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.
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.