I didn’t read this one as a kid, but I do remember Lou and like that they did a follow up book.
So, Lou McNally, the Papadakis’s old foster child’s back in town. Her aunt and uncle have now adopted her and her brother and bought a house in Stoneybrook. Abby gets a job sitting for them, and she’s worried about whether Lou’s still “the worst kid ever.” But as it turns out, Lou’s very polite and well behaved this time around. In fact, she’s so well-behaved she starts driving Abby crazy.
Abby’s also working on a project for Black History Month because she needs extra credit at school. She decides she wants to involve little kids in her project, because she’s kind of crazy. And because it’s the BSC and that’s what they do. She ends up asking Lou and her brother to help out, along with some other kids in town. They’re making a mock news show about escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad to get to freedom (using Dawn’s secret passage).
Lou tries to be really helpful with the project, but she keeps accidentally screwing things up. She almost drops the camera, she walks into the middle of scenes, and she’s constantly popping up asking what she can do to help and annoying Abby. She also keeps apologizing for every little thing. Finally, Abby reaches her breaking point and tells her to lighten up. Lou takes this advice to heart and starts acting up again. Not nearly as badly as in her original book, but she keeps trying to scare people by jumping out at them. Then, she accidentally drops a plate and it breaks. Not because she was doing anything wrong, she just dropped it while setting the table. She’s all panicked that her aunt and uncle will “send her back” because she’s bad. Her brother and Abby try to tell her this won’t happen. Then when the aunt and uncle get home, the brother tells them what Lou’s worried about. Of course the aunt and uncle are very reassuring, and I guess that settles things. And I know you’ll be surprised to hear this, but Abby’s project’s a huge success.
The subplot’s that the Addisons are moving out of Stoneybrook. The BSC wants to help them out with move stuff and to say good-bye. Corrie’s all sweet about it, however, Sean doesn’t believe the BSC will miss him because he’s caused so much trouble for them. They spend way too much time trying to convince him otherwise, and eventually they succeed. It’s a very nice goodbye, considering the Addisons aren’t one of the series most prominent clients. And Abby tells us how Stoneybrook now really feels like her home.
- In the first chapter, Abby’s thinking about Kristy and how she has a soft spot for “bad kids,” then randomly mentions Lou as an example. It made me laugh because Abby didn’t even know Lou, so the statement comes out of nowhere. It’s like on a TV show when they have a “previously on…” and show something from two seasons ago, so you know it’s going to be brought up again. Of course with this book we knew that anyway since it’s on the cover.
- At a BSC meeting, Claud’s has a bag of M&Ms and is separating out the green ones to eat. Interesting.
- Outfit 1: “Stacey was wearing a cropped sweater in dark green-blue that looked good with her blue eyes. She also had on a short skirt (black faux suede), pale blue tights, and very cool-looking black suede boots that came to just above her knees. Tiny gold knot earrings completed her ensemble.”
- Outfit 2: “Claudia had decided to wear red. That meant she had on a red tunic with an orange-red braided belt (that she had made herself, naturally). Her leggings were a rose-pink color, and she had on black shiny flats with tiny rosettes on the toe. She’d pulled her hair back with a large red silk scarf that matched the tunic. Her earrings were silver snowflakes, also homemade.”
- Abby hears that the McNally’s are moving in at the same time as the Addisons are moving out and assumes the McNally’s are moving into their house. Which actually seems like a weird assumption, but whatever. This isn’t actually the case, as the child abuser from the next book’s moving into the Addisons. We get introduced to him and his kids here.
- Nicky Pike’s the one who suggests doing a project on the Underground Railroad, using Dawn/Mary Anne’s house. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I thought it made sense he would think of this because he found the passage before anyone else.
- Abby references Jenny Prezzioso, saying she was once nicknamed “Miss Priss” because she went through a phase where she had to wear very dressy clothes. This, again, is something that happened before Abby was in town. Which may be why it’s inaccurate – the reference is that Lou’s dressing in the same style as Jenny, when Lou’s wearing corduroys and a sweater. Maybe she just meant that’s Lou’s version of dressing up? The way extra lacey dresses were Jenny’s?
- The girls offer to do anything Sean wants for an hour to convince him they don’t hate him. He makes the girls take him sledding and actually pull him back up the hill while he’s sitting on the sled. After they finish, Stacey says “Wow, that was hard work, I’m glad we’re done,” (meaning physically pulling him on the sled), but it erases all the good will they just got.
- Honestly, I don’t know why they care so much about Sean. Just let the kid think you don’t like him. Who cares? He’s leaving town so it isn’t like he’s causing you any trouble now. He’s not going to be scarred for life because he thinks his old baby-sitters weren’t big fans. He’s got way too many issues with his parents for that.
- Also, it’s not great precedent to tell someone you’ll do anything they want to get them to like you.
- In the club notebook, Claudia comments that it’s “strange” that spending time with Corrie made her think of Mimi. But that’s not strange at all, considering Corrie was a pretty big part of her life at the time Mimi died.
- Mary Anne’s sitting for the Addisons and the parents suggest ordering pizza for dinner. Mary Anne asks if they can make it instead, which they say is fine. Then she looks around the kitchen and finds pizza dough and sauce all ready to use. Who keeps stuff like that in their house, especially when they are packing up to move?
- Why didn’t the Papadakises ever get another foster child?
- Abby refers to something as “Easy as pie,” and Stacey’s all “Pi r squared,” while Claudia’s all, “what flavor?” For some reason that made me laugh. I know, I am a nerd.
- When they’re at the library, Stacey picks up a book called “Finance for Dummies” then reads it and keeps laughing. I don’t remember Stacey being such a math dork in the earlier books, just that she was good at it/liked the subject. But I really like that they’ve raised the bar with it, just because it shows you the popular/sophisticated/fashionable one can still be smart.
- What is it with Abby and February? She starts this book by complaining that you can’t really play sports in winter and talking about the number of holidays in February. There’s at least two other books where she talks about disliking the month and/or needing something to do to get through it.
- Claudia helps Corrie make this huge map of Stoneybrook, with pictures of key events/places on it as a memento. It’s very elaborate with all kind of things glued on. I feel like I’ve seen them do a big map like that as a goodbye for someone else too. Maybe one of the times Dawn left?
- Lou seems to really believe her aunt and uncle will “give her back.” Probably a realistic fear for someone in her situation. My only issue with this is how much time are we supposed to think has passed since her original book and now? Wouldn’t someone have picked up that she was having an issue and talked to her by now? Wouldn’t a kid like that probably need/get some kind of counseling anyway?