Thursday, April 19, 2012

“Those kids were so smart”….BSC # 105: Stacey the Math Whiz

Memory Reaction

I didn’t read this one until now, so no memory is applicable this time.

Revisited Reaction

Stacey gets asked to join the school “Mathletes” team because she’s just so smart and the head of the math department thinks she can help them win the state championship. At first she thinks it’s too dorky, but the rest of the BSC convinces her to join. Because all 13-year-old girls are accepting of everything their friends do. At this point, there’s only about a month left in the season, so she just has to go to some informal practice sessions and the meets, which are mostly on the weekends. For some reason, doing math on the weekends is a positive thing and it helps convince Stacey to join. And because these girls can never just be average at anything, Stacey becomes the star of the team and helps them win meet after meet. Woohoo!

Meanwhile, her workaholic father loses his job, or was “down-sized” as he puts it. So, he decides to start spending all his spare time with Stacey in Stoneybrook. At first Stacey’s excited about this, but she starts to feel a bit pressured to keep saying yes to whatever he asks her to do. And I apparently have a twisted, dirty mind because that sentence seems so wrong to me. But anyway, when he calls saying he has tickets to a U4Me concert, Stacey’s psyched, until she realizes it’s the same night as the state championship meet (or, part 1 of a series of 3 meets.) She can’t decide what to do, but decides to go with “family” over the team. Then she feels guilty, especially after another star player gets sick and can’t compete. She’s worried about telling her dad she can’t go to the concert. When she does, he totally understands, because he’s an adult and understands what a commitment is. He also had no idea it was the same night as the meet, which makes me question whether he was planning to attend like he told Stacey. But, she somehow doesn’t think of this.

After they win the first meet in the series, the math team plans to celebrate at the Rosebud Café in town. Stacey calls the BSC and invites them there as well, but I’m not really sure why. But she doesn’t end up going, because her father insists on taking Stacey and her mom out for dinner elsewhere so he can tell them the got a new job. Stacey thinks her friends are mad at her for not showing up at the café, especially since they can’t make the out-of-town meet). So, she’s off her game a bit for the second round of the series. It also doesn’t help that her father has to miss it due to his new job. But after the meet she finds out no one really was mad at her and that gets settled pretty quickly. At the last meet the BSC shows up and her father makes it there just in time to see Stacey figure out the final problem and win the championship! Like there was ever any doubt?

There’s a subplot about how Stacey was supposed to be tutoring Lindsey DeWitt in math, but she no longer has time because of the Mathletes. Claudia fills in, because who better to tutor someone? Especially since no one else in the BSC could do it. She’s supposedly using Stacey’s “lesson plans,” but still. However, it turns out, Claud can’t understand Stacey’s technical explanations about subtraction any more than Lindsey, so she breaks it down a bit simpler, and makes up some silly song about it. Lindsey starts to get excited about math, and even decides to complete in the Stoneybrook Elementary School math fair. We also get to hear about other charges preparing for and attending the math fair. It’s about as exciting as it sounds.


  • As if this blog wasn’t enough evidence of my dorkiness, I will admit that for every problem they listed in the book, I stopped and tried to solve it before reading how Stacey managed to blow everyone else out of the water with her answer. They were puzzle like, kind of like these.
  • The coach of the math team holds a practice at her house. I can’t image a teacher getting away with that these days.
  • The last problem in the state championships was probably supposed to be tough and dramatic, but I thought it was the easiest one of all the examples listed.
  • Before the final meet, Stacey’s told that she‘s tied for top individual scorer in the state. I’m wondering how she can do this when she joined the team a month before the end of the season. She had originally been asked back in September and turned it down. Unless the points only started with the competitive season or something?
  • I’m not sure why Stacey’s father’s reaction to losing his job is to buy a car, get a hotel room in a place a couple hours from where he lives, and buy a lobster dinner for his ex-wife, but that’s what he does.
  • My high school actually had a math team, but it was nothing like this book. Basically we got out of class once every month or so and were bussed to a neighboring school where we took a test. Most people joined to get out of class or get extra credit. In BSC-land, the competition is much more game show like. Where kids show up and cheer for their school’s team.
  • Lindsey refers to her father and Mrs Barrett/DeWitt as “Mom and Dad,” which I find interesting. Did those kids always do that after the marriage? I only remember the Barrett kids calling Mr. DeWitt, “Franklin.”
  • The head of the math department at SMS tells Stacey that she can’t tell her what her standardized test scores are, but they were some of the highest she’s ever seen (or something). Which is hard to believe. Plus, wouldn’t Stacey know her test scores? The range if not the exact numbers? Parents get that information, at the very least.
  • When they are figuring out who can fill in for Stacey tutoring, Mary Anne says she can’t because she’s still busy with Victoria. Is that the first time someone has gotten a (temporary) regular job for a new client that’s mentioned again in the next book?
  • I get Stacey wanting to go to a concert more than a math competition, but it kind of annoys me that she’s all, “oh, my dad went to a lot of trouble to get the tickets. I should go to the concert.” Just admit that you want to go.
  • Stacey’s mom tells her that she’s been to a U4Me concert before, but I’m pretty sure that was the concert where she got in trouble with the “bad girls.” Probably not the best memory.
  • Nothing dates a book more than characters having to leave messages on answer machines, and hoping the other person calls in to check messages.
  • When Mr. DeWitt hears Claudia’s tutoring Lindsay he doesn’t seem happy about it. Ha.
  • When Mr. McGill tells Stacey’s mom about losing her job, she’s all, “how could they do that to you?” But, you know she’s actually thinking, “I’ll still get alimony, right?
  • I don’t totally get why Stacey invited the BSC to the celebration with the math team. These girls are way too codependent on each other if they can’t celebrate a win with their teammates without including other BSC members.
  • SMS has much better clubs then my middle school did. They always seem more like high school level clubs/teams, but I guess that makes more interesting books.
  • Has anyone even heard of a Math Fair? It sounds awful, especially since it’s a non-competitive one. At least make it interesting like when the BSC got all competitive about helping kids in that beauty pageant.
  • I realized that almost all the kids we see preparing/entering the math fair are girls, and I’m wondering if that’s Ann Martin’s way of sending a message about girls being good at math.
  • Stacey claims she can draw a subway map from memory. Does anyone buy that? It seems a bit much for me.
  • I just love the contrast with Stacey’s father losing his job to Mallory’s dad losing his. Granted it’s more of a problem when you have eight kids, but Mallory was treated like an outcast at school over the whole thing.
  • Not only is Stacey’s father hanging around Stacey, he’s making dinner in her house and forcing poor Mrs. McGill to be around him. He even has the nerve to invite his girlfriend along on one of these visits. That just seems awkward for everyone.
  • Stacey always annoys me when she complains about family drama and how hard her life is. I mean, she has to choose between a rock concert and being a state champion? Or she’s tired because her father insists on taking her to Broadway plays? What a hard life. So, she feels in the middle sometimes, some people have it a lot worse.