Wednesday, February 23, 2011

“I thought they might be lucky and stumble on the key to the fortune”…….BSC Mystery # 26: Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-sitter

Memory Reaction

I didn’t get to this one as a kid, so no memory applies.

Revisited Reaction

Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for the summer and is taking some sitting jobs. At one meeting, the BSC gets two calls from different women, with different last names, and a different number of kids, at the same address. The girls are a little confused, but Kristy and Dawn both show up for the sitting jobs. It turns out that the two women are sisters from out-of-town, who are staying in their (somewhat) recently deceased father’s mansion while his estate’s settled. His house is called the “Livingston House,” because rich people name their houses, I guess. And I’m going to refer to the whole family as “the Livingstons,” because it’s not worth learning anyone’s real last name.

The sisters don’t get along and have divided the house in two so they don’t have to interact. Also living in the house is a third sister with no kids and a young man calling himself their butler. Richard picks Dawn up after the job and recognizes a colleague out running (she’s a neighbor of the Livingstons). The neighbor fills Dawn in on the sisters’ backstory----The father was a bit of an ass, and his will calls for his three daughters to each get a “clue” upon his death. Whoever uses the clue to find a specific code first will “win” and inherit the entire fortune. The neighbor’s the executor of the estate, and thinks the sisters should just share the clues, solve the puzzle together, then share the fortune. But the two older sisters resent each other too much. Apparently, their father encouraged them to be competitive as kids, which caused them to fight a lot until they were old enough to leave town. The younger daughter was spared from this because she was much younger, and she has been living in the house on her own. We’re also told that the sisters had a younger brother, but he died tragically when he was young.

Anyway, after the first sitting job the sisters decide that their kids should be able to see each other. They still hire two sitters, but tell the BSC to keep all the kids together. While doing this, Dawn gets the kids to talk some about the clues their mothers are looking for. They search the house themselves, but don’t find anything. When the mothers get home, the kids ask them to share the clues. And just like that, years of resentment goes away and the three sisters share their clues. However, they still can’t figure out what code they’re supposed to be finding. Lucky for the sisters, Dawn has the case on the brain. She figures out how the clues go together and the sisters all find the code, it’s written on the back of one of the many portraits of the father hanging in the house. We also find out that the “butler” is actually the thought to-be-dead-brother. So, the whole Livingston family gets a happy ending.

Meanwhile, Dawn also has a very busy social life because everyone in town’s trying to spend time with her before she goes back to California. She ends up having to cancel plans with Mary Anne multiple times because she accidentally made plans with someone else at the same time. So, she ends up organizing “friend day.” In the morning she hangs out with a bunch of kids/charges and in the afternoon she hangs out with the BSC and some other old classmates. Then she has “family day” to spend a lot of time with her family, especially Mary Anne.

  • Does Dawn really need to have going away parties every time she leaves Stoneybrook? Not to mention getting presents.
  • This book takes place right after the Hawaii super special, so most of the girls have just returned from that trip. Apparently, Kristy didn’t go, but leaves with her family for a trip there during this book. Dawn gets a letter from her that Mr. Schafer and Watson arranged for the Thomas-Brewer clan to stop and spend the night at Dawn’s house on their way back. However, in “Kristy’s Worst Idea,” Kristy tells us about her trip home from Hawaii, and a stop at Dawn’s house isn’t included.
  • I hate when people complain about having too many people that want to spend time with them.
  • Dawn makes plans with Emily Bernstein and Erica Blumberg, two eighth graders at SMS we hear of every once in a while. But how often did Dawn hang out with them when she lived in town? Now, I like seeing these girls hang out with people outside the BSC-clique, but at the same time, Dawn doesn’t live in Stoneybrook any more. So, it actually makes sense that she would only stay in touch with her closest friends.
  • Claudia outfit: “A bright yellow pair of overall shorts over a tie-dyed baby-T in all the colors of the rainbow. She wore purple jellies, and her toenails, which showed through the plastic, were painted scarlet. A green scrunchie, holding her hair into a cool-looking Pebbles ‘do, topped off the look.” I actually don’t think this is so bad, considering it was the nineties. However, how do you combine “cool-looking” and “Pebbles ‘do” in one sentence?
  • How come everyone in BSC-land has attics filled with all sorts of cool old stuff? I was always so jealous of not being able to go attic-exploring as a kid. At least in this book, they don’t find an old journal/letters in the attic to read. I was even more jealous of that.
  • This book isn’t really a mystery. I know I’ve complained that some mysteries are way too unrealistic, but there’s something in between catching counterfeiters and a brainteaser.
  • Is it weird that Dawn made plans to go to the local community pool with Haley and Matt Braddock? Not as a sitting job, just for fun?
  • Why would you play “Marco Polo” when at a pool with a deaf child?
  • While searching the mansion, Dawn and Abby find a signature of an “A Livingston” from two months ago, which is after Mr. (Arthur) Livingston died. And they’re all, “OMG, he’s really alive!” They totally ignore the obvious explanation that the third daughter’s named Amy Livingston, and is the owner of the signature.
  • The kids were playing pogs. Remember those?
  • They make a point of saying how it is weird that the “butler” is really young, so you know he’ll be someone significant.
  • Arthur Livingston died a year ago, and there was no funeral because Amy (the younger daughter) and the executor of the estate were both out of the country. Which seems really weird. Wouldn’t she make a point of coming home when her father died? This is the daughter living in Stoneybrook.
  • After the first job, Kristy and Dawn talk about only sending one sitter to try and force the Livingston’s to make up. But they decide not to. Not because it’s meddling, but because it wouldn’t be safe to only send one sitter for five kids.
  • The Livingstons ask Dawn to be a “regular sitter.” And the BSC’s totally okay with it, like it hasn’t been against club policy for over a hundred books.
  • It’s so weird that the executor of the estate says she can’t do anything about the “contest” part of the will, but then she just helps them share the clues at the end.
  • When we first heard that the Livingstons had a younger brother that died, I thought they meant as a baby. But the father just started telling people his seventeen-year-old son died while mountain climbing, because he was mad at him. That’s a pretty crappy thing to lie about, at least in my opinion.
  • The idea that the BSC managed to resolve a feud that has been going on with these two women since they were children in a matter of weeks is just….beyond words ridiculous.
  • The executor says how the father would have liked seeing the daughters be competitive about the clues. But really, it would have been pretty hard for them to figure out on their own. The three clues were: The first is the most important; The signature tells all; and I didn’t do it, I was blank. (The blank is supposed to be framed, which points to the (signed) portrait and the “first” is because it is the oldest portrait).

Monday, February 14, 2011

“Why is Emily dressed like a clown?”……BSC # 45: Kristy and the Baby Parade

Memory Reaction

This is one of the books where my main memory’s one of Claudia’s outfits….she dresses with a watermelon theme. I actually thought that seemed cool is a kid. Embarrassing, I know.

Other than that, I mainly remember how much the float they put together sucked. And Charlie was all embarrassed to be driving it and wears a disguise, but gets recognized and made fun of by his friends.

Revisited Reaction

Mrs. Prezzioso needs a regular sitter for Jenny and Andrea for a couple weeks. But because Andrea is so young, she asks if that sitter can take an infant-care class at the town’s community center. Kristy gets the job, but all the club members decide to take the class.

Meanwhile, we find out that the bi-annual baby parade’s coming to Stoneybrook. It’s for kids under the age of three and entries can be strollers, floats, go carts, etc. Mrs. Prezzioso tells Kristy she’s going to enter Andrea (not surprising), and she wants Kristy’s help. Kristy agrees, even though she had also been thinking of entering Emily. Since Andrea’s being entered in the stroller division, the BSC decides to do a float, and enter Emily, Squirt, and some other kids they sit for – Lucy Newton, Laura Perkins, Eleanor Marshall, and the twin babies of a couple from their infant class. The theme’s “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.”

The girls aren’t as organized as they usually are, and the float ends up being a disaster. The “shoe” looks awful, the costumes look like clown outfits and clash with the float, the BSCers forgot about their own costumes, no one checked Claudia’s spelling, etc. They all blame each other and get into a fight, and are miserable the whole parade. The babies are also miserable and cry most of the time. And of course, they don’t win any prizes. But afterwards, everyone makes up.

Meanwhile, Kristy’s worried that Mrs. Prezzioso’s ideas for Andrea are too over-the-top…she’s using a “Queen Andrea” theme. Kristy thinks she may get fired if Andrea loses, but, it turns out everyone in a baby parade’s over the top, and Andrea wins first prize in her division.


  • At the beginning, before getting into the back story chapter, Kristy say’s the explanation of the BSC’s a long story. But it really isn’t. Kristy saw her mom struggling to find a sitter, had the idea to make a club, and got together with some friends. We don’t need to hear about Janine’s IQ in every book to follow the plot.
  • Apparently the BSC has club T-shirts. They all wear them to the infant-care class.
  • So they pick “The Old Woman Who Lives in the Shoe” because it has to do with kids, but if you read the lyrics, it isn’t exactly the most pleasant nursery rhyme....I mean whipping babies?
  • At the class, Jessi asks what colicky is, which is just another continuity issue, since it was established that Squirt had colic. They’ve made this mistake before. Or maybe they will in the future…I think this book takes place before the memory super special.
  • At one of the infant care classes, someone’s baby starts crying. The teachers try to get everyone to suggest what the mother should do. After several non-helpful guesses, Kristy says that the baby may need a new diaper. Because no one else thought of that? I don’t have much experience with babies, but I’m pretty sure that’s one of the first things to check.
  • Claudia outfit: “An oversized red blouse with black buttons, green leggings with white, tie-dyed streaks, and black high-top sneakers with all kinds of buckles and snaps on them…[Her earrings] were dangling watermelon slices.”
  • Jamie Newton asks Claudia to help him make a pumpkin Halloween custom for him (even though it isn’t even close to Halloween). Brave kid.
  • They have a little graduation ceremony from their class, and Shannon and Logan attend. Kristy makes this weird little comment about how it’s nice to see Mary Anne and Logan together again. I guess this was a hint for the next book?
  • Of course, Kristy’s one of two people who gets a perfect score on the test in the infant-care class.
  • Before coming up with the “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” idea, the girls each had another suggestion. All of them were ridiculous. Not because they’re bad, but because they all highlight each girl’s one personality trait. Kristy wanted to do a sports theme, Stacey wanted to do a NYC theme, Dawn wanted to do a surfing theme, and Mallory wanted to do a horse theme. Claudia wanted to do a “babies in space” thing, which is weird, but it least it wasn’t an art or junk food theme. Mary Anne wanted to do a “Three Little Kittens” theme, which inspires them to do another nursery rhyme.
  • The ghostwriters seem to have forgotten about Jessi, because she didn’t voice an idea, even though Kristy says they all had their own suggestion.
  • All the ideas are supposed to suck, but I actually think some of them would have worked better than the shoe thing.
  • I’m kind of surprised all these parents are perfectly okay with letting their kid be in a parade with such an awful float. I mean, Emily and Squirt I can understand, because they’re family. But Mrs. Newton just hands over Lucy without checking to see what this float looks like?
  • Kristy’s supposed to be responsible for the twins during the float. But she’s also watching Emily. So, with seven babies and seven sitters on the float, Kristy’s watching three of them?
  • Dawn’s a bit of a bitch. After she sees the costumes Mallory made, she picks out a party dress for Eleanor Marshall to wear. Then she purposely lets the kid look different from everyone else on the float.
  • Jessi writes a notebook entry about how she loves babies so much, that she even loves changing diapers – because it makes them happy. I don’t buy an eleven-year-old thinking it.
  • The BSC says later that the reason the float was so bad, is because they weren’t communicating. Which is true. But it was really unnecessary. In one chapter, Claudia, Stacey and Mallory are working on the float. The other club members stop by with their sitting charges and see that the orange paint Stacey’s mixing won’t be enough for the float Claudia’s making, and that it will clash with the costumes Mallory’s making. They all NOTICE these things and comment on them to each other, but don’t bother saying anything to the people doing the work.
  • The image of a big shoe as a float keeps making me think of the foot statue in Lost.
  • Charlie swears he’ll never drive a float the BSC makes again, but I am pretty sure he sort of does this with a boat show in the Shadow Lake book.
  • When Charlie sees the float, he insists on wearing a hat and sunglasses as a “disguise.” But his friends recognize his car and make fun of him anyway. I’d like to know what his friends are doing watching the parade. It doesn’t seem like a popular choice for high school kids.
  • Shannon and Logan are spending the parade watching Becca, Jamie Newton, Jenny - a whole group of older kids who’s siblings are in the parade. Because there’s no way the parents of these children would be attending the parade. Why would anyone want to see their own baby in a parade?
  • Isn’t building a float kind of hard for 13-year-olds? I think making a float would require building something that will be safe for a certain number of people to sit on. And Claudia does that herself? I can see her decorating one, but there’s no way I’d let my kid ride around on one she built.
  • Originally, the girls ask Gabbie Perkins to be in the parade as well, but she doesn’t want to. I guess because she’s smart enough to know that a baby parade’s a ridiculous thing to have.
  • After the parade, Kristy tells Charlie to take the float to the dump. Now, I know she doesn’t care about it, but it seems a bit wrong to get rid of it without consulting the other BSC members. They may have all been miserable at the parade, but they still helped make it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

“It’s not that he wouldn’t be interested in you”…..BSC Super Special # 10: Sea City, Here We Come!

Memory Reaction

I think I’ve said before that I liked the Sea City books, so I was glad to see a super special set there. But, I remember thinking how this book made it more obvious that the girls didn’t age. I mean, I knew they didn’t age and I understood why. I didn’t even mind (too much) that they had multiple summer vacations. But a third trip to Sea City in 8th grade was a bit hard to accept.

The specific thing I remember is how Logan’s self-conscious about meeting Alex, and there’s a scene where he and Mary Anne are walking on the beach (or somewhere), and she says how she doesn’t miss being a mothers’ helper “now.” Then they run into Alex and Toby, and Mary Anne keeps pulling Logan’s arm around her tighter, which Logan interprets as Mary Anne wanting to make it clear he’s her boyfriend.

I also remember getting a Buddy chapter, and how when he’s helping a cop pick up trash on the beach, the cop keeps calling him “Buddy.” But he meant it generically and didn’t know it was his actual name.

Revisited Reaction

So, this year the Pikes’ mother’s helpers are Mallory (because she apparently doesn’t want a vacation) and Jessi. Stacey’s still going to Sea City, but working for the Barretts who are staying next door. But the Pikes invited the rest of the BSC (including Logan) to stay with them for the second week of the vacation. Franklin (currently Mrs. Barrett’s fiancĂ©) is going down for a few days in the middle of the trip, so he’s driving the whole gang down. When he leaves, Logan will go with them so he can work back in Stoneybrook, and everyone else will stay with the Pikes.

Because Sea City = boy drama, Toby and Alex are also down there at the same time. Stacey’s trying to act like it doesn’t bother her that Toby “dumped” her back in the last book. Alex is eager to see Mary Anne, even though they are now supposedly just friends. Anyway, Toby starts flirting with Mallory, talking about how different she looks now that she’s 11-years-old and grown up, as opposed to the time she went to Sea City when she was 11 and still a kid. Meanwhile, Mrs. Barrett’s driving Stacey crazy, and Jessi’s trying to be the best sitter ever, because she wants to prove she’s as good as an older sitter.

Back in Stoneybrook, the rest of the BSC gets to have their own boring stories before leaving for Sea City.

  • Claudia’s finishing summer school, and has made a couple friends. Then she’s almost upset to find out she can’t go to a barbeque one of them is having to celebrate the end of school.
  • Kristy’s dealing with the fact that more than half of the Krushers are on vacation. So, she doesn’t have enough players for an upcoming game. She doesn’t want to forfeit, so she walks around her neighborhood ringing doorbells to recruit new team members. She gets enough players for the game, but they totally suck and lose.
  • Mary Anne and Dawn are having a “mini-camp” in their backyard. They go on a trip to a nearby farm and have a sleepover in the barn. Dawn makes up a lame ghost story about her secret passage.

Anyway, when they finally all arrive in Sea City. They go to the beach, play miniature golf, go to some circus that’s in town, etc. But then a hurricane hits. They try to drive inland for the storm, but the causeway to town floods and they are stuck. They end up spending the storm in the gym of a local elementary storm. Afterwards they don’t have power, but stay back at their house for the last few days of the tip.

Back to the boy drama – Toby ended up asking Mallory out for Friday, the last night of the vacation. She says yes and gets Claudia and Jessi to help her get ready. (Stacey’s barely talking to her at this point). But then Mal starts thinking about Ben Hobart and how it’s her family’s last night in Sea City. She tells Toby she isn’t going on the date, and he’s all, “okay, well let me know if you or any other cute girls will be around next summer.” Then she and Stacey make up.


  • Stacey outfit: “This white T-shirt that hung practically to her knees…white stretch pants…to mid-calf, a tan leather belt over the T-shirt, and leather-strap sandals.”
  • They say, last time Mary Anne was in Sea City, she and Alex became pretty friendly, but it didn’t turn into anything serious. However, Stacey and Toby “actually dated.” They were in Sea City for two weeks. How much “dating” can you do?
  • Claudia says how summer school teachers make students miserable because they would have preferred to have the summer off too. Which, I’m sure is true, but at least the teachers get paid for teaching in the summer.
  • Claudia became friendly with a summer school classmate who lives near her and also likes art. And of course we never hear about her again.
  • I can see the Pikes inviting the BSC to stay with them in the beach house, since it’s big enough and not a huge extra cost. Plus, they know the girls will help with the kids. But they also rent a van so they can bring everyone back, which seems like a pretty big expense to take on. Also, can you really fit that many more people in a van than a station wagon?
  • I don’t remember noticing this when I was younger, but the BSC likes to make a point of describing Mrs. Barrett as gorgeous.
  • Mary Anne and Dawn’s mini-camp took a trip to visit the fire department. We don’t see it, but it seems a little unbelievable that 13-year-olds could arrange that visit.
  • Kristy lists the remaining players on the Krushers, and there are seven of them. But then later she refers to Marilyn Arnold pitching, who wasn’t on the original list, but wasn’t mentioned as a new player either.
  • Kristy finds her new players by ringing doorbells in her neighborhood. But wouldn’t the kids around there be the people on Bart’s team? Also, it seems kind of weird for Kristy to talk to kids about joining a team, and getting their phone numbers/addresses without talking to any parents.
  • Apparently, Claudia once brought her VCR remote to school, thinking it was a calculator. Now….seriously?
  • I have to give them some credit for SOME continuity. There’s a picture of Karen playing softball in the chapter about the Krushers game, and her shirt has “Crushers” written on it. Even though there’s no actual text reference to how she insisted on spelling it that way on her shirt.
  • I remembered this scene, but I didn’t realize it was this book until I was in the middle of it. The Krushers are getting killed in the game, but somehow after Gabby got a hit, a Basher through it in the stands. Then Charlie hides the ball and everyone cheers for Gabby scoring.
  • The back of the book says that Mary Anne shows Logan the sites, including the Tunnel of Luv. But in the actual book, the Tunnel of Luv’s closed, and they have to make do with a haunted house ride.
  • We get a Margo chapter in this book. She finds a tide pool and tries to make it into a “beach zoo,” and charge people fifty cents to look at it. It’s a waste of a chapter.
  • Jessi answers a question about sandpipers, and Margo’s all, “Jessi is so smart.” Then later, Jessi tells Mallory to “follow her heart” about whether to go out with Toby. And Mallory’s all, “Jessi is so smart.” I remember noticing that when I was younger, and wondering if that was on purpose.
  • We also get a Buddy chapter in this book. He refers to his sisters as “The Uglies” and is upset he didn’t get to see any dead bodies or houses blown away by the hurricane. It’s another waste of a chapter.
  • I find it interesting that Logan was invited to Sea City, and that Mary Anne’s dad had no problem with the two of them staying at the same beach house. (I know Mr. and Mrs. Pikes where there, but still). But I guess they needed him there to add to make the Alex encounters more awkward.
  • Jessi hardly gets any time in this book. Her storyline’s supposed to be about how she’s trying to be a super-sitter, but all we really see of her is taking care of Claire, Margo, and Suzi. The girls want to enter a sand castle contest, and Jessi’s all worried because there are adults planning to enter the contest who take it very seriously (and will obviously demolish the girls). But the contest in cancelled because of the storm. It’s even less exciting then it sounds.
  • Even though the BSC’s traveling with the Pikes, we get a Karen chapter. She gives us the Stoneybrook point of view of the storm, even though nothing interesting happens. It’s the third waste of a chapter. They should have given us Alex or Toby’s perspective, or at least more of Stacey/Mallory fighting.
  • I wonder if Franklin and Mrs. Barrett share a room when he’s in Sea City. Don’t ask me why I think of things like that.
  • Mallory writes a letter to Stacey’s mom, addressed to “Mrs. McGillicudy,” as a joke I guess. But it seems kind of weird that she would write to her friend’s mom at all. I guess it was just an excuse for an “I Love Lucy” reference…I know Ann Martin was a fan.
  • Dawn’s actually helping to take care of Franklin’s kids, so she stays at the house the Barretts are in. And there’s a scene where Stacey freaks out about how Dawn used the wrong towel, but Dawn tells her she didn’t, it must have been one of the kids. And I swear it’s the exact same thing that happened in the last Sea City book. Only in that one the towels were yellow and blue (or maybe white) flowers. And here they are solid pink and blue.
  • Franklin and his kids are referred to as the “Harrises.” Even though later on they are the DeWitts.
  • Only Claudia would have a dilemma when packing to evacuate during a hurricane. She was wearing, “These overdyed navy jeans [and]….a loose black cotton sweater over a white tank top.” And she was worried that her next warmest clothes – purple Hawaiian shorts and an orange striped shirt – would clash. I didn’t know Claudia knew the meaning of the word clashed.
  • A quote worthy conversation – Mrs. Barrett: “They say the road was fortified”; Mr. Pike: “They said the Titanic was unsinkable”; Claudia: “Is the Titanic going through the marsh?”
  • Mallory’s date outfit (even though she didn’t go), “a short, flared, white-on-blue polka-dotted skirt…a white, ribbed tank-top…and a long, royal-blue men’s shirt with the tails tied in front.” Then she wore flamingo barrettes (that were “cool”) and pins with the faces of Virginia Woolf, Jimi Hendriz, Stephen Hawking, and Janis Joplin. Now that outfit I remember.
  • Logan has a horse and buggy waiting to drive Mary Anne home from the Pikes (when they get back). That doesn’t seem like something Mary Anne would like, since it makes her the center of attention, but she says it’s romantic.