February 14, 2012

Happy (Drue) Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Misc. tagged , , at 8:48 am by Jenn

I’m not wearing red or pink. I feel like Laine Cummings.

April 25, 2011

BSC Super Special #11, The Baby-sitters Remember: Flashbacks!

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 10:56 pm by Jenn

My copy's yellow, not gold. Now I'm all jealous

Summary: Over summer vacation, all of the SMS students are assigned  to write about what they did over the break (LAME!). At a sleepover, the girls suggest alternate topics, and Jessi says they should get to write about their most vivid memories. This leads to the girls (and Logan, later) having various flashbacks about some memorable times in their lives:

Kristy remembers her first sitting job, when she was ten and allowed to watch David Michael after school. Mimi, Mrs. Newton, and various other family friends and neighbors check on her the whole time. Kristy proves to be very responsible, and thus begins her life’s meaning.

Mary Anne‘s memory is of Kristy and Claudia helping her play pranks on a babysitter when they were eight. They think the sitter is mean, but she proves to have a good sense of humor and takes the jokes well. She even plays a prank on them and teaches them another to play on someone else. Mary Anne came away from the experience learning that it’s okay to loosen up and be silly sometimes.

Stacey takes us through the time just before and after her diabetes diagnosis in sixth grade. Before, she had a great group of friends; after, they all turned on her because they thought she was either contagious or a hypochondriac. She’s happy when her parents tell her they’re moving to Connecticut because she wants a new start in a place where no one knows she has diabetes. At first Stacey decides she’s not going to tell anyone about her illness, but she feels comfortable enough with the BSC girls to tell them the truth.

Jessi‘s story is kind of sweet: She admits that she and Becca hated the thought of having a baby in the house when their mother was about to give birth to Squirt. Things didn’t get any better after he was born, since he had colic and cried all the time. One day Jessi is the only person around to tend to him, so she sings to him and quiets him down. After that, she realizes having a baby brother isn’t that bad.

Dawn thinks about her parents’ divorce and her move from California to Connecticut. It’s actually a good portrayal of the trauma that that kind of upheaval can cause. It ends with some of the events of Mary Anne Saves the Day.

Claudia remembers being six and having to draw a self-portrait. She draws herself as a butterfly and the teacher ridicules her for not following directions. Mimi goes to the school and tells the teacher that Claudia understood the directions better than anyone else.

Mallory‘s most vivid memory is of being ten and writing a letter to her favorite author, having been encouraged to do so by Mary Anne. She learns that the author will be doing a book signing at the mall, so her mom takes her. Mallory’s incredibly excited, but when she finally gets to talk to the author, she’s too nervous to say anything. She talks about how this memory stands out to her because it made her see how much a writer can affect a reader.

Logan talks about moving to Stoneybrook and meeting Mary Anne. It’s basically his view of Logan Likes Mary Anne!

Shannon‘s memory is of starting eighth grade and meeting a new girl named Sally. Everyone thinks Sally’s awesome because she lived in England and is rich, but the girl will only be friends with one person at a time. Then she and whoever she’s friends with ignore the rest of the group. Shannon briefly gets to be the chosen one, but after she has to decline plans with Sally to study, Sally dumps her for someone else. Shannon develops an aversion to new girls, which is why she’s so nasty to Kristy in Kristy and the Snobs. We also get a little info on Shannon’s family, namely that she doesn’t like being at home and that her parents don’t get along very well.

Thoughts: I really didn’t remember this book at all. So I guess that’s why it’s not called The Readers Remember.

Kristy disapproves of all the junk food Claudia eats, but she doesn’t seem to have any issues with helping her eat it.

“I am a native New Yorker. (You can’t say that about just anyone.)” You can say that about millions of people, Stacey. Grab a ladder and get over yourself, would you?

That said, I felt really bad for Stacey in this book. Laine and her other friends are really awful to her. I also felt sorry for Dawn for possibly the first time; I wouldn’t have been able to handle both a divorce and a big move at that age (or any age, really), and she came through it pretty well.

Stacey’s group of friends in New York was basically the Plastics, and Laine was Regina. This makes so much sense.

Trivia: Before she got sick, Stacey was going to try out for the soccer team at her school. Interesting – I thought Kristy and Abby were the only two BSC girls interested in sports. And I don’t think of Stacey as the athletic type.

Six-year-old Claudia talks just like Karen.

More trivia: Jessi’s mom had two miscarriages before having Squirt.

Have we ever learned why Logan’s family moved to Stoneybrook? I choose to believe they’re on the run from the mob. And that their accents are all fake.

Dawn’s dad stays out all night and Sharon calls him a liar? Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and guess he had an affair.

July 31, 2010

BSC #51, Stacey’s Ex-Best Friend: Laine is Too Punk Rock for This

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:37 pm by Jenn

I always liked how colorful this cover is

Summary: Laine comes to visit Stoneybrook and Stacey quickly sees that she’s a completely different person than she used to be. She’s dating a 15-year-old (named King, of all things), she thinks the BSC girls are babyish, and she’s basically just an all-around snob. Things come to a head at a Valentine’s Day dance at school, when Laine snubs her date, Pete Black, and Stacey finally calls her on all her crap. Laine decides she wants to go back to New York immediately, and no one’s sad to see her go. Stacey realizes that they’re too different to be friends anymore, but fortunately, she still has an awesome best friend in Claudia.

In the B plot, the BSC girls plan a Valentine’s Day party for some of their sitting charges. They think Nicky Pike and Carolyn Arnold have crushes on each other, but he actually (unknowingly) likes Marilyn Arnold. It works out, though, because she likes him, too, and Carolyn really likes James Hobart. The seven- and eight-year-olds in Stoneybrook are luckier in love than the teenagers.

Thoughts: This book starts with the series’ second reference to snow and global warming. The ghostwriters need to stick to writing about sitting jobs and sleepovers.

Annoying thing Laine does (ATLD) #1: Calls Stacey Anastasia because it’s more grown-up than Stacey.

Weird how Stacey thinks it’s a big deal for Laine to date a 15-year-old, but when she dates (spoiler!) Sam later in the series, it’s perfectly fine.

ATLD #2: Mocks Dawn for using the word “dude.”

Laine asks what everyone would be doing on a Friday night if they weren’t going to a dance, and Mallory says homework. Mal, try thinking before you speak next time. If we let you speak again.

Everyone gets really excited about watching To Kill a Mockingbird. Yeah, that sounds perfectly normal for 11- and 13-year-olds.

Bart tells Kristy he’ll take her to the dance, then says he might stay home to watch a game on TV. Kristy sure knows how to pick ’em, doesn’t she?

ANOTHER mention of global warming? Is this a Dawn book in disguise?

Pete tells Laine, “You have hair like gossamer.” Aw, Pete. She’s going to get so much mileage out of that. Also, what 13-year-old guy knows the word “gossamer”?

ATLD #3: Calls her boyfriend Heart (he calls her Babe).

ATLD #4: Is sarcastic to Mary Anne. (Only I’m allowed to do that!)

ATLD #5: Tells the BSC girls to grow up.

How, as a 13-year-old, did Laine get a job at a boutique? And just how trendy can this boutique be if it’s called Flowers and Bows?

Stacey says “sartorial.” 13-year-olds don’t talk like that, ghoswriter!

ATLD #6: Goes on a diet to lose five pounds she doesn’t need to lose, then tells Stacey to do the same.

Nice thing Laine does (NTLD) #1: Wears earrings Claudia made for her a lot.

Stacey proves to be more mature than Laine: When she gets to the dance, she tells herself she has the choice between acting mature and being a brat, and she chooses to be mature. Rock on, Stace.

ATLD #7: Says sixth-graders have no muscle control.

ATLD #8: Tells Pete she’s tired and doesn’t want to dance, then dances with another guy.

NTLD #2: Leaves the BSC-verse FOREVER.

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.

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.

January 31, 2010

BSC #28, Welcome Back, Stacey!: Way to Ruin the Plot With the Title

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:09 pm by Jenn

Looks like Stacey crashed an '80s dance party

Summary: Stacey’s parents’ fighting has reached a boiling point, and they decide to get divorced. Her dad plans to stay in New York, but her mom is considering moving back to Stoneybrook. They tell Stacey that she can decide who she wants to live with, which also means she gets to decide whether to stay in New York or return to Connecticut. Despite feeling like New York is her real home, the lure of the BSC cannot be denied, and Stacey goes back to Stoneybrook.

Thoughts: I really liked this book as a kid, mostly because Stacey was my favorite sitter and I was so excited that she might go back to Stoneybrook. I remember when I first read the book, which would have been when I was seven, I was so impatient to find out what Stacey would decide. Well, seven-year-old me, the title of the book is Welcome Back, Stacey! The front caption is, “She’s home for good!” And the back cover even has Stacey listed as the club treasurer again. I’m sad that you couldn’t put the pieces together from those clues.

I love sarcastic Stacey. Whenever she leaves the house, her mom always tells her, “Have fun and be careful.” In one scene Stacey returns from a trip to Gristede’s to get cartons for the move, and she’s annoyed by the task and her parents’ constant fighting, so she calls out, “I was careful and I had a ton of fun.” Heh.

Why does Stacey’s mom even look at a four-bedroom house in Stoneybrook, let alone buy it? And how the heck can she afford it? Does she sell drugs on the side? I kind of want to start a rumor that she sells drugs on the side.

Stacey has a fantastic crazy outfit in this book: short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweatshirt (suspenders over a sweatshirt? Really?), purple push-down socks, red hightops, a necklace of wooden bananas and oranges, earrings shaped like sunglasses, and a red scarf as a headbank. When did she get that scholarship to clown school?

December 19, 2009

BSC #18, Stacey’s Mistake: I’ve Made a Huge Tiny Mistake

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:42 pm by Jenn

Don't glare at her, she's adorable

Summary: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Dawn all go to New York City to visit Stacey and help her sit for a bunch of kids while their parents attend a meeting about helping homeless people. The visit brings out everyone’s bad side: Stacey is embarrassed by all of her friends’ touristy behaviors, Claudia and Laine go all mean girl on each other, Dawn is afraid of everything in the city, Mary Anne is a walking guidebook, and Kristy is Kristy, only more so. They manage to set everything aside during their big sitting extravaganza, and then they just make up and that’s it. Because Ann M. Martin has never been able to solve a conflict in an interesting way.

Thoughts: Not only do Claudia, Kristy, Dawn, and Mary Anne’s parents let them take a train to New York City by themselves, but Stacey’s parents let her take a cab to Grand Central Station, get the other girls, and take them around the city unsupervised. Um, NO. They’re 13. I know they’re responsible and everything, but they’re still barely teenagers.

Kristy orders filet mignon at the Hard Rock Café. Shut up, Kristy. Though at least she has something of a grasp on how annoying she can be. Stacey asks the BSC girls not to mention something and notes that Kristy “usually assumes that people mean her when they say not to mention something.”

Claudia’s usually a nice person, but man, she’s a brat to Laine and Kristy in this book. Not that Laine is any better. And Mary Anne is a jerk to Dawn, which is really out of character for her. Maybe they should stay far away from New York.

Why do the girls send postcards home from New York? They’re only there for two days. Dawn even writes one to Jessi on the train ride home. (Way to make Jessi an afterthought, Dawn. It’s because she’s black, isn’t it? I bet Dawn’s excuse is that that’s how they treat black people in California.)

Mary Anne tells Logan that “limo” is short for “limousine.” She probably thinks he wouldn’t know since he’s from Kentucky.

October 17, 2009

BSC #3, The Truth About Stacey: Actually, You Can Handle the Truth

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:35 pm by Jenn

Yes, Charlotte, we know you like candy

The original cover is even cheesier

Summary: Stacey has diabetes. Her parents want to fix it. They can’t. Instead, they learn to listen to her and help her deal with it. Stacey also manages to patch up her friendship with her ex-best friend, Laine Cummings, by actually talking to her about her illness.

In club news, the stupidly named Baby-sitters Agency has moved into the BSC’s territory, poaching clients with their older sitters and later hours. Kristy comes up with some ideas to keep the BSC running and attract new sitters, some of which are successful and some of which are horribly bad. (Two words: sandwich boards.) The club adds two new members, but they skip their jobs, then reveal that they’re actually spies from the Baby-sitters Agency. Kristy cries. Twice. In the end, the BSC sitters win because the kids they sit for actually like them, they actually do their jobs, and the parents trust them. Happy ending!

Thoughts: Liz Lewis and Michelle Patterson, the two girls who form the Baby-sitters Agency, are actually savvy businesswomen. They recruit sitters, send them on jobs, and collect some of their income for themselves. Basically, they’re baby-sitter pimps. I’ll be they grow up to be CEOs. Or madams.

Kristy’s Svengali-like hold on the other BSC girls becomes more evident in this book. They’ll do almost anything she suggests, including wearing sandwich boards to school to advertise the club and try to attract new members. Her bossiness is starting to show, and soon it will be so out of control, readers will start to wonder how she still has friends.

This book marks the birth of the Kid-Kit, which is actually one of Kristy’s better ideas. It’s a collection of books, games, and activities the sitters can take on their jobs so the kids will have something different to play with. As they note, one of the best things about playing at a friend’s house is the ability to play with new toys, and with the Kid-Kits, the sitters are walking toy stores. Sometimes Kristy’s ingenuity makes up for her faults. Sometimes.