November 12, 2013

BSC #126, The All-New Mallory Pike: The New Mallory Doesn’t Have a Backbone Either

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:27 pm by Jenn

Mallory looks eight years old

Mallory looks eight years old

Summary: We’ve been hearing about it, and the day is finally here: Mallory’s off to boarding school. Riverbend is all girls, with an emphasis on fine arts. She’s nervous from the start, since it’s her first time away from home and she’s not sure she’ll fit in. In fact, she’s not sure the school will be any different from SMS – what if she has the same problems at Riverbend as she did back in Stoneybrook?

Mallory’s new roommate, Alexis, doesn’t help things. She is, in a word, crazy. She makes rules that Mal has to follow, and doesn’t make any room for Mallory’s stuff. We all know Mal is a little mouse, so of course she doesn’t say anything. She’s also pretty bad at reading people and doesn’t get that Alexis doesn’t like her, so she’d be better off keeping her distance instead of trying to become her friend.

Things get worse, and Alexis goes full-blown nuts. She’s like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction in teenage form. She gets mad that Mallory never spends time with her, not realizing that Mal is avoiding their room because she never gets any time alone, and because Alexis is annoying. Alexis also reads Mallory’s diary and borrows her earrings without asking. Mal’s new friends let her know that Alexis has already scared off two roommates (one of whom, Jen, is now friends with Mallory).

Mallory keeps trying to make things work, but doesn’t get anywhere. When she and Alexis discuss things with their dorm prefect, Alexis paints herself as the victim. Things keep getting worse, and finally Alexis snaps, actually trashing the room. Finally the prefect and the dean of students realize that this rooming situation isn’t going to work out, and that Alexis probably shouldn’t be around people, actually. They give her Jen’s single room and move Jen in with Mallory. So now Mal has friends, a non-psychotic roommate, and…eh, I don’t care enough to think of a third thing.

Back in Stoneybrook, the Pike kids are revolting because Vanessa’s now the only person in the house with her own room. Each of the kids tries to make a case for changing room arrangements, and Mr. and Mrs. Pike are all, “We’re so sick of parenting. We don’t even care anymore. Let the dog have the room.” Of course, the BSC girls help them work things out. Byron is fine with living with Nicky, and Vanessa admits to being lonely without a roommate, so the girls move into Nicky and the triplets’ room, Jordan and Adam room together, and Nicky and Byron room together. When Mal comes home for vacations, I guess she has to sleep on the couch.

Thoughts: So you see, kids, if you ever have problems at school, just run away and everything will be okay!

Mallory’s self-esteem issues are painful. I wish her parents had kept her in Stoneybrook and sent her to therapy.

If Alexis is so horrible to her roommates, they should stop making girls who don’t know her live with her. It’s a mean way to introduce them to the school. Riverbend’s administration is no better than SMS’s.

And that’s it for Mallory! I…won’t miss her.

October 29, 2013

BSC #125, Mary Anne in the Middle: This Was Supposed to Be Good News

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:06 pm by Jenn

ff

Mary Anne, stop raiding Richard’s closet

Summary: Mallory can’t stand going to SMS anymore, so she’s strongly considering going to a boarding school in Massachusetts called Riverbend. Jessi’s ticked that she’s leaving, and the two of them stop talking. Instead, they talk to Mary Anne. Mary Anne is sympathetic to both of them, but she can see how miserable Mallory is, so she supports Mal’s decision to go to Riverbend.

Mallory learns that she was accepted at the school, and when announces that she’s going, everyone flips out. All of a sudden, everyone loves Mallory. Her siblings are especially upset, which is kind of funny since a) they never listen to her and b) you’d think they’d be happy to have one less sibling to have to deal with. Jessi’s furious that Mallory made up her mind without consulting her best friend, and especially mad that Mallory talked to Mary Anne instead.

So this fight goes on forever, until Mary Anne snaps and tells the two to come to her house. She makes them get their issues out in the open, which leads to them making up. Mallory’s still going away to school, but Jessi now understands why she made that decision and is a lot more supportive. Then everyone has We Love Mallory Day, because Mal’s self-esteem is so low, she has to be reminded constantly that people actually like her.

In the B-plot, the BSC girls organize a sort of Christmas ornament drive for the local nursing home. They also throw a party for the residents, which would be a lot sweeter if we weren’t constantly reminded how the girls are awesome do-gooders who are always working on some kind of charity project.

Thoughts: “I didn’t say you were fat. You just have a big face.” Thanks, Margo.

Interesting that Jessi acts the same way over Mallory leaving as Becca did when Jessi went to New York. And Jessi considered moving away, too! She’s an annoying hypocrite in this book.

Mary Anne sends Mallory and Jessi on the same sitting job while they’re fighting, because that’s worked out so well for the BSC girls in the past.

There’s a really sweet moment where a man at the nursing home is surprised that Kristy knows his name, and when Kristy says she remembers it from the last time the BSC girls were there, the man is so happy that he almost cries.

October 16, 2012

BSC #108, Don’t Give Up, Mallory: Don’t Ask Me, I’m Just a Girl

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

Bravo, cover artist – these kids actually look 11

Summary: Mallory takes a class about children’s literature, which she’s really excited about…until it starts. The teacher, Mr. Cobb, grades only based on participation, then doesn’t call on the girls as much on the boys. When he does call on the girls, he only gives them a few seconds to get their thoughts together, then moves on to a boy. And half the time, he just lets the boys call out answers and ignores the girls raising their hands. Mallory doesn’t want to say anything, though, since the other kids are already teasing her about having good grades and she doesn’t want to rock the boat with anyone.

The sixth grade is also working on a big fundraiser, which Mallory gets to help plan as sixth-grade secretary. While looking through old records to get an idea of something to donate to the school, she learns that a previous class tried to give money for a student lounge, but no lounge exists. After some more digging, Mallory finds out that the money was used to make some repairs to the building instead. The principal agrees to let the sixth-graders fundraise for a lounge, promising to match the money if they make over $1,000.

Mallory becomes a major part of the fundraising activities, and the class raises more than $1,300 through things like selling flowers and running a dunk-the-teacher booth. The praise she gets for her leadership makes her decide to confront Mr. Cobb about favoring the boys. He blows her off because he thinks he’s an awesome teacher and isn’t going to let some shy little girl upset about her grade tell him what to do. Mallory also tells one of her classmates, Sandra, who tries to make herself look more feminine so boys will like her, to stop being an airhead, which is pretty awesome of her. Mr. Cobb winds up thinking about what Mal said and apologizing to the class for his actions.

B-plot: Buddy Barrett wants to march in the Memorial Day parade, but he’s not part of a group, so he can’t. He lies to the parade organizers, saying he’s in a marching band, and the BSC girls decide to make their own band for all the kids who want to be in the parade. They make their own instruments, which don’t play anything, but Mallory comes up with the idea of putting kazoos in the instruments. Then it gets boring.

Thoughts: Mallory is actually pretty cool in this book, at least once she grows a backbone.

“Guys don’t like girls who act too brainy.” Well, then I guess you don’t have too many boy problems, Sandra, because you’re a moron.

“I think we should do some dancing in this parade.” Jessi, don’t make me tell you to shut up.

If the girls are so annoyed with Mr. Cobb for not calling on them when they raise their hands, and for letting the boys call out answers, why don’t they just stop raising their hands and call out answers?

The day of the parade, a bunch of parents drop their kids off with Kristy without talking to her or even making sure she knows she needs to look after them. Because if there’s any chance to get away from their children, Stoneybrook parents will take it.

December 26, 2011

BSC #92, Mallory’s Christmas Wish: Reality Bites

Posted in books tagged , , , at 2:20 pm by Jenn

Nice mom jeans, child I assume is Claire

Summary: Mallory convinces her family to have an old-fashioned Christmas, with homemade presents, home-cooked meals, and the like. Vanessa hears about a contest looking for families with unique Christmas celebrations and enters with the old-fashioned idea. She wins, so the Pikes will have their preparations and holiday activities taped for a TV show. Plus, they get $10,000. The Pikes are all excited, but Kristy’s even more excited because now the BSC can get a ton of free publicity.

Of course, things don’t go smoothly. Because they’re filming a TV show, there are various takes and some things have to be staged. There are cameras in everyone’s faces, and the whole process is just a hassle. Plus, the BSC girls are working at a boutique at Stoneybrook Manor, where Mallory’s Uncle Joe lives, and the filming puts him off. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the kids revolt, and the Pikes decide to shut down filming and give back the $10,000.

Not much else happens in the book, other than the BSC girls working at the boutique, but we get to accompany the Pikes on a lot of Christmas errands. That was kind of nice to read about on…Christmas. (Nice coincidence, huh?)

Thoughts: Suddenly, I’m realized the real plus of having seven brothers and sisters: tons of Christmas presents. Can you imagine all the stuff under the Pikes’ tree?

Claudia’s “Kishi Scientific Ener-joy Theory”: “If you eat what you like, you become happy, and the energy from your joy burns off calories.” I like it!

I’d love to know where the Pikes store the 360 Christmas cookies they make.

I love that Claire believes in Santa but is “suspicious.”

Vanessa’s Christmas song, which cracks me up:

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

When I chop you down, don’t fall on me.

You smell so nice, you look so green,

Excuse my axe for being mean.”

This book was published before reality TV really took off, but I can imagine the BSC girls starring on some reality shows:

  • Kristy and Abby – partners on The Amazing Race
  • Claudia – Project Runway or Work of Art
  • Stacey – 16 and Pregnant (let’s be honest)
  • Mallory – a Jon & Kate Plus 8/19 Kids and Counting-type show starring the Pikes
  • Mary Anne – she’ll have her own show about having a giant family
  • Jessi – So You Think You Can Dance
  • Dawn – Whale Wars

June 11, 2011

BSC #80, Mallory Pike, #1 Fan: Write What You Know

Posted in books tagged , , , at 3:12 pm by Jenn

Again, the British cover, because, again, it's hilarious

Summary: Mallory is assigned a project requiring her to write about the job she wants when she grows up. We all know Mallory wants to be a writer, but for some reason she can’t figure out what to write about writing. Kristy gives her the idea to write a play for the Kids Can Do Anything Club to perform. Mallory thinks it’s great, but her teacher wants more. So Mallory decides to write about her new favorite author, Henrietta Hayes.

Mallory writes Ms. Hayes a couple of letters, but she just gets form letters back. Finally she discovers that Ms. Hayes lives in Stoneybrook, so she stops by for a visit. Ms. Hayes is happy to help Mallory, in turn hiring her as a part-time assistant. The problem is that Mallory’s convinced that writers should only write about what they know, which is why she’s writing her play about her crazy family. But the fun, wacky family Ms. Hayes wrote about in a number of books isn’t based on her own family, so Mallory thinks she’s a fraud.

The Pike kids find out that Mallory’s writing not-so-nice things about characters based on them, so they decide to picket the play. Mrs. Pike is called in to decide whether or not the play is insulting, and she admits to Mallory that it is. Mallory whines that she can’t change too much because then the play won’t be based on her life.

Mal confronts Ms. Hayes about the books, and Ms. Hayes points out that there’s this thing called fiction, where writers basically make stuff up. Finally, Mallory gets a clue and realizes that not all writing has to be autobiographical. She rewrites the play to her siblings’ liking and gets an A on her project.

Thoughts: It’s not enough that I had to read a lame Mallory book, but there wasn’t even a non-Mallory B-plot. That is so not Raven.

Claudia wears a yellow paisley blouse with a yellow and maroon striped vest. She shouldn’t wear either of those, let alone wear them together.

Since when do Mary Anne and Logan live on the same street?

February 13, 2011

BSC #69, Get Well Soon, Mallory!: Mallory Has Cooties

Posted in books tagged , , , at 3:36 pm by Jenn

Nice nightgown, Cootie Queen

Summary: Mallory’s two-book-long illness finally gets a diagnosis: The dweebiest member of the BSC has the kissing disease, mono. She has to stay home from school and can’t go to BSC meetings, which is, of course, a fate worse than death. Since Mallory can’t babysit or go to meetings, she worries that Kristy will replace her in the club, but then all of a sudden she decides she needs to get herself kicked out and replaced. I don’t know. Mallory starts acting like a bitca, but her friends catch on and tell her to cut it out. I would’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to rid my life of her, but that’s me.

Most of the book is Mallory complaining about being sick and not being allowed to do anything. Her parents definitely go overboard with how much they make her rest. The BSC girls and a bunch of their charges are also putting together a special Thanksgiving visit and presents for some nursing-home residents, and Mallory complains about not being able to help them. The BSC girls are incredibly patient and nice to her, which is probably more than she deserves. By the end of the book, Mallory is an honorary member of the club, but there are no immediate plans to replace her.

Thoughts: There is absolutely no way all of the seven younger Pike kids waited until October 30th to pick Halloween costumes. Hardly anyone does that.

Yes, Mallory, a car wash in November in Connecticut is a great idea. Maybe she wants to get everyone else sick, too.

Dawn: “I wish I were with you. It’s seventy degrees here.” SHUT UP.

Jessi: “Kristy thought, with Christmas only a month away, it would be a great time to post advertisements.” Um, why? In case Santa brings someone extra kids?

January 30, 2011

BSC #68, Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter: Dawn Leaving Was Supposed to Make Things Better

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:24 pm by Jenn

NO GUM AT MEETINGS! DI DI MAU!

Summary: With Dawn back in California, suddenly things are really busy for the club (maybe the parents waited until she was gone to hire sitters so they wouldn’t have to deal with her)? Kristy doesn’t want to hire a new member, since they’ll have to get rid of her when Dawn comes back – for some reason she doesn’t want more than seven regular members – but business is so heavy that Shannon and Logan are even tapped out. Wendy, a friend of Jessi’s from school, is interested in joining the club and is really good with kids, so Kristy agrees to let her come to meetings.

Wendy proves to be an unfortunate choice as a new member – she misses meetings, she’s late to jobs, and she just doesn’t seem to care. Basically, the club isn’t any better off with her than they were without her. Kristy’s fed up because Wendy won’t listen, but Wendy’s more fed up with the club trying to dictate her life, so she quits club. Fortunately, even though we’re probably supposed to think Wendy is a horrible person, Jessi decides she’s still a friend, she’s just a loner. Uh, more like she just didn’t want to drink the Kool-Aid and give her life over to the BSC. Anyway, Shannon suddenly has free time and agrees to be the alternate officer (ooh, what an honor!) until Dawn comes back.

In the B plot, Mallory’s really, really tired, which makes everyone mad because she keeps turning down jobs and falling asleep at random times. Her doctor says she’s pretty much fine, which makes me wonder where that doctor went to medical school, because being really tired and sleeping all the time is NOT FINE. Whatever, it’s just a set-up for book #69.

In the C plot, the Barrett and Pike kids decide to make a video for Dawn. They gather up some other BSC charges and put on a performance that’s a twist on Snow White, involving pollution and Captain Planet. It’s actually really cute and funny. Across the country, Dawn has a similar idea and makes her own video for the BSC girls.

In the D plot, Margo becomes a little klepto. Jessi busts her and tells her to tell her parents, but she doesn’t, so Jessi tells Mallory. Mallory makes Margo confess, which leads to her returning what she stole. The motives here aren’t really discussed, and I don’t think the shoplifting is ever brought up again, so it’s pretty pointless.

Thoughts: Jessi makes hot chocolate by microwaving chocolate milk. Wow, lazy.

Kristy tells a client she can’t talk to her until the BSC meeting starts. And that’s how you lose customers.

Kristy not wanting an eighth member of the club makes absolutely no sense. Maybe she thinks seven people are too many to control and they might band together and overthrow her.

Claire, re: Mallory: “She fell asleep while she was reading me The Three Bears. I don’t blame her. I think it’s a very boring story, too.” Hee.

Vanessa gets curlers tangled in her hair, and Jessi has to cut them out. If I came home and found out my daughter’s friend had cut my child’s hair without permission, I think I’d have a problem with that.

October 19, 2010

BSC #59, Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym): Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:57 pm by Jenn

That blond kid should sue whoever gave him that haircut

Summary: Mallory hates boys. And gym. The end.

Okay, fine. Mallory’s gym class has just gone co-ed, and they’re playing volleyball a game she hates and sucks at. She starts refusing to play, which lands her in detention, and her gym teacher starts sending notes home to her parents. Mallory goes all bad girl by hiding the notes, until one day she can’t and her mom finds out what she’s been up to.

Mrs. Pike encourages her to talk to her gym teacher and the kids who’ve been picking on her (yeah, Mrs. Pike, have you never been to middle school?), and Mallory decides to suck it up and try playing again. She only has to put up with it for a few more classes, and then they switch to archery, which she turns out to be good at. So good, in fact, that she makes the school’s archery team. I’m pretty sure that’s never mentioned again.

Mallory’s also fed up with boys in general, including her brothers and other kids the club sits for. The other sitters notice a trend of boys acting up, apparently forgetting that sometimes, kids are just brats. Mallory thinks Ben Hobart’s brothers are angels and would like to show Ben how horrible her brothers are, so the kids switch houses for the night. Not at all surprisingly, the Pike kids are polite to the Hobarts, but the Hobart kids are little devils and trash the Pikes’ house. So the lesson here is that sometimes kids are annoying. And also, the Hobarts never taught their kids how to behave at other people’s houses.

Thoughts: “Until I met Ben, I thought making a cake from scratch meant you started by opening a box of cake mix!” Well, Mallory, that’s because you’re an idiot.

Claudia wears “a pair of soft, balloony, purple pants [Hammer pants?]; a neon green long-sleeve leotard top; a wide, red braided belt; and a pair of soft, red ballet shoes.” I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Mallory wears a denim jumpsuit that she doesn’t wear a lot because she considers it “too high-style or something.” Yes, prison wear is quite chic.

I keep picturing Mallory’s gym teacher as Coach Beiste. It’s awesome.

Logan reads the club notebook. No, Logan, don’t drink the Kool-Aid!

August 22, 2010

BSC #54, Mallory and the Dream Horse: Queen Dork

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:13 pm by Jenn

Who puts pink ribbons on a male horse?

Summary: Mallory and Jessi want to take horse-riding lessons, but Jessi’s parents won’t let her, so Mallory goes on her own. She winds up kind of hating it, especially after she falls off a horse. When she tells Jessi about the class and the friends she’s making (not really – Mallory is socially inept and can’t read people very well), Jessi gets jealous, thinking Mallory’s bragging. Then Mallory gets mad because Jessi doesn’t care that she’s miserable and a dorky loner. Eventually they figure out how to actually talk to each other, and Mallory decides she’s done with riding and will just be obsessed with horses in an indirect way from now on.

There are two B plots, for some reason. In one, the Pike kids organize a big neighborhood talent show. In the other, Nina Marshall, a four-year-old the girls sit for, is as obsessed with her blanket (creatively named Blankie) as Mallory is with horses. She’s even having trouble making friends at preschool because no one wants to be friends with the shy kid who takes a huge gray blanket with her everywhere she goes. Blankie falls apart in the dryer while Dawn’s sitting, but she comes up with the idea to put pieces of it in Nina’s pockets so she can take Blankie with her wherever she goes without anyone knowing. And for as much crap as I give Dawn, that was a really awesome idea.

Thoughts: I was never one of those girls who loved horses and anything to do with them. That’s probably part of the reason I always found this book boring.

Mallory makes a chart to show her parents she can fit riding lessons in her schedule. NERD.

Mallory wears a gold and brown kilt, a gold sweater, and penny loafers to a teenager’s birthday party. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who apparently has no idea how to stop being pathetic.

August 4, 2010

BSC Mystery #3, Mallory and the Ghost Cat: Enough With the Ghosts Already

Posted in books tagged , , , at 11:46 pm by Jenn

Katie, we need to talk about your hair. You look like you've seen a...oh, I get it

Summary: Mallory starts sitting for a family with three little girls and a ghost cat. Except the cat isn’t really a ghost. But the little girls are! Just kidding. That would have actually been interesting. It’s basically a rip-off of Mallory and the Mystery Diary, except there’s no painting, and instead the cat’s real owner comes and gets it. The “mystery” part is so half-hearted, I don’t plan on expending any more energy thinking about it, since the ghostwriter (har har) didn’t put any effort into it either.

The B plot involves Mallory’s great-uncle Joe coming to stay with the family. He acts strangely, and it turns out he has Alzheimer’s. I find the B plot ten times scarier than the A plot.

Thoughts: Mallory’s favorite vegetable is artichokes, in case anyone was wondering.

If Mallory’s allowed to watch all of her brothers and sisters by herself, why do the Pikes always hire two sitters?

Katie, who’s two-and-a-half, talks and acts exactly like the supposedly delayed Emily Michelle (also two-and-a-half). Ann and ghostwriters, you have officially been discredited.

Margo can spell “uncle” but not “welcome” or “Joe.” Claudia, however, can spell “Joe” but not “uncle.” Both of these sound equally unlikely. And why would Margo spell Joe as “Jow” instead of “Jo”? See, no effort put into this book at all.

Does Dawn really believe a) there’s such a thing as an ectoplasm meter and b) a magazine would sell her a real one for six bucks? I find that scarier than any ghost.

Rasputin is an awesome name for a cat, what with the nine lives and all. And I do kind of love that the ghostwriter names the cat Rasputin and doesn’t explain to the readers, who wouldn’t get the reference, where the name comes from. Or maybe that’s just yet another sign of her lack of effort toward this book.

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