January 10, 2011

BSC Super Special #10, Sea City, Here We Come!: They Had to Leave Stoneybrook to Be This Boring

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

Seriously, who invited Logan?

Summary: The Pikes and Barretts head to Sea City for two weeks, with the Pikes hiring Mallory (sort of) and Jessi as mother’s helpers, and Mrs. Barrett hiring Stacey. Then, for some reason, the Pikes invite the other BSC girls for the second week of vacation. Logan comes for the weekend, for no apparent reason.

Mallory lands herself a date with Toby, the guy who kind of hooked up with Stacey the last two times she and Mary Anne were in Sea City. Except right before they’re supposed to go out, Mallory talks to Ben on the phone and realizes she doesn’t want to go out with anyone else. She tells Toby nothing’s going to happen between them, and he asks if she can hook him up with another cute girl the next time they come to Sea City. Then he writes her a postcard and asks if Jessi’s single. Wow, that one’s a charmer.

Stacey‘s totally jealous of Mallory and does a very poor job of hiding it. She also has trouble dealing with Mrs. Barrett, who’s kind of annoying.

Mary Anne runs into Alex, her guy from her previous trips to Sea City, and Logan gets jealous, even though Mary Anne obviously has no feelings for the guy.

Before the trip, Kristy struggles to find substitute Krushers for a game against the Bashers, since she refuses to just postpone it and let Bart gloat, or something. She gathers some kids from her neighborhood who have no experience playing softball (and some of them don’t exactly want to do it), and they play the weirdest game of softball ever. Sadly, it’s the most interesting part of the book.

In the nothing-happens category, Claudia goes to summer school before going to Sea City, Jessi babysits a lot while they’re there, and Dawn and Mary Anne run a mini day camp.

There’s a hurricane while everyone’s in Sea City, but nothing happens. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THE WHOLE BOOK.

Thoughts: For some reason, I love Claudia having the BSC girls (and logan) taste-test Heath and Skor bars.

Setting aside the fact that there’s no way Logan could get a job in a restaurant, why would he need to? With three of the BSC girls out of town, wouldn’t he have his pick of sitting jobs? Also, what do BSC clients do when everyone in the club is out of town? Do they have to – gasp! – actually spend time with their children?

Dawn tells little kids a ghost story involving murder. Way to go, Dawn.

Dear ghostwriter, Franklin’s last name is not Harris, it’s DeWitt. Moron.

“Somehow, Kristy had devised a way to convince the grown-ups to take the kids for a half hour.” When a 13-year-old has to ask you to spend time with your children on a family vacation, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

Mallory writes a postcard to Stacey’s mom. I don’t get it.

Since when is Sea City on an island?

December 26, 2010

BSC #64, Dawn’s Family Feud: Shut Up, Jeff

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 3:12 pm by Jenn

Everyone needs to CHILL OUT

Summary: Jeff comes to visit, and the Schafers/Spiers take a trip to Boston. Jeff is being a spoiled brat and trying to avoid Richard, who just wants to do guy stuff with him, and this makes Mary Anne mad, which in turn makes Dawn mad. So the three kids are all bickering and avoiding each other, and the Schafers end up doing different things from the Spiers on vacation. For some reason, Richard and Sharon let this continue, even though they’re obviously not happy. Finally, they tell the kids that they’re going to have to get along because they’re not having separate vacations anymore.

Back home, things are still tense, but Sharon and Richard want everyone to have a family portrait taken together. During the photo session, Dawn and Mary Anne realize how angry they look with each other, which makes them laugh, and everyone apologizes to everyone else. And hopefully Jeff gets grounded or gets half his Christmas presents taken away or something, because he was a total brat through the whole book.

In the B plot, Mrs. Barrett is dating a guy named Franklin DeWitt, who has four kids. The Barrett and DeWitt kids, like the Schafer and Spier kids, can’t stand each other, and every time they’re together, they fight. Claudia and Shannon (yes, Shannon) finally get them to call a truce by pointing out that they can’t play games that need lots of people unless they all get along. Yep.

Thoughts: Dear ghostwriter, it’s the Air and Space Museum, not the Aerospace Museum. Try some research next time.

Mrs. Barrett and Franklin need to take a sitter along on a family picnic? Really?

The Schafers/Spiers sing on long car trips. We must destroy them.

The family gets two hotel rooms, one for Sharon and Richard, and one for Mary Anne, Dawn, and Jeff. Why is a ten-year-old boy sharing a room with 13-year-old girls?? Also, how much does Sharon hate Mary Anne for insisting on staying in her and Richard’s room? You just know Sharon can’t stand how much of a daddy’s girl Mary Anne is.

There is not one chance Mary Anne doesn’t know what the Boston tea Party is, so shut up, ghostwriter.

I thought the BSC girls’ postcard-writing was out of control before, but Dawn writing to Kristy from the car ON THE WAY HOME takes the (sugar-free) cake.

April 25, 2010

BSC #38, Kristy’s Mystery Admirer: Her?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:19 pm by Jenn

Yeah, I can see why all the boys love Kristy

Summary: Kristy starts getting love letters (I know, right?), and at first she’s flattered, but then she gets creeped out because they turn dark. Her mystery admirer says he/she will remember her when she’s dead, and other weird stuff like that. Kristy and Shannon (who’s barely been mentioned since Kristy and the Snobs and is possibly featured more in this book than in any other) think Bart’s writing the notes to psych Kristy out since their teams will soon be facing off for a World Series.

Poor Bart gets the silent treatment from everyone until he finally confronts Kristy about the situation. It turns out he did write the love letters, but not the creepy ones. Those were from Cokie Mason, who wanted revenge for the events of Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery. Kristy’s only revenge is to tell everyone at school what Cokie did, then write her a stupid fake love note of her own. That’s weak, even for Kristy.

A lot of the other stuff in the book has to do with the World Series, which is really only one game, and not even a nine-inning game at that. And Kristy and Bart are pretty much officially dating now, which makes her the second girl in the BSC to get a steady boyfriend. Her? Yes, her. Also, Buddy Barrett develops a crush on Shannon, but that doesn’t go anywhere. Probably because Shannon is as boring to the ghostwriter as she is to the readers.

Thoughts: Seriously, Shannon is bossy and has no distinguishing personality. No wonder she barely appears in the series.

This book is so tame. If it were written today, Shannon would turn out to be the secret admirer and Cokie would be arrested for making death threats.

Kristy says that Shannon isn’t “gorgeous like Dawn or even attractive like Stacey. She’s more…interesting-looking.” Look, just because she’s not your type….

One of Kristy’s notes says she’s “as beautiful as a snow-covered mountain.” Frigid and insurmountable?

Stacey wears a fedora. Oh, sorry – a “distant” fedora. Also, Kristy and Bart go to a school Halloween dance dressed as lobsters. You read that right.

Mallory comes to a Krushers practice but apparently Stacey and Shannon don’t talk to her. Thus begins the dweebification of Mallory Pike.

February 7, 2010

BSC #29, Mallory and the Mystery Diary: Mallory Shuts Up and Does Something for Once

Posted in books tagged , , , at 12:40 pm by Jenn

Why does Mallory's room look like a senior citizen's guest room?

Summary: While helping Stacey and her mom unpack (since they’ve just moved back to Stoneybrook), Mallory finds an old trunk and takes it home. Inside is a bunch of stuff from the 1800s, including a diary that belonged to a 12-year-old girl named Sophie. Sophie tells of her mother’s death, the disappearance of a portrait of her mother, and her grandfather’s subsequent cutting-off of her father, who was accused of stealing the portrait. Mallory thinks that Stacey’s new house is haunted by the spirits of the people involved in this non-crime, and she wants to help them rest in peace, or something, so she sets to work trying to find out what happened to the portrait, with help from Buddy Barrett, who she’s been tutoring in reading.

Buddy finds Sophie’s grandfather’s confession in the trunk, and he and Mallory learn that the grandfather had the portrait painted over because he was so heartbroken about his daughter’s death that he couldn’t bear to look at her. When people asked where the portrait went, he let them think that it had been stolen, then further let them think that Sophie’s father was the culprit. So a man was shunned and cut off from his rightful inheritence because his father-in-law was sad. How nice. So Mallory solves the mystery, Buddy becomes a better reader, and Stacey’s house is proven not to be haunted. Just another day in Stoneybrook.

Thoughts: This is actually not a bad mystery. However, it’s also not solveable by the audience it’s targeted at. What preteen would think the portrait might have been painted over?

Mrs. Pike has told Mallory that when she turns 12, she can dress however she wants. As if there’s such a huge difference between being 11 and being 12. And as if there’s anything hugely appropriate about the clothes Mallory wants to wear. She’s a dork, Mrs. Pike. You have nothing to worry about. Let her wear jeans with zippers on the legs. (I had no idea those were cool in the ’80s.)

As annoying as I usually find Mallory, she seems like she would make a good teacher. She’s good with encouragement, the right balance of reward and punishment, and trying different things to help Buddy learn. Her idea to have Buddy practice reading and writing by reading comic books and then making his own is kind of brilliant.

So Karen thinks Kristy’s house is haunted, Dawn thinks her own house is haunted, and Mallory thinks Stacey’s house is haunted. Was all of Stoneybrook built on an Indian burial ground? What are the property values like there?

Dawn wears a straw hat. What the–?

Mary Anne and Dawn announce that their parents have been on 25 dates since reconnecting in Stoneybrook. Not 25 consecutive dates, mind you, since Dawn’s mom has been seeing other guys. And yet they get married in the next book. (Uh, spoiler.) Methinks the ghostwriters just wanted to speed things up.

October 21, 2009

BSC #5, Dawn and the Impossible Three: Hey, Did You Know Dawn is From California?

Posted in books tagged , , , at 11:28 pm by Jenn

Actually, Dawn is the impossible one

Actually, Dawn is the impossible one

Summary: Dawn starts baby-sitting for the Barrett kids, whose mom is going through a tough divorce and is having a difficult time taking care of her children while looking for a job. Dawn gets annoyed by Mrs. Barrett’s tendency to seemingly ignore her kids, let housework pile up, and not give her the information she needs about the kids. It all comes to a head when the oldest child, Buddy, disappears, having been basically kidnapped by his father as revenge for Mrs. Barrett forgetting that it was his turn to have custody. This gets Dawn to sit down with Mrs. Barrett and come up with some guidelines and rules they will follow to keep things running smoothly. Dawn is also trying to become friends with Kristy, who’s jealous that Mary Anne suddenly has a second best friend.

Thoughts: Dawn starts to show her true colors in this book. She complains about the weather in Connecticut (because it’s not as warm as it was in California), she tells Buddy he can’t play with toy guns while she’s baby-sitting, and she gets bent out of shape when Mrs. Barrett doesn’t pay her extra for doing housework. Oh, Dawn. Her books are going to get the most comments out of me.

First of all, California must be some magical place where the temperature never drops below 80 degrees, because Dawn finds 70-degree weather “chilly.” She thinks it’s too cold for May. Girl, 70 degrees in May is a dream. She thinks people will wear down jackets to her mom’s picnic. She makes a show of wearing warm clothes. If she were my child, I would give her the evil eye until she shut up. Has she never experienced 70-degree weather before? Really?

Second of all, I get not wanting kids to play with toy guns – I’m a Sunday School teacher, and I don’t let the kids play with pretend weapons in class. But that’s because it’s Sunday School. If I baby-sat for a kid with a toy gun, I wouldn’t forbid him or her to play with it, because that’s not my kid. The parents say it’s okay, so it’s okay. It’s their house, not mine.

Third of all, no one asked Dawn to do housework. She thinks the Barretts’ house is a mess, so she takes it upon herself to get the kids to clean it. Well, good for you, Ms. Schafer, but you’re the baby-sitter, not the housekeeper. Let Mrs. Barrett clean her own house. You watch the kids. Also, as for her not paying extra for the cleaning, Mrs. Barrett is a newly single mom with no job. She doesn’t care about what’s in Dawn’s piggy bank. She has three kids to keep fed.

Though she does go shopping an awful lot for a woman with money issues. Just sayin’.

This is the first book where Mallory Pike really makes an appearance. She briefly showed up in Mary Anne Saves the Day, but this book is where someone mentions how good she is with kids. There’s even foreshadowing about her joining the BSC someday.

Speaking of Mallory, she unknowingly highlights a big mistake in this book. She tells Dawn that Marnie, the youngest Barrett kid, is allergic to chocolate and will get sick if she eats any. But earlier in the book, Dawn mentions Marnie eating some M&Ms, and nothing comes of it. Oops! Also oops – Dawn the anti-sugar queen eats saltwater taffy in this book. Shut up, hypocrite.

And while Dawn is by far more annoying, Karen Brewer’s dreadfulness starts to rear its ugly head in this book. While she, Kristy, Andrew, and the lovely Hannie Papadakis are playing “Let’s All Come In,” she starts ordering people around. Why doesn’t anyone tell her to cut it out? Everyone always mentions that Karen’s bossy, but no one does anything about it. To me, that’s worse than kids playing with toy guns.

Also worse than kids playing with toy guns: Mr. Barrett basically kidnapping Buddy, then not getting arrested for it. Nowadays, he’d be in jail. Things really were different in the ’80s.

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