Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“That summer started off like most of the other summers of my life. But by the end of it, everything was different.” BSC: The Summer Before


So, I’m ashamed to admit this, but I was actually looking forward to reading this. I’m not sure what I was expecting, though. There’s really no plot. And certainly no new information revealed. My post is going to be a bit different than most because it’s a new book and I obviously can’t remember reading it as a kid.

The book’s narrator alternates between the four original BSC members. Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia’s stories are somewhat linked because they’re all in Stoneybrook and are interacting with each other. Stacey hasn’t left New York yet, so her story’s kind of isolated. She spends the summer helping her mom pack for the (first) move to Stoneybrook. She’s pretty much friendless because Laine turned on her when she got diabetes, so the only other thing she does is baby-sit for a bunch of kids who give her a good-bye party when she leaves.

Back in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne’s been trying to find out more about her mom. She’s been going through some of her boxes of stuff in the attic. She doesn’t find the letters about living with her grandparents as a baby, but she does find some of her mom’s old dolls. She convinces Kristy to come with her to ask Claudia to help her design clothes for them. Claudia’s horrified at the idea of Mary Anne and Kristy still playing with dolls, which is actually part of a larger issue.

Claudia’s feeling like she’s outgrowing Mary Anne and Kristy, and she’s becoming closer to some of the other “cool” kids in school. She’s also interested in boys, and convinces her parents to let her have a boy-girl pool party at their neighbor’s house for her birthday. Janine invites a couple friends as well, including Frankie, a 14-year-old boy that she knows from her summer school class. Claudia ends up hanging out with Frankie a lot over the summer, and she thinks of him as her boyfriend, even though she isn’t totally sure that he is. But he does come over all the time, invites her to go places with him and his family, and tells her how great her art is. This causes issues with Janine because she had a crush on him, and Claudia’s too clueless to notice, at least at first. But they make up by the end (but then fight again before the next Claudia book, as usual).

Kristy and Mary Anne are doing their own thing, which for Kristy, is baby-sitting. Kristy asks Mary Anne to come with her on a sitting job for the Pikes, and Mary Anne decides she likes it. Her father will only let her sit when she’s with someone (Kristy or Claudia), which Mary Anne can’t stand. But by the end he lets her sit on her own (obviously, since she can sit by herself in Kristy’s Great Idea).

Kristy’s mom’s starting to get closer to Watson, which annoys Kristy. She’s also missing her father, and writes to him hoping it’ll help him remember her twelfth birthday in August. However, the letter comes back as “addressee unknown.” And of course, he doesn’t show up on her birthday. Mary Anne had guessed this would happen, so she plans for a “Kristy Day” the day after her birthday. This is an outing with a bunch of the neighborhood kids, and it does make Kristy feel better.
At the end of the summer, Frankie’s friends come home from camp or summer vacations, and he dumps Claudia. Then she, Kristy, and Mary Anne have a talk about how they want to stay friends and hope they will find something to tie them all together. Hmmm, I wonder what that could be? Anyway, we see the first day of school, when Claudia and Stacey meet, and then the last chapter of the book’s a condensed version of the first part of Kristy’s Great Idea.


  • The first chapter is a Kristy one, and it starts with some transition text about how she and the other girls talked “when they were older,” and they found out they all thought they didn’t belong during the summer before 7th grade. So, I guess the book is sort of supposed to be like they are flashing back?
  • Kristy makes a point of saying how lately she and Mary Anne have been “shocked” at Claud’s outfits. I guess that’s a nice way to say she looked like a freak.
  • I sometimes have a hard time reconciling Mary Anne’s father in the later books with the super strict father in the early books. During summer vacation he leaves her a note saying to call him before 9:30 and then again before any time she leaves the house. It also includes a bunch of rules for her to follow. Which seems a little excessive.
  • Claudia outfit: “[She] was wearing willowy black pants, cinched at the waist with a drawstring, and a boldly patterned summer shirt with ties that she was adjusting around her midriff…Claud had slithered into a lacy black tank top before she’d put on the shirt.” Not too bad, relatively speaking.
  • Kristy said her mom met Watson in May, the year she was in 6th grade. Which means, when they get engaged in the first book, they’ve only been dating four or five months.
  • Claudia has some nice neighbors. How many people would just clear out of their house for a day, and let a bunch of tweens use their pool?
  • The pool owners are the Goldmans, which I am almost positive was the name of Claudia’s neighbors in the Phantom Phone Caller book. I think those were the ones who were robbed.
  • Because Kristy’s still refusing to meet Karen and Andrew at this point, Sam agrees to baby-sit for Karen and Andrew. I would really like to see how that played out.
  • When sitting for the Pikes, Kristy and Mary Anne play a game called “Tail Trail,” where someone says an animal, and then the next person has to think of an animal that starts with whatever letter the last one ended with (like elk, then kangaroo, then otter, etc). We used to play that on car trips, only with countries instead of animals. But we never called it “Tail Trail.”
  • There are a couple scenes where people talk about “watching for meteors.” Kristy’s whole family actually sits out one night to watch for them. It just seemed odd to me.
  • Stacey tells us how Laine had really turned into a mean girl BEFORE she got diabetes…supposedly it started right after Laine got back from camp before sixth grade started. Which would be fine, except it totally contradicts what happened in the Baby-sitters Remember.
  • Mary Anne freaks out when she hears an ad for back to school supplies at the beginning of August (because she doesn’t want summer to end), and her dad just laughs at her. It’s kind of amusing.
  • Stacey’s surprised that you can get take out in the “country.” You would think a sophisticated person would know the difference between suburbs and the country.
  • When the McGills get to their new place, a neighbor comes by with some food from a bakery to welcome them. And Stacey’s all, “wow people are as nice here as they are in the city.” Which just seemed funny to me, because you usually hear people say the opposite.
  • Kristy says her dad is re-married, but didn’t that happen in one of the Friends Forever books? Which was way after this book takes place.
  • The first day Stacey meets Claud, she decides Claudia must have decorated her bell-bottoms herself. How would she know this? Isn’t the idea that Claudia does such a good job it looks “professional?”
  • Claudia also wears a fluorescent-green hat, that Stacey says looks like a “bejeweled engineer’s cap.”
  • Just for fun, I flipped through a copy of the re-released Kristy’s Great Idea, to see if I could find any of the updates they supposedly did. The only thing I found was that in the beginning, instead of the line where Kristy said she was always closer to Mary Anne than Claudia, it says how they Claudia was starting to drift apart over the summer, but then they had a talk about it at the end of the summer.
  • In the re-release, there’s a scene where Kristy’s description of her clothes changes. In the K she said how Claudia and Stacey were wearing “cool” clothes, but she and Mary Anne had on skirts and blouses, and that she (Kristy) was wearing knee socks and loafers. But in the new description Kristy’s wearing jeans and sneakers. Claud’s outfits stays all stay the same. The line about sheep being “in” is in there as well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“A star from Stoneybrook? Are you kidding?”…… BSC # 27: Jessi and the Superbrat

Memory Reaction

I always just think of this book as the one that introduced Derek Masters, the child star, who I always liked as a character. He makes a few other appearances down the line. The scene that really sticks in my head is the one where Jessi first meets Derek. I remember how shocked she was that he didn’t look anything like the character he played on his show. I think the main difference was that the character wore glasses, but Derek didn’t. And when he explained it to Jessi, he was all, “It’s only the character, I have twenty-twenty vision.” I guess this makes the BSC the only place other than Superman where glasses seem to make that big of a difference in someone’s looks.

Now, the reason this book’s a significant one, is that it was the starting point in the books I owned sequentially. I was missing a lot of the early ones, but starting at #27 I had every single one. However, at some point, I loaned out one and it made another hole (which drove me crazy).

Revisited Reaction

The book starts with Jessi learning about the existence of Derek. The quick background’s that he’s an eight-year-old kid from Stoneybrook, who did some commercials/modeling. He ended up getting a role on a TV show called P.S. 162, which is about an inner-city classroom. The Masters family moved to L.A. when Derek got the role, but they kept their house in Stoneybrook. Coincidentally, right after Jessi learns about Derek, his mother calls the BSC. The family’s back in Stoneybrook while Derek’s show’s on hiatus, and of course they need baby-sitters.

Jessi gets many of the jobs and bonds with Derek. However, he’s having a hard time adjusting back to life in a normal school. The girls chase him around and the boys give him a hard time. Derek tells Jessi stories about what the kids do to him, and singles out one of them, named John, as the worst. He supposedly does things like throw books across the playground and push people down in the playground. Jessi nicknames John the “Superbrat.” After awhile, things get better for Derek. The turning point’s when Claudia’s sitting for him. They run into some other boys on the playground, and Claudia invites them back to Derek’s house. They end up getting along, but none of the boys is the Superbrat.

However, not soon after he makes friends, Derek gets a part in a TV movie, which is starting shooting fairly quickly. So, the family’s moving back to LA. I’m not sure why they bothered moving back to Connecticut and enrolling the boys in school if they were trying to get him other work during the show’s hiatus. But then we wouldn’t have a book, so I’ll go with it. Jessi gets the BSC to plan a surprise party to say goodbye. They do it as a breakfast party, which I always thought seemed like a cool idea. They invite Derek’s whole class, but can’t track down John (aka the Superbrat). Afterwards, Jessi asks Derek about this. Derek admits that there was no Superbrat and that when he talked about John, he was talking about things he did to other kids. Apparently, he thought acting like an asshole would help him make friends.

Now, while all this was happening, Jessi was auditioning to appear in a production of Swan Lake at the Stoneybrook Civics Center....aka the greatest theater ever. Or at least a practically “off-off-Broadway” theater. Derek suggests Jessi look into modeling and acting. His logic’s that then she could become an actress like him and move to LA, so he could still see her. So, Jessi decides out of nowhere that she doesn’t care about ballet anymore. She gets her supposedly strict parents to agree to her calling talent agencies about modeling jobs. However, she DOES end up getting a part in the ballet and realizes she doesn’t want to model after all.


I like that Jessi was only auditioning for (and only got) a smaller part in the ballet, she’s just a member of the corps. It makes sense that would be the case for this type of show, and it’s kind of annoying for her to always be the lead.

After Jessi finds out that a kid from Stoneybrook has a part on a TV show, she gets very excited and thinks, “wow, I can’t wait to bring this up at the next BSC meeting!” Because these girls can’t just talk to their friends, they need to bring it up at a meeting?

Jessi mentions that keeping track of Derek’s show business career’s an entire job for Mrs. Masters. But she never mentions what Mr. Masters does. In fact, he’s hardly mentioned. But what kind of job does he have that he can just move back and forth between Connecticut and California?

Claudia outfit: “She had two French braids pulled back into one…she was wearing a bright pink T-shirt, a short red flouncy skirt, and underneath the skirt she had on black footless tights that she had rolled up to mid-calf.” I always wished I could French braid my own hair.

Are we really supposed to believe that Stoneybrook Civic Center’s such a wonderful theater? And that all these dancers from New York City come to Stoneybrook for the audition? Really?

Jessi says that Derek lets his little brother win at Candy Land. Now, it has been a long time since I have seen a Candy Land board, but how do you let someone win? Don’t you just draw cards to move ahead spaces, and the person who gets to the end first wins?

Derek has some interesting insults in his vocabulary: “Anvil head, cactus brain, and pizza breath.” He’s talking to the triplets when he uses them.

When Derek talks about how going back to a “normal” school was hard he mentions that the teacher made him stand in front of room and talk a little about working on a TV show. Which, I really don’t think is that bad.

Now, having a reporter and photographer in the classroom when Derek enters is a bit obnoxious. At the very least, they should have given Derek (and his parents) a heads up.

Of course, when Karen hears about a kid from Stoneybrook getting famous, she thinks she can follow in his tracks. Then when she finally gets a chance to meet Derek, she’s too embarrass to introduce herself. Kristy ends up doing it for her.

Becca’s also pretty obnoxious around Derek. She has a crush on another kid on the show, so she keeps running around after Derek and asking questions about the other kid.

Apparently, P.S. 162’s the hot new family show. Jessi and Kristy’s families both watch it together (at least occasionally). But it sounds more like a junior Saved by the Bell to me. Derek even plays the part of a science geek named Waldo, which has me picturing Screech.

I guess the Derek is the Superbrat thing’s supposed to be a surprise, but it really shouldn’t be. There’s one point where Nicky specifically tells Mallory (who tells Jessi) that Derek threw a kid’s lunch all over him. And Jessi’s all, “oh, the Superbrat pushed him too far.” She never even considers that Derek could be doing something wrong.

There are some girls at the Swan Lake audition that stand around criticizing whatever dancer happens to be on stage. Jessi keeps referring to them as “cliquey” and “gossipy,” but what I think she really means is bitchy.

I also don’t think “Superbrat” is the best word to use when talking about someone who’s essentially a bully. But I guess “asshole” was too strong for a kid’s book.

Derek and Mrs. Masters pick Jessi up at her dance audition, and the’re apparently there long enough for Derek to write down a bunch of notes the bitchy girls were making about her performance. I remembered this part, but I thought there was some explanation for them picking her up, like they were on their way home from somewhere. But, no. Mrs. Master’s just offered to do it because with Derek’s show on break, she didn’t have enough to do.

The BSC knows something’s off about the Superbrat, because there’s no John in Derek’s class. I find that a little hard to believe. I think there were 4-5 Johns in my graduating class, so I would think an elementary school class would have at least one.

This book had another one of those scenes were I could envision the entire scene as soon as I read it. In this case, it’s the fact that the girls all wear bathrobes at Derek’s going away party (because it was in the morning). Kristy also wanted them to wear curlers in their hair, but everyone else refused.

The whole thing with Jessi and modeling is even more random than I remembered it. Derek mentions it, she thinks, “hey, yeah! I could model and act.” Then she starts calling all these talent agencies. I thought I remembered there being a little more build up to it, but there’s not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“It must be ear-piercing season in Stoneybrook!”…….BSC # 21: Mallory and the Trouble With Twins

Memory Reaction

This wasn’t a book I owned, so I didn’t read it that many times. I do remember what happens because every time the Arnold twins were featured, we got the background story on how Mallory helped them start wearing different clothes. And the other main plot of this book is that several of the girls get their ears pierced, which is mentioned in almost every book. I also remember thinking that Mal’s parents must be really strict, because I got my ears pierced when I was six.

What this book really makes me think of, is a scene from one of the BSC Videos. It’s the one where Claudia’s trying to sell her jewelry, but Karen steals it because she wants more attention. However, at some point there’s a reference to the Arnold twins. One of the girls complains about the twins using a secret language and Jessi volunteers for the job, saying she can use Pig Latin to tell them “ime-tay or-fay ed-bay” or “time for bed.” It’s truly burned in my brain as though I saw it yesterday. I’m not sure why that part is and not other things.

Revisited Reaction

Mallory feels like she’s babyish/nerdy/whatever and wants to cut her hair, get her ears pierced, get new clothes, wear contacts…..and generally just not be 11. This seems to be the background of almost every Mallory book, but I guess this is the first time it’s fleshed out.

This is the book where we’re introduced to the Arnold twins, who become regular clients. Mallory gets a steady job with them that’s supposed to last couple months. Her first day, she makes the mistake of saying they look cute dressed alike and the twins turn into brats. They take off their bracelets with their names on them, so Mal can’t tell who’s who, and they babble in a made up “secret language.” When Claudia sits for them, the twins switch places, so that Carolyn ends up at Marilyn’s piano lesson, which pisses off the teacher and Mr. and Mrs. Arnold.

Eventually, Mallory thinks to use Pig Latin when sitting for them, to show them what it’s like when someone leaves you out of a conversation. She ends up teaching the girls how to speak it, and bonds with them. The twins tell her they hate dressing alike and being called “adorable,” and they’re annoyed with people who can’t tell them apart. Mallory encourages them to talk to their mother about this and of course, Mrs. Arnold agrees to let them start picking out their own clothes and dressing differently (because parents will agree to do anything if a BSC member recommends it). Mallory goes shopping with them to pick out some items, and as soon as the girls dress differently, their friends at school try to tell them apart. So, everyone is happy.

The twins’ success convinces Mallory to talk to her own parents, and she gets permission to get a “cool” haircut and have her ears pierced. Then Jessi gets the okay to get hers done, and Claudia gets permission to get a second hole in one ear. The BSC all goes to get this done together, because in BSC land, stores will pierce holes in 11-year-olds ears without their parents around. At the last minute, Dawn ends up getting two holes done in her ears. Afterwards, all these new piercings get mentioned in the character descriptions in every book.


  • We open with the entire Pike family driving to the mall in one car. Don’t they normally use two cars when the whole family’s traveling? Or is that just on vacations? Either way, ten people in one car’s a tight fit.
  • Mallory says that Kristy only asks if people have been reading the club notebook on Mondays, but I could swear she does it much more in later books.
  • Speaking of the notebook, Claudia sat for the Arnolds on Saturday, and by Monday’s club meeting everyone had already read about it in the notebook. How exactly did they get that done? Do they pass the book around at school or just read it bBulleted Listefore the club meeting?
  • Claudia ends up drawing two different smiley faces on the twins’ hands to tell them apart. I guess I see why she did it, but it seems a bit mean to do. It’s like she’s marking them.
  • I kept thinking that one of the girls should just ask Mrs. Arnold how to tell the twins apart (they have a mole on different sides of their faces).
  • Mallory books always have a lot of outfit descriptions. Here’s a Claudia one: “A T-shirt she’d painted herself, tight blue pants that ended just past her knees, push-down socks, and no shoes. From her ears dangled small baskets of fruit.” She’s in her room at the time, I assume she wore shoes to school.
  • Mary Anne actually has a worse outfit: “A short plum-colored skirt over a plum-and-white striped body suit. The legs of the body suit stopped just above her ankles, and she’d tucked the bottoms into her socks…the neat thing about her outfit was that she was wearing white suspenders with her skirt.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use the word “neat” to describe suspenders.
  • Dawn: “This cool oversized blue shirt. One of the coolest things about it was that it was green inside, so that when she turned the collar down and rolled the sleeves up, you could see these nice touches of green…she was wearing a green skirt – and clogs.” I remember that outfit, I always thought a shirt like that seemed cool.
  • We get a mention of how (ever since she broke it) Claudia’s leg hurts when it’s going to rain. Is that believable? I’m honestly not sure. I do know they mentioned this in some books, but I think the references to it died out as the series went on.
  • Do I even have to mention the unrealistic-ness of kids getting their ears pierced without a parent present?
  • After the twins switch places on Claudia, the Arnolds tell her how disappointed they are in the job she did. When Claudia’s telling the BSC about it, she says they “scolded” her. It just seems really off. Does anyone really use that word? Let alone someone who can barely spell their own name…
  • Also, it seems a bit bitchy of Mrs. Arnold to yell at Claud for this. This was the first day she met them, and they lied about who’s who. How was she supposed to prevent that?
  • Mallory keeps describing how Mrs. Arnold’s over-dressed, or at least over-accessorized. She calls it “fussy” and talks about how she has matching everything. I guess this makes sense considering how she dressed the twins, but I don’t remember her being described that way later on.
  • Mallory’s reading the book Dicey’s Song. I haven’t thought about that book in ages, but I definitely read it. I believe I read the whole series.
  • As a kid, I loved hearing the description of how to speak Pig Latin in this one. I’m not sure if I knew how to speak it before then or not, but either way I liked seeing the explanation written out.
  • One of the twins’ gifts is “jump sticks,” which makes me remember how much I wanted one as a kid.
  • I know how they always say the Arnold twins are different people, but they don’t really tell us that much about them in this book, just that Marilyn’s musical and Carolyn’s into science. That’s not an in-depth description of their personalities, it’s just a list of their hobbies. However, I think we’re given more in-depth descriptions later on in the series, so I won’t complain too much.
  • Mrs. Arnold seems a lot like Mrs. Prezzioso in this book – the twins are always wearing dresses that are super frilly. What kind of parent has the time to always make sure their kids are dressed up and looking nice? Don’t these kids ever run around outside?
  • While shopping, Marilyn tries on a $135 mohair sweater. Who puts clothing that expensive in the children’s section of a department store?
  • Mary Anne complains that her dad won’t let her get her ears pierced, but I thought in other books she didn’t even want them.
  • When Mallory asks if she can use her baby-sitting money on clothes, her parents are like, “of course,” as long as she’s sensible. So, what’s with all the complaining about how she can’t wear the clothes she likes? I’m sure her parents wouldn’t want her to wear anything too slutty, but it doesn’t seem like they need to pre-approve every outfit. I think they just don’t want to be the ones to pay for the “cool” (and impractical) things.
  • Mrs. Pike actually seemed fairly laid back about the ear piercing thing. I don’t know how many times Mallory’s supposed to have asked before, but in this one she pleads a little and swears to never wear anything “wild.” Her mom just says, “oh, I got mine done when I was twelve, you’re close to that. But you need to wear fun, crazy earrings sometimes or what’s the point?”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is exactly what I needed for my autobiography”…….BSC Portrait Collection: Dawn’s Book

Memory Reaction

I remember thinking how much of a hypocrite Dawn was in this book. Because when she was a kid, she apparently hated Sunny (at least at first), and thought she was weird. And in the “present,” Dawn’s the one always so proud of how she’s an “individual.” It was one of the few times (as a kid) that I really disliked Dawn…most of her more annoying traits didn’t seem SO bad when I was younger. At least not usually.

Also, there’s a section where Dawn’s family’s in San Francisco and they walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. When I was in San Francisco a few years ago, I felt like I should walk over the bridge. I’m afraid it may have been influenced by this book.

Revisited Reaction

This is right after Dawn has moved to California (for good), and it turns out she has to write her autobiography too.

So, Dawn was born in California. Her mother was past her due date, so her parents went for a walk on the beach, and then her mom went into labor. But they still had time to get to the hospital, so it’s not that interesting a story. When Dawn was little, her parents took her to the beach a lot and it was clear even then that she was a beach-loving-California-girl. But she supposedly did normal stuff too.

When Dawn was six, there were no kids her own age in her neighborhood, until Sunny Winslow’s family moved in down the street. At first, Dawn thought her new neighbors were weird, because the Winslows were hippies (hence naming their daughter Sunshine Daydream Winslow). They also planted flowers in the shape of a peace sign, didn’t have a TV, didn’t buy Barbie dolls for Sunny because the plastic they’re made from are bad for the environment, etc. They also tie-dye their own clothes in their lawn, which sounds totally fun to me. Dawn tries to avoid Sunny, but their mothers arrange to go on a shopping trip together. Because they’re awful parents, Dawn’s mom and Mrs. Winslow leave Sunny and Dawn (at age 6) in the toy section while they go look at other stuff. A power failure hits, and the adults get stuck in an elevator. But since Sunny and her mom know Morse code, they can communicate with each other by tapping on the doors, and Sunny translates to the crew working on getting them out. So, Dawn decides that she likes Sunny and doesn’t care if people think she’s weird.

When Dawn was ten, her grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary. The Schafers decide to take them on a weekend away in San Francisco. First, Mrs. Schafer tells the kids that they have to schedule “resting” time because her parents are “elderly” and not able to walk all over the city. But, “Pop-Pop” puts a stop to that and says he wants to do all the active stuff. But he and “Granny” don’t seem all lovey-dovey, which worries Dawn. But when Pop-Pop’s late for dinner (Jeff told him the wrong time), Granny’s all worried. So then Dawn realizes they do love each other, and thinks that her parents will follow their example. Which, of course doesn’t happen.

When Dawn was twelve (and still in California) she was obsessed with fire safety. She makes her family draw up an escape plan and then runs drills, where she blows a whistle in the middle of the night to see if her parents and Jeff actually get up and leave the house. Then, when she’s sitting for her neighbors, she smells smoke, so she takes the kids next-door to her house and calls 911. They fire department comes, puts out the fire, and Dawn gets the hero treatment. I think this story’s actually mentioned in Dawn’s first appearance in the series, but she leaves off the annoying obsession part.

When Dawn was thirteen (and in Stoneybrook), she totally disappoints a little kid. She’s the first BSC member to sit for a new client. While there, the parents get a phone call, but before they leave a message, they put her on hold. So, while she’s waiting, Dawn looks through a pile of mail on the counter and finds a note from the school saying that the girl needs to repeat second grade. At a second job, Dawn mentions this letter to the little girl, who had no idea that she was being held back. The parents yell at Dawn, because they weren’t planning to tell her until the end of summer. They vow to never use the BSC again, and the girls are so busy, no one else notices they lost a client.


  • If Dawn’s birthday’s in February, how come she’s always 13? Shouldn’t she be 13 for the first half of her 8th grade career and then 14 for the second half? I understand why they couldn’t show that, but they really should have just made all their birthdays in the summer. Then they would be same age for an entire school year and the issue’s less obvious.
  • Wasn’t Jeff’s comedian thing a new habit in one of the early books? So, why are we seeing it happen in all of Dawn’s flashbacks?
  • Dawn says that in first grade, two of her closest friends were Jill and Maggie, who are in We (Heart) Kids later on. But, I seem to remember Dawn saying that she wasn’t that close with them when they’re introduced.
  • Dawn also says that of her friends, Jill’s the one who’s best at surfing. But I seem to remember Dawn saying that she and Sunny were the surfers, and Maggie and Jill weren’t into it.
  • Dawn thinks it’s weird that the Winslows have a waterbed. I would think Dawn would be into a waterbed, since she’s all about water. I remember in elementary school, this girl in my class had a waterbed, and everyone liked going to her house because of that.
  • When Dawn was in preschool, she and a friend would build an Eiffel Tower out of blocks, and then get mad when other kids wanted to knock it down to build something else. So, she and this other girl glue the blocks together. I think that’s an early sign of Dawn’s ‘all about me attitude.’ Her teacher did make them clean up all the blocks.
  • The guy in the store tells six-year-old Sunny he hopes he would have her with him if he ever got stuck on a desert island. Too bad Dawn didn’t have Sunny with her when she was stranded.
  • Sure, Dawn. You and Sunny, Jill, and Maggie aren’t an obnoxious clique. Just like the BSC isn’t one.
  • Dawn’s mother says, “my parents are having their golden anniversary next month.” And Dawn asks, “Granny and Pop-pop?” Like it is a question. I mean how many sets of parents does Mrs. Schafer have?
  • Dawn’s so obnoxious about the fire stuff, it kind of reminds me of her attitude about the environment. When she brings the sitting charges into her house during the fire, her mom thinks they are just playing. There’s a reason to not want to be the girl/boy who cried wolf.
  • Dawn gets some kind of medal for “saving” the kids in the fire. It’s some community award of the month…she gets one and a woman who had been a foster parent to twenty children (over a long period of time) gets one. Because those things are totally comparable.
  • While I like the reference to the BSC actually making a mistake, and not impressing a parent, I find it hard to believe that no one realized it had happened. With the obsession the BSC has about keeping records, they just don’t notice that they lose a client? I guess it’s more realistic than thinking a parent would call and tell Kristy about the problem, but it doesn’t jive with the rest of the series.
  • For those who care, Dawn’s grade was an A- for content and a B for presentation. I wonder how exactly those categories were made up…content seems like a weird term to use when they’re writing about themselves.
  • Who writes stuff in their autobiography that they wouldn’t tell anyone else? I mean, their teachers are reading them. Again, I get that they need to make the stories interesting to work as a book, but I would think they could come up with a better framing device.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

“She won’t be wasting time with us if she can be seeing Robert instead”….BSC # 76: Stacey’s Lie

Memory Reaction

Usually, when the BSCers have fights, it’s portrayed in a somewhat positive light – where no one did anything to horrible. But I remember Stacey was a real bitch in this one. She basically lies to everyone and keeps sneaking off to see her boyfriend. Also, the cover of this book tries to make it look like a romance novel, and totally played a part in my unrealistic expectations of teenage boys.

Looking back, I can sympathize somewhat with Stacey, because of the situation with her father. I remember that he surprises her with the fact that he’s dating again, and then Stacey’s left to tell her mother about it. Which, is kind of awkward for her. Stacey was always whining about her parent’s putting her in the middle, but in this book she actually has reason to.

Revisited Reaction

Stacey’s boyfriend Robert gets a job working on the ferry to Fire Island, where his family has a house. He’s going to spend the whole summer there, so Stacey’s a bit bummed about it. However, her father tells her that he wants to take her on a two-week vacation, and she gets to pick the place. So, of course, she picks Fire Island, but doesn’t tell her dad why. She also invites Claudia to come for the whole trip (at her dad’s suggestion), and Kristy, Mary Anne, and Shannon to come for one weekend. However, she doesn’t tell them about Robert either.

Once they get there, Claudia finds out about Robert right away, but Mr. McGill doesn’t. Luckily for Stacey, her dad spends much of his time with Mr. Majors, this friend of his who has a house there. This means that Stacey can run off and hang out with Robert every chance she gets, without letting her father know. Claudia, however, does notice Stacey’s behavior, and gets a little annoyed at always being abandoned. Stacey agrees to have a nice dinner with just the two of them, to make it up to Claud. But some friend of Robert’s invites him and Stacey to go on a “sunset cruise” in his boat the same night. Stacey tries to rush Claudia through the dinner, so she can meet Robert, but Claudia figures out what’s happening and they get in a huge fight. Meanwhile, when Kristy, Mary Anne, and Shannon come out for a weekend, they take Claud’s side. When they leave, Claudia goes with them, because why would Claudia stay on a vacation with someone who keeps abandoning her?

Stacey goes for a walk with Robert and they bump into her father….with some woman. It turns out her dad has a new girlfriend, Samantha, and he wanted her to come to Fire Island. So, he got a second house for Samantha to stay in, and whenever he claimed to be hanging out with “Mr. Majors” he was actually going off to see Samantha. Mr. McGill and Stacey get into a fight about their respective lies. A few days after this, Robert breaks up with Stacey, because he saw her lie to everyone so easily. But, eventually everyone makes up. Stacey talks to her dad about his girlfriend and tries to accept it. Robert also approaches her and says he was a little mad at first, but still wanted to stay together. She and Claudia also make up, but almost completely off-screen.

The subplot’s about Vanessa Pike and Haley Braddock (who are attending a day camp Mal and Jessi are working at). Vanessa and Haley bought the same bathing suit, and are each mad at the other for “copying them.” They make up at the end too, because Mal and Jessi are THAT good with kids. I would give more details, but I don’t want to put anyone to sleep.

  • I didn’t remember this until I started reading it, but there’s this scene where Stacey gets all dressed up, describes her outfit, then decides it’s too “summery” out, and changes her clothes. Then we get a whole new outfit.
  • Stacey changes from, “A pair of blue tights, black canvas walking shorts, a long-sleeved blue T-shirt, and a pair of black flats,” to “a one piece shorts dress with [a] gold, red and green Aztec pattern…[and] a pair of tan woven flats.”
  • I wouldn’t have noticed this if I hadn’t read Jessi and the Troublemaker last week, but both books had a “Mr. Majors” in them. I wonder if the ghostwriters had a list of approved names or something?
  • Stacey outfit: “This super cue flowing pants outfit with a sunflower print against a navy blue background. It had a high waist, cap sleeves, and scoop neck, and the pants were long and full.” I actually had an outfit almost like that, but it had tiny white flowers, not sunflowers.
  • Claudia outfit: “A long, black, crocheted vest that fell to her knees over a pair of black shorts and a white blouse with ruffles at the collar and cuffs…on her feet, were black sandals with a thick platform sole and white ribbons which laced around her ankles.” Those pieces don’t sound too bad individually, but together it seems like a bit much.
  • Hey, a pop culture reference that isn’t totally dated….Stacey said she and Claud think Johnny Depp is cute. Or do 13-year-olds not care about him? I’m clearly getting old, because I’m not sure.
  • Mallory and Jessi gets jobs as counselors at the day camp the town’s community center has. They claim they are getting actual paychecks. Can you even get working papers when you’re eleven? I could buy them getting paid under the table or something, but not them getting actual checks.
  • At the day camp, the kids all get to make lanyards. Wow, I remember doing that at day camp. It seemed like a lot more fun then, than it does thinking back.
  • This is yet another vacation where Claudia convinces all her friends to be in a parade. I’m surprised Claudia, who’s very into appearing “cool” would be so willing to participate in them. But then again…we do know what she wears on a daily basis.
  • In order to do the parade, Claudia asks Kristy to bring some supplies when she, Mary Anne, and Shannon come for the weekend. Claud and Stacey need to take the ferry to town so that they can send a fax to Watson. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just call? I know they would have had to pay for a long distance call, but they must have paid for the fax too.
  • Stacey says that she visits Robert on his breaks from works, which seem to happen every time the ferry docks on the Fire Island side. But, when she and Claudia take the ferry to town, Robert has a break and gets to sit with them on the way back. I’d like a job with that many breaks.
  • Even though Stacey lies to everyone, she doesn’t get into any trouble. She and her dad have a fight, but there are no consequences for her lying and taking advantage of her father’s offer about a vacation.
  • Stacey outfit: “This white and blue sundress with a dropped waist and a square sailor collar.”
  • It seems kind of weird that Robert’s adult co-worker would invite him and Stacey to go on a “sunset cruise.”
  • Stacey really does act like a bitch in this one. She’s trying to rush Claudia through dinner (to see Robert), so she lies and says she needs to eat because of her blood sugar. She thinks this will get Claudia to pick out what to wear faster. Then she gets annoyed that Claud tries to give her a snack before they leave.
  • For anyone interested, Claud’s theme for the parade is sandcastles. She builds a big one on a plank that they pull on a couple of attached wagons. That seems really impractical to me, but whatever. Kristy’s the prince, Mary Anne’s the princess, Shannon’s the lady-in-waiting, Claudia’s the court jester, and Stacey’s the dragon. (This is when Claud’s pissed at her).
  • Claudia is probably the only person who would willingly dress like a court jester.
  • Claudia had been taking pictures of all her sand castles, and when a woman in the local art gallery saw them, she put them up for sale. By the time Stacey sees them, a couple have already sold, and the owner mentions she hasn’t seen Claudia back in the gallery. Shouldn’t the owner have gotten Claud’s home contact info before selling her stuff? I mean, maybe she did have it and would have contacted Claud eventually, but it seems kind of weird.
  • Also, is it legal to sell artwork from a 13-year-old?
  • Stacey questions what her father would have done with Samantha if she’d chosen a different location for the trip. He doesn’t answer, but I’m really curious as well.
  • Mr. McGill says he was originally going to take a vacation with just Samantha, but he worked things out so that he could do “both.” I think it’s a pretty crappy way to treat both Samantha AND Stacey. And I certainly wouldn’t go on a vacation with some guy and his daughter, if the daughter didn’t know I existed.