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!

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April 19, 2011

BSC #76, Stacey’s Lie: Apparently Stacey’s Dad Has Got It Going On, Too

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:39 pm by Jenn

There is a surprising lack of fire on Fire Island

Summary: Stacey’s dad wants to take her on vacation, and she asks to go to Fire Island, where her boyfriend Robert is working for the summer. She decides not to tell her dad or Claudia, who’s also coming. Claudia finds out about Robert’s presence on the island soon after they arrive, and Stacey tells her she didn’t say anything because she didn’t think Claudia would want to come if she knew she’d wind up as a fifth wheel. Stacey’s dad is, unsurprisingly, never around, so Claudia’s the only person Stacey has to tell where she’s going. Claudia keeps her mouth shut but is obviously not happy to have her vacation with her best friend interrupted.

Stacey rushes a girls’ night with Claudia so she can be with Robert, and Claudia decides that’s the last straw. They stop talking, and when Kristy, Mary Anne, and Shannon come visit for a weekend, Claudia turns them against Stacey. She also leaves early because she can’t stand to be in the same house with Stacey.

Robert and Stacey run into Stacey’s dad and a woman named Samantha, and he reveals that he arranged for Samantha to stay on the island so they could see each other during their vacation. He’s upset with Stacey for lying about her reasons for wanting to come to Fire Island, and they stop talking as well. Even though he brought his girlfriend along and lied about it. Jerk.

Robert doesn’t like how Stacey acted toward her father and best friend, so he dumps her. She finds out that Claudia was selling some photos in a shop on the island, and she’s upset that Claudia didn’t feel she could tell her about it. She realizes that she made a huge mistake and makes up with her dad. She also realizes that she needs to work through her issues about her dad dating someone. And then, almost as an afterthought, Stacey also patches things up with Claudia and Robert.

In the B-plot, Mallory and Jessi are working at a day camp, which Haley and Vanessa are attending. They wear the same bathing suit one day and for some reason it leads to a huge fight. They spend the whole book terrorizing each other until Jessi and Mallory make them work together. Snore.

Thoughts: Stacey wears black jean shorts over blue tights. Shudder.

I have the British version of this book, and when Stacey wonders if Claudia will feel like a fifth wheel to her and Robert, it says, “She might think she’d be a gooseberry.” I’m totally saying that from now on. Other Britishisms: “holiday” for vacation, “subs” for dues, and “vice chairman” for vice president.

There’s a house on Fire Island that a doctor rents called Bedside Manor. That’s awesome.

Another Stacey outfit: She wears a sleeveless denim shirt and green leggings. The horror.

June 12, 2010

BSC #44, Dawn and the Big Sleepover: Kids are Awesome

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:08 pm by Jenn

See what happens when you do nice things? You get smacked in the head with a pillow

Summary: A bunch of the BSC girls’ clients are pen pals with a group of Zuni kids in New Mexico. The Zunis’ school burns down and the fire damages the homes of some of the families in the area. Dawn is stricken by the news and decides that she, the BSC girls, and the kids need to mobilize to help out. They organize food and clothes drives, and the kids do various other things to raise money, like holding a mini-carnival (the Pike kids) and telling fortunes (the awesome Haley Braddock). The reward for everyone’s hard work is a big sleepover, also organized by the BSC girls (but headed up by Dawn). They raise a ton of money, enjoy their reward, and are proud of themselves for being so helpful.

Thoughts: I find it hard to snark on this book because, embarrassingly enough, I find it pretty touching. Dawn’s only 13 and she basically takes on this huge task all by herself. With the exception of a few teachers and parents who help out, everyone who raises money is a kid or teenager. You guys, it’s heartwarming! And the book has a good message – kids can help other kids, even by doing just a few little things.

The Pike triplets’ “secret language” is Pig Latin? Man, they’re not trying at all, are they?

Is there a rule in the club bylaws (and you just know there are bylaws) that Kristy has to call every unscheduled meeting an emergency club meeting?

The Rodowskys give their kids permission to have a yard sale, then hire Claudia to organize it. Lazy!

Once again, Haley rocks, bilking Alan Gray and his friends out of $2 for 25-cent fortunes. Kristy must be very proud.

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.

December 27, 2009

BSC #20, Kristy and the Walking Disaster: Count the ’80s Sports Movie Clichés

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 9:24 pm by Jenn

But they're supposed to have matching shirts and mismatched hats! Sigh

Summary: Kristy starts a softball team called Kristy’s Krushers, comprised of kids who are too young/not talented enough for Little League.  The team also consists of Jackie Rodowsky, the walking disaster, as we’re reminded at least 30 times. He’s a klutz, but the kid can hit a baseball, so shut up, Kristy. You put a two-and-a-half-year-old on your team and you’re worried about Jackie?

Anyway, the kids aren’t the best players, but they try really hard, which makes Kristy really proud of them. The team plays Bart’s Bashers, made up of kids who are a little older and a little more talented, and coached by a guy named Bart Taylor, who Kristy develops a crush on. In the end, the Krushers lose, but Kristy gets the guy. Like I said, ’80s sports movie clichés abound.

Thoughts: Other than her constant referrals to Jackie as a walking disaster when the poor kid is really just a klutz with bad luck, Kristy’s not too bad in this book. She’s really patient with the kids when she’s coaching them, and she turns out to be a natural. I think she’s found a calling.

Though she’s dumb enough to let Jackie mix up pink lemonade by himself, so she gets what she deserves there.

Mallory says Claire only has baseball-related tantrums. I know some grown-ups like that. I’m pretty sure she becomes an equal-opportunity tantrum-thrower as the series progresses, though.

Claudia pulls out one of Jackie’s loose teeth. EWWWWWWWW.

Bart has a rottweiler named Twinkle. What’s the point of having a big dog like a rottweiler if you’re going to give it a Disney name like Twinkle?

This is a weird moment: “Thanks to me, Jessi really did have an easy sitting job. But I’m not complaining.” Do you usually complain when one of your friends has a good day, Kristy? I guess not, or you probably wouldn’t have as many friends as you do.

Karen refuses to spell Krushers with a K because it’s wrong. Part of me admires her refusal to use improper spelling, but the rest of me wants her to shut up.

So Marnie is two and still considered a baby (also, the girl never talks, which is weird), but Gabbie is two-and-a-half and basically considered a preschooler? Should I stop looking for logic in Stoneybrook?

No way would Kristy let Bart be the umpire at their first game. Doesn’t the ump have to be, I don’t know, impartial?

A kid calls Matt Braddock a dummy and his sister Haley responds, “If you call him a dummy one more time, I will personally rearrange your face.” How did I forget how awesome Haley is? If only every kid in this series could be that cool.

Kristy says that Dawn’s notebook entry is “pretty meaty.” Hee hee.

December 10, 2009

BSC #16, Jessi’s Secret Language: This Title is So Misleading

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:54 pm by Jenn

Way to keep a secret, guys

Summary: The BSC girls – mainly Jessi – start sitting for a deaf kid named Matt Braddock. Jessi learns sign language to communicate with him, and unwittingly starts a trend around town, as the other kids the BSC girls sit for want to learn how to talk silently. This also helps them bond with Matt and his sister Haley, who usually has to serve as an interpreter. Jessi’s also dealing with her ballet classmates, as some of them don’t like her because she’s young, talented, and/or black. One of her classmates has a sister who’s deaf, and Jessi’s sign language shenanigans help them connect.

Thoughts: Sorry your first book is so boring, Jessi. Also, if millions of people know sign language, is it still a secret?