June 10, 2012

BSC #101, Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout: I Am So Smart! I Am So Smart! S-M-R-T!

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 3:51 pm by Jenn

The kids behind Claudia look like they’re about nine

Summary: We already knew Claudia isn’t that bright, but now there’s proof: She’s doing horribly in eighth grade. (You’d think she’d be better at it since she’s done it five times, but whatever.) She agrees to get a tutor and try harder, but nothing helps, and no one thinks she’ll be able to catch up. Ultimately, Claudia’s sent back to the seventh grade. And she’s ticked.

At first, things actually go well. Claudia remembers a what of what she learned in seventh grade the first time, and she has an easier time learning new material. The other girls in the grade think she’s cool and try to copy her clothes. But the social aspects of the change get to her – she can’t go to the eighth-grade Halloween dance, and she doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch, since she doesn’t know anyone else in the seventh grade.

Claudia gradually gets more and more annoying about not liking being in the seventh grade. She accidentally insults Mallory and Jessi, since she believes anyone younger than an eighth-grader is immature, but doesn’t even realize it. Fortunately, she’s been taking an art class with a famous teacher who sees a ton of potential in her and awards her the grand prize in a class competition. The teacher confides that she was held back twice but has still accomplished a lot in her life. Claudia learns her lesson and starts adjusting to her new life.

The B-plot is all touchy-feely: Jackie Rodowsky is just getting out of the hospital, and he tells the BSC girls and their charges how much the kids still in the hospital would like some company. This leads the girls to start a Hospital Buddies program, pairing healthy kids with hospitalized kids for letter writing and visits. The healthy kids also voluntarily split their Halloween candy with the sick kids.

Thoughts: Claudia says she’s been tested and doesn’t have a learning disorder, but that can’t be true. At the very least, she has to have ADD.

Oh, ghostwriter. There can’t be two Halloweens.

“There wasn’t one person in that whole grade who even approached the level of coolness I’ve attained – and they all knew it.” Huh. Claudia’s kind of a bitca.

I wish they’d addressed Claudia’s snobbery more. If I were Mal or Jessi, I would have said something about her attitude toward sixth- and seventh-graders. And she’s never had a problem with hanging out with 11-year-olds before, so it’s especially surprising here.

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1 Comment »

  1. Allie said,

    The BSC gang was so lucky. They got to celebrate Halloween at least three times a year.
    I don’t know that Claudia would have ADHD; you have to meet the precise specifications for that diagnosis. I think the “didn’t apply herself” diagnosis might have been more accurate. I don’t like the message that this book sends to kids: “You can screw around and fail a grade as easy as the eighth, and it will all work out.” Sure, it is possible to turn your life around, but it is not a good start. I’m sure just about anyone can relate to struggling with certain subjects, but the “dumb-girl” portrayal of Claudia didn’t make for the best role model for young girls. I always thought of Claudia as a lot more brighter that; the writers didn’t have to boot her back to seventh.


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