November 1, 2010

BSC Super Special #9, Starring the Baby-sitters Club!: Jessi Ramsey is Better Than You. At Everything. EVERYTHING

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:45 pm by Jenn

Is it just me, or does Stacey look like a dude?

Summary: Stoneybrook Elementary, Middle, and High Schools put on a production of Peter Pan, and some of the BSC girls, their siblings, and their charges try out. And then there’s drama. Lots of drama.

Jessi thinks she’s a shoe-in for the role of Peter, since she’s a dancer and has tons of stage experience. She is wrong. Kristy winds up with the role, and Jessi is told by the director, Mr. Cheney, that even though she’s a good dancer, she’s no better at singing or acting than Kristy. Jessi is, to put it mildly, murderous with rage over the turn of events, and when she’s cast as an Indian, she withdraws from the show. She’s further disappointed when the other BSC girls, especially Kristy, refuse to put up with her crap. (It’s awesome.)

Jessi becomes the assistant choreographer, but then gets mad when Mr. Cheney won’t recognize that she’s basically his righthand gal and he would cease to exist without her help. On opening night, Pete Black, who’s supposed to be playing Nana and the crocodile, breaks his nose and can’t play his parts, so Jessi agrees to fill in for him. I’m sure she wishes she’d thought of breaking Kristy’s nose so she could take her place.

Kristy actually wanted to be Nana and the crocodile, so she’s really surprised when she lands the lead. Her plot mainly involves her struggling to memorize her lines, and having to deal with Cokie and her issues. (Cokie’s playing Tiger Lily.) Kristy wins this round, singing all of Cokie’s solo lines with her.

Dawn is cast as Wendy and takes it upon herself to modernize the play, since she finds it sexist. No one puts up with her crap either.

Stacey is Mrs. Darling, and Sam is cast as her husband. He keeps joking around, which drives her crazy, and he finally admits that he was just trying to show his friends how much fun he has with Stacey, since they’ve been teasing him about dating a middle-schooler. They actually solve their problems through communication, which is amazing.

Mary Anne becomes the “backstage babysitter,” looking after all the kids in the play. Mallory is working on costumes but finds herself bored a lot, so she tries to impinge on Mary Anne’s territory. Mary Anne awesomely stands up to her, getting her to back off.

Claudia helps design the sets. That’s it.

Jackie Rodowsky is Michael Darling, and he inadvertently causes all sorts of problems by complaining that they’re not allowed to really fly and by being scared of Pete in the crocodile costume. He gets straightened out with a good talking-to from Mr. Cheney, and he overcomes his herpetophobia when he finds out Jessi will be in the costume.

Karen whines her way into the role of Tinker Bell and is generally a little gnat who never shuts up.

The play goes well. Happy ending!

Thoughts: This was one of my favorite Super Specials when I was a kid – I was big into theater, especially musicals, and I loved books about people putting on plays. I also watched the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan numerous times when I was younger. (Hey, just like Squirt!)

Why is Jessi, not Mallory, writing for the school paper?

Do we really have to call the play a “musical extravaganza”? It’s…not really that exciting.

I’m surprised Dawn wants to play Tiger lily, considering the unPC-ness of the role.

Stacey sings “Mack the Knife” at her audition. I’m going to need a ruling from Simon Cowell. What’s that, Simon? Boring, old-fashioned, and forgettable? I agree.

Why would Dawn waltz at her audition? I haven’t seen Peter Pan for a little while, but I’m pretty sure Tiger Lily doesn’t waltz.

Uh, Cokie and I watch the same soap opera. I bet Carly is her favorite character.

You know why Karen’s so annoying? Because people keep enabling her. Mr. Cheney should have ignored her and not given in to her demands to be Tinker Bell. Let her learn at an early age that life isn’t fair. (Though points to him for giving her a non-speaking role.)

So they cast a bunch of elementary-school kids in the play but don’t get anyone to look after them? This seems like a top-notch production.

Mary Anne: “Peter promised her and her brothers an adventure, didn’t he?” Dawn: “Oh, that’s just like a man. They always say stuff like that.” Dawn. You’re 13. The only man you know is your father, and his promises all involve Disneyland. On the other hand, I don’t exactly appreciate Mary Anne saying, “So what if the play is sexist?” Uh, you should, actually. Anyway, if Dawn has such a problem with the play, why did she audition in the first place?

The actors are expected to start memorizing their lines after about two rehearsals. Seriously?

I love how they skip over all the boring stuff and suddenly it’s, like, a week before the show opens. Makes sense to me.

Aw, my high school choir director/theater teacher said, “Sing out, Louise,” too. I miss him.

Dawn’s dad can’t come to the play, so Richard tapes it for him and gives her flowers. Aw, Richard’s all right.

September 10, 2010

BSC Super Special #8, Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake: Nothing Happens

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:41 pm by Jenn

Hey, where's Mallory's beekeeper get-up?

Summary: Watson’s aunt and uncle want to leave him a cabin at a lake in their will, and they invite him and his brood to check it out for a couple of weeks to see if he likes it. Kristy, of course, invites the whole BSC. There are numerous “adventures”:

Kristy makes everyone keep a diary of the trip to convince Watson that they really like the cabin. This includes much popping into other people’s diary entries to drive the point home. She also learns to drive a speedboat.

Stacey finds herself the target of Sam‘s inability to flirt. He does that eight-year-old boy thing where he teases her because he likes her. It would be cute if, you know, he were actually eight, but he’s 15, so it’s just annoying. Thanks to Charlie, who is always awesome, Sam finally straight-out tells Stacey he likes her, so I guess they’re together now.

Dawn is obsessed with a Lake Monster she’s sure exists, as well as the story of a family who lived in town and vanished without a trace. She’s incredibly annoying (even more so than Sam).

Jessi meets a guy named Daniel and kind of develops a crush on him, despite the fact that she can’t think of one thing they have in common. Then she decides she’d rather be with Quint, but it’s okay because Daniel has a girlfriend back home.

Mallory is bitten and stung by every bug at the lake. She starts wearing mosquito netting and using way too much bug spray, which makes the other girls be nasty to her, for no apparent reason. I mean, I get that they’re embarrassed, but geez, she’s supposed to be their friend.

Claudia decorates a speedboat for a boat parade. It’s boring and dumb.

Mary Anne doesn’t actually have a plot. She just watches the little kids.

Karen and her friends (Hannie and Nancy) find a playhouse in the woods, which David Michael and his friends (Nicky and Linny) want to play in. The boys decide to build a fort instead, and the kids bet the performance of each other’s chores that each group will have the better playhouse.

Then there’s a dance, for some reason. And then they all go home, and Watson decides he wants the cabin. And amazingly, it does come up again in other books.

Thoughts: Watson tells the Brewer/Thomas kids they can invite friends to the lake “within reason.” Kristy hears, “We’ll take an extra car so you can bring six people along.”

Charlie jokingly suggests leaving Karen behind because there’s so little room in the cars. Again, I must ask Charlie to marry me.

Why the heck do they take the cat with them??

Sam tells Stacey she looks ravishing, then says he’s glad she arrived at the lake unscathed. Someone’s been studying for the SAT!

Mallory complains about having to share a room. Did she think there were 20 bedrooms? Now I get why the others are so mean to her.

Another vacation where the parents spend no time with the kids and the BSC girls are always watching them. This time, though, they sit for free. There really are no child-labor laws in Stoneybrook, are there?

David Michael’s handwriting is waaaaaay too nice for a seven-year-old.

I get David Michael and Karen doing each other’s chores, and Hannie and Linny doing each other’s chores, since they’re siblings, but what are Nicky and Nancy getting out of this bet?

I would call bull on Emily Michelle being able to write an E, but my two-year-old niece can write the first letter of her name. And I really just wanted to brag about that.

Why does the ghostwriter think kids don’t use contractions? It’s really distracting. Oh, sorry – it is really distracting.

Claudia doesn’t know what “gutsy” means. Y’all, she’s Kellie Pickler dumb.

Why is Dawn so afraid of the island when she lives in a supposedly haunted house? Oh, right, to annoy me.

Jessi thinks Daniel’s going to profess his love for her at the dance. I wouldn’t be 11 again for all the money in the world.

July 18, 2010

BSC Super Special #7, Snowbound: This is What Happens When You Ignore the Weatherman

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

Maybe Mallory wouldn't feel so dorky if she didn't wear such dorky glasses

Summary: The weather forecast calls for snow. Everyone ignores it and gets stranded. That’s what they get.

Stacey and her mom are on their way back from the mall when they get lost on a back road and run out of gas. They’re faced with spending the night in the car and trying not to freeze to death, but some random guy finds them and takes them to his house (don’t worry, he’s married and has a kid, so he’s not a serial killer or anything).

Kristy has invited Bart over for the afternoon/evening, and he gets stranded with her entire family. Karen is at her most irritating. Kristy doesn’t want Bart to see her as a mess in the morning, so she gets up super-early and curls her hair and puts on makeup. Her brothers make fun of her, which she totally deserves.

Jessi is at dance class when the blizzard hits, and there are a bunch of little kids there (they’re rehearsing for a production of The Nutcracker), so she gets to put her sitting skills to good use. Quint is coming to town for a school dance, and he winds up walking to the dance school when Jessi’s dad can’t make it to pick him up.

Mary Anne and Mallory are watching the Pike kids while Mr. and Mrs. Pike go to New York for the day. They run out of food, so Logan brings some over on cross-country skis.

Dawn and her mom go to the airport to pick up Jeff, but his plane is rerouted to D.C. and they have to spend the night in the airport. Dawn whines a lot.

Claudia is sitting for the Perkins girls and winds up having to spend the night with them.

The premise of the book is that Kristy wants the newspaper to publish an article about the BSC girls’ experiences during the blizzard. I’m pretty sure no one cares, Kristy.

Thoughts: The girls’ parents are apparently totally okay with their 13-year-old daughters spending the night taking care of kids. Are they even allowed to spend the night on their own, without other living beings depending on them?

Kristy’s totally invading Mallory’s territory by trying to write a newspaper article. She’s also annoying – she says to the editor, “If you want to pay me, I wouldn’t mind. How much do reporters earn? (I won’t be too picky.)” Shut up already.

Claudia spells disappointed “disapperntened.” Oh, come on, she’s not that stupid.

Claire hears about all her parents’ plans for their day in New York and asks,” Will you ever get to go to the bathroom?” Love it.

I call bull on Mrs. Pike almost running out of food. Wouldn’t she buy everything in bulk and have more than enough?

Bart looks nothing like I imagined. He looks kind of like the guy who played Alan Gray in the BSC movie. So I guess Kristy has a type.

All of the Pike kids sing in the morning. I would kill them.

I’m sure it’s totally a coincidence that Dawn and her mother, who are vegetarians, hit a mailbox shaped like a cow.

Apparently no one in Stoneybrook takes weather forecasts seriously. Around here, people mob the grocery store and stock up on rock salt when even an inch of snow is predicted.

“There was ice cream, too. It was behind the pie, where no one could see it, but Sam sensed its presence.” Heh.

Sharon says Mary Anne’s one bad habit is worrying too much. So crying all the time is a lovable affectation?

Quint, whose parents most likely don’t know where he is during the blizzard: “If my parents want to worry, that’s their choice.” Quint’s kind of a jerk.

Mallory seems to think global warming means it’ll never snow again. Stop talking, Mallory.

Hold up – David Michael, Karen, Andrew, and Emily Michelle all share one bathroom, and Charlie, Sam, and Kristy share another? In that ginormous house? I don’t think so.

June 12, 2010

BSC Super Special #6, New York, New York!: Now Who’s the Walking Guidebook, Ann M. Martin?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:44 pm by Jenn

Claudia's wearing shorts over leggings. I fear it's too late for her

Summary: The BSC girls have a two-week break from school (aren’t all of their breaks two weeks long?) and decide to go to New York. Much describing of the city ensues.

Claudia and Mallory take classes with a famous artist/one of Claudia’s idols. He gives Mallory a lot of encouragement but only chastises Claudia for sketching too quickly and not focusing. Claudia takes out her anger over the situation on poor Mallory, who fails to stand up for herself and tell Claudia to step off, like I would. At the end of the two weeks, Claudia finally asks the teacher if she has any talent, since she’d rather just quit now if she doesn’t. He tells her that she’s one of the most talented 13-year-olds he’s ever come across, but she needs discipline and focus. Also, she’s better than Mallory. Claudia’s happy again and apologizes to Mallory, who totally lets the whole thing go even though Claudia was a total bitca to her the whole time.

Stacey and Mary Anne babysit for two British kids, the children of some sort of government officials or something (it’s very vague), and show them around the city. They realize that a guy in sunglasses and a rain hat keeps showing up, and they decide that he must be following them so he can kidnap one or both of the kids. When they finally decide to tell the kids’ parents, they learn that the man is actually the kids’ bodyguard. The parents didn’t tell Mary Anne or Stacey he would be tagging along so they wouldn’t freak out, and the kids didn’t know he was coming because they wanted to be normal, or something. It’s actually kind of a clever plot.

Jessi meets a male dancer named Quint who’s good enough to try out for Juilliard but doesn’t want to because the guys in his neighborhood already make fun of him for taking ballet. She eventually talks him into auditioning and gets her first kiss in return.

Dawn is terrified of the city and won’t leave Stacey’s dad’s apartment. A guy in the building named Richie comes by and convinces her to do some stuff, managing to show her that New York is awesome.

Kristy finds a dog and sneaks it into Laine’s apartment, hiding it from Laine’s parents. Watson won’t let her bring the dog home to Stoneybrook, so she has to find it an owner in New York. She does. It’s dull. Though it’s kind of hilarious when Kristy finds out that, contrary to her belief, the building does allow dogs and she didn’t have to keep sneaking it in and out.

Thoughts: “My mother says I am a pack rat. So what? Pack rats are probably very nice animals.” I love you, Claudia. Though not so much in this book. You’re more annoying than Dawn the Fraidy Cat.

Mary Anne brings Tigger to the train station to say goobye. Just when I think she can’t get any more pathetic….

I find Dawn’s huge fear of the city out of character for her. It would make more sense for Mary Anne, since she’s a chicken about everything else, but she loves New York almost as much as she loves Tigger.

The boys in Quint’s neighborhood call him a sissy for being a male dancer. He’s lucky they don’t know any other words.

Quint’s mom: “Are you and your brother going to be pests today?” Quint’s brother: “No, we’re going to be pests tomorrow. Today we plan to be pains. Is that okay?” Hee hee hee.

Egg creams have never appealed to me. Soda and milk? No, thanks.

Are there really 11-year-olds at Juilliard? (A quick look at their website says no: Students have to be at least 16 to audition.)

I would love to know how much money every aspect of this trip cost. Dinner for eight at Tavern on the Green alone would be pretty expensive.

May 10, 2010

BSC Super Special #5, California Girls!: Neither Super Nor Special

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 10:30 pm by Jenn

Enjoy this picture, 'cause it's the only one we get

Summary: The BSC girls win the lottery (…just go with it) and decide to spend the money on a two-week trip to California. It’s a super special, so everyone gets a storyline:

Dawn is really frustrated with Carol, her dad’s girlfriend, who hangs out with the BSC girls the whole time, in some ways acting like a teenager. Carol eventually acts more like an adult and Dawn realizes that she’s much more likable that way. She tells her father that she’d be okay with him marrying Carol, and even writes Carol a letter telling her all of her feelings.

Claudia meets a guy named Terry who, as she describes him, is basically a male Janine. They have a couple of awkward dates because Claudia feels dumb compared to him, but when she finally relaxes and is herself, things click. Of course, they’re only 13 and live on opposite sides of the country, so this will never go anywhere.

Stacey takes up surfing and hangs out with a bunch of high schoolers. They get into a car wreck because the driver is a complete idiot, and she realizes that she was doing unsafe things. (No one mentions that she was spending her whole vacation with people who weren’t the friends she came to California with, but whatever.)

Mallory wants to be a California girl so badly that she dyes her hair blond. She still gets overlooked, including by a casting director, and her friends have to beat it into her that they liked the old Mallory better. No word what they’ll do about her apparent body dysmorphic disorder.

Jessi has pretty much the same plot she did in Jessi and the Superbrat, even down to having Derek Masters in the story. Nothing happens.

Mary Anne is a walking guide book. She also babysits for a girl named Stephie who has asthma, and freaks out and becomes overprotective, a lot like her father. The girl does eventually have an asthma attack, but it’s after Mary Anne has already calmed down about the whole thing, so she’s able to handle the situation well.

Kristy wants to show up the We ♥ Kids Club, Dawn’s friends’ sorry BSC rip-off, so she accepts a sitting job with two little hellions. She proceeds to suck at keeping them under control. I always knew she was all talk.

Thoughts: I’m sad that there are no ridiculous pictures in this super special. That’s what usually makes them so special! And super!

Even though I’ve never been in her situation, I understand Dawn’s feelings toward Carol. I’m sure a lot of 13-year-old daddy’s girls would find their father’s new girlfriend annoying. But Dawn shows a lot of maturity in starting to accept Carol and even respect her.

Why would you buy a lottery ticket for your 13-year-old daughter? And why would all of the BSC girls’ parents let them spend their $1,428.57 each on a trip instead of college or something? Especially Mary Anne’s father or Mallory’s parents, who just had a bout of unemployment and have to send eight kids to college?

Claudia wears a red shirt with sombreros and cacti on it, blue and white striped pants, polka-dotted suspenders, an engineer’s cap, and cowboy boot earrings. Where did she get an engineer’s cap?

Dawn asks for chicken on the plane. Shoot the ghostwriter.

I’m sorry, Mallory knows how a mortgage works but not what asthma is? And she knows who Marilyn Monroe is but not who Alfred Hitchcock is? You guys, Mallory’s a moron.

Ten-year-olds listen to the Grateful Dead? Really?

The girls keep going to the mall. They’re spending their lottery winnings at the freaking mall. This is why teenagers shouldn’t have access to so much money.

If I were Mr. Schafer and my daughter’s friend dyed her hair without her parents’ permission while she was in my care, I would be on the phone with her parents so fast, it would reverse the Earth’s rotation and we would travel back in time to before the dye was ever purchased.

Jessi thinks Derek will have her picked up in a limo, and she plans to say, “This is just like the one at home.” Jessi’s imagination rivals Karen’s.

Kristy thinks the We ♥ Kids Club has a stupid name. Well, yes, but it’s not like the BSC has the most original name.

Claudia describes Universal Studios as “a theme park like Disney land but it isn’t Disneyland.” Who says Claud is dumb?

Mary Anne corrects Jessi’s grammar. Shut up and read your tour books, Frommer’s.

What’s up with Terry being 13 and liking French restaurants and foreign films? That’s just…not normal.

Jenny Prezzioso wants to name her new baby brother or sister Yucky Toilet. Now that is realistic for a four-year-old.

Every time I hear something about Elaine Stritch, I think of this book, since she appears on Derek’s TV show. I’m weird.

Why does Stacey have to tell her parents she was in a car accident but Mallory doesn’t have to tell her parents she dyed her hair? It would be much more in keeping with Mallory’s ongoing loser-ness for things to happen the other way around.

April 11, 2010

BSC, The Summer Before: Growing Up is Awfuller Than All the Awful Things That Ever Were

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Should Kristy be offended that her bracelet has a dog bone?

Summary: In the months before the series begins, Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey struggle through the summer, dealing with tons of issues that all pretty much come down to one thing – growing up is really, really tough.

Kristy is about to turn 12, and all she wants for her birthday is some sort of contact from her estranged father. She also really doesn’t want her mom’s boyfriend Watson around, partly because she likes her family the way it is and partly because she doesn’t want Watson to replace her father. Kristy gets her hopes up way too much, and when her father doesn’t show, she beats herself up for putting so much faith in him. Mary Anne creates Kristy Day to cheer her up.

Claudia has fallen in looooove with an older boy named Frankie, effectively stealing him right out from under Janine. She’s spending so much time with her new boyfriend that she has less and less time for Kristy and Mary Anne, but she feels like they’re growing apart anyway, since Kristy and Mary Anne haven’t quite matured to Claudia’s level yet. Frankie winds up dumping Claudia when the age difference proves to be too much, and as Claudia realizes that she doesn’t have many friends to turn to (a point she brings up early in the series, when she says Stacey’s her first real best friend), she discovers that even though she, Mary Anne, and Kristy are different now, they still have a friendship.

Stacey is preparing to move from New York to Stoneybrook and leave behind the only life she’s ever known. She’s more excited than nervous, as her friends have become total witches and she wants a new start. She finds Stoneybrook much more comfortable than she expected, and as the book ends, she’s starting to form a friendship with Claudia.

Mary Anne is stuck between childhood and adolescence, but mostly because her father has stuck her there. She wants to babysit like Claudia and Kristy, but her father only lets her sit with another person. Meek, mousy little Mary Anne takes her first stand in this book, letting her father know that she’s growing up and, though she still respects his rules, they’re going to have to start changing.

Thoughts: This book has quite a different tone than the others in the series – it’s very bittersweet. But even in my 20s, I find it relatable. Things are changing for all four of the girls, and they don’t know how to handle the new things they’re dealing with. They’re all growing up, in their different ways, and some faster than others. And that’s what adolescence is like. Some people mature faster than others, some people fit in more than others, and some people handle change better than others. But everyone has to deal with new experiences and feeling out of control. It’s all part of growing up.

I find it hard to snark on most of this book. There are a lot of moments that feel very real – like Stacey realizing that her relationships with her old friends are never going to be the same, or Claudia realizing that she doesn’t have anyone she can really talk to, or Mary Anne being frustrated over her the way her father treats her, or Kristy feeling devastated over the fact that her own father hasn’t taken the time to acknowledge her birthday. I think every woman can relate to this book. We were all teenagers once, and it wasn’t easy. No one has a perfect life. These girls just find a way to make it work.

Okay, so there is some snark here. Why does Stacey’s mom tell her to “have fun and be careful” in Connecticut but not in New York? Because Connecticut is such a dangerous place?

Janine wears jeans. Does that seem out of character to anyone else?

Possibly the best line ever in a BSC book, from Stacey, re: Laine, who has seemingly turned everyone against Stacey so that Laine won’t turn on them: “Her Royal Meanness had evil superpowers.” Laine is a complete bitca in this book, and I’m kind of surprised Stacey agrees to be friends with her again in The Truth About Stacey.

Should I be concerned that Stacey asks her parents for a dog after seeing a sign for a taxidermist?

Yeah, I bet there’s a synagogue in Stoneybrook.

March 28, 2010

BSC Super Special #4, Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure: The One With the Shipwreck

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

"Uh...what are we waving at?"

Summary: Dawn and Claudia have been taking sailing lessons, and they decide to have a little race. It ends in a tie, and for their rematch, they agree to race to an island a few hours away and have a picnic with Jeff, Jamie Newton, Becca Ramsey, and Haley Braddock. A storm hits while they’re racing and the six end up stranded on an island. Yes, really. We get everyone’s perspective on the event so Dawn can keep it all for posterity. Because I’m sure she would want to remember every detail of a traumatizing experience.

Dawn takes care of Jamie, who’s sick, while Claudia takes charge of the other kids (with lots of help from Jeff). Claudia also proves that she’s smarter than she seems by rigging up a system for collecting rainwater, which saves everyone from dehydration, and using a mirror to signal a plane, which rescues everyone.

Mary Anne has a big fight with Logan, accusing him of standing her up, which turns into a fight with Dawn, who was supposed to give Mary Anne a message telling her that Logan wouldn’t be showing up. Mary Anne tells Dawn that she never wants to see her again, so when Dawn vanishes, Mary Anne feels guilty. She manages to hold it together a lot better than you’d think Mary Anne would, though.

Jessi is left in charge of Becca and Squirt for the weekend while her parents go away (more on that later), and after the boating incident, she calls her aunt Cecelia, a really annoying woman who seems to think she should be in charge of her brother’s children. Jessi spends most of the rest of the book complaining about Cecilia, and will spend most of the next book, Jessi’s Baby-sitter, doing the same.

Stacey is in New York with her father when the six are shipwrecked, and she wants to go back to Stoneybrook to help everyone search for them, but her father won’t let her go. Even though his daughter’s best friend could be dead. Shut up, Stacey’s father. She winds up standing up to him and going home anyway. Yeah, that’s about it.

Kristy is her typical take-charge, let’s-solve-this-problem-ourselves self, but she gets stumped when she realizes that there’s an upcoming game between her Krushers and Bart’s Bashers. She decides to cancel the game, which makes Bart accuse of chickening out. Apparently that’s what passes for conflict here.

Mallory does pretty much nothing except help with the search effort. Once again, Mallory is the forgotten BSC girl.

Just like in SVH, a near-death experience makes everything okay.

Thoughts: I was more excited to reread this book than any other, because I absolutely loved this book when I was younger. I always thought it was SO exciting. If I’d ever gotten stranded on an island, I would have used tips from this book to survive. (Let’s be honest, that’s still the case now that I’m an adult.) I have a feeling this book is part of the reason I’ve always liked stranded-on-an-island stories (I liked The Swiss Family Robinson, too), which means it’s probably part of the reason I started watching Lost when it debuted.

Jessi’s parents let her sit for Becca and Squirt by herself for an entire three-day weekend. Um, NO. SHE’S 11. I don’t think I spent the night alone in my house until I was 15 or 16, and that was without any kids to look after, especially not a baby. There is absolutely, positively no way this would happen; I don’t care how mature Jessi is.

Mary Anne wishes she never had to see Dawn again just because Dawn forgot to give her a message from Logan. Oh, yeah, that’s completely reasonable. I never realized Mary Anne was such a drama queen.

Why does Kristy make Stacey write about her New York sitting jobs in the club notebook? I thought the notebook was used to tell the other sitters what they might need to know for future sitting jobs. The BSC girls will never sit for the kids in New York. Clearly the power has gone to Kristy’s head.

Claudia and Dawn aren’t sure if Jamie, who’s four, is old enough to know to stay away from a fire. Uh, he’s four, not stupid.

Logan and Mary Anne have this stupid fight about her believing he stood her up, and then after the boating incident, he calls to tell her he’s sorry her stepsister is missing but he still can’t forgive her for the fight. Logan kind of sucks.

Bart sucks, too, for accusing Kristy of cancelling a game because she thinks his team will win and not because she wants to look for her friends. Though at least he apologizes. Take a lesson, Logan.

February 10, 2010

BSC Super Special #3, Baby-sitters’ Winter Vacation: Ironically, I Read This During a Blizzard

Posted in books tagged , at 8:50 pm by Jenn

I'm sure Claudia and Kristy "accidentally" hit each other in the face

Summary: The BSC girls go on a class trip (not exactly the vacation the title suggests) to Vermont for lots of snowy goodness. Logan can’t go, so Mary Anne makes everyone take notes on the trip to compile into a book for him. I guarantee that he wouldn’t care about 95 percent of what they write about.

Mary Anne is all lonely without Logan and worries that he’s found a new girlfriend. He hasn’t.

Kristy is in charge of a team in the Winter War, which is a bunch of winter-sports competitions like cross-country skiing and some weird snowball fight/capture the flag hybrid. She gets really competitive, especially with Claudia, and ends up pushing a kid so hard to participate that he breaks his ankle. Yes, Kristy’s megalomaniacism has physically injured someone. It’s time for an uprising, people.

When not being snotty to Kristy, Claudia daydreams about her cute French ski instructor, Guy, thinking there’s a chance they could be together even though he’s more than ten years older than her. And married. With two kids. Oh, Claudia.

Stacey falls in luv with a guy from another school. They’re boring.

Dawn is a klutz and fails at everything, since she’s not used to snow. I actually kind of felt sorry for her in this book, mostly because I’m also a klutz and suck at ice skating.

Jessi organizes a talent show, wanting to prove to the other kids in school that she can be awesome even if she’s black. I assume the other kids have long stopped caring anything about her.

Mallory freaks out about a dance held at the end of the week, because she wouldn’t be Mallory if she didn’t have a panic attack about nothing.

The “sitting” part of the book series’ title is fulfilled by a group of elementary school kids who are in a bus accident and need looking after while their chaperones recover. They’re not that interesting.

Thoughts: Mary Anne says the school’s annual trip to Vermont is mandatory (though Logan gets out of it because of a family vacation). Can you really force students to go on a non-education-related trip? Can you even force students to go on an education-related trip? I highly doubt it.

Another ghost? Oh, freaking A.

Kristy holds practice for a snowball fight. If you need to practice throwing handfuls of snow, you’re too helpless for practice to do you any good.

Guy, stop touching the 13-year-old girl.

I fear Jessi’s on the road to being one of those people who believes any time someone doesn’t like him or her, it’s because of race. Don’t play the race card, Jessi.

I’m not at all surprised that Mary Anne is that one girl everyone knows who can’t go five minutes without talking about her boyfriend when they haven’t seen each other for a few days. (You know what I’m talking about. You know one, too.)

Kristy tries to recruit kids for a cross-country-skiing competition by telling them that if they can walk, they can ski. Some kids blow her off by saying, “We can’t walk yet!” Sometimes 13-year-olds are clever.

January 18, 2010

BSC Super Special #2, Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation: Drink Every Time Charlotte Cries

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:41 pm by Jenn

Lamest kickline ever

Summary: The BSC girls all go to summer camp to serve as counselors in training (CITs), except for Mallory and Jessi, who are too young. All of the obligatory kids-at-summer-camp plots are included: Someone falls in luv, someone gets poison ivy, someone goes on a camping trip, there’s a food fight and a dance, and there’s a whole subplot about…racism? Geez, let’s make things extra-serious, why don’t we?

Since it’s a Super Special, that means everyone gets a plot:

Stacey becomes a hypochondriac and thinks she has Lyme disease, when she really has poison ivy, a ton of mosquito bites, and a couple other minor ailments. She lands in the infirmary for a few days and then recovers. Thrilling, huh?

Dawn deals with a girl in her cabin who’s quiet and doesn’t want to hang out with the other girls. When the group goes on an overnight camping trip with an inept counselor and they all get lost, the quiet girl takes charge and gets everyone back to camp safely.

Jessi and Mallory are taunted by their cabinmates for, basically, being new and not both being white. They also are put in charge of teaching a group of eight-year-olds a dance for a talent show. They transform their foes through THE POWER OF DANCE, and everything’s good in the end, except one girl still won’t talk to them, but who wants to be friends with a racist anyway?

Claudia falls in luv at first sight with a guy named Will from the boys’ camp, and spends the book either trying to find out who he is or hanging out with him. This is pretty much because every BSC book involving a trip has to involve a love connection of some kind.

Kristy deals with problems similar to Mary Anne’s, in that her co-CITs want to change her. She also has to put up with Charlotte Johannsen, who spends pretty much the entire book crying because she’s homesick.

Mary Anne tries to prove to her co-CITs that she’s cool and sophisticated (and also that Logan, who’s at the boys’ camp across the lake, actually exists). She tries to sneak around the lake to deliver a hideous love letter to Logan (more on that below) and even tells her co-CITs they can pierce her ears so they’ll see her as cool. Everyone chills out when they realize that Logan isn’t a figment of Mary Anne’s imagination after all.

Logan puts up with his annoying co-CITs who tease him about Mary Anne’s love letter (trust me – you would, too) until they meet her and see that she’s not a complete wreck. Sort of.

Thoughts: I think I enjoyed this book so much as a kid because I never went to overnight camp. (If I had, I would have been the Charlotte of the group.) Taken separately, the individual plots are pretty dull, but together, they’re not horrible. They’re still pretty predictable and generic, though.

It always bugged me that in this book, we’re told that Jessi’s father’s name is Alex when it should be John, since Squirt’s real name, as we’re told in every book, is John Philip Ramsey, Jr. Oops!

Dawn says of a camper, “She reminded me an awful lot of Mallory. Only in a good way.” I think if I were Mallory, I’d be insulted. Doesn’t that imply that you can be like Mallory in a bad way?

What kind of 11-year-old calls another 11-year-old an Oreo? Kindly remove yourself from civilization until you can actually be civil, Maureen.

The exchange between Kristy and Tansy, her co-CIT, upon their first meeting cracks me up:

Tansy: “My name’s Tansy. I know it’s a weird name. It means someone who’s tenacious. In Middle Latin. I mean, it’s the Middle Latin word for tenacious. So I don’t mind the name at all. It’s an important one.”

Kristy: “I looked my name up in a book once and I couldn’t find it.”

Tansy: “I need new nail polish.”

Once again, Claudia’s the funniest girl in the club. Boys unexpectedly show up at her cabin and people freak out.

Leann: “I’m changing!”

Vanessa: “I’m naked!”

Claudia: “I’m Claudia.”

She also puts an inchworm on her co-CIT’s pillow “to see how she’d react.” Four pages later, we get this: “‘There’s a worm on my bed!’ she cried, and darted across the cabin, out of worm’s way. (Oh, so that’s what would happen if Sally found an inchworm on her pillow.)” Hee.

So here’s Mary Anne’s letter to Logan in its entirety. She actually writes it as a joke, hoping her co-CIT will find it and see how sophisticated she is. Yeah, tell me if this sounds sophisticated:

Dear Logan,

I miss you so much! I am counting the days until next Wednesday. This next week will seem like a year. I think of you and want to swon swoon. Oh, to feel your arms around me at the dance! It has been too long since our last kiss.

I will be wearing the formal teepee wear, of course, and a yellow ribbon in my hair. What of you, my love? Will you wear your after-shave? If you were to bring me a yellow flower to match my ribbon, I would melt in your arms.

Love forever, kisses and hugs,

Your love-bunny,

Mary Anne XXOO

The love-bunny also calls Lake Dekanawida, which no one can pronounce or spell correctly, Lake Dukakis. Heh.

Is getting your ears pierced at camp, like, a thing? It happens in The Parent Trap, too. And why does Mary Anne’s co-CIT have a big needle with her at camp? Just in case this sort of situation arose?

November 30, 2009

BSC Super Special #1, Baby-Sitters on Board!: Don’t Be Fooled by the Exclamation Point. It’s Not That Exciting

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 9:58 pm by Jenn

Throw Karen overboard

Summary: The Pikes win a cruise to Bahamas/trip to Disney World and invite Mary Anne and Stacey to come along as mother’s helpers, as they were so great at the beach. Then Watson decides to take the Brewer/Thomas family on the same trip, and bring Dawn and Claudia along so that we don’t have to wonder where they are or suffer through some boring plotline about them being back home. As in all the super specials, the chapters alternate between all the sitters, plus a couple other people. Everyone has a different plot:

Kristy fights with Dawn because Dawn’s a neat freak and Kristy’s a slob. She also meets some random grumpy older guy and hangs out with him.

Stacey meets a kid named Marc who has a heart condition and has to get around in a wheelchair. They bond because her diabetes helps her understand him better.

Mary Anne keeps seeing a girl named Alex who claims to be an orphan whose aunt is a countess. Turns out she’s just a lying liar who lies for attention, and her parents are singers.

Claudia is stalked by a “secret admirer” who buys her lots of stuff and ends up being Alex’s brother.

Dawn falls in love with some guy named Parker.

Mallory goes all Harriet the Spy on everyone, because things turned out so well for that girl.

Karen is a brat and thinks she has a personal ghost.

Byron Pike finds what he thinks is a treasure map and gets Adam, Jordan, Nicky, and David Michael all excited about looking for treasure. Except the map is actually a diagram of a Dutch copy machine. Hee hee hee.

Thoughts: I always loved the super specials as a kid because I liked reading longer books. (I’m still that way.) But this one…eh. It leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe because once you’ve been on a cruise and gone to Disney World, you know that reading about other people doing it is nowhere near as interesting.

I’m planning to read the super specials in the order they were published alongside the other books, but whoever determined the publication order screwed up a little – this book should actually come before 13, since Stacey’s still in Stoneybrook and Mallory isn’t in the club yet. It’s a little confusing to go back a step, but it means less Mallory, so I’m fine with it.

I don’t get why the Pikes would bring mother’s helpers on an all-expenses-paid family vacation financed by Mr. Pike’s company. Did they pay for all 12 people to come? Maybe that’s why they have to lay off people in book 39. The Pikes spend zero time with the kids on the trip, too. Why would you take your kids to Disney World and not experience it with them? And why would Watson pay for Dawn and Claudia to come along? Why not Logan and Shannon, too?

I never got invited into an airplane cockpit as a kid. I used to be bitter about it, but then I saw Airplane!

So here’s where Kristy screws up as a sitter. She lets Karen go from the ship’s pool to her room by herself, then doesn’t go looking for her when she doesn’t come back in a timely manner. Karen is six, Kristy. You’re an idiot. Also, Karen doesn’t get in trouble for stopping by a beauty parlor for a manicure and a café for a Coke, charging both to Watson’s room. She also barely gets in trouble for lying at the character breakfast and saying it’s her birthday. Does this child get away with everything?

How was Claudia’s secret admirer sure she would get the glass of juice with his note? How did she know the note was for her? Also, he’s a stalker. I bet Ann M. Martin is on Team Edward.

I can’t believe the Pikes and Kristy’s mom let David-Michael and Nicky Pike, who are seven and eight respectively, go off alone with the triplets, who are all ten. That’s insane.

Stacey has a snobby moment: “An older woman was at a table in front of ours, and a girl my age was at a table in back of ours. But neither of them looked like she deserved a Secret Admirer.” “Deserved”? Who does Stacey think she is, Jessica Wakefield?

Dawn drinks soda? With all those chemicals? I’m shocked.

More from annoying Dawn: When Stacey and Mary Anne complain about being tired after a day of sitting at Disney World, Dawn says, “Touchy, touchy.” This from the girl who’s on a free vacation and spent the whole day with a cute buy. Cram it, Veggie Girl.

Karen thinks a ghost is following her around. Watson should probably do something about those visual hallucinations. When she lies that it’s her birthday so people will sing to her, she tells Watson that the ghost made her do it. Problem!

Claudia pulls a Cordelia Chase: “I felt fooled. ‘I feel fooled,’ I told him.” Love it.

Dawn wears this hideous-sounding outfit, which is actually Claudia’s: “A white tank top under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high-top sneakers, and a beaded Indian belt.” Is she trying to be Violet from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

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