I don’t completely remember the circumstances for how Claudia meets the artist she admires, but I do know that she starts running around the museum with her, looking for something and hiding from some guy she suspects. And he’s just totally amused by it and goes along with her (amused in a good way).
I also remember how the thief had hidden what he stole in some secret compartment of a statue. I always thought that was kind of a cool concept. I actually used it as inspiration for a story I wrote in college. The rest of the story was totally different though.
There’s a new museum in Stoneybrook, with a special exhibit by an artist Claudia really likes. She brings Corrie Addison and the Arnold Twins to see it, because it just wouldn’t be fun if she wasn’t baby-sitting. They all have a great time, but some ancient coins are stolen and they don’t get to see the sculpture Claud was interested in. Of course, Claudia’s obsessed with solving this “mystery” and gets the rest of the BSC to help.
She goes back to the museum to investigate and gets to see the art exhibit. It’s one where people are allowed to touch the sculptures, and Claudia thinks that one sculpture feels different than the time she saw the same thing in New York. She thinks it might be a fake, but when she tries to tell the curator he basically throws her out. Then of course, the BSC suspects him. They even do research and find out that several museums he worked at in the past were also robbed. But that is all a red herring.
Meanwhile, Claudia calls the artist of the sculpture (he’s from Stoneybrook, amazingly enough), and he actually takes this call from a random 13-year-old. When she tells him about it, he says a lot of his sculptures had hidden compartments that he used to hide toys for his (now grown) kids. He thinks maybe one of the toys got left in, and that’s what Claudia was feeling. But Claudia has a working brain in this book, and points out that hidden toys from a long time ago wouldn’t explain why it feels different from last year. This gets the artist curious, so he invites her and her parents to some fancy party the museum’s having, saying they can check the sculpture together.
At the party, the artist and Claudia go to look at the sculpture, but it has already been packed up to move to another museum. They head to the storage area, and they just happen to get there when a custodian’s taking the missing coins out of a compartment in the statue. Apparently, he found the compartment while setting up the exhibit and used it to pull off the theft. The night of the party was the first chance he got to retrieve the coins. After reaching this climax, we skip ahead to Claudia and the rest of the BSC writing a letter to Dawn (in California) about what happened, because it’s not an important part of the story or anything. Exposition is much more interesting than seeing actual events. Anyway, it turns out the curator wasn’t involved, another guy they suspected was really a federal agent, and Claudia gets a whole bunch of credit for “solving” the crime.
Subplot: Claire Pike has decided she wants to be a star. At the mall she gets to make a video of herself singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in front of a Wizard of Oz backdrop, and she keeps showing it to everyone she can. Claudia takes her to see Rosie Wilder to get advice, and Rosie gives Claire the name of some talent agents. But later, Jessi tells Claire the downsides of show business, and Claire decides she doesn’t want to go through with it. She’s still a little upset when the agent rejects her though.
- One nice thing about Claudia books is that they almost always start with an outfit. This one is, “a red-and-white striped shirt that hung down almost to [her] knees, red leggings, and black high-top sneakers.” It actually sounds kind of cute.
- Janine’s talking to Claudia and starts going off on some tangent about Greek and Roman mythology, so Claudia just leaves the room and goes upstairs. Which seems a bit rude, but maybe Janine’s used to it.
- Janine also gets to be surprised/impressed by Claudia talking about art, and sounding like a critic. It’s nice when Claudia does get recognition by her family…..I think she doesn’t think they’re proud of her at all.
- There’s actually something (relatively) interesting in the backstory chapter – Claudia tells us which animal each BSC member would like to be (if they had to). Apparently, they talk about stuff like this. Here are the picks: Claudia, colorful parrot; Kristy, dog; Stacey, panther; Mary Anne, koala; Dawn, dolphin; Shannon, cat; Logan, Hawk; Mallory, horse (shocking, right?); Jessi, some kind of stallion that can dance.
- Speaking of koalas, does anyone else remember a Nickelodeon cartoon where a stuffed koala came to life, and had adventures with it’s owner? The girl (Jenny?) just had to rub noses with it. And she just happened to have a eucalyptus tree outside her bedroom? Oh, and because the internet is awesome, I found a clip. (I apologize for the randomness of this comment if no knows what I'm talking about).
- Claudia’s outfit for visiting the museum: “Pink lace leggings and a long black sweater. [Her] hair was tied back with a pink ribbon, and [she] was wearing pink ballet-type flats.” Again, not too bad, at least for the 80s. But she claims she’s “dressed up,” and she totally isn’t.
- The day of the theft, Claudia notices a custodian with a mop and pail, the guy with one blue eye and one green eye, and a brownie troop. She suspects the guy with two eye-colors, but not the custodian, which I thought seemed pretty obvious, since he could have hid the coins in his pail. But I think I may have subconsciously be remembering the end. I am guessing I don’t need to say that she doesn’t suspect the brownie troop.
- Claudia wants to go to the museum with someone, so she arranges to take Carrie and the twins. In a situation like this, do you think she charges? Cause it seems kind of weird for her to call up Mrs. Arnold or Mrs. Addison and ask to get paid to take their daughters somewhere.
- Before leaving for a trip to the mall, Adam Pike tells his mother that Mallory’s making Nicky change his socks, because he’s been wearing the same ones for three weeks and will be trying on shoes. But would they not have made him change his socks if he wasn’t trying on shoes? Three weeks is a long time.
- The BSC thinks the coins must still be inside the museum, since everyone who had been there the day of the theft had been searched. They think maybe the coins were mixed in with the fake coins sold at the gift shop, but it turns out those were actually chocolate. However, they’re arranged in a locked display case. Why the hell would CHOCOLATE coins be locked in a display case?
- The BSC also tries to find the coins in a fountain by the front of the museum and the donations box by the entrance. I’m not sure why that seems like an important detail to me, but it does.
- Rosie suggests that Claire make copies of her video and send it to a bunch of agents at once. Claudia convinces Claire to only send it out one at a time, so they don’t need to make copies (since this is pre-digital). So, Claire dictates a note to Claudia and they send it off. But isn’t it A) a bit reckless to not even make a copy for herself in case the agents don’t return it, B) not really professional to have a five-year-old compose the note, and C) a bit inappropriate to just send out the tape without talking to Claire’s parents?
- Why would a random custodian have keys to the display cases with valuable artifacts? Wouldn’t they have more security about that?
- The day of the crime, Claudia sees that the case with the coins is covered with shattered glass, and thinks that the coins must have been taken before it was broken, therefore being an inside job. Now, I would hope that the cops also knew that and were checking on the employees, but I guess that’s silly, since the cops can’t really do anything without the BSC’s help. But my more pressing question is, how does a girl that can figure that out have so much trouble passing eighth grade?
- The outfit Claudia wore to school, that Kristy thinks is acceptable for a formal party: “Bright red leggings topped by a white man-tailored shirt and a vest that used to belong to [her] father.” I feel like all of Claud’s outfits in this book are the same.
- All the Pikes just watch Claire’s video again and again so she doesn’t have a temper tantrum. That’s a way to not spoil a child.
- Claudia’s father tells the reporters who write about the incident that he had no idea his daughter was a detective (or something like that). But this isn’t exactly the first time the BSC has gotten attention about “solving” mysteries. I guess this may be earlier in the series, but I know they at least got mentioned in the paper with the dog-napping case, and MAYBE the counterfeiting one.
- The back of the book says that “Claudia can’t wait for the new museum in Stoneybrook to open….” But that isn’t really true. The museum has already opened, and Claudia can’t wait to get to see it.
- When Claudia gets credit for catching the thief, she at least acknowledges that there was a lot of luck involved. Something other BSC members fail to do.
- The tagline on the front of the book says, “What kind of thief would steal art?” Now, first of all, it was ancient coins stolen from the museum, not art. But even if it WAS art, that’s not exactly an unheard thing to steal.
- Towards the end, we find out that the guy with two different colored eyes is a federal agent. But the last chapter also includes a letter to Dawn, where Kristy says that he was a private eye. I’m wondering if that was a last minute change in the manuscript or something.
- This book takes place when Dawn is in California, but I totally didn’t even notice she was missing. I only realized it when they talked about Mallory feeling sick, and figured out it was build-up to her having mono.
- Because she helped catch the thief, Claudia’s named an honorary trustee of the museum. At first I thought this was just a meaningless name-only thing. But apparently she’s allowed to go to any open night parties the museum has, and the curator wants her to help him display local student work. That seems a bit excessive as a reward for what she did. Not that we ever hear of her being involved with the museum in later books, or even that a museum exists.
- Claudia wore a kimono that used to be Mimi’s to the formal party at the museum. The scene where she’s figuring out what to wear was a really familiar one. I remembered it as soon as I started reading it.
- This museum has a discovery room, a science center, a music exhibit, art rooms, an Egypt room, and possibly more. How big a museum is this exactly? I can buy Stoneybrook having an art museum or a history museum, but one that has everything listed above? Unlikely.