November 1, 2009

BSC #7, Claudia and Mean Janine: Who Knew You Could Learn Something from Jamie Newton?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 7:00 pm by Jenn

CAMJ

Oh, no, Claudia's being attacked by my parents' couch from the '70s!

Summary: Claudia and her sister Janine are at odds (as usual), but this time they happen to have a big fight the same night their grandmother, Mimi, has a stroke, leading Claudia to believe that their rivalry was to blame. (Remember, Claudia’s not that bright.) Claudia bends over backwards to help out around the house, especially with Mimi’s rehab and recovery, all the while silently fuming because Janine isn’t doing anything. Eventually they actually have a conversation and Janine reveals that she feels like Claudia has pushed her away and taken over, which is why she hasn’t been helpful. Claudia also realizes, from seeing Jamie Newton’s jealousy over his new baby sister Lucy, that sibling rivalry is nothing new and both sisters love each other despite their resentment towards each other.

The B plot involves the BSC girls running a summer day camp. Not much happens with that, except for more foreshadowing that eventually Mallory will play a much larger role in the series.

Thoughts: I always liked Mimi’s character, and now that I’m older, I appreciate that Ann M. Martin included a grandmother/granddaughter relationship in the series. Claudia often feels closer to Mimi than to anyone else, which fits in nicely with the different family types the series includes (alongside traditional two-parent families, there are single-parent households, blended families, families with adopted kids, and later, families with half siblings). Claudia was always the black sheep in her family, but Mimi made her feel like she belonged in some way. I just wish she’d been in the series longer. (Uh, spoiler.)

I think the play group is only part of this book so the other BSC girls have something to do. Plus, you know, the series is about baby-sitting, so there have to be kids in there somewhere. The play group also introduces a quirky side plot that I kind of wish had been revisted later: Karen tells the other kids that Andrew has been cursed to turn into a monster, and the BSC girls use this to their advantage, having him scare Jenny Prezzioso into behaving. For once, Karen’s overactive imagination serves a good purpose.

Speaking of the BSC girls and working, they’re again hired to work at a party, this time Lucy’s christening. So when people in Stoneybrook plan parties, do they automatically think of hiring 12- and 13-year-old girls to serve the guests and decorate? Because there are these people called party planners who can do that sort of thing for you. These people go out so much and require baby-sitters so often, you’d think they could afford professionals for this sort of thing.

We finally get another Claudia outfit, but it’s not as interesting as others we’ve encountered. Still, here it is as described: “It was a big, loose white shirt with black splotches all over it, and white pants that came to just below my knees. My shoes (and I might point out that I’d had a fight with Mom over permission to buy them) were dainty gold sandals that laced partway up my legs. Then I put on my pink flamingo earrings and a pink bracelet that said CLAUDIA in heart-shaped beads. Finally, I braided my hair into four long braids, tied a ribbon around the top of each, and fastened the ends with butterfly clips.” I think it’s the hairstyle that really makes that one special.

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