Thursday, July 24, 2008

“I’m the first to admit it – I’m a junk food addict”…….BSC # 7: Claudia and the Mean Janine

Memory Reaction

I have this really vivid memory of Claudia, Janine, and Mimi eating waffles for dinner in this book and thinking that was the coolest thing. I also remember thinking Claudia was so smart because she came up with a code to talk to Mimi after her stroke with blinking or something. It is weird the stuff that sticks with you.

Revisited Reaction

There are sort of two plots in this one. The main action is that Claudia’s grandmother, Mimi, has a stroke. Claud feels guilty because she argued with her right before Mimi had the stroke and thinks it is her fault. Mimi recovers, but has to have a lot of therapy because she has problems using her right hand and with her speech. Claudia volunteers to help out with the therapy, and she ends up dropping out of working at the play group that the BSC is running.

Meanwhile, the “subplot,” which is really a pretty major thread, is about Claudia’s relationship with Janine. They fight a lot, because Claudia thinks her parents like Janine more than her and finds it hard to relate to Janine. Meanwhile, Janine doesn’t really make much effort to talk to Claud, and you can tell she doesn’t really feel like she can relate to Claudia. It is sad, but when I read this as a kid I NEVER related to Janine at all, but this time, I kept feeling bad for her. You can tell that when Claudia insults her for being a geek, Janine is hurt and starts lashing back at Claud. This is probably before the ghostwriters started writing anything, and Ann Martin actually does a good job of making her and Claudia realistic, fairly complex characters. Much better than later books when everyone is essentially a cartoon.

By the end, Mimi starts to make some improvements and Claudia and Janine have a heart to heart where they agree to both try harder to get along.


  • Let’s start right with an outfit: “Black jeans, a giant blue T-shirt, and a snake bracelet that I wore above my elbow” – wow, that sounds semi-normal.
  • Janine IS kind of annoying. She says things like, “How does your agency plan to function once your founder is residing in a different district?”, instead of just asking, “what do you plan on doing when Kristy moves?”
  • They offer to pay Charlie a dollar each way when driving Kristy, and he says it is too much, he’ll only take fifty cents each way.
  • They charge three dollars per kid per morning for their play group (which is three hours). It is a “bargain” for their clients. I REALLY wonder what their regular rate is. I know this was the eighties, but I hope they were charging at least a few bucks an hour.
  • Forshadow alert: Mallory comes to the playgroup for free as their “helper”
  • Mimi calls small pizzas “tiny pizzas.” Claud tells her to call them “Mini Pizzas” and Mimi says she can’t say that because Mini is a mouse. That made me laugh for some reason.
  • What kind of person would willingly play Trivia Pursuit with Janine? You know she’ll win. Especially against Claudia. That is like the Yankees playing baseball against a little league team.
  • Claud’s “code” with Mimi is actually really lame. She happens to notice Mimi blinking and is all, “blink once if you can hear me.” You would think the doctors would have tried that. Don’t they do stuff like that on Grey’s Anatomy? Not that Grey’s is any more a beacon of truth than the BSC, but still. You would still think the doctors would try it.
  • Claudia is so dumb. She lets it slip that she has a Nancy Drew book in her room, and Janine says she won’t tell their parents about her having a copy of the “Nancy Drew Serial” in her room. Claud is all, “I don’t keep cereal in my room.” Idiot.
  • Stacey outfit: “knee length lime-green shorts, matching green high-topped sneakers, and a large white T-shirt with a gigantic taxicab on the front.” I never realized how sophisticated taxi’s were. I guess because of the NYC connection?
  • Dawn was wearing a “New York” outfit: “Striped pants with suspenders over a red shirt.”
  • Claudia is annoying too….she asks Janine a question, then gets annoyed because Janine answers it instead of asking about Mimi.
  • How do you braid a dogs fur? Stacey FRECH BRAIDS Louie’s fur so he will look nice when they move to Watson’s. And they put bows and nail polish on him….because apparently they want him to look girly.
  • Mary Anne outfit: “jean skirt, a pink and white stripped blouse , and loafers with no socks.”
  • Claudia’s outfit for Lucy Newton’s christening: “A big, loose white shirt with black splotches all over it, and white pants that came to just below my knees. My shoes (and I might point out I had a fight with mom over permission to buy them) were dainty gold sandals that laced partway up my legs. Then I put my pink flamingo earrings and a pink bracelet that said Claudia in heart shaped beads. Finally, I braided my hair in four long braids, tied a ribbon around the top of each, and fastened the ends with butterfly clips.” It sounded okay until she got to the shoes.
  • Janine thinks Claudia is everyone’s favorite, and as we all know, Claud thinks Janine is everyone’s favorite. I guess that is supposed to be irony or something.
  • Claud says Janine is turning green from looking at her computer. Wow, green computer screens. What a flashback.
  • At the end, the book sets up the first Sea City trip. Remember when the books were like that, and the beginning of one actually picked up where the last one left off? It is kind if like the first season of Alias.


Anonymous said...

I think I always kind of felt that Janine and Claudia had the most realistic relationship of any of the BSC siblings, although the "Janine is a genius" thing was massively overdone. I mean, just because someone is ridiculously smart does not mean they're going to start talking like a robot...

colleenn said...

I also liked the Claudia and Janine relationship, but yes, I agree that Janine's "genius-ness" was way too exaggerated. I remember when she used the phrase "Nancy Drew serial," and I was reading this book in fourth grade so when teachers asked us to write what our favorite books were I would sit there debating over whether "The Baby-Sitters Club serial" were the correct wording to use or not. :P I so remember sitting there and writing "serial" and then crossing it out and writing "series" instead. :)

Also, I hated when Claudia laughed at Mimi for saying "tiny pizzas." It's not like "mini pizzas" is a trademarked official name like Hot Pockets or something. I have never in my life used the phrase "mini pizzas" family always just called them "English muffin pizzas." But I did love Mimi's "Minnie is a mouse" comment. :)

MaybeSomeday said...

Didn't Claud and Janine vow to work harder at their relationshib at the end of book 2, too? Stop talking and start doing, girls!

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

In the later books, they do start to have a better relationship. But it was still much more realistic than any of the other sibling relationships. I think it was because they were based on Ann Martin and her real life sister or something.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this blog! Now that Tiff is gone, I am glad someone else is doing awesome BSC updates!
And I did think Janine's " genius" tendencies was way exaggerated!

Anonymous said...

I thought Claudia was a huge bitch in this book. Period. Yeah, Janine could be annoying, but Claudia would freak out and get furious over NOTHING at all. She almost PUNCHED Janine, who wasn't doing anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

@molly - I have to say that, as a younger sibling, I did sometimes find my brother annoying for just existing! So I can't really blame Claudia for that :D

BadKat said...

When I was about 13, I heard my youngest brother outside telling my sister how he (imagine him red faced with teeth clenched) "hate, hate, hated me". I was inside laughing my ass off! I was obviously doing my big sister duties!

My sister and I have always been close, but my brothers hate us for tormenting them!

Anonymous said...

claudia and janine's relationship was realistic, although writing an actual genius.. must be pretty tough. did janine wear glasses? betting on it, lol.

i never got why claud thinks she's soooooo mature and kristy sooooo childish. they're both brats. wearing jeans and a turtleneck make you childish?
want to see claud in an emergency and having to borrow
kristy's clothes made of ewww. i'd laugh xD

Anonymous said...

Very realistic sibling relationship. I still felt sorry for Janine it seemed so obvious she was trying to be nice to Claudia.

Unknown said...

claudia and janine's relationship reminded me of helga's and olga's relationship on hey arnold. Only olga acts like a crybaby mary sue of a whore.

claudia was horrible in this book. not only was she awful to janine, but to take it out on poor mimi. My god what a bitch.

and yes, claudia and janine is based off of ann m martin and her sister jane. only jane was the outgoing and popular one and ann was the shy mouse from what she wrote in the letter additon of this book.

Nubbies Away!! said...

Hi, I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to say that I used to speak like Janine.

...and, quite actually, I still do.

Picardigan said...

I think Janine's awkward way of speaking is because she consciously tries to use higher-level words to sound smart, because all her self-esteem comes from her intelligence!

Anonymous said...