December 31, 2009
BSC #21, Mallory and the Trouble With Twins: The New Mallory Pike is Pretty Much Exactly Like the Old Mallory Pike
Summary: Mallory starts sitting for identical twins named Marilyn and Carolyn (yes, really) who look sweet but act like little demons. It’s obvious to the reader that it’s because they don’t like having to dress exactly alike and because they aren’t treated like separate people, but Mallory isn’t that bright, so it takes her a while to catch on. Once she finally sorts out the root of the girls’ behavioral issues, she helps them talk to their mother about dressing differently and being individuals. This is turn helps Mallory talk to her own parents about letting her get her hair cut and her ears pierced. Because Mallory wants to be an individual, which means she has to do what every other girl her age does.
Thoughts: Mallory will NOT shut up about wanting to get her ears pierced. Seriously, the girl daydreams about getting holes put in her ears like most girls daydream about boys. I wanted pierced ears when I was her age, too, but I was able to think about other things. How do the other BSC girls put up with this mess?
Kristy states, “Nobody would ever stop me on the street to tell me I’m adorable.” And yet you still manage to make it through the day. You’re an inspiration to us all, Kristy.
How do the girls get their ears pierced without a parent present? I’m pretty sure minors can’t get their ears pierced without a guardian there. If I worked at an ear-piercing place and a group of 11- and 13-year-olds came up to me asking for holes in their ears, I’d say no way.
After Jessi gets her ears pierced, Mary Anne teases, “Pretty sexy.” First, that’s probably the only time that word is used in the series. Second, she’s 11. That’s creepy.
Since Mallory is obsessed with appearances, it’s fitting that there are some great clothing/accessory moments in this book. The first belongs to the twins’ mother:
There were bows on her shoes, a bow on her belt, a bow in her hair, and a bow at the neck of her blouse. Her sweater was beaded, and she hadn’t forgotten to pin a fake rose to it. Whew! As for cute, her earrings were in the shape of ladybugs, one of her necklaces spelled her name – Linda – in gold script, her pin was in the shape of a mouse, and the bow in her hair was a ribbon with a print of tiny ducks all over it.
Whew is right.
Dawn wears a blue shirt that’s green on the inside, so you can see green at the collar and sleeves. When I first read this book as a kid, I wanted that shirt so badly. I never found one that was good enough. Great, now I have something to obsess about.
Baby-Sitters Club Franchise Rebooted. Reserve my copies NOW!
Summary: Elizabeth, Jessica, Lila, Todd, Roger, Olivia, Bruce, Annie, Mr. Collins, Ms. Dalton, and a couple of extras named Barry Cooper and Charlie Markus spend a month biking up the California coast and manufacturing drama. A lot of boring stuff happens:
Elizabeth thinks that Todd is falling for a girl named Courtney who met up with the group in Hollywood and has been sent on the trip by her father so she’ll stay away from her boyfriend and his presumably fast-moving crowd. She gets jealous over pretty much nothing. Everyone thinks Elizabeth is too hard on Courtney since they think Courtney’s father is a neglectful alcoholic, but after battling a forest fire accidentally started by Courtney, Elizabeth discovers the truth, reveals it to everyone, and shows everyone Courtney’s true colors. Of course, she and Todd get back together, because they’re soul mates, or something.
Jessica falls for the improbably named Robbie October, who is your stereotypical bad boy. He hates authority and plays by his own rules. And then he screams like a girl when he comes in contact with a bear.
Lila is mad because Ms. Dalton is dating her father again, and when she finds out from some kids from another school that Ms. Dalton isn’t who she claims to be, she uses it to get what she wants.
Roger and Bruce are apparently at odds because they’re still not comfortable being relatives, but there’s so little of that storyline that it’s barely there.
Annie and Ricky have broken up, even though they were find in Runaway, and she’s now interested in Charlie. However, she’s worried that her past (she’s a loose girl, don’tcha know) will stand in their way. It doesn’t.
Ms. Dalton is revealed to really be Beth Curtis, and she fled her last home after her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-like husband hit her and then committed suicide. Lila’s father apparently knows about her past, but it’s unclear if he’s holding it over her head.
Mr. Collins is totally still in love with Ms. Dalton, and they seem to be back together by the end of the book.
Thoughts: You’d think that in 250 pages, 100 more pages than the regular books in the series, something interesting would happen. You’d be wrong.
I just can’t see Lila and Jessica willingly going on a four-week-long bike trip that requires camping out. I’m surprised Lila doesn’t bring a servant along with her.
The 12 cyclists stay at Courtney’s father’s mansion – but they have to sleep in tents. Huh?
Also, Jessica and Lila hate Courtney because she calls them goody-goodies. But there are so many other reasons to hate her, girls!
I love how Sweet Valley is supposed to be some magical place: “Annie told her all about the town of Sweet Valley, and Courtney appeared to be properly captivated.” So…not captivated at all, you’re saying?
Jessica and Robbie are threatened by a bear, and Roger’s suggestion is that they call the police. What does he expect the cops to do, throw donuts for the bear to run after?
I think the ghostwriter has a crush on Mr. Collins. She keeps calling him handsome.
The Munchkin quote I used in the title is possibly the greatest thing I’ve read all year. Or at least in this series. It’ll be hard to top that one.
December 27, 2009
Summary: Kristy starts a softball team called Kristy’s Krushers, comprised of kids who are too young/not talented enough for Little League. The team also consists of Jackie Rodowsky, the walking disaster, as we’re reminded at least 30 times. He’s a klutz, but the kid can hit a baseball, so shut up, Kristy. You put a two-and-a-half-year-old on your team and you’re worried about Jackie?
Anyway, the kids aren’t the best players, but they try really hard, which makes Kristy really proud of them. The team plays Bart’s Bashers, made up of kids who are a little older and a little more talented, and coached by a guy named Bart Taylor, who Kristy develops a crush on. In the end, the Krushers lose, but Kristy gets the guy. Like I said, ’80s sports movie clichés abound.
Thoughts: Other than her constant referrals to Jackie as a walking disaster when the poor kid is really just a klutz with bad luck, Kristy’s not too bad in this book. She’s really patient with the kids when she’s coaching them, and she turns out to be a natural. I think she’s found a calling.
Though she’s dumb enough to let Jackie mix up pink lemonade by himself, so she gets what she deserves there.
Mallory says Claire only has baseball-related tantrums. I know some grown-ups like that. I’m pretty sure she becomes an equal-opportunity tantrum-thrower as the series progresses, though.
Claudia pulls out one of Jackie’s loose teeth. EWWWWWWWW.
Bart has a rottweiler named Twinkle. What’s the point of having a big dog like a rottweiler if you’re going to give it a Disney name like Twinkle?
This is a weird moment: “Thanks to me, Jessi really did have an easy sitting job. But I’m not complaining.” Do you usually complain when one of your friends has a good day, Kristy? I guess not, or you probably wouldn’t have as many friends as you do.
Karen refuses to spell Krushers with a K because it’s wrong. Part of me admires her refusal to use improper spelling, but the rest of me wants her to shut up.
So Marnie is two and still considered a baby (also, the girl never talks, which is weird), but Gabbie is two-and-a-half and basically considered a preschooler? Should I stop looking for logic in Stoneybrook?
No way would Kristy let Bart be the umpire at their first game. Doesn’t the ump have to be, I don’t know, impartial?
A kid calls Matt Braddock a dummy and his sister Haley responds, “If you call him a dummy one more time, I will personally rearrange your face.” How did I forget how awesome Haley is? If only every kid in this series could be that cool.
Kristy says that Dawn’s notebook entry is “pretty meaty.” Hee hee.
December 26, 2009
Summary: Jessica’s in an especially bratty mood, tired of everyone fawning over Elizabeth and never taking her seriously. She starts hanging out with a guy named Nicky Shepard who hangs out with a “fast crowd” and is rumored to be into drugs. Jessica finds that he’s actually a nice guy who happens to have family troubles, and he’s planning to run off to San Francisco. She decides to go with him since her family doesn’t pay enough attention to her or whatever her problem is. So she takes off, and they go after her, and she comes home, and it’s all a waste of my time.
In the B plot, Ricky Capaldo (from Wrong Kind of Girl) is having his own family problems – his father has left and his mom wants to keep his paternal grandparents from seeing him and his sister. Elizabeth gets stuck in the middle as her dad is the grandparents’ lawyer and Elizabeth wants to write an article about the proceedings, but Ricky understandably doesn’t want his personal life exposed to everyone in Sweet Valley. St. Elizabeth saves the day, though, by telling Ricky that he shouldn’t take out his anger at his dad on his grandparents, and they get a happy ending, too.
There’s also a very brief plot about Steven dropping out of college and being depressed over Tricia’s death, but that gets resolved without…well, anything, really, so who cares?
Thoughts: Is this the first time someone has actually wanted Jessica around? ‘Cause I would’ve just let her go to San Francisco and taken her room.
Sweet Valley teen parties sound completely unrealistic. Everyone dances; no one drinks, smokes, or does drugs; and people play Trivial Pursuit. Of course, this is also a town where teens don’t appear to have sex at all, so maybe it’s really Pleasantville.
Ned breaches attorney-client privilege with Elizabeth. Way to go, dude.
Caroline doesn’t gossip anymore? Then what good is she?
Jessica again gets in a car with a drunk driver, like she did in All Night Long. Again I have to question whether she’s some sort of weird exception to Darwin’s theories.
“It’s so unfair that people say such mean things behind a person’s back, Jessica thought, conveniently forgetting how many times she had been guilty of spreading rumors.” Ha, even the ghostwriter hates Jessica.
And in another moment of Jessica being Jessica, she adds this little gem as a post-script to her I’m-running-away letter to Elizabeth: “I’m leaving you my new jeans. I think they make me look fat anyway.” I don’t think she knows what the word “identical” means.
December 22, 2009
Summary: Claudia sits for an eight-year-old girl named Betsy who loves playing practical jokes. A joke goes badly and Claudia ends up with a broken leg, which makes her realize that she could have hurt her hands so badly that she couldn’t be an artist anymore, which makes her wonder if she should quit the club. Of course, she doesn’t, because where else would the girls have their meetings? The other girls declare a prank war on Betsy, which Kristy wins by embarrassing Betsy in front of a bunch of her classmates. Yes, you read that right.
Thoughts: There’s a lot of strange logic going on in this book. Betsy pulls a prank that leaves Claudia with a broken leg, and her mom thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to call the club again. I can’t be alone in thinking that’s insane. Nowadays the Kishis would sue that family and own their house.
I should think it’s crazy for Kristy to declare a practical-joke war on an eight-year-old, but she did threaten to deck one once, so this isn’t the harshest thing she’s ever done to a kid. It’s not even the harshest thing she does to a kid in this book. That would be humiliating Betsy in a movie theater full of people, including some of her classmates who already don’t like her. Way to be a good role model, Kristy.
Speaking of Kristy, her dream is to get hit in the face with a pie. The line forms behind me.
Why on earth would Mary Anne think it’s okay to sneak a cat into the hospital?
Claudia tells Stacey, “Baby-sitting can be dangerous.” Yeah, well, so can your eating habits.
December 20, 2009
Summary: Picking up just minutes before the ending of Showdown, George and Enid are in his plane when suddenly, tragedy strikes! They wind up crash landing in Secca Lake, and as Enid is trying to save George, she injures her spinal cord and ends up paralyzed. (What is this, General Hospital?) George feels guilty that Enid was hurt while helping him, and he especially feels guilty that he was about to break up with her for Robin.
George decides that, of course, he can’t dump a girl in a wheelchair, especially when she’s in a wheelchair because of him, so he tells Robin they have to put their relationship aside until Enid’s better. But Enid isn’t getting better – either consciously or subconsciously, she’s delaying her own recovery, possibly because she knows that once she’s better, George is out the door. It’s kind of a Jessica thing for her to do, no? Elizabeth saves the day by enlisting Mr. Collins’ son Teddy to pretend he’s drowning so Enid will get out of her wheelchair and save him. Liz is some sort of amateur psychologist, isn’t she?
In the B plot, Jessica’s taking gourmet cooking classes (I know, how many things are wrong with that sentence?), but she accidentally gives her parents and Elizabeth food poisoning by cooking bad mussels. The theme of her storyline is that she’s a huge screw-up and Elizabeth is always perfect, which, hi, welcome to Sweet Valley, Jessica.
Thoughts: This is easily the most soap opera-ish book so far in the series. Paralysis! Psychological distress! Fake drownings! Cooking! And Jessica spends the whole story angling for a Daytime Emmy.
Especially with dialogue like this: “I’ll just die if anything happens to Enid!” First of all, Jess, you’ve never cared before, so why are you bothering to start now? And second of all, can I get that in writing?
Also, why would Jessica take a cooking class? Doesn’t she expect to marry rich and have a servant do all her cooking? In the same vein, why would Lila take the class? She probably doesn’t even know how to make toast.
December 19, 2009
Summary: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Dawn all go to New York City to visit Stacey and help her sit for a bunch of kids while their parents attend a meeting about helping homeless people. The visit brings out everyone’s bad side: Stacey is embarrassed by all of her friends’ touristy behaviors, Claudia and Laine go all mean girl on each other, Dawn is afraid of everything in the city, Mary Anne is a walking guidebook, and Kristy is Kristy, only more so. They manage to set everything aside during their big sitting extravaganza, and then they just make up and that’s it. Because Ann M. Martin has never been able to solve a conflict in an interesting way.
Thoughts: Not only do Claudia, Kristy, Dawn, and Mary Anne’s parents let them take a train to New York City by themselves, but Stacey’s parents let her take a cab to Grand Central Station, get the other girls, and take them around the city unsupervised. Um, NO. They’re 13. I know they’re responsible and everything, but they’re still barely teenagers.
Kristy orders filet mignon at the Hard Rock Café. Shut up, Kristy. Though at least she has something of a grasp on how annoying she can be. Stacey asks the BSC girls not to mention something and notes that Kristy “usually assumes that people mean her when they say not to mention something.”
Claudia’s usually a nice person, but man, she’s a brat to Laine and Kristy in this book. Not that Laine is any better. And Mary Anne is a jerk to Dawn, which is really out of character for her. Maybe they should stay far away from New York.
Why do the girls send postcards home from New York? They’re only there for two days. Dawn even writes one to Jessi on the train ride home. (Way to make Jessi an afterthought, Dawn. It’s because she’s black, isn’t it? I bet Dawn’s excuse is that that’s how they treat black people in California.)
Mary Anne tells Logan that “limo” is short for “limousine.” She probably thinks he wouldn’t know since he’s from Kentucky.
Summary: Lila’s in looooove with a guy named Jack who acts all squirrelly and claims to be rich but lives poor because of a family falling-out. Jessica wants Jack, so she gets him to date her during the week while he dates Lila on the weekends. Turns out he’s just a Nutter Butter (TM Molly Clock) who cracked after his whole family died and later robbed a girlfriend at knifepoint. Elizabeth and Nicholas save Jessica, who’s about to be killed by Jack after finding his stash of drugs (oh, yeah, he’s also a druggie), and they all live happily ever after.
Except possibly George and Enid, who are taking a ride in his plane even though Elizabeth has just discovered that George is having an affair with Robin. So there’s an actual cliffhanger. There’s also a dumb sub-sub-B plot about Penny Ayala’s sister Tina being a really good photographer but not wanting anyone to know. It only serves as a means of Elizabeth discovering (through a photo) Robin and George’s relationship.
Thoughts: I love how Jessica gets all ticked off that Jack is dating both her and Lila – even though she knew that would be the situation when she first tried to get together with him – but she has no problem with secretly dating her friend’s boyfriend. I’m no longer surprised by what Jessica thinks passes for logic or loyalty.
Here’s another exchange that tells us everything we need to know about Jessica – Elizabeth: “[Lila's] your friend, and she met [Jack] first.” Jessica: “And I’ll meet him next.” Why are people still friends with this girl? Is there anyone she hasn’t stabbed in the back (yet)?
Also, Jessica can make herself cry. Again, I’m not surprised.
Apparently in Sweet Valley, if you hug for a long time, it means you’re dating. Good to keep in mind.
December 17, 2009
Someone found this blog by searching “Jessica Wakefield sociopath.” I love you, anonymous truth-seeker.