November 1, 2012

BSC #109, Mary Anne to the Rescue: Emergency Exit

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:48 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne deserves better than this punk

Summary: Out of the blue and for no apparent reason, Logan’s father wants to send him to boarding school and a wilderness-survival adventure. Oh, noes! Mary Anne is sad, but Logan’s a wimp and won’t try to talk to his parents about the decision. And honestly, he doesn’t seem that sad about the possibility of never seeing Mary Anne again, so maybe she should take a hint.

In the midst of this crisis, the BSC girls decide to take a first-aid course, inspired by Mary Anne and Dawn (yes, she’s in this book – she’s in Stoneybrook for summer vacation) watching Sharon save a guy from choking. The class is pretty intense, with tests and visits to an ER and the very real possibility that Kristy will murder fellow student Alan because he WON’T SHUT UP. The students also get to participate in a disaster drill, pretending to be victims of a car accident.

Even after all the training, Mary Anne still feels like she would be unprepared for an emergency. Then one afternoon she and Dawn are babysitting for a bunch of kids swimming in the Kormans’ pool. There’s a neighbor there to keep an eye on everyone, but when he goes into the house for a few minutes, Timmy Hsu almost drowns. Mary Anne pulls him out of the water, gives him CPR, and saves his life.

Suddenly Mary Anne is emboldened! She tells Logan to suck it up already and talk to his parents if he doesn’t want to boarding school or the wilderness trek. He needs to fight for what he wants. She points out that when she stood up to her father about having to dress like a kid, things worked out. So Logan has an actual conversation with his parents and gets to stay in Stoneybrook. Where he will continue to be a big wuss, I guess.

Thoughts: I wish Mary Anne could be like this all the time. The shy, meek thing is so tiresome.

The girls pride themselves on being pros, so why haven’t they taken a first-aid class before now?

When Mary Anne learns about the wilderness-survival thing, which he thinks is to build character, she asks what happens if the kids run into a wild animal. Logan: “You punch them in the nose, I guess, because you have so much character by then.” Heh.

I think this is the first book in the series to mention email.

The disaster drill sounds awesome. I want to do one! A friend of mine got to do a plane-crash drill – they put bruise makeup on her and everything.

Timmy’s brother Scott mentions that Timmy can’t swim. Maybe their parents should have told Mary Anne and Dawn that. Or not let him play in a pool without floaties. Oh, right, Stoneybrook parents hate their children.

Logan should have agreed to do the survival thing instead of saying he didn’t want to do it or go to boarding school. It’s called negotiating, son.

The 11-year-old who owned this book before me wrote in the diary pages in the back that Logan “can be a nuisance.” Rock on, 11-year-old.

May 28, 2012

BSC Super Mystery #3, Baby-sitters’ Fright Night: Which Witch is Which?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:17 pm by Jenn

Their outfits are the real fright here

Summary: Over Halloween, Abby, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Mallory go to Salem, Massachusetts for a school trip. The trip is part history-project research, part excuse to do a lot of shopping (or at least that’s how Stacey sees it). Alan, Cokie, and Cary are also on the trip and being varying levels of annoying. Cokie and her minion Grace are huge mean girls to a sixth-grader named Eileen who rooms with Mallory and is supposedly decended from a witch.

A local museum is displaying a big diamond called the Witch’s Eye, which is like the poor man’s Hope Diamond, in that it’s allegedly cursed. It’s stolen while some of the students are at the museum. Mary Anne finds a wig that the girls guess was worn by the theif, and Stacey finds a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. The girls think the person who stole the diamond is staying at the same inn as the students. At the same time, Abby buys a little ceramic pumpkin in a gift shop and starts taking it everywhere with her, calling it her pet pumpkin.

Anyway, the investigation begins, and Mallory gets really obsessed with documenting everything in the club’s mystery notebook. The notebook is back in Stoneybrook, but she has Jessi and Shannon send it to her. Girl needs help. There are a few suspects, including Mrs. Moorehouse, who owns the diamond but may not have insurance; Martha Kempner, a writer who’s in Salem to write about the diamond; Sean Knowles, whose reason for being in Salem isn’t exactly clear; and Harvey Hapgood, who tried to buy the diamond before it was stolen.

In between working on their projects and investigating the mystery, the girls do some sightseeing and various Halloween activities. They also try to avoid Alan and Cary, who are bugging Kristy. Cokie gets nastier and nastier to Eileen, and Mallory winds up sticking up for her and tearing into Cokie, which is both surprising and awesome of her. It also finally, finally gets Cokie to shut up.

Everyone goes to a Halloween parade, where Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, and she’s ticked but mostly just happy that her pumpkin wasn’t in it. Abby and Stacey’s room is broken into, as the theif took Abby’s room key, but nothing is stolen. Then Stacey realizes that the numbers she saw earlier are probably a safe combination, so she thinks the person who stole the Witch’s Eye stashed it in a safe.

Kristy thinks she’s uncovered a clue leading her to the museum, which is closed while the police investigate the diamond theft. She winds up locked inside and runs into Alan, who’s been torturing her the whole trip. But he has a clue, too, and they realize Cary set them both up. They arrange to scare the crap out of him, and the three seem to call a truce. It’s basically just a red herring.

While Kristy’s gone, there’s a storm and the electricity in the inn goes out. The other girls decide to snoop around in the suspects’ rooms and safes, but they don’t find anything. They do, however, see Mrs. Moorehouse and realize how frail she is, leading them to believe she didn’t steal the diamond since she wouldn’t have been able to make a clean getaway. The girls remember seeing Martha wear high heels for most of the trip, except for the day of the theft, when she wore sneakers. This means she may have been planning to move stealthily. The girls also use the combination Stacey found to open Martha’s safe, another strike against Martha.

It’s all dark and creepy in the inn, and the girls are freaked out when they run into Sean, since they still don’t know what he’s up to. He reveals that he’s an insurance agent and has been in Salem to keep an eye on the diamond. The girls head off to…I don’t know, call the police? Probably not. But Abby gets separated from them and runs into Martha, who grabs the pumpkin and breaks it, revealing the Witch’s Eye inside. It turns out she bought the pumpkin at one gift shop, put the diamond inside, and accidentally dropped it in another gift shop, where Abby bought it. She’s also been working with Harvey to get her hands on it.

Abby holds Martha off (yeah, I bet) until the police arrive and the girls are branded heroes yet again. Then they have cake with Mrs. Moorehouse, who tells them that she thought she didn’t have insurance because Harvey called her pretending to be from the insurance company and told her they couldn’t insure the diamond anymore. I don’t know, it’s a stupid wrap-up.

Also stupid: the B-plot involving Claudia, Jessi, Logan, and Shannon organizing a Halloween parade back in Stoneybrook. Jordan Pike is annoying and the sitters let him embarrass himself until he learns A Lesson.

Thoughts: Harvey Hapgood is not a name for a villain, or at least not a dangerous one. It’s a name for a Harold Hill wannabe.

If I were Jessi or Shannon and Mallory asked me to send the notebook, I’d say, “Sure, Mal, it’s on its way,” hang up, snicker, and go back to whatever I was doing. Otherwise I would be an enabler.

When Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, she yells out to the crowd that there’s a pickpocket in the crowd. I feel bad for any guy who ever tries to grope Abby in public.

Turns out Mallory is kind of awesome and Jordan is kind of a jerk. Who knew?

April 14, 2012

BSC Super Special #13, Aloha, Baby-sitters!: The BSC, Hawaiian Style

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

I want to wear a grass skirt and hula on a beach in Hawaii like a dork, too!

Summary: The BSC girls (minus Kristy, Mallory, and Shannon; plus Logan and Robert) have raised all the money they need to go to Hawaii, so off they go. Jessi makes them all keep a journal of the trip for poor, unloved Mallory, which is why everyone gets a chapter:

  • Jessi spends the whole trip taking way too many pictures and writing down every little detail of the trip for Mallory. If I’d been with her, I would have hidden her camera and notebook.
  • Stacey and Robert aren’t getting along since he had the nerve to talk to another girl on the trip and Stacey’s uncharacteristically jealous. They go with a small group on a side trip that involves helicopter tours over a crater, and Stacey’s helicopter crashes. She and her group have to walk back to civilization, but the lack of food takes a toll on Stacey and she ends up passing out from low blood sugar. However, when she’s back with Robert, she sees how worried he was and they make up.
  • Mary Anne and Logan have decided to spend the trip TBI, together but independent, since their friends have been teasing that they spend too much time together. They avoid each other a lot but admit at the end of the trip that they wish they hadn’t, and they won’t try that again. Mary Anne also accepts a job sitting for a real Hawaiian family, who – shocking! – turn out to be like any other American family. Mary Ann is asked to sit again the next day, but instead she sends…
  • Claudia, who has been depressed for a lot of the trip. She’s just learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor and is uncomfortable with her Japanese heritage. She also wonders how Mimi, who was living in Japan during World War II, viewed the whole situation. When she sits for the Hawaiian family, she meets their grandfather, who’s Caucasian and served in the war. He tells her that he doesn’t have any animosity toward the Japanese, and in fact has Japanese-American friends. He also points out that the U.S. hurt Japan worse with the atomic bombs. After that, Claudia feels a lot better.
  • Dawn finds a little beach and enlists some local kids to clean it up.
  • Abby talks her way into a commercial for sunscreen by saying she’s on her school’s volleyball team (not true) and is 18 (SO not true). Karma gives her a sunburn.
  • Mallory and Kristy run a farm daycamp back in Stoneybrook, but Kristy’s barely in the book, other than to make everyone wear shirts advertising the club (yes, even in Hawaii). While at the park with a tantrum-throwing Jenny Prezzioso, Mallory encounters a woman who thinks she’s a horrible sitter and neglects her charges. The woman, Mrs. Wellfleet, even calls Kristy during a meeting to bash Mallory. Later on, Mallory takes her sisters to the park and catches Mrs. Wellfleet’s own son throwing a much bigger tantrum. Mal manages to be the bigger person and not rub it in the woman’s face.

Thoughts: Logan’s disappointed that they don’t get leis at the airport. I would be, too.

I think I’ve figured out why Abby’s so weird: She’s high from all of her allergy meds.

Trivia: Mary Anne is part Norwegian.

Before seeing sugarcane, Robert thought sugar was dug out of mines. What?

In the scene where Mrs. Wellfleet’s son is a terror, Margo Pike proves to be a wonderful kid. The boy steals the shovel she’s using, and at first she tries to be polite and tell him to return it. When he doesn’t, she finds something else to do. Then when he moves on to something else, Margo takes the shovel back. The kid gets mad, so she invites him to play with her. So out of eight kids, at least a couple Pikes are turning out all right.

I actually liked Claudia’s plotline. We don’t hear about her heritage a lot.

January 16, 2012

BSC #94, Stacey McGill, Super Sitter: Show Me the Money

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:06 pm by Jenn

Stacey's sweater is cute, but those shoes...ick

Summary: Stacey wants to take Robert to a Broadway play for his birthday, which means she needs to babysit as much as possible so she can buy tickets. A job comes up for a family named the Cheplins; they need a sitter every afternoon right after school until 5:30. Even though it leaves her little time for homework, her friends, her mom, Robert, and other sitting jobs, Stacey takes it.

Mrs. Cheplin is hesitant at first since Stacey’s only 13. But Stacey wins her over with the fact that she has diabetes, which Dana Cheplin has just been diagnosed with. Mrs. Cheplin gives Stacey a bunch of household work to do along with watching the kids and helping them with their homework. Though she claims she still isn’t comfortable with the arrangement, only extending the deal two weeks at a time, Mrs. Cheplin keeps giving Stacey more and more responsibilities and paying her more for them.

Stacey’s happy with the money, but soon realizes how much time and energy the job is taking. She has to miss out on plans she’s made with Robert, her friends, and her mom so she can complete homework and do other things she isn’t able to do during the week. Dana has a diabetes-related emergency one day, and though Stacey handles it very responsibly and maturely, Mrs. Cheplin is still clearly not impressed with her.

On Valentine’s Day, things really start to come apart. Stacey forgot to buy Robert anything and finally tells him why she’s been working so hard. Then, after she has a particularly hectic day at the Cheplins’ but still only gets a two-week extension of the job, Stacey tells the BSC girls about all the chaos. They note that the money she’s been making isn’t as important as everything else in her life. Stacey realizes that she’s turning into her workaholic father and tells Mrs. Cheplin she can’t keep working for her every day. Robert may not get to go to Broadway, but Stacey’s still happy.

In the B-plot, Logan wants to buy Mary Anne a ring for Valentine’s Day. He asks Stacey for help picking it out, but she’s busy (of course), so she suggests that he ask Kristy instead. Charlotte and Becca spot Logan and Kristy ring-shopping together, and when they see him put the ring on her finger, they think Logan’s a two-timer and Kristy’s a home-wrecker. They spread the news to a bunch of other kids, and suddenly Kristy starts getting hate mail from eight-year-olds. She has no idea why kids are mad at her; her only idea is that some of the Bashers are mad at the Krushers.

When the news comes out and Logan tells the kids what was really going on, his sister Kerry admits that she canceled his and Mary Anne’s Valentine’s Day reservations (thinking he was going to take Kristy out instead). To make things up to them, the kids make them dinner, which is actually really sweet.

Thoughts: Kristy actually wants Stacey to turn down the job at the Cheplins’ because she won’t be free for other jobs. So she wants Stacey to say she can’t sit so she can…sit. Kristy, you’re a horrible businesswoman. I get her not wanting Stacey to sit every day, but can’t the girls split up the job? Turning it down completely would be a huge loss.

…Although Mrs. Cheplin is a huge bitca. I would never be able to handle working for her. She leaves Stacey two- and three-page-long lists of chores, such as doing laundry and starting dinner, which she’s expected to do in just over two hours, while helping the kids with their homework. She questions Stacey every time she can’t complete some task, like she’s testing Stacey to make sure she can handle everything. But they’re the sorts of things that a stay-at-home mom or housewife would complete over the course of a whole day, not in just a couple of hours. Then when Stacey finally tells her she has to quit, Mrs. Cheplin says it’s because she’s not mature enough for the job. Girl, please! She was more mature than any 13-year-old should be expected to be!

Mary Anne and Logan bring their own pencils to the bowling alley to keep score. Cough nerds cough.

December 31, 2011

BSC Super Mystery #2, Baby-sitters Beware: Ice Ice Baby-sitters

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:05 pm by Jenn

This never happened, but whatever

Summary: Spooky stuff is happening to the BSC girls. First, Kristy and Abby see someone apparently breaking into the house next to the Rodowskys’. The police (including Sgt. Johnson) are called in, but the house’s owner doesn’t think anything was stolen. Then some of the girls get notes and phone calls saying, “You’re next.” Mary Anne sees a possible stalker outside her house, Kristy gets a rock through her window, someone starts a fire in the trash cans outside Claudia’s house, and Stacey almost gets run down by a car.

The girls are pretty sure this isn’t just some prank Cokie’s playing, but telling an adult or calling the police again would be foolish, so of course they don’t do that. At the library, Abby finds a copy of the article about the girls thwarting the pet-napping ring in the trash, and the girls see that the photo that ran with the article is of Claudia, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Dawn. With the exception of Dawn, these are the only girls who have gotten threats.

There’s really only one lead: Stacey remembers seeing a sticker on the bumper of the car that almost ran her down. The girls figure out that it’s from the Stoneybrook Business Bureau, but from the previous year, not the current one. They get a list of members of the bureau for both years but don’t get a chance to do much with it. They decide to keep an eye on the house where the possible break-in took place.

Meanwhile, Kristy’s family is taking a weekend ski trip at Shadow Lake, and she brings Claudia, Stacey, and Abby along. They think they’re leaving all the madness behind in Stoneybrook, but they’re wrong. Claudia accidentally winds up on a closed trail (the sign stating it’s closed is hidden), and she and Abby almost get stranded there. Stacey gets stuck on a ski lift. Kristy is almost flattened by a snowblower. All possible accidents, but the girls are suspicious.

Mary Anne is sitting for the Rodowskys when she sees a second break-in at the house next door, this one for real. She calls the police (and Logan), and the story comes out that the son of the house’s owner was stealing stuff to sell. The guy has no connection to the BSC girls’ troubles and even says he wouldn’t mess with kids. So it’s a red herring, but Mary Anne still solves a mystery.

The BSC members still in Stoneybrook gather for a weekend meeting and finally get around to looking at the list of Business Bureau members. Jessi realizes that one of the people who was a member the previous year but not currently is Karl Tate, the head of the dog-napping ring. A call to Sgt. Johnson lets the girls know that Tate is now out of jail. Mary Anne calls the girls at Shadow Lake and tells Stacey that Karl Tate is free, but there’s a blizzard coming, and the phone goes out before Stacey can hear more than his name.

Watson, Mrs. Brewer, and the little kids head into town for supplies while Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Sam, and Charlie stay back to ride out the blizzard. A neighbor, Woodie, encourages them to go to the main lodge, but the teens decide to stay put. That is, until their chimney gets blocked and the cabin fills with smoke, forcing them out. They’re already on edge, what with the weirdness going on, and the fact that Stacey has spotted a woman they’ve seen before, Kris, lurking around with a gun. They decide to tell Sam and Charlie what’s going on once they all get to the main lodge with Woodie.

Back in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne, Logan, and Shannon take Shannon’s dog Astrid for a walk. Astrid chases a cat into Tate’s house, so the teens follow her inside to get her. They end up accidentally locking themselves in Tate’s study, where they find the photo from the article, this time with a big X through it. Then Mrs. Tate comes home and tells the teens that he needs to be stopped.

As the girls, Sam, Charlie, and Woodie head to the main lodge, Karl Tate appears and Abby knocks him out with a big chunk of ice. (Nice.) Next, Kris arrives, and the girls learn that she’s an FBI agent tailing him for violating the terms of his parole. (Just go with it.) Kris takes Tate away, and the others continue their trek to the main lodge. Suddenly, Woodie grabs Stacey and threatens to throw her in the freezing lake. He’s Tate’s son, and he’s basically been driven crazy by what a bunch of teenagers did to his father. Kristy thinks fast, throwing a flare at him, and he falls into the lake.

In the post-madness wrap-up, the girls learn that Tate came to stop Woodie, not to hurt them. And Kristy actually gets in some trouble for not telling her parents what was going on. But I doubt anyone will learn a lesson there.

The subplots, both boring and not (mostly boring):

  • Claudia thinks Abby is full of herself, since she keeps talking about what a good skier she is. Everyone else knows that Abby’s just a jokester and doesn’t really think she’s better than anyone. Claudia’s cold to Abby until their experience on the closed trail, and after that, they’re fine.
  • Mallory’s parents are putting in insulation at home, so she and Jessi have to skip the ski trip to watch her siblings. Mal is really ticked about this and doesn’t hide it well. She mopes around until Jessi tells her to cut it out. Mallory does occupy herself by putting together the club’s mystery notebook.
  • Mary Anne is mad at Logan because she’s been getting notes in his handwriting telling her not to cry. Logan’s also acting weird, which she thinks is evidence of his guilt. It turns out he’s also getting notes, seemingly in her handwriting, accusing him of lying. They work things out but never figure out who sent the notes. They figure it was probably Cokie.
  • Kristy is worried about Watson, thinking he’s doing too much since his heart attack. She keeps trying to do things for him so he’ll take it easy, finally telling him straight out that she’s worried. He assures her that his doctor said he’s doing really well and can even start exercising regularly. Kristy admits that she doesn’t want Watson to leave like her father did. It’s actually very sweet.
  • Kristy tells Stacey that Sam and his girlfriend have broken up, so Stacey’s worried that he’ll pursue her even though she’s dating Robert. Sam tells her that he thinks of her as a close friend now, though he doesn’t mind keeping his flirting skills sharp with her.

Thoughts: With the way she eats, I can’t believe Claudia still has Halloween candy in December.

When Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne smell smoke in Claudia’s house, Mary Anne opens the pantry. In case the canned goods have committed arson?

Abby coming up with Agatha Kristy made me giggle.

Jessi cracks the case on Karl Tate, so good for her. Junior officers are good for something after all.

Shannon’s presence in this book, however, is almost completely pointless. She’s only useful because of her dog. Ironic, though, that a pet-napper’s son was partly undone by a dog.

It’s a little funny that Dawn was really the person who sent Tate to jail, but she wasn’t one of Woodie’s targets.

October 6, 2011

BSC Super Mystery #1, Baby-sitters’ Haunted House: Ghostbusted

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 11:13 pm by Jenn

I don't care if that house is haunted, I want to live there

Summary: Karen’s mother and stepfather are planning to spend some time in Maine with some friends, the Menderses, who have four kids. They want one of the BSC girls to come along to look after Karen, Andrew, and the Menders kids. All of the BSC girls want to go, and for some reason, the adults agree to bring Kristy, Claudia, Dawn, and Mary Anne along. Jessi and Mallory stay back in Stoneybrook to take on running the club.

There’s this whole back story about the house where everyone’s staying in Maine – it belongs to Mr. Menders’ family, and the guy who owned it may have died, and his wife might be haunting it. If the Menderses want to, they can move there. The kids don’t want to move, but the parents are all excited about opening a health-food store, so they spend their time in Maine researching. The BSC girls try to get the kids excited about possibly moving to Maine, even though there’s weird stuff going on in the house.

It’s typical haunted-house stuff: weird noises, a woman in white, etc. The butler and maid, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, are also a little shady. Mrs. Cooper supposedly can’t talk. There’s a fourth floor of the house that the Coopers claim they don’t have a key to, and the gardener, Georgio (who’s in college but totally has a crush on Claudia), keeps telling the girls it’s not safe to go up there. After the girls see a “ghost” in the hallway with a candle one night, they get suspicious of Georgio. It turns out the “ghost” was the oldest Menders kid, Lionel, who wants to scare his family away from moving into the house. But then the girls see a light going on in a window on the fourth floor, which supposedly no one has access to.

Mary Anne does some investigating and learns that there’s a dumbwaiter in the house. The woman she talks to at the historical society tells her another woman was in asking questions about the house; the only thing memorable about her was that she spoke with an accent. Claudia and Dawn check out the dumbwaiter and find a tape recorder, which they realize is where the weird noises have been coming from. Dawn winds up having to hide in the dumbwaiter when the Coopers come home, and she discovers that Mrs. Cooper can, in fact, talk.

More digging and research turn up the fact that the Coopers, who claimed to have lived in the town their whole lives, lied about that. The news also comes out that Mr. Menders has a cousin in Scotland who will get the house if the Menderses don’t want it. Thanks to Dawn, who remembers that Mrs. Cooper has an accent, and Lionel, who’s an aspiring actor and can do all sorts of accents, the BSC girls figure out that Mrs. Cooper is Scottish. They put this together with a photo of one of Mr. Menders’ relatives, who Claudia realizes looks like Mr. Cooper, and figure out that the Coopers are the people who stand to get the house (and the possible treasure on the fourth floor).

A storm hits while the adults are all gone for the day, and the BSC girls and Georgio get stuck in the house with the Coopers. But then it gets all anticlimactic and the Coopers just leave the country, apparently thinking the house is really haunted. Disappointing. Also, there wasn’t really a treasure. Also also, the Coopers don’t kill Karen before they leave. Like I said, disappointing.

Mallory and Jessi’s plot is really boring, and also something we’ve seen before: They have to turn down jobs because the two of them, Logan, and Shannon are the only sitters in town, and then people stop calling. They think the club is losing business, but people are just out of town or don’t need sitters.

In other news: Andrew’s obsessed with frogs and boats; one of the Menders girls, Jill, is obsessed with Dawn; Karen’s obsessed with getting the other girl, Martha, to make friends; and Claudia has to tell Georgio she’s 13 in a letter. But at least he didn’t go to jail.

Thoughts: There was a lot about this book I forgot, but I did remember the scene with Dawn and Claudia hiding in the dumbwaiter, and the scene where the BSC girls have Lionel speak in different accents so they can figure out where Mrs. Cooper is from.

It’s weird to read a BSC book where everyone gets a chapter except Stacey, since she wasn’t in the club at this point.

Shannon’s a jerk in this book. She shows up late to a meeting, stays for only 15 minutes, and tells Mallory and Jessi that they need to end meetings on time. Why did she even bothering coming?

“Elton Cooper grilled burgers, hot dogs, and chicken for us.” But what did Dawn eat? WHAT DID DAWN EAT??

Andrew wants to know the difference between a frog and a toad, so Dawn looks it up in the dictionary. How quaint.

Claudia follows Georgio to a dark shed even though he makes her nervous. Someone get this girl a copy of The Gift of Fear.

Kristy: “Why would he have a candle in the toolshed?” Mary Anne: “For light?” Thank you, Mary Anne, for teaching us all what candles are for.

Mrs. Pike complains about everyone leaving town and not being able to get a sitter, saying they “should have planned better.” Hey, maybe you shouldn’t have had eight kids you never want to take care of.

August 27, 2011

BSC Mystery #20, Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery: Gorilla Warfare

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:23 pm by Jenn

Matt's shorter than I always pictured him

Summary: SMS teams up with a local zoo for a project in which the eighth graders observe animals. They’re split into groups of three, and the group with the best report gets extra credit and a trip to a water park. The timing is great, since there are two gorillas, James and Mojo, on loan, and there’s a lot of hype surrounding their visit. There are also a bunch of protesters hanging out around the zoo.

Mary Anne’s in a group with Alan and a guy named Howie (previously mentioned as a friend of Claudia and Stacey’s), while Logan’s in a group with Dawn and Claudia. Kristy’s placed with Stacey and wants nothing to do with her, so their group studies their own pets (Stacey doesn’t have one, so she studies the Johanssens’ dog). So Mary Anne, Dawn, Claudia, Logan, Alan, and Howie go to the zoo a lot; Logan, Dawn, and Claudia observe the gorillas while Mary Anne, Alan, and Howie watch an emu, bears, and seals. Alan and Logan really want to beat each other, so they get all macho and competitive.

One day the emu escapes from her cage, and when Mary Anne goes to take a look after the emu’s return, she sees that the fence is intact. There are also some stains that look like berry juice from a nearby bush. She decides that the emu didn’t really escape but was let out. Oh, and the director, Ms. Wofsey, has lost her master key that opens all the cages. It happens to look like all the keys the SMS students were given to access info at different exhibits.

This is, of course, a case for the BSC. They decide that the protesters are obviously suspects, but they’ve also seen a couple in matching sweatsuits observing all the animals. Not long after that, a giraffe is let out of its cage. Mary Anne again sees berry stains nearby. Knowing that one of the gorillas, Mojo, knows sign language and can see the emu’s cage from hers, the BSC girls bring Matt Braddock to the zoo to communicate with Mojo. However, Mojo will only sign “food,” so the girls think she’s hungry, since Mr. Chester, a zoo employee, is bringing her lunch.

Next the gibbons’ cage is opened (they don’t escape), and Mary Anne and Logan think the matching-sweatsuit couple is responsible, since they’ve been observing the gibbons. The couple has been writing down prices, and Mary Anne and Logan think they want to steal a gibbon and sell it. As she’s doing more observation for the project, Mary Anne realizes that she no longer has her own key – she has Ms. Wofsey’s skeleton key. She knows she hasn’t had it the whole time, and the only time she could have accidentally swapped her key with someone else’s was when she, Alan, and Howie were taking things out of their bags to look for change.

Mary Anne confronts Alan, accusing him of freeing the animals to better observe them for the project (though why would he free animals he wasn’t observing)? Alan admits that he’s been doing research for the project, which was supposed to only be based on observation and the info from the exhibits, but has no idea what she’s talking about regarding the key. They both realize that Howie must have had Ms. Wofsey’s key. He confesses that he found it in the bushes and used it to open the emu’s cage, but she didn’t escape until after he left; obviously he didn’t secure the cage well enough. Howie also says that he didn’t free any other animals, and he has to be telling the truth since Mary Anne had Ms. Wofsey’s key by that point.

Logan and Mary Anne remember Mr. Chester saying he was late to an event because he was feeding the seals, but he wasn’t, since they’d just been with the seals. With a couple of more pieces of potential evidence, the BSC girls (and Logan) tell Ms. Wofsey their suspicions. Ms. Wofsey thinks Mr. Chester was trying to get her in trouble because he’s mad that she got the job he wanted. She knows that Mr. Chester’s big move will be trying to free Mojo and James, so the zoo sets up a sting operation involving people in gorilla suits. It works (yeah, I bet), and Mr. Chester is done for. Later, the girls realize that Mojo was probably signing “food” because Mr. Chester fed all the animals. Also, the matching-sweatsuit couple was looking for an animal to buy for some rich guy.

The B-plot involves a baby elephant being displayed at the mall until a home can be found for it. (Maybe this is crazy, but couldn’t they take it to…THE ZOO?) The BSC girls and their charges decide to hold a walkathon to raise money to relocate the elephant. They call it an Elephant Walk and make buttons and other swag for it. There’s some drama because on the day of the walkathon, the girls don’t have a stereo to play “Baby Elephant Walk,” and Claudia suggests that they borrow one from Stacey. Stacey agrees to loan it to them, but only if she can participate. Kristy’s ticked but doesn’t have time to do anything about it. Anyway, the walkathon is a success, and contributes to getting the elephant relocated.

Thoughts: This mystery is actually structured plenty well, with some good red herrings. Bravo, ghostwriter.

Mary Anne shares a soda with Alan and Howie. That’s kind of gross. And I’m sure Logan wouldn’t appreciate it. Mary Anne probably told him about it, too. I bet they’re like Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother, telling each other every single detail of their days.

Like Stacey would ever let Charlotte wear a matching kitty headband and backpack.

Mary Anne is much less of a mouse than usual in this book. When Logan’s insults toward Alan bug her, she asks him to stop – without crying. I’m impressed.

Logan: “Do gorillas like chocolate cake?” Mary Anne: “Everybody likes chocolate cake.” For some reason, I thought that was really funny.

I think something was moved around here. Matt signs to Mojo, and then a few pages later Jessi asks if anyone who knows sign language can talk to Mojo. Then Matt signs the same questions he’d already asked her. Why would Jessi ask that if she knew Matt had already signed with Mojo?

Speaking of that, Matt signing with the gorilla was the only part of the book I remembered. I always thought that was really cool.

Recurring character Erica Blumberg makes a good point: “How would a gorilla know what an emu is?”

I love that Alan cheats on a class assignment by doing extra work.

May 28, 2011

BSC #79, Mary Anne Breaks the Rules: If Your Kid is Sad, It’s Because You’re a Bad Parent

Posted in books tagged , , , at 2:11 pm by Jenn

Poor dumpy Jake

Summary: Mary Anne sits for the Kuhn kids and notices that Jake is sad because he doesn’t get to see his father very often. He also has two sisters, so he doesn’t have a steady male presence in his life. Mary Anne suggests that Logan come over to play with Jake while she’s sitting, and when he does, Jake is thrilled. Logan comes over a few more times but Mary Anne never mentions it to Mrs. Kuhn. (She thinks it’ll come off as a critique of Mrs. Kuhn’s parenting, which is really stupid.)

Of course, Mrs. Kuhn comes home early one day, finds Logan at the house, and assumes that he’s come by the mack on Mary Anne. As we all know, Mary Anne is never able to speak up for herself, so she doesn’t explain what’s really going on. Oh, and Logan bails to let her fend for herself, because he’s a jerk.

Mrs. Kuhn is ticked and calls Kristy to complain, which in turn makes the other BSC girls ticked, especially Kristy. They’re worried that news of Mary Anne’s irresponsibility will spread and ruin the BSC. Fortunately, Jake does Mary Anne’s job for her, explaining things to his mother, who has no problem with Logan dropping by to play with Jake. So basically, if Mary Anne hadn’t been such a chicken, there wouldn’t have been a problem, and I wouldn’t have had to read this boring book.

The B-plot is even more boring: It’s Halloween, and some of the kids in Stoneybrook want to run a haunted house. There’s a fight, the girls break off to do their own house, and…I don’t know, it goes well? It’s not exactly important.

Thoughts: Jamie wants to go trick-or-treating as a shopping bag so people will put candy right into his mouth. Maybe Jamie’s smarter than we all thought….

Mr. Pike has a black light. Yeah, with all those kids, he probably smokes a lot of pot to relax.

Who hires a sitter to take their kids trick-or-treating? Take your own dang kids trick-or-treating!

Isn’t Tiffany, who’s 11, too old to dress up as Tinker Bell?

Vanessa wants to make the girls’ haunted house “gross and disgusting,” so Mallory tells her to call Alan Gray, since he’s an expert. Point to Mallory.

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.

January 10, 2011

BSC Super Special #10, Sea City, Here We Come!: They Had to Leave Stoneybrook to Be This Boring

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:11 pm by Jenn

Seriously, who invited Logan?

Summary: The Pikes and Barretts head to Sea City for two weeks, with the Pikes hiring Mallory (sort of) and Jessi as mother’s helpers, and Mrs. Barrett hiring Stacey. Then, for some reason, the Pikes invite the other BSC girls for the second week of vacation. Logan comes for the weekend, for no apparent reason.

Mallory lands herself a date with Toby, the guy who kind of hooked up with Stacey the last two times she and Mary Anne were in Sea City. Except right before they’re supposed to go out, Mallory talks to Ben on the phone and realizes she doesn’t want to go out with anyone else. She tells Toby nothing’s going to happen between them, and he asks if she can hook him up with another cute girl the next time they come to Sea City. Then he writes her a postcard and asks if Jessi’s single. Wow, that one’s a charmer.

Stacey‘s totally jealous of Mallory and does a very poor job of hiding it. She also has trouble dealing with Mrs. Barrett, who’s kind of annoying.

Mary Anne runs into Alex, her guy from her previous trips to Sea City, and Logan gets jealous, even though Mary Anne obviously has no feelings for the guy.

Before the trip, Kristy struggles to find substitute Krushers for a game against the Bashers, since she refuses to just postpone it and let Bart gloat, or something. She gathers some kids from her neighborhood who have no experience playing softball (and some of them don’t exactly want to do it), and they play the weirdest game of softball ever. Sadly, it’s the most interesting part of the book.

In the nothing-happens category, Claudia goes to summer school before going to Sea City, Jessi babysits a lot while they’re there, and Dawn and Mary Anne run a mini day camp.

There’s a hurricane while everyone’s in Sea City, but nothing happens. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THE WHOLE BOOK.

Thoughts: For some reason, I love Claudia having the BSC girls (and logan) taste-test Heath and Skor bars.

Setting aside the fact that there’s no way Logan could get a job in a restaurant, why would he need to? With three of the BSC girls out of town, wouldn’t he have his pick of sitting jobs? Also, what do BSC clients do when everyone in the club is out of town? Do they have to – gasp! – actually spend time with their children?

Dawn tells little kids a ghost story involving murder. Way to go, Dawn.

Dear ghostwriter, Franklin’s last name is not Harris, it’s DeWitt. Moron.

“Somehow, Kristy had devised a way to convince the grown-ups to take the kids for a half hour.” When a 13-year-old has to ask you to spend time with your children on a family vacation, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

Mallory writes a postcard to Stacey’s mom. I don’t get it.

Since when is Sea City on an island?

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