Missed this one as a kid. But I’m comfortable saying that I probably would have liked it even less then.
Kristy’s family has decided to become a “puppy walker” meaning they’ll raise a dog until it’s about a year old, and ready to go have regular training for becoming a guide dog. They’re inspired to do this by a co-worker of Watson’s, whose 12-year-old daughter just lost her eyesight to glaucoma. So, the dog they get is a chocolate Labrador retriever named Scout. We hear about Kristy going to pick up the dog and taking her to some obedience training class and other random places (including BSC meetings). There’s lots of talk about how cute the dog, is and what’s involved in training her. But honestly, it’s really boring, unless maybe you really love dogs or want to become a puppy walker yourself.
The only real plot is actually supposed to be the subplot. It centers on the girl who lost her sight and inspired the puppy walking. Her name’s Deb Cooper and all the BSC talks about her like they know her, but we’ve never heard about her before (unless she she’s mentioned in one of the books after #100 that I haven’t read). But, I guess they would have heard about what happened to her, since it’s a small town, so maybe that explains it. Anyway, she has two younger siblings and the BSC gets to sit for them. The two little boys are cute enough, and they feel bad for their sister, but don’t know how to act around her. Pretty realistic/typical I think.
Deb’s also at the house for a couple of the sitting jobs. She’s very bitter about the whole losing her vision thing, because that’s a pretty normal reaction. The whole thing’s very recent, so she hasn’t gone back to school yet and hasn’t let many people see her. She also hasn’t been given a cane or had much training in how to adapt. So, obviously, she’s not in a great place. The girls try to be nice to her, but don’t really know what to say and don’t get through to her. Then when Kristy’s at a sitting job, Deb says she wants to go to the video store (she likes listening to the movies). Kristy says they need to wait until Deb’s brothers are done with whatever game they’re playing. So, Deb tries walking there by herself and almost gets hit by a car. Kristy finds her and manages to talk her into being more open with people and letting them help her. But, they don’t make it seem like Deb is suddenly totally okay with being blind, which is surprisingly, but nice.
Meanwhile, one of Deb’s little brothers heard about Kristy being a “puppy walker” and wrote to the guide dog foundation about how to get a dog for Deb. They send back a pamphlet about the organization, and how Deb could get one when she turns 16. When he tells Deb about this, it seems to help make her feel better, but I’m not sure why her brother needed to be the one telling her about the idea of a guide dog. But whatever. At the end, the Cooper’s go with Kristy’s family to some celebration at the guide dog foundation.
- Shannon (the dog) is apparently still a puppy. Hasn’t it been like a hundred books since she was born?
- Kristy tries to close her eyes to see if she could tell the difference between different coins without looking. This totally made me think of a book I read in elementary school. It was about a boy who lost his sight while he and some other boys were playing with fireworks they found (it was around the 4th of July). I can’t remember the name of it, but there was a scene where he’s on a train going to a school for the blind, and all these people offer to help him count his money while buying lunch. But, he lists out how to tell the difference between the coins by touch. Then everyone on the train tries testing this out themselves. I still remember how he described each coin.
- Stacey outfit: “She had on black jeans, a black cropped cotton sweater, and soft, scrunchy ankle boots. The color made her blue eyes look dramatic, and her earrings, which were tiny coils of gold braid, finished the outfit.” I actually really like the sound of that.
- Claudia outfit: “She was wearing spring on her sleeves, almost literally. Her ensemble included a giant Hawaiian print shirt worn over hot pink bicycle shorts, hot-pink-and-lime-green socks, and an ancient pair of formerly black Doc Martens that she had painted in swirls of electric color. She’d knotted a pink plastic flower into each shoelace and pulled her hair back with another plastic flower. Her earrings, which of course she made herself, were dangling sprays of tiny, pink, green, and yellow beads.” Kristy says it sounds blinding….she’s right. No way anyone could look stunning in that, not even Claud.
- How come Stacey’s wearing boots and a sweater on the same day Claudia’s wearing bicycle shorts and a Hawaiian shirt?
- Being a guide dog in training means Scout’s allowed to go anywhere a guide dog can (in stores, offices, restaurants, etc). Kristy brings her to the supermarket, and this one woman starts freaking out and talking about how disgusting it is for the dog to be there. When the manager says, yes, a guide dog can be there, she walks out of the store and says she won’t shop there again. Then other people clap (I guess because the rude woman was gone?). It seems really unrealistic. I know Ann M. Martin likes to show closed-minded people in a negative light, but he applause about it seems a bit over the top. I can see complaining about a dog before you know it’s a guide dog, but that’s it. And I say this as someone who’s about as far from an animal lover as you can get.
- I kept thinking of that other book about the blind boy while I was reading this one. There’s also a scene where he meets his roommate at the school for the blind, doesn’t realize the guy’s an adult, and ends up brushing his teeth with the guy’s shaving cream. And this is totally unrelated, but looking back I don’t see how he couldn’t have known based on the voice. Or that no one would tell them.
- Also, does anyone know what book I’m talking about? It’s driving me crazy.
- Kristy says we’d be amazed at how many people say ‘it’s okay’ when Scout tries to jump on them, and that she has to tell them it’s not, because Scout’s in training. I don’t find that surprising in the least. I’d expect a lot of people would be fine with a dog greeting them. I wouldn’t, but again, I’m not the norm in that regard.
- When Kristy tells the BSC that Scout can go anywhere a person can? And they’re all, “really, even McDonalds?” And…”really, like the Ballet?” Those questions came from Jessi and Claudia. Can anyone guess who asked which?
- Random fact: Kristy’s favorite book’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
- The girls come up with this idea to “help Deb.” The plan for Mary Anne and Claudia to just show up with the Hobarts and the Kuhns (their sitting charges that day) at the Cooper’s when Kristy’s sitting. The idea’s to try and get her to be around other people. They figure that if it doesn’t work they can just leave, which is what happens. But this is a bad idea in so many ways. First of all, why would Deb want to hang out with little kids? She’s 12. Secondly, if Deb’s not ready to be around other people, or doesn’t want them seeing her, I think it’s pretty terrible to surprise her with visitors. Maybe a surprise like that would have been helpful at some point, but it isn’t really the BSCs’ call to make. Losing your vision’s pretty traumatic, I think she’s allowed to take some time to deal with it.
- Ben Hobart goes along on this visit, and I guess he’s closer to Deb’s age. But that doesn’t even make sense because why would the Hobarts need a sitter if Ben was home and willing to hang out with his brothers This is the second book where Ben’s been categorized with kids they sit for and I find it really, really odd.
- At a Krusher’s practice, Kristy says when they got to the school playground they saw no one had “claimed the baseball diamond.” But doesn’t Kristy have, like, permission to use it? That was what they said in the book where she formed the team. I always assumed that meant she had it reserved or something.