Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“You don’t know how many ways I’ve been thinking about this”……BSC # 113: Claudia Makes Up Her Mind

Memory Reaction

Didn’t get to this one before.

Revisited Reaction

Claudia’s guidance counselor calls her into her office and tells her the school thinks she should be moved back to 8th grade. This is based on the fact that she’s doing well in 7th, and they think her cognitive skills are stronger that the other students in her (current) grade.  Apparently, all her teachers think this makes sense, even though she’ll have to have extra tutoring to catch up with what she missed in the 8th grade courses while being back in 7th.  This is where logic starts to go crazy, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Anyway, they decide to let Claudia make the decision herself, because otherwise the story would end in chapter 3.  Claud talks to all her friends about what they think and keeps debating with herself.  Obviously her friends from 7th grade want her to stay with them, while the BSC wants her to come back to 8th.

At the same time, the school is having a “Color War” where the three grades compete in random events like 3-legged races, a drawing contest, a limerick writing contest, and a math contest.  The winning grade gets to pick a charity that the Stoneybrook Chamber of Commerce will donate money to.  Claudia signs herself and her boyfriend, Mark, up to be 7th grade coordinators, which means they get to help pick out events and decorate.  He doesn’t really want to, but goes along with it for Claudia, which is consistent with how they first met.

Mark, by the way, says he doesn’t care which grade Claudia goes with since either way they’d be in the same school.  There are ways one could say this and seem really nice and supportive, but he doesn’t accomplish that.  This is only one sign Claud sees that Mark can be a bit of a jerk.  He also keeps canceling plans with her and forgetting when he was supposed to meet her.  Meanwhile, her friend Josh is totally in love with her and she’s too much of an idiot to see it.  But, one of their other friends finally clues her in.   Claudia didn’t think she had feelings for him, but after she hears about his, she questions herself.  She and Mark end up breaking up, but are pretty amicable and mature about it.   It’s not totally about Josh, it’s just that it’s not working for them anymore.

At the end, Claudia chooses to go back to 8th grade, but vows she will stay friends with her new 7th grade friends.  I still haven’t learned their names.  It still doesn’t matter.  She also kisses Josh.  And before she switches back she helps lead the 7th grade to victory in the stupid color war.

Subplot:  So, when the kids in town hear about the SMS color war, they decide they want to have one of their own, where different families compete on teams.  The BSC agrees to help organize one.  But, before they make any real plans, the kids just announce that they’ve already decide when to start it.  When the girls arrive at sitting jobs, their charges go, “time to go to the park to start the war.”  It’s kind of funny seeing the sitters thrown off like that.  But the war goes on for a couple weeks, so they get a better of a handle on things.


  • Here’s the problem with this whole premise.  Claudia started 8th grade and was doing poorly because she didn’t have a good enough grasp on the base knowledge/skills she needed to learn the content.  She went back to 7th grade, and since it was her second time around, was actually able to pick up the concepts she had struggled with before.  But moving her back to 8th grade in November means that she only gained SOME of those base skills.  On top of that, she’s now missed a couple months of 8th grade, so won’t she now struggle even more than when it was the beginning of the school year?  The guidance counselor says there will be tutoring, but if that’s all it takes, why didn’t they just do that before? 
  • This book takes place in November.  When she was originally moved back it was Octoberish.  So, in some ways she wasn’t back for long.  But there was a Christmas and also a summer vacation between this one and when she was first sent back.  I would complain about this more, but there’s no point, since the premise wouldn’t make sense even IF the timeline was logical.
  • Claudia tells us that teachers call her “right-brained overdeveloped.”  That’s an…interesting term for it.
  • Claudia outfit: “I was wearing a dark plaid skirt…purple leggings; high, lace-up boots; a long-sleeved, white linen shirt with a solid black tie; and an oversized man’s vest.”
  • The kids actually team up with other families to create even teams: One team combines the Kuhn kids and the Papadakis kids, and this seems to be at their choosing.  Which seems a bit weird, because how do they even know each other?  I guess from the Krushers?  But they go to different schools, live in different neighborhoods, and it’s November, so not softball season.  It just seems off.
  • I actually think it’s a little insensitive of the BSC to encourage Claudia to come back to 8th grade.  I can certainly see why they’d want her to, but when Claud worries that she might have a hard time, the other girls are like, “we’ll help you, you’ll do fine.”  But the truth is that Claudia might really need to be back in 7th grade and the BSC won’t provide the help she needs.  They don’t really consider that just because they can do something doesn’t mean Claud can.
  • There’s a reference to Kristy not liking Mark, which I like because it’s a reference to a previous book.  I know I’ve mentioned things like this before, but I always like it.
  • The reason Claudia’s inspired to sign up as the 7th Grade Color War Coordinator’s because she hears that the class had picked orange as their color, and thinks it will look horrible on everyone.  I hate that color as well, but I don’t wear clothes as crazy as Claudia’s.  I’m sure she’s worn orange before.
  • The colors were selected by vote, so it does seem weird that the majority of them would pick orange.  It’s not your typical favorite color.  The other grades picked blue and white, which are a bit more normal.
  • Claudia had voted for black as the 7th grade’s color. If you care (cause I kinda did).
  • When Stacey hears about Claud’s dilemma, she has to point out that a one-year difference will continue throughout school….that they’d be starting high school, graduating, going to college, etc. at different times.  Maybe not realizing this is a sign that Claud should be staying in 7th grade?
  • I love that over 100 books into this series we are still hearing about school traditions/events that have never been mentioned before.  
  • Claudia’s aunt and uncle drop by for a visit, and we find out the Kishis set up a crib, rocking chair, and other baby stuff.  Would people really do that?  Keep a crib just for visiting relatives?
  • The slogans each grade came up with for their team are: “Fight for White,” “Blue Rules, and “Orange You Glad You’re in 7th Grade.”  I only mention these, because Josh is the one who came up with the seventh grade one, and it makes me like him a bit more.  Not that it’s a great slogan, but because it’s at least SOMETHING cute to do with a word that rhymes with almost nothing.
  • As prizes for the little kids color war, Abby’s mother donates children’s books from the publishing company she works for.   The day of the last event, she drives home and goes straight to the park to give them out as prizes.  When she does, she points out (good naturedly) how much of a pain it was to drive back from the city.  But why did she have to do this?  Couldn't she have just brought them home with her on a previous day, so it wouldn't be any extra trouble?  
  • And doesn't she usually take the train?  She did in that book where Abby and Anna thought she was in that train accident or something.  Maybe they’re claiming that she drove that day to get the books since there were too many to carry on the train?  But why not split them up? 
  • The BSC claims that all the kids’ teams tied in their Color War. I can see wanting everyone to get a prize, but to have it be a tie overall?  Would the kids even buy that?
  • Claudia said she used to think “stoic” meant old, because she heard people refer to Mimi that way.  That made me laugh, did Claud really think that people were always talking about how old Mimi was? 


HelenB said...

Your poll question this week has actually really got me thinking! Stacey's the only BSC member we're ever told is particularly good at an academic subject, but that's only maths - and it's not like you're doing particularly complicated maths at 13, really.

MA seems to me like she'd be the most conscientious worker, and probably do well at school because of that, but that's not the same as being "smart". Kristy, maybe? her being the "ideas" person makes me think that she could probably grasp new concepts quickly and be a good problem solver, too.

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