Monday, September 17, 2012

“Why couldn’t they have planned it on a different weekend?”…..BSC Super Special # 12: Here Come the Bridesmaids!

Memory Reaction
I remember reading the back of this book in the store and thinking, “why the hell would Mary Anne be a bridesmaid in Dawn’s father’s wedding?”  Except I may not have actually said “hell” since I didn’t curse that much as a kid.  But, in the actual book, Mary Anne isn’t a bridesmaid, which made me feel a little better about the whole thing.  I also remember thinking it was unrealistic that the BSC was so involved in Mrs. Barrett’s wedding.  That of course, does not get any better when you actually read the book.  Which may be why it was the last Super Special I read when it first came out.

The most important thing from this book though, is that it’s when Dawn came back from her “six month” stay in California.  Only a year-and-a-half had gone by in book time, and I was all proud of myself for being able to figure that out.  Looking back it was pretty obvious (she left at the beginning of the school year, was there in winter, summer, and then was going home on Christmas).

Revisited Reaction
Dawn’s father’s marrying his girlfriend Carol (in California).  After the wedding, Dawn’s coming back to Stoneybrook after her extended vacation with her dad.  Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne are flying out for the wedding, because all 13-year-olds fly across the country for weddings of people they barely know.   Back in Stoneybrook, Mrs. Barrett’s getting married too.  Since not all the girls can be at both weddings, Dawn decides to make a "wedding journal" about the whole thing. 

Dawn’s a bridesmaid in the wedding and she somehow gets it in her head that Mary Anne is too, although she forgets to share this information with Mary Anne.  So, when Mary Anne gets out there, Dawn just gives her the dress she picked out and Mary Anne’s all annoyed/stressed.  But as soon as she gets used to the idea, Carol and Mr. Schafer announce that Dawn and Jeff are the only two in the wedding party, and Mary Anne’s rightfully pissed at Dawn again.  But she gets over it, and she wears the dress that matches Dawn’s, even though she’s just a guest.  Which makes the cover fairly accurate.  

Stacey was hired to help watch the kids at the Barrett/DeWitt wedding.  But then Mrs. Barrett asks Stacey to be a bridesmaid because the old friend who was supposed to do it no longer can make it.  Stacey’s thrilled of course, and Shannon and Mallory end up watching the kids at the wedding.  It’s pretty drama-free.

Un wedding related events:
Jessi gets roped into being the Santa Claus at Bellairs (since this is all happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas).  It’s not as weird as it sounds, she’s just walking around the store in costume chatting with kids.  And it's a volunteer spot, so it’s not totally bizarre that they'd have to resort to the BSC when the guy who was supposed to do it backs out.  She’s super nervous, but ends up loving it.

Mallory and Ben Hobart make plans to go Christmas caroling with some kids.  At the last minute Mal gets asked to help at the Barrett wedding, so she has to cancel.  Ben’s mad at her for agreeing to do the wedding after agreeing to go caroling, and they have a big fight.  But they make up at the end and go caroling on a different day.  Thrilling, huh?

Jeff gets a couple chapters in this one.  He’s worried that his father will fire their housekeeper now that Carol’s moving in, and he’s annoyed that Carol’s bringing her “ugly” furniture into their house.  But since Carol’s a “slob” they are keeping the housekeeper and the moving van with Carol’s stuff gets stolen, so things all work out for him.  He's also annoyed by how much Dawn and her friends talk, which doesn’t stop, but you can’t have everything.  My summary sounds boring, but he's actually one of the more entertaining narrators.

Suzi Barrett gets to narrate as well.  She’s less entertaining, but she’s a step up from the usual Karen chapters.  She doesn’t want to move because she doesn’t like the new house.  She’s also worried that the new place doesn’t have a chimney and that Santa won’t know they moved.  She writes him a letter but doesn’t think he’ll read it in time.  Logan gives her the idea to put a trail of cookie crumbs from the old house to the new one, which Mrs. Barrett actually helps her do.  And of course, Santa shows up.

In California, Kristy's busy criticizing the We Love kids Club for being too lax.  Because there's no reason to come up with new storylines when you can revisit such an exciting old one.  Everyone sort of ignores her.  Then Sunny says she wants to throw a surprise going away party for Dawn, but hasn't really thought it through.  Kristy jumps in with her super-planning skills and helps make it happen.


  • They try and pretend that Stacey’s the BSC member who’s closest to the Barrett’s because she was a mother’s helper “lastsummer” and happened to be sitting when they picked out their house.  But it was really Dawn who had that specialconnection.
  • Stacey has a sitting job watching the Barrett/DeWitt kids at the new house they're moving into, while their parents are busy supervising workers.  She's supposed to keep the kids out of the way.  But I don't get why they brought all the kids.  If they were hiring a sitter anyway, why not have her stay at home with the kids? It'd be much easier to keep them out of the way.  Maybe it was because they could only get one sitter?
  • Also, Stacey has to keep all the kids outside so they don’t disturb the workers.  But it’s December.  It’s rather cold on the east coast around then.  You can certainly play outside, but it’s not the best time to spend a full day there.
  • Mary Anne has a to-do list for getting ready to go to California.  She actually wrote “kiss Tigger goodbye” on the list.  Seriously?
  • Did people not always need to get to the airport ahead of time?  Cause Kristy describes getting to the airport an hour before her flight as “early.”  But that seems pretty reasonable to me.
  • Quote from Jeff….”if you want to fight you can just do it with your friends.  Then you can go home and chill and not have to kiss and make up”….It sounds like something a ten-year-old boy would say.
  • Claudia’s parents originally say she can’t go to California because it’s too much money.  So, Mr. Schafer offers to pay for half if she helps with the wedding.  Cause they need her artistic genius of some crap like that.
  • Mary Anne’s surprised that Mr. Schafer and Carol are getting married on the beach.   I can buy that she’s never heard of a beach wedding before, since she’s kind of young and they’re not that common.  But wouldn’t she have heard that from Dawn?  Did they not have any conversations about the wedding?  At all? How did that not get mentioned?
  • It sounds like the wedding’s literally on the sand, not on some deck overlooking the beach like some weddings I’ve been too.  But I have to say, I was once at the beach when a couple came in and got married right in the middle of the crowd sitting there  People literally turned their chairs around to watch these complete strangers get married.  It seemed very unappealing to me.  Those pictures won’t be so scenic with random people in the background.
  • Why the hell would Dawn assume Mary Anne was a bridesmaid?  Seriously, that makes no sense.  First of all, Carol barely knows Mary Anne.  Secondly, she's the groom's ex-wife's step-daughter. I don't even get why Mary Anne WENT to the wedding.   In one of the later super specials, Mary Anne talks about how Mr. Schafer sometimes “jokingly” insults her father.  Which is a much more realistic scenario, no matter how mature people are being.  (And I don't think Dawn's parents were very mature about things).
  • Honestly, I’m surprised Carol would even want Dawn to be a bridesmaid, let alone her maid of honor.  They don’t exactly have a friendly past. Mr. Schafer must be great in bed.
  • Dawn claims she assumed she was "in charge of bridesmaids," but again, this makes no sense.  Also, why is Dawn picking out her bridesmaid dress with only her friends, two weeks before the wedding?  No matter how low-key the wedding is, I'd think the bride would want to see the dress, or have input on the color scheme or something.
  • Jessi talks about how dancers need to watch what they eat, but she doesn’t go too overboard with that.  But she adds…"I don't go crazy about my weight yet….I'll do that when I'm older."  I think I know what she meant, but it sounded like she's planning on eating disorder or something.
  • One of the kids Jessi talks to as Santa is a little girl who says she wants her pregnant mother to have a boy, so that he won't take her toys.   Jessi convinces the kid that a sister would be nice because when the baby’s old enough to play with her toys, she'd have outgrown them.  Then the mother whispers "how did you know," implying that the baby is, in fact, a girl.  But shouldn't Jessi have convinced her both would be okay?  
  • Buddy Barrett and Lindsay DeWitt are the only two kids in their parents’ wedding.  The others sit in the back of the church with Mallory and Shannon.   Now, that seems a bit mean to me.   I get that those kids are young, but if you’re getting married about have 7 kids age 8 and under, wouldn’t you try and make it a bit more kid friendly? 
  • They acknowledge that there are two people named Ryan DeWitt in BSC-land (a kid in California and Mrs. Barrett’s new stepson).  Want to bet that someone who worked on the books used the name of a real-life friend, but forgot and did it again?
  • Real children’s' literature shout out....someone's reading Freckle Juice.  I remember reading that book when I was little.  Cute story.
  • Dawn ate cake that was served at her going away party and she says she actually loved it.  
  • At the wedding reception, Claudia takes a picture of the girls in We Love Kids, shaking their fingers at people slicing the duck.  But if they eat fish and chicken would they really have a problem with duck?
  • Also, Dawn was originally a vegetarian because it was healthier not because of animal rights.  I can deal with them changing history on that, but since they did, they shouldn't have them still eat fish/chicken.  Because it makes sense for someone to only eat fish if it's for health reasons, but not if it's for animal rights?  Do fish and chickens not get the some courtesy as cows and pigs?
  • Fun fact: Mrs. Barrett guesses that Stacey’s a size 6 (when ordering her dress).   We don’t hear if it’s accurate though.
  • Mary Anne explains some of Dawn's idiocy about the bridesmaid thing by saying she’s being scatterbrained like her mother.  But Dawn was always the organized one who helped keep her mom sane.  That’s not just a continuity error, that’s changing a person’s whole character.  
  • Now, Mrs. Barrett, I can buy not remembering to ask Stacey about being a bridesmaid until the last minute (which she does).  
  • I’ve never actually been a bridesmaid, but I know many people who have.  Is it believable that Mrs. Barrett could order a bridesmaid dress for Stacey just a couple of days before the wedding?  I guess if it’s a standard-ish dress and doesn’t need any alterations it could work.
  • On the flight to California, Claudia, Kristy and Mary Anne get served Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Would they really do that on a plane?
  • Dawn and Jeff fly back to Connecticut ON Christmas.  That seems like an awful way to spend the holiday.  And with a six-hour flight, plus losing three hours for the time difference, I don’t get how they had time for two big celebrations.  But whatever.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

“Right now they were fitting together pretty well”……BSC # 123: Claudia’s Big Party

Memory Reaction
This is another one that I didn’t read as a kid.  Going through these later books is really messing up my format.
Revisited Reaction
Claudia’s back in 8th grade and enjoying it.  But, it means she has less time to spend with her seventh-grade friends, including her boyfriend, Josh.  She realizes that if her two groups of friends knew each other, it would be easier to balance her life. Just after she thinks this, her parents announce they’re going out-of-town for the weekend and are leaving Janine and Claudia alone.  Great timing, right? Their aunt and uncle (Peaches and Russ) are still busy with their baby, so they can’t stay with them, but will be around in case of emergencies.  And for busting the inevitable party, but we’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, Janine has been feeling lonely because she broke up with her boyfriend recently, but isn’t as close to her old friends as she used to be (because she spent all her time with him).  She’s kind of desperate to hang out with Claudia more, so, when Claud wants to have a party while their parents are away, Janine agrees.  The plan’s to have the BSC and her seventh-grade friends in one place to get to know each other.
Word gets out about the party and more people show up than expected. We’re not talking the whole school or anything like that, just a few extra people (Pete Black, Erica Blumberg, Emily Bernstein etc).  There’s not enough food, and people start spreading out over the house.  Claud had also made large cookies for them to decorate, which ends up making a mess, and someone breaks a vase.  Claud’s trying to keep everyone under control, but isn’t that successful.  Then Peaches and Russ stop by unexpectedly, see the party and are all disappointed.
Everyone leaves and Claud and Janine fight.  But they make up when Janine admits why she’s been lonely.   They tell their parents about the party, since Peaches and Russ would have anyway, and don’t get in too much trouble.  All their guests feel bad about the whole situation, so, they get together to buy a vase to replace one that was broken during the party.  Which gives them another chance to actually get to know each other.  So, it all works out perfectly.
There’s also a really boring subplot about how Bill and Melody Kormon are fighting a lot.  Eventually Mary Anne gets them to work together by pretending to be locked out of the house.  So, they’re being fairly nice to each other by the end.  It’s kind of annoying, because, sometimes, siblings just don’t get along and don’t become BFFs.  The BSC doesn’t have to save everyone that way.  And they shouldn’t act so scandalized at the fact that a brother and sister are arguing.

  • Seventh-grade friend outfit: “Black velour vest…red ribbon roses decorating the bottom edge. With her black jeans, black suede shoes, and a long-sleeved white shirt it made a very cool outfit.”  I think I had an outfit like that when I was younger.
  • Claudia outfit: “I’d worked hard on my outfit – a long black skirt, a white shirt with full sleeves, and a short vest that I’d covered with bright-colored buttons and bows. My hair was braided with strands of ribbons that matched the decorations.”  I did NOT have an outfit like that.  Although it doesn’t sound so bad.  Compared to Ms.Frizzle costumes anyway.
  • There’s a triple date between Claud/Josh, Mary Anne/Logan, and Stacey/Ethan.  Which is kind of cute, I guess.
  • Janine’s helping Claud with her homework, and she’s all, hey, “how about some C12H22O11?”  The translation of this is that it’s the chemical compound for sucrose, which is her way of asking for candy. Did she really expect Claud to pick up on that?  I do like that this is good continuity, Janine’s admitted to liking junk food before.  But she really needs to learn how to speak to her audience.
  • Mallory’s the one who broke the vase, so I’m not sure why everyone at the party chips in to buy the new one.  But whatever.
  • Janine refers to “channel swimming” when she’s looking for something to watch on TV. 
  • Claud tells Josh to come over before they go on their triple date, so they have time to hang out alone.  But like five minutes after he gets there it’s time to leave.  And they’re the last two arrive for the date. 
  • Janine’s reading a novel about chess, and talks about how mathematical it is.  I kind of wish they had her secretly reading trashy romance novels or VC Andrews or something.  Her hobbies don’t all need to be science related.
  • I think there was a whole book devoted to this, so I won’t complain about it too much now, but what’s with Claudia going back to 8th grade?  She was doing well back in 7th because they were right that she needed to relearn those “basics.”  Going back to 8th grade, in the middle of the year, means she only got half the basics, plus missed the first half of 8th grade.
  • At one of the BSC meetings, the girls are passing the notebook around.  Which makes me ask, do they only read/write in the notebook at meetings?  I always figured they wrote in it at home and passed it to one another each day.  But then I remembered they don’t bring BSC stuff to school, because of the PhantomCaller thing.  So, how do they fit it all in?  And if they’re only writing in it during meetings, why not just talk about it.
  • I thought it was weird when Mal says she got an 86 on a test and isn’t upset by it, since we recently heard about her being a super-good-student.  But Claudia points out it’s weird, and I realized it’s a set up for her going to boarding school in a couple books.
  • Peaches calls Claud and wants to talk to Janine, and Claud tells her to call the other line so Janine can answer in the kitchen.  I must be getting old, because that sounds a bit lazy to me.
  • Janine has gotten a modem for her computer and keeps talking about websites she’s found.  It feels strange since I was over the BSC by the time the internet became prevalent.
  • People in books/TV sure are lucky.  My parents never let me stay alone overnight when I was a teenager.  And I was such a goody-goody, I wouldn’t have had anyone over.
  • When Mary Anne, Kristy, and Abby hear about the party they ask if they can invite Logan, Shannon and Anna to the party, Claud says, “sure.” Then she adds “I’m leaving the asking up to you guys.”  The BSC thinks this means they should invite their “other friends,” but it’s a pretty weak explanation to me.  These girls almost never socialize with people outside their club or boyfriends, so it seems out of character for them to invite others.  Especially when Claudia told them the whole point was for her two sets of friends to meet.
  • Here’s proof Claudia should have stayed in seventh-grade.  She invites the six other regular BSC members and her four seventh-grade friends. When she hears about three additional people coming she thinks, “hmm, I guess that brings the total number of people to ten or eleven?”
  • Why do Bill and Melody have to be so happy together at the end?  Why not apologize but still not want to hang out together?
  • Claudia’s party outfit: “I slipped into the black pants, then pulled a black turtleneck over my head. I had a fleece top with turquoise, hot pink, and lime green stripes and one thin line of red. It was a boxy jacket style and looked festive.”
  • I like how the party’s described as wild/out of control, when there wasn’t more than 20 people at the thing.  They weren’t blasting music or drinking and having sex.  They were making a mess, but that’s not so outrageous.
  • Peaches had invited Claudia and Janine over for dinner the night of the party, and Claud gets out of it by saying she and Janine had “special sister plans.”  Janine overhears and actually thinks Claud was serious.  I find Janine so much more likable now than when I was a kid, and feel a little bad for her here. Back then I think I would have just thought she was an idiot.
  • When they tell their parents about the party, Mrs. Kishi asks if there was drinking. So even she was expecting more drama than we got in a book with “big party” in the title.