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?”


Amy said...

This one will always, always, always have a special place in my heart, as it's the first one I ever bought. Happy sigh.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

I got my ears pierced when I was 8 and I thought I was old to be getting it done! Oddly I think I read this book soon after that.

Also, an off-topic question: wasn't there a BSC book where Carolyn tried to build a time machine?

SJSiff said...

Regarding suspenders...we have a home video of my brother's 4(ish) birthday party, and was thrilled to death with everything he got, just because they were his presents. At one point, he tears off the wrapping paper, looks at what's inside, and starts exclaiming while jumping up and down "Suspenders! Suspenders!"

Nerd Girl said...

At 19, I still have un-pierced ears. I never saw what the big deal was. My sisters got theirs pierced at 17, 16, and 15, but I wasn't interested. My aunt had my cousin's ears pierced when they were babies. I don't really see having your ears pierced as a sign of being mature or grown up.

Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taylor said...

i really hate how the bsc books over use the word "wild". it usually is in place for "omg claudia, thats super ugly" or just fun and crazy. wild?

Devika said...

I broke my ankle when I was 12, and it kills before it rains, or worse, snows! My dad broke his wrist when he was 18, and he tells me the pre-rain ache gets a little better with age, but not much (which is unfortunate for people like Claudia and myself).

Paigealicious! said...

I got my ears pierced on my 7th birthday, but I knew a lot of people in elementary school who'd had their ears pierced as babies (do people still do that to their babies?).

Adam's Clayton said...

Oh yeah, I've broken both my ankles and all my toes (I'm some kind of medical wonder) and you would not believe how bad my feet ache before a storm. It's weird, it's got something to do with barometric pressure and that somehow affects the marrow in your bones. No lie. Weird, huh?

Adam's Clayton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

Stephanie - Yes, Carolyn builds a time machine in #60 Mary Anne's Makeover.

I totally wanted every single outfit in this book when I was younger....

(My word verification is "anshr," which is how Claudia spells the word "answer.") :)

Laurel said...

"ears pierced as babies (do people still do that to their babies?)."

My friend's sister, who is crazy, has two little girls, and not only did they get their ears pierced as babies, but she's been dying their hair blonde since they were around two and half years old.

I always liked this book a lot too, which is weird cause I generally don't like the ones where the baby-sitting plots are the A story.

***my word verification is "aiked", which is how Claudia spells how her leg aiked when it rained. (I like this game)

Roxarita said...

OMG Mary Anne's outfit is something I would have loved circa 1990 (probably the year I read this for the first time)

(My word verification is geyse - as in Claudia writes, "Oh muy lord, yu geyse!")

booboobrewer said...

The pre-rain ache is definitely real :)

BSC AG, the story about your brother is funny. Sounds like something an actual BSC client would do!

Jade said...

Is Mallory ever anyone's favourite? She always bugged me, probably because I thought she was boring. Her claim to fame seems to be red hair, glasses and a ridiculously huge family.

Devika said...

@ Paigealicious! @ Laurel

Whoa harsh! My parents got my ears pierced when I was 1 (a doctor has to do it at that age). My mom just thought it was really cute for a baby girl to have pierced ears (cute as in bloomers and pacifiers-way, not a creepy toddlers in tiaras thing).

Or maybe it's a cultural thing (my grandparents are from India, and I see plenty of little girls with their ears pierced out there).

PS @ Laurel, I think dying your child's hair is abhorrent, so I do agree with you on that one!

sara star said...

Considering in all the drawings of Mallory she looks like 25, she is like the Andrea Zuckerman of 90210. I bet that the ear piercing place just assumed she was old enough to get them pierced alone.

maria said...

Mrs. Arnold does sound really mean in this book. I actually really like Mary Anne's outfit. But a cat suit? It sounds like something Stacey would have worn, not preppy Mary Anne.

I had my ear pierced as a baby. It may be a culture thing because all my Mexican family always pierces the daughters ears before age 1. I remember being really confused during an episode of Full House in which Stephanie or DJ wanted pierced ears. I was like, um, didn't they do that to you when you were a baby?

Love the word verification game. Mine is pansheti and unfortunately, I can't think of anything. :(

A said...

@ Jade: I could relate to Mallory, so I liked her :D But maybe that's just me.

Good post, this is one of my favorites =)

And my word verification is 'sesse', which is how I imagine Claudia to spell..'Seuss.' Like, 'I sat for the Bradocks and red them a bok by Dr. Sesse." :D

dragonzflame said...

I never got why everyone thought it was so dibble for Dawn to have two sets of holes. In every chapter two, it was italicised, sometimes with an exclamation mark. Whooptie doo.

I had a second set done when I was 14, and while I like it, I've never felt I needed to comment on it. I just see it as a victory for the power of nagging my parents. Especially as I wasn't supposed to have my ears pierced at all till I was 15, but by the time I was 7 managed to wear them down. Perhaps the BSC should have tried harder.

Stephanie said...

thanks Emily, I'll have to look for that one to re-read it!

Kait W. said...

What kind of sixth grader would promise to never wear wild earrings? Between fifth and eighth grade, I think I wore nothing but wild earrings. That's what stores like Claire's are for. (BTW, I also got my ears pierced as a baby, second holes by seventh grade, although the second holes closed up.)

This was one of my favorite BSC books, mostly because of all the talk about shopping and outfits.

Anonymous said...

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 before the club meeting?

it was told in as different book that they read it before the meeting beings

mopie said...

This is my absolute favorite BSC book so this was so fun to read!

In other books, Mallory says she's not allowed to wear wild earrings, which always drove me crazy given the conversation in this book that says the exact opposite.

Also, my BSC pet peeve (and I think it's even in this book) is when Mallory calls the Pike triplets such "individuals" and talks about their totally different personalities... and yeah, Byron is shy... but I defy anyone to name one difference between Adam and Jordan that is brought up in any other BSC book. Go ahead, try. You can't do it!

Kait W. said...

They did mention Jordan taking piano lessons in Dawn and the Impossible Three. When Buddy went missing, Jordan saw him get in the car when he was being picked up for his lesson. I don't remember them ever talking about Jordan playing the piano again, but they never talked about the others taking it either.

Laura said...

Kait: It is mentioned in at least two other books that I can think of that Jordan takes piano lessons. In Mallory and the Dream Horse Mal asks her parents for money to take riding lessons and says that if she pays for half herself they won't even cost as much as Jordan's piano lessons. Also, in Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym) when Ben and Mal switch brothers for a night, Ben tells Mal that Jordan played the piano for them after dinner.

Before the piano lessons were brought up, I couldn't think of one single difference between Adam and Jordan, either.

This was the book that taught me Pig Latin. I didn't know it before so I was slightly confused when A, B, J and Jessi were talking both Pig Latin and Op Talk in Poor Mallory which, incidentally, was the first BSC book I ever read.

My 'word verification' word is neduddl which is how Caludia spells the singular form of the tools she knits with.

Kait W. said...

@Laura: Thanks! I stopped reading the series before that, so no wonder I missed those references.

So Byron is shy and Jordan takes piano lessons. What is Adam's identifying trait?

Unknown said...

yeah jordan still takes piano lessons. plus he seems to be the more in charge, tough guy than adam anyways.

Adam seems to have that in chagrge leadership thing going for him. plus he hates being ordered around and being around girls and sissies. he's also the one to often pick on nicky the most.

this was one of my favorite mallory books growing up too. but i like the arnold twins though. they seem realistic.

p.s., mary anne's outfit doesnt sound boring to me. same with dawn's.

totally want dawn's outfit though.

Anonymous said...

It's the first BSC book I ever bought, and I also thought that Mallory's parents were really stricts about the earrings thing. In my country (France, in case you were wondering) a lot of babies are getting their ears pierced around one! At the time I thought it must have been an American thing ^^

Isabel Escalante said...

I was around 3 when I got my ears pierced.

They also overuse the word 'oversized' in a lot of books, especially talking about clothes. "She was wearing an oversized shirt..." it seems that someone in every book is always wearing an oversized shirt.

Anonymous said...

I got my ears pierced when I was a baby, and I'm not Indian or Hispanic at all. I was getting vaccines or something and apparently my pediatrician was just like "Hey, want me to pierce her ears? As long as she's in pain from getting the shots? That way she won't notice the pain from the ear piercing." And my mom was like, "Sure!"

Then in 5th grade I got my ears pierced for a second time, and I was like the coolest girl in my class for a week because I had FOUR piercings. Incidentally, the only other girls in the whole grade with four ear piercings were Hispanic, and I remember they all just had thread through their ear holes rather than earrings. I always thought that was weird, but I guess it might've been a cultural thing.

Also, it currently says "bulleted list" in a yellow box towards the end of the third bulleted item. I don't know if you can fix that, or if you even care since this is such an old post. (I don't mean that in a rude way)

Jason Bennett said...

I Finally Got Helped  !! I'm so excited right now, I just have to share my testimony on this Forum.. The feeling of being loved takes away so much burden from our shoulders. I had all this but I made a big mistake when I cheated on my wife with another woman  and my wife left me for over 4 months after she found out..  I was lonely, sad and devastated. Luckily I was directed to a very powerful spell caster Dr Emu who helped me cast a spell of reconciliation on our Relationship and he brought back my wife and now she loves me far more than ever.. I'm so happy with life now. Thank you so much Dr Emu, kindly Contact  Dr Emu Today and get any kind of help you want.. Via Email emutemple@gmail.com or Call/WhatsApp cell number  +2347012841542 Website (https://emutemple.wordpress.com/)