Thursday, April 21, 2011

“I used to think Algebra was a type of lingerie”……BSC Mystery 27: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost

Memory Reaction

This was just after I stopped reading the books……

Revisited Reaction

The Hatts, old friends of Claudia’s parents are moving back to Stoneybrook and are staying at the Kishi’s. The Hatts are the owners of the Stoneybrook lighthouse, which has been shut down/boarded up for years. Because yes, the town apparently has a lighthouse. There are vague references to something bad happening there a few years back, right before it closed and the Hatts left town. Claudia goes with Mr. Hatt and his daughter to see the lighthouse, and a neighbor sees them and gets pissed that Mr. Hatt’s back in town. Then a bunch of threatening letters made by cutting out letters from magazines show up at the Kishi house.

Mallory and Jessi do some research and find out that nine years ago, a 16-year-old boy named Adrian was pulled from the water near the lighthouse in the middle of winter, and he ended up dying. The coroner noted that he showed signs of a head injury, gotten by a fall from 20-30 feet up. Adrian’s fingerprints were found in the lighthouse, but it was locked up, so it appeared that he had been inside when Mr. Hatt locked the lighthouse, and decided to climb out the window because he was claustrophobic and couldn’t take being locked in the place. The neighbor’s Adrian’s father, and he blames Mr. Hatt for the death.

In the basement of the lighthouse, Claudia finds an old note that says “If you last the night in the lighthouse you will be one of us” and has a picture of a gargoyle. Some investigation reveals that the gargoyle is a statue at the high school and there used to be gang-type groups who acted as his fans, or something dumb like that. The BSC goes there to look at it, and happens to meet the brother of the kid that died. They go back to his house to talk about Adrian, then Claudia steals/borrows a picture of a bunch of his friends.

Meanwhile, the Hatts keep getting notes, and then a smoke bomb goes off in the lighthouse. To send a message to the person doing this, the Hatts let their teenage son, Steve, have a party at the lighthouse, which the parents and the BSC attends. Even though the stairs to the top of the lighthouse were closed off, Claudia sees someone up there, and she recognizes him as someone in the picture of Adrian’s friends. She gets Mr. Hatt, but then the guy tries to climb down the side of the lighthouse. He falls, but they’re able to save him. It turns out that this guy, Patrick was the leader the group Adrian wanted to be a part of. Adrian was supposed to stay in the lighthouse overnight as an initiation, and his friends locked the door to make sure he did it. Patrick was trying to find the note that proved that. It’s kind of convoluted and anti-climactic.

Subplot: Some comet’s going to be visible in Stoneybrook. It’s not Halley’s Comment, but it seems to be comparable. All the kids can’t stop talking about it and the BSC has a comet viewing party. Some of the kids think the comet will make them sick or cause other negative events, but Kristy gets them to calm down. I may have liked this subplot if I read it when I was a kid, but now it just comes off as annoying.


  • Janine seems kind of out of character in this one. She’s pretty bitchy to Claud. She’s also having problems with her boyfriend, and is flirting (sort of) with Steve. It’s not unrealistic, but she just seems more immature than usual.
  • Claudia comments that teachers get excited when they see Janine’s IQ score. But would teachers see Janine’s IQ scores? I didn’t think that kind of information was typical for a school record, but I could be wrong. Or maybe Janine’s IQ was documented because it’s so high?
  • Claudia says that her parents love Janine, but tolerate her. I think it’s kind of sad if she really feels that way.
  • The comet story’s boring, but also typical BSC. Of course they have a viewing party. No parents would have wanted to see this rare event WITH their children. And it’s certainly logical to gather as many people in one place so that each person has the least time looking through the one telescope.
  • What’s interesting, is that this book takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but it isn’t Christmas-themed or anything. Claudia says that Steve’s party’s a Christmas one and mentions shopping, but that’s it. And that makes me think of that mystery with the old diary where Charlotte talks about a book with a similar treatment.
  • Janine has to move into Claudia’s room while the Hatts are staying with them because the two Hatt daughters “refused to be separated”…meaning they couldn’t have one girl stay in Claudia’s room and one in Janine’s room. But they kind of have a lot of nerve making that demand when they’re asking the Kishis to host five people for a minimum of two weeks. Especially, if those are two weeks in December when most people are busier than usual.
  • Claudia outfit - “I was wearing a white high-collared dentist’s shirt and a loose-fitting Chinese silk jacket, cinched at the waist by a bright-orange scarf, over tight black flared pants. My hair was gathered on top of my head with an orange bandanna.”
  • For anyone who ever wondered about the birth order of the Pike triplets, it was Jordan, Adam, Byron. For some reason I always assumed it was alphabetical.
  • So, Janine and Claudia hate sharing a room (shocking, I know). But at one point, Janine decides to do some schoolwork at a Wednesday at 5:30. So, Claudia has to turn on call forwarding and meet with the BSC in the living room. But then, Mr. Hatt needs to use that room, so the girls have to keep roaming around the house with a cordless phone. But, anyway, my point is that I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for the Kishi’s to tell Janine she needed to stay out of Claudia’s room for a half hour.
  • I think Claudia mysteries are usually good ones, but this one fell a little short. Mainly cause there isn’t really a lot of mystery about it. However, Claudia did call 911 as soon as she saw smoke in the lighthouse, and manages to get Mr. Hatt as soon as she sees the guy at the top of the lighthouse. The girl may suck at school, but she does stay calm in emergencies.
  • Janine eats a bunch of Claud’s candy while rooming with her. Which I think is some nice continuity about her personality from one of the early books.
  • I don’t really get the motivation for this guy to send notes to the Hatts. He said he wanted to find the note he’d written to Adrian years ago. I don’t really see how sending the notes helps his situation. He should have just broke in and tried to find it himself, without drawing attention to himself. Claudia found the note by accident, so it couldn’t have been too hard to find. And he’s had nine years to work on it.
  • The BSC helps the Hatts paint the lighthouse, and Stacey wears a black cashmere coat and silk scarf. Claud has to tell her to change. Would she really be that clueless about it?
  • Because this is a mystery, the BSC have a few other suspects for the notes to the Hatts get, but they’re really lame...Adrian’s father, Janine’s boyfriend (because he’s jealous of Steve, or the Hatt daughters (because one of them had been using scissors).
  • At the party, Claudia says that people are hanging out outside as well as in. However, like I said, it takes place in Connecticut in December. It’s usually not the time for outdoors parties.
  • Kristy leads the rest of the girls over to the guy whose son died and starts talking to him about it. Cause strangers love that.
  • I think the whole mystery of why Adrian was in the lighthouse was pretty much obvious when Claudia finds the note, but the girls don’t piece it together until the end when they catch Patrick and he tells them. But maybe it just seemed clear to me because it reminded me of an episode of the “Littles.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

“Aren’t we all supposed to get leis?”……BSC Super Special # 13: Aloha, Baby-sitters!”

Memory Reaction

I didn’t read this book as a kid, but I do have a memory of seeing it in the store. I was flipping through it and was tempted to buy it, but decided not to. I think I was trying to go cold-turkey since I was too old to still be buying them. The specific thing I remember is Abby being in a commercial. I can’t remember if I thought it was unbelievable or not? Let's just say I thought it was unrealistic, just cause I like to think I wasn’t a total idiot as a child.

Also, and this is a little embarrassing, but I went to Hawaii a couple years ago…..and I remember thinking that the trip would give me an interesting perspective for reviewing this book. I know, it’s sad.

Revisited Reaction

Most of the BSC’s going to Hawaii on the most ridiculous school trip ever. It’s summer and Stoneybrook Middle School’s organizing a trip with 50 kids and 6 teacher chaperones. Most of the BSC parents agreed the kids could go if they paid for half. And for some reason, Dawn gets to go too, even though this is after she moved to California for good. The only BSC members not going are Shannon, cause she’s at summer camp and doesn’t go to SMS anyway, Kristy, who’s already going to Hawaii with her family later in the summer, and Mallory, who can’t have good things happen to her. And whose parents can’t afford it.

The framework of this Super Special’s that they’re making a trip journal for Mallory so she gets to experience what she’s missing. Overall, it’s kind of a boring trip. No one even falls in LUV which is usually somewhat of a given in a Super Special/Vacation book. Stacey and Mary Anne have some issues with Robert and Logan, but that’s not as interesting as a new boy.

Stacey and Robert are part of a small group that spend several days in Maui (everyone else stays on Oahu the whole time). Stacey’s been annoyed at him because some girl was flirting with him on the plane ride out. Then the helicopter she’s on (for a tour) crashes and no one knows where she is for about a day. She ends up in the hospital for a few hours because of her blood sugar, and her feet get sore since she wasn’t wearing the best shoes, but that’s pretty much the extent of the damage. Robert all worried, and they make up after Stacey’s found.

Mary Anne spends the trip trying to make a point of not being attached to Logan’s hip, because her friends had been telling her she spent too much time with him. She also takes a baby-sitting job on her vacation, because she wants to meet a “real Hawaiian” family. Then she feels a bit embarrassed because they are just like people back in Stoneybrook.

Claudia goes to Pearl Harbor, and starts to feel ashamed of the fact that she’s Japanese, and her “ancestors” were responsible for the attack. She’s worried that people will dislike her because of it. She also worries about the fact that Mimi was living in Japan at the time, and wonders what she thought of the attack. It’s actually the most interesting storyline in the book.

Other key plots: Abby talks her way into a commercial for sun lotion that’s being filmed on the beach. Dawn finds a beach that’s full of garbage and cleans it up, and gets some local kids to agree to keep it clean. Jessi barely gets any chapters herself, even though she’s the one who’s supposed to be leading the efforts in Mallory’s book. She just spends the whole time taking pictures/notes.

We also get to hear about Kristy and Mallory back in Stoneybrook, which sort of takes you out of the rest of the story. They’re both helping at some “farm camp” to help that woman in town that has a farm. It’s that’s so boring it’s barely worth mentioning. However, on a separate sitting job for Jenny Prezzioso, Mrs. P tells Mallory that she’s decided to start using discipline on Jenny. If Jenny has a tantrum, Mallory should just let her cry/scream until she stops herself. This happens at the park and some random woman tells Mallory she’s neglecting Jenny. She even calls the BSC to complain about it. But then Mallory sees the woman at the park, and her own kid has a tantrum. And the woman becomes a BSC client. Of course.


  • I have this vague memory of a book where the BSC’s raising money for the trip and where Dawn’s on a waiting list to go (since she isn’t a SMS student). I thought that this was from some summary of the book, but I guess it was actually another book that I did read.
  • The thing that’s weird, is that this must take place before the book where Stacey and Robert break up. That was the last BSC book I read as a kid, so I can’t understand how I missed the Super Special.
  • I would have hated to be on the plane with the SMS group. There are fifty kids and they spend the whole trip switching seats so they can talk to each other.
  • I do appreciate that they don’t have these kids staying in some resort right on the beach, and that they mention taking public buses. They don’t mention a cost for this trip, but if the BSC was able to raise half the cost, we can’t be talking about 5 star resorts.
  • At one point they’re talking about food, and Claudia says she gave Dawn 3 of her Doritos. But since when does Dawn eat Doritos?
  • At first I thought all the Stacey/Robert fighting was foreshadowing to the book where they break up, but Robert was apparently crying when Stacey’s helicopter went down, so I guess they didn’t want him to seem too dickish yet.
  • Jessi took 13 rolls of film on the trip, and she mentions as least some of them having 36 exposures. That seems like a hell of a lot of film. I tend to take a lot of pictures, but that’s with digital camera. All that film and developing would get pretty expensive.
  • I get that they wanted to have some baby-sitting in this book, but having these girls take sitting jobs on their vacation is really ridiculous.
  • Dawn acknowledges the ridiculous-ness of coming to Stoneybrook over the summer, only to go to Hawaii. It would have been hilarious if she came back for a visit, only to see all her friends leave town.
  • Mary Anne and Logan decide they both hated not spending all their time together, and decide to not listen to their friends about things like that. So….what message are we trying to send to young girls?
  • Kristy gets everyone shirts that say “Baby-Sitters Club” with Claud’s phone number on them. And people actually wear them. Not just in Stoneybrook, but in Hawaii too. Good thing they don’t solve any crimes in this book, or else the culprits would have been able to stalk them.
  • I was impressed to see that Claudia’s description of visiting Pearl Harbor was actually pretty accurate, at least compared to my experience.
  • This must be the most boring trip to Hawaii ever. Maybe helicopter crashes make some things interesting, but not this.
  • Karen’s attending the farm camp with a friend of hers that’s visiting from Nebraska. I remember the friend from a Little Sister book where Karen went to Nebraska, so I feel like this must overlap with another Little Sister book….it’s too random otherwise.
  • Abby being in a commercial’s the most ludicrous thing ever. They’re filming some people playing a beach volleyball game, and are missing an actor. She just walks over and is all, “hey, I can play volleyball. And I’m totally 18.” And they just let her do it. They don’t even ask for proof of her age.
  • We hear about these girls needing to ask permission from their chaperones more than we’ve ever heard about them asking their parents’ permission for stuff in other books.
  • If you were Mallory and couldn’t go on vacation with all your friends, would having every minute of the trip documented make you feel better?
  • At one point, a little boy gets lost in the hotel they’re staying at. And Mary Anne decides to just stay at the hotel to help look for him/watch his sisters while his parents look. And of course she finds him and saves the day.
  • When Mary Anne asks one of the chaperones about whether she can baby-sit, the teacher’s all, “you want to baby-sit on vacation”? Now, she clearly has a point, but this is coming from someone who’s chaperoning her students on her summer vacation.
  • The beach that Dawn cleans up has a for sale sign, meaning it’s private property. So, she’s encouraging these kids to keep on trespassing? It also says “swim at your own risk,” so it seems like a bad idea to be letting those kids swim there anyway.
  • Stacey has bad luck in Super Specials, doesn’t she? In this book she’s in a helicopter crash, in the blizzard super special she gets stranded in the storm, and in the camp super special she spends half the time in the infirmary.
  • At one point Dawn gives Logan a surfing lesson, but I’m kind of surprised they didn’t do any more of a surfing plot….Dawn’s all into it, and Stacey liked it the first time she tried it.
  • Mallory’s surprised to find out that the judgmental woman from the park has kids. But why does she think this random person was hanging out at the playground anyway? Also, I don’t understand why her kid having a tantrum makes her understand what Mal was doing. Her whole point was about Mal’s reaction to the tantrum, not the fact that a kid was having one.
  • This book seems a little weird, because everyone’s chapters are not evenly spaced out. Abby has chapters 2, 7, and 10, while Stacey has 11, 16, and 21.