Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"With a newborn in the house and absolutely no one to guide them? Puh-leeze"......BSC # 97: Claudia and the World's Cutest Baby

Memory Reaction

I honestly have almost no recollection about what I thought of this book. Just that Claudia devotes every spare minute to visiting her new niece or getting her presents. I hope I realized how annoying she was being. I think I probably did like the book when I was younger, just because it had a lot of references to an earlier book with Peaches, and I loved when past storylines were referred to. It felt like some kind of reward for reading the whole series.

Revisited Reaction

Claudia’s Aunt Peaches is pregnant again, and she gives her birth to a baby girl. She and her husband name the baby Lynn (after Claudia’s middle name) and ask Claud to be the godmother. Of course, Claudia’s thrilled and thinks Lynn’s the cutest baby ever (as indicated by the title). She keeps going over to her Aunt and Uncle’s house to “help” with the baby. And be help, I mean she breaks the coffee maker, wakes the sleeping baby, invites herself to dinner, etc. Her mother keeps trying to get Claud to leave them alone, but Claud ignores her. Plus, she gives Peaches all sorts of tips about taking care of a baby…..after all, she’s an experienced baby-sitter and knows more than an adult, new mother would.

After a while, Peaches finally snaps and tells Claud to back off a little, which makes Claudia mad. Then Claudia goes to Philadelphia on a weekend class trip, where this girl Melissa (from her class) keeps following her around and asking questions every two seconds. She convinces Claud to sneak off to see an art museum, but they get lost and the rest of the class has to sit around waiting for them. Their teacher yells at them a bit, but lets them off fairly easy in the end. Later, Claudia snaps at Melissa, but then realizes that she has been acting just like Melissa with Peaches. It’s lucky that she was having such a parallel experience to teach herself a lesson. Amazing coincidence. Anyway, she apologizes to Peaches and makes up with her.

The subplot’s about how the Arnold Twins are getting a preview of some premium channel and have gotten into the habit of watching scary movies. This makes them terrified monsters are out to get them. The BSC doesn’t really stop them from watching the movies, but end up accidently letting them see a “making of….” special about one of the movies. This gets them over their fears, and they end up making their own horror movie with Kristy.


  • Claudia’s social studies teacher asks what the city of brotherly love is, and Claudia guesses “Hermosa Beach.” The teacher cracks up, which I find slightly inappropriate, but hysterical.
  • The teacher describes this weekend trip to Philadelphia as an “all-expense paid” class trip. Really? When I was in school, we had to pay for class trips even if it was just to a local museum. How does SMS get away with stuff like this?
  • Stacey talks about eating pretzels with mustard when they are in Philly, so Claudia runs and grabs some mustard from the kitchen, puts it on a regular pretzel, and doesn’t think it’s so great. Only then does Stacey tell her she meant hot pretzels.
  • Russ calls and tells Claudia he’s taking Peaches to the hospital, and Claudia gets super excited. She waits outside for her parents and Janine to get home and as soon as they do, she insists they leave for the hospital. Only later does Janine tell her they probably didn’t need to rush over. This is just the first sign that Claudia has no boundaries.
  • Did you ever notice that every baby born during the series was a girl? You have Lucy Newton, Laura Perkins, Andrea Pezziosso, and now Lynn. Did I miss anyone?
  • Isn’t Claudia a little young to be a godmother?
  • When Logan sits for the Arnolds, Mrs. Arnold specifically tells him not to let the twins watch horror movies. Then he starts doing his homework and eating in the kitchen, not paying attention to what the girls are watching upstairs. Despite them watching in their parent’s bedroom with the door closed. I don’t think he has to keep his eyes on them every second, but he could have done a little bit more.
  • When she sits for the Arnold’s, Mary Anne puts the girls to bed, then lets them get up a half hour later to watch TV. It seems weird that she would let them get away with that if their parents wanted them in bed at a certain time. I guess this is the month for the BSC to be lax sitters or something.
  • People have to stop letting Claudia make signs because even when she checks her spelling she makes mistakes. The banner she makes to welcome Peaches and Lynn home says, “Welcome, Home Lynn.”
  • The BSC all comes by Peaches’s house to see Lynn, and Russ ends up serving lunch. This is the day she gets home from the hospital. How can girls supposedly so good at baby-sitting not understand that this might not be appreciated by new parents?
  • Claudia’s really dumb sometimes. When Peaches is telling Russ she feels like she’s running a hotel, Claudia overhears and can’t understand why her aunt would think this. Despite coming to their house every chance she gets, and the fact that her mother has been telling her to stop spending so much time there.
  • Also, when Claudia hears her class is going to the U.S. Mint, she thinks, “Oh, I love mints.”
  • To try and protect themselves from monsters, the twins set up traps around their room. The traps are remarkably similar to what the BSC has used in various other books. I wonder if that’s on purpose.
  • Claudia’s really, really, annoying with the baby “tips” she keeps giving Peaches. I would have kicked her out after about a day.
  • The reason they get lost in Philly, is because this other girl says that the other museum they want to go to is four blocks away, and if the blocks are anything like NYC, it should take four minutes to walk there. That seems to be pretty weak logic, but she’s talking to Claudia so it’s enough.
  • After she gets in trouble for wandering away, Claudia convinces Stacey and Abby to sneak out of their hotel to go to a diner. They don’t get lost/caught this time, but it’s nice to see these girls do normal teenager-y things, instead of acting like perfect adults who happen to be 13.
  • The rest of the BSC meets the bus when it brings Claudia, Stacey, and Abby back from Philadelphia to welcome them home. It seems a bit excessive…..they were away for two days!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

“I cried. I think everyone did”…….. BSC # 93: Mary Anne and the Memory Garden

Memory Reaction

I remember having two reactions to this book, aside from the plot itself. The first is about Mary Anne going back to the therapist that was first mentioned back when Claudia did her radio show. I had been confused about why it was suddenly introduced as backstory in that book, so I liked getting a bit more background on the issue.

The second’s that I thought it was slightly out-of-character that Mary Anne was so friendly with Amelia, and other kids she was studying with. Not that Mary Anne’s unfriendly, but we’d never heard of Amelia before and Mary Anne’s famously shy.

Revisited Reaction

Mary Anne gets assigned to a group project in English, and actually likes her group this time. It includes a girl named Amelia, her BFF Barbara, and a guy named Gordon. After a planning session at Mary Anne’s house, Amelia leaves to have dinner out with her family. The next morning at school, everyone finds out that there was a car accident the previous night, and Amelia was killed (a drunk driver slammed into her family’s car). Mary Anne, along with pretty much everyone else, is devastated.

After the funeral, Mary Anne’s worried about Kristy, who’s still pretty torn up, despite not knowing Amelia that well. But she organizes a chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving (S.A.D.D.), which channels Kristy’s anger/sadness. However, Mary Anne’s still feeling depressed, even as other people seem to get back to normal. She makes an appointment with this therapist she’d previously seen. Dr. Reese tells Mary Anne it’s okay to grieve and encourages her to do something to memorialize Amelia. Mary Anne gets the idea to have a garden set up at school that will be dedicated to Amelia. People in school help out and they have a dedication ceremony. Mary Anne still misses Amelia, but this helps her have closure.

The subplot’s about Dawn in California, which kind of takes you out of things. But I guess they thought the lighthearted stuff was needed to balance things out, and the other girls were supposed to be grieving, so they had to go to California for it. Anyway, Dawn and her friends decide this vacant lot in town’s a danger zone for kids because it’s full of garbage. They think they should clean it up, and with the help of the neighborhood kids, turn it into a garden. Dawn writes to the owner of the lot, but never hears back, so she and Sunny decide get started anyway. This is when the owner shows up, finally shows up. He’s a bit annoyed with the little annoyed with them, but he’s okay with the garden by the end.


  • Claudia outfit: “A black derby hat with a red-and-white polka dot ribbon, which matched her “ruby slippers” (high-top sneakers with red sequins). Black-and-white striped trousers with red suspenders, and a black long-sleeved T-shirt completed the outfit.”

  • Dawn’s sitting for those brats we met in the California super special, and one of them falls and cuts his hand. She cleans it, but thinks he needs to go to a doctor to get a tetanus shot, and asks a neighbor to drive them. Now, maybe I’m clueless because I don’t have kids, but I would think something like that could wait an hour or so until the parents got home. But I guess these girls have to be super-good sitters.

  • Here’s a question: If a kid’s parent gives him a toy gun, is it really up to Dawn to tell them to play with them? Because while I don’t disagree with her in theory, isn’t she supposed to be following the parents instructions?

  • Mary Anne refers to how the We Love Kids club doesn’t have rules or regular meetings like the BSC, but didn’t they start having regular meetings after they got news coverage? It was kind of a big deal at the time.

  • Everyone in this series loves the Secret Garden. That isn’t a bad thing, I liked that book as a kid too, but it would be nice to mention other books sometimes. In this one Stephie’s the one who brings it up, with regards to the lot.

  • Mary Anne says when she was little her father used to put their Christmas tree away before New Year’s, but now that Sharon’s loosened him up they keep it up longer. Now…do other people put away their X-mas decorations that early? We always left ours up until after, so that they were there for any New Year’s parties we had. But I don’t know if that’s normal.

  • Dawn’s baby-sitting for Stephie, while Sunny’s sitting for Clover and Daffodil Austin, and based on this book they’re next-door to each other. But we were previously told that the Austin’s live next to Dawn, and Stephie lived further away. Maybe Stephie was supposed to be at Dawn’s, but it’s weird that they wouldn’t mention that.

  • It’s hard to make fun of a book where a child dies, especially since the letter from Ann Martin in the back is about how she did it because she got letters from readers who had lost a classmate. I think she does a nice job showing different reactions to grief.
  • Dawn, on the other hand, is always easy to make fun of.

  • Dawn writes a letter to Mary Anne that starts with the sentence: “Great News! (Finally, after the sad news about Amelia)….” Followed by a recap of her adventures with the garden project. It’s nice to see that she’s being sensitive to her “sister” losing a friend.

  • Dawn writes 3 letters in 3 weeks to the owner of the lot, gets no response, and assumes the guy doesn’t care. It must be her age, because 3 weeks seems like no time at all. I wouldn’t even write a second letter until then. But time did seem to go slower as a kid.

  • Some good news does come from Stoneybrook…Peaches is pregnant, and they waited until she was almost six months along to tell people this time. Good for her, I guess.

  • I remembering liking that when these books were coming out, they were more continuous/sequential….this book took place in early January, the one before it was Christmas-themed, the one before that was Thanksgiving-themed, etc. They were like that at the beginning of the series, but then they fell into an ambiguous time loop.

  • Dawn writes letters to the owner of the lot in Tucson, where he lives. When the guy finally shows up, he tells her that he’d been out of town and came by as soon as he got the letters (that morning). But if he got “home” that day, he would have been in Arizona and anywhere near Dawn’s neighborhood.

  • So, Dawn let all the neighborhood kids and parents think that she’d gotten the okay from the owner to turn his lot into a garden, and they all help out and donate supplies. When the owner shows up he tells her that he now owns everything they put into it, and points out he could sell it or bulldoze the lot, and Dawn has no control over that….but of course he doesn’t do either of those things.

  • I don’t have an issue with them cleaning up the garbage without permission, but planting a garden and talking about a gazebo so seems over the top.

  • The California plot does serve some purpose, because it’s what gives Mary Anne the idea to use a garden to memorialize Amelia. She wasn’t sure how to do it originally.