January 21, 2014

BSC #131, The Fire at Mary Anne’s House: Say Goodbye to Stoneybrook

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

If I saw my house like this, I would lose my mind

If I saw my house like this, I would lose my mind

Summary: It’s summer yet again, and Mary Anne is happy for some time to relax. It’s all sitting, sitting, sitting with the BSC girls, plus the possibility of entering a magazine contest looking for the best babysitter. The girls decide to enter as a group, which is good, because otherwise this book might be filled with fighting over which one of them is the best.

Then suddenly things go south. Mary Anne, Richard, and Sharon are woken up in the middle of the night by smoke alarms (and Tigger, who apparently is just as good at saving people as Lassie is). Their house is pretty well destroyed by a fire, and all their stuff is gone. Mary Anne is in so much shock that she can’t even cry. Now she has no idea what will come next in her life – she has no home or belongings, and just feels lost.

The BSC girls and tons of people in Stoneybrook pitch in to help the family. The Thomas/Brewers let them stay at their house, and they’re provided with clothes and other essentials. Everyone spends a lot of time going through the wreckage at the house to find anything that can be salvaged (there isn’t much). Then Richard drops a bomb on Mary Anne: He’s been offered a job in Philadelphia and is considering accepting it. Also, Sharon wants to go back to school so she can have a career change, and since there are more schools to choose from in Philly, she’s up for the move.

Now Mary Anne feels even more lost. She’s lived in Stoneybrook her whole life, and leaving would mean losing the BSC and all her friends. Dawn tries to sympathize, since she also lost one of her homes, but Mary Anne has a hard time connecting with her because Dawn does still have a house to go back to in California.

One night Mary Anne sneaks out and goes over to her old house, where everything catches up with her and she finally cries. Dawn finds her there and comforts her. Mary Anne realizes that her life might change completely, but she still has the people she loves.

In the B plot, the kids of Stoneybrook help the BSC girls put together their entry for the best-babysitter contest. Nothing comes of it, but obviously the BSC would win this.

Thoughts: Even though it’s summertime, Mallory’s still banished, with the explanation that her boarding school lets out later than SMS. The ghostwriters really hated her, didn’t they?

Little Archie Rodowsky is worried that the fire at Mary Anne’s is still going. Aw, poor Archie.

David Michael, Karen, and Andrew make a big Lego building and tell Mary Anne it’s her new house. That’s flipping adorable.

So here we are, at the end of the series. It feels weird. I can see why it ended – there wasn’t much left for the characters to do, and they wanted to take it in a bit of a different direction, with the Friends Forever series. So say goodbye to the BSC (at least until I can recap the movie), because it’s about to get a lot Sweet Valleyer up in here.

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.

July 10, 2013

BSC #120, Mary Anne and the Playground Fight: Counselors in Need of Counseling

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:36 pm by Jenn

This didn't happen, but whatever, I don't care anymore

This didn’t happen, but whatever, I don’t care anymore

Summary: It’s almost summer (yes, again), and SMS is offering another big trip like the one they organized to Hawaii. This time, however, Mary Anne isn’t sure she wants to go since Dawn will be spending the summer in Stoneybrook, and Mary Anne wants to hang out with her. There’s also a big playground day camp being held all summer, and the BSC girls all want to get jobs there. The trip, which turns out to be to Paris and London, will take place at the same time as the camp, so the girls are worried that the people who go on the trip will be disqualified from the job, since they’ll have to miss a few days of work.

Mary Anne and Dawn decide not to go to Europe, but the other girls find non-babysitting ways to raise half their plane fare, like gardening and holding a stuffed animal sale. Everyone goes out for the playground camp jobs except Mallory and Jessi, who are cut from the process for being too young. Things get super-competitive, especially with Kristy, who turns into a big ol’ bossypants, so much so that people finally start calling her on it. There are only a few open slots at the camp, and the BSC girls want them so badly that some even lie a little on their job applications and in their interviews to try to get an advantage.

Things get so bad that while at a going-away party for Victoria Kent (see the B-plot), some of the girls start acting like they did at Jamie’s birthday party way back in book 4. They realize they’re being dumb and work things out, with Kristy genuinely apologizing and possibly learning a lesson. Ha ha! Probably not. Mary Anne, Dawn, Claudia, and Logan end up getting jobs at the camp.

In the B-plot, Victoria’s going back to England, as I said, and she really doesn’t want to leave America. She becomes a huge brat and whines a lot about moving. There’s no real turning point; she just kind of deals with having to leave America, while taking in as much American culture as she can while still in the States. She also invites the girls going on the Europe trip to come visit her while they’re in London.

Thoughts: I think this is the first book to mention that Dawn’s father and stepmother now have a baby.

This is also probably the first BSC book to use the word “sucks.” And an eight-year-old says it!

“If all your friends are going to Europe, you have to want to go.” Y’all, now Kristy is trying to control Mary Anne’s thoughts.

The idea of Mr. Spier having a van is really weird.

Logan’s welcome-home present for Dawn is a bottle of juice. Way to break a five, Logan.

Someone named a stuffed poodle Demitasse. Weird.

“‘But I believe for a true barbecue, you need a grill of some sort, don’t you?’ Lady Kent asked. ‘You need a barbecue,’ Mal said helpfully.” That cracked me up.

June 12, 2013

BSC Mystery #34, Mary Anne and the Haunted Bookstore: Poe-blicity Stunts

Posted in books tagged , at 8:18 pm by Jenn

Oh, come on, Mary Anne doesn't dress like this

Oh, come on, Mary Anne doesn’t dress like this

Summary: Stoneybrook, that hotbed of new businesses, is about to welcome a new bookstore. Mary Anne is suddenly a big fan of reading, and she winds up helping to get the place ready. It’s run by a man named Mr. Cates and a woman named Ms. Spark. Mr. Cates has two kids, Tom and Gillian, so the BSC girls suddenly have some new charges. They take turns helping out at the store and watching the kids, who are having a lot of trouble adjusting to the move and their parents’ separation.

The bookstore, Poe and Co., is mystery-centric, and is soon the sight of its own mystery. Mary Anne hears what sounds like a beating heart (a la The Tell-Tale Heart), finds the store’s cat trapped behind a wall (a la The Black Cat), and encounters a raven (a la…well, you know). Then she thinks she sees a ghost. It doesn’t help that Mary Anne’s doing a school project about Edgar Allan Poe, or that a local professor who’s a Poe expert has been hanging around.

There’s also another mystery surrounding the bookstore itself. It used to be the home of a writer named Benson Dalton Gable (not a real person), who may have had a rivalry with Poe. Gable disappeared, may be buried in his own basement – and may have been killed by Poe. One of Gable’s ancestors, a high schooler named Alex, is also helping out at the store, and Mary Anne wonders if he’s doing all the weird stuff to drive all the Poe lovers away.

Mary Anne starts investigating, earning herself the nickname Dupin, after an investigator in some of Poe’s stories. She thinks the raven might be a pet, so she stops by a pet store to find out if anyone’s bought one recently. She learns that one was purchased by a woman calling herself Lenore.

Then Mary Anne, Stacey, and Mallory find a tape player in the bookstore’s basement, plus a tape that plays the sound of a heartbeat. Mallory uses the triplets’ detective kit to get fingerprints off of the tape and player, and the girls use coffee mugs to get fingerprints from all their suspects. There are two sets that match – Mr. Cates’ and Ms. Sparks’.

More reading for her school project introduces Mary Anne to the idea that the press and publicity can inflate a story. She figures out that Mr. Cates and Ms. Sparks planned all the creepy stuff to drum up interest in the store. Mary Anne arranges a sting operation using the heartbeat tape and catches them in the basement. They admit that they did all the weird stuff for publicity. It works, as the bookstore is a huge hit.

In the B-plot, it’s been raining a lot in Stoneybrook, and everyone’s going stir crazy. The BSC girls arrange a big sunny-day festival where their charges all do activities like making sandcastles and mud pies. There’s also stuff about Tom and Gillian making friends and growing to not hate Stoneybrook so much.

Thoughts: Mary Anne is very smart in this book. I think she’s such a good detective because she’s so observant.

Trivia: Star Wars is one of Stacey’s favorite movies, which doesn’t really fit with what we know about her.

“Am I getting old or is it very noisy in here?” I love you, Mrs. Pike. You’re not old. Especially since it’s entirely likely that you’re only in your 30s. Which means I’m now closer in age to the BSC girls’ parents than I am to the girls themselves. I’m going to go cry now.

Why is it that the girls keep thinking they’ve encountered ghosts, they find out what’s really going on, and the next time something happens, they think there’s a ghost again? At some point, wouldn’t they stop suspecting ghosts?

March 6, 2013

BSC #114, The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier: Me, My Elf, and I

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:18 pm by Jenn

Wouldn't that head freak out the kids?

Wouldn’t that head freak out the kids?

Summary: It’s Christmas! Again! Mary Anne spends a ton of money on presents, which she can only do because her father lets her use his credit card, on the promise that she’ll pay back whatever she spends. She goes way overboard. I mean, I wouldn’t spend this amount of money, and I have an actual job, one that doesn’t require changing diapers for $4 an hour. Anyway, Mary Anne knows she won’t be able to make the money she needs by babysitting. She also only has two weeks to make it since that’s when Richard will be paying his bill, and he plans to charge interest.

Mary Anne learns that Winter World at the mall is hiring, so she goes to apply for a job. Yes, I know she’s only 13. Yes, I know Stoneybrook has a lax view of child labor. But before anyone can call BS, Mary Anne chats with another girl (Angela) who’s applying for a job, and is advised to say she’s 16. Mary Anne decides she doesn’t want to lie, but Angela turns in her application anyway. Both of them get hired to be Santa’s elves and wear hideous costumes. Mary Anne decides not to tell anyone about her job, since a) she lied to get it and b) it’s embarrassing.

Of course, Mary Anne is awesome at her job, and the kids love her, blah blah blah, but she keeps getting paranoid that someone will recognize her. Even though she’s wearing a giant elf head. Yeah. She also becomes friends with Angela, who it turns out was kicked out by her parents (because of her “lifestyle” – she never gives details on that, but she probably, like, kissed a boy and her parents thought she was “a fast girl”). Angela’s trying to make money to go out to California and live with some friends. Also, her parents are monsters, because at one point she tries to call them collect and they won’t accept the charges.

Basically the book goes on and on with Mary Anne working at the mall and trying to keep her secret. One day Logan and Dawn (oh, yeah, Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for Christmas) show up with Logan’s brother and sister, and Mary Anne practically has a heart attack. Dawn and Logan remain oblivious, but somehow, Logan’s brother Hunter figures out Mary Anne’s an elf. I really have no idea how.

Ultimately the truth comes out because Mary Anne and Dawn have a fight. Dawn has been distant and a little snobby since her arrival in Stoneybrook; her school in California is 8th-12th grades, so she feels all special that she gets to go to school with high schoolers. She suddenly thinks middle schoolers are babies and that she’s all sophisticated and stuff. She’s not. It’s annoying. Mary Anne calls her on it, and Dawn blasts her for being gone all the time and keeping secrets. Mary Anne confesses that she took a job at the mall, and Dawn convinces her to come clean to everyone, including Richard. He wants to punish her, but Sharon points out that it’s Christmas, so he lets it go.

The B-plot is so dumb that at one point it only gets a five-page chapter. The local hospital can’t afford to give toys to the kids hospitalized over Christmas, so Kristy organizes a big Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa extravaganza. People bring toys to a fair, and the BSC girls donate those toys, plus use the proceeds from the fair to buy more.

Thoughts: In this book, Hanukkah comes after Christmas. I don’t think that’s possible.

Richard charging Mary Anne interest seems mean to me. She’s basically just borrowing his money and will pay him back later – why should she have to pay extra? He’s not losing anything.

Kristy wants to use canned-food donations to make refreshments for “Santa-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa Town.” First of all, why Santa and not Christmas? Second of all, that sounds like a Top Chef challenge. Enjoy your tuna and lima bean casserole, everyone!

I guess Winter World doesn’t run background checks on employees, or they would find out Mary Anne’s real age. It’s good to know a program using people around kids is so concerned with their safety.

December 27, 2012

BSC Mystery #31, Mary Anne and the Music Box Secret: The Secret Is That There Is No Mystery

Posted in books tagged , , , at 12:43 pm by Jenn

A curse would have been a lot more fun

A curse would have been a lot more fun

Summary: Granny and Pop-Pop (Dawn’s grandparents) go on an anniversary cruise, and while they’re gone, their house floods. Sharon and Mary Anne head up the clean-up effort, with some help from the other BSC girls. Mary Anne finds a music box that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and contains a picture of a sailor. The box is also wrapped in paper that warns of a curse. No one in the family claims to know anything about it, so Mary Anne thinks it belonged to Lydia, a girl who used to live in the house. But there are initials inside saying the box is from H.I.W. to L.S., and the BSC girls can’t find anyone with those initials.

Mary Anne finds some letters Granny wrote to her cousin about Lydia, who was in love with a boy named Johnny, who her father hated. She thinks Johnny gave Lydia the music box. Granny lived next door and would write about how Lydia would sneak out to see Johnny. There’s also something about Lydia’s father possibly embezzling from the bank where he worked, and maybe burying the money in the yard. One of the plumbers working on the house grew up in the neighborhood, and the girls see him looking around suspiciously, so they think he’s looking for the money.

The girls basically set up a sting, pretending they found something in the yard, then waiting for someone to make a move to find out what it was. They’re surprised to learn that an older man who’s been hanging around is the plumber’s father, and he does indeed want the buried money. Except there’s no money, just papers. Womp womp.

Mary Anne keeps trying to find out what’s going on with the music box, especially after she starts having dreams about the sailor. She realizes that H.I.W. stands for “how I wonder” and L.S. is “little star,” from “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Then Mary Anne borrows a bracelet from Sharon and realizes it was in the picture with the sailor, having almost been cropped out. Sharon tells her the bracelet belonged to Granny. Mary Anne puts things together and figures out that the music box was Granny’s after all. When Granny comes home, she confirms that she was L.S., and H.I.W. was her first love, the sailor, who died in the war. There’s no curse, there’s no money, and really, there’s no big mystery. Just a boring book.

The B-plot is even more boring. The Barrett/DeWitt family is finishing building an addition to their house. Everything comes out great. Thrilling, yes?

Thoughts: You know what’s really fun to read about? Construction.

I like that Dawn’s grandparents treat Mary Anne like she’s their own granddaughter. I wish we’d heard more about their relationship before this book, though.

Stacey uses the word “bodacious,” and not ironically. Shut up, Stacey.

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.

June 18, 2012

BSC #102, Mary Anne and the Little Princess: British Invasion

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:36 pm by Jenn

I have concerns about this limo

Summary: A family called the Kents, who are somehow related to the royal family, buy a house in Stoneybrook while the parents work at the United Nations (just go with it). They have an eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, and want her to hang out with Americans, so they hire Mary Anne to be her “companion.” I don’t know why they don’t just have her make a bunch of friends, but whatever. Victoria’s kind of a brat, but not horribly so; she’s just spoiled and is used to having her way. But she takes to Mary Anne and calms down a little.

There’s a random trip to New York, which involves Mary Anne, Stacey, Kristy, and Victoria ditching the girl’s nanny in a very out-of-character-for-the-BSC-girls move. Victoria’s parents make an appearance but don’t spend much time with her, which makes her understandably upset. Mary Anne realizes that she also hasn’t made any friends in Stoneybrook and doesn’t even seem to like hanging out with kids her own age. Sharon guesses it’s because she doesn’t want to get close to anyone, since people in her life are always leaving.

Mary Anne invites Victoria, her nanny, and their driver over for Thanksgiving, but Victoria’s upset by her parents’ absence. She winds up breaking down and having a talk with Mary Anne about her fears that her parents don’t really love her. Mary Anne has been experiencing a little separation anxiety of her own, as her father’s on a business trip, but she gets Victoria to see that her parents will always love her and come back to her. She also talks Victoria into trying to make some friends.

The B-plot parallels the main plot a little: Sharon misses Dawn and has kind of been using Mary Anne as a substitute daughter. She’s even started calling Mary Anne her daughter instead of her stepdaughter. Fortunately, nothing is over the top, and Sharon just admits that she misses Dawn but doesn’t see Mary Anne as a replacement. Also fortunately (for Sharon, at least), Dawn has planned a surprise visit and asked Mary Anne and Richard to keep it quiet. So Dawn shows up on Thanksgiving and Sharon has a great holiday.

Thoughts: Mary Anne finds a tie on a bookcase and a loaf of bread behind a pillow. Has Sharon been checked for mental illnesses?

There’s a chapter where Victoria goes to a middle school football game, and there are a bunch of BSC sitting charges there, including Becca, who’s become obsessed with royalty. At the beginning of the chapter, there’s a scene at the Ramseys’ house where everyone’s teasing her a little about wanting to be a princess. It made me realize that of all the BSC girls’ families, I’d most want to be a part of Jessi’s. Her mom is sweet, her dad is funny, and Becca seems like a fun little sister to have. I could take or leave Cecelia, though.

That said, I might like to hang out with Richard and Sharon (as long as Dawn and Jeff weren’t around). Sharon’s fun, and somewhere along the way, Richard picked up a pretty good sense of humor.

Do a lot of eight-year-olds know what David Letterman looks like? What about British eight-year-olds?

March 5, 2012

BSC Mystery #24, Mary Anne and the Silent Witness: He Didn’t Start the Fire

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:19 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne, you can't wear a fall outfit in April. Who do you think you are, Claudia?

Summary: The club starts sitting for a new family, the Martinezes, whose previous sitter quit unexpectedly. The kids are mostly great, but the boy, Luke, who’s eight, acts like he doesn’t trust his sitters. That may or may not be connected to the recent fire that took place at the house. The BSC girls suspect that the fire may have something to do with a developer named Reginald Fowler who wants to tear down some houses to build an office complex. The Martinezes won’t budge, so Fowler may have set the fire to scare them.

Luke seems to know something, but he’s not talking. One day when Mary Anne’s at the house, someone writes “don’t tell” on a window, which freaks Luke out. He’s also keeping some secret with his best friend, Steig, who happens to be Cary Retlin’s little brother.

Mary Anne goes looking for Luke in the woods while she’s sitting one day, and instead sees a teenage boy with a brick with green paint on it. He’s talking to Fowler, but Mary Anne doesn’t hear much of the conversation. A cop sees her when she picks up the brick, and Mary Anne is taken to the police station for vandalism. The only reason this plot point is important is that it allows her to learn from the police that Fowler isn’t even in Stoneybrook.

Time for reasearch – to the library! The BSC girls discover that Fowler was born the same day as twins named Samuel and John Wolfer, and decide that he’s actually one of them (since Wolfer is an anagram of Fowler). Him being a twin would explain why Mary Anne saw him in Stoneybrook while the police said he was away. They think Fowler started the fire at the Martinezes’ house, believes Luke knows it was him, and is threatening Luke to keep him quiet about it.

In their attempts to find out the truth, the girls get in touch with Allie, the Martinezes’ former babysitter. She’s with her boyfriend, Beau, when they find her, and Mary Anne recognizes him as the boy she saw talking to Fowler. The two teens come clean: Beau accidentally set the fire at the house with a cigarette, and Allie kept quiet to protect him, then quit because she felt guilty. But the two mysteries are connected: Fowler was blackmailing Beau, making him commit vandalism to threaten people so they’d sell their houses. Beau was also the person threatening Luke to keep quiet.

Beau feels bad, so he agrees to help the BSC girls with a sting operation. They send him to meet Fowler and arrange for his twin to show up. The truth comes out and the ever-helpful Sgt. Johnson hears it all. The final nail in Fowler’s coffin is Luke’s other secret: He found a map of Fowler’s plans for the town, which shows more industrialization than he claimed he wanted. This sinks Fowler’s plans and makes Luke and the BSC girls heroes. More Luke, really, but it’s not his series, is it?

Thoughts: Fowler and Beau are both stupid villains. Luke isn’t actually threatened with anything. I mean, if you’re going to scare a kid, you have to tell him you’ll get him in trouble with his parents or hurt them or something. Just saying “don’t tell” won’t accomplish anything.

And while I appreciate that the twist in the story is that most of the plot is a red herring, all the town-development stuff is boring.

Cary has two brothers, Steig and Benson. Okay, two things: 1) Steig? I didn’t think there were any Americans named Steig. 2) Benson Retlin? Do his parents hate him?

How has Kristy not run Allie out of town?

January 9, 2012

BSC #93, Mary Anne and the Memory Garden: Grab Some Kleenex

Posted in books tagged , , , at 8:31 pm by Jenn

Yeah, I can't snark on this

Summary: Mary Anne is doing a group project on Shakespeare, and she and the other group members are really excited. They also get along really well, so they have fun working together. Mary Anne’s friends with one of the other girls, Amelia, and is happy to get to know her better. But the day after the group gets together to work, everyone learns that Amelia’s family was in a car accident and she didn’t survive.

SMS is hit hard by the tragedy, with Kristy taking it especially badly. Mary Anne’s surprised and a little scared that the tough girl is so broken; Kristy didn’t even know Amelia that well. She’s mostly mad that the driver who killed Amelia was drunk and this wasn’t his first driving offense. Kristy gets the idea to start a chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving at SMS, and suddenly she bounces back, now that she has a way to give Amelia’s death some meaning.

Mary Anne, on the other hand, sinks into depression and anxiety. It’s especially bad the day of Amelia’s funeral, when she worries about how to act. She goes to see a grief counselor who’s been brought to the school and learns that her feelings are normal and she should let herself grieve. The students at SMS keep coming up with ways to honor Amelia’s memory, but Mary Anne wants to do more. After learning of the garden Dawn is helping to plant in a vacant lot in California, Mary Anne comes up with the idea to create a memory garden for Amelia. She finally feels like she’s making sure no one will ever forget her.

Thoughts: This book always hit home for me. When I was in the fifth grade, two girls I knew (one a year older than me, the other a couple years younger) were killed in a car accident, along with their father. I’d spent an evening with them just a few weeks earlier and had felt like I was getting to be friends with them. The next year, another girl I’d spent some time with recently was killed in a bus crash. Even though I didn’t know any of the girls all that well, they were semi-friends. So I could always relate to how Mary Anne felt in this book.

Specifically, I could relate to Mary Anne in the scene where the SMS students hear that a 13-year-old girl has died but they don’t know who it is. Mary Anne realizes that she hasn’t seen Kristy in school that day and she starts worrying that she’s the one who died. My senior year of high school, one of my classmates died suddenly; I hadn’t known him well, but he was a really nice guy and everyone was shocked and saddened by his death. A good friend of mine was out sick that day, and when the seniors were called to the auditorium to hear the news and the principal announced that one of our classmates had died, I was sure it was her. The horror of those few moments before hearing the real news made me feel sick.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like the series handles death well for the age group it’s targeted towards. The same applies here. And the events of the day when everyone finds out about Amelia’s death are realistic – and eerily similar to what happened when my high school classmate died. Classes were canceled, students were allowed to go home if they felt they needed to, grief counselors were brought in, and we spent most of the day talking and comforting each other.

Mary Anne and her group’s project actually sounds pretty cool. They’re supposed to do something about the world Shakespeare lived in, so they decide to publish a newspaper with theater reviews, world news, and even a classified section. They call their project William Tells All.

Speaking of school projects, Claudia gets to make a Rube Goldberg decive for a class. I want to go to SMS.

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