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?

April 19, 2011

BSC #76, Stacey’s Lie: Apparently Stacey’s Dad Has Got It Going On, Too

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:39 pm by Jenn

There is a surprising lack of fire on Fire Island

Summary: Stacey’s dad wants to take her on vacation, and she asks to go to Fire Island, where her boyfriend Robert is working for the summer. She decides not to tell her dad or Claudia, who’s also coming. Claudia finds out about Robert’s presence on the island soon after they arrive, and Stacey tells her she didn’t say anything because she didn’t think Claudia would want to come if she knew she’d wind up as a fifth wheel. Stacey’s dad is, unsurprisingly, never around, so Claudia’s the only person Stacey has to tell where she’s going. Claudia keeps her mouth shut but is obviously not happy to have her vacation with her best friend interrupted.

Stacey rushes a girls’ night with Claudia so she can be with Robert, and Claudia decides that’s the last straw. They stop talking, and when Kristy, Mary Anne, and Shannon come visit for a weekend, Claudia turns them against Stacey. She also leaves early because she can’t stand to be in the same house with Stacey.

Robert and Stacey run into Stacey’s dad and a woman named Samantha, and he reveals that he arranged for Samantha to stay on the island so they could see each other during their vacation. He’s upset with Stacey for lying about her reasons for wanting to come to Fire Island, and they stop talking as well. Even though he brought his girlfriend along and lied about it. Jerk.

Robert doesn’t like how Stacey acted toward her father and best friend, so he dumps her. She finds out that Claudia was selling some photos in a shop on the island, and she’s upset that Claudia didn’t feel she could tell her about it. She realizes that she made a huge mistake and makes up with her dad. She also realizes that she needs to work through her issues about her dad dating someone. And then, almost as an afterthought, Stacey also patches things up with Claudia and Robert.

In the B-plot, Mallory and Jessi are working at a day camp, which Haley and Vanessa are attending. They wear the same bathing suit one day and for some reason it leads to a huge fight. They spend the whole book terrorizing each other until Jessi and Mallory make them work together. Snore.

Thoughts: Stacey wears black jean shorts over blue tights. Shudder.

I have the British version of this book, and when Stacey wonders if Claudia will feel like a fifth wheel to her and Robert, it says, “She might think she’d be a gooseberry.” I’m totally saying that from now on. Other Britishisms: “holiday” for vacation, “subs” for dues, and “vice chairman” for vice president.

There’s a house on Fire Island that a doctor rents called Bedside Manor. That’s awesome.

Another Stacey outfit: She wears a sleeveless denim shirt and green leggings. The horror.

April 11, 2011

BSC Mystery #15, Kristy and the Vampires: Go Away, Twilight Fans, This Isn’t What You Think

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 10:55 pm by Jenn

I like my vampires broody or platinum blond, thank you

Summary: Derek Masters, my favorite recurring characters, is coming back to Stoneybrook for the summer, to shoot a TV movie called Little Vampires. His parents hire Kristy to look after him on the set. The other BSC girls, as well as many other Stoneybrookites, hang out on the set as well. Strange things start to happen, at first just little walking-disaster-type things perpetrated by Derek, but then a pane of break-away glass is replaced with real glass, and a stuntwoman’s harness breaks. The BSC girls are all, “Mystery! We’ll solve it!”

The girls have a list of suspects, including the prop guy (who was fired after the glass incident), Derek’s co-star Carson (who’s being upstaged by Derek and clearly doesn’t like him), Derek’s manager, the movie’s PR person (since any publicity is good publicity), and even Cokie Mason, who keeps hanging around, trying to get Carson’s attention. But that’s mostly because she throws a party for the cast and crew, and everyone gets food poisoning. She must have served red herring. (Cough. Any laughs for that?)

Kristy finally pieces together that a girl who’s been hanging around Carson is the daughter of the guy who supplied the not-breakaway glass. Kristy finds out that the girl has been reading a manual about car maintenance, and she tampered with the brakes on the car Derek’s being driven around in. She stops the driver from going anywhere and outs the crazy girl, who wanted to get Derek out of the way because he was stealing all of his scenes with Carson. Yes, there was attempted murder in this BSC book. Also, Mallory is hand-picked by the director to be an extra. I ask, which is more surprising?

In the B plot, Claire is too scared to go to the movie set because of all the vampires. Kristy solves that by having her dress up as a witch, which she thinks is scarier than a vampire, and “scare” the vampires on the set. That’s actually pretty brilliant.

Thoughts: Once again, Stoneybrook turns its back on child-labor laws. Having a 13-year-old watch an eight-year-old on a movie set is totally not legal.

Carson doesn’t help to dispel the hunky-actors-are-dumb stereotype by thinking a TV movie about vampires will make his career.

“What good is being a movie star if you can’t eat cookies whenever you want to?” This is why I love Derek.

March 12, 2011

BSC #73, Mary Anne and Miss Priss: Everyone Needs to Calm Down

Posted in books tagged , , at 12:47 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne looks 25. And like she raided Kristy's closet

Summary: Mrs. Prezzioso needs a sitter pretty much every day of the week, but only for Jenny. Mary Anne takes most of the jobs and soon learns that Mrs. Prezzioso has been taking Andrea to auditions for print and TV ads. For the first few days, Jenny has gone back to her super-prissy self – only to the extreme. She’s verging on obsessive-compulsive. Mrs. P. lets Mary Anne and Jenny come along on one of Andrea’s auditions, and Jenny decides she wants to be as pretty and beloved as her baby sister, so she asks to go on auditions, too.

Jenny actually does well following directions, but she’s not as naturally talented as Andrea (though…how talented can a baby be?), so she still doesn’t get quite as much attention. This makes her go to the other extreme, making huge messes of herself and the house. Mary Anne brings the issue up to the BSC girls, and they encourage her to mention it to Mrs. P., because the BSC girls never pass up an opportunity to tell parents what they’re doing wrong. Mrs. P., however, already knows something’s up, she just doesn’t know how to deal with it.

The problem gets kind of solved when Jenny and Andrea both land a job, and though Jenny does well, she realizes she doesn’t really want to be a model. She’d rather play kickball, and wear normal-kid clothes. In fact, when Jenny doesn’t land a later job, she’s happy because it means she can go play kickball. (And she invites the practically-invisible Mr. P. to come watch the game, and he goes, which is really sweet.) Problem solved! And it probably would have been solved without Mary Anne being there, so ha!

In the B-plot, the Pike triplets have decided that they’re too old to need sitters, so their parents give them a little more independence. The boys want to start a kickball team, but there are too many cooks, none of whom know which recipe to use, so games quickly dissolve into chaos. The BSC girls really want to get involved, but they also want the triplets to work things out themselves, so they wait until the boys have run out of ideas and offer some advice. The triplets actually listen and come up with ideas that make everyone happy.

As part of the B-plot, Mallory has become her parents’ slave: since she’s not allowed to do anything but go to school, she’s always at home, which means she’s always available to sit for her brothers and sisters. She’s actually doing more sitting than she was before she got sick. And yet her parents still won’t let her go back to the BSC. Mal gets some advice from the BSC girls (shocker) and talks to her parents, who realize that she’s well enough to resume her normal activities. So I guess it’s back to the minor leagues with Shannon.

Thoughts: What the–? Didn’t I just read a Mary Anne book? This one is really boring, by the way. I hate how the girls are always trying to solve families’ problems. Just watch the kid, mention any major issues to the parents, and stop trying to psychoanalyze four-year-olds.

Also, stop cleaning up her messes. Same with Mallory, who keeps cleaning up after the other Pike kids. Unless the kid is a baby, he or she is old enough to clean up a mess he or she made. And at the Pike house, there are seven kids to be used for manual labor. Stop whining, pick up a magazine, and let your parents yell at the kids for messing up the house.

“Would you believe that I, shy Mary Anne, helped to catch an arsonist who was setting fires with books?” Why do the ghostwriters always think shy people are good at nothing? I’m not entirely sure they know what the word “shy” means.

March 6, 2011

BSC Mystery #13, Mary Anne and the Library Mystery: Get Fired Up for Reading

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:08 pm by Jenn

There is no excuse for those yellow shoes

Summary: Mary Anne volunteers to help out with a children’s readathon at the Stoneybrook library. Some of the kids who’ve signed up are really excited, but some, like Nicky Pike, can’t find books they’re interested in reading. At the same time, there are protesters at the library almost every day, upset that they offer some banned books. Most of the library patrons ignore them, at least until a small fire breaks out and the BSC girls learn it was started by a book that was set on fire.

A few more fires break out, always when Mary Anne is in the library, and the girls, of course, take it upon themselves to solve the mystery. One of their suspects is poor Nicky, when Mary Anne sees a pack of matches in his backpack. He promises that he doesn’t know how they got there, and she believes him. The girls also suspect a woman who works at the library – her family owns the land the library was built on, and her grandfather, who left the land to the city in his will, stipulated that if the library was ever damaged or destroyed, the land would go back to the family. The family now needs money, which could point to them trying to destroy the library to get the land back, but the girls investigate an learn that everyone in the family is super-nice and could never be an arsonist.

Mary Anne realizes that all the burned books are banned books, and also on the fifth-graders’ reading list for the readathon. In addition, they were each burned near the area where they’re shelved. The girls use the reading list to figure out what the next book will be, then stake out the area around it. When they do, they catch Sean Addison, brother of Corrie Addison, just as he’s about to burn a book. The little pyromaniac’s excuse is that he feels like his parents don’t want him around, and he hates reading. Yes, Sean, burning books is totally a reasonable response. Fortunately, he’s going to get therapy. And hopefully an episode of Beyond Scared Straight.

Oh, and Nicky wins the readathon because he secretly read a bunch of books in order to win it for Mary Anne, since she taught him to like reading. Which is actually really adorable.

Thoughts: “True, some books have bad words in them, but so what? It isn’t as though I would never hear those words anywhere else. And reading those books doesn’t make me want to use the words myself. As for books that are about subjects such as divorce or drugs, well, those things exist in the world, and books aren’t the cause.” Censors of the world: you just got schooled by a fictional 13-year-old.

Mary Anne can’t remember anything bad about Bridge to Terabithia. Uh, how about the fact that (SPOILER ALERT!) one of the kids dies?

Isn’t it weird that there are kids in Stoneybrook the BSC girls don’t know? Their parents must never go anywhere.

“If we don’t solve this case soon, Mary Anne is going to have a nervous breakdown.” Holy crap, Kristy, she’s your best friend. Take it down a notch.

Where are the police, you ask? According to Claudia’s mom, they don’t really take the fires seriously because they think they’re pranks. Uh, pranks that could destroy property and even a building are not pranks, they’re crimes. The Stoneybrook Police Department doesn’t care about arson. Hear that, arsonists? Stoneybrook is your playground! Do whatever you want!

Claudia: “Sean’s such a little kid.” Actually, he’s only a year younger than Mallory and Jessi.

Okay, seriously, how long has Mallory been sick? She has the world’s longest case of mono.

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?

February 8, 2011

BSC Mystery #11, Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum: Who Knew Stoneybrook Was a Hotbed of Criminal Activity?

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:28 pm by Jenn

The colors...my retinas...bad. So bad.

Summary: A new museum opens in Stoneybrook, and Claudia’s excited to see some sculptures by an artist named Don. She takes a few sitting charges with her to check it out, and while they’re there, someone steals some coins. The BSC girls go into detective mode and try to collect clues to figure out who the thief is. However, they really only have two suspects: the curator, who’s kind of mean, and a guy with one green eye and one blue eye who they keep seeing at the museum.

Claudia steals a copy of the curator’s résumé and the girls find out that a bunch of robberies have happened at the museums where he’s worked. Claudia also figures out that, because of the position of the broken glass in the coin case, they were actually taken before the glass was smashed, which means it was probably an inside job.

On another trip to the museum, Claudia feels one of Don’s sculptures (he wants his art to be interactive) and senses that something isn’t right. She gets in touch with him and he tells her that he used to hide little treats inside his sculptures for his kids, so there must still be one inside. However, Claudia felt the same sculpture in another museum, and it feels different now, so she doesn’t think that’s it. For a girl who reads a lot of mysteries, she doesn’t figure out that this must mean the coins are in the sculpture.

Don invites Claudia to a party at the museum, where she again sees the guy with the different-colored eyes. Claudia and Don they stalk the curator, who they think is acting strangely, then happen to come across a janitor pulling the coins out of the sculpture. It turns out he planned the robbery way before the museum opened. The guy with the different-colored eyes was a federal agent hired to provide security (which he obviously sucked at, since the coins got stolen while he was in the musem), and the curator is often hired to work at museums that are at a high risk for robberies (see above parenthetical). And they all got bested by a 13-year-old girl.

In the B plot, Claire Pike wants to be a star and drives everyone crazy talking about it. It’s still less annoying than if they’d done the plot with Karen.

Thoughts: Yeah, I bet the New York Times published an article about a new museum in a small town in Connecticut.

The girls actually have good ideas about what might have happened to the coins: Claudia suggests that they were either dropped in the donation box or hidden with fake coins in the gift shop, and Jessi thinks they were tossed in the fountain.

Who keeps copies of his résumé lying around on his desk?

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.

January 16, 2011

BSC #66, Maid Mary Anne: Sew Boring

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:04 pm by Jenn

No way would Richard let Mary Anne wear shorts that short

Summary: Mary Anne wants to learn more about sewing, so she asks a woman named Mrs. Towne for lessons. Mrs. Towne is old and widowed, so when she falls and breaks her ankle, Mary Anne decides to help her out around the house. (For some reason, Mary Anne thinks she’s been selfish lately, and this is a way to make herself feel better.) Mary Anne’s help is supposed to be in exchange for lessons, but soon Mrs. Towne is calling her to help out with all sorts of things. Mary Anne decides it would be selfish to not help, or even to delay help, so she keeps dropping everything to rush to the rescue. Somehow, Kristy doesn’t excommunicate her for skipping out on a BSC meeting.

Mrs. Towne is obviously just lonely, but she’s also passive-aggressive, and since Mary Anne is a sucker for someone who needs help, this continues for a while until Mary Anne finally realizes that, you know, she can say no. (Mary Anne is going to be soooooo screwed up in high school.) She finally uses her big-girl voice and tells Mrs. Towne to knock it off already. Fortunately, Mrs. Towne doesn’t pull any manipulative crap, because people in Stoneybrook always realize the error of their ways and resolve to be better people.

In the B plot, Mary Anne and Claudia start a sewing class for some kids. Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett are the only boys involved, until some punk kid at school starts making fun of them for doing girl stuff. They briefly declare war on girl stuff, only to get sucked right back into making a quilt.

In the C plot, Dawn is homesick for California and will NOT shut UP about it. But it’s okay because it’s all going to work out for us in the end. (Stay tuned.)

Thoughts: There is so much talk about sewing in this book, I can’t even tell you. It’s like a freaking instruction book/catalogue. I never want to hear about sewing again.

Can we stop hearing about the freaking goat already?

Mary Anne may be new to sewing, but she’s been shopping at a sewing store long enough to know who the owner is. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

“Logan, who is from the South, drinks iced tea all the time, and Dawn drinks hot herb tea in the winter, but I’d never really thought about it. &*#$(*%@# ghostwriter. Go read the early books. Mary Anne has tea with Mimi, you moron.

December 18, 2010

BSC Mystery #8, Jessi and the Jewel Thieves: Punk’d

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 2:57 pm by Jenn

Yeah, you guys don't look suspicious at all

Summary: Jessi goes to New York with Stacey for the weekend so she can see Quint in a big performance. Quint and Jessi overhear an argument from an apartment across they alley from Quint’s and realize that the two men fighting are planning a jewel heist. They spent much of the rest of the weekend stalking the guys (Frank and Red), who stop by two places with stealable jewels: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a jewelry store. Jessi and Quint want some sort of evidence to take to the police, so that the cops don’t think they’re just silly kids, and it’s a good thing they wait, because it turns out Frank and Red are actors practicing their lines. Oops!

While Jessi’s in New York and her parents and aunt are out of town at a wedding, Becca stays with the Pikes and cries the whole weekend. Poor Mallory and Mary Anne are incredibly patient with her. Mr. and Mrs. Pike do nothing, which is no surprise.

The rest of the book is basically a guide to New York, because we all know how much this series looooooves the Big Apple. And Jessi and Quint decide to just be friends because they’re too young to be in a committed relationship.

Thoughts: Stacey has Jessi leave her shampoo and conditioner behind before they go to New York because she has too much stuff with her. Is she going to let Jessi borrow hers? Wouldn’t Stacey use some expensive, ultra-sophisticated lightening stuff?

If Mallory would stop whining about her geeky self and just take care of kids, she would be so much more awesome. She should also be a teacher instead of a writer. And not just beacuse I don’t want to have to be associated with her in a writerly way.

Vanessa’s poem: “How fair their little faces are, the flowers of the Spring, turned up to catch the sunbeams that the elves and fairies bring.” I bet Vanessa got all sorts of guys in high school.

You know what would’ve shut Becca up? If, when she stared whining about her mom abandoning her and not loving her, Mary Anne had said, “At least your mother’s still alive.”

When Claudia brings over art supplies to help Becca and the Pike kids make dragons, Becca names hers Charlotte after the spider. Somewhere, Charlotte Johanssen is TICKED.

Quint plays the race card after being kicked out of a jewelry store, but Jessi points out that the guard who kicked them out was also black. Is it wrong that that made me laugh? Like, you’re 11 and a ballet dancer, kid. No one would mistake you for any kind of threat.

Quint suggests that he and Jessi put on disguises (glasses for him, a Halloween wig for her) and pretend to be delivering something so they can see Frank and Red’s apartment. Quint should definitely stick to dancing, because I don’t think the book-learnin’ is going to get him very far.

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