Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“I’m blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and you wouldn’t catch me dead sitting for the Lowells”…..BSC # 56: Keep Out, Claudia

Memory Reaction

I don’t remember a lot about this book, at least not my reaction. I do know that they mention Fiddler on the Roof, and I only knew what it is because I had seen a version of the play by my neighbor’s church. I probably thought the racism issue was dealt with a lot better than it actually was – and I remember knowing that it was about racism and being annoyed I had to wait until half way though for the BSC to realize it. But that may actually be from the second or third time I read it.

Revisited Reaction

The BSC has a new client, the Lowells, who are a bunch of racists. Mary Anne sits for them first, and everything goes great. But Claudia sits for them next, and the kids don’t listen to anything she says. Afterwards, Mrs. Lowell, calls Kristy and asks for someone besides Claudia to take the next job. Even though Mrs. Lowell doesn’t say why she has a problem with Claud, the BSC takes the job, and sends Jessi. But, because she sucks so much, Mrs. Lowell won’t even let her in the house.

Interestingly enough, after this, the girls still don’t realize what the problem is. Now, I am not trying to male light of racism, but anytime something bad happens to Jessi, she thinks it is because she is black. And sometimes she is actually right. So, I am a little surprised she wouldn’t think of that when a door is slammed in her face. But, anyway, after Kristy meets the Lowell kids, it dawns on her that the family is racist. When Claudia finds this out, she is upset, as she should be. The rest of the club decides they don’t want to sit for the Lowells, and they wonder if Mrs. Lowell would disapprove if she found out things about their families like having divorced parents or a Vietnamese adopted sister. The BSC talks about how awful it is, and try to think of a way to handle it, but finally realize there is nothing they can do.

Meanwhile, the girls are helping set up a band for all the kids they sit for. Only a few of the kids play real instruments, the others use harmonicas, kazoos, and coffee-can “drums.” They put on a recital with the music to Fiddler and the Roof, and it goes relatively well. The Lowell kids were supposed to be part of this band, but because their mother doesn’t approve of the music choice, they aren’t allowed. And that’s about it. It’s hard to make fun of a book about how awful racism is.


  • Claudia thinks the word psychiatrist should be spelled: sikiatrist. Amazingly, Word’s spell-checker actually gives psychiatrist as a suggested word for that.
  • Genius Janine actually locks herself out of the house.
  • Jamie Newton calls the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the “Teeny Mutant Stinky Turtles.” I find that amusing for some reason.
  • Claudia wonders if her outfit is why Mrs. Lowell didn’t like her. She wore: “black leggings and high-topped sneakers, [a] fringed blue-jean vest and beaded Indian belt, [and] six silver rings.”
  • Kristy goes home and talks to her mom, Watson, and grandmother, because she wants an adults opinion on the Lowell situation. That is probably the only time I remember these girls going to their parents.
  • Jessi says she has been a victim of racism before, so even though it sucks, she is used to it. But Claudia never has, so she gets really upset and talks to her parents as well. It is a little after-school special-ish.
  • The kids in the band want to get t-shirts, so they decide to ask for donations at their concert. Why wouldn’t they ask their parents to just get the shirts, like they did with Kristy’s softball team? The parents are going to be the ones donating money at the concert, aren’t they?
  • Also, why do we never hear about the band again? The set up is that it is their first concert and will keep meeting. It isn’t just a one-time talent show or anything.
  • The BSC wants to teach the Lowells a lesson, but decide they can’t just tell Mrs. Lowell they don’t “sit for bigots.” I am not sure why not, they don’t have an obligation to be polite with someone who slams the door in their faces.


Kait W. said...

They probably don't want to tell her off because they're afraid she'll tell the Pikes and the Johansens and the Newtons. Kristy is always worried about stuff like that.

nikki said...

In children's literature, racism can never be subtle.

Sadako said...

I was kind of surprised they didn't make this a Jessi book. Maybe they figured they'd over played the "Jessi is black" meme?

The worst Claudia deals with racism bit was the Super Special in Hawaii where she starts feeling all guilty for being Japanese b/c the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Ugh. I hated that part so, SO much.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody think it was weird when Mary Anne told the Lowell children about the Pike kids and one of them said (I forget which) "Oh. They must be catholic"

Isnt that child too young to know about birth control or is it just me? lol Unless catholics are known for having several children for other reasons than not using birth control? I'm just asking..

maria said...

I had no idea what this book was about. I always wondered why Claudia never experienced racism and why they never made a big deal about her being Japanese (aside from always mentioning her beautiful almond shaped eyes and long silky jet black hair in chapter 2).
This is a new must read for me.
I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

The thing I do like about this book is that AMM didn't make the Lowells suddenly "see the light" and say, "Oh, thanks BSC, for making us realize what total bigots we are". It was more realistic to make the Lowells remain as they were in the beginning. Not everything has to have a happy ending.

Oh, and the play...seriously, what group of KIDS is going to want Fiddler on the Roof? Although, I personally love the play & the movie, it's a bit "grown-up", IMO.

Donica said...

WORD Michelle... I love the play/musical and all the music NOW, but the first time I saw it when I was eight or so? i was bored to tears! (It could have been the theatre that did it , but still)

Anonymous said...

i'm the opposite of michelle...the sitters ALWAYS meddle in the lives of their clients, and this time they don't?? i wanted it to be tied up somehow in the end. i guess this was just too sensitive of a topic, though.

i dig musicians said...

I have just recently started collecting these books again. I agree..., my obsession never went away either... hahaha! Definitely having multiple good giggles at your reviews on these!

sexy said...



charmecia said...

im glad they didnt try to solve the case with the lowells though.
even though i personally want to slap mrs.lowell in the face.

im so glad they didnt make jessi the victim of racism although she should of realized it was mrs.lowell being racist towards her.

claudia really was stupid in this book i mean come on claudia.

love kristy in this book and i usually hate kristy, but kristy was good in this book. love the way she treated mrs.lowell especially with the vietnam adoption thing andf the fact that she went to her parents about this. shows how smart she can be(sometimes).

mary anne was also alright in this book too .

same for mallory.

love dawn and stacey's handle to this thing especially the whole blonde blue eyed thing
that was the best line ever.

great book
the only thing i didnt like was mrs.lowell and the fiddler on the roof thing
i mean wth.