January 7, 2014

BSC #130, Stacey’s Movie: The Real World: Stoneybrook

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:08 pm by Jenn

Stacey's outfit is actually really cute

Stacey’s outfit is actually really cute

Summary: Time for another Short Takes class! Stacey’s in a film-making course, where she gets to learn about screenwriting, producing, directing, and using a video camera. She and her group mates – perennial BSC background characters Pete Black, Emily Bernstein, and Erica Blumberg – first decide to make a zombie movie, but realize it’s pretty cheesy without special effects. Then they decide to make a documentary about what it’s like to be a middle-schooler in suburban Connecticut. Wherever did they come up with that inspired idea?

Emily and Stacey conduct most of the interviews, and Emily quickly proves to be both a) a promising journalist and b) a bit of a bitca. She asks very personal questions, often using information she knows about the interviewees to dig deeper. She asks Jessi about being a minority in Stoneybrook, she asks Abby if she thinks she’s like her mother because they’re both so busy (apparently this is something Abby doesn’t want), and she asks Stacey herself if she has commitment problems because of her parents’ divorce. An interview with Cokie leads to Stacey realizing that the BSC is just as cliquey and exclusive as Cokie and her friends are.

But it’s Emily’s interview with Mary Anne that really causes problems. Mary Anne is upset because she had a fight with Sharon, and she later admits that sometimes she hates her birth mother for dying. She also says that she doesn’t consider Sharon her mother. She quickly regrets what she said and asks to have her interview removed from the movie. Stacey agrees to talk to her group about it, since she wants her interview removed, too. But her group members want everything to stay in.

What follows is a bunch of pages about artistic control and reality vs. art and editing something real vs. telling the truth. Stacey has a choice between honoring Mary Anne’s feelings and showing something dramatic and real in the movie. In the end, there’s something of a compromise: Stacey adds some footage allowing Mary Anne and herself to explain their words. And of course, the movie is good, even though it was made in two weeks by a bunch of 13-year-olds.

The B-plot is also about the class, and how Kristy and Alan are in a group together. Alan’s supposed to be the director, but Kristy can’t bring herself to let him take charge. Their group is filming kids in Stoneybrook when they do funny stuff, but thanks to Kristy and Alan’s power struggle, not much funny footage is actually getting filmed. Finally Kristy realizes that Alan has some good ideas, and that the process needs to be more democratic. I’m sure Kristy will promptly ditch that concept as soon as the class is over.

Thoughts: “Tombs and mummies are so cool.” I think Mary Anne broke.

“It never occurred to me that [Jessi] might think of us as white kids.” Uh-oh, someone forgot to tell Stacey she’s white. How awkward.

Cokie: “Boys are pretty much the most important thing in the life of a middle school girl.” And that might be the most middle school thing ever said.

If all students in a group are getting graded on a film, shouldn’t they all get a vote on the content and see the final product before it’s submitted? If I were getting graded on a group project, I would want to be involved in the whole project.

May 1, 2013

BSC Mystery #33, Stacey and the Stolen Hearts: The Usual Suspects

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 6:36 pm by Jenn

Stacey looks frighteningly like my childhood best friend

Stacey looks frighteningly like my childhood best friend

Summary: For Valentine’s Day, Stacey and Pete Black organize a fundraiser for the eighth-grade class involving valentine-grams. A bunch of the middle schoolers buy valentines for their boyfriends and girlfriends, some write them for crushes, and some send joke valentines to get people’s hopes up, because that’s what middle schoolers do. Then the valentines disappear, and notes surface commenting on what people wrote.

There are a number of suspects: Alan, Cokie, Cary, Stacey’s ex Robert, and even Pete. Their motives aren’t known, so the BSC girls start investigating. They find out that Pete has a crush on Emily Bernstein and sent her a valentine, but it’s possible he stole them all back so she wouldn’t see it. (Though why wouldn’t he just take his own back?) Cokie and her boyfriend are having trouble; she sent him a bunch of valentines but he didn’t send her any. Robert has been acting so weird that Andi, the girl he almost cheated on Stacey with, asks her to talk to him. (He’s not the thief, he’s just depressed.)

Cary looks more and more like the thief, especially after the girls see a striped sleeve photocopied with one of the valentine-grams, then see him wearing a striped shirt the next day. Stacey asks him if he had anything to do with the theft, but he has an alibi, since he was at the dentist. Then Stacey realizes that he gave his alibi before he knew the timeframe she was trying to nail down.

Cary says he isn’t the thief, but he knows who it is – someone who was about to receive a joke valentine from a girl he had a crush on. Stacey puts together that he’s talking about Alan. She questions him, but she feels so bad for him that she gives him the chance to return the valentines with no punishment. He does, and everyone’s satisfied.

In the B-plot, the BSC girls throw a “Valentine’s festival” for their charges. It’s not a festival, it’s a lame party. They just ask the kids what they want so everyone’s happy.

Thoughts: I wish Alan hadn’t been the culprit. The thief should have turned out to be someone completely unexpected, and Cary shouldn’t have been involved at all. It was too obvious.

Kristy wonders if the Hobarts know about Valentine’s Day. Kristy, they lived in Australia, not on the moon. Also, they’ve been in the series for, like, nine Valentine’s Days already.

Abby wants to “check out” Cary and “keep an eye on him.” That’s my girl.

Mary Anne calls Pete shy, but since when? He’s the class president, and they don’t tend to be shy.

The BSC runs a focus group for their Valentine’s party. Kristy has officially lost her mind.

I’ve never Xeroxed a sleeve, so I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure stripes wouldn’t show up on the copy.

When Stacey questions Cary, he’s in the school basement, chilling in an armchair. It’s like he’s in a secret lair. I love it.

January 9, 2013

BSC #111, Stacey’s Secret Friend: Don’t Make Me Over

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:28 pm by Jenn

Tess just raided Mallory's closet, that's all

Tess just raided Mallory’s closet, that’s all

Summary: Stacey meets a new girl at SMS, Tess Swinhart, who’s nice but seems a little weird. Stacey thinks she just needs a makeover; she always wears pink, she never wears makeup, and her hair isn’t styled like anyone else’s. Due to the pink thing, Tess’ slightly porcine nose, and the fact that the first part of her last name almost contains the word “swine,” Alan gets everyone at school to start calling Tess “Swine-heart” behind her back. Tess is pretty oblivious and doesn’t get it when people start oinking at her. There’s also a comic book circulating about Swine-heart the Destroyer. Stacey decides not to tell Tess anything because…well, good question.

Since makeovers fix everything, Stacey tries to take Tess on as her project (a la Cher and Tai). She gets her to read some magazines, puts some makeup on her, and encourages her to wear something other than pink. Tess humors her a little but clearly couldn’t care less about whether or not her clothes are trendy or “in.” Most of the time, she just ignores Stacey, which is smart, because Stacey gets super-annoying. She also keeps saying she’s not Tess’ friend, since no one likes Tess and I guess, as Cher would say, Stacey’s “stock would plummet.”

At a football game, the students vote on a new mascot by applauding when Stacey and other students hold up signs with pictures of their choices. Stacey holds up a pig and everyone goes wild. She doesn’t realize until it’s too late that the pig picture has been replaced by a drawing of Swine-heart the Destroyer. Tess is so shocked at the reaction that she falls off the bleachers and breaks her ankle. She’s furious with Stacey and orders her to leave her alone.

Even though everyone knows Stacey would never switch the pictures, a bunch of people tell her that she wasn’t much of a friend to Tess. She just thought of Tess as a project and didn’t tell her what people were saying about her behind her back. Though, in Stacey’s defense, she did warn Tess not to trust a guy named Clarence King who asked her out, since Stacey thought it was some sort of scheme. But anyway, Stacey feels bad about everything and apologizes to Tess. While at Tess’ house, Stacey discovers that Tess lived in France, and her wardrobe is in style there. So suddenly Tess is cool.

The BSC girls band together with Tess and another girl, Barbara (who was best friends with Amelia and has become good friends with Tess), to enact some stupid 13-year-old revenge on Clarence. They mess up Clarence’s clothes and take pictures, then threaten to share them with everyone at school if Clarence and Alan don’t leave Tess alone. And then I don’t think Tess is ever mentioned in the series again.

The B-plot is kind of clever: Jackie Rodowsky and Nicky Pike have been acting weird. In fact, Nicky seems overly protective of Jackie. Eventually Abby learns that some kids were hassling Jackie, so he hired Nicky to be his bodyguard. I guess Nicky is intimidating or something? Why not hire the triplets?

Thoughts: This book brings up an interesting question: If you knew someone was being mocked behind her back, would you tell her? I think I would, because if I were the person being mocked, I’d want to know.

Stacey says that Alan has no sense of humor about himself, but aren’t a lot of his jokes at his own expense?

Tess and her friends once carved a bunch of ducks, painted them to look realistic, and put them in a river to confuse people. I’d rather hang out with that group than the BSC girls.

Nicky, up in a tree with Jackie: “We were practicing invisibility.” Claudia: “Well, practice visibility and come down from there.” That cracked me up, for some reason.

Moral of the story: Solve your problems with blackmail.

November 1, 2012

BSC #109, Mary Anne to the Rescue: Emergency Exit

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:48 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne deserves better than this punk

Summary: Out of the blue and for no apparent reason, Logan’s father wants to send him to boarding school and a wilderness-survival adventure. Oh, noes! Mary Anne is sad, but Logan’s a wimp and won’t try to talk to his parents about the decision. And honestly, he doesn’t seem that sad about the possibility of never seeing Mary Anne again, so maybe she should take a hint.

In the midst of this crisis, the BSC girls decide to take a first-aid course, inspired by Mary Anne and Dawn (yes, she’s in this book – she’s in Stoneybrook for summer vacation) watching Sharon save a guy from choking. The class is pretty intense, with tests and visits to an ER and the very real possibility that Kristy will murder fellow student Alan because he WON’T SHUT UP. The students also get to participate in a disaster drill, pretending to be victims of a car accident.

Even after all the training, Mary Anne still feels like she would be unprepared for an emergency. Then one afternoon she and Dawn are babysitting for a bunch of kids swimming in the Kormans’ pool. There’s a neighbor there to keep an eye on everyone, but when he goes into the house for a few minutes, Timmy Hsu almost drowns. Mary Anne pulls him out of the water, gives him CPR, and saves his life.

Suddenly Mary Anne is emboldened! She tells Logan to suck it up already and talk to his parents if he doesn’t want to boarding school or the wilderness trek. He needs to fight for what he wants. She points out that when she stood up to her father about having to dress like a kid, things worked out. So Logan has an actual conversation with his parents and gets to stay in Stoneybrook. Where he will continue to be a big wuss, I guess.

Thoughts: I wish Mary Anne could be like this all the time. The shy, meek thing is so tiresome.

The girls pride themselves on being pros, so why haven’t they taken a first-aid class before now?

When Mary Anne learns about the wilderness-survival thing, which he thinks is to build character, she asks what happens if the kids run into a wild animal. Logan: “You punch them in the nose, I guess, because you have so much character by then.” Heh.

I think this is the first book in the series to mention email.

The disaster drill sounds awesome. I want to do one! A friend of mine got to do a plane-crash drill – they put bruise makeup on her and everything.

Timmy’s brother Scott mentions that Timmy can’t swim. Maybe their parents should have told Mary Anne and Dawn that. Or not let him play in a pool without floaties. Oh, right, Stoneybrook parents hate their children.

Logan should have agreed to do the survival thing instead of saying he didn’t want to do it or go to boarding school. It’s called negotiating, son.

The 11-year-old who owned this book before me wrote in the diary pages in the back that Logan “can be a nuisance.” Rock on, 11-year-old.

May 28, 2012

BSC Super Mystery #3, Baby-sitters’ Fright Night: Which Witch is Which?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:17 pm by Jenn

Their outfits are the real fright here

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?

January 29, 2012

BSC Mystery #23, Abby and the Secret Society: The A-maze-ing Racists

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by Jenn

Men in tuxes worry me, too, Jessi

Summary: Stoneybrook used to be home to a country club, and a woman named Nikki Stanton-Cha wants to fix it up and reopen it. The original club was very elite and racist; Nikki’s father was a member, and she’s ashamed of the way the club treated people. As a child, she brought a Jewish friend to the club and was horrified by people’s reactions. Nikki is now married to a Korean man and wants to run a club open to everyone who wants to join.

Abby reads about Nikki needing teens to help fix the club up, so she gets the BSC girls to agree to help out. They learn about the club’s history, as well as about Mr. Armstrong, a grumpy old man who used to be Stoneybrook’s mayor and who was responsible for a lot of the racist attitudes. The girls also get a little worried because Nikki’s father is hanging around and they know he disapproves of her having married an Asian man. He’s so bigoted that he’s never met his grandson, Stephen.

Sgt. Johnson, the only cop in town who listens to teenagers, tells the BSC girls that his friend David, a reporter, was investigating some nastiness at the club years ago when he died in a car accident. There was some blackmailing going on in some secret society, and Sgt. Johnson thinks David was killed so he couldn’t spill what he knew. The only thing Sgt. Johnson knows about what David uncovered is a warning to watch his step. They also find a clue telling them to think about penguins, and they spend a day checking that out until they realize that Cary Retlin sent them on a “wild-penguin chase.”

Abby figures out that the clue refers to a corner of a carpet that pulls up to reveal another clue written in wine. It gives a year, and the girls figure out it means a certain vintage in the wine cellar. The bottle they find contains a golf tee that reads “OPEN WWII.” Thanks to a little spat with Alan, in which he sarcastically asks Abby if she wants a trophy for something, she checks out golf trophies from tournaments held during World War II. The only one from that period was won by Armstrong, and it contains two silver keys.

The girls are at a dead end, so they write Armstrong a letter telling him that David was on to him, giving him the clue about the trophy. They get Nikki to invite Armstrong to the club for a tour, then follow him as he finds the keys, since they think he’ll know what they open. He unknowingly leads them to a hedge maze they’ve never been allowed into. At the center of the maze is a bomb shelter, and as Armstrong starts to enter it, Sgt. Johnson tries to stop him. Armstrong grabs Stephen and threatens to hurt him. Nikki’s father pops up and saves his grandson, and Sgt. Johnson arrests Armstrong, who admits to tampering with David’s brakes, leading to his death.

Sgt. Johnson and the BSC girls head into the bomb shelter and find all of David’s notes on the blackmailings in the secret society. Not that it does much good, as, according to Sgt. Johnson, the statue of limitations is up on most of the crimes, and Armstrong is old so no one cares if he goes to jail or not. But at least Nikki’s father isn’t a racist after all, or something. And the club opens and is never mentioned again.

The child-related plot is about the BSC girls sitting for Stephen and trying to help him find friends. He thinks people don’t like him because he’s multiracial, but of course, it’s Stoneybrook, and other than the racists who hated Jessi’s family, everyone there loves everyone. Also, some kids open their own club but won’t let other kids in, so Stephen starts his own club, but his is so awesome that everyone wants to join, and whatever, it’s all a commentary on racism.

Thoughts: I just watched The Shining on New Year’s Eve, so the mentions of the hedge maze in this book kind of freaked me out.

Cary works at the club because he needs money. To take my 13-year-old self on a date, right?

Stacey plays Wiffle ball with Stephen, and the BSC girls know he needs friends, so why don’t they invite him to join the Krushers?

Trivia: Sgt. Johnson’s first name is Jim.

August 27, 2011

BSC Mystery #20, Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery: Gorilla Warfare

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:23 pm by Jenn

Matt's shorter than I always pictured him

Summary: SMS teams up with a local zoo for a project in which the eighth graders observe animals. They’re split into groups of three, and the group with the best report gets extra credit and a trip to a water park. The timing is great, since there are two gorillas, James and Mojo, on loan, and there’s a lot of hype surrounding their visit. There are also a bunch of protesters hanging out around the zoo.

Mary Anne’s in a group with Alan and a guy named Howie (previously mentioned as a friend of Claudia and Stacey’s), while Logan’s in a group with Dawn and Claudia. Kristy’s placed with Stacey and wants nothing to do with her, so their group studies their own pets (Stacey doesn’t have one, so she studies the Johanssens’ dog). So Mary Anne, Dawn, Claudia, Logan, Alan, and Howie go to the zoo a lot; Logan, Dawn, and Claudia observe the gorillas while Mary Anne, Alan, and Howie watch an emu, bears, and seals. Alan and Logan really want to beat each other, so they get all macho and competitive.

One day the emu escapes from her cage, and when Mary Anne goes to take a look after the emu’s return, she sees that the fence is intact. There are also some stains that look like berry juice from a nearby bush. She decides that the emu didn’t really escape but was let out. Oh, and the director, Ms. Wofsey, has lost her master key that opens all the cages. It happens to look like all the keys the SMS students were given to access info at different exhibits.

This is, of course, a case for the BSC. They decide that the protesters are obviously suspects, but they’ve also seen a couple in matching sweatsuits observing all the animals. Not long after that, a giraffe is let out of its cage. Mary Anne again sees berry stains nearby. Knowing that one of the gorillas, Mojo, knows sign language and can see the emu’s cage from hers, the BSC girls bring Matt Braddock to the zoo to communicate with Mojo. However, Mojo will only sign “food,” so the girls think she’s hungry, since Mr. Chester, a zoo employee, is bringing her lunch.

Next the gibbons’ cage is opened (they don’t escape), and Mary Anne and Logan think the matching-sweatsuit couple is responsible, since they’ve been observing the gibbons. The couple has been writing down prices, and Mary Anne and Logan think they want to steal a gibbon and sell it. As she’s doing more observation for the project, Mary Anne realizes that she no longer has her own key – she has Ms. Wofsey’s skeleton key. She knows she hasn’t had it the whole time, and the only time she could have accidentally swapped her key with someone else’s was when she, Alan, and Howie were taking things out of their bags to look for change.

Mary Anne confronts Alan, accusing him of freeing the animals to better observe them for the project (though why would he free animals he wasn’t observing)? Alan admits that he’s been doing research for the project, which was supposed to only be based on observation and the info from the exhibits, but has no idea what she’s talking about regarding the key. They both realize that Howie must have had Ms. Wofsey’s key. He confesses that he found it in the bushes and used it to open the emu’s cage, but she didn’t escape until after he left; obviously he didn’t secure the cage well enough. Howie also says that he didn’t free any other animals, and he has to be telling the truth since Mary Anne had Ms. Wofsey’s key by that point.

Logan and Mary Anne remember Mr. Chester saying he was late to an event because he was feeding the seals, but he wasn’t, since they’d just been with the seals. With a couple of more pieces of potential evidence, the BSC girls (and Logan) tell Ms. Wofsey their suspicions. Ms. Wofsey thinks Mr. Chester was trying to get her in trouble because he’s mad that she got the job he wanted. She knows that Mr. Chester’s big move will be trying to free Mojo and James, so the zoo sets up a sting operation involving people in gorilla suits. It works (yeah, I bet), and Mr. Chester is done for. Later, the girls realize that Mojo was probably signing “food” because Mr. Chester fed all the animals. Also, the matching-sweatsuit couple was looking for an animal to buy for some rich guy.

The B-plot involves a baby elephant being displayed at the mall until a home can be found for it. (Maybe this is crazy, but couldn’t they take it to…THE ZOO?) The BSC girls and their charges decide to hold a walkathon to raise money to relocate the elephant. They call it an Elephant Walk and make buttons and other swag for it. There’s some drama because on the day of the walkathon, the girls don’t have a stereo to play “Baby Elephant Walk,” and Claudia suggests that they borrow one from Stacey. Stacey agrees to loan it to them, but only if she can participate. Kristy’s ticked but doesn’t have time to do anything about it. Anyway, the walkathon is a success, and contributes to getting the elephant relocated.

Thoughts: This mystery is actually structured plenty well, with some good red herrings. Bravo, ghostwriter.

Mary Anne shares a soda with Alan and Howie. That’s kind of gross. And I’m sure Logan wouldn’t appreciate it. Mary Anne probably told him about it, too. I bet they’re like Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother, telling each other every single detail of their days.

Like Stacey would ever let Charlotte wear a matching kitty headband and backpack.

Mary Anne is much less of a mouse than usual in this book. When Logan’s insults toward Alan bug her, she asks him to stop – without crying. I’m impressed.

Logan: “Do gorillas like chocolate cake?” Mary Anne: “Everybody likes chocolate cake.” For some reason, I thought that was really funny.

I think something was moved around here. Matt signs to Mojo, and then a few pages later Jessi asks if anyone who knows sign language can talk to Mojo. Then Matt signs the same questions he’d already asked her. Why would Jessi ask that if she knew Matt had already signed with Mojo?

Speaking of that, Matt signing with the gorilla was the only part of the book I remembered. I always thought that was really cool.

Recurring character Erica Blumberg makes a good point: “How would a gorilla know what an emu is?”

I love that Alan cheats on a class assignment by doing extra work.

September 4, 2010

BSC #55, Jessi’s Gold Medal: On This Episode of “Made”…

Posted in books tagged , , , at 11:46 pm by Jenn

How is that synchronized? Sloppy babies!

Summary: Jessi takes synchronized swimming, competes in SMS’s Sports Festival, and wins a gold medal. Trust me, the details are too boring to go into.

There are three B plots, two boring, one not. In the first boring one, the BSC girls put on a mini-Olympics for their sitting charges, though it’s more like a fun fair. In the second boring one, Mallory panics about possibly having to participate in the Sports Festival (even though it’s completely voluntary) and decides to fake an injury so she’ll have an excuse to skip it. But she actually does hurt herself and makes a big deal about it. Shut up, Mallory.

In the not-boring B plot, Kristy challenges Alan to an obstacle-course race at the Sports Festival. The loser will have to be the winner’s personal servant for a week. Kristy wins and totally milks Alan’s loss for all it’s worth, which is exactly what we would expect from her.

Thoughts: I feel like this whole thing is just Olympic propaganda. Now all I want to do is watch gymnastics and eat Wheaties.

Claudia wears floral-print suspenders with electric pink track shorts. Did anyone examine her for a head injury?

You know what I just realized? Alan and Kristy were the original Ron and Hermione. Which I guess means they’ll end up married in 10 or 15 years.

August 18, 2010

BSC #53, Kristy for President: Kristy is Too Busy to Tell You What Your Problem Is

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:55 pm by Jenn

I bet Emily Michelle's delayed in sitting and smiling, too

Summary: Kristy runs for class president against Alan Gray, Pete Black, and Cokie’s main minion Grace Blume. The campaign wreaks havoc with Kristy’s already-busy schedule, but she feels like it’s her responsibility to lead the class because none of the other candidates is qualified. (I’ll give her Alan and Grace, but Pete doesn’t sound too bad.) After having to juggle too many things, including studying for a test (which she fails twice), Kristy realizes that she doesn’t have time to be president, so she gracefully bows out of the race.

In the B plot, Jamie Newton wants to ride a bike. It’s boring.

Thoughts: Karen declares herself chief leaf collector and David Michael executive president in charge of choosing colors. What are you on, Karen?

Stacey says absolutely nothing when the other girls trash Mary Poppins as the upcoming school play. Pay attention, ghostwriter! Also, they think Mary Poppins is babyish but have no problem doing Peter Pan not too much later in the series?

Dawn wants to do A Raisin in the Sun. Dawn, honey, there are three black kids in your school. Not gonna happen. She probably only wants to do it because it has a fruit in the title anyway.

Janine: “I believe you would be glad to know that a pizza delivery has just been effected.” Janine for president – of the U.S.

Kristy calls Pete a nerd. How dare she!

Speaking of Pete, his slogan is, “Vote for Pete, for SMS’s sake!” Dude, not “for Pete’s sake”? It’s right there!

October 13, 2009

BSC #2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls: Kristy Thomas Will Mess You Up

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 10:42 pm by Jenn

That outfit is not crazy enough.

That outfit is not crazy enough.

Summary: After reading a news article about a cat burglar in the area and receiving some mysterious phone calls while sitting, the baby-sitters are on edge. Claudia is also frustrated because her sister Janine is annoying, and because the guy she likes, Trevor Sandbourne, doesn’t seem to know she’s alive, so he’s certainly not going to ask her to the Halloween Hop. The phone calls turn out to be Alan Gray’s attempts to bug Kristy, culminating in him asking her to the dance. In the end, Claudia gets everything she’s looking for – a better connection with Janine, a date with Trevor to the dance, and a B+ on a math test.

Thoughts: I always thought this book was pretty realistic in terms of how Claudia, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Stacey respond to the news of a cat burglar in cities around Stoneybrook. They’re 12-year-old girls who are sometimes baby-sitting alone at night, and the idea of a guy breaking into the houses where they’re watching little kids is pretty freaky. That’s exactly what a 12-year-old girl would be afraid of.

Mary Anne, however, handles the situation a little differently, and in a way that I’ve always thought was creative. While sitting for Kristy’s younger brother, David Michael, she comes up with homemade burglar alarms, including an ingenius music alarm. She rigs a tape deck (’80s, remember) so that it will turn on and blast music when a door hits it. Give that girl an A in…whatever subject that would be.

There are no spectacular Claudia outfits in this book, though at one point she wears white tights with clocks on them, along with lobster earrings. Later she wears a bowtie with scottie dogs on it. She also wears barrettes at two different times – one pair is beaded with sparkly streamers and the other has teddy bears and streamers. Because streams are soooo mature and sophisticated, right?

Kristy’s weird in this book. She spends the whole story complaining about Alan, who pops up again and again in the series to bother the girls, and then when he asks her to the dance, she immediately accepts. As she explains to Claudia, he’s cute, he’s kind of funny, and he likes her, so why not? Apparently Kristy has never heard of dignity. Also, this is the book where she threatens to punch a kid. I just thought I’d bring that up. Kristy Thomas, supposedly responsible baby-sitter and level-headed problem-solver, threatens an eight-year-old boy with violence. What a charmer.