Friday, March 29, 2013

“These will create a wonderland effect”………BSC # 121: Abby in Wonderland

Memory Reaction

I’m sure I wouldn’t have a memory even if I did read it as a kid.  I started reading it last night, but had to start over this morning because I couldn’t even remember what I read.  I should add that I was completely exhausted and had just taken melatonin when I read it. But the book’s also ridiculously boring.

Revisited Reaction

Abby and her mother/sister are going to stay with her grandparents (Gram and Grandpa) at their house in the Hamptons.  Apparently it’s an annual thing.  While there, they help the grandparents plan their big anniversary party, which is also an annual thing.  The parties always have themes and this year it’s Alice in Wonderland.    I didn’t really catch why.  Maybe because “Abby in Wonderland” sounded like a cute title?

Anyway, Abby notices that her grandmother’s upset that some people in the family aren’t going to be able to make it to the party.  Abby also notices that Gram seems to be acting a little different than usual (mostly just resting more), and she overhears a conversation where Gram sounded upset.  Then while looking for the menu for the party, Abby accidently sees a brochure about dealing with breast cancer.  So, Abby assumes Gram is sick and worries about what will happen, but doesn’t want to say anything.  She wants to help, so she calls all the people who couldn’t come to the party to say how much it would mean to Gram if they came (and so they all do).  At the party Abby ends up crying during her grandmother’s speech thanking everyone and runs inside.  Gram follows her and when Abby admits what she found, Gram tells her they found a lump but she’s waiting for tests to find out if it’s cancerous.   And that’s the freaking end, we never find out if she actually has cancer.  I think they were going for the message of our family will handle whatever comes up, but it’s still annoying to leave it up in the air.  And I think this is the last Abby book, so I doubt it gets addressed again.

Meanwhile the Pikes cancel their vacation to Sea City because Mr. Pike’s car broke down and they need to spend the money fixing it.  So, the BSC helps them have a beachy stay-cation type thing, where they set up wading pools in the yard and play in a sandbox, and other similar stuff.  It causes about 3 chapters of hijinx, and everyone’s happy at the end.  


  • Abby mentions how she likes sleeping in, but I could swear there’s another Abby book where she says she’s an early riser.
  • Claudia outfit:  “She had on orange leggings and a long yellow tunic on which she’d sewn wild zigzag patterns of tiny beads.  Her dangle earrings were also handmade, from a combination of clay beads and the same sparkly beads she used on her tunic.  Her shows were a deep aqua.  She looked like a human sunset.”  Anything that starts with “orange leggings” can’t end well. 
  • When I read the Europe Super Special, I thought that this book must be before it, because it seemed like that book referenced things in a book I hadn’t read.  But this actually takes place right after the trip to Europe.
  • I’m surprised the Pikes could get a full refund for that house they always rent. 
  • Abby says her grandfather recently had heart surgery.   I guess that happened in the one Abby book I have left to read, but I could be wrong about that. I’m sure I’ll find out soon though.
  • Abby’s grandmother hasn’t spoken to her sister in years.  This family sure has its share of drama, doesn’t it?  Her mother and sister hadn’t spoken in years either.
  • Speaking of Abby’s aunt, she and her baby show up at the beach house as well.
  • Who has a costume party for their anniversary?  A theme costume party no less.  For Alice in Wonderland.  No wonder some people didn’t want to go.
  • One day, a friend of Anna’s from Long Island comes to visit.  I like hearing about Anna having friends and not just being dragged into BSC events.  Her friend’s apparently some super-smart music genius because she could tell the music book Anna was using had a mistake in the score/notes/whatever you call it. It was really random.
  •  I feel like this plot would have worked better for another character.  I like Abby well enough, but I certainly don’t care about her family drama or her grandmother who’s barely mentioned before.  If it was Kristy’s grandmother who might have cancer, I’d be more invested.
  • Abby’s mom says the grandmother was mad at the sister because she revealed a secret.  But later Abby’s aunt tells Abby, the “secret” was that the aunt told Gram (in front of other people) how Weight Watchers must be going well, when Gram didn’t want people to know she following it.  Yes, totally worth not speaking for years.
  • Gram is making a family tree for the party and Abby tells her about computer software for building family trees online.  But the computer isn’t at their beach house so they have to start it by hand. But Gram and Grandpa are very excited about buying “fancy equipment” like a scanner to put the thing together.   Because there’s not much that’s fancier than a scanner.
  • We also hear about an outfit of some friend of Gram’s: “She was wearing a red-and-orange tie-dyed outfit with flowing sleeves.” I can’t tell if Abby’s complimenting it or insulting it, but it totally sounds like something that would end with: “But on Claudia it looked great!”
  • Most of the BSC members are watching the kids at the Pike’s party, but they say it isn’t a real sitting job because Mr. and Mrs. Pike are home.  But they’re going to be staying in their bedroom the whole time.  Not just staying inside, but actually staying in the bedroom.  Interesting.
  • We hear about the stuff going on in Stoneybrook, because Abby says that Mallory called and told her about it.  It seems kind of weird that Mal would call her on vacation about that. It’s not like Abby was gone that long or that she and Mal are BFFs.  Why not just say she heard about the Stoneybrook stuff later on?
  • Okay, so Abby says she’s going away for eight days, and she leaves on a Friday.  Then she says Kristy’s coming to stay with them for their second weekend.  But eight days after Friday is a Saturday, so there shouldn’t really be a second weekend.  But they’re all still there Saturday night, so it clearly wasn’t an eight-day trip.
  • I’m not even sure the point of Kristy showing up is.  She really didn’t do anything or have any interesting conversations with Abby.
  • The Pike kids all invite guests to the beach party thing.  Vanessa invites Charlotte and Becca.  Margo invites the Arnold twins, but weren’t the twins actually friends with Vanessa?  I can’t remember what book it was in, but Marilyn’s all jealous that Carolyn keeps hanging out with the other girls without her?  But they let her join in at the end?
  • Claire invites Hunter Bruno, which seems like an excuse to have Logan show up at the party.  Which would be fine if Logan had anything significant to do, but he doesn’t.  And really, has Claire ever interacted with Hunter before?
  • When they’re looking at pictures from Gram’s childhood, Abby sees a picture of her grandmother’s brother who died when he was 18 and asks what happened t him.  It turns out he was killed in World War II.  Wouldn’t Abby have heard that story before?
  • The triplets start a water balloon fight at the party and accidently splash Mrs. Pike through the window.  She comes out, pretending to look mad, but hits them with a SuperSoaker.  Nice.
  • I’m not totally sure how they accidently splash Mrs. Pike through her bedroom window.  They say that Adam was attempting to hit David Michael who was standing under her window. But if the bedroom’s upstairs, he must have been really off.  No way David Michael’s that tall.  Also, why was the window open if they were trying to stay away from the party?
  • So, when Abby ‘s calling relatives to get them to come to the party, she calls Gram’s sister, who’s all, I wasn’t invited to the party.  It’s kind of awkward. But then she gets her grandmother to call and actually invite her.  Isn’t it great when a BSC member can resolve a years-long feud with almost no effort?
  • The beach party thing includes a night under the stars.  The sitters helping out at this event are Stacey, Claudia, Jessi, Mallory, and Logan.  Ben Hobart’s also present.  But Mallory’s super strict parents have no problem letting this coed sleepover happen.  And Mr. Spier’s either okay with the arrangement or doesn’t know about it.
  • Stacey remembers that the Pike’s like going to town in Sea City, so she arranges a trip to downtown Stoneybrook.  Since there isn’t much to do there, she arranges a tour of the fire station and police station.  Which seems…odd.   They should have taken the kids to a place with miniature golf.
  • Whoever owned this book originally filled out the questionnaire thing in the back.  One of the questions is what you would change about the book, and she said she’d change the part about Abby thinking her grandmother had cancer.  Which made me laugh, because that’s basically the main plot of the book.
  • In the questionnaire she also says that the character she’s most like is Kristy, because she’s always grouchy.  Which isn’t a word I would have used to describe Kristy.  Oh, and if she was throwing a party her theme would be Spice World.  It was 1998.
  • I was watching Grimm while I wrote this and it’s opening shot was of a person tearing a page out of an Alice in Wonderland book.  Weird coincidence.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

“Dealing with me made you sick, huh?”.....BSC # 119: Stacey’s Ex-Boyfriend

Memory Reaction
Again, after my time.

Revisited Reaction
Stacey notices that her ex, Robert, has been acting kind of down.  She remembers that Andi (the girl he dumped her for) came to talk to her a couple months back to tell her she was worried about Robert.  Stacey sort of reached out to him then, but hadn’t talk to him since.  Then she runs into Robert’s sister at the mall, who tells her Robert’s still miserable and makes Stacey promise to call him.  She does, and the two start talking again (as friends).  Robert says he hasn’t been happy lately, isn’t interested in the activities he used to do, and hasn’t really been interested in talking to his friends.
The basic idea’s that Robert’s depressed and Stacey spends most of the book trying to help him.  She talks to his friends, but they’re mad at him for dropping off the radar in recent months.  She convinces him to rejoin the baseball team after quitting, but then he skips practice.  She even starts tutoring him because he’s stopped trying in school.  Her daily tutoring’s the only thing that convinces Robert’s parents to unground him (which they did because his grades dropped), but he doesn't even seem to care about that.
Stacey has no idea what to do, so she finally calls into some radio call-in show offering advice, and is told she can’t help him herself and should convince him to talk to an adult.  Stacey decides to do this, but Robert gets all defensive and pissed at her for butting in.  Then Stacey tells her mom, who wants to call his parents, but Stacey begs her not to, and she agrees.  Later, Robert comes back to her house crying and says he hurts inside and doesn’t know why.  He agrees he needs help and Stacey convinces him to talk to his baseball coach (Robert’s choice of a “trusted adult”), which is apparently somewhat helpful.  Stacey realizes that she let herself get too caught up in Robert and let things in her own life slide.  But she and Robert decide to be friends and even go to some dance together.
Meanwhile, there’s some new place in Stoneybrook where people can go to pick strawberries.  Of course all the kids in town go crazy picking berries.  Then they end up with way too many, and Kristy decides to have some festival where everyone brings strawberry baked goods and plays related games.  It’s pretty nondramatic.  I started craving strawberries though, so I’m glad I got them at the store yesterday.

  • Stacey says she doesn’t like to define herself as a diabetic.  Then maybe she shouldn’t always bring it up when she first starts to describe herself.
  • In math class, Robert can’t answer a question and is sort of laughed at.  When Stacey’s asked, she considers not answering so Robert doesn’t look as bad, but says she can’t do it because she doesn’t like playing dumb.  I approve of this choice.
  • The copy of the book I have is hardcover.  Which is really weird, I don’t remember ever seeing a hardcover BSC book.  It’s the same size/shape as the others, so I’m wondering if the book was falling apart and was rebound it somehow.
  • Guess who wore this: “She was dressed entirely in animal prints.  She was wearing a long-sleeved zebra-print leotard under leopard-print overall shorts. A tiger-stripe scarf was tied around her neck and her hair was caught up into a ponytail with a lizard print scrunchie.  Her earrings were two orange spotted giraffes." 
  • The strawberry picking place is called Strawberry Fields Forever.  They acknowledge it’s a Beatles reference.
  • Stacey’s dating Ethan at this point, who lives in the city, and she goes to visit him on two different day trips.  She sees her father while she’s there too.  I like this.  They’re close enough to NYC that she can do that, so it makes sense that she’d do that instead of always going for a whole weekend.
  • I’m not sure why Stacey was so against her mom calling Robert’s parents, since she had already decided to bring an adult in, but didn’t have much success asking Robert to go to anyone himself.  I guess it’s typical of a teenager though.
  • There’s this thread throughout the book about how Stacey has to write her “self-portrait” for English class, and she says it’s basically an autobiography.  Claudia even does a sketch of her to go with it.  But didn’t all the girls already write their autobiographies?  Why give them the same assignment twice?
  • Stacey keeps saying how she doesn’t want to talk to others about Robert because she doesn’t want to betray his confidence.  So, she only says vague things about how Robert’s unhappy.  But…that’s really all she knows.
  • Both Claire Pike and Linny Papadakis get sick and throw up from eating too many strawberries.  They claim they won’t ever eat any again, and everyone tells them they will as soon as they feel better.  But I’m not so sure. It’s a known thing that you can get an aversion to foods when you get really sick from them.  It happened to me with macaroni and cheese – I loved it as a kid, got sick after eating it, and for years after I could barely look at it without getting nauseous.
  • Jessi and Mallory take the younger Pikes to the strawberry picking place.  Mr. Pike gives them $20 and says if they pick enough to cost more than that, they’ve picked too many.  Then when he comes to pick them up they have to ask for more money and he just hands it over.  They don’t mention whether they pay for all the ones they eat while picking (which is at least enough to make Claire sick).  They certainly weren't keeping a count of them.
  • Stacey describes Ethan as an art student.  She doesn’t mention his age in this one, but I think he’s supposed to be 15 or 16.  How’s someone that young an art student?  Doesn’t art student suggest out of high school and in some kind of art school/program?  Or does she just mean he takes art classes?  Because they never describe Claudia as an art student.
  • So, the part where Stacey tells us that Andi talked to her about Robert is really detailed and she even mentions that she sent Robert a Valentine-gram.  I had absolutely no memory of the Andi conversation, but the valentine-gram seemed kind of familiar so I looked it up.  Sure enough, this all went down in another Stacey book. Funny how I couldn't remember that but have such vivid memories of the early ones.
  • How many strawberries are these people picking/buying?  I love strawberries, but I always eat them in the first couple days after I buy them, because otherwise they go bad.  This book takes place over a couple of weeks, so if they’re picking cartons of them, the problem shouldn’t be having too many too eat, it should be that the berries are going bad.  I’ve gone apple picking and ended up with too many to eat, but apples last longer than strawberries.
  • Stacey talks to Robert’s friend Alex about his issues, but Alex says he doesn’t care if Robert’s not happy, because he totally wasn’t there for him when his parents were getting divorced.  My first thought was that this is awesome continuity from back when Stacey was friends with him, because I specifically remember his parents splitting up.  But my second thought was that no 13-year-old boy would say anything like that.  At least not to another teenager.
  • Also, Alex’s parents split up back in book 83, which is way before Robert started feeling depressed.  And it seemed like Robert and Stacey were both being very supportive of Alex at the time. So, maybe it’s not good continuity.
  • When Robert shows up at Stacey’s house it’s around 11:00 pm.  Stacey convinces him to call his baseball coach to ask for help then.  He does and leaves a message. Then the coach calls him right back and agrees to meet with him the next day.  But this seems awfully late for phone calls.  Could he really not wait till morning to call?  I mean Robert’s depressed, but he isn’t suicidal.
  • Stacey does tell Ethan that she’s been helping Robert and he’s pretty cool about it.  She’s nervous about telling Robert about Ethan, but she finally does after he’s agreed to ask for help.
  • Stacey keeps telling us how what she used to feel for Robert is gone and won’t come back, and that she doesn’t want to be more than friends.  I think she protests a little too much, but whatever.
  • Of course, when Stacey calls the radio show she gets on the air.  I’m sure no one ever calls in to radio shows and doesn’t get on, or has to wait to get on.
  • When planning the festival, they go on the internet and find a “strawberry chat room,” where people from all over send them recipes and ideas.  I love how this was clearly an attempt to be hip/modern, and now it just makes the book seem so dated.
  • Everyone brings baked goods with strawberries to the festival to share.  Kristy gets the idea to gather recipes for everything into a book, which she then copies and staples together to sell to everyone.  She does this all while the festival was going on, which I can buy because it was at her house and Watson has a copier in his home office.  But my question is, why do all these people just have the recipes with them? Normally if I bring food to a person’s house I don’t carry the recipe with me. I don’t usually have them memorized either.
  • The BSC’s going to use the money they made at the festival to take their charges to some water park.  That’s generous of them.
  • I really like the messages in this one – first that a 13-year-old can’t always help someone on their own, and second that while you can help others, you shouldn’t always lose yourself in their problems.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

“Why on earth would anyone leave you here”……………BSC Mystery # 28: Abby and the Mystery Baby

Memory Reaction
After my time, so nothing to say here…

Revisited Reaction
Abby gets home from school and finds a baby on her front porch in a car seat.  Like what happens to most girls when they’re 13.  After the initial shock, she basically falls in love with the baby right away.  She IS a BSC member, afterall. They call the police, but Abby’s mom tells them (privately) that she wanted to let the baby stay with them.  And they agree right away. Which is when you know that Mrs. Stevenson knows more about the baby than she’s letting on.  So, the baby stays around, Abby and everyone else coo over him and that’s pretty much the bulk of the book.  Since they don’t know the kids real name, they call him, Eli.
This actually isn’t much of a mystery, but I think that’s why I like it as a mystery book…it’s actually believable for teenage “detectives.”  The BSC wants to see if they can find out who left the baby there.  
Their investigation’s pretty limited.  Mallory and Jessi think it was a woman in some writing group they are in, because she wrote a story about abandoning a baby.  I can see their point, because leaving a baby on someone’s door step’s such a rare and original idea…obviously there’s a connection.  Another suspect’s the nanny that Mrs. Stevenson hires, because Abby thinks she’s weird, and because she once calls him “E.J.”  The nanny says it’s because her nephew’s name is E.J., but the girls don’t totally buy it, because they always let their imaginations run away with them.  The only other clues the girls have are that Maria Kilbourne saw a green car in the area the day the baby was left, and that Abby finds a receipt from a NYC pharmacy on her driveway.  All of this, of course, leads nowhere.
The more interesting action is with Abby’s mother who’s acting a little weird.  First she acts shocked at the blanket that the baby was wrapped in.  Then, she agreed to take in the baby, and insisted on talking to the police and a social worker with no one else in the room.  And one day Abby calls her at work and is told that she was taking off for “family business,” which Mrs. Stevenson denies when she gets home.  Abby ends up searching her Mom’s home office, and sees that she had written the name “Miriam” down on post it note.  This reminds Abby that her mom has a sister named Miriam that the family hasn’t spoken to in years.  Abby and Anna look through old photos to see if they can find out what Miriam looks like, and they can only find one of her baby pictures…where she’s wrapped in the same blanket that Eli was wrapped in when he was dropped off. 
Abby figures out that since her mother ran off without telling them where she was going, that she must have found where Miriam was.  She hits redial on the phone, gets a hospital, and takes off to the city (by herself) to confront her mom.   She shows up at the hospital and finds her mom and aunt talking.  The story is that Eli’s father left her, she was struggling to make ends meet, and she didn’t take care of herself as well as she should (she’s diabetic).  She dropped the baby off at the Stevenson’s and then went to the hospital.  She was out of it/in a comma for a while, which I guess explains why she didn’t make a follow up call about the baby.  But everyone put the past fights behind them and wants to be family again.  Miriam and the baby are going to live with Abby’s grandparents in Florida while she gets back on her feet.  This way if she has to drop the baby off one someone else’s doorstep, she doesn’t have to worry about him freezing to death.
There’s a subplot that’s a bit more prominent than there usually is in mysteries – the BSC decides to say it is “writing month” or something for the kids they sit for.  They encourage all the kids to write poetry/stories, and then host some event at the library where the kids do readings.  It’s a nice idea in theory, but reading little kids’ stories isn’t the most entertaining thing.

  • So, soon after Abby finds the kid, she goes to change his diaper (the mom had left a bag with some supplies).  And she’s all, “Suddenly, I had the answer to something I was wondering about. It’s a boy!”  The way that was worded just cracked me up for some reason.
  • Claudia outfit: “A funky red-flannel minidress layered with a black-and-white-checked thrift-shop man’s vest, black tights, and red high-tops.”  I have two thoughts – first, could they possibly work in more hyphens into that description?  Second, that actually sounds a little like something someone on My So-Called Life would wear.  The only problem is that show was on in 1994, three years before this book was published.  Styles changed a bit.
  • When I Googled My So-Called Life to find that link, I saw that the entire series is on Hulu Plus, and I’m now really tempted to spend my weekend watching it.
  • Stacey was wearing jeans that “were stonewashed to a perfect degree of faded blue, and torn at the knee in this casual-yet-not-sloppy way. She wore them with a crisp white shirt, a green V-necked sweater, and brown Hush Puppies.”  That doesn’t really sound like a Stacey outfit to me.  Maybe the ripped jeans, but not the sweater.
  • Apparently, Miriam left a note in the car seat, which Abby totally missed (but her mom found).  Some detective.
  • When talking about the woman in her writing group, Mal’s all, “I know it’s a mistake to confuse fact with fiction,” and it cracked me up because Mal is ALWAYS mixing the two up.
  • Miriam’s story makes no sense.  The sister lived in NYC, so she rented a car, drove to CT, and knocked on Abby’s door.  When no one answered, she didn’t know what to do and was feeling faint, so she left the baby on the porch, but then apparently drove back to the city before going to the hospital.  If she was that out of it, why not go to a closer hospital?  I mean, this takes place in February, not the best time for leaving a kid outside.  She really couldn’t sit in the car for an hour to wait to see if anyone came home?
  • Also Mrs. Stevenson said that Miriam used her last few dollars to rent a car and drive to Connecticut.  Did she not think of making a freaking phone call?  If she knew where her sister lived, she must have known where she works and that she’s in the city all the time.
  • The Stevenson’s borrow a crib from Kristy’s family, one that supposedly belonged to Emily Michelle but was now in the attic.  My question is: Emily hasn’t aged since shewas adopted.  So, how did she outgrow her crib?
  • Mrs. Stevenson tells the nanny she hires that the baby is four months old, and Abby notices that she says this as fact.   But this is before she tracks down Miriam, so how did she know about the 4 months part?  Unless maybe it was in the note?  But it sounded like Miriam wrote a somewhat incoherent note, so it seems weird that she would put in that info but forget contact information.
  • Abby does attempt to call the pharmacy to find out if the receipt’s really from the baby-abandoner or if it actually came from her mom.  The first thing I noticed was that when she calls the pharmacy she gets an actual person. How retro. Then the rest of the call’s kind of silly – she pretends she’s her mom and asks about her prescription to see if her mom is a customer.  Then there’s a contrived moment where she asks if her maiden name is in the system, which is all so that the pharmacist can say they have an M Goldberg in the system.  Which I guess is a clue, but it’s a stupid one because who’s going to read it and think, “Oh, I bet that means the baby was left by Abby’s aunt that we have never heard about.”
  • I don’t know why Abby didn’t think to say…ask her mother if it was her receipt.
  • Mrs. Stevenson’s first name is Rachel, and her maiden name was Goldberg.  In case it ever comes up in BSC trivia or something.
  • Abby calls Kristy when she finds the baby, because she doesn’t know what to do.  Kristy comes over with her grandmother, and then calls that cop they are always working with.  I don’t know she couldn’t just call the main number at the station.  When they are looking for clues about who’s robbing banks or whatever, it makes sense that they need to talk to him because most cops won’t talk to kids.  But when it’s an actual emergency anyone would listen.
  • At a sleepover, the girls are all into watching Eli, and Abby says it’s like the movie “Three Men and a Baby” because they all fought over who got to take care of the baby.  Which doesn’t totally sound like the plot of that movie (at least the majority of it), but whatever.  I remember in that movie the baby was left on the doorstop of where the father lived, so maybe this was supposed to be foreshadowing that Eli was left on their doorstep because they were family.  Cause the girls all think the person just picked the Stevensons at random, because it’s a nice house.
  • Eli’s real name is Daniel.  I like Eli better.
  • So, Charlotte, Becca, and the Arnold twins are talking about how they are worried about boring people with their writing, so Claudia and Stacey talk them into writing and performing a play.  Because Carolyn’s a science nut, she wants to write about photosynthesis, and that’s what they make the play about.  Good thing they won’t bore anyone.
  • The girls are looking at pictures from Abby and Anna’s Bat Mitzvah, and Mary Anne asks if all their relatives were there.  Abby says, “All the one’s were speaking to.”  Which comes off like a joke, but I guess is a  hint they have a relative their not speaking to.
  • Also, when talking about families, Kristy mentions her Aunt Colleen, who was mentioned way back in book 6
  • Abby totally gets away with going to NYC alone because her mother felt guilty about lying.
  • Other stories read at the BSC poetry slam thingy a rap about boogers and puke (the Pike triplets) and a bunch of stories about mystery babies appearing (the kids in Abby’s neighborhood who are obviously influenced by actual happenings).  Oh, and Vanessa gives a bunch of background on poetry.
  • Since Eli/Daniel is moving to Florida, Abby thinks that she should figure out a BSC trip there.  I guess no one told her it already happened.