March 20, 2013
Summary: This Super Mystery has not one, not two, but THREE mysteries, so it actually deserves to be called a Super Mystery. And they’re actually mysterious!
First, it’s almost Christmas. (Yeah, I know it was Christmas in the last book. I’ll get to that later.) Someone is auditioning for the role of Grinch by breaking into houses in Kristy and Abby’s neighborhood. Fortunately, the break-ins happen when no one’s home, and only a few things are stolen, but there’s a lot of destruction. Plus, the burglar is painting “naughty” on the houses. Kristy’s house is left alone, but the family gets a note calling them “nice.”
A rake is found at one of the houses, which is weird since it’s winter and keeps snowing, so obvious no one’s doing yardwork. Speaking of yardwork, the only thing the break-in families have in common (other than their neighborhood) is that they’ve all recently fired their gardener. The Thomas/Brewers and the Stevensons still employ him. Dawn figures out that the gardener is the burglar, and that the rake fell off his truck, which has been spotted in the neighborhood. The Thomas/Brewers set up a sting with the police (including, of course, Sgt. Johnson), and he’s arrested.
The other Stoneybrook mystery involves a pregnant woman Mallory and Jessi run into who doesn’t know who she is. No one in town knows her and she doesn’t know how she got there. Because she’s pregnant around Christmas, she’s nicknamed Mary Doe. The Pikes invite her to stay with them so she won’t be alone over the holidays.
Mallory manages to figure out what the police can’t: Mary’s wedding ring is unique, probably custom-made, and her sweater came from a store in California. She picks a jewelry store in the same town in California and sends them a picture of the ring. The owner recognizes it: Her nephew had it made for his wife, Lisa.
Once it’s determined that Mary is Lisa, the real story comes out: She was visiting family on the East Coast, started to take the train back, and decided to stop in Boston to visit friends. When the train stopped in Stoneybrook, she got off and most likely had her purse stolen, suffering a concussion in the process. Because no one knew when she was getting back to California, no one knew she was missing. And her husband was out of the country on business, so he didn’t know he needed to be worried. Somehow, going into labor jogs Lisa’s memory, so she’ll be fine.
The third mystery involves Stacey and Claudia, who are visiting Stacey’s dad in New York. They spend a lot of time with Stacey’s boyfriend, Ethan, who keeps staring at Stacey and is possibly following the girls. He also won’t let the girls see certain parts of his apartment. Then the girls start getting notes and seeing fake blood in the elevator and near Stacey’s dad’s apartment. The doorman says no one has come into the building who could have left anything, so the culprit appears to live there.
The girls are summoned to the basement one afternoon, after being stuck in the elevator, which they thought they had to take since the stairs were roped off. It turns out there was nothing wrong with the stairs, which makes things weirder. Stacey asks Ethan about the note, and he admits that he used to date a girl in her building, Cybil, and she’s, shall we say, unstable. She’s the one who’s been following the girls and doing weird stuff to them. Ethan’s only been staring at Stacey because he’s sculpting her; the sculpture is the reason he doesn’t want the girls in his room.
The three decide to go to the basement at the allotted time, and sure enough, Cybil shows up. She starts ranting about how Ethan likes her, not Stacey. She’s turned off the lights, so no one knows what she’s planning to do. Claudia knocks her down and Ethan grabs her, though it doesn’t seem like she was going to do anything dangerous. Cybil’s parents agree that she needs help, and everything’s okay between Stacey and Ethan again.
Thoughts: Once again, we have continuity problems. The last book took place around Christmas and included a visit from Dawn. This book takes place around Christmas and starts with Dawn arriving in Stoneybrook. Stacey and Claudia go to New York in this book, but they were in Stoneybrook for the last one. Plus, Logan mentions at the end of this book that he was out of town, but he was in Stoneybrook in the last one. Arg.
Claudia, re: Ethan: “He had staring spells, sort of like the ones Mary Anne’s kitten, Tigger, gets.” That cracked me up.
Anna suggests that the burglar is using a fake delivery truck to case the neighborhood. When I inevitably turn to a life of crime, that’s what I’m going to do. Thanks for the idea, Anna!
Claudia notes that if the elevator she and Stacey are stuck in were to drop, she and Stacey could become “big dead pancakes.” Then she thinks that sounds like a good name for a punk band. I call it! Mine!
Mallory sometimes uses her dad’s briefcase instead of a backpack. Mal, this is why people make fun of you. (Though I’m sure if Claudia did this, it would be oh-so-cool and fashion-forward.)
November 28, 2012
Summary: The premise for this book is incredibly dumb. Dawn’s father has a friend who’s moving across the country, and Mr. Schafer offers to drive his RV from Connecticut to California for him. He somehow convinces Dawn and Jeff to come along, even though they were supposed to spend the summer in Stoneybrook. Watson hears about this and decides he wants to cancel the Brewer/Thomases’ vacation so they can also drive across the country in an RV. And of course, Kristy can bring friends (but no one else can). So all of the BSC girls get permission to go along, and a trip that started out with three people balloons to include 15:
RV 1: Mr. Schafer, Dawn, Jeff, Kristy (her travel route didn’t match the rest of her family’s), Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne
RV 2: Watson, Mrs. Brewer, Abby, Jessi, Mallory, David Michael, Karen, Andrew
Sam and Charlie are at camp, and the family is smart enough to leave Emily Michelle behind with Nannie. (Can you imagine two weeks in an RV with a two-year-old?) The idea is that everyone gets to pick a special place to visit, and there will be other touristy stops along the way. RV 1 goes north, RV 2 goes south, and everyone meets up in California.
Highlights/lowlights from RV 1:
- Kristy wants to visit as many baseball stadiums as possible and buy hats from them (plus go to some games, obviously). It’s something she once discussed doing with her father. At a Giants game, she sees him on a Jumbotron and manages to track him down. They talk briefly but he promises to write. Notably, he doesn’t ask about any of the rest of the family.
- Dawn wants to go to a ghost town, but the one she picks is corny. The group ends up having fun there anyway.
- Claudia goes to the Art Institute of Chicago, but nothing interesting happens. Later she stops at a flea market and buys a sketch that reminds her of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. When she gets to California, she looks at the back and discovers that it is an early O’Keeffe. Mr. Schafer’s friend, an art appraiser, offers her $500 for it, but she decides to keep it.
- Stacey has a not-that-funny comedy of errors in Seattle when she tries to meet up with Ethan at a coffee shop. Also, she thinks Claudia read her diary and spends most of the book mad at her.
- Mary Anne has no imagination and only wants to go to Maynard, Iowa, to spend time with her grandmother. (They end up meeting at the Mall of America instead.) She spends most of the book on edge because Mr. Schafer keeps making snarky comments about her and her father. She finally confronts him and he apologizes.
- Jeff wants to go rock climbing in Yellowstone, and also get away from all the girls. I kind of feel bad that he has to spend his vacation with drama queens.
- I don’t remember what Mr. Schafer wants to do, and I don’t care since he’s annoying in this book. He also runs out of gas in the Badlands and leaves the girls and Jeff alone in the RV so he can get help.
Highlights/lowlights from RV 2:
- Abby is apparently obsessed with Elvis, which I don’t remember hearing about before, so she wants to go to Graceland. There’s some uninteresting stuff with an Elvis impersonator.
- Jessi first takes everyone to her grandparents’ home in New Jersey and briefly suspects that Mallory is racist. (Um, what?) Her grandmother points out that Mallory is just uncomfortable because she’s with a bunch of people she doesn’t know, and she wants to make a good impression. Jessi’s other destination is Dalton, Mississippi, where some of her relatives were slaves. She sees firsthand how horrible that point in history was for black people.
- Mallory wants to go to Chincoteague, because she’s still obsessed with horses. She does nothing interesting the rest of the book.
- Watson has a college friend in Oklahoma, so the group stops at his house for lunch before going to a rodeo, David Michael’s pick. A tornado hits and everyone has to hide out in the bathroom. It might have been interesting if there was any possibility that someone could die.
- Karen wants to go to Four Corners, the spot where four states touch. Karen is boring.
- Andrew is obsessed with the pandas at the San Diego Zoo and has a full-on meltdown when he hears that one that’s supposed to give birth has been sent back to China. Then it turns out she wasn’t. I don’t know.
- Mrs. Brewer wants to see the Grand Canyon, and Abby is secretly freaking out about it. It turns out that her father loved the Grand Canyon, and her family was planning a vacation there just before he died. When they arrive, Abby is sad at first but manages to enjoy the experience, feeling like her dad’s spirit is with her. She later writes in her journal that her dad once gave her a pep talk based on that “teach a man to fish” saying, and she sees the Grand Canyon as a huge fishing pond. She plans to fish a lot and bring her mom and sister back there one day. It’s really sweet and a little sad and I totally did not get a little misty-eyed, someone was chopping onions, shut up.
They also keep running into this annoying girl, Liz, who’s traveling with her grandparents. It’s dumb. There’s also a brief stop in New Mexico, where they meet some of the Stoneybrook kids’ pen pals. It’s actually too bad Dawn didn’t get to make that trip, since she was the force behind that whole thing.
Thoughts: I know I’m definitely, for real an adult because I can’t help wondering how expensive this trip was. Gas, food, baseball tickets, admission fees to the rodeo and things like that, souvenirs…that’s a big chunk of change.
Also, how do they all get home? Does Watson have to drive the rented RV back?
Also also, if I had to spend two weeks in an RV with anyone, I would probably never want to see them again.
Andrew whines a lot in this book. I don’t remember him being so annoying before. Maybe he’s just in a super-bad mood the whole two-week trip.
Watson’s college roommate’s last name is Romney. Um…
Who would you least want to be stuck in an RV with for two weeks, Karen or Dawn? Death is not an option.
May 28, 2012
Summary: Over Halloween, Abby, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Mallory go to Salem, Massachusetts for a school trip. The trip is part history-project research, part excuse to do a lot of shopping (or at least that’s how Stacey sees it). Alan, Cokie, and Cary are also on the trip and being varying levels of annoying. Cokie and her minion Grace are huge mean girls to a sixth-grader named Eileen who rooms with Mallory and is supposedly decended from a witch.
A local museum is displaying a big diamond called the Witch’s Eye, which is like the poor man’s Hope Diamond, in that it’s allegedly cursed. It’s stolen while some of the students are at the museum. Mary Anne finds a wig that the girls guess was worn by the theif, and Stacey finds a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. The girls think the person who stole the diamond is staying at the same inn as the students. At the same time, Abby buys a little ceramic pumpkin in a gift shop and starts taking it everywhere with her, calling it her pet pumpkin.
Anyway, the investigation begins, and Mallory gets really obsessed with documenting everything in the club’s mystery notebook. The notebook is back in Stoneybrook, but she has Jessi and Shannon send it to her. Girl needs help. There are a few suspects, including Mrs. Moorehouse, who owns the diamond but may not have insurance; Martha Kempner, a writer who’s in Salem to write about the diamond; Sean Knowles, whose reason for being in Salem isn’t exactly clear; and Harvey Hapgood, who tried to buy the diamond before it was stolen.
In between working on their projects and investigating the mystery, the girls do some sightseeing and various Halloween activities. They also try to avoid Alan and Cary, who are bugging Kristy. Cokie gets nastier and nastier to Eileen, and Mallory winds up sticking up for her and tearing into Cokie, which is both surprising and awesome of her. It also finally, finally gets Cokie to shut up.
Everyone goes to a Halloween parade, where Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, and she’s ticked but mostly just happy that her pumpkin wasn’t in it. Abby and Stacey’s room is broken into, as the theif took Abby’s room key, but nothing is stolen. Then Stacey realizes that the numbers she saw earlier are probably a safe combination, so she thinks the person who stole the Witch’s Eye stashed it in a safe.
Kristy thinks she’s uncovered a clue leading her to the museum, which is closed while the police investigate the diamond theft. She winds up locked inside and runs into Alan, who’s been torturing her the whole trip. But he has a clue, too, and they realize Cary set them both up. They arrange to scare the crap out of him, and the three seem to call a truce. It’s basically just a red herring.
While Kristy’s gone, there’s a storm and the electricity in the inn goes out. The other girls decide to snoop around in the suspects’ rooms and safes, but they don’t find anything. They do, however, see Mrs. Moorehouse and realize how frail she is, leading them to believe she didn’t steal the diamond since she wouldn’t have been able to make a clean getaway. The girls remember seeing Martha wear high heels for most of the trip, except for the day of the theft, when she wore sneakers. This means she may have been planning to move stealthily. The girls also use the combination Stacey found to open Martha’s safe, another strike against Martha.
It’s all dark and creepy in the inn, and the girls are freaked out when they run into Sean, since they still don’t know what he’s up to. He reveals that he’s an insurance agent and has been in Salem to keep an eye on the diamond. The girls head off to…I don’t know, call the police? Probably not. But Abby gets separated from them and runs into Martha, who grabs the pumpkin and breaks it, revealing the Witch’s Eye inside. It turns out she bought the pumpkin at one gift shop, put the diamond inside, and accidentally dropped it in another gift shop, where Abby bought it. She’s also been working with Harvey to get her hands on it.
Abby holds Martha off (yeah, I bet) until the police arrive and the girls are branded heroes yet again. Then they have cake with Mrs. Moorehouse, who tells them that she thought she didn’t have insurance because Harvey called her pretending to be from the insurance company and told her they couldn’t insure the diamond anymore. I don’t know, it’s a stupid wrap-up.
Also stupid: the B-plot involving Claudia, Jessi, Logan, and Shannon organizing a Halloween parade back in Stoneybrook. Jordan Pike is annoying and the sitters let him embarrass himself until he learns A Lesson.
Thoughts: Harvey Hapgood is not a name for a villain, or at least not a dangerous one. It’s a name for a Harold Hill wannabe.
If I were Jessi or Shannon and Mallory asked me to send the notebook, I’d say, “Sure, Mal, it’s on its way,” hang up, snicker, and go back to whatever I was doing. Otherwise I would be an enabler.
When Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, she yells out to the crowd that there’s a pickpocket in the crowd. I feel bad for any guy who ever tries to grope Abby in public.
Turns out Mallory is kind of awesome and Jordan is kind of a jerk. Who knew?
April 14, 2012
Summary: The BSC girls (minus Kristy, Mallory, and Shannon; plus Logan and Robert) have raised all the money they need to go to Hawaii, so off they go. Jessi makes them all keep a journal of the trip for poor, unloved Mallory, which is why everyone gets a chapter:
- Jessi spends the whole trip taking way too many pictures and writing down every little detail of the trip for Mallory. If I’d been with her, I would have hidden her camera and notebook.
- Stacey and Robert aren’t getting along since he had the nerve to talk to another girl on the trip and Stacey’s uncharacteristically jealous. They go with a small group on a side trip that involves helicopter tours over a crater, and Stacey’s helicopter crashes. She and her group have to walk back to civilization, but the lack of food takes a toll on Stacey and she ends up passing out from low blood sugar. However, when she’s back with Robert, she sees how worried he was and they make up.
- Mary Anne and Logan have decided to spend the trip TBI, together but independent, since their friends have been teasing that they spend too much time together. They avoid each other a lot but admit at the end of the trip that they wish they hadn’t, and they won’t try that again. Mary Anne also accepts a job sitting for a real Hawaiian family, who – shocking! – turn out to be like any other American family. Mary Ann is asked to sit again the next day, but instead she sends…
- Claudia, who has been depressed for a lot of the trip. She’s just learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor and is uncomfortable with her Japanese heritage. She also wonders how Mimi, who was living in Japan during World War II, viewed the whole situation. When she sits for the Hawaiian family, she meets their grandfather, who’s Caucasian and served in the war. He tells her that he doesn’t have any animosity toward the Japanese, and in fact has Japanese-American friends. He also points out that the U.S. hurt Japan worse with the atomic bombs. After that, Claudia feels a lot better.
- Dawn finds a little beach and enlists some local kids to clean it up.
- Abby talks her way into a commercial for sunscreen by saying she’s on her school’s volleyball team (not true) and is 18 (SO not true). Karma gives her a sunburn.
- Mallory and Kristy run a farm daycamp back in Stoneybrook, but Kristy’s barely in the book, other than to make everyone wear shirts advertising the club (yes, even in Hawaii). While at the park with a tantrum-throwing Jenny Prezzioso, Mallory encounters a woman who thinks she’s a horrible sitter and neglects her charges. The woman, Mrs. Wellfleet, even calls Kristy during a meeting to bash Mallory. Later on, Mallory takes her sisters to the park and catches Mrs. Wellfleet’s own son throwing a much bigger tantrum. Mal manages to be the bigger person and not rub it in the woman’s face.
Thoughts: Logan’s disappointed that they don’t get leis at the airport. I would be, too.
I think I’ve figured out why Abby’s so weird: She’s high from all of her allergy meds.
Trivia: Mary Anne is part Norwegian.
Before seeing sugarcane, Robert thought sugar was dug out of mines. What?
In the scene where Mrs. Wellfleet’s son is a terror, Margo Pike proves to be a wonderful kid. The boy steals the shovel she’s using, and at first she tries to be polite and tell him to return it. When he doesn’t, she finds something else to do. Then when he moves on to something else, Margo takes the shovel back. The kid gets mad, so she invites him to play with her. So out of eight kids, at least a couple Pikes are turning out all right.
I actually liked Claudia’s plotline. We don’t hear about her heritage a lot.
December 31, 2011
Summary: Spooky stuff is happening to the BSC girls. First, Kristy and Abby see someone apparently breaking into the house next to the Rodowskys’. The police (including Sgt. Johnson) are called in, but the house’s owner doesn’t think anything was stolen. Then some of the girls get notes and phone calls saying, “You’re next.” Mary Anne sees a possible stalker outside her house, Kristy gets a rock through her window, someone starts a fire in the trash cans outside Claudia’s house, and Stacey almost gets run down by a car.
The girls are pretty sure this isn’t just some prank Cokie’s playing, but telling an adult or calling the police again would be foolish, so of course they don’t do that. At the library, Abby finds a copy of the article about the girls thwarting the pet-napping ring in the trash, and the girls see that the photo that ran with the article is of Claudia, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Dawn. With the exception of Dawn, these are the only girls who have gotten threats.
There’s really only one lead: Stacey remembers seeing a sticker on the bumper of the car that almost ran her down. The girls figure out that it’s from the Stoneybrook Business Bureau, but from the previous year, not the current one. They get a list of members of the bureau for both years but don’t get a chance to do much with it. They decide to keep an eye on the house where the possible break-in took place.
Meanwhile, Kristy’s family is taking a weekend ski trip at Shadow Lake, and she brings Claudia, Stacey, and Abby along. They think they’re leaving all the madness behind in Stoneybrook, but they’re wrong. Claudia accidentally winds up on a closed trail (the sign stating it’s closed is hidden), and she and Abby almost get stranded there. Stacey gets stuck on a ski lift. Kristy is almost flattened by a snowblower. All possible accidents, but the girls are suspicious.
Mary Anne is sitting for the Rodowskys when she sees a second break-in at the house next door, this one for real. She calls the police (and Logan), and the story comes out that the son of the house’s owner was stealing stuff to sell. The guy has no connection to the BSC girls’ troubles and even says he wouldn’t mess with kids. So it’s a red herring, but Mary Anne still solves a mystery.
The BSC members still in Stoneybrook gather for a weekend meeting and finally get around to looking at the list of Business Bureau members. Jessi realizes that one of the people who was a member the previous year but not currently is Karl Tate, the head of the dog-napping ring. A call to Sgt. Johnson lets the girls know that Tate is now out of jail. Mary Anne calls the girls at Shadow Lake and tells Stacey that Karl Tate is free, but there’s a blizzard coming, and the phone goes out before Stacey can hear more than his name.
Watson, Mrs. Brewer, and the little kids head into town for supplies while Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Sam, and Charlie stay back to ride out the blizzard. A neighbor, Woodie, encourages them to go to the main lodge, but the teens decide to stay put. That is, until their chimney gets blocked and the cabin fills with smoke, forcing them out. They’re already on edge, what with the weirdness going on, and the fact that Stacey has spotted a woman they’ve seen before, Kris, lurking around with a gun. They decide to tell Sam and Charlie what’s going on once they all get to the main lodge with Woodie.
Back in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne, Logan, and Shannon take Shannon’s dog Astrid for a walk. Astrid chases a cat into Tate’s house, so the teens follow her inside to get her. They end up accidentally locking themselves in Tate’s study, where they find the photo from the article, this time with a big X through it. Then Mrs. Tate comes home and tells the teens that he needs to be stopped.
As the girls, Sam, Charlie, and Woodie head to the main lodge, Karl Tate appears and Abby knocks him out with a big chunk of ice. (Nice.) Next, Kris arrives, and the girls learn that she’s an FBI agent tailing him for violating the terms of his parole. (Just go with it.) Kris takes Tate away, and the others continue their trek to the main lodge. Suddenly, Woodie grabs Stacey and threatens to throw her in the freezing lake. He’s Tate’s son, and he’s basically been driven crazy by what a bunch of teenagers did to his father. Kristy thinks fast, throwing a flare at him, and he falls into the lake.
In the post-madness wrap-up, the girls learn that Tate came to stop Woodie, not to hurt them. And Kristy actually gets in some trouble for not telling her parents what was going on. But I doubt anyone will learn a lesson there.
The subplots, both boring and not (mostly boring):
- Claudia thinks Abby is full of herself, since she keeps talking about what a good skier she is. Everyone else knows that Abby’s just a jokester and doesn’t really think she’s better than anyone. Claudia’s cold to Abby until their experience on the closed trail, and after that, they’re fine.
- Mallory’s parents are putting in insulation at home, so she and Jessi have to skip the ski trip to watch her siblings. Mal is really ticked about this and doesn’t hide it well. She mopes around until Jessi tells her to cut it out. Mallory does occupy herself by putting together the club’s mystery notebook.
- Mary Anne is mad at Logan because she’s been getting notes in his handwriting telling her not to cry. Logan’s also acting weird, which she thinks is evidence of his guilt. It turns out he’s also getting notes, seemingly in her handwriting, accusing him of lying. They work things out but never figure out who sent the notes. They figure it was probably Cokie.
- Kristy is worried about Watson, thinking he’s doing too much since his heart attack. She keeps trying to do things for him so he’ll take it easy, finally telling him straight out that she’s worried. He assures her that his doctor said he’s doing really well and can even start exercising regularly. Kristy admits that she doesn’t want Watson to leave like her father did. It’s actually very sweet.
- Kristy tells Stacey that Sam and his girlfriend have broken up, so Stacey’s worried that he’ll pursue her even though she’s dating Robert. Sam tells her that he thinks of her as a close friend now, though he doesn’t mind keeping his flirting skills sharp with her.
Thoughts: With the way she eats, I can’t believe Claudia still has Halloween candy in December.
When Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne smell smoke in Claudia’s house, Mary Anne opens the pantry. In case the canned goods have committed arson?
Abby coming up with Agatha Kristy made me giggle.
Jessi cracks the case on Karl Tate, so good for her. Junior officers are good for something after all.
Shannon’s presence in this book, however, is almost completely pointless. She’s only useful because of her dog. Ironic, though, that a pet-napper’s son was partly undone by a dog.
It’s a little funny that Dawn was really the person who sent Tate to jail, but she wasn’t one of Woodie’s targets.
October 6, 2011
Summary: Karen’s mother and stepfather are planning to spend some time in Maine with some friends, the Menderses, who have four kids. They want one of the BSC girls to come along to look after Karen, Andrew, and the Menders kids. All of the BSC girls want to go, and for some reason, the adults agree to bring Kristy, Claudia, Dawn, and Mary Anne along. Jessi and Mallory stay back in Stoneybrook to take on running the club.
There’s this whole back story about the house where everyone’s staying in Maine – it belongs to Mr. Menders’ family, and the guy who owned it may have died, and his wife might be haunting it. If the Menderses want to, they can move there. The kids don’t want to move, but the parents are all excited about opening a health-food store, so they spend their time in Maine researching. The BSC girls try to get the kids excited about possibly moving to Maine, even though there’s weird stuff going on in the house.
It’s typical haunted-house stuff: weird noises, a woman in white, etc. The butler and maid, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, are also a little shady. Mrs. Cooper supposedly can’t talk. There’s a fourth floor of the house that the Coopers claim they don’t have a key to, and the gardener, Georgio (who’s in college but totally has a crush on Claudia), keeps telling the girls it’s not safe to go up there. After the girls see a “ghost” in the hallway with a candle one night, they get suspicious of Georgio. It turns out the “ghost” was the oldest Menders kid, Lionel, who wants to scare his family away from moving into the house. But then the girls see a light going on in a window on the fourth floor, which supposedly no one has access to.
Mary Anne does some investigating and learns that there’s a dumbwaiter in the house. The woman she talks to at the historical society tells her another woman was in asking questions about the house; the only thing memorable about her was that she spoke with an accent. Claudia and Dawn check out the dumbwaiter and find a tape recorder, which they realize is where the weird noises have been coming from. Dawn winds up having to hide in the dumbwaiter when the Coopers come home, and she discovers that Mrs. Cooper can, in fact, talk.
More digging and research turn up the fact that the Coopers, who claimed to have lived in the town their whole lives, lied about that. The news also comes out that Mr. Menders has a cousin in Scotland who will get the house if the Menderses don’t want it. Thanks to Dawn, who remembers that Mrs. Cooper has an accent, and Lionel, who’s an aspiring actor and can do all sorts of accents, the BSC girls figure out that Mrs. Cooper is Scottish. They put this together with a photo of one of Mr. Menders’ relatives, who Claudia realizes looks like Mr. Cooper, and figure out that the Coopers are the people who stand to get the house (and the possible treasure on the fourth floor).
A storm hits while the adults are all gone for the day, and the BSC girls and Georgio get stuck in the house with the Coopers. But then it gets all anticlimactic and the Coopers just leave the country, apparently thinking the house is really haunted. Disappointing. Also, there wasn’t really a treasure. Also also, the Coopers don’t kill Karen before they leave. Like I said, disappointing.
Mallory and Jessi’s plot is really boring, and also something we’ve seen before: They have to turn down jobs because the two of them, Logan, and Shannon are the only sitters in town, and then people stop calling. They think the club is losing business, but people are just out of town or don’t need sitters.
In other news: Andrew’s obsessed with frogs and boats; one of the Menders girls, Jill, is obsessed with Dawn; Karen’s obsessed with getting the other girl, Martha, to make friends; and Claudia has to tell Georgio she’s 13 in a letter. But at least he didn’t go to jail.
Thoughts: There was a lot about this book I forgot, but I did remember the scene with Dawn and Claudia hiding in the dumbwaiter, and the scene where the BSC girls have Lionel speak in different accents so they can figure out where Mrs. Cooper is from.
It’s weird to read a BSC book where everyone gets a chapter except Stacey, since she wasn’t in the club at this point.
Shannon’s a jerk in this book. She shows up late to a meeting, stays for only 15 minutes, and tells Mallory and Jessi that they need to end meetings on time. Why did she even bothering coming?
“Elton Cooper grilled burgers, hot dogs, and chicken for us.” But what did Dawn eat? WHAT DID DAWN EAT??
Andrew wants to know the difference between a frog and a toad, so Dawn looks it up in the dictionary. How quaint.
Claudia follows Georgio to a dark shed even though he makes her nervous. Someone get this girl a copy of The Gift of Fear.
Kristy: “Why would he have a candle in the toolshed?” Mary Anne: “For light?” Thank you, Mary Anne, for teaching us all what candles are for.
Mrs. Pike complains about everyone leaving town and not being able to get a sitter, saying they “should have planned better.” Hey, maybe you shouldn’t have had eight kids you never want to take care of.
June 27, 2011
Summary: Dawn’s dad is getting married, so Mary Anne, Claudia, and Kristy fly out to California to help with the wedding. Well, Claudia helps with the wedding. Kristy basically does nothing the entire book. Back in Stoneybrook, Mrs. Barrett is getting married, Stacey’s a bridesmaid, and Mallory and Shannon are hired to watch the kids at the wedding. Hijinks ensue.
- Dawn thinks Mary Anne‘s going to be her fellow bridesmaid in the wedding, despite the fact that she never asked her dad or Carol about it. She buys her a dress and everything. When Mary Anne finds out that Dawn assumed she would be in the wedding, they get in a fight, but it doesn’t last long, like most of their lame fights. Dawn’s also adjusting to having Carol around all the time, and there’s some brief stuff about her having to make sure her grades are good before she goes back to Connecticut.
- Mallory and Ben Hobart make tentative plans to take a bunch of kids Christmas caroling (oh, yeah, the book takes place right around Christmas), but she has to cancel them, and they get into an equally lame fight. Then they make up. Yeah, like you really care about Mallory. She also does a disastrous job looking after four of the Barrett/DeWitt kids at the wedding, which is pretty much what you would expect if you put a pre-teen in charge of four rowdy kids.
- Jessi is enlisted to play Santa at the mall. Yes, Jessi. Apparently no one cares that she’s a) 11, b) a girl, and c) not white.
- Claudia helps out a bunch with the wedding, taking photographs and styling hair and being dumb about flowers.
- Kristy hijacks the We ♥ Kids Club’s goodbye party for Dawn, because we all know how flakey and unstructured they are, and how awesome and organized Kristy is. She should have stayed in Stoneybrook. Not only would she have had the kids in line at the wedding, she would have arranged a big project for them involving homemade wedding presents.
- Shannon is also in this book.
- Jeff worries that Mr. Schafer’s housekeeper, Mrs. Bruen, will be fired after Carol moves in, I guess because women are always so good at cooking and cleaning and all that stuff. But then he learns that Mrs. Bruen is actually going to be working more hours. Whatever, Mrs. Bruen, get in the kitchen and make Jeff a sandwich.
- Suzi Barrett is worried that Santa won’t be able to find her house, since the families are moving. Inspired by two stories she heard in school – Hansel and Gretel and Theseus in the Labyrinth – she leaves a trail of cookie crumbs from the old house to the new one, which is both adorable and brilliant.
This also marks the end of Dawn’s six months (or whatever) in California and her return to Stoneybrook, which means we’ll barely hear about Shannon from here on out. Fortunately, we won’t be saddled with Dawn for too much longer.
Thoughts: The Vista Hills Mall has a health-food snack bar called Health’s Angels. Har har.
Why does Dawn have to pay for her bridesmaid’s dress?
Mallory once gave Claire a hole-puncher for Christmas. First of all, you suck, Mallory. Second of all, what’s a kid that age going to do with a hole-puncher, other than make a big mess?
They could have solved the whole Suzi problem by telling her Santa would find them through magic. Kids accept magic as a valid answer to any question. I guess Suzi’s smarter than everyone else in this book.
Why in the world would you arrange for movers to come the same night you get married? I guess the ghostwriter couldn’t have Carol move in with the Schafers before the wedding. That would be WRONG.
And why would you expect your future stepmother to ask her fiancé’s ex-wife’s stepdaughter to be her bridesmaid? Especially when they’ve only met once before? Also, why does Mary Anne think she deserves to be a bridesmaid when she hears she isn’t going to be one? These people mean nothing to her!
Trivia: Jessi’s dad is six-two.
The Schafers only serve health food while Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne are visiting, but then serve duck at the wedding. So not only are they rude, they’re also hypocrites.
Logan, why are you in this book?
Dawn: “I even loved every morsel of that cake, despite the fact that it was made with way too much refined sugar.” That cake had your face on it and was made by an 8-YEAR-OLD, you UNGRATEFUL WITCH. Urge to kill, rising….
“Franklin wears red pajamas every single night.” Uh…how do you know that, Suzi?
I would laugh more at Mallory, but I have my own horrible-sitting-job-at-a-wedding-story. Well, it’s actually a horrible-sitting-job-at-a-wedding-reception story. When I was in high school, my best friend and I were hired to watch four kids at a reception in D.C. (about ten miles from our hometown). There were two brother/sister pairs, all between the ages of four and eight. We didn’t know these kids or their families (they were out-of-town guests), and the kids barely knew each other. (I think they were distant cousins.)
We were put in a room with the kids, a TV, some videos, and some toys. The kids weren’t happy to be away from their parents, and they especially weren’t happy to be stuck in a room with two teenaged girls they didn’t know when there was a big party right down the hall. A big party with cake. So the kids kept trying to escape the room, every five minutes for about three hours. They wouldn’t listen to me or my friend, they kept whining and complaining, and they were rude to us and each other. The fact that the food brought to us wasn’t great didn’t help.
Finally, the reception was winding down, so one of the fathers came to relieve me and my friend and pay us. He was totally drunk (I remember him standing partway down the hall, just staring at me, looking like he would fall over if he took a step), and he handed me a couple of 20s, telling me it was for both me and my friend. Two sitters + four
demons kids + three or so hours + horrible accommodations = $20 each, which works out to about $7 an hour. I can’t remember how much I usually made for babysitting back then (this would have been 1999), but it was probably closer to $10 an hour.
But wait, it gets better. He added that that had to cover our cab fare back home, because no one had arranged a ride for us. Cab fare from D.C. back home would have eaten up half our fee, at least. Fortunately, someone heard about the payment and gave us some extra money. We also got a ride back home from a couple of women (who hadn’t been drinking) going the same way. I believe that was when I told my friend that if she ever needed someone to babysit with her again, she should NOT call me.
April 25, 2011
Summary: Over summer vacation, all of the SMS students are assigned to write about what they did over the break (LAME!). At a sleepover, the girls suggest alternate topics, and Jessi says they should get to write about their most vivid memories. This leads to the girls (and Logan, later) having various flashbacks about some memorable times in their lives:
Kristy remembers her first sitting job, when she was ten and allowed to watch David Michael after school. Mimi, Mrs. Newton, and various other family friends and neighbors check on her the whole time. Kristy proves to be very responsible, and thus begins her life’s meaning.
Mary Anne‘s memory is of Kristy and Claudia helping her play pranks on a babysitter when they were eight. They think the sitter is mean, but she proves to have a good sense of humor and takes the jokes well. She even plays a prank on them and teaches them another to play on someone else. Mary Anne came away from the experience learning that it’s okay to loosen up and be silly sometimes.
Stacey takes us through the time just before and after her diabetes diagnosis in sixth grade. Before, she had a great group of friends; after, they all turned on her because they thought she was either contagious or a hypochondriac. She’s happy when her parents tell her they’re moving to Connecticut because she wants a new start in a place where no one knows she has diabetes. At first Stacey decides she’s not going to tell anyone about her illness, but she feels comfortable enough with the BSC girls to tell them the truth.
Jessi‘s story is kind of sweet: She admits that she and Becca hated the thought of having a baby in the house when their mother was about to give birth to Squirt. Things didn’t get any better after he was born, since he had colic and cried all the time. One day Jessi is the only person around to tend to him, so she sings to him and quiets him down. After that, she realizes having a baby brother isn’t that bad.
Dawn thinks about her parents’ divorce and her move from California to Connecticut. It’s actually a good portrayal of the trauma that that kind of upheaval can cause. It ends with some of the events of Mary Anne Saves the Day.
Claudia remembers being six and having to draw a self-portrait. She draws herself as a butterfly and the teacher ridicules her for not following directions. Mimi goes to the school and tells the teacher that Claudia understood the directions better than anyone else.
Mallory‘s most vivid memory is of being ten and writing a letter to her favorite author, having been encouraged to do so by Mary Anne. She learns that the author will be doing a book signing at the mall, so her mom takes her. Mallory’s incredibly excited, but when she finally gets to talk to the author, she’s too nervous to say anything. She talks about how this memory stands out to her because it made her see how much a writer can affect a reader.
Logan talks about moving to Stoneybrook and meeting Mary Anne. It’s basically his view of Logan Likes Mary Anne!
Shannon‘s memory is of starting eighth grade and meeting a new girl named Sally. Everyone thinks Sally’s awesome because she lived in England and is rich, but the girl will only be friends with one person at a time. Then she and whoever she’s friends with ignore the rest of the group. Shannon briefly gets to be the chosen one, but after she has to decline plans with Sally to study, Sally dumps her for someone else. Shannon develops an aversion to new girls, which is why she’s so nasty to Kristy in Kristy and the Snobs. We also get a little info on Shannon’s family, namely that she doesn’t like being at home and that her parents don’t get along very well.
Thoughts: I really didn’t remember this book at all. So I guess that’s why it’s not called The Readers Remember.
Kristy disapproves of all the junk food Claudia eats, but she doesn’t seem to have any issues with helping her eat it.
“I am a native New Yorker. (You can’t say that about just anyone.)” You can say that about millions of people, Stacey. Grab a ladder and get over yourself, would you?
That said, I felt really bad for Stacey in this book. Laine and her other friends are really awful to her. I also felt sorry for Dawn for possibly the first time; I wouldn’t have been able to handle both a divorce and a big move at that age (or any age, really), and she came through it pretty well.
Stacey’s group of friends in New York was basically the Plastics, and Laine was Regina. This makes so much sense.
Trivia: Before she got sick, Stacey was going to try out for the soccer team at her school. Interesting – I thought Kristy and Abby were the only two BSC girls interested in sports. And I don’t think of Stacey as the athletic type.
Six-year-old Claudia talks just like Karen.
More trivia: Jessi’s mom had two miscarriages before having Squirt.
Have we ever learned why Logan’s family moved to Stoneybrook? I choose to believe they’re on the run from the mob. And that their accents are all fake.
Dawn’s dad stays out all night and Sharon calls him a liar? Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and guess he had an affair.
January 10, 2011
Summary: The Pikes and Barretts head to Sea City for two weeks, with the Pikes hiring Mallory (sort of) and Jessi as mother’s helpers, and Mrs. Barrett hiring Stacey. Then, for some reason, the Pikes invite the other BSC girls for the second week of vacation. Logan comes for the weekend, for no apparent reason.
Mallory lands herself a date with Toby, the guy who kind of hooked up with Stacey the last two times she and Mary Anne were in Sea City. Except right before they’re supposed to go out, Mallory talks to Ben on the phone and realizes she doesn’t want to go out with anyone else. She tells Toby nothing’s going to happen between them, and he asks if she can hook him up with another cute girl the next time they come to Sea City. Then he writes her a postcard and asks if Jessi’s single. Wow, that one’s a charmer.
Stacey‘s totally jealous of Mallory and does a very poor job of hiding it. She also has trouble dealing with Mrs. Barrett, who’s kind of annoying.
Mary Anne runs into Alex, her guy from her previous trips to Sea City, and Logan gets jealous, even though Mary Anne obviously has no feelings for the guy.
Before the trip, Kristy struggles to find substitute Krushers for a game against the Bashers, since she refuses to just postpone it and let Bart gloat, or something. She gathers some kids from her neighborhood who have no experience playing softball (and some of them don’t exactly want to do it), and they play the weirdest game of softball ever. Sadly, it’s the most interesting part of the book.
In the nothing-happens category, Claudia goes to summer school before going to Sea City, Jessi babysits a lot while they’re there, and Dawn and Mary Anne run a mini day camp.
There’s a hurricane while everyone’s in Sea City, but nothing happens. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THE WHOLE BOOK.
Thoughts: For some reason, I love Claudia having the BSC girls (and logan) taste-test Heath and Skor bars.
Setting aside the fact that there’s no way Logan could get a job in a restaurant, why would he need to? With three of the BSC girls out of town, wouldn’t he have his pick of sitting jobs? Also, what do BSC clients do when everyone in the club is out of town? Do they have to – gasp! – actually spend time with their children?
Dawn tells little kids a ghost story involving murder. Way to go, Dawn.
Dear ghostwriter, Franklin’s last name is not Harris, it’s DeWitt. Moron.
“Somehow, Kristy had devised a way to convince the grown-ups to take the kids for a half hour.” When a 13-year-old has to ask you to spend time with your children on a family vacation, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
Mallory writes a postcard to Stacey’s mom. I don’t get it.
Since when is Sea City on an island?
November 1, 2010
BSC Super Special #9, Starring the Baby-sitters Club!: Jessi Ramsey is Better Than You. At Everything. EVERYTHING
Summary: Stoneybrook Elementary, Middle, and High Schools put on a production of Peter Pan, and some of the BSC girls, their siblings, and their charges try out. And then there’s drama. Lots of drama.
Jessi thinks she’s a shoe-in for the role of Peter, since she’s a dancer and has tons of stage experience. She is wrong. Kristy winds up with the role, and Jessi is told by the director, Mr. Cheney, that even though she’s a good dancer, she’s no better at singing or acting than Kristy. Jessi is, to put it mildly, murderous with rage over the turn of events, and when she’s cast as an Indian, she withdraws from the show. She’s further disappointed when the other BSC girls, especially Kristy, refuse to put up with her crap. (It’s awesome.)
Jessi becomes the assistant choreographer, but then gets mad when Mr. Cheney won’t recognize that she’s basically his righthand gal and he would cease to exist without her help. On opening night, Pete Black, who’s supposed to be playing Nana and the crocodile, breaks his nose and can’t play his parts, so Jessi agrees to fill in for him. I’m sure she wishes she’d thought of breaking Kristy’s nose so she could take her place.
Kristy actually wanted to be Nana and the crocodile, so she’s really surprised when she lands the lead. Her plot mainly involves her struggling to memorize her lines, and having to deal with Cokie and her issues. (Cokie’s playing Tiger Lily.) Kristy wins this round, singing all of Cokie’s solo lines with her.
Dawn is cast as Wendy and takes it upon herself to modernize the play, since she finds it sexist. No one puts up with her crap either.
Stacey is Mrs. Darling, and Sam is cast as her husband. He keeps joking around, which drives her crazy, and he finally admits that he was just trying to show his friends how much fun he has with Stacey, since they’ve been teasing him about dating a middle-schooler. They actually solve their problems through communication, which is amazing.
Mary Anne becomes the “backstage babysitter,” looking after all the kids in the play. Mallory is working on costumes but finds herself bored a lot, so she tries to impinge on Mary Anne’s territory. Mary Anne awesomely stands up to her, getting her to back off.
Claudia helps design the sets. That’s it.
Jackie Rodowsky is Michael Darling, and he inadvertently causes all sorts of problems by complaining that they’re not allowed to really fly and by being scared of Pete in the crocodile costume. He gets straightened out with a good talking-to from Mr. Cheney, and he overcomes his herpetophobia when he finds out Jessi will be in the costume.
Karen whines her way into the role of Tinker Bell and is generally a little gnat who never shuts up.
The play goes well. Happy ending!
Thoughts: This was one of my favorite Super Specials when I was a kid – I was big into theater, especially musicals, and I loved books about people putting on plays. I also watched the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan numerous times when I was younger. (Hey, just like Squirt!)
Why is Jessi, not Mallory, writing for the school paper?
Do we really have to call the play a “musical extravaganza”? It’s…not really that exciting.
I’m surprised Dawn wants to play Tiger lily, considering the unPC-ness of the role.
Stacey sings “Mack the Knife” at her audition. I’m going to need a ruling from Simon Cowell. What’s that, Simon? Boring, old-fashioned, and forgettable? I agree.
Why would Dawn waltz at her audition? I haven’t seen Peter Pan for a little while, but I’m pretty sure Tiger Lily doesn’t waltz.
Uh, Cokie and I watch the same soap opera. I bet Carly is her favorite character.
You know why Karen’s so annoying? Because people keep enabling her. Mr. Cheney should have ignored her and not given in to her demands to be Tinker Bell. Let her learn at an early age that life isn’t fair. (Though points to him for giving her a non-speaking role.)
So they cast a bunch of elementary-school kids in the play but don’t get anyone to look after them? This seems like a top-notch production.
Mary Anne: “Peter promised her and her brothers an adventure, didn’t he?” Dawn: “Oh, that’s just like a man. They always say stuff like that.” Dawn. You’re 13. The only man you know is your father, and his promises all involve Disneyland. On the other hand, I don’t exactly appreciate Mary Anne saying, “So what if the play is sexist?” Uh, you should, actually. Anyway, if Dawn has such a problem with the play, why did she audition in the first place?
The actors are expected to start memorizing their lines after about two rehearsals. Seriously?
I love how they skip over all the boring stuff and suddenly it’s, like, a week before the show opens. Makes sense to me.
Aw, my high school choir director/theater teacher said, “Sing out, Louise,” too. I miss him.
Dawn’s dad can’t come to the play, so Richard tapes it for him and gives her flowers. Aw, Richard’s all right.