November 26, 2013

BSC #127, Abby’s Un-Valentine: Living Single

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:03 pm by Jenn

Apparently Abby REALLY hates tokens of affection

Apparently Abby REALLY hates tokens of affection

Summary: Valentine’s Day is coming! Abby is crabby! She hates all that hearts/flowers/candy/pink/red stuff, and how everyone gets so excited about romance. Love, yuck! So when a guy named Ross starts to show an interest in Abby, and she thinks he’s going to ask her to SMS’s Valentine’s Day dance, she tries to let him know that she doesn’t want to be more than friends. Unfortunately, Abby’s not clear enough and Ross is a little obsessed, so he doesn’t get the hint.

The other BSC girls don’t get the hint either. They think Abby’s being ridiculous for not wanting to get to know Ross better. She points out that there’s nothing wrong with being single, but Stacey, Claudia, and Mary Anne won’t let it go. Ross also won’t let it go, giving Abby flowers and trying to hang out with her all the time. Abby doesn’t want to be mean, so she doesn’t just tell him that she’s not interested.

Eventually Abby realizes that Ross would be a better match for Anna. She invites Ross over so they can talk, but when the twins are getting ready, they inadvertently make themselves look like each other. Abby puts on her glasses, though she usually wears contacts, and loans Anna one of her shirts. When Ross arrives, he thinks Anna is Abby. The girls decide to just go with it, but their mother accidentally busts them. Ross is ticked, thinking they planned this.

Abby and Anna talk things over, and Anna admits that she likes Ross, who definitely has more in common with her than he does with Abby. The twins ambush him and apologize, then successfully transfer Ross’ affections to Anna. Everyone ends up happy.

In the B-plot, the Thomas/Brewer family is about to say goodbye to Scout, who’s almost done training to be a seeing-eye dog. Andrew wants to keep her, since he doesn’t have a pet of his own, so Kristy has to convince him that there’s a blind person out there who needs Scout more than Andrew does.

Thoughts: Anna doesn’t know wh Mia Hamm is. Get it together, Anna.

Karen gets a kitten but Andrew gets nothing? Nice, Watson.

Charlie gives the best advice. That’s why he’s my fictional future husband.

I can’t believe Kristy and Abby go to a movie instead of a school dance. I was led to believe that school dances were the most fun thing you could experience in Stoneybrook.

August 26, 2012

BSC Mystery #28, Abby and the Mystery Baby: Teen Not-Mom

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:12 pm by Jenn

I want Abby’s jacket. (Okay, and the baby)

Summary: Someone leaves a baby on the Stevensons’ porch, which is a much better idea than leaving one on the Thomas/Brewers’ porch, because that baby would never get any attention. Abby, Anna, and their mom call the BSC’s favorite police officer, Sgt. Johnson, who agrees to let them look after the baby until his parents can be found. Since babies are adorable and totally not hard at all to take care of, Abby turns into a little teen mom, spending all her free time with the kid, who they call Eli. The girls are holding a writing month (their own little NaNoWriMo, I guess), and a bunch of the kids write about the baby.

On the mystery front, there isn’t much to go on. Shannon’s sister Maria’s story about Eli mentions a green car she saw around the time he was left, but no one follows up on that. In fact, it seems like the police aren’t doing much at all in the way of looking for clues. Mallory and Jessi are taking a writing class, and when one of their classmates writes a story about a woman giving up her baby, they get suspicious of her. The nanny the Stevensons hire to watch Eli also acts a little fishy. And Mrs. Stevenson seems to be hiding something.

While Mrs. Stevenson is out one day, having suddenly taken off to tend to something, Abby goes through her office looking for whatever she might be keeping from her daughters. She finds a name, Miriam, written on a Post-It and remembers that her mother has a sister named Miriam who’s estranged from the family. Abby and Anna look at some old pictures and find one of Miriam as a child, with the blanket Eli had over him when he was left on the porch.

Abby discovers that her mother went to a hospital in New York, and she figures out that she must have gone to visit Miriam. Rather than just be patient and wait for Mrs. Stevenson to come back and explain everything, Abby decides to follow her to New York. There, she learns that Miriam was involved with a guy her parents didn’t like, and who left soon after she had his baby, Eli (whose real name is Daniel). So the baby wasn’t just some random kid left with a random family: He’s Abby’s cousin.

Mrs. Stevenson had always complained that Miriam relied on her too much, so Miriam didn’t tell her she had a baby, no baby daddy, no job, and poor health. Instead, she left the baby on the porch, then wound up in the hospital in a diabetic coma. Mrs. Stevenson figured out that the baby was Miriam’s (thanks to the blanket) and told the police, which is why they didn’t investigate and they agreed to let the Stevensons look after Daniel. But Mrs. Stevenson didn’t tell her daughters the truth about the baby because she didn’t want them to have to lie to their grandparents, who didn’t know they had a grandson. (I know it’s dumb. Just go with it.) So Miriam’s better now, and Abby gets to keep Eli in her life since he’s her cousin. I don’t remember him ever being mentioned again, though.

Thoughts: This plot may be the most ridiculously contrived of all the BSC books. Including Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure. The problem is that the ghostwriter really bends over backwards to make it clear that Miriam isn’t a bad person. She didn’t really abandon her baby! She was sick! She didn’t tell her family she had a baby or that the baby’s father (who I’m 99 percent sure wasn’t her husband – SCANDAL!) had left because she didn’t want to burden them! She can’t be a villain because she doesn’t smoke and she doesn’t have a mustache or a pitbull!

Abby’s grandparents could not be more stereotypically Jewish if they were playing the klezmer and urging people to eat more rugelach.

Mallory and Jessi think that since the woman from their writing class doesn’t do anything baby-related, she’s acting like she gave up a baby. Girls, please don’t ever become detectives. You suck at it.

Kristy, re: the nanny: “Even though she doesn’t have her own car, I’ll bet anything she knows someone with a green one.” I’ll bet everyone knows someone with a green car, Kristy. Please stop talking.

It cracks me up that Anna tries to talk Abby out of going to New York, but when Abby says she’s going no matter what, Anna offers to go with her. Because…you’ll get in less trouble that way?

July 29, 2012

BSC #104, Abby’s Twin: Hey, Kids! Let’s Learn About Scoliosis!

Posted in books tagged , , at 5:17 pm by Jenn

Abby, we need to have a talk about your pants

Summary: A school health check reveals that Abby and Anna may have scoliosis. The girls see an orthopedist who tells them that the curvature of Abby’s spine isn’t enough to worry about, but Anna needs to wear a back brace. Both girls freak out, and Abby goes overboard trying to make her sister feel better. She buys her a bunch of new clothes (which Anna hates), cuts her hair like Anna’s, and tries to spend more time with her. Clearly Anna just wants to do her own thing, but Abby’s not very good with taking a hint.

Anna finally tells Abby to leave her alone since she’s the one with scoliosis, not Abby. Then, because they’re 13, they stop talking to each other. Abby finally admits to her mom that she’s worried she and Anna won’t be twins anymore. The girls both wind up at a BSC winter carnival, and Abby gets overprotective again when Anna wants to go sledding. She realizes that sledding isn’t going to hurt Anna, and Anna realizes that her sister just wants to help, so they make up.

Re: the winter carnival, it’s the special BSC activity du jour. The girls spend a lot of money and put in a lot of planning, then worry that it won’t snow. It doesn’t, and the girls plan to cancel, but then it snows, so everything goes off fine. I know, I was worried, too!

Thoughts: I would understand Abby’s whole “we won’t be twins anymore!” panic if she were, like, eight. But she’s 13, and it seems a little histrionic for someone who’s usually so laid-back.

Abby talks about how cool the other BSC girls are, and she mentions that though she thinks it’s great that Mary Anne has a boyfriend, being single is also cool. I like seeing that in a book for girls who are starting to get interested in dating.

Mary Anne and Jessi buy $20 worth of hot chocolate. Holy crap, that’s a lot.

At the carnival, the girls charge people a quarter to go sledding. Yeah, thanks, I think I’ll go home and sled for free.

February 20, 2012

BSC #96, Abby’s Lucky Thirteen: Today I Am a Woman

Posted in books tagged , , , at 8:52 pm by Jenn

Abby's much cuter in her picture on the left

Summary: Abby’s busy getting ready for her and Anna’s joint Bat Mitzvah, which makes her forget about a big math test – a huge problem since she’s already struggling in math. Just before the test, she buys what a guy tells her is a study guide. It’s pretty specific, but it helps her, so she feels pretty confident going into the test.

Unfortunately, one of the answers on the study guide was wrong, so Abby gets it wrong on the test – as do four other students. The teacher figures out that something strange is going on and suspends all of the students for cheating. Abby tries to plead her case about the study guide, since she didn’t realize it was fishy until she took the test. The teacher already has it out for her, though, thanks to Mrs. Stevenson coming in to read her the riot act about another test. The teacher, Ms. Frost, doesn’t believe Abby’s claims of innocence.

Abby doesn’t want to admit her suspension to her mother, so she pretends to go to school for the three days she’s off, then heads to the library. This gives her time to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah, but she still doesn’t know what to say in her speech. Her mom catches her at the mall and Abby spills the truth. She winds up grounded for a month, but fortunately, her mother believes her about the study guide and decides to talk to Ms. Frost again.

Back at school, Abby sees Mary Anne buying a “study guide” from the same guy who sold one to her. She takes Mary Anne and the fake guide to Ms. Frost, and now that she has a reliable witness with her, Ms. Frost believes her. She also apologizes for not giving Abby the benefit of the doubt before and allows her to retake the test. So Abby has a chance to improve her grade, and now she has a topic for her speech. At her Bat Mitzvah, she talks about how even small decisions can make big waves, and how she feels more adult now.

The twins’ family comes to Stoneybrook for the Bat Mitzvah, and all the BSC members attend. There’s a very sweet scene where Abby and Anna light the candles on their cake and dedicate each one to their family members and friends. They’re sad because their father isn’t there, but they hear their family members reminiscing about him and sharing happy memories.

In the B-plot, a bunch of parents in town ban TV in their houses, or at least drastically reduce the amount their kids can watch. The kids are angry but wind up making their own “episodes” of one of their favorite shows.

Thoughts: We get it, ghostwriter: We shouldn’t watch too much TV. I’m already reading your books – what more do you want?

The Arnold twins wear pinkie rings. Are they in the mafia?

Abby’s mom tops my list of awesome BSC parents. You do NOT want to mess with her.

Would eight-year-olds know about the old melodramas with villains tying women to train tracks? I don’t think I knew about those when I was that age.

Abby says her mother doesn’t have any siblings, but doesn’t she have a sister in a later book?

November 28, 2011

BSC #90, Welcome to the BSC, Abby: Thanks for Depressing Us All

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 10:18 pm by Jenn

If Abby's Jewish, why is she dressed like Santa?

Summary: Abby, who joined the club in the last book, jumps right into club activities, going on sitting jobs and helping out with the cause of the month, a carnival to raise money so school arts and music programs don’t have to be cut. While sitting for the Papadakises, Abby has an asthma attack that gets worse when Hannie runs into the street and almost gets hit by a car. She winds up going to the ER, but she’s fine after that. Kristy, however, thinks she’s a liability as a sitter.

Abby has bigger problems to deal with, as she feels like her family is disjointed. Her mom is working a lot, Anna doesn’t really have any friends in Stoneybrook yet, and they don’t spend a lot of time together. It all stems from Abby’s father’s death three years ago. Abby and Anna find a box of their father’s things while they’re unpacking, and they think their mother put it aside and forgot about it, which makes them mad.

During the carnival, which the Stevensons planned to work at together (selling cake and cupcakes with arts and music themes), Abby hears about a train that derailed in New York. She’s pretty sure her mom was on it, and when she and Anna don’t hear from her for hours, they think something horrible has happened to her. Fortunately, their mom was on a different train, but the experience gets them all to talk about their sadness over losing their father/husband and how they don’t want to forget him. But it’s all bittersweet because, you know…he’s still dead.

By the end of the book, Abby feels more at home in the club, Kristy has calmed down about her asthma, the Stevensons are making more of an effort to spend time together, and Anna has become friends with Shannon. So at least things are looking up there. And I guess they saved the arts and music programs because no one mentions that again.

Thoughts: Abby really is a bit of a tragic character. Her father’s dead, her mother’s not around much, and she feels like a seventh wheel, I guess you’d say, in the club because the other six girls are three pairs of best friends. Her humor is obviously a defense mechanism because she’s rarely serious. …Okay, I’ll stop psychoanalyzing.

What is with the series’ obsession with Elvira the goat?

Carnivals are fun. Reading about people getting ready to put on a carnival? Not so much. But now I really want a cupcake.

Mrs. Stevenson has a cell phone in 1995. I hope it’s Zack Morris-sized.

November 22, 2011

BSC #89, Kristy and the Dirty Diapers: The Cult Recruits Another Member

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 10:11 pm by Jenn

Crap, Kristy kind of looks like me on this cover

Summary: Kristy accepts a sponsorship for the Krushers from a guy named Mr. Davis who has a diaper service. She doesn’t quite know what she’s getting into when she agrees; she really just likes the idea of new equipment and uniforms. But the uniforms say “Davis Diapers,” so the kids are embarrassed to wear them (and who wouldn’t be?). Plus, Mr. Davis thinks he now has a say in things like coaching, but he’s horrible at it, yelling at the kids and almost making them cry.

Kristy is also facing issues with a new girl in her neighborhood, Abby Stevenson. Abby and her identical twin sister Anna have just moved to Stoneybrook from Long Island, and Kristy and the BSC girls quickly become friends with them. Despite the fact that Abby’s more like Kristy (mainly athletic and loud), Kristy feels like she has more of a connection to Anna (who’s quieter and loves music).

In truth, Kristy finds Abby kind of annoying, but it’s totally because they’re so much alike. The twins and their mother spend the night with the Brewer-Thomases when they learn they don’t have electricity in their new house, and Abby is pretty much the center of attention because she’s such a ham. Kristy thinks she’s clamoring for that attention.

Abby winds up helping Kristy at a Krushers practice, which allows Kristy to see how good she is with kids. Anna has also been working with kids, helping out Kristy’s neighbor’s granddaughter, who’s staying with her while her parents are going through a divorce. The club is getting overwhelmed with calls, and Shannon can’t replace Dawn full-time, so it’s easy to see where this is going.

But first, Abby out-Kristys Kristy by standing up to Mr. Davis after a particularly cringeworthy encounter in which he treats the Krushers like dirt. Kristy has been treading lightly, not wanting to sever their deal (even though it would obviously be best for everyone), so Abby does it for her. Kristy realizes that she does like Abby after all, so she asks her to be her assistant coach.

Kristy then decides that the twins would be great additions to the BSC. The other BSC girls agree, so Kristy brings the twins to a meeting and asks them to join. Abby says yes, but in a shocking twist, Anna declines. One out of two is good enough for the BSC girls, though, so Abby is the newest member of the cult club.

There’s a whole subplot with Dru, the granddaughter, and how the BSC girls want to help her make friends, and how she joins the Krushers but sucks, so she forms a band, but it’s dumb, so I’ll skip it.

Thoughts: Abby was a very polarizing character, but I, for one, loved her. She became my favorite right away.

Kristy notices that the guest bedroom is really dusty, so she, Sam, and Charlie quickly clean it so the asthmatic, allergy-suffering Abby can sleep there. I thought that was really nice for teenagers who probably don’t willingly clean their own rooms.

This is actually the nicest thing Kristy does in the book. She spends a lot of it complaining, mostly about Abby but a little about other people. She’s even snottier than usual.

There’s no way the Bashers are scoring 30- and 40-something runs in a single game.

Stacey thinks Abby’s asthma could be a problem because she could have an attack while she’s babysitting. For someone with an illness that requires monitoring and possible emergency intervention, Stacey is a little unrealistic.

Shouldn’t Kristy have talked to Abby and Abby about joining the club before she extended the invitation?

Also, I love how Abby’s response is, “Sure! I guess.” You guess? Poor girl, you have no idea what you’re casually saying yes to.

I’m kind of surprised the girls ever talk to Anna again after she turns them down.