Sunday, March 9, 2008

Kristy's Great Idea

I thought I should start with the book that started them all, right?

Anyway, I want to do this thing where I write one short "review" before I reread the book, basically about what I remember about reading it as a kid. Then, I'll do a more snarky review based on my impressions now, to compare my reaction.

Memory Reaction
Two things stand out when I think back to Kristy's Great Idea.

1. I have this vivid memory of Kristy yelling out in school, because she was glad the day was over and having to write some essay about words she (or I) didn't understand.
2. Everyone thought Stacey was anorexic in this book because she wouldn't eat candy. Which I only remember because there is some other book where Jessi's friend actually DOES have anorexia and none of the girls have ever heard of it. When I read that book, it really bothered me because if they thought Stacey was anorexic, they obviously knew what it was, right? So, if a continuity error like that bothered me as a kid, I can't image how many will bother me now.

Revisited Reaction
You know how you always skipped chapter two of every book because it was a summary of the girls families and how the club started? Well, this entire book is where everything that is summarized in that chapter actually happens. I assume you know the story - Kristy's mom needs a baby-sitter and calls a bunch of people while her pizza gets cold. Kristy watches her and gets a "great idea" for a club, they start it, etc. etc. etc. The only decent part about reading this today is that it is kinda entertaining to see how things were described before everything got super formulatic/cliche. We do get to hear about each girl's first job:

Kristy - Sits for a couple dogs. Of course, she thinks it is going to be a couple of little kids so there is all this dialog right out of Three's Company where Kristy thinks someone is talking about keeping her children locked in a laundry room, or whatever.
Stacey - Sits for David Michael. And she meets Sam and flirts with him the whole time. Typical.
Mary Anne - Sits for Karen and Andrew. And gets scared when Karen tells her Mrs. Porter is a witch. Because, she is five, not twelve and actually believes in witches.
Claudia - Sits for Jamie Newton and his "bad" cousins. I think they show up a few times later in the series. The point of this job is that it teaches the girls to always ask who they will be sitting for - since Mrs. Newton didn't bother to tell Claudia there would be three extra kids around.

There is also a subplot going on: Kristy's mom is dating Watson, and Kristy HATES him. Seriously, she is a whiny little bitch to him and refuses to sit for Karen and Andrew. But then, there is an emergency and she is the only one who can, and she decides they are cute. She also starts to warm to Watson, so by the end when her mom and Watson announce they are engaged, she is kinda okay with it. There are some hints in the book, that she actually doesn't like Watson because she sees how he is a good father to his kids after a divorce, and her own dad is an asshole. I probably missed that the first time around.

  • So in this book, the girls actually act like twelve year olds. They have recess at school, get their parents permission to do stuff, etc.
  • According to the descriptions here, Mary Anne and Kristy have never been that good friends with Claudia. But I know in those flashback books they have later, they talk about them being a threesome all the time. Stupid continuity issues.
  • Would a twelve-year-old really refer to the people she baby-sits for as "clients"? That seems a little odd.
  • First Claudia outfit ever: "short, very baggy lavender plaid overalls, a white lacy blouse, a black fedora, and red high-top sneakers without socks." She also tries to wear make up, but her parents won't let her. Someone should tell Mallory that, so she will stop whining about not being able to at eleven.
  • Second Claudia outfit ever: "A baggy yellow-and-black checked shirt, black pants, red jazz shoes, and a bracelet that looked like it was made from a telephone cord. Her earrings were dangling jointed skeletons that jumped around when she moved." Skeletons? Really?
  • First Stacey outfit ever: "a pink sweatshirt with sequins and a large purple parrot on the front; short, tight-fitting jeans with zippers up the outside of the legs; and pink plastic shoes." Parrots and sequins, wow. The model of sophistication!
  • First Kristy outfit? A skirt and a blouse. With knee socks. And she describes it as her regular school clothes. I wonder when the jeans and a turtleneck started?
  • Of course Stacey's parents buy all her clothes for her.
  • They don't even say Watson is a millionaire in this book. Mary Anne goes to his house, reports to Kristy how nice it is, and they assume he has a lot of money. Interesting, that the first time Kristy sees his house is when she stops hating him.
  • Another thing different in early books: Stacey and Claudia NEVER eat lunch with Kristy and Mary Anne. Cause they are cool and eat with the boys Kristy things are annoying.
  • According to Kristy, her dad is married again and pays child support. Again, this is not consistent with later books. How hard is it to be just a little consistent? Isn't that what editors are for? These books must have made Scholastic and Ann M. Martin a fortune, yo would think they could pay an editor.
  • Hey, I never realized this, but the back cover of the books is like the flier they make up. It has the block logo thing, and says "Need a sitter? Save time!" Then has all their names and offices. If I was still eight, I would think that was cool.
  • I really hate the stupid KL5 thing for phone numbers. No one does that, and I don't believe they did in the 80s.
  • Man, Kristy really was awful to Watson. He brings over Chinese food and she makes herself a peanut butter sandwich just to avoid eating something he bought. Then calls him an awful father. I know he is the one who raised Karen, but Kristy hasn't met her yet, so she can't judge.
  • Janine spends several pages debating with herself whether "Baby-Sitters Club" should have an apostrophe. She asks the girls if they meant it to be possessive and they ignore her like it is a dumb question. Personally, I think it should be an apostrophe AFTER the S. The club belongs to all four of them.
  • Okay, what is this stupid flashlight code Kristy and Mary Anne have? Do they use morse code or something? I don't get how you could converse with a flashlight through their windows. Am I just missing some really obvious explanation?
  • Kristy isn't allowed to watch cable when her mom isn't home. Now, how does a single mother who works full time enforce THAT rule?
  • All the girl's handwriting is different in this book. Not totally different, but just a little off. It is sorta like watching a first season episode of The Simpsons and seeing how the characters are drawn.
  • Watson tells Mary Anne how Boo-Boo is an awful cat who might bite her if Mary Anne gets to close, but then refuses to lock him in a cage or other room. That...seems kind of mean. Maybe I am just sensitive because I hate cats.
  • Kristy's salary for her first ever job? $3.50.
  • The BSC total earnings in the first week or two? $26.75. I guess to a twelve-year-old in 1985 that is a lot.
  • Kristy's mom makes her kids get dressed up to hear that she MIGHT get engaged to Watson. Personally, I can't believe two divorced parents would get engaged before introducing their own kids, but that is just me.
  • Someone should tell Claudia you actually do need to be able to do math when going shopping. That way, you know how much you are spending. Just a minor detail.
  • Okay, Kristy has to take care of Karen and Andrew because their mom breaks her leg and Watson has to go to the hospital. Why the hell would WATSON go to the hospital when his ex-wife breaks her leg? Especially when she is engaged herself. Those two were always unnaturally close for exes. Kristy's mom should be careful about that.
  • Karen calls Kristy's mom "Edie Thomas." Isn't her name Elizabeth?
  • You know, they always say Mary Anne's father is soooo strict, but every time she stands up to him, he gives her whatever she wants (in this case, spending some of her money on pizza). In later books doesn't he let her get a makeover, buy a cat, go out with Logan? And as soon as she ASKS to stop wearing her hair in breads he lets her. I'm thinking he is really just a big softie.
  • David Michael acts like a six-year-old in this book. Later on, all the kids they sit for seem older than they are supposed to be.
  • Ha, Mary Anne and Kristy were playing with dolls up until the summer before 7th grade. Remember that when they act SO old in later books.
  • Best exchange ever: Claudia makes fun of Kristy for wearing a sweater with snowflakes on it. Kristy's response: "You've got sheep barrettes in your think that is adult?" To which Claudia says: "Sheep. ... are in." Keep telling yourself that sweetie.
  • More outfits (all Stacey): "plaid wool pants...which were held up with red suspenders" and later "a matching top and skirt made of gray sweat shirt material with big yellow number tens all over it. Her hair was pulled back with clips shaped like rainbows."
  • When Stacey reveals she has diabetes. Kristy says: "Diabetes? Is that all?" Heh. Because really, Stacey, get over yourself. (No offense to diabetics, of course).
  • Oh, the word Kristy had to write an essay about? Decorum.

Well, that is it for review number one. Look for the next one later this week. Let me know what you thought. If anyone wants to recommend a book or make any other suggestions, just let me know.


Anonymous said...

I assumed with Richard Spier he was basically a good dad, and not that strict, but he would seem strict to a 12/13 year old.

Kristy's a secret gold digger!

Also you were adorable at 11.

mo pie said...

I remember that sentence "sheep... are in" so vividly. I think it might have even had the word "witheringly" in it. If I'm right, I may have to go jump off a bridge.

Thank you SO MUCH FOR THIS BLOG. There can never be too many BSC blogs, and I love the format of things you remembered and then present-day reactions.

snappleaddict said...

Hi there, thanks for the link to my site!

The KL5 thing always confused the hell out of me, and still does. I wonder what they put in the UK version of the book?

Anonymous said...

Uk version still said "KL5" which so confused me, i had no idea.

I rememeber in primary school a teacher a teacher told off my class and said we should show osme decorum, or something along those lines, and my friend and i were just excited that we knew what that meant from reading this book. Yup.

I also believe it was "witheringly". Why do i remember this?

Mary Ann said...

That thing about Claudia not being good friends with Kristy and Mary Anne bothered me, too. Because in all their "story books" that each one had which recalled past memories, they did everything together! And I thought that the BSC ALWAYS ate lunch together, so its weird that Claudia and Stacey wouldn't sit with them in this book. But then again, Ann M. Martin was never big on continuity... Great blog, by the way, thanks for getting this started! =]

Anonymous said...

[I've tried to post this comment a couple times and it keeps acting like it's not if you get this 12 times, I'm sorry!]

I'm so excited for another blog to help me procrastinate!!

BSC taught me so many words...decorum, pandemonium, distant (haha).

To counter your apostrophe argument though, I think it should be without the apostrophe because it is essentially a club of baby-sitters...I don't think the club really belongs to them (well maybe it belongs to Kristy, ha). I don't know, though. I guess that's why smart Janine had her big long debate about it.

Anyway, awesome blog - I'm looking forward to more entries!

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

Yeah, the sheep are in line was said "witheringly." I think it might be one of the few places I have actually seen the words in use.

Glad you guys liked it!

Anonymous said...

I think the KL5 numbers is a hollywood thing. They use it in all the 80s hollywood movies so they wouldn't use a real number?? Am I right? I don't know. haha yeah I can never get enough bsc blogs!!

Anonymous said...

your blog rocks!
keep up the good work!^^

Anonymous said...

the KL5 thing never raelly bothered me because 555 is what they use in books and movies...and at least with kl5 they tried to cover it up.

MaybeSomeday said...

Isn't the KL5 thing so they wouldn't have to do the lame 555 thing. I grew up thinking people on the East Coast were sooo sophisiticated because their phone numbers had letters! :-)

Anonymous said...

Man, that whole thing with them being a threesome in later books drove me nuts. But it seemed to me that they were all best friends up until middle school, shen Claudia got more into boys. At least, that's what I tell myself. ;)

Yeah, the Kristy in a skirt thing really weirded me out too. The old books have so many random blurbs like that that are forgotten later . . . i.e. "Edie". If I'm not mistaken Karen's mom's name was changed too.

Continuity errors are annoying. I agree 100%, they should hire better editors.

Anonymous said...

The KL phone number thing is a really old-fashioned method of remembering people's phone numbers. Like my parents remember doing it. Sometimes you'll see it in old movies or tv shows. Someone will say - "Call me at Klondike Lake 5 - 5587" All phone numbers started with two words, not just the letters and it was lame because it seems way more elaborate than just saying "55." It is also way out of place in this series. Maybe the author is remembering it from when she used to baby-sit?

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to read the BSC's but my mom thought they were trash. So instead of books about snarky kids babysitting and being silly, I read Nancy Drew's (my choice) and stories about goody two-shoes Catholic kids who made me feel guilty for eating bologna on Friday.

Anonymous said...

kristy's great idea!
haha i think kristy put the title to the book all on her own, without telling the club;) bad kristy!
I still love this book after so many years..
a couple of things that bothered me:
1. this time around, it seemed a litle bitchy that kristy called claudia just because she was starting a business and needed someone =/. BFF indeed!
2. why was claudia all "eww" on dolls as a kid? for starters, she practically dresses like one.
then... i was (am) all for girly stuff, make-up, glitter, and i loved dolls! plus, they said "claudia liked riding bikes or having a coke." that seems like something anyone would like. they could have said she liked to invent dances, buying glitery stickers albums, experimenting with make-up, or something.

Amanda said...

The funny thing is in this book the parents could call the girls at home..that was like a big no no in the other books...

Anonymous said...

Okay, Kristy has to take care of Karen and Andrew because their mom breaks her leg and Watson has to go to the hospital. Why the hell would WATSON go to the hospital when his ex-wife breaks her leg? Especially when she is engaged herself.

he has to sing papers and stuff

Anonymous said...

First Claudia outfit ever: "short, very baggy lavender plaid overalls, a white lacy blouse, a black fedora, and red high-top sneakers without socks." She also tries to wear make up, but her parents won't let her. Someone should tell Mallory that, so she will stop whining about not being able to at eleven.

so true

charmecia said...

man kristen
did you do such a good job in that. Dont be surpised about mallory though. Mallory always whines about everything, which is why the bsc probably made her take those awful tests just to fit in. besides i didnt have it that bad when i was 11(though kids at school would give me a hard time though.)
lol claudia with the whole sheep thing. if i could recall in 7th grade, sheep were definitely out because sheep would look kinda babyish for us 12 year olds. (it would only look right for a 3rd or 4th grader.)

i never really thought of richard as strict, just overprotective and concerned but never strict.
and i agree if he was so strict, he wouldnt allow mary anne to date logan, nor let her get a cat, nor even get a makeover and a haircut.

although most of the reason was because accodring to the bsc dawn's mom, sharon, "loosened" richard spier up and now he's less strict and etc.
(its a kinder word to say that Sharon had good sex with richard and now he's loosened up )


Anonymous said...

Mary Anne's dad didn't let her do what she wanted the first time she asked... but the first time she asked, she threw a huge temper tantrum about it.

I always thought he was more over-protective and sheltering then strict. Kids can't really tell the difference. Mary Anne thought her dad would say no regardless of what she asked or how reasonable she sounded (in her opinion) he would say no and it wasn't worth asking.

The big fight in the 4th book is what pushed her to actually speak up and deal with confrontation.

Also, later on he starts dating Dawn's mom. I think that was the excuse for why he wasn't as "strict" as he used to be.

Unknown said...

i think the reason why richard may have come on as strict was because if i recall, sharon's parents gave richard a hard time because he came from a poor family and didn't think he would amount to anything thus explains the break up and all.

and mary anne's mom's parents also gave richard a hard time about raising mary anne after her mom died cause they didn't think he could handle parenthood by himself.
i guess he became strict because everyone wouldn't stop giving him a hard time.

and i agree with some that sheep are definitely not in. in fact id take that snowflake sweater anytime. Come to think about it i have one just like that. Only its blue and white ^_^

this was a good book and this was definitely a much better blog post. keep up the good work and looking forward to your next blog postings. ^_^

Unknown said...

KL phone numbers were used on Seinfeld. I am new to your blog that is why I am posting 5 years ago!

metamorphstorm said...

As a kid I really hated that on Kristy's first sitting job, for those two giant dogs, she asks whether Pinky and Buffy are boys or girls (would anyone ever name a real boy Pinky OR Buffy? Or a real girl, for that matter...) and the woman who's telling Kristy about the job says it doesn't matter and Kristy's all shocked. I hated that because really, it shouldn't matter; she should give the kids she sits for equal and proper care regardless of their genders.

When it comes to Kristy's attitude about Watson, I have to say that not only is such a reaction to her mother's dating normal for her age, but it's all-around normal. I get that the more desperate kids (David Michael, for example, who never knew his own father) were thrilled to have any fatherly figure, but for Kristy, it was nice to see something so normal. In later books she's thrilled with the thought that her mother might be pregnant, as if any real teenager wants to deal with babies and toddlers any more than absolutely necessary, but it was awesome that she was realistic in the first books. My mom's dating again now, and I'm still refusing to meet the guy, and I'm only 3.5 years off from being twice Kristy's age. (Wow.) So much of the later books were ridiculous in how mature each character was (more mature than I, at 22) that I love the early books for how the characters act. Fighting with each other, throwing little tantrums, and when it comes to the actual kids, acting like kids.

To be fair, I didn't get the whole "Kristy-misses-her-real-father" thing, and a bit later (in 2010, when the prequel came out) I realized that she was annoyed that her own father was so not fatherly when Watson kept intruding on her family and in their house and showing up for meals as if he was part of the family and totally welcome, and it made the whole thing easier to understand.

There are a lot of inconsistencies - characters who have no place at all in a scene. Characters unique to California show up in Stoneybrook as long-time residents; the family Stacey and her mother imposed on in "Snowbound" show up for the Little Miss Stoneybrook Pageant, I think it was...not to mention the many Sabrina Bouviers!

The apostrophe thing...always confused me. Yeah, the club belonged to all four baby-sitters, but it was also a club OF baby-sitters, providing a baby-sitting service. (It was way too tempting to shorten that to BS after the first one.) And when it comes to rules, the girls tend to do whatever they're told to the letter, except when their lives may be in danger (Mr. X, anyone?) and they do everything themselves.

About the KL5 thing, it took me YEARS to figure out that there were numbers on the buttons on phones and that it was just that easy. I got curious, did some research, and found out that 555 (K and L are both on the 5 button on a phone) is never used for real phone numbers anywhere in the world, and so movies and TV shows and books and even modern MMO games use 555 numbers on posters, billboards, and for advertisements, etc. so kids can't try calling the number and bugging someone to death.

In the portrait books, most of the girls' stories overlapped, and more than one flaunted Kristy as super-cool. (Martin's fav character, so it makes sense that she'd have all the other characters worshipping Kristy, I guess.) Like the bit about the handprints in wet cement, or Mimi's scarf, or that one comment about Kristy bopping Mary Anne and Claudia on their heads with one of her dolls when they were toddlers because she could walk and they couldn't, or the one about Mary Anne asking her friends' parents about her mother since her father hated talking about her. So obviously the girls were friends for a very long time.

MemphisMarly said...

"About the KL5 thing, it took me YEARS to figure out that there were numbers on the buttons on phones" I really hope you meant to say it took you years to figure out there were *letters* on the buttons on phones lol

But I admire your investigative spirit into decoding the rest of the phone line of thought!