April 3, 2013

BSC #115, Jessi’s Big Break: So They Think She Can Dance

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:17 pm by Jenn

If "Center Stage" taught me anything, it's that these kids are way too happy

If “Center Stage” taught me anything, it’s that these kids are way too happy

Summary: Jessi spends a few weeks in New York, dancing with an elite program that could springboard her to superstar status. She stays with her cousin Michael (Aunt Cecelia’s son) and his wife, who remind her how awesome New York is, in case someone in this series hasn’t mentioned that in the past five minutes. The dance classes are wonderful, Jessi makes a ton of friends, and she feels independent and grown-up in the city.

Back home, Mallory and Becca are lonely and mopey. Mal is at least mature enough not to whine, but Becca is a brat, and I can’t believe her parents (and Cecelia) put up with her attitude. Mal goes to visit Jessi one weekend and feels out of place since Jessi’s New York friends are all dancers. Also, because Jessi’s so busy with classes and taking in the culture of the city, she doesn’t call home very often.

Jessi’s only problem in New York is Quint, her sort-of boyfriend. He keeps wanting to talk to her, and she’s afraid he’s going to tell her he wants to date. She doesn’t feel ready, so she keeps putting off The Talk. Eventually, though, she tells Quint that she likes him and can see herself dating him, but not until they’re older. He’s fine with it and things between them relax.

So now that Jessi’s New York experience is completely awesome, she gets some good news: David Brailsford, the director of the program, wants her to apply for another program, one that will keep her in New York permanently. It’s a real honor, but it means leaving her family and friends, and dancing even more than she already is.

As much as Jessi immediately wants to say yes, she does some really mature thinking about the situation. She worries that she’ll get bored after the freshness of being in New York wears off, and that she’ll run herself into the ground by dancing so much. She won’t have time for anything else in her life. Plus, of course, she’ll be away from her family and friends.

Jessi’s parents are supportive of whatever she chooses to do, and surprisingly, Aunt Cecelia is her biggest champion. She regrets not following her dreams when she was younger. She’s even disappointed in Michael for giving up a potentially successful art career to attend business school. Ultimately, Jessi decides to defer the decision until she’s older, and use the time before then to learn even more in Stoneybrook. She’ll get to live her normal life while still finding a way to follow her dream. Not bad for an 11-year-old. I don’t even know how to snark on that!

Thoughts: Aunt Cecelia encouraging people to follow their dreams seems out of character to me. The Cecelia we’ve seen so far strikes me as the sort of person who would want her son to go to business school and do something practical instead of hoping to make money painting.

At the beginning of the book, Jessi learns she’s in the program and then has to convince her parents to let her go. So why did they let her audition if they hadn’t yet decided whether to let her go if she got in?

If I’d talked to anyone the way Becca does in this book, I would still be grounded today. But no one says a word to her! They’re just all, “Oh, she’s upset because Jessi’s gone.” Yeah, but she can be upset with her mouth closed.

Quint is five-eight at the age of 11? Holy cow.

All the ballet terminology thrown together makes me think of “steppity-step and jazz hands.” (Bonus: The other actor in that scene is Principal Green from Dawson’s Creek.)

Mallory writes in the BSC journal, “Several of the children were pretty difficult.” That girl is 11 going on 40.

Brailsford: “You’re one of us now.” Run, Jessi! He’s a cult leader!

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.

July 18, 2010

BSC Super Special #7, Snowbound: This is What Happens When You Ignore the Weatherman

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

Maybe Mallory wouldn't feel so dorky if she didn't wear such dorky glasses

Summary: The weather forecast calls for snow. Everyone ignores it and gets stranded. That’s what they get.

Stacey and her mom are on their way back from the mall when they get lost on a back road and run out of gas. They’re faced with spending the night in the car and trying not to freeze to death, but some random guy finds them and takes them to his house (don’t worry, he’s married and has a kid, so he’s not a serial killer or anything).

Kristy has invited Bart over for the afternoon/evening, and he gets stranded with her entire family. Karen is at her most irritating. Kristy doesn’t want Bart to see her as a mess in the morning, so she gets up super-early and curls her hair and puts on makeup. Her brothers make fun of her, which she totally deserves.

Jessi is at dance class when the blizzard hits, and there are a bunch of little kids there (they’re rehearsing for a production of The Nutcracker), so she gets to put her sitting skills to good use. Quint is coming to town for a school dance, and he winds up walking to the dance school when Jessi’s dad can’t make it to pick him up.

Mary Anne and Mallory are watching the Pike kids while Mr. and Mrs. Pike go to New York for the day. They run out of food, so Logan brings some over on cross-country skis.

Dawn and her mom go to the airport to pick up Jeff, but his plane is rerouted to D.C. and they have to spend the night in the airport. Dawn whines a lot.

Claudia is sitting for the Perkins girls and winds up having to spend the night with them.

The premise of the book is that Kristy wants the newspaper to publish an article about the BSC girls’ experiences during the blizzard. I’m pretty sure no one cares, Kristy.

Thoughts: The girls’ parents are apparently totally okay with their 13-year-old daughters spending the night taking care of kids. Are they even allowed to spend the night on their own, without other living beings depending on them?

Kristy’s totally invading Mallory’s territory by trying to write a newspaper article. She’s also annoying – she says to the editor, “If you want to pay me, I wouldn’t mind. How much do reporters earn? (I won’t be too picky.)” Shut up already.

Claudia spells disappointed “disapperntened.” Oh, come on, she’s not that stupid.

Claire hears about all her parents’ plans for their day in New York and asks,” Will you ever get to go to the bathroom?” Love it.

I call bull on Mrs. Pike almost running out of food. Wouldn’t she buy everything in bulk and have more than enough?

Bart looks nothing like I imagined. He looks kind of like the guy who played Alan Gray in the BSC movie. So I guess Kristy has a type.

All of the Pike kids sing in the morning. I would kill them.

I’m sure it’s totally a coincidence that Dawn and her mother, who are vegetarians, hit a mailbox shaped like a cow.

Apparently no one in Stoneybrook takes weather forecasts seriously. Around here, people mob the grocery store and stock up on rock salt when even an inch of snow is predicted.

“There was ice cream, too. It was behind the pie, where no one could see it, but Sam sensed its presence.” Heh.

Sharon says Mary Anne’s one bad habit is worrying too much. So crying all the time is a lovable affectation?

Quint, whose parents most likely don’t know where he is during the blizzard: “If my parents want to worry, that’s their choice.” Quint’s kind of a jerk.

Mallory seems to think global warming means it’ll never snow again. Stop talking, Mallory.

Hold up – David Michael, Karen, Andrew, and Emily Michelle all share one bathroom, and Charlie, Sam, and Kristy share another? In that ginormous house? I don’t think so.

June 12, 2010

BSC Super Special #6, New York, New York!: Now Who’s the Walking Guidebook, Ann M. Martin?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:44 pm by Jenn

Claudia's wearing shorts over leggings. I fear it's too late for her

Summary: The BSC girls have a two-week break from school (aren’t all of their breaks two weeks long?) and decide to go to New York. Much describing of the city ensues.

Claudia and Mallory take classes with a famous artist/one of Claudia’s idols. He gives Mallory a lot of encouragement but only chastises Claudia for sketching too quickly and not focusing. Claudia takes out her anger over the situation on poor Mallory, who fails to stand up for herself and tell Claudia to step off, like I would. At the end of the two weeks, Claudia finally asks the teacher if she has any talent, since she’d rather just quit now if she doesn’t. He tells her that she’s one of the most talented 13-year-olds he’s ever come across, but she needs discipline and focus. Also, she’s better than Mallory. Claudia’s happy again and apologizes to Mallory, who totally lets the whole thing go even though Claudia was a total bitca to her the whole time.

Stacey and Mary Anne babysit for two British kids, the children of some sort of government officials or something (it’s very vague), and show them around the city. They realize that a guy in sunglasses and a rain hat keeps showing up, and they decide that he must be following them so he can kidnap one or both of the kids. When they finally decide to tell the kids’ parents, they learn that the man is actually the kids’ bodyguard. The parents didn’t tell Mary Anne or Stacey he would be tagging along so they wouldn’t freak out, and the kids didn’t know he was coming because they wanted to be normal, or something. It’s actually kind of a clever plot.

Jessi meets a male dancer named Quint who’s good enough to try out for Juilliard but doesn’t want to because the guys in his neighborhood already make fun of him for taking ballet. She eventually talks him into auditioning and gets her first kiss in return.

Dawn is terrified of the city and won’t leave Stacey’s dad’s apartment. A guy in the building named Richie comes by and convinces her to do some stuff, managing to show her that New York is awesome.

Kristy finds a dog and sneaks it into Laine’s apartment, hiding it from Laine’s parents. Watson won’t let her bring the dog home to Stoneybrook, so she has to find it an owner in New York. She does. It’s dull. Though it’s kind of hilarious when Kristy finds out that, contrary to her belief, the building does allow dogs and she didn’t have to keep sneaking it in and out.

Thoughts: “My mother says I am a pack rat. So what? Pack rats are probably very nice animals.” I love you, Claudia. Though not so much in this book. You’re more annoying than Dawn the Fraidy Cat.

Mary Anne brings Tigger to the train station to say goobye. Just when I think she can’t get any more pathetic….

I find Dawn’s huge fear of the city out of character for her. It would make more sense for Mary Anne, since she’s a chicken about everything else, but she loves New York almost as much as she loves Tigger.

The boys in Quint’s neighborhood call him a sissy for being a male dancer. He’s lucky they don’t know any other words.

Quint’s mom: “Are you and your brother going to be pests today?” Quint’s brother: “No, we’re going to be pests tomorrow. Today we plan to be pains. Is that okay?” Hee hee hee.

Egg creams have never appealed to me. Soda and milk? No, thanks.

Are there really 11-year-olds at Juilliard? (A quick look at their website says no: Students have to be at least 16 to audition.)

I would love to know how much money every aspect of this trip cost. Dinner for eight at Tavern on the Green alone would be pretty expensive.