December 31, 2011

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

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

This never happened, but whatever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abby coming up with Agatha Kristy made me giggle.

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

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

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

November 1, 2010

BSC Super Special #9, Starring the Baby-sitters Club!: Jessi Ramsey is Better Than You. At Everything. EVERYTHING

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:45 pm by Jenn

Is it just me, or does Stacey look like a dude?

Summary: Stoneybrook Elementary, Middle, and High Schools put on a production of Peter Pan, and some of the BSC girls, their siblings, and their charges try out. And then there’s drama. Lots of drama.

Jessi thinks she’s a shoe-in for the role of Peter, since she’s a dancer and has tons of stage experience. She is wrong. Kristy winds up with the role, and Jessi is told by the director, Mr. Cheney, that even though she’s a good dancer, she’s no better at singing or acting than Kristy. Jessi is, to put it mildly, murderous with rage over the turn of events, and when she’s cast as an Indian, she withdraws from the show. She’s further disappointed when the other BSC girls, especially Kristy, refuse to put up with her crap. (It’s awesome.)

Jessi becomes the assistant choreographer, but then gets mad when Mr. Cheney won’t recognize that she’s basically his righthand gal and he would cease to exist without her help. On opening night, Pete Black, who’s supposed to be playing Nana and the crocodile, breaks his nose and can’t play his parts, so Jessi agrees to fill in for him. I’m sure she wishes she’d thought of breaking Kristy’s nose so she could take her place.

Kristy actually wanted to be Nana and the crocodile, so she’s really surprised when she lands the lead. Her plot mainly involves her struggling to memorize her lines, and having to deal with Cokie and her issues. (Cokie’s playing Tiger Lily.) Kristy wins this round, singing all of Cokie’s solo lines with her.

Dawn is cast as Wendy and takes it upon herself to modernize the play, since she finds it sexist. No one puts up with her crap either.

Stacey is Mrs. Darling, and Sam is cast as her husband. He keeps joking around, which drives her crazy, and he finally admits that he was just trying to show his friends how much fun he has with Stacey, since they’ve been teasing him about dating a middle-schooler. They actually solve their problems through communication, which is amazing.

Mary Anne becomes the “backstage babysitter,” looking after all the kids in the play. Mallory is working on costumes but finds herself bored a lot, so she tries to impinge on Mary Anne’s territory. Mary Anne awesomely stands up to her, getting her to back off.

Claudia helps design the sets. That’s it.

Jackie Rodowsky is Michael Darling, and he inadvertently causes all sorts of problems by complaining that they’re not allowed to really fly and by being scared of Pete in the crocodile costume. He gets straightened out with a good talking-to from Mr. Cheney, and he overcomes his herpetophobia when he finds out Jessi will be in the costume.

Karen whines her way into the role of Tinker Bell and is generally a little gnat who never shuts up.

The play goes well. Happy ending!

Thoughts: This was one of my favorite Super Specials when I was a kid – I was big into theater, especially musicals, and I loved books about people putting on plays. I also watched the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan numerous times when I was younger. (Hey, just like Squirt!)

Why is Jessi, not Mallory, writing for the school paper?

Do we really have to call the play a “musical extravaganza”? It’s…not really that exciting.

I’m surprised Dawn wants to play Tiger lily, considering the unPC-ness of the role.

Stacey sings “Mack the Knife” at her audition. I’m going to need a ruling from Simon Cowell. What’s that, Simon? Boring, old-fashioned, and forgettable? I agree.

Why would Dawn waltz at her audition? I haven’t seen Peter Pan for a little while, but I’m pretty sure Tiger Lily doesn’t waltz.

Uh, Cokie and I watch the same soap opera. I bet Carly is her favorite character.

You know why Karen’s so annoying? Because people keep enabling her. Mr. Cheney should have ignored her and not given in to her demands to be Tinker Bell. Let her learn at an early age that life isn’t fair. (Though points to him for giving her a non-speaking role.)

So they cast a bunch of elementary-school kids in the play but don’t get anyone to look after them? This seems like a top-notch production.

Mary Anne: “Peter promised her and her brothers an adventure, didn’t he?” Dawn: “Oh, that’s just like a man. They always say stuff like that.” Dawn. You’re 13. The only man you know is your father, and his promises all involve Disneyland. On the other hand, I don’t exactly appreciate Mary Anne saying, “So what if the play is sexist?” Uh, you should, actually. Anyway, if Dawn has such a problem with the play, why did she audition in the first place?

The actors are expected to start memorizing their lines after about two rehearsals. Seriously?

I love how they skip over all the boring stuff and suddenly it’s, like, a week before the show opens. Makes sense to me.

Aw, my high school choir director/theater teacher said, “Sing out, Louise,” too. I miss him.

Dawn’s dad can’t come to the play, so Richard tapes it for him and gives her flowers. Aw, Richard’s all right.

September 10, 2010

BSC Super Special #8, Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake: Nothing Happens

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:41 pm by Jenn

Hey, where's Mallory's beekeeper get-up?

Summary: Watson’s aunt and uncle want to leave him a cabin at a lake in their will, and they invite him and his brood to check it out for a couple of weeks to see if he likes it. Kristy, of course, invites the whole BSC. There are numerous “adventures”:

Kristy makes everyone keep a diary of the trip to convince Watson that they really like the cabin. This includes much popping into other people’s diary entries to drive the point home. She also learns to drive a speedboat.

Stacey finds herself the target of Sam‘s inability to flirt. He does that eight-year-old boy thing where he teases her because he likes her. It would be cute if, you know, he were actually eight, but he’s 15, so it’s just annoying. Thanks to Charlie, who is always awesome, Sam finally straight-out tells Stacey he likes her, so I guess they’re together now.

Dawn is obsessed with a Lake Monster she’s sure exists, as well as the story of a family who lived in town and vanished without a trace. She’s incredibly annoying (even more so than Sam).

Jessi meets a guy named Daniel and kind of develops a crush on him, despite the fact that she can’t think of one thing they have in common. Then she decides she’d rather be with Quint, but it’s okay because Daniel has a girlfriend back home.

Mallory is bitten and stung by every bug at the lake. She starts wearing mosquito netting and using way too much bug spray, which makes the other girls be nasty to her, for no apparent reason. I mean, I get that they’re embarrassed, but geez, she’s supposed to be their friend.

Claudia decorates a speedboat for a boat parade. It’s boring and dumb.

Mary Anne doesn’t actually have a plot. She just watches the little kids.

Karen and her friends (Hannie and Nancy) find a playhouse in the woods, which David Michael and his friends (Nicky and Linny) want to play in. The boys decide to build a fort instead, and the kids bet the performance of each other’s chores that each group will have the better playhouse.

Then there’s a dance, for some reason. And then they all go home, and Watson decides he wants the cabin. And amazingly, it does come up again in other books.

Thoughts: Watson tells the Brewer/Thomas kids they can invite friends to the lake “within reason.” Kristy hears, “We’ll take an extra car so you can bring six people along.”

Charlie jokingly suggests leaving Karen behind because there’s so little room in the cars. Again, I must ask Charlie to marry me.

Why the heck do they take the cat with them??

Sam tells Stacey she looks ravishing, then says he’s glad she arrived at the lake unscathed. Someone’s been studying for the SAT!

Mallory complains about having to share a room. Did she think there were 20 bedrooms? Now I get why the others are so mean to her.

Another vacation where the parents spend no time with the kids and the BSC girls are always watching them. This time, though, they sit for free. There really are no child-labor laws in Stoneybrook, are there?

David Michael’s handwriting is waaaaaay too nice for a seven-year-old.

I get David Michael and Karen doing each other’s chores, and Hannie and Linny doing each other’s chores, since they’re siblings, but what are Nicky and Nancy getting out of this bet?

I would call bull on Emily Michelle being able to write an E, but my two-year-old niece can write the first letter of her name. And I really just wanted to brag about that.

Why does the ghostwriter think kids don’t use contractions? It’s really distracting. Oh, sorry – it is really distracting.

Claudia doesn’t know what “gutsy” means. Y’all, she’s Kellie Pickler dumb.

Why is Dawn so afraid of the island when she lives in a supposedly haunted house? Oh, right, to annoy me.

Jessi thinks Daniel’s going to profess his love for her at the dance. I wouldn’t be 11 again for all the money in the world.