Saturday, January 29, 2011

“I must have shot a zillion pictures of that bank”……BSC Mystery # 16: Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph

Memory Reaction

I liked this book as a kid because even though they were unrealistic, I enjoyed the mysteries. And this one at least seemed slightly plausible, because anyone could happen to take pictures of someplace the day it was robbed. Or maybe I just hoped it was plausible because I wanted it to happen to me.

I have one specific memory. It is that Claudia was developing pictures in her dark room, and Janine walked in on her. But Claudia doesn’t know Janine is home and she starts thinking someone was stalking her. That I didn’t want to happen to me.

Revisited Reaction

It’s summer in Stoneybrook and Claudia’s stuck going to summer school. However, her parents agreed she could also take a “fun” class. She signed up for photography and has gotten really into it. She’s been taking pictures all the time and using her bathroom as a darkroom to develop them. This ties into the BSC’s latest project – making a photo album for Dawn, who’s still in California. They’re getting together with a bunch of kids and spending a day taking pictures around town, inspired by “A Day in the Life of America.” Anyway, while taking pictures downtown, Claudia suddenly becomes fascinated by the Stoneybrook bank. She finishes a roll of film taking pictures of it, and

Amazingly, the BSC finds out later that money was taken from the bank on the same day they were there. So, they try to play detective. At first, they don’t see much in the pictures, just that there’s a guy in a suit and a woman with a baby carriage walking in front of the bank. They still bring them to the police station, and Sergeant Johnson remembers them from the dog-napping case. He takes the pictures, but says he doesn’t think they show anything.

However, these girls don’t like to give up, so they start “staking out” the bank. They figure out that the guy in a suit works at the bank and the woman with a carriage really has a baby. Claudia also remembers that she has more pictures of the bank in the unfinished roll on her camera. She goes to develop them, but someone opens the door to her bathroom/darkroom and it ruins the film. However, no one else in her family seems to be home at the time, which kind of freaks her out.

The BSC talks to Sergeant Johnson a few more times and find out the guy in a suit/banker is under suspicion because he lied about where he was on the day in question. But he tells them that unless they have a picture of the guy carrying something out of the bank, the photos are worthless. After analyzing more pictures (that Mary Anne took of Claudia taking pictures), and zooming in on the banker they realize that the guy’s wearing a watch (that works) and carrying a pocket watch (that doesn’t work). Apparently this is proof that he’s hiding something in the watch, and the girls think it MUST be a key to a safe deposit box in the bank, where the stolen money is hidden.

Then in the most ridiculous scene ever, they go to the police station and are allowed into the interrogation room to show the suspect these pictures and tell him their theory. And because this guy’s an idiot, he doesn’t ask for a lawyer or ignore them. He just confesses.

Oh, after a bunch of chapters of boring kid-antics, they finish the book for Dawn, and she writes a letter about how much she likes it and how she’ll be “home” soon. Because her heart totally belongs in Stoneybrook.


  • We don’t get a lot of outfits in this one. Claud keeps talking about how she changes out of her good clothes into old shorts/T-shirts to go in the dark room. But, she doesn’t tell us what she’s taking off.
  • Mary Anne’s sitting for the Barrett kids, and notices that Mrs. Barrett remembered to leave an “emergency number” while she went on her date with Franklin. She thinks it’s because of his influence, but I’m not sure I like the attitude that scatterbrained Mrs. Barrett only got organized because she met a guy.
  • We do get one Claudia outfit: “A silky pink tank top with a man’s white shirt tied casually over it, white jeans, and flip-flops decorated with…pink stars.” My only issue with it is that it seems too warm for the summer. Even if it’s all white, it’s still pants and a (likely) long sleeved shirt.
  • While Claudia, Kristy, Shannon, and Stacey are watching the bank from across the street, they see Logan entering the building. Stacey tries to call out to him, and Kristy’s all, “don’t! He could be a suspect. That girl’s a bit dramatic.
  • Some of the kids taking pictures go to the Braddocks’ house, where they are having a picnic for people from Matt’s school for the deaf. Now, not to be rude, but why is that something to go in a book for Dawn? It’s not like she would know any of them (expect Matt and Haley).
  • If Claudia, Mary Anne, Charlotte, Becca, and Buddy and Suzi Barrett were all hanging out across the street from the bank taking pictures, wouldn’t this banker guy have noticed them? And maybe tried to wait until they’ve moved on before committing a felony?
  • When the girls first hear about the theft, Claudia says she wants to solve the case, but the rest of them tease her by saying this isn’t “Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Bank.” And they’re right. It’s Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph.” It’s MUCH more realistic.
  • The first cop they talk to actually waves the girls away, saying the pictures wouldn’t hold up in court. While, that may be right, I’m surprised he wouldn’t even look at them. Photos of a crime scene certainly wouldn’t hurt an investigation.
  • Janine’s the one who opened the door on Claudia in the “dark room.” She left the house quickly because she had done the same thing to Claudia earlier, and was embarrassed about making the same mistake twice. She finally confessed because she felt bad Claudia was worried about being stalked.
  • Jessi gets a picture of Aunt Cecelia in her “fuzzy slippers.” I actually have a hard time picturing uptight Cecilia walking around in fuzzy slippers.
  • Janine actually gets a lot to do in this one. The girls keep thinking they solved the case by something in the pictures. And Janine overhears them, comes into Claud’s room, and tells them they’re jumping to conclusions. But she’s not mean about it, at least not from my perspective….I tend to sympathize with Janine over Claudia a lot of the time.
  • So, the girls wonder if the woman with a baby carriage is a suspect, and try to get a look at her baby (to see if it’s real), but the woman makes it hard to get a look. So, Claudia drops a bunch of coins to distract the woman and lifts up the blanket to see the baby while the mother’s helping pick up coins. The woman’s rightfully annoyed by this. I’m thinking she won’t be calling the BSC for a sitter.
  • Sergeant Johnson tells them the banker’s under suspicion, but not to tell anyone. Because teenage girls can be counted on to keep police secrets. Especially, when it’s only his second encounter with them.
  • I can believe that Claudia could get into taking pictures of one building for ages. But, she wasn’t alone. They end up with pictures of banker/suit guy in front of the bank, the bank with a light on and no one in front of it, and then the banker/suit guy back outside the bank again. This must have been over a fairly long period of time. What were Mary Anne and the kids doing while Claud did this?
  • Why does the guy need a pocket watch to hide a safety deposit box key? Does he not know that you can put keys in the pocket of pants? Or a suit jacket?
  • Furthermore, why is he still carrying the key around days later? It would make sense to keep it at home or in his office. It’s not like someone would know right away that the box it opened was filled with stolen cash. And he would have to go back to the bank to USE the key regardless, so it’s not like he was keeping it on him in case he had to go on the run.
  • We’re never told how much money was stolen, which is kind of annoying.
  • Because it can’t be said enough, what the hell kind of police let 13-year-olds in on a police interrogation!? There are so many things wrong with that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

“All those things must have scared you a little”……….BSC Mystery # 18: Stacey and the Mystery at the Empty House

Memory Reaction

I remember the end of this book pretty well. Stacey and Claudia (and maybe others) think they’re tracking a “bad guy” they suspect is squatting in the Johanssens house while Stacey’s house-sitting. Only, it turns out he was a friend of the family, but Stacey didn’t get the note about why he was there. So, she tries and pretends she wasn’t at all worried and Claudia laughs at her.

I also remember her finding red hair in a brush and freaking out because none of the Johanssens are redheads.

Revisited Reaction

The Johanssens are going to Paris for two weeks – Charlotte’s aunt’s some kind of art dealer looking for new artists, and she invited the family to go with her. Stacey’s asked to house and dog-sit while they’re away. At first everything’s fine, but one day Carrot (the dog) is acting a little strange, and has chewed up a bunch of paper in the kitchen. After that, Stacey starts noticing some more weird things. There’s a glass in the sink she can’t remember using, there’s something in a garbage can she thought she emptied, a light she hadn’t used was on, Carrot’s leash wasn’t in the right place, etc. At first she tries to blow them off as little things she’s remembering wrong, but as the occurrences add up, she becomes convinced something’s wrong. All this is especially nerve-wracking because there’s an escaped prisoner in the area, and Stacey’s worried he could be in the house.

A few days later, she opens a closet (looking for towels, not to snoop) and sees a brush with red hairs in it. She leaves the house and walks to Claudia’s place, where they end up having an emergency BSC meeting. They all go back to the house, and check the spot in the yard where the Johanssens keep a key hidden – it’s gone. At this point, she stops going to the house alone. Instead, she goes with another 13-year-old who would be super-helpful if there were an actual criminal around. The BSC also decides to have a sleepover at Jessi’s (since you can see the Johanssens’ house from there) and watch the place. But, everything they see can be explained (a light going on because it’s on a timer, etc).

After the sleepover/stakeout, Stacey and Claudia go to walk Carrot. Stacey sees that someone has written a phone number on a pad of paper in the Johanssens’ kitchen. She calls the number and hears an auto message of train times. So, the BSC heads to the train station and see a red-headed guy hanging around. But, before they can do anything (and I’m not sure what they were planning on doing), Dr. Johnassen gets off a train, sees the red-head, walks over smiling, and gives him a hug. Then we find out that he’s an old friend of the Johanssens and is always welcome to stay at their place, and that he had left Stacey a note, but Carrot chewed it up. And because of his work schedule, he and Stacey never ran into each other. Stacey admits she didn’t get the note, but tries to pretend and be cool about it.

As a subplot, it’s December and the BSC’s planning a holiday party for some of their charges. Watson was given a free hay/sleigh ride (depending on the weather) and he passed it on to Kristy. Of course, they decide to use this for the kids they sit for. However, Kristy accidentally gets the Arnold twins thinking it’s definitely a sleigh ride, and is all upset about disappointing them if it doesn’t snow (as well as a bunch of other kids the twins talked to). But it does snow, so everyone’s happy and has fun at the party. And the kids are all sweet and give the BSC members gifts.


  • I’d really like clarification on Dawn/Mary Anne’s barn. They’re having the party there (after the sleigh ride) because it’s winter….but is the barn actually heated?
  • I don’t quite get the hay-ride/sleigh-ride thing. Watson gets it as a gift from work, and like I said, gives it to Kristy. But they end up taking a good 40 people (on two sleighs). Why would someone give him a gift for that many people?
  • Stacey mentions having a new coat a couple of times, but we don’t get to hear what it looks like.
  • Kristy actually suggests calling the police (which amazed me), but Stacey says they would just get laughed at, since there’s no proof. I see her point, but maybe she could have told her mother?
  • This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about an escaped convict in Stoneybrook, is it?
  • Stacey tells us that the Arnolds are people who over-the-top decorate their house for Christmas, which I think is mentioned in other books. That’s a pretty minor detail for them to stay consistent with. I’m impressed.
  • So, the Johanssen’s really have an arrangement with their friend that he can just let himself into their house whenever he’s in town? Without calling at all?
  • So, the Kuhns are worried about the escaped convict, but Jake tries to pretend he’s all tough and says he wants to catch the guy. Mary Anne tells him to leave things up to the cops (even though Stacey acknowledges the BSC doesn’t always do this). But, she thinks this is okay because they are so much older than Jake.
  • Because being 13 makes it totally okay to track down criminals. It must be all that police training that they give kids in middle school.
  • Did we know that Margo and Claire consider each other best friends? It’s believable, I guess, but I always got the impression they bickered a lot.
  • Who keeps a hairbrush in a linen closet? That’s where Stacey found the one full of red hairs.
  • Mal and Jessi help the Pikes make potato-print wrapping paper. Has anyone ever done this? They cut potatos in half, cut designs into them, then dip them into paint and stamp the design on paper. It sounds like fun, but a waste of potatos (at least when you give each of the Pikes one).
  • Byron Pike eats a peanut butter and salami sandwich. And I think this is on raisin bread. How can that be good? Seriously?
  • Robert keeps referring to Carrot as other vegetable names (Eggplant, Celery, etc). I kind of like it, because you almost never see the BSC laugh/make fun of the kids they sit for. They usually use a “oh, isn’t that cute” tone when talking about them.
  • I wonder if it’s weird for Stacey to go to Jessi’s house/bedroom, since they both used to be hers.
  • This book takes place when people had actual answer machines. The Johanssens have one where they can call into a number and hear what’s happening in their house. Jessi knows this because she has the same answering machine, and the BSC calls into the Johanssen’s number (the code is listed on the bottom of the machine) to listen to noise there. First of all does/did this exist? And secondly, lso, it’s kind of creepy to do, even if you know no one’s home.
  • Dr. Johanssen’s first name is Peggy. That surprises me, I’m not sure why.
  • There’s a lame plot line where Stacey accidentally mentions to a meter reader (with red hair) that the Johanssens are away. So, the girls think she’s a suspect for a while, but it turns out to be nothing.
  • The gifts for the BSC members are supposed to be a “surprise” and it is to the girls themselves. But it was really obvious because at a sitting job for a crowd of kids, one or two kept disappearing into the basement for a secret project.
  • So, the gift list: Claudia gets a basket of junk food, Kristy gets a decorated baseball cap, Stacey gets some paper mache earrings, Mary Anne gets a painting of Tigger, Jessi gets some hair ties, and Mallory gets a sketch book with her name on it in glitter. Dawn’s in California for this book, but she still gets a pair of sunglasses. Logan and Shannon are also included. They get a paperweight and a “bead” necklace made from magazine pages.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“Because I’m Mary Anne and you’re Logan”…. BSC # 46: Mary Anne Misses Logan

Memory Reaction

I really liked this book as a kid because I liked Mary Anne and Logan getting back together. I was a bit of a romantic back then. Looking back, I think it would have been nice if they let Mary Anne be single a little while longer, but as a kid I was into the happy ending concept. I also really hated Cokie and thought it was kind of weird for Logan to be going out with her throughout this book. Cokie tried to scare the BSC in a graveyard and she sent Kristy threatening notes…..I thought Logan wouldn’t have gotten involved with her because of that.

Now, my main memory of this book was the end. Mary Anne and Logan basically get back together and go out to dinner. Mary Anne wears a somewhat atypical outfit – red and blue tights and baggy T-shirt. It’s so weird how some of the outfits are still so clear in my head.

Revisited Reaction

It’s been five books since Mary Anne and Logan broke up, and she has started to miss him.

Meanwhile, the real story’s that all the eighth-graders at SMS are doing a big English project. They’re assigned to teams out of the entire grade, and are given a young-adult author to study. Mary Anne’s all stressed out about the horrible people she could be assigned to work with, but she doesn’t expect to be assigned to work with Logan. But she is, and she is clearly unhappy. On top of that, Cokie Mason sweet-talks her way into the group. She makes it clear right away that her only contribution to the project is to get Logan into her clutches.

Unfortunately for Mary Anne, Logan falls into Cokie’s spell and goes out on a few dates with her. So many dates that Mary Anne and Pete Black (the fourth member of their group) doubt that Logan and Cokie are doing their portions of the paper. She and Pete decide to write the whole thing themselves.

Then they find out that the Megan Rinehart, the (fictional) author they’re studying, is coming to the school for some Author Day event, and Mary Anne’s group has to present their paper to the entire school (and Megan herself). Mary Anne freaks out of course. But then Logan calls her to say he HAS been doing his work, and wants to meet with her to make sure it’s good enough for the presentation. The two of them work with Pete to get everything ready, and don’t bother to include Cokie. The presentation goes well for Pete, Logan, and Mary Anne, and Cokie looks like the idiot that she is. Logan invites Mary Anne to dinner to “thank her,” at which point he tells her Cokie’s fun, but means nothing to her. This sets the stage for them getting back together, which remains the case for the rest of the series (I don’t count the Friends Forever books).

The baby-sitting plot revolves around the Kormons, the people who moved into the Delanys’ house (across from Kristy). The kids, Melody and Bill, make up the idea of a “toilet monster” and then start believing in it. They insist on running to their beds after flushing the toilet – if they make it before the toilet stops running, they’re safe. By the end of the book, Kristy has sort of convinced them they don’t need to worry. Mary Anne doesn’t believe it will last, and I’m pretty sure this comes up in later books, so I guess she’s right.


  • The schools in Stoneybrook have a hell of a lot of big projects.
  • When the girls are discussing all the cool authors they might study, they go through this whole list of real-life authors (Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Madeleine L’Engle, etc), then just randomly throw in the name of the one fake author Mary Anne ends up studying. It’s kind of distracting.
  • Kristy starts laughing at the possibility of Alan Gray studying Judy Blume, because of all the “bra stuff” in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Now, I see her point, but I would think the period “stuff” in the book would be a more awkward topic for Alan. But it doesn’t get mentioned at all.
  • Apparently one of Claudia’s regular accessories is slap-wrist bracelets…..I remember when those were super-popular, and then there were stories about one killing some kid, and they went away. I have no idea if that was a true story though.
  • Dawn tells Mary Anne how she overheard Grace Blume talking about how Cokie only asked to switch groups because she wanted to hook up with Logan. But isn’t it kind of insensitive of her to just drop that news on Mary Anne?
  • At all the sitting jobs for the Kormons, the kids make a point of saying how they know they’re having hot dogs for dinner because that’s what they always have when baby-sitters are there. Is it sad that I remember that showing up in other books?
  • Mary Anne’s mad that Cokie’s going after Logan now that he’s “available,” because Logan was hers once and she wanted him back. And while I understand she misses him, and that Cokie’s a bitch, it isn’t really fair to be upset at someone for wanting to date a guy she broke up with. Though I guess it’s realistic.
  • So, until this book, I had thought that Cokie was a bitch, but a somewhat intelligent one. But everything she says during the author project changes that. When the group decides to read four of Megan Rinehart’s books in two weeks, Cokie says how “once” she read four little books (Peter Rabbit and some similar ones) when she was ten. She makes it seem like such an accomplishment that she comes off as a total airhead.
  • The girl in Mary Anne’s group originally (who ends up switching), hates Pete Black because in seventh grade he snapped her bra, which broke the strap, forcing her to take it off and carry it around in her purse. That makes it kind of hard to like Pete later on.
  • The group meets at Cokie’s house for one of their meetings. At the end, they arrange their next meeting. So, two chapters later, Mary Anne tells us, “the next meeting was the first one since the one at the Mason house…” But isn’t that a totally redundant sentience? And a really repetitive line? And an unnecessarily long thing to say?
  • Supposedly the kids aren’t allowed to switch groups. But Cokie manages to convince her teacher to let her into Logan’s group because (she claims) she’s such a big fan of Megan Rinehart. Since Cokie sucks at English, Mary Anne figures the teacher was so happy to see Cokie excited and decided to accommodate her. Only right after this, Cokie starts calling the author Marie Rinehard. And she doesn’t believe Mary Anne about the correct name, she waits for Logan to say it. So, how did she convince a teacher she cared?
  • After Mary Anne’s group takes the time to each read (or re-read) four books by Megan Rinehart, Pete asks if the paper’s supposed to be about the author or her books. And Mary Anne’s all, “hmmm, I don’t know.” Shouldn’t that have been one of the first things the teacher told them about the project?
  • Kristy’s notebook entry for her sitting job at the Kormons’ is really obnoxious. She writes how even though it was her first job for them since the monster was invented, she was able to solve the problem right away.
  • Mary Anne got her father to agree to her wearing leggings and an oversized shirt, but pointing out it’s less revealing than a bathing suit. Since it sounds like a pretty tame outfit to begin with, I guess that’s believable.
  • I don’t really understand why some parents in BSC-land (like the Pikes) don’t want their kid to wear leggings and baggy T-shirts. It isn’t the worst thing a kid could want to wear.
  • I like that Logan acknowledges that he hurt Cokie by basically dating her then suddenly stopped talking to her and started cozying up to Mary Anne again. And possibly for letting her look like an idiot in front of the whole school. But I’m not sure Cokie’s smart enough to realize she looked like an idiot.
  • Now, I would like Logan more if he actually SAID something to Cokie about the whole thing….but he’s a 13-year-old boy, so I know that’s not realistic.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

“The beginning of the absolute best month of the year”……BSC # 103: Happy Holidays, Jessi

Memory Reaction

Sorry about the delay posting. I read this a week or two ago, thinking I’d be posting the week of Christmas, but the holidays ended up being a bit of a time suck for me. I never read this as a kid, but I picked it thinking it would be a light, fluffy holiday book. However, it’s really kind of a downer (and is really boring), but I’ll get to that below.

Revisited Reaction

It’s December in Stoneybrook, which means it’s almost Christmas. It’s also almost Kwanzaa, which is important to Jessi, since apparently, her family’s black. I know, you never would have known if not for this book, right?

Anyway, Jessi and Becca are super-excited about the holidays, and Becca particularly has a super long Christmas list. Aunt Cecelia refers to her as spoiled, and Mr. Ramsey flips out, and he’s all, “I’m letting you live in my house, but you don’t get to decide how my children are raised.” So, Cecelia makes a point of being nice. While driving back from the mall, Squirt’s whining because his car seat strap’s bothering him. Becca wants to take it off for him, and Cecelia finally agrees to this a couple blocks from home – and she tells Jessi to unhook it. Jessi does, and they are immediately in a car accident. Aunt Cecelia slowed down when a traffic light changed to yellow, but the car behind them doesn’t and crashes into them.

Everyone’s fine except Squirt. He does seem to be okay, but since he hit his head and might have a concussion, the doctors want him to stay in the hospital for a while. This kind of sucks all the Christmas spirit out of the Ramsey house. This is exasperated by the fact that Aunt Cecelia, Jessi, and Becca all blame themselves for their part in Squirt’s car seat getting unhooked. In addition, Aunt Cecilia and Mr. Ramsey seem to blame each other for the accident. Every one keeps snapping at each other, and it’s rather depressing even it wasn’t a holiday story. Squirt finally gets out of the hospital on the day after Christmas, but everyone’s still in a bad mood. Finally, a few days into Kwanzaa some of Jessi’s relatives come to visit. After some more squabbling, the Ramsey’s finally starts to cheer up and get past the accident. What finally turns them around is Squirt laughing at himself for burping….somehow this gets everyone else to laugh, even Cecelia. But one chapter of people being happy doesn’t make the other fourteen chapters retroactively good.

Meanwhile, Jessi’s planning a Kwanzaa festival at the Stoneybrook community center. She enlists the help of a bunch of African-American kids in Stoneybrook (that we’ve never met before and will probably never hear from again). The rest of the BSC’s also helping, as well as some of their regular clients. Jessi’s happy that they are all showing an interest in Kwanzaa.


  • At a BSC meeting, the girls are trying to figure out the difference between sleet and freezing rain (it’s doing one of them outside). So, Claudia’s all, “I’ll ask Janine.” Which makes sense, but I think it’s one of the few times Claudia’s actually happy to use Janine’s brain.
  • After Janine answers the question, Abby refers to her as a walking CD-ROM. Which feels half out-of-date and half too modern for a BSC book.
  • At the mall, Cecelia parks in a handicap spot. Which seems out of character. Isn’t she all about rules?
  • Jessi says how she’s glad that organizing the festival lets her meet other African-American families in Stoneybrook. But, it also seems like she already knows them. She tells Becca to call the Fords, the Ingrams, etc., which suggests they know each other, since Becca wouldn’t call random strangers. Also, the kids are all making a present for Jessi before their first scene together, and they want to go visit Squirt in the hospital.
  • I have a hard time believing Aunt Cecelia would tell Jessi to unstrap Squirt from his car seat. And that a “talented” baby-sitter like Jessi would do it.
  • I think this is one of the few Christmas-themed BSC books. There are a few that happen in December, or that reference the school’s winter dance, but not a lot that actually cover Christmas itself.
  • The accident happens after Cecelia and Jessi took Becca and Squirt to see Santa at the mall. Jessi says it was supposed to be a “quick visit” so that she’d be back for a festival planning meeting. But, who thinks that seeing Santa at a mall’s going to be a quick visit?
  • Aunt Cecelia gets all upset at the store because she finds out her favorite kind of blender is now being made with plastic (or something). But do people really have favorite blenders? They may have a favorite brand of kitchen appliances, but it isn’t like you buy a blender every month and always get the same one.
  • Becca gets the flu, so she has to stay home on Christmas when the rest of her family goes to visit Squirt (Mallory volunteers to sit for her). However, this seems kind of mean to me. I mean, I can certainly understand why you would want to be with your baby in the hospital on Christmas. But wouldn’t you also want to be with your eight-year-old? I think it would have made more sense for them to go in shifts or something.
  • Jessi thinks Mallory was really nice to volunteer to sit for Becca on Christmas. However, I think if I had seven loud younger siblings, I’d want a break from them trying out new toys they just got.
  • One thing I like about the Jessi books, is that when you see her with her family, she’ll actually act like a kid. Mallory and Kristy seem to always act like parents of their younger siblings, but Jessi will actually joke around with Becca.
  • The Kwanzaa festival prep chapters are really boring…so is the chapter when it actually happens. Not because Kwanzaa itself is boring, just because it has the exact same arc as every book where the BSC puts on some “event” with kids. They round up a bunch of kids, they make some food, they rehearse a show, they get a little overwhelmed, the kids do “cute things,” and it all ends up okay.
  • Now, why the BSC’s running the entire festival’s a whole other question. I think it’s fine that they have all their talent shows in Mary Anne’s barn, but this is an event happening at the town’s community center. I would think at least one or two adults would be involved.
  • At one of the planning sessions for the festival, a bunch of kids are cooking at Mary Anne’s house. And apparently, Richard and a bunch of other parents are sitting in the other room the whole time….Which seems even weirder.
  • I was trying to figure out why I found this book so boring, and I think it’s because there’s almost no interaction with the other BSC members, except a little bit of Mallory. Yeah, they show up, but none of them do anything noteworthy. Any of the five older girls could have been doing/saying each thing.