October 15, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.7, Claudia and the Sad Goodbye: Tea and Sympathy

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:26 pm by Jenn


Summary: Claudia has been learning how to make tea the traditional Japanese way. Mimi’s instructions are very specific, and she insists that Claudia get them right every time to honor the person the tea is for. Yes, even when that person is Janine. One night, Mimi comes by Claudia’s room while she’s painting, but she doesn’t want to interrupt Claudia’s time with her muse, so she only stays long enough to say goodbye. The next morning, Claudia is stunned to learn that Mimi died in her sleep.

Mr. and Mrs. Kishi try to be reassuring – Mimi had health issues, but her death was peaceful; she was old, and this was just her time; all that stuff people say when someone dies. Mimi had already made plans for her funeral, since she wanted things done traditionally. Part of that tradition is that no visitors are allowed in the house until the funeral. Claudia feels trapped, like she’ll spend the rest of her life in a house without Mimi.

Claudia decides to spend a few days at Stacey’s house so her life will feel normal. She’ll grieve later. Since the Kishis can’t have guests, Kristy hosts a BSC meeting (complete with candy), and Claudia even attends that. Mary Anne is grieving more than Claudia, who thinks Mimi would want them to carry on like usual. But people keep talking about Mimi, which makes Claudia feel like the center of attention, which she doesn’t want.

Claudia knows she’ll have to go home after the funeral, but she wants just one more night before she has to face reality. She only spends a few minutes at home before announcing that she wants to go back to Stacey’s. However, things aren’t great there, so Claudia heads back home…only to realize that while Mimi was clearly ready to die, since she knew when she said goodbye to Claud that it would be the last time, Claudia isn’t ready to go on without her.

She goes over to Mary Anne’s, where Mary Anne confronts her about not feeling her grief. Claudia sadly says that she can’t stop feeling it. It’s like she can’t breathe and everything’s over and no one understands. Mary Anne does – not because she lost her mother, but because she felt the effects of her father’s grief for years. When he finally let it out, he was able to move on. Grief hurts, but it has to. Then you can heal and become stronger.

Claudia makes herself go home, but her grief turns into anger when she catches Janine and Ashley going through Mimi’s jewelry. Claud accuses Janine of stealing from their grandmother and Ashley of acting like she’s at a garage sale. Janine gets upset that Claudia left her alone to try to comfort their parents, who are really struggling. Ashley’s been a great support, and not just as a friend – Janine and Ashley are dating. Mimi figured it out a few weeks ago and was happy when Janine confirmed it. She wanted to give Ashley one of her bracelets, but Janine says she won’t give it to her unless Claudia approves. Claudia does, since it’s a gift of love.

Claudia notes that Mimi always brought the family together, so with her gone, they’ll have to belong to each other instead of just Mimi. Claudia invites her family, the BSC girls, and Ashley to her room and serves them all tea. They reminisce about Mimi together, and it helps Claudia handle her grief. She knows she’ll always miss Mimi, but that means Mimi will always be with her.

The details:

  • All the younger girls’ acting has improved since season 1 (not that they were ever bad), but Momona Tamada, who plays Claudia, is exceptional in the scene where she talks to Mary Anne about her grief.
  • I really love how the episode includes little bits about Japanese traditions.
  • Karen’s allowed to sit in on the BSC meeting at Kristy’s house. Intruder! Intruder!
  • Also, she says Mimi visited her in a dream, wearing a white gown like she was getting married. She’s now in love with Ben Brewer, the ghost that haunts the Thomas/Brewers’ attic. When Mrs. Kishi hears about this later, she approves, since Mimi was a widow for a long time. However, they might be in a love triangle with Mimi’s late husband.
  • Looks like I was wrong – Stacey’s parents have been fighting and her dad has been working a lot. If there’s a third season, I’m sure we’ll see them split up.

The differences/changes:

  • I’m glad they don’t drag out Mimi’s death like they do in the book. That would have been traumatic.
  • Janine says she hasn’t told her parents about Ashley yet, but it’s not clear if she means she hasn’t told them they’re dating or that she likes girls. I don’t think we’d get a storyline about homophobia, though.

October 11, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.2, Claudia and the New Girl: Take the Lead

Posted in TV tagged , at 4:42 pm by Jenn

Who doesn’t love a sleepover full of self-reflection?

Kristy gets strep throat and has to miss school, the club, and sitting for a week. A powerless Kristy is an anxious Kristy. She asks Dawn to run meetings for her, which annoys Claudia. She worries that Kristy doesn’t think she’s responsible enough to be in charge. Stacey suggests that Claudia prove her leadership skills by taking on some of Kristy’s sitting jobs, including one where Mallory’s tagging along for “training.”

That goes badly. Mallory is a try-hard and so eager to fit in that she just annoys everyone. The girls have just taken personality tests at a sleepover (Kristy’s idea, of course), and Mallory’s results were inconclusive because she couldn’t pick the “right” answers. She wishes she were more of an individual like Claudia.

Claudia quickly gets fed up with Mallory, whose insecurity has made her kind of immature. Mallory’s also clearly trying to be more like Claudia, which kind of defeats the purpose of being an individual. Claudia snaps at her, which makes her shrink into herself. Claudia feels bad but tells herself that now Mallory will be more of an individual.

While the “new girl” of the episode title really refers to Mallory here, Ashley, the new girl of the book, is also present, just in a different way. This Ashley is a popular fashion designer and classmate of Janine’s. Claudia is a huge fan-girl and wonders why Ashley, the coolest girl on the planet, wants to hang out with a nerd.

Ashley tells Claudia that she knows Claudia doesn’t get her friendship with Janine. Yes, Janine uses big words and can be off-putting, but once Ashley really started listening to her, she realized that there’s more there. Janine is a true individual, which is the coolest thing you can be. Claudia realizes that she didn’t lead Mallory well because she didn’t listen. She reads some of Mallory’s stories, which Mal had asked her to do, and is impressed by her creativity and imagination. She regrets not listening to Mallory more. She wants to collaborate and turn Mallory’s stories into books.

Dawn turns out to be a disaster as a leader, because she’s more focused on the structure of meetings and the administrative side over what the club is doing. She wants to “usher in major reforms.” Kristy gets itchy about some of her changes, but she ends up liking some of her ideas, including how members should pay dues. They’ll also donate some of their earnings to charity. So while Kristy is in charge, and probably always will be, she knows how to listen to her followers.

The details:

  • Karen puts on an old-fashioned nurse’s cap to take Kristy her strep medication. The way she stares, I’d worry she was giving Kristy poison.
  • Mary Anne worries that the club is supposed to be paying taxes. “Not if we’re a corporation,” Dawn says. “We can just hoard our profits until we’re bailed out by the disappearing middle class.” Sharon, please tell your daughter to chill a little.
  • Stacey now uses an app to manage her diabetes and insulin intake.
  • While sick, Kristy attends a BSC meeting via Zoom. Mimi also uses Zoom to attend her book club, since none of the members can drive. She gives Claudia a bit of a nudge toward solving her problem when she mentions that she likes being in the club because she gets to hear so many different perspectives.
  • Vanessa thinks Claudia is super-cool, which means she probably thinks Mallory is cool by association.
  • Once Claudia has learned that part of being a leader is having a team who wants to follow, and part of being individual is being yourself, she invites Janine to open up to her any time she needs someone to listen. “Okay,” Janine replies before walking away. Heh.

The differences/changes:

  • On top of the other changes with Ashley, she’s Black. She’s also not annoying like the Ashley in the book – she’s nicer than most teenagers would be to their friends’ younger siblings. Basically, the only thing the two Ashleys have in common is their name and Claudia’s admiration of them.
  • Instead of a flat dues rate, the girls pay a percentage of their earnings, and they can pay more during a week they’ve earned more or less when they’ve earned less. This evens things out for Jessi and Mallory, who can’t sit as late as the older girls and therefore would be giving up a larger percentage of their earnings.

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.

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.

August 7, 2013

BSC Super Special #15, Baby-sitters’ European Vacation: I See London, I See France

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by Jenn

I expect these kinds of crimes against fashion from Mallory, but not you, Abby

I expect these kinds of crimes against fashion from Mallory, but not you, Abby

Summary: Kristy, Stacey, Abby, Jessi, Mallory, and Robert are among a group of students who go to London and Paris on a school trip. It’s boring.

Kristy meets the French-Canadian version of Alan Gray, a guy named Michel who keeps annoying her because he likes her. She rebuffs him until they get left behind on a day trip in Paris, and she has to rely on his knowledge of French to survive. They end up practically dating, and Kristy makes out with only the second guy in her life.

Stacey accidentally picks up someone else’s luggage, and it contains a jar of ashes. Don’t worry, it’s not like that. The man who owns the suitcase brought his late Army buddy’s ashes to France to spread them at Normandy, where they both fought on D-Day. Stacey’s mom is one of the trip chaperones, and she keeps getting on Stacey’s nerves by being overprotective. When the McGills connect with the man and give back the ashes, they both decide to go with him to Normandy to spread them. They have a moving experience and end up bonding.

Jessi meets up with David Brailsford’s troupe and gets to fill in for an injured dancer.

Abby accompanies Victoria Kent when she goes to meet the queen. Abby doesn’t get to meet her herself, but she does accidentally step on the prince’s toes.

Mallory meets her mom’s cousin and learns that she’s related to Shakespeare. She spends the rest of the trip writing, and Jessi has to remind her to enjoy herself.

Robert gets one pointless chapter and spends the trip being annoyed with one of Stacey’s former bad girl friends.

Back in Stoneybrook, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, Logan, Cokie, and Janine are working at the playground camp where everyone was competing to get jobs. It’s boring, too.

Claudia has a miserable time because Janine is asked to sub in for a counselor at the last minute, and Claudia has to take orders from her. Janine is already on edge because she’s working with her ex-boyfriend, Jerry. Ultimately, Claudia gets Janine to calm down, and in turn, Janine stands up to Jerry, who’s kind of a big jerk.

Mary Anne mostly deals with trying to keep Logan and Cokie from spending too much time together.

Dawn is barely an entity in this book, but she does spend a day filling in at a day camp for special-needs kids, which leads to an encounter with Susan Felder.

Thoughts: “Robert is Stacey’s former boyfriend. Mom is Stacey’s permanent mother.” Hee. Thanks, Abby.

Trivia: Mallory’s parents’ names are Jonathan and Diana.

Yeah, I bet this big-shot dance company has no understudy for this major performance.

Mallory, re: an annoying chaperone who keeps going off by himself: “He’s at Virginia Woolf’s house!” Mrs. McGill: “What’s he doing there? Virginia Woolf is dead!” Heh.

Speaking of that annoying teacher, this trip is horribly chaperoned. And I know from horribly chaperoned trips. We were allowed to wander around New York City by ourselves. We were allowed to stay in ski condos by ourselves. But at least we were in high school and somewhat responsible enough to get ourselves from point A to point B without getting lost.

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.

October 25, 2010

BSC Mystery #6, The Mystery at Claudia’s House: May Not Contain an Actual Mystery

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 10:54 pm by Jenn

Her first mistake was not dressing like Nancy Drew

Summary: Janine starts acting weird (wearing makeup and borrowing Claudia’s clothes, sometimes without asking), so Claudia tries to figure out what she’s up to. Derek Masters is in town and has appeared on a show about kid detectives, so Claudia enlists him to help with the investigation. This basically involves stalking Janine and staging a fake courtroom scene so she’ll spill the truth (which only makes Derek come clean about his own secret).

For some reason, makeup + different clothes + seeing Janine with a boy doesn’t = Janine has a boyfriend/crush to the BSC girls, who laugh when Mallory suggests it. Turns out she’s right, and Janine didn’t want to say anything because – get this – the guy is hot, and she doesn’t want everyone to judge him on his looks instead of the fact that he’s also super smart. While part of me has to respect that, the rest of me says, “Dang, girl, flaunt it if you got it.” Once Claudia figures out what’s going on, she rats Janine out to her parents, since Janine keeps lying about where she’s been. Janine’s mad but eventually gets over it, probably because she still wants to borrow clothes from Claudia.

Derek gets the B plot, which revolves around him learning that he’s going to have to kiss a girl on his TV show. The Pike kids first try to get Becca and Charlotte to help him out with some practice, and then the triplets try to pimp Vanessa out to him (they seriously pay her $2.13 to kiss Derek). Derek lies and tells everyone he’s kissed a ton of girls so it ain’t no thang. After the failed courtroom sting, he decides to tell the truth, but the Pike kids have already figured out he was lying and don’t really care. And then he doesn’t have to kiss the girl anyway. And for some reason, Derek is one of my favorite recurring characters.

Thoughts: “I think one of the reasons Becca picked Lamont [one of Derek’s co-stars] to have a crush on is because he’s African-American.” No, it’s because biracial relationships aren’t allowed in Stoneybrook.

Claudia reveals that Mary Anne lays out each day’s entire outfit the night before, “from headband to shoes.” First of all, I get laying out an outfit, but the headband? And second of all, why would you tell anyone that?

Claudia wears checked pants with a polka-dotted shirt. Claud, are you trying to kill Tim Gunn?

I’m so stealing “I guess she didn’t want to look at a gift horse’s teeth.”

Derek’s suggestions that Janine was abducted by aliens or is a kleptomaniac are so much more interesting than the truth. (For the record, Jessi agrees with me.)

July 7, 2010

BSC #49, Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street: Man, This Kid is Annoying

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:52 pm by Jenn

Claudia objects to your white tights, Rosie

Summary: Claudia sits for a girl named Rosie whose parents have her involved in all sorts of activities – namely acting, singing, dancing, and other musical things. The girl is a huge brat with total stage parents who let her act all bratty and know-it-all-ish to everyone. They all suck. But Rosie sucks the most, since she acts superior to everyone and is even rude to Janine, who tries to help her with her homework (which, if she’s so smart, wouldn’t she be able to do it on her own?).

Slowly Claudia starts to feel sorry for Rosie because she obviously doesn’t like having to do so many activities, and she knows the kids at school don’t like her. Then Claudia discovers that Rosie has yet another talent, art, and she actually likes it. Claudia convinces Rosie’s parents to support her love of art, and convinces Rosie to talk to her parents about easing up on some activities. And then Rosie ends up being nice, so it’s win-win.

The B plot ties into the A plot: Claudia’s taken to drawing and painting junk food, and she decides to have a show in her garage. We always knew she’d find a way to combine her two loves.

Thoughts: Claudia wears a man’s paisley vest, a striped button-down shirt, tuxedo-stripe black Spandex stirrup pants, black suspenders with pink flecks, pink ankle boots, and a paisley hair comb. “The boots really set off the formality of the rest of the outfit, sort of like the punchline of a joke.” That’s some joke, all right.

Rosie isn’t a genius so much as really good at a lot of stuff. She’s more like a child prodigy. But Claudia’s the first one to call her a genius, so the error makes more sense when you get the context.

Hey, Rosie? “Rehearse” and “practice” are interchangeable. Also, if you’re such a professional, you would know better than to drink orange juice before a voice lesson.

I love how Claudia mentions the art classes she took in New York with a famous artist to make herself seem talented. Claud, you took four classes with him and he hated you. Not the best example, there.

You can tell this was written before America’s Next Top Model started because they have to explain what a go-see is.

I do appreciate how Claudia gets the humor of pop art and doesn’t take herself too seriously. Sometimes she really is smart than people give her credit for.

Janine buys one of Claudia’s paintings. Because she’s awesome.

May 16, 2010

BSC #40, Claudia and the Middle School Mystery: Sisters are Doing it for Themselves

Posted in books tagged , , , at 8:10 pm by Jenn

Yeah, like Claudia would ever wear clothes that normal

Summary: Claudia does some major studying for her math class, in preparation for a test, and gets an A- on it. But then she’s accused of cheating off of a girl named Shawna, though it’s clear that Shawna’s the cheater. Claudia and the BSC girls decide to take matters into their own hands and prove that Shawna’s lying about the cheating, but they can’t come up with any good ideas. It’s Janine who manages to save the day by convincing Claudia’s teacher and the principal to let Claudia retake the test. She does, getting an even better score, and proves that she wouldn’t have cheated because she knew the material. Confronted, Shawna has to ‘fess up.

In the B plot, the Pike triplets are grounded after one of them breaks a window and none of them will tell who was responsible. Mallory has them reenact the incident and show that it was an accident. (Did the Pikes think they broke the window on purpose? I know they’re wild, but they’re not juvnile delinquents…or are they?)

Thoughts: Shawna really is dumb if she thinks cheating off of Claudia would be helpful.

Thanks to the word problem on the first page, to this day, when I hear the name Gertrude, I think of chocolate.

A 94 is an A-? Grading at SMS is tough.

Claudia describes Mallory as “kind of quiet.” Not as quiet as I’d like.

Apparently Claudia can always remember what she was wearing on any given day. There’s a skill you wish you had on your résumé.

Mary Anne doesn’t believe Claudia when she says she didn’t cheat, then cries when Kristy chastises her. How did I never realize before how annoying Mary Anne is?

Claudia tells the BSC girls that her parents wanted to talk to the principal about the cheating accusation, and Kristy says, “I think it’s best if we handled this ourselves.” And the Kishis are cool with that? Wow, they really do love Janine more than Claudia.

Mary Anne thinks gossiping is mean. You know what else is mean? No believing your friend when she tells you she didn’t cheat. Keep gossiping, girls.

Dawn suggests looking for evidence in Shawna’s locker. Stacey says it would be breaking the law and Mallory asks if they would need a search warrant. Why is everyone in this book a moron except Claudia and Janine?

The BSC girls seem to think they tricked Cokie into incriminating herself in Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery and Kristy’s Mystery Admirer. (Why do all these books have “mystery” in their titles?) No, girls, she was dumb enough to incriminate herself all on her own. Of course, Claudia thinks that making Shawna incriminate herself involves saying “copy” a bunch of times to see if she can get a reaction out of Shawna and writing, “If you can read this, you are a cheater and you might as well admit it.” in her notes, so maybe they just don’t know what that word means.

Claudia’s supposedly wild outfit with a sea theme is actually her tamest ever.

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.

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