecticut.
  • So, of course, most of the celebrity donations match the girls personalities…Mallory gets a blanket worn by the horse that just won the Kentucky Derby and an autographed set of books from some author she likes, Jessi gets toe shows from some ballerina, Mary Anne gets the Cam Geary jacket, etc. The only surprise is that Stacey gets the autographed baseball.
  • I’m not an animal person, so I could be off on this….but who would want a blanket worn by a horse?
  • The BSC members are really very goody-goody aren’t they? They all mail Lou letters before she left, so she’d have them to read when she first arrives at her aunt and uncle’s home. I mean, it’s really nice of them to do that, but I can’t believe that these girls are all so thoughtful about stuff all the time.
  • According to Stacey the highest ticket item at the auction is 24 hours of baby-sitting that the girls donated. We don’t hear the price, but we know it’s over $100, because Cam’s jacket reached that high. Why would someone bid so highly on that? I guess it’s someone’s excuse to make a donation, but it’s just annoying to portray the BSC as being so wonderful that they bring in money like that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I’ve divided the eighth grade into teams”….BSC Mystery # 20: Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery

Memory Reaction

I don’t remember the exact resolution to this mystery, but it’s one of those books where one scene stands out vividly in my memory. In this case, it’s when Matt Braddock tries to “talk” to some gorillas in sign language. The BSC had hoped the gorillas would be able to report the culprit (who’s guilty of letting animals out of cages). I know that Matt asks them and the gorillas give a weird answer that doesn’t seem to be remotely useful. But then at the end, someone points out that whatever word the gorillas were signing could have been a clue. However, I don’t think they really know this for sure since no one could really ask the gorilla for clarification.

Revisited Reaction

The eighth-graders at SMS have a new science project where groups of three students observe animals and create a report about them….with no additional research allowed. They set up some kind of partnership with the nearby zoo, so kids can have access to animals. (They can also observe their pets, but most students seem to pick going to the zoo). There are two gorillas from the San Diego Zoo on loan to the zoo, so they get a lot of attention from the students (and the regular zoo customers).

Claudia, Dawn, and Logan are in one group, while poor Mary Anne’s stuck with Alan Gray and Howie Johnson (a friend of Alan’s). Kristy ends up with Stacey, but she’s unhappy about it because this is during the time Stacey had left the club. Because she’s so mature, Kristy decides that she and their other group member should just watch their own dogs and write about them separately. She makes the other group member tell Stacey she needs to find someone else’s dog to observe. Nice.

This leaves us with Claudia, Dawn, Logan, and Mary Anne at the zoo all the time. Alan and Howie are there too, but don’t get as much screen time as the others. The boys are getting competitive, because the group members with the “best” project get extra credit and passes to some water park. Mary Anne feels in the middle and is upset about it, but waits until the book’s almost over to tell Logan. But when she does he’s sensitive about it and says he’ll tone down the competitive stuff. But neither group ends up winning.

But to get to the actual “mystery”……One day, an animal gets let out of its cage. This doesn’t seem like a real mystery, but it’s probably more realistic than when the BSC’s battling counterfeiters. After additional animals are set loose, they girls try to figure out who’s letting them go, but don’t get very far. The suspects are a group of protesters (who think zoos are cruel) and some “weird” couple that wears matching sweatsuits and hangs out at the zoo a lot.

The SMS students all have fake keys to the zoo, that open information kiosks by each animal. Supposedly these look just like the real keys that zoo staff uses on the animal cages, and Mary Anne realizes that her key has been switched with a real one. She thinks Alan had something to do with it, but it turns out it was actually Howie. He admits that he found the real zoo key and accidentally let one of the animals out. However, he didn’t let out the others, so there’s still a culprit to catch. Then Mary Ann and Logan realize that the assistant to the zoo director lied about where he was when one of the animals was released. They tell the zoo director, who sets up a sting operation…and with the help of the BSC the guy gets caught.

The subplot’s about how some shopping center in Stamford has a baby elephant living in a little cage, to promote the place. Animal rights groups are raising money to buy the animal and send him to a habitat where it has more space. The BSC gets their charges involved by making and selling buttons and t-shirts, plus having a walk-a-thon. And of course, by the end they raise a bunch of money and save the elephant.


  • Mary Anne gets screwed in all these group projects. There’s another book where she ends up with Logan (while they are broken up) and Cokie Mason.
  • I knew there was a book where this happened, but I wasn’t sure which one. Kristy sees Stacey baby-sitting for Charlotte and is all, “but you’re not in the BSC. How can you baby sit?” I remember being a bit annoyed at her attitude because it was so ridiculous.
  • SMS always seems to be giving fun/interesting projects to their students, but I kind of wonder about the effectiveness of this one. The kids are supposed to do reports based only on observation, but how much can they really observe by going to the zoo after school and on weekends?
  • Mallory and Jessi seem a bit more forgiving towards Stacey than the other girls, which I guess makes sense. They weren’t quite as involved with the drama as the others, and they sometimes were impressed with the older girls, just for being 13.
  • The girls realize at the last minute they don’t have a way to play music for the elephant walk-a-thon. Jessi’s relieved when someone says Stacey has a good boom box, until Claud reminds her that they’re not speaking to Stacey. So, Jessi calls Becca, then Becca calls Charlotte, than Charlotte calls Stacey to ask about borrowing it. This sounds ridiculous, yet realistic.
  • Stacey lets them use her boom box, but insists on coming to the walk-a-thon and pulling the wagon holding the box. Kristy’s all annoyed, but I think it’s actually nice of Stacey to be willing to help. Of course, I don’t know if she did it because she really cared about the elephant or wanted to annoy Kristy.
  • There’s a scene where Mary Anne accuses Alan of letting the animals out of the cage, and he’s just like, “What the hell are you talking about?” These girls are always trying to be all serious about their detective skills, so it made me laugh that Alan seemed clueless that an investigation was even happening.
  • Alan really needs extra credit in Science, so he gets a book from the library on the Emu (on of the animals they’re observing) to add to his observation. But Mary Anne finds out and at the last minute they switch to another animal so they can do the assignment fairly. It’s so last minute that they can’t pick a zoo animal and have to follow Tigger around for a weekend.
  • I’m not sure why Mary Anne was surprised to find out Alan had used a book for his research. He’s “observing” an Emu, and writes down the bird’s weight, how much food it eats, how it swallows food, and the fact that it uses dirt to get rid of parasites on its body. He CLEARLY didn’t get that from looking at an animal in a cage.
  • Shawna Riverson’s in the group that gets the “best project” prize. The BSC thinks they cheated (because the girls didn’t see how someone could write a 50-page report on observation alone). But no one bothers mentioning that Shawna has cheated before.
  • Of course, the BSC decides to bring their sitting charges along with them to the zoo so they can still baby-sit.
  • The gorilla’s at the zoo know sign language, so Jessi brings Matt Braddock to the zoo to “talk” to them. She has him ask the gorilla who let the animals out of their cages. But a) Isn’t Jessi really good at sign language too? Why didn’t she just sign to them herself? And b) Isn’t it kind of mean to invite Matt to go to the zoo just because you want him to translate for you? I’m sure he enjoyed it, but still.
  • Alan complains about the price of soda at the zoo being one dollar, but that doesn’t seem too expensive to me. It’s not cheap, but it’s not horrible. Alan only had a quarter with him, and he seems surprised that he couldn’t afford one. I can’t imagine a place where that was enough for a soda (even in 1995).
  • There are actually quite a few scenes where people complain about prices of things inside the zoo. I’m not sure if there’s any hidden meaning to that.
  • When Mary Anne sees a picture of the gorillas and says they’re cute, Dawn tells her that she thinks all four-legged creatures are cute. Which may be true, but it’s a bit irrelevant in this context, since gorillas actually have two legs.
  • There’s an exhibit at the zoo where elephants paint “pictures” with their trunks. I don’t know if it’s realistic but it sounds like it would be kind of fun to watch.
  • Of course there are protestors at the zoo (they don’t think animals should be locked up) and of course the girls suspect them of letting the animals go. What’s up with the BSC always suspecting protestors?
  • Oh, and the weird couple with the matching sweats? They are trying to figure how much it would cost some crazy rich guy to build a zoo on his estate in New Hampshire.
  • The director’s assistant’s reason for committing these horrible crimes? He wanted his boss’s job, so he was trying to make her look bad.
  • During the “sting” security people actually dress as gorillas. That seems a bit extreme.
  • Also during this sting, the zoo director wants to make sure someone with a camera’s around to get pictures of the assistant in the act. So, she asks Claudia. Because that’s an appropriate thing for a thirteen-year-old to do.
  • In the backstory chapter, Mary Anne’s talking about the Schafers moving to Connecticut and says “my ten-year-old brother never adjusted….” I know technically he’s her step-brother, but I think this was supposed to be Dawn’s line. Do you think the ghostwriters actually have a template where they just go in and switch who’s saying I?
  • I don’t have much to say about the subplot, but it seems a bit weak. A shopping mall bought an elephant for publicity? How does an elephant promote a shopping mall?
  • How much money would it take to buy an elephant (from the mall) and send it to a habitat? They raise enough with the kids’ efforts plus a donation from a “wealthy benefactor,” but I’m guessing the benefactor paid for the majority of it.