I actually couldn’t remember if I read this as a kid. I feel like I did, just because the cover looked so familiar, but wasn’t totally sure. I remember the last regular book I read, but not the last mystery. And this one falls right between the last one I definitely remembered and the first one I definitely didn’t read.
However, once I started reading it, I remembered how it ended, so it turns out I guess I did read it. As soon as the mentioned a signature in green chalk I remembered how the culprit was color blind. But it clearly didn’t make that big of an impression on me, since that memory didn’t hit until I’d started reading.
One day in school, Cary Retlin takes Kristy’s math homework out of her bag and erases all her answers. This leads to an argument between the two of them about whether the girls in the BSC are better detectives than Cary and his friends (the Mischief Knights). Cary totally mocks Kristy when she talks about the BSC having “investigations.” It’s kind of awesome. Anyway, by the end of the conversation, Cary has challenged the BSC to a “mystery challenge,” where he’ll provide a clue that the BSC needs to figure out to find another clue, then another, etc. If they solve all 8 of them within 6 school days, Cary will stop bugging them. If they don’t…..Cary will keep the watch he stole from Kristy. Anyway, Kristy accepts on behalf of the BSC, who are all eager to win.
Meanwhile, someone’s playing some serious pranks around school, including graffiti-ing the principal’s car and some other acts of vandalism. It appears as though this was the work of the Mischief Knights….the graffiti is signed with their traditional “MK.” However, they always sign their work in red, and the more recent pranks are being signed in green. This happens to occur while the teachers at SMS are negotiating a new contract. The chairman of the negotiating committee for the school board claims that the teachers don’t have a right to more money when they can’t control the students (evidenced by the prank/vandalism). There are threats of a strike and since it’s June, everyone’s worried that they’ll need to go back to school over the summer to make up for lost days.
Kristy’s convinced that Cary’s involved, and she even tells the principal about it, but Cary turns out to be innocent (of these more recent pranks, anyway). He’s understandable annoyed that Kristy did that, and she feels a little guilty. But they patch things up enough to continue their “mystery.” The last clue tells the BSC they need to determine who’s trying to frame the Mischief Knights, which the girls had been trying to figure out anyway. Mary Anne figures out that this person must be color blind, hence mixing up the red and green. And Claudia decides it must be this one often-in-trouble guy who has a horrible sense of fashion. But to get proof, they ask Cary to break into the guy’s locker, even though getting his help means forfeiting the challenge.
The reason they’re willing to do this is that the strike’s supposed to start the next day, and the BSC thinks catching the person behind all the vandalism will stop it. Once Cary and the BSC have proof, they go to the school principal, who calls an emergency school board meeting to announce the prankster has been caught and will be dealt with. This somehow gets the school board to stop harping on the behavior issues, which helps the negotiations and the teachers agree not to strike.
And since the BSC didn’t win, Cary continues to annoy Kristy. At least until he matures a couple years and just asks her out.
- Here’s what I don’t get. This color blind kid uses green chalk to leave the MK’s trademark, because he doesn’t realize that he isn’t using red. But, if he’s color blind, wouldn’t he have seen any previous MK signature as green? So, when he tries to copy it, it wouldn’t matter that he’s color blind because he’d still know what looks the same to himself. And if someone just told him the signature was always red, he should have known that he doesn’t see red the same as everyone else.
- Pranks are one thing, but it kind of sucks to erase all the answers from someone’s homework.
- Cary challenges the girls to a “mystery,” but it’s really not. The clues he give them are mini-logic puzzles that direct them to an area of the school (like the auditorium), where they find another piece of paper with a new puzzle. The last clue’s about an actual mystery, but that’s not until the last day.
- I don’t think it’s totally fair for Cary to say the girls forfeited the challenge by asking for his help. The clue said, “bring me the head of the false Mischief Knight.” They go to him and give him the name of this person. The proof was needed to go to the principal, but it wasn’t a requirement of Cary’s clue.
- Claudia outfit: “Today she was wearing pink jellies, white ankle socks with pink hearts around the edges, and majorly baggy white overalls cut off just below the knee, over a tie-dyed pink, green, and yellow T-shirt.” And this is the girl who calls the color-blind kid a fashion victim.
- I don’t really follow the logic behind how catching the vandal stops the teacher strike. But whatever.
- I love when Cary mocks Kristy for saying the BSC has “investigations.” Because by this point in the series the BSC was taking their detective work a little too seriously.
- So, the challenge from Cary inspires Kristy to have a scavenger hunt for the kids they sit for. Because they wouldn’t be good baby-sitters if they weren’t going out of their way to do fun projects with little kids.
- Stacey outfit: “She was wearing black leggings, side-zippered flat black ankle boots with pointed toes, a silver-threaded T-shirt dress that stopped at mid-thigh, and heart earrings.” I actually like this, but it seems too wintery for June.
- I hate how one-dimensional these girls sometimes are. They’re coming up with themes for these scavenger hunts, and we get the following suggestions: dance, art, and sports. I bet you have no idea who made them, huh?
- The thing about the kids scavenger hunt’s that they have 3 separate ones with two teams each. But in each hunt they have a different list of clues. So, it makes no sense that at the end they try and come up with winners out of all six teams.
- I thought most of Cary’s clue were pretty obvious, and thought it took the girls forever to solve….but I suppose that isn’t totally fair, since I may have been remembering the answers.
- One of the clues references, “toasted gloves and barbequed bats,” which Kristy realizes is about the shed she thought she had helped burn down. What I like about it’s that the other girls all get quiet when Abby goes, “wow, a shed burned down” because they know the whole story, but she doesn’t, since it was before she moved there.
- One of the kid’s scavenger hunts includes an item that “stinks” about sports, which one teams translates into sweat socks. So, they go to Mrs. Porter’s house and ask her for some. Because they know she’s such an athlete?
- I think this may be the first time Mrs. Porter’s been mentioned without getting the story about Karen thinking she’s a witch.
- One of the clues has the girls going to the boiler room of the school. Now, are places like that normally open to students? They acknowledge that they probably aren’t supposed to be there, but I would think it would actually be locked.
- Another clue’s a reference back to when Claudia ran a personals column at the school paper. For someone who just moved to town, Cary has a really good sense of BSC history. He must have read the books.
- I also like that they mention Claudia PREVIOSULY working for the paper, and don’t try to make it seem like it was still happening.
- Kristy worries about ruining fingerprints when she searches vandal-kid’s locker. Because all middle schools run fingerprints?
- Cary’s rather amusing....he has the clues placed in envelopes at various places around the school, and one of them is labeled as “Le Clue.” He also calls them the BSCPD. He’s a big improvement over Alan Gray.
- So, an example of the clues from Cary: “a drop of golden sun; just short of failing; a skater’s figure; not him, you see, but; (where does it all come from?). This translates to “Re; D; 8; Her” or radiator and the school’s boiler room.