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.
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.