Tuesday, April 28, 2009

“She was hysterical. Completely and totally hysterical……”BSC Mystery # 22: Stacey and the Haunted Masquerade

Memory Reaction

I may have actually thought this plot was kind of cool. It is completely preposterous and makes no sense, but I thought it was cool, nonetheless. I actually really liked Stacey in it. I was probably actually 13 by the time it came out, and wished I had her life. (As opposed to expecting I would have the life of the BSC girls, like when I was younger).

I DO remember being bothered by the premise that the school was having the first Halloween “masquerade” dance in over twenty years, because there had been like five Halloween dances in previous BSC books. I mean, it was the PLOT of several books, right? The phantom phone call one, the one with Mary Anne and the chain letter, the one with Kristy and a secret admirer…Or are they saying a “Masquerade” is different than a regular Halloween dance where you wear costumes?

Revisited Reaction

The school is having a “Masquerade” dance and it is a big deal, because they haven’t had one for a long time (again, whatever) and there are rumors something bad happened at the last one. Stacey joins the decorating committee because she wants to be more involved at school. She likes it and has a lot of good ideas and everyone except Cokie Mason likes them. Because apparently Stacey has a creative side too.

Meanwhile, a bunch of weird pranks start happening at school – funny announcements being made, things being written on the boards in classrooms, the school getting TPed, etc. It all starts the day after the new kid, Cary Retlin shows up, but no one wonders if it could be him. Cause, they are idiots, I guess. Anyway, these pranks bleed into sabotage of the decorations for the dance – posters get ripped up and someone strings up a dummy from the basketball hoop in the gym. There is also some old guy writing letters to the town paper about how the town should not spend money on school dances because of what happened in the past.

This gets the BSC to start looking into what happened at the dance 28 years ago. They find out that there was some prank that led to a black out, and a teacher had a heart attack and died in the panic that followed. But no one really knows the details of the prank, just that a girl left school after. The BSC manages to find out the name of the girl who left school and coincidentally, she lived in Charlotte Johanssen’s house. Imagine that! So, while baby-sitting, Stacey and Mary Anne manage to find an old note in the basement that this girl wrote revealing that she was in love with a guy….who has the same name is a new teacher at school, Mr. Rotham. Wow, can you believe the coincidences!

So, Stacey actually asks Rotham about it, and instead of telling her to mind her own business, the guy tells her the story. He was some football player and was playing some prank on a girl that involved asking the outcast to a dance and then laughing at her. Basically like Carrie, but without the pig’s blood. And he felt bad about it (but still did it).

No one has figured out who is sabotaging the decorations, but the dance goes on. It seems fine, and then suddenly there is this weird woman there with a cloak. Instead of seeing anything cool happen, we cut to the next day, and the BSC explaining what happened to Shannon: The woman was the person who was ‘wronged’ as a girl and had been in mental hospitals ever since. Rotham led her out of the dance and “got her help.” I don’t know how I feel about the idea that some chick went crazy because some losers made fun of her in eighth grade. I mean, they say she was “unbalanced” to begin with, but still. Oh, and Stacey figures out that Cary Retlin is behind the fun pranks at school.


  • Like I said, I like Stacey’s attitude in this. She is thinking of “couples” ideas for her and Robert to wear to the dance, but then decides if Robert doesn’t want to dress up, she’ll just go as Marilyn Monroe or Wonder Woman because she wants to go in costume.
  • Just because Dawn lives in California doesn’t make Mary Anne an only child….she still has stepsiblings even if they don’t live with her.
  • Stacey’s ideas for the dance decorations are to use red and purple instead of orange and black and to use the Aadams family as a theme. The red and purple is kind of different, but the Aadams family theme seems a little cliché.
  • Grace Blume outfit: “Thermal leggings and a blue plaid flannel shirt.” I totally had outfits like that in eighth grade.
  • Stacey says it is a miracle for Claud to have made five posters and only made one mistake (spelling-wise). I pretty much agree with that.
  • Oh, there is this stupid Ghostbusters theme, where all the kids are insisting on going on “ghost hunts” in their houses. It is lame, and I am not even going to bother thinking about if kids would really be into Ghostbusters in 1994ish. I don’t think so though. But anyway, this is the excuse to search Charlotte’s house.
  • I call bullshit on finding a note from the last person who lived in a house. I don’t care if it is in the basement/attic/etc. Don’t people clean?
  • Everyone shows their personality a little with their costumes:
  • Stacey: Mortica Aadams (Robert was Gomez)
  • Mary Anne: Dorothy
  • Jessi: Cowgirl
  • Mal: Ballerina (she and Jessi switched at the last minute)
  • Abby: Lucy Riccardo
  • Kristy: Amelia Earheart
  • Claud: A giant twinkie (seriously!)
  • The girls take a bunch of little kids trick-or-treating….I don’t know, maybe I was a dork, but I went trick-or-treating myself all through high school. My senior year we had a car and drove around to as many neighborhoods as we could.
  • Stacey and Claud talk about watching the movie Carrie….Um, isn’t that rated R?
  • When telling the story about this girl from the dance, they say she didn’t know her fairy princess costume was silly. But Claudia goes as a Twinkie. What sounds worse to you?
  • Cokie lies to the art teacher and takes credit for Stacey’s ideas to get to work on some special project. Grace backs her up, but no one bothers to ask Rotham (the advisor) or the other five people who worked on the committee. I guess, I liked Stacey in this book up until then when she stopped sticking up for herself, just because she liked the normalness of Cokie plotting against them.
  • I kind of like how the BSC doesn’t really solve this mystery. They find out what happened at the last dance, but they don’t figure out who is causing the damage, and they don’t stop the crazy woman from showing up. It is a lot more realistic than the ones where they have an impact on a police investigation.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

“Logan has nothing to worry about…..he’s my boyfriend and always will be”…….BSC # 34: Mary Anne and Too Many Boys

Memory Reaction

I already told you why I liked the Sea City books, and I actually liked this one even more than the Stacey book. Or at least I remember it better. I do know it was when it became blatantly obvious that they were screwing with the timeline. Before then, the girls had stopped mentioning time, but I don’t think they had had a “summer” after starting 8th grade. There were a couple super specials that took place in the summer, but you can’t really tell where they fit in the time line, so it is less obvious.

Revisited Reaction

In this book Mary Anne and Stacey go on their second trip to Sea City, as mother’s helpers for the Pikes. They actually explain Mallory not being a second sitter, by saying her parents actually want her to enjoy the vacations. The Pikes being considerate of Mal? Shocking.

Pretty soon after arriving, they run into Alex and Toby, they guys they met last year, on the beach. For Stacey, this is cool, because she loves boys. For Mary Anne, it is a little awkward because of Logan. But, they still hang out on the beach, and make plans to go out to dinner. They go out as separate couples, not a double date, so first it is even more awkward. But Mary Anne and Alex do end up having fun.

Meanwhile, Stacey is acting like a bitch, wanting to go out two nights in a row, even though she and Mary Anne are supposed to alternate nights off. Then, at the end of the trip, she gets bitchy again, but admits it is cause Toby dumped her. He didn’t want to be “tied down” or something. When Mary Anne and Alex go out again, she lets it slip that she has a boyfriend. Alex is all, “that’s cool, I have a girlfriend too.” So, they decide to just be friends and have a nice evening.

While all this has been going on, Vanessa has developed a crush on this guy who works at the ice cream parlor. He is supposed to be about twelve, so I don’t know how he got this job. Even on “Secret Life of the American Teenage”, they reference needing working papers. (Not that I watch it). Vanessa leaves him poems, but he thinks they are from Mallory – who he likes. But by this point it is time to go home, and so Vanessa just writes a good-bye note without saying who she is. It is rather anti-climactic.


  • In the standard Chapter 2, Mary Anne talks about how when Dawn came to town, she had to reassure Kristy that she wouldn’t affect their friendship. But….Dawn does affect Mary Anne and Kristy’s friendship.

  • The girls talk about how great the pizza is in Sea City. Um, really? Stacey, Miss New York City, thinks pizza is better at the Jersey Shore than NYC?

  • Dawn’s outfit for flying to California (which she does while Mary Anne is in Sea City): “A beautiful Laura Ashley dress and had swept her long blonde hair back in pearl barrettes.” This is for a 6-hour plane ride?

  • Do the Pikes have any rules for their kids (other than Mal)? They take two cars to the beach, and on the trip down the triplets and Nicky keep taking turns posting mean signs to each other from the window. This is only possible because Mr. and Mrs. Pike keep passing each other on the highway. It is like they are encouraging them.

  • I wonder what the Pikes would do if they ever got a hold of the internet….

  • They stop to get ice cream on the drive and Claire disappears. Mary Anne finds her at the counter trying to get a new ice cream because it all leaked out from the bottom. And the guy working there just gives her a new cone for free.

  • So, while reading this I started thinking about what happened with Mary Anne and Alex the first year they met. Mary Anne tells us they exchanged rings from some place on the boardwalk. We know Stacey had her first kiss with Toby then, so I wonder if Mary Anne did too. We never really heard her say for sure that Logan was her first kiss. And a lot of the other girls make a point of telling us when theirs happens.

  • Isn’t Vanessa a little young to be “eyeing” a guy?

  • When we are introduced to the cute ice-cream parlor guy, he and Mal actually bump heads. Then, he loses control of the whipped cream machine and ruins her sundae. Romantic.

  • I don’t believe this. Claire spills her ice cream soda and they just give her new one. It doesn’t say for sure that it is for free, but it seems like it. She is way to lucky.

  • As soon as I started reading this chapter I remembered it. Kristy takes the Rodowski’s to the local pool, and makes the mistake of letting Jackie buy a huge cookie - which he then proceeds to drop in the pool. When I picture that scene, I picture it happening in the community pool where I grew up.

  • This pool has a height restriction for the diving board. This seems kind of mean. I can understand an age restriction, but not a height one.

  • Kristy keeps asking for trouble. She lets Jackie go up to order their lunch by himself.

  • When Mal asks her about Logan, Mary Anne is all, “he is my boyfriend and always will be.” Do some people really think that about their middle school boyfriends?

  • Jessi thinks Squirt is some kind of genius – after watching some Sesame Street type show about “which one of these things doesn’t belong?” – he takes the Pike’s hamster (which Jessi is taking care of) and puts it in the Ramsey’s hamster cage.

  • Is it that shocking a 13-year-old guy wouldn’t want to commit to someone who doesn’t live anywhere near them? Why would he even think it is expected of him? Stacey went out with other guys after meeting him.

  • The way Mary Anne slips to Alex that she has a boyfriend is that she wants to pay the check – apparently she and Logan alternate.

  • Mallory fun fact: She talks in her sleep. Not just talks, she sits up and starts yelling at people. Vanessa just let it roll off her shoulders, so it must happen a lot.

  • Vanessa talks about how she has left notes for the ice cream guy several times…um, how did she do this without Mary Anne and Stacey knowing? I don’t think the Pikes would actually do something with their child, like take them to an ice-cream parlor.

  • Mary Anne agrees to keep the Vanessa think private, but I wonder if she will tell Mal. I mean, Mallory is supposed to be one of her best friends, and she would probably appreciate knowing a guy liked her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

“Coach! I liked the sound of that.”……..BSC # 20: Kristy and the Walking Disaster

Memory Reaction

I…am coming up with nothing. I know I read this book a million times, because I found my old copy and the cover was worn off. And I remember the complete plot. I just can’t remember what I thought of it. I am even having trouble guessing what my childhood brain would have thought (thinking about it now).

Revisited Reaction

Kristy realizes that her siblings and some of her neighbors really like softball, but all suck at it. She hears about a guy in her neighborhood who has his one softball team for kids, but he can’t take on any members. So, she decides to start her own team, the Kristy’s Krushers. Most of the standard BSC clients join – at least the ones that suck at sports. Basically, the team is for kids who are too or too embarrassed or young to play in Little League.

The kid who coaches the other team, is Bart, who Kristy immediately develops a huge crush on. The two of them decide to have a game between their two teams. Bart’s team has some older kids so they beat the Krushers pretty easily. But then Bart asks Kristy out, which thrills her, and they decide to have more games between the two teams.

As for the title reference to “walking disaster,” that is Jackie Rodowski. He is on the team, but constantly causes disasters because of how klutzy he is. I don’t know why he is named in the title, he isn’t really in the book more than any other kid on the team. Kristy does single him out (in her head), to keep pointing out how he always looks messier than the other kids. It is kind of mean, especially since Jackie seems like a sweet kid. But again, he doesn’t do anything to drive the plot. He’s just there.


  • There is some foreshadowing to Emily’s adoption, because Kristy tells us how her mom wants another kid. She is surprised because her mom is at least thirty-seven. She doesn’t know how old her own mom is?

  • Kristy gets nervous around Bart because he looks at her like she is a hot movie star. It kind of reminds me about when Alan asked her out and she was so flattered someone liked her that she said yes.

  • Myriah and Gabbie Perkins are apparently gifted at sports as well as everything else.

  • What exactly is a “rec room?” I have never heard anyone use that term to describe their house, except of course in the BSC. I would guess it is a basement, but Kristy talks about going downstairs to the rec room, then downstairs again to the basement. Am I just clueless about something?

  • The team wants to spell “crushers” with a K, to go with Kristy’s name. Karen is a brat and complains they are spelling it wrong. She even refuses to use the K on her team shirt. Brat. I thought she was supposed to be creative, not an obsessive compulsive.

  • I don’t really see Charlotte Johanssen being a cheerleader. At first she just writes the cheers, but she ends up cheering at the game.

  • Gabbie Perkins is on the team, at two-and-a-half. I think when I read these originally, I didn’t really realize how little that is. How can someone that young really play baseball? And what parent lets there kid play at that age? It is absurd.

  • Jackie breaks a window at the elementary school with a baseball, and the school makes him pay for it (or his parents, anyway). I am trying to decide if that would really happen, or if the school would use insurance.

  • Dawn sees Kristy talking to Bart at a practice and then writes in the club notebook about how she can tell Kristy likes him. That seems a little bitchy, but also like something a real teenager would do.

  • The boys on Bart’s team make fun of Matt Braddock for being deaf. Assholes.

  • So, Bart is oblivious to his team making fun of the Krushers while it is happening. But later, he tells Kristy he found out and apologizes. I want to know how he found out? Did the kids confess or something?

  • The BSC actually cancels a meeting the day before the game. I’m shocked.

  • Ha. After the game, Bart asks Kristy to walk home and her family and Claudia and Dawn all give each other these knowing looks. It is kind of funny, but Kristy is so happy when he says he wants to be “friends,” which is kinda cute.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

“Either way…I was adopted”……BSC # 33: Claudia and the Great Search

Memory Reaction

I don’t remember any of the details of this one, but I know I felt embarrassed for Claud. It is one of those stories where you know someone is going to do something stupid, and cringe in sympathy.

I also think this is the one where she gets some picture of Mimi…then she talks to it in later books. But I may be combining that with other books.

Revisited Reaction

We start out with an awards ceremony for Janine. This makes Claudia feel even dumber than usual, and she keeps thinking about how she is different from the rest of her family. She looks at some old photo albums, and she sees a ton of Janine pictures and almost none of her. So, she decides she must be adopted. She finds a lock box in her parent’s closet, and randomly decides it has her adoption papers. Instead of asking her parents, she decides to investigate, but doesn’t really come to any conclusion – except to declare that since there was no birth announcement in the paper, she must be adopted. Because all births absolutely HAVE to be listed in the paper.

This theory is influenced somewhat by Emily Michelle. Kristy is talking about her a lot, because Emily’s doctor said she was less developed than most two-tear-olds. This means that Emily can’t register for preschool. This is obviously due to the fact that Emily lived in an orphanage, and has only been in the United States for a few months. But, Kristy is worried anyway. Claudia gets a job sitting for her, and tries to help Emily learn shapes and colors and stuff. She does such a good job, that the Brewer’s hire Claudia to be her tutor (cause millionaires can’t afford to get any kind of real tutor, or even to spend time with their kid). But this gets Claudia to see Emily a lot, and when she does, she thinks about how lucky Emily is to be told she is adopted. Well, she would kind of have to be, doesn’t she? I mean, at some point, Emily will be old enough to see that no one else in the family is Asian.

Claudia comes up with all these wild theories about her “birth parents,” but none of them really make sense. Stacey finally convinces her to talk to her parents. As soon as Claud does, they tell her she wasn’t adopted, her birth announcement was in another paper, and they didn’t take as many pictures of her because they were busier when two kids were around. They also point out that she looks exactly like Mimi, which Claud loves. Oh, and that locked box? Full of cash – $500 worth, in case her parents ever need “fast cash” in the middle of the night.

Also, after a few weeks working with Claud, Emily has improved greatly and is now far enough along to get into pre-school for next fall. I guess it is true that peer tutoring works.


  • Let’s start with an outfit: “A long pleated plaid skirt, a white shirt with round collar, stockings, and blue heels.” – Does that sound normal? That’s because it is Janine’s.
  • Here is Claud’s outfit: “A very short black skirt, an oversized white shirt with bright pink and turquoise poodles over it, flat turquoise shoes with ankle straps, and a ton of jewelry, including poodle earrings.” I am ashamed to say I thought clothes like that were once cool to.
  • Claud says that all Janine’s friends walk around with protractors in their pockets. Has anyone ever seen someone actually do this? In my school, even the “dorks” dressed normally.
  • Have I mentioned this before? Cause they say this in every book – it is another sign of the ghostwriters having it out for Mal. When talking about the record book, it is all, “Mary Anne keeps track of my art classes, Jessi’s ballet practice, Kristy’s Krushers practices, and Mal’s orthodontist appointments.” Everyone else gets hobbies and Mal gets orthodontist appointments.
  • This seems kind of mean – the day of her award ceremony, Janine kept running into Claud’s room with different outfits on. Claudia thought they all looked boring, so she says they are all fine. I mean, Janine was probably lucky she didn’t take Claud’s fashion advice, but really. Janine helps Claud with school all the time. Claudia could at least look at her clothes.
  • Fun fact: Claud’s mom is certified to teach elementary school.
  • So, Dawn is sitting at Kristy’s while Kristy is at the Papadakis’s. She brings the kids over to play, and David Michael, Linny, and some other neighbor start to play baseball with Kristy. Meanwhile, Dawn watches Hannie, Emily, and the little Papadakis kid. But, isn’t Hannie on the Krushers? I am sure she is. She should have been playing ball too.
  • Another sign of the genius Perkins girls – Myriah is able to make a perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies with no recipe.
  • Claud reads “Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye,” and decides her life is just like the book. Imagine if she read “The Face on the Milk Carton?”
  • Why is Claud so convinced that birth announcements HAVE to be in the paper?
  • Kristy’s grandmother takes Emily back to the preschool to be evaluated. Wouldn’t this be something parents normally do? I know Kristy’s mom and Watson work, but you’d think they would take time off for something like that.
  • David Michael asks Kristy if he is a good ballplayer, and she says, “you’re getting better.” Nice.
  • Why isn’t Becca Ramsey a Krusher’s cheerleader? They always talk about how she is Charlotte’s BFF, and Charlotte (uncharacteristically) is one, along with Vanessa Pike and Haley Braddock. In later books, I think those four are super close, so why is she left out?
  • Want an example of Claudia’s detective work? She sees birth announcements from the paper for the week she was born, looks up the parents, and calls to find out if they still have a 13-year-old daughter. Perfectly logical. At least she knew to eliminate the boys.
  • She also visits her pediatrician – and when the receptionist says Claudia didn’t start coming there until she was 3, Claud decides it is part of a mass conspiracy theory.
  • Why would Claud’s parents need fast cash in the middle of the night? And if they did, wouldn’t you want to keep more that you could get from an ATM.
  • Claudia never ends up telling the BSC her theory – she only talked about it with Stacey. That is a pretty rare occurrence in these books.