Sunday, April 6, 2008

How could anyone accuse Claudia of cheating....BSC #40: Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

Memory Reaction

This is the book with the Ms. Frizzle outfit – when Claudia dresses like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books. It was so incredibly hideous that I can’t believe she didn’t get beat up. It is so sad that her outfits are so clear in my mind when I can’t remember what I wore to work last week.

I think this is also the book (or one of the books) where Claudia and Janine suddenly started being close. In the early books, it was always about how different they were and how much Claud hated having her for a sister. But later, they suddenly started being friendly with no explanation for the change. I am pretty sure this is the first one where it happened.

Revisted Reaction

At the beginning of this book, Claudia is studying really hard for a math test coming up. Janine is helping her, and being really nice about it. The day of the test, Claud thinks she aces it – which she pretty much does, with an A minus. Unfortunately, she is accused of cheating because Shawna Riverson got the exact same grade, and the exact same problems wrong. The teacher is a logical guy, so he assumes Claudia cheated. Because really, who the hell would cheat off of Claudia? Even if they know Janine is helping her study, it is a gamble. Janine was always helping Claud study, and she almost never did well. So I don’t quite understand why this time Janine was magically able to get Claudia to do well.

Claud doesn’t want her parents to get involved, and since they apparently don’t care about their daughter at all, they agree to sit back and let her be accused of cheating. The BSC tries to help Claud prove her innocence so that she doesn’t fail math and be forced to leave the club. After all, where the hell would they have meetings if Claudia was out of the club? In the end, Janine convinces the teacher to give Claud a retest, she aces it, and Shawna confesses. Then they all celebrate.

There is also a subplot where the Pike triplets break a window, but won’t tell which one of them it was. So, they all get grounded until they tell, and end up really annoying everyone. Eventually, Mallory gets them to reveal that it was just an accident with no one at fault, and so they are ungrounded. Happy endings all around.

  • If Janine is such a genius why is she still in high school? I mean, she takes courses at Stoneybrook University, but I have a feeling that college is not really comparable to Harvard. Just think about it: Doogie Howser was a doctor at 16 and all Ms. 196 IQ can claim is that she takes some local college courses? Plus, several kids in Stoneybrook have skipped a grade (Karen Brewer and Charlotte Johanson) and they are just described as smart. So you would think a genius would be at least done with high school by 16.
  • When Janine helps her study, Claudia keeps drifting into space because she can’t pay attention that long. Well, no wonder she has problems in school, the girl needs Ritalin or something. And think what a great PSA that would have been. “So, Stacey has to take something called insulin for diabetes and Claudia has to take something called Ritalin, because she has a problem called ADD. But both are really cool girls despite their health problems.” It would fit perfectly into the background chapter.
  • Claudia wanted to wear a lucky outfit for the test: “Lucky earrings – the ones that look like Princess Di’s. They’re huge (pretend) emeralds, surrounded by thousands of tine (phony) diamonds. Then I thought I would work downward from there, wearing my new green-and-blue-tie-dyed T-shirt dress (the casualness of the dress would be an interesting contrast to those fancy earrings) over green leggings.” She can’t decide between high-tops and ballet flats, but ends up going with the flats.
  • Kristy’s ONLY fault is her big mouth? What about her bossiness? Or her thing about grossing people out in the school cafeteria?
  • I would really never call Dawn mellow. If anything, she is the opposite.
  • Claud’s teacher is kind of a dick. I know it makes sense to think Claud cheated, but teachers really are supposed to be fair. He doesn’t even give her a chance to defend herself. He just lets the other girl go and tells Claudia the principal will call her parents. You’d think he would consider that Shawna is in Drama Club, and the lead in all the plays (except in Super Special #9, when she isn’t mentioned and the BSC has all the leads).
  • Is a 94 really an A minus? I would call that a straight A.
  • Claire makes Stacey redraw a hopscotch line because it is not complete straight. You would think the youngest of eight children would be used to things not being exactly her way.
  • Claud’s parents assume she cheated too (nice), but when Janine says she believes her, the parents come around. That is an interesting dynamic.
  • Heh, Mary Anne thinks Claudia could have cheated too. But the rest of the BSC tells her she is crazy and she cries. Of course.
  • Awe, Mary Anne doesn’t like to gossip. I was totally that girl in fifth or sixth grade. I got really upset when people were gossiping. Then, I became a teenager and got as bitchy as every other girl at that age.
  • So, Dawn just happens to know Shawna’s locker combination and wants to break into the locker to look for clues. First of all, no way would she know the combo. The explanation is that she and Shawna were assigned the wrong lockers at the beginning of the year, and then switched. BUT, if that really happened, why wouldn’t they just leave the girls in the lockers they had? Does it matter where they are? And if they did switch, wouldn’t the school jumble the combinations? In my middle school, they jumbled the lockers every summer so you couldn’t go to whoever had your old locker and get in.
  • Let’s say it did happen, what kind of evidence is there going to be that someone cheated? I mean, legitimate evidence.
  • Okay, so they do find a note in Shawna’s locker mentioning getting away with cheating. But, honestly, what good does that do? Anyone could have written it at any time. Claud realizes this and puts the note back, rendering several whole chapters pointless.
  • Oh, my God. Vanessa answers the phone: “This is the Pikes, whom would you like?” I am so glad she wasn’t my sister.
  • The triplets are surprised omeone-say else-hay ows-knay ig-Pay Atin-Lay. I mean, where did THEY learn it?
  • Jessi teaches the triplets "Op-Talk" after they realize everyone in the world knows Pig Latin. It sounds really annoying. You have to spell out the words, adding an “op” after every consonant. Like Hop-e-lop-lop-o, for hello. I guess, Claudia could never speak it, since she would spell everything wrong. Hell, I could barely speak it.
  • Okay, if I know that Magic Johnson is/was a basketball player and not baseball, than I would think Byron Pike would.
  • Claudia overhears Shawna in the bathroom, bragging about getting away with cheating. Too bad it didn’t take place today, or she could whip out her cell phone and record the whole thing.
  • In this book, Shawna and her friends are the most popular girls in school. But, later aren’t the cheerleaders Stacey makes friends with the coolest kids in school? Think how much more dramatic those books would have been if Stacey was hanging out with the girl who once cheated off Claudia. What a wasted opportunity for a catfight.
  • Kristy: “Is that all she ever does, shop and get perms?” Nope, she is not talking about Stacey. It is one of Shawna’s friends/clones. But it totally could be Stacey.
  • Claud is nervous about retaking the test, and Janine is all “there is no logical reason to be nervous.” Okay, I think usually people are nervous when there is no logical reason to be.
  • When she is asked to retake the test, Shawna breaks down and confesses like a villain in a bad crime movie.
  • Here we go:

“I decided to do a Ms. Frizzle . . . I decided my theme for the day would be The Sea. I put on a blue skirt with brightly colored tropical fish all over it. Then I put on my green blouse . . . I pulled my hair into a ponytail, over to one side, and I pinned it with a sand-dollar barrette I made last summer. . . I ran to my closet and pulled out a pair of shoes. They’re the plastic kid called “jellies” that I had decorated with stickers of seahorses and shells.”

  • You kind of have to admire that Claudia was able to pull all that together. A skirt with fish on it? Jellies with stickers on them? She must have a ton of clothes.
  • Claudia gets embarrassed because she is wearing the Ms. Frizzle outfit when the principal tells her she can retake the test. I think that is the only time in the history of these books she mentions being embarrassed about her clothes.


Anonymous said...

Oh my Lord (as Claudia would say), the infamous Miss Frizzle outfit.

I gotta admit, I kinda like this book. Partly because Claudia is finally embarrassed about her clothes and also, how freakin' insensitive is Mary Anne in this book?! How the hell did she get the Miss Sensitivity label?

Coz even if everyone was thinking it, you don't say it!
Great blog :-)

Anonymous said...

yeah great blog!

well, I always liked claudias outfits hahaha

Jen said...

oh man, this one was one of my favorites! Though I do have to agree even when I was younger I thought the Miss Frizzle outfit was too much, lol.

Muzition said...

Gee, nobody skipped a grade when I was in grade school.

Muzition said...

And ugh, I hate Vanessa so much.

Anonymous said...

Okay so I totally remember the op-top segment and tried to learn it, but it was too difficult for my 8 year old brain to wrap around. Which is hilarious to me now but so embarrassing back then!

Anonymous said...

I think Claud was also embarrased by an outfit when Janine was getting some kind of award. I don't remember which book...maybe the one when Claud thinks she's adopted?
I had no idea who Miss Frizzle was, thanks for letting me know! Now that I have a toddler, I'm sure I would have figured it out eventually though *rolls eyes*

BurtonFanatic said...

I remember trying to learn op-talk when I read this book. I didn't go so well. I used to love the way Claudia dressed- it was so wild and crazy! But now I think that she would be the fictional character most likely to be nominated for "What Not to Wear". That would be such an awesome episode.

snappleaddict said...

Love Ms. Frizzle! That ho rocks the Magic School Bus, and Claudia has nothing on her!

I always laughed my ass off at this book. I mean, who would ever cheat off of Claudia? She misspells her own name sometimes! Shawna was damn lucky to get such a good grade.

burtonfanatic, Claudia so needs to be on WNTW. Stacy and Clinton would rip her to shreds.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to me to have no clue who Ms. Frizzle is. I had to google her.

Anonymous said...

I only new who Ms Frizzle was, because we had an american teacher in grade 2, and wore crazy earings and stuff so I always thought Claudia's clothes were AWESOME... and I still do. haha

Oh yeah and after this book all my friends learnt opp talk

Linda said...

I don't know if it has anything to do with where you attended school, but I spent most of high school in a tiny town in Missouri—and there 94 was indeed an A-. After that, I moved to Ohio and a 94 was an A. I often wondered if the discrepancy was due to Missouri clinging to older rules of grading, and Ohio quickly adapting to newer systems.

Anonymous said...

That always bugged me too why would Shawna copy off of Claudia of all people?

Unknown said...

I remember reading this book also. i think the reason why shawna copied off of claudia was didn't shawna said she was in a hurry to go to her drama class or something?

and wow shawna was the most popular girl in the school but wait wasnt sabrina bouvier the most popular girl in school before stacey's cheerleading friends?

yeah stacey would of totally fitted in.

I don't think mary anne was that horrible in the book. I mean mary anne is known for being thoughtful and claudia does hate school you know.

and by the way i love miss frizzle. i dont blame claudia for wanting to dress up like her. she does have cooler outfits. who knows maybe claudia will want to end up like her as a teacher when she grows up.

also if i remember didnt kristy and the gang hated sabrina and susan because they wore too much makeup and perms?

Picardigan said...

I think maybe Janine's still in high school because her protective parents don't want her at college full time with college students.
THINK of the shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

I actually love Claudia outfits. You should go see this blog, the author put some of them in images :