July 5, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.6, Claudia and Mean Janine: When Words Aren’t Enough

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 2:43 pm by Jenn

TV Janine dresses much different from book Janine

Everything is going great for Claudia – she has a nice group of friends, Trevor likes her, and she’s been asked to display her artwork in a show that could land her a spot in a summer art camp at Yale. Unfortunately, the good stuff doesn’t last. The big-name judge of the art show questions Claudia’s point of view in her artwork. Why does she choose the subjects she portrays? What is she trying to say? Claudia worries that her talent isn’t enough.

Then Mimi has a stroke. One of the more traumatic books of the series is made even more traumatic by the TV series when we learn that Mimi spent a few years of her childhood in an internment camp. Though the show doesn’t go into many details, since it’s aimed at kids, it mentions that American citizens of Japanese descent were kept from the rest of the population for no reason and treated like criminals. It’s something Mimi never talks about, but she has to relive the trauma after her stroke.

Janine, who speaks Japanese even though no one else in the family does, is able to get through to Mimi, which makes Claudia sad. The one person in her family she always felt understood her now doesn’t. Janine explains Mimi’s childhood trauma to Claudia, who knows a little about internment camps but never knew about Mimi’s experience. Later, when she’s studying for a history lesson on World War II, she connects with a picture of a little girl in a camp and draws her, finally creating something with a point of view.

Janine also tries to encourage Claudia and Mimi’s relationship by telling Claudia her art could help Mimi recover. People with aphasia (difficulty with language) often respond to drawings. Janine may be robotic and unemotional, but she’s also observant. She knows Claudia can contribute more than she thinks she can.

The details:

  • Claudia and Stacey redecorate Mary Anne’s room for her, and though she says she likes it, it doesn’t feel like home to her yet. She soon realizes it’s because the Humpty Dumpty painting isn’t there. When the girls realize her mother was the one who originally hung it up, Mary Anne puts it back on the wall, along with her mom’s baby picture and Richard’s picture of her mom hanging up the painting.
  • Speaking of Richard, he’s more aware of pop culture than I would have expected – he’s familiar with Queer Eye. (I know it’s supposed to be an inside-ish joke, since both shows are on Netflix, but still.)
  • The actress playing Janine plays her like she has Asperger’s, which would have been an interesting direction to take the character, but no one mentions it.
  • There’s a nice moment where Mary Anne wonders why she still has trouble talking to boys after her room makeover and wardrobe change. Kristy reminds her that she’s still herself; she didn’t turn into Stacey overnight.
  • Dawn calls refined sugar “legal poison.” There’s our girl.

The differences/changes:

  • Claudia makes her junk-food art series from book 49.
  • We officially meet Logan, but he doesn’t have a southern accent.
  • There’s no subplot about the BSC’s summer day camp, since the episode doesn’t take place during the summer. Plus, there’s only so much you can fit into half an hour.

July 3, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls: The Calls Are Claudia’s Inner Demons, and They’re Definitely Inside the House

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 2:49 pm by Jenn

They’re so cute together

The second episode veers away from the book a lot. The phantom caller is really a B-plot – there’s discussion of a possible burglar who makes calls from inside your house, but he’s more of an urban legend than a real threat. Kristy’s the only one who gets calls from an unknown number…but it turns out to be Mary Anne using an old phone.

The main plot is that Claudia is interested in Trevor and wants to go to the Halloween Hop with him. She has a math test coming up, and her parents agree to a suggestion Janine makes that she only be allowed to go to the dance if she passes the test. She fails, but Stacey lets Claudia pass off her 95% as her own. Claudia’s guilt gets the better of her and she comes clean, which means she has to skip the dance, but her parents are at least somewhat understanding about how their expectations hurt her. Claudia feels like she’s good at a lot of things, and she shouldn’t be so pressured into being good at school. Sadly, Claudia’s impressive homemade Tippi-Hedren-in-The-Birds costume goes to waste.

The details:

  • The Kishis and Mary Anne’s dad (Marc Evan Jackson, perfectly cast as always) are exactly like they are in the books. Richard is especially strict. His demeanor affects Mary Anne much more here than in the books.
  • Trevor gets more development than in the books. He’s an artist like Claudia, but he struggles to live up to his famous father’s expectations about his art. He’s very sweet, especially for a 12-year-old boy.
  • Claudia says Janine likes to correct people’s grammar on Reddit. What a perfect detail.
  • Even in the era of cell phones, Kristy and Mary Anne still communicate with flashlights through their windows.

The differences/changes:

  • Kristy finally sits for Karen and Andrew here, but instead of changing her attitude toward Watson, she just warms up to Karen.
  • Instead of a hyper-talkative brat, Karen is a macabre kid who looks like she could be a Victorian ghost in a horror movie. When Kristy’s sitting for her, she holds a wake for a doll. No prayers – “Krakatoa was an atheist.”
  • There’s no Alan, and Kristy doesn’t threaten violence against any children.
  • Charlotte’s mom, a doctor in the books, is the middle school art teacher. (Oops, I screwed this up. Clearly the one who isn’t the art teacher is the doctor.) She’s also in an interracial same-sex relationship. I think if the show does another season and they bring in Jessi, her adjustment to life in Stoneybrook will be a lot easier than in the books.

December 10, 2013

BSC #128, Claudia and the Little Liar: The Baby-Sitters vs. the Red Scare

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:21 pm by Jenn

Claudia's ponytail looks weird

Claudia’s ponytail looks weird

Summary: While Claudia’s sitting for the Braddocks, Haley lies about a homework assignment and Claudia accidentally rats her out to her parents. Haley’s mad that Claudia got her in trouble, so she tries to turn all the kids she knows against the BSC girls, saying they’re all spies for the kids’ parents. After all, the parents are the ones who pay the sitters, so why wouldn’t the girls tell them what they want to hear? Haley tries to drum up some anti-spy sentiment, just like a little Joseph McCarthy.

This continues forever, with Haley telling lie after lie and getting in more and more trouble with her parents. The other kids side with her; apparently it makes more sense to them that their beloved sitters are the bad guys than that Haley is just a pathological liar. Claudia keeps sitting for the Braddocks, and things get so bad that the Braddocks decide Claud shouldn’t come over anymore until they figure things out with Haley.

Eventually Mary Anne comes up with the idea of role-playing: Haley and Claudia will act out one of the situations that led to lying so that the Braddocks can figure out what really happened. It doesn’t go well – Haley just lies some more. But then she gets upset and runs off, so Claudia follows to talk to her, and gets her to admit that she’s having trouble with her schoolwork. Since Claudia can sympathize, she’s not really mad anymore. And now that the truth is out, Haley can stop lying about freaking everything.

The B-plot is about Claudia’s relationship with Josh, her previously friendzoned boyfriend. Turns out he should have been left in the friendzone, because they don’t really like each other like that. Well, Claudia doesn’t like him like that. I’m not convinced that he doesn’t just pretend to say the same thing so they can stay friends.

The C-plot is about how Kristy is coaching a girls’ basketball team. I guess Kristy’s good at every sport?

Thoughts: Can there really be Nancy Drews that Claudia hasn’t read yet?

How did the Braddocks not notice that Haley was having problems with her schoolwork? I always thought they were pretty attentive parents.

I miss awesome Haley. Come back, awesome Haley!

October 2, 2013

BSC #123, Claudia’s Big Party: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Posted in books tagged , , at 6:32 pm by Jenn

That bag of spilled food makes me sad

That bag of spilled food makes me sad

Summary: In a nutshell, Claudia throws a party and gets caught.

In a larger nutshell, Mr. and Mrs. Kishi go out of town for a few days and let Claudia and Janine stay home by themselves. Claudia’s been having trouble finding time to hang out with all her friends – the BSC girls and the friends she made while she was in the seventh grade – and she decides that throwing a party is a good way for them all to get to know each other. Janine okays the idea, and they decide not to ask their parents’ permission.

The party gets off to a bad start when uninvited guests show up. Apparently someone (LOGAN) mentioned the party to a few non-BSC people and said it was okay if they came. This means there isn’t enough food for everyone. (I don’t know why they don’t just order another pizza.) Janine is supposed to be in charge, but she’s been feeling lonely thanks to her lack of boyfriend and being distant from her friends, so she just hangs out with her sister’s friends and doesn’t act like a chaperone.

Josh also gets more and more annoyed because things are getting out of control and he doesn’t get to spend any time with Claudia. (That’s an ongoing theme in the book. Josh is a tiny bit annoying.) It’s not like anything scandalous is going on, though. The kids are decorating cookies and listening to music and eating pizza. My friends and I had crazier parties, and trust me our parties were the exact opposite of crazy. But some of the kids do get a little rowdy, and a vase gets broken, and suddenly we’re supposed to think they’re in a war zone or something.

Then Russ and Peaches stop by and bust their nieces for throwing a party without their parents’ permission. All the party guests get kicked out, and Claudia and Janine dutifully clean up the house, dreading their parents’ return. When Mr. and Mrs. Kishi do come home, the girls rat themselves out before Russ and Peaches can, but their parents’ anger is soothed by the fact that the girls have cleaned everything up and cooked dinner. Oh, and their friends replaced the vase.

In the super-stupid B-plot, the Korman kids have been fighting, so Mary Anne pretends they’re locked out of the house to make them work together. No, that’s really it.

Thoughts: If I were the Kishis, I might actually be glad that Janine broke some rules. This is the most normal thing she’s ever done.

Mrs. Kishi, freaking out about leaving the girls alone at home: “If you do feel ill…” Janine: “I’ll call the pediatrician, Russ and Peaches, the Simpsons, the neighbors, and put an ad in the paper.” Heh.

Janine’s discovered the Internet, so now she’s unstoppable. And despite her high intelligence and academic leanings, I bet she still likes cat pictures.

Hi, girls? It’s not your job to fix sibling rivalries. Your job is to keep the kids alive until their parents come home. If you keep doing the parents’ job, they’ll never learn.

May 15, 2013

BSC #117, Claudia and the Terrible Truth: Bummerville, Population: Everyone

Posted in books tagged , , , at 6:32 pm by Jenn

Sorry, I am out of snark at this time. Please check back later

Sorry, I am out of snark at this time. Please check back later

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.

February 19, 2013

BSC #113, Claudia Makes Up Her Mind: Bad Idea Jeans

Posted in books tagged , , , at 8:15 pm by Jenn

Josh looks ten. Mark looks annoying

Josh looks ten. Mark looks annoying

Summary: Remember when Claudia was bumped back to seventh grade? Apparently she’s done really well there. But instead of having her continue to repeat the year, her teachers and guidance counselor decide to give her the option of going back to eighth grade. She can either continue to thrive in classes she actually understands, or she can go back to struggling to pass her classes. Yes, this seems like a great idea.

Claudia, to her credit, takes her time considering her options. And because she’s a teenager, her schoolwork isn’t the only thing she thinks about. There are her friends, which she has in both grades. There’s the fact that she’s queen of the seventh grade. And there’s her boyfriend, Mark. Even when he keeps flaking out on her and proves to be a typical immature 13-year-old boy, Claudia wants to keep dating him.

That is, until she finds out that her friend Josh has a massive crush on her. (This is the guy she friendzoned in the past.) Their seventh-grade friends are pretty shocked that Claudia hasn’t picked up on his obsession with her, but she has her head in the clouds 95 percent of the time, so they should have expected that. Just like a 13-year-old girl, Claudia doesn’t have any interest in Josh past friendship until she finds out he likes her. Then all of a sudden she has another decision to make: Mark or Josh?

Long story short: She picks Josh and eighth grade. And everyone’s all, “Oh, you’ll do great, we’ll help you, you’ve come so far.” Yeah, we’ll see.

The kids at SMS are doing a color war, so the B-plot is them putting on a color war with their sitting charges. It’s dumb and boring.

Thoughts: If the school will give Claudia tutors when she goes back to eighth grade, why didn’t they provide them before, when she was failing eighth grade? And really, they shouldn’t have sent her back to seventh grade. They should have waited until the end of the year and had her repeat eighth grade, since that’s the year she had trouble with. But of course, that never would have happened, since the girls are trapped in eighth grade for all eternity.

Though I don’t agree with her, I like Janine’s logic: Claudia should go back to eighth grade so she doesn’t have to spend an extra year in middle school.

Abby completes a three-legged race by dragging her partner over the finish line on his back. And that’s why I love Abby.

January 22, 2013

BSC Mystery #32, Claudia and the Mystery in the Painting: You’re My Favorite Work of Art

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:23 pm by Jenn

That painting is silently judging Claudia's outfit

That painting is silently judging Claudia’s outfit

Summary: The BSC’s newest clients are the Cook/Madden family. Mom Rebecca is the granddaughter of one of Claudia’s favorite painters, Grandmother Madden. She’s in town to settle Grandmother Madden’s estate and clear out the house. Claudia’s excited because she thinks there might be some paintings in the house, but Rebecca says that after a bad review, her grandmother destroyed all her artwork. The only paintings in the house are from her students. Grandmother Madden’s grandchildren are the only ones with any of her paintings, and Rebecca’s the only one of them who actually likes hers, since she’s also a painter. The other grandkids won’t participate in the estate sale because they don’t think they’ll get any money.

The BSC girls help with the estate sale, and since this is a mystery, weird stuff starts happening. Mr. Ogura, who works with the company holding the sale, keeps popping up and acting weird. Claudia also keeps spotting a woman who looks a lot like Rebecca. Rebecca’s husband, Mr. Cook, isn’t too thrilled to be involved with the estate sale, and has told his wife that he doesn’t support her decision to apply for art school. He also doesn’t support his seven-year-old son Jimmy’s love of painting. Mr. Cook is kind of a jerk.

Other mysterious happenings: A yellow cat named Goldie shows up. Well, that’s not really mysterious, but Rebecca does mention that her grandmother had a series of yellow cats, all named Goldie. In fact, she put a little yellow cat in the corner of all of her paintings. And Claudia finds a painting she likes of a Japanese woman, but it goes missing. There are all sorts of scenes with paintings being delivered and moved around, and it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on, but the bottom line is that none of the artwork in the house seems to be Grandmother Madden’s.

Since Claudia’s only smart when it involves art, she figures out what Mr. Ogura and the mystery woman are after. The painting of the Japanese woman was painted over two of Grandmother Madden’s paintings stuck together. Instead of destroying her artwork, Grandmother Madden let her students paint over them. Also, the mystery woman is Rebecca’s cousin, who was hoping to get her hands on some paintings. Claudia busts her and Mr. Ogura, who were working together, after they lock her in a closet, which is really creepy when you think about it. I mean, she’s 13.

The B-plot is also artsy: The girls are asked to help out with a new children’s art room at the Stoneybrook Museum. Ms. O’Neal, the woman who runs the room, is clueless about children and art, and thinks they should have structured assignments. The woman is so uptight she literally clutches her pearls. The girls have to keep convincing her that the kids should be allowed to explore and experiment. What’s nice, though, is that once Ms. O’Neal sees the kids’ artwork, she shows that she knows what to say to them and how to praise their efforts.

Thoughts: Mr. Cook doesn’t think Jimmy should paint because painting is something you learn to do in kindergarten. Oh, yeah? Well, I learned math in kindergarten. Should I stop using math, Mr. Cook? In the end, he does become more supportive, but if I were Rebecca and my husband thought so little of something I was passionate about, I would think seriously about whether I wanted to stay in that marriage.

Abby tells Corrie Addison she’s a great painter – as good as Pele. Really, she couldn’t think of one artist?

Stacey carries a calculator in her purse. *cough*nerd*cough

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to stop writing – I learned the alphabet in kindergarten, so it’s no longer something I should be using.

September 4, 2012

BSC #106, Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade: 10 Things I Hate About This Book

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:46 pm by Jenn

Surprise! Claudia’s actually been hanging out with a bunch of nine-year-olds!

Summary: Claudia’s adjusting to being in the seventh grade, doing better in her classes and making friends. When she’s nominated as queen of the seventh grade, she realizes how popular she is. Then she wins and has to plan the seventh-grade prom with Mark, the most popular guy in the grade. He’s your typical cocky teenager, and all the girls love him. He’s like Cary Retlin crossed with Alan Gray, but desirable. And of course, he has a softer side, like when he admits to Claudia that he was held back in the third grade.

Despite her newfound popularity, Claudia finds that being the queen isn’t that fun. Planning the dance is a lot of work, and Mark isn’t very helpful. Plus, the BSC girls aren’t really supportive and don’t care about her seventh-grade social life. Claudia and Mark kiss, and the girls flip out because he’s so immature and Claudia hates him and he’s, you know, not in the eighth grade. Claudia finally tells them all to shut up because she’s no longer in the eighth grade either.

The dance goes fine, but Claudia and Mark never talk about their kiss. She talks to her seventh-grade friends about it, including Josh, who clearly has a crush on her that she’s clearly oblivious to. And then she totally friendzones him! Anyway, Claudia and Mark have to dance to the official seventh-grade song, and they kiss again, so apparently that means they’re dating, even though they never talked about their feelings for each other or anything. Yay, middle school!

The B-plot is familiar: Sean Addison is ten and thinks he’s too old for a sitter (shades of Jeff Schafer and the Pike triplets). But he’s clearly not mature enough to watch his sister while their parents are out. The BSC girls try to give him freedom while they’re sitting, but he doesn’t quite follow the rules. One day he tells his parents there are no sitters available to watch him, so he’ll have to stay by himself. He tries to wash the dishes but uses the wrong kind of soap. Stacey comes to his rescue and tells him he’s not doing a great job of proving that he’s responsible. This is obviously a problem between Sean and his parents, but that family’s all kinds of messed up, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s never any conclusion there.

Thoughts: Everyone in this book is annoying. Shut up, everyone. I mean, seriously:

  • Kristy acts like Claudia’s still an eighth-grader who just happens to be taking different classes. She thinks Claudia being the queen doesn’t mean anything even though Claudia thinks it’s an honor. She also chastises Claudia for letting her seventh-grade friends leave messages on her answering machine, since it’s the club’s line. (Watch yourself, Kristy. Claudia only lets you all use her phone out of the kindness of her heart.)
  • Stacey keeps calling Claudia’s seventh-grade friends immature.
  • Abby refers to Josh as “the little one.” I mean, I don’t like him either, but come on.
  • Mark is, like I said, a typical seventh-grade boy, and what’s more annoying than that?
  • Josh is the tagalong kid brother you just can’t shake. In some ways, he’s more annoying than Mark.
  • Sean is a total brat to his sister, which is definitely not the way to get your parents to back off.

It just made me hate the whole book.

There’s a girl in the seventh-grade named Duryan. What kind of name is Duryan?

The prom is publicized all over town, which is stupid since it’s only open to SMS seventh-graders.

Claudia thinking one kiss is nothing but two means a relationship might be the most 13-year-old thing about her.

July 17, 2012

BSC Mystery #27, Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost: Mad Hatt-ers

Posted in books tagged , , , at 8:33 pm by Jenn

I kind of want Claud’s jacket

Summary: A family named the Hatts stay with the Kishis when they return to Stoneybrook after being away for a few years. There was some sort of scandal surrounding their departure, but the BSC girls don’t know much about it. It seems like it had something to do with Stoneybrook’s lighthouse (yes, really), which the Hatts own. Some digging around nets the girls the information that a teenage boy named Adrian Langley died after falling out of the lighthouse. Mr. Hatt tried to save him, but Adrian’s father still blames him for Adrian’s death.

The BSC girls help with the Hatts’ lighthouse clean-up, and Claudia finds a note saying something about the reader being “one of us” if he/she can last a night in the lighthouse. It also has a drawing of a gargoyle on it. Janine sees the note and says the gargoyle looks like the one over the door to Stoneybrook High School. The girls learn that there was a gang (yeah, I bet – Stoneybrook doesn’t know what a gang is) that adopted the gargoyle as a mascot, so the note was probably part of an initiation ritual.

Meanwhile, the Hatts are receiving threatening notes (mostly playing on their last name) telling them to leave Stoneybrook. The girls suspect two of the Hatt kids, Laura and Steve, might be sending the notes. The lighthouse is also smoke-bombed. No one seriously thinks a ghost is involved, contrary to the book’s title; the girls alternately suspect Mr. Langley, Adrian’s brother Paul, Steve, and Janine’s boyfriend Jerry, who’s been kind of a jerk lately.

Paul lets the girls see Adrian’s room, where Claudia snags a photo of some of his friends. She finds out later that Adrian isn’t in the picture. She thinks that the photo is of the gang members, and that one of them is trying to keep everyone away from the lighthouse. At a party Steve throws in the lighthouse, Claudia learns she’s right. One of the guys in the photo sneaks in, turns out the lights, and falls, because he’s a moron. He explains that he wanted to get back into the lighthouse and retrieve the note the gang left for Adrian before the Hatts could find it. (Why he waited almost ten years to do this isn’t explained.) Now everyone likes the Hatts, including Mr. Langley, and Jerry and Janine are okay again, even though she kind of had her eye on Steve.

Also there’s a comet, and the kids in town think it’ll make bad things happen, but Kristy lets them know they’re idiots. It’s dumb.

Thoughts: Suddenly there’s a lighthouse in Stoneybrook? To go along with the coastline we’ve heard so much about?

A party for a comet viewing is proof that Kristy has lost all control.

Claudia: “Sunday? That’s in two days!” Janine: “Your math is improving.” I love you, Janine.

Ben Hobart scares some kids with comet stories, and Abby says that if they can’t sleep that night, she’ll have their parents call them. But three of the kids he scares are his own brothers, so that makes no sense.

Charlie: “Steve Hatt!” Me: “Steve Holt!”

Hey, Adam, “you’re still ugly” only works as an insult if it’s NOT directed at your identical triplet.

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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