May 15, 2013
BSC #117, Claudia and the Terrible Truth: Bummerville, Population: Everyone
Summary: Claudia starts sitting a lot for Nate and Joey Nicholls, and immediately realizes that there is something Very Wrong. Their father is very strict, going off about the slightest things and obsessing about cleanliness and organization. The boys are terrified to do anything that might make him mad. They’re also not allowed to have any stuffed animals, which is really depressing. Claudia thinks Mr. Nicholls is just strict, and since she’s just the sitter, she can’t really say anything about his behavior.
…Until one day when Mr. Nicholls, thinking Claudia has left, yells at the boys and possibly slaps one of them. Claudia calls an emergency BSC meeting (one of the few times that’s actually a good idea) and tells the other girls what happened. They agree that since she didn’t see the slap, she can’t accuse Mr. Nicholls of anything, but it doesn’t sit well with them. Claudia’s mom works with Mrs. Nicholls, so Claudia tells her what happened, and Mrs. Kishi agrees to talk to her.
Mrs. Nicholls tells Mrs. Kishi that nothing happened; her husband just has a temper, but he’s not dangerous. However, the BSC girls become even more suspicious when Mrs. Nicholls calls to cancel all the sitting jobs she’s lined up with them. A few days later, recurring character Erica Blumberg calls Claudia, knowing she’s sat for the Nicholls boys before. She’s sitting for them right now, and one boy has bruises on his arm while the other has a black eye.
Claudia immediately calls her mom, who takes Mrs. Nicholls home to get the boys. Claudia gets restless waiting to hear back and decides to go over as well, to at least give Erica some support. Just as she, Mrs. Kishi, and Mrs. Nicholls get there, Mr. Nicholls also shows up. There’s some yelling in the house, but everyone except Mr. Nicholls leaves in Mrs. Kishi’s car. They take Erica home, and the rest of them go to Mr. Kishi’s office in Stamford, knowing Mr. Nicholls won’t think to look for them there.
Mr. and Mrs. Kishi help Mrs. Nicholls arrange to stay with her sister in New York, then buy her everything she’ll need for a car trip there. Once everyone is safe for at least the night, Claudia and her mom both break down, emotionally worn out. Late that night, Claudia gets a call from Mr. Nicholls demanding his kids back. She’s understandably shaken. The Nichollses end up leaving town, with nothing completely resolved, and though Claudia’s sad that she might never see the boys again, she’s glad they’re safe. She also buys them stuffed animals.
The B plot is about the BSC girls organizing a bunch of kids for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Top o’ the boring to ya.
Thoughts: Is everyone sufficiently depressed? I need to go look at some pictures of puppies now.
Claudia is completely awesome in this book, though. When she sees something, she says something. She would make a good New Yorker. My only problem is that when the girls are discussing the events at the end, they agree that Claudia was right to tell someone, and agree to tell each other if something like this happens again. I think they should have been encouraged to tell an adult instead.
Mrs. Kishi is also awesome here. She gives Claudia good advice, immediately takes control when she finds out what’s going on, and comes across as someone you don’t want to tick off.
For a small town, Stoneybrook sure has a lot of parades.
Erica gets invited to a BSC meeting. Wow, she breached the inner sanctum! Oh, the things she must have seen.