Friday, September 24, 2010

“I know what I’m doing when it comes to detective work”……….BSC Mystery # 17: Dawn and the Halloween Mystery

Memory Reaction

The main thing I remember about this one was that at this point, it was really obvious Dawn had been in California more than the initial six-months. She had left in September/October, experienced a winter AND a summer, and was now experiencing Halloween. The not aging thing didn’t bother me too much, except when they made references to the timeline like this. Interestingly enough, I can’t remember if I wanted Dawn to come back to Stoneybrook or not.

The other thing I remember is how all the kids were not going to be allowed to go trick-or-treating because of a robbery in town. I didn’t understand how something like that could be enforced. It’s not like they made a law stopping trick-or-treating. If some parents weren’t letting their kids go out, it would be one thing. But talking about it like it was some town-wide ordinance (which is how I remember it) annoyed me.

Revisited Reaction

As the title would suggest, it’s almost Halloween (again). Dawn’s living in California and a store in town gets robbed at gunpoint by someone wearing a clown mask. Dawn witnesses the culprit running out of the store and getting into a car, so she has to give her statement to the police. This also means she knows enough details about the crime to play detective. When the parents in town hear about the robbery, they decide to establish a curfew preventing kids from being out after 7:00 pm, unless they are with an adult. The parents also decide that if the robber isn’t caught by Halloween, there will be no trick-or-treating. Obviously, the kids in town are upset by this, so Dawn and the We Love Kids Club decide to save the day. First, by trying to catch the thief on their own, and second, by planning a Halloween party for the kids.

Their investigation involves going to stores in town trying to find out who bought clown masks, staking out the restaurant that the thief had a bumper sticker for, etc. They really get nowhere with the investigation, and after awhile, there’s a second robbery. Then, by pure luck, Dawn sees the car that the robber used in the garage of a neighbor’s house. This particular neighbor lives across the street from the DeWitts, one of her babysitting clients. She has actually been watching Timmy, the little boy who lives there, on most of her sitting jobs for the DeWitts.

Anyway, after she sees the car, she runs and tells Mrs. DeWitt. They call the cops, who come and arrest Timmy’s father. Word spreads around town that trick-or-treating’s back on, and Dawn takes the DeWitt boys, as well as Timmy (who’s not told about his dad, at least at this point). Towards the end of the evening, Dawn sees a person dressed in black and wearing a clown mask digging in Timmy’s backyard. She makes the kids go back to the DeWitt’s house, where Mrs. DeWitt tells her Timmy’s dad has an alibi for the robbery and couldn’t have been the thief. So, they call the police again, and the real robber (who’s digging in the yard) is arrested. We find out that it’s Timmy’s mother (the parents are separated), and she had to steal because “she was poor.” Anyway, after this, everyone goes back out to the party Dawn and her friends planned.

We only get a few chapters about events occurring back in Stoneybrook…..Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé are looking for a new house where they can fit their seven children. They find one in a town about a half-hour from Stoneybrook. The kids don’t want to move, so they pout about it and make their parents retract their offer on the house. They go house hunting again, but the place in Stoneybrook that they can afford is a tiny one by the elementary school. The kids swear they don’t care about the size, and so Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé buy it. They will regret this decision later on, but somehow will have all the money they need to build an extensive edition to the house.

  • I understand the concern about keeping kids safe, but I have an issue with the curfew, mainly that both robberies happened in the middle of the afternoon. Keeping the kids in at night’s not necessarily going to be any safer.
  • Jeff says he has trouble remembering what it was like when his parents were still married. But wasn’t that less than two years ago? He’s ten. He should remember something about it.
  • Dawn and her friends are staking out a hot dog place because the robber had one of their bumper stickers on her car. The food doesn’t exactly appeal to them, so her friend Jill’s all, “we should have brought sandwiches.” Because restaurants LOVE when customers bring their own food.
  • I’m actually shocked that a hot dog place exists in California. Aren’t all Californians healthy eaters like Dawn?
  • I’m surprised that it doesn’t even occur to Dawn that the robber could be a woman. Usually, at least one of the BSC members will give the feminist point of view. Plus the robber was around 5’8,” one of the people who purchased the clown mask was a tall blond woman, and a tall blonde woman worked at the hotdog place. And if Dawn checked, she would have seen that this woman was wearing a pair of the sneakers like the robber did.
  • At the hot dog restaurant, Dawn wonders why the cashier was staring at them. She decides it’s because they stayed for ages and only bought soda. Sunny thinks the woman’s an undercover cop. But it’s most likely because they told her they were looking for a person driving a car that looks just like hers and wearing shoes like hers.
  • Dawn said that she used to dislike Carol (her dad’s fiancé) for driving a red convertible, because “adults” shouldn’t own them. I’m not sure what age she’s using as a cut off for “adult,” but someone should tell her that usually “kids” can’t afford fancy new cars.
  • Dawn says that Carol has a “cool hair cut.” I’m not exactly sure what that means. How’s that a description?
  • The reason the robber was digging in the yard where her soon-to-be-ex-husband and son live, was that she had hidden her gun there. Or something. I can’t imagine why she would have done this. Or why she would have gone to dig it up on a night when all the neighborhood kids are running around outside.
  • Dawn’s friend Maggie talks about a guacamole recipe that she got from Winona Ryder. Now…I’ll believe that her father’s a producer and she gets to meet celebrities. But getting recipes from them?
  • After Dawn witnesses the robber’s getaway, the cops question her when she is by herself. (Carol was down the hall). Now, I realize they weren’t accusing her of anything, but shouldn’t there still have been a parent present?
  • Dawn and Sunny go to a Halloween store to find out if any people bought the mask the robber used (they don’t say the real reason they’re asking). And the clerk says they sold three, then goes on to describe the people who bought them. What are the chances that this guy would have been present for the sale of all three masks, and that he’d remember what they all looked like?
  • After she talks to the police, Dawn remembers seeing a logo on the clown mask that the robber was wearing. This logo ends up revealing there was only one store in town that was selling it. And she decides she and Sunny should go around questioning sales clerks first, and THEN she’ll tell the police. It is not like it is important information that could have helped their investigation.
  • This is the second time Dawn has “solved” a mystery simple by being in the right place at the right time, not because of her actual “detective work.”
  • Apparently all of Mal’s siblings are young enough to be captivated by Halloween. So the triplets love it, but Mallory’s too old to get into it? I know it’s been said before but that 11th birthday must be magical in Stoneybrook.
  • It’s kind of annoying that the Barrett kids get to stay in Stoneybrook. Not because I dislike them, just because it’s unrealistic. Sometimes kids have to move away. If Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé can’t afford something in Stoneybrook, then they should tell the kids to deal with it.
  • Dawn finds out about all the Barrett drama via letters that BSC members send her. But after each letter, Dawn calls one of her friends to get rest of the story. That seems to defeat the purpose of writing letters (assuming one reason for the letters is to keep the cost of phone calls down).
  • No one can figure out the problem when the Barrett kids react negatively to moving to the house in another town. Why was it so hard to figure out? I would expect most little kids to be upset about moving.
  • Mrs. DeWitt (the California client) has decided that Dawn should start calling her Cynthia. I guess this is because when Mrs. Barrett gets married, she’ll become Mrs. DeWitt as well, which could cause confusion.
  • Mrs. Barrett gets frustrated while house hunting and says, “We’ll never find a house, and then we’ll never be able to get married.” It just made me laugh for some reason.
  • The parents association that helps the We Love Kids set up the Halloween party want to help decorate the school gym (where the party’s happening), but Dawn and her friends insist on doing it themselves. It seems a little unbelievable that a bunch of teenagers could have that much control over it.
  • The haunted house Dawn and Sunny set up at the party consists only of stations where kids are blindfolded and told to feel cold brains (spaghetti), eyeballs (peeled grapes), etc. While I can certainly see kids enjoying that, it doesn’t really seem like a haunted house.
  • While trick-or-treating, Stephie Roberts starts to eat some candy, but Dawn stops her by saying that her dad didn’t want her to eat too much along the way. Now, when I was in elementary school, I remember teachers telling us not to eat candy until we got home for “safety” reasons. We were always supposed to have our parents look at it to make sure no one poisoned it or stuck in needles or something. Why isn’t that an issue here?
  • The We Love Kids Club decides to dress up in costume for the party. For those interested: Maggie goes as the Pink Panther, Jill goes as Marge Simpson, and Sunny goes as Mrs. Claus. Dawn recycles a costume from her childhood, and goes as Pippi Longstocking.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

“Ten years of baseball and where was I?”……BSC # 129: Kristy At Bat

Memory Reaction

I have read this book before, but it wasn’t as a kid, it was a few years ago shortly before I started this blog. However, I remember very little about it….just that it had a very predictable plot. Kristy and Watson meet some famous baseball player and are upset when he isn’t nice. But then Kristy gets him to see the error of his ways. What would the world do without the BSC?

Revisited Reaction

Kristy’s about to spend her spring vacation at a “dream baseball camp” that’s run by a bunch of former major league players. This includes Bill Bain, Watson’s childhood hero, which is perfect because Watson’s going too….it’s a special father-daughter session of the camp.

Before they go, Kristy tries out for the school softball team. Apparently she’s a returning player, but she makes no reference to the events from this book. Anyway, since the coach knows her, Kristy’s not that nervous about trying out. She also doesn’t really put all her effort into it and ends up on the second string team. So, she’s all upset and thinks she won’t enjoy the camp. Once there, she keeps angsting about each little mistake she makes. All the softball also makes her think of her dad, who first taught her to play. She’s upset that he isn’t there to see her play, but she’s also upset that she even cares about her dad when Watson’s there.

Some of the campers are getting anxious because they aren’t seeing very much of Bill Bain. When he finally shows up, Watson tries to introduce himself, and Bill snaps at him. One of the other coaches talks about how Bill’s having a hard time because he’s getting older and can’t play as well as he used to. So then Watson starts to angst…partially because Bill Bain isn’t as great as he expected and partially because he realizes that he’s getting older too.

The other issue about the camp is that the coaches are not as organized as President Kristy. This annoys her, so she keeps stepping up to “help” by organizing the campers, giving players tips and semi-pep talks, and helping sort out the equipment. When Bill yells at one of the other coaches (who was doing nothing wrong), Kristy tells him off. She’s actually pretty nice and respectful about it, but Watson’s annoyed at her for being “rude to a legend.” It turns out okay, because Bill decides she’s right and tries to be nice/spend time with the campers. He even apologizes to Watson for being rude. So, the end of camp’s great, and Kristy decides that since she loves playing, she doesn’t care about being on second string.

The subplot’s also about baseball, so I guess the ghostwriter had some kind of fixation. David Michael has been collecting baseball cards and trading them with his friends. One kid’s super into the value of cards and only wants to talk about how much money each one’s worth. He influences the other kids, and soon they’re all focusing on the money part. But the BSC gets David Michael (and some of his friends) to see that they shouldn’t just think about money, they should find cards that mean something to them and have fun.


  • I kind of like that Kristy was put on the second string team, but I wish they didn’t have it be because she didn’t try very hard. It’s kind of annoying that these girls are all so good with whatever they like to do. I mean, Claudia sucks at school, but she’s fabulous at art, which is what she really loves. Abby and Kristy are good at sports, Mallory’s a great writer, Jessi’s this gifted ballerina, and in the book where Stacey tried out for cheerleading, she was great at that. In real life, some people just aren’t that talented.
  • In this book Kristy describes her wardrobe as that of a seven-year-old boy's, but “minus Spiderman underwear.” This basically translates into jeans a T-shirt, and sneakers. I think this is a lot more realistic for a “tomboy” than jeans, a turtleneck, and a sweater, which used to be Kristy’s standard outfit.
  • Kristy said that Mary Anne used to be the only BSC member with a steady boy friend, but that Claudia recently dated a guy named Josh. But what about Stacey? She dated Robert for a good thirty books, all before Claud even met Josh.
  • Kristy refers to how Jessi has seemed lost since Mal went off to boarding school. Maybe if they had given Jessi her own book after that happened, or even a storyline in another book, we could find out what she was thinking about it. But no, Jessi hardly even gets mentioned outside of the backstory chapter.
  • It’s so AWKWARD when Kristy finds out she’s on the second string team. She sees some other girl looking at the list who was placed on second string. And Kristy’s all, “oh, second string’s a great place to work on your skills.” Then when she can’t find her name on the first string list, the girl’s like, “um, you’re Kristy, right? You’re name’s over here.” I hate scenes where people embarrass themselves like that.
  • Kristy mentions that Watson’s older than her mom, and refers to him as “old.” But how much older can he be? Karen and Andrew are seven and four, how old was he supposed to be when they were born?
  • One of the things that supposedly shows how disorganized the coaches are, is that one of them tells people to split into two groups, but doesn’t give them any instruction on how to do it. Kristy has to get up and tell people to count off by ones and twos. But do you really think that would happen? I think most people would just naturally group with the people standing near them. It’s not exactly hard.
  • There are references to e-mail and cell phones in this book. It feels strange to see that in a BSC book, but I guess all the later books are like that.
  • Kristy makes friends with a camper named Vicki. Vicki’s only at camp because her dad wants her to play softball – she doesn’t really like it. She also doesn’t care about some of the other activities her dad wants her to do, which basically makes her Rosie Wilder. Kristy convinces her to tell her dad this. And of course, the father’s immediately okay with it. Because when you’re honest with someone, they’ll never even be a little upset about it.
  • David Michael forgot to bring his “value list” with him to a baseball cad trading session, and ended up agreeing to a trade where he gave up an “expensive” card. He keeps whining about how he was cheated. So, Abby’s all “you weren’t cheated, you agreed to it fair and square. It’s not his fault you forgot your value card.”
  • These kids seem to have baseball card trading sessions daily. But how many people would have been getting new baseball cards every night? Cause otherwise, there could only be so much trading.
  • It seems kind of out of character for Kristy to not put all her energy into the softball try out.
  • I wonder how much this dream camp cost. Assuming that everything Kristy mentioned was included in the price (food, hotel, uniforms, video highlight reel, autographed baseballs, evening entertainment, not to mention the coaches and playing), it seems like it could get pretty expensive. Good thing Watson’s a millionaire.
  • There’s an awards dinner on the last night of camp, and after the rest of the awards are given out, Kristy gets a specially created "best coach" award. Because her leadership skills are just THAT good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

“Some bratty little kid is driving you nuts because she’s lying her head off”………BSC # 128: Claudia and the Little Liar

Memory Reaction

This is another one I never read as a kid….

Revisited Reaction

This is a sitting job-heavy plot, which is usually a bad sign. Claudia has a sitting job for the Braddocks, and when she got there, Mrs. Braddock says to make sure Haley does her homework. Haley shows Claudia some book report as proof that it’s done, and she’s allowed to watch TV. When the Braddocks get home, Claudia says, “Well, Haley finished her report on The Great Brain.” Only, Mrs. Braddock knows that the book report was from last month, and Haley ends up grounded.

Haley blames Claudia, and starts telling her friends that the BSC members are spies who report bad behavior to kids’ parents. At first, only some kids listen to her. Then, in an amazing coincidence, Claudia has several more sitting jobs for the Braddocks. Haley uses this to try to make Claudia look bad, and she ends up getting in more trouble. But this actually helps her convince other kids that the BSC is out to get them. At the time, Haley’s playing on a girls basketball team that Kristy’s coaching, and this turns into a forum to spread her complaints.

The BSC decides they need to solve the problem, and they call the Braddocks asking to do a "role play" with Haley. I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Braddock were glad to get that call, because otherwise they wouldn’t have had any idea how to help their daughter. Anyway, the role play gets Haley to admit that she lied about homework because she was having trouble in school, her parents decide to get her a tutor, blah, blah, blah. At the end, Haley tries to lie to a ref at the team’s first basketball game. But after a look from Kristy, she admits the truth. And the team wins! Happy endings all around.

The subplot’s somewhat more interesting than all the Haley drama. Claudia’s currently dating a guy named Josh, who she met while being temporarily sent back to seventh grade. Apparently she had been dating another seventh-grade guy, but dumped him for Josh. She has a lot in common with Josh, and he’s generally a nice guy – he even helps her design and sew uniforms that Claud’s making for Kristy’s basketball team. The problem’s that Claudia’s just not feeling the chemistry. While, they have kissed, Claudia just doesn’t have a huge desire to do it often.

Claud’s afraid to say anything, because she doesn’t want to ruin the friendship. But eventually they talk, and she finds out Josh feels the same way about her. They decide to try just being friends, and since they do hang out together at the end, it may actually happen.


  • Now, I may be stating the obvious, but isn’t one of the reasons for having a baby-sitter so that the parents know the kid doesn’t get in trouble? I mean, the sitter doesn’t have to tell the parents everything, but she isn’t there on a play date.
  • I’m guessing this isn’t the first time Claudia will meet a guy who can help her design clothes, but doesn’t want to kiss her. This is especially true if she gets a job in fashion. Of course, Claudia getting a job in fashion may be a sign of the apocalypse, so I try not to think about it too much.
  • Claudia tells Josh that she can’t go out on Saturday because it’s her dad’s birthday. So, on Saturday she goes to wish him happy birthday, and he tells her it’s not for another week. That seems like a pretty hard mistake to make.
  • I wouldn’t have expected Becca and Charlotte to join a basketball team, but they’re both players on Kristy’s team. So are Vanessa and Haley (who only wanted to be Krushers’ cheerleaders). I’m not saying that interest in softball has to equal interest in basketball, I was just surprised to see it.
  • One of the jobs for Haley and Matt’s when Mr. and Mrs. Braddock go to the elementary school for a meeting about the spring dance. But since when do elementary schools have dances? And what other dance would they be planning? It just seems weird.
  • While Abby’s sitting at the Rodowskis’, the kids make a reference to Noah Seger living next store, which is a reference to this lovely book. I was happy to see this, because if you’re going to have crazy-unrealistic books, you should at least have continuity.
  • Claudia doesn’t know a lot of sign language, so Haley translates for Matt. She tells Claud that Matt needs poster paint for a school assignment, but doesn’t have any. Claudia says she has some at home, and she calls Stacey to get it for her. Mrs. McGill actually drives Stacey to Claudia’s house, waits while Stacey goes in and gets the paint, and then drives her to the Braddocks. It ends up being a fool’s errand, cause Haley was lying about it. But even if it wasn’t, this seems like a lot of effort for a second-grader’s homework.
  • Also, taking advantage of your brother’s handicap to trick your baby-sitter seems a bit bitchy.
  • I really want to get my hands on the books where Claudia’s temporarily sent back to seventh grade. They sound like they’d be fun to recap.
  • Claudia calls the Pikes because Matt wants to borrow a book from Nicky (and can’t use the phone himself for obvious reasons). Mrs. Pike says Mr. Pike took the kids to a movie. Now, this is on a Wednesday night. It seems odd that elementary school kids would be going to the movie on a school night.
  • I guess Haley’s rumors are effective, because Charlotte, who has shown Stacey her diary in the past, won’t show her a random school assignment.
  • Stacey uses the word “composition” to describe something Charlotte was writing. Does anyone actually use that word? Especially kids?
  • When did Mary Anne go to counseling? Because even though I didn’t read this book as a kid, I remember it being in referenced in other books I DID read. But I never read the book where it first happened.
  • Of course, when Haley starts bitching to other kids in town, Kristy’s paranoid that the BSC’s doomed. She even worries that the Ramseys (who have a daughter IN the club) would stop using them. Her paranoia’s getting a bit old.
  • Stacey says that she and Robert are friends now, even though it took a lot of time after their breakup to get to that point. I feel like that must have happened in a book I never read, and it makes me want to find it.
  • Claudia says that Mary Anne has never gotten a complaint about scheduling jobs/her role as secretary. But, haven’t there been entire books about fights over jobs? Maybe the complaints weren’t specifically about Mary Anne, but they still happened.
  • We keep hearing about how Haley’s “lies” include her using the phone when she’s supposed to be studying, and then pretending she was asking someone about homework. Now….didn't Mary Anne do this all the time in the early books? Because her dad wouldn’t let her use the phone otherwise, right? So, are they saying Mary Anne was “acting out” when she did that?