February 6, 2013

BSC #112, Kristy and the Sister War: The Time Kristy Saved a Family from Imploding

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:37 pm by Jenn

It's hard to see here, but Shannon looks like Michelle Williams on this cover

It’s hard to see here, but Shannon looks like Michelle Williams on this cover

Summary: The ghostwriters realized they haven’t used Shannon in a while, so she gets to be a part of this book. Kristy starts sitting for her sisters Maria and Tiffany a lot, and the girls complain that Shannon has too many after-school activities and is never around. Really, the problem is that the Kilbournes never spend time together, so the whole family is kind of a mess.

Kristy tries to get Tiffany and Maria to do helpful things for Shannon, but they all backfire. Like they try to bake cookies but the batches are horrible. When Shannon gets mad, her sisters start playing pranks on her. It starts out pretty innocently, with messing with her homework and changing her schedule, then gets out of hand, to the point where their parents should really step in. (Hair dye in her shampoo bottle? Come on, Kilbournes. Pay attention to your children.)

Because she’s been spending so much time with the Kilbournes, Kristy sees what’s really going on, and hears from the girls how unhappy they are with not getting to spend more time together as a family. She encourages them to write a letter to Shannon and a letter to their parents to express their feelings. The girls do, and Shannon agrees that she’s doing too many things and needs to cut back. Their parents also make an effort to have family dinners together and enjoy each other’s company more. And Kristy shows that she might actually make a good therapist or counselor someday.

B-plots: The BSC girls help organize a Stoneybrook all-school dance between three middle schools. Claudia tries to fix Kristy up with a friend of her boyfriend’s, but it’s not a love match. Kristy comes up with the idea to help the kids of Stoneybrook organize their own dance, because of course she does. The kids get worked up who to take to the dance, so the BSC girls tell them they’re not allowed to bring dates.

Thoughts: Tiffany’s 11 – why does she need a sitter? Not to mention that previous books – specifically Kristy and the Snobs – have mentioned that SHE’S a sitter.

With a friend like Claudia, how is it possible that Kristy doesn’t know what snickerdoodles are?

Jordan: “This is bor-ing.” Tiffany: “Did I just hear you volunteer for the decorations committee, Jordan?” Rock on, Tiffany.

Jordan, re: Maria: “She’s the only one who knows the recipe for Rice Krispie Treats.” The recipe’s on the box, moron.

Claudia wears a lime green sweater with a pink skirt. Kristy says she looks great, so I guess Kristy’s secretly blind and we didn’t know it.

I can buy some of the kids wanting dates, but most of them are right at that age where they find kids of the opposite sex icky. Speaking of icky, I find Maria and Tiffany competing over Jordan weird. Maria’s eight. It turns out neither actually likes him; they actually like two of the other triplets. Still. Eight.

Cokie’s dance outfit: a zebra top, a leopard-skin miniskirt, and Dalmatian go-go boots. I bet it would all look fabulous on Claudia.

May 28, 2012

BSC Super Mystery #3, Baby-sitters’ Fright Night: Which Witch is Which?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:17 pm by Jenn

Their outfits are the real fright here

Summary: Over Halloween, Abby, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Mallory go to Salem, Massachusetts for a school trip. The trip is part history-project research, part excuse to do a lot of shopping (or at least that’s how Stacey sees it). Alan, Cokie, and Cary are also on the trip and being varying levels of annoying. Cokie and her minion Grace are huge mean girls to a sixth-grader named Eileen who rooms with Mallory and is supposedly decended from a witch.

A local museum is displaying a big diamond called the Witch’s Eye, which is like the poor man’s Hope Diamond, in that it’s allegedly cursed. It’s stolen while some of the students are at the museum. Mary Anne finds a wig that the girls guess was worn by the theif, and Stacey finds a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. The girls think the person who stole the diamond is staying at the same inn as the students. At the same time, Abby buys a little ceramic pumpkin in a gift shop and starts taking it everywhere with her, calling it her pet pumpkin.

Anyway, the investigation begins, and Mallory gets really obsessed with documenting everything in the club’s mystery notebook. The notebook is back in Stoneybrook, but she has Jessi and Shannon send it to her. Girl needs help. There are a few suspects, including Mrs. Moorehouse, who owns the diamond but may not have insurance; Martha Kempner, a writer who’s in Salem to write about the diamond; Sean Knowles, whose reason for being in Salem isn’t exactly clear; and Harvey Hapgood, who tried to buy the diamond before it was stolen.

In between working on their projects and investigating the mystery, the girls do some sightseeing and various Halloween activities. They also try to avoid Alan and Cary, who are bugging Kristy. Cokie gets nastier and nastier to Eileen, and Mallory winds up sticking up for her and tearing into Cokie, which is both surprising and awesome of her. It also finally, finally gets Cokie to shut up.

Everyone goes to a Halloween parade, where Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, and she’s ticked but mostly just happy that her pumpkin wasn’t in it. Abby and Stacey’s room is broken into, as the theif took Abby’s room key, but nothing is stolen. Then Stacey realizes that the numbers she saw earlier are probably a safe combination, so she thinks the person who stole the Witch’s Eye stashed it in a safe.

Kristy thinks she’s uncovered a clue leading her to the museum, which is closed while the police investigate the diamond theft. She winds up locked inside and runs into Alan, who’s been torturing her the whole trip. But he has a clue, too, and they realize Cary set them both up. They arrange to scare the crap out of him, and the three seem to call a truce. It’s basically just a red herring.

While Kristy’s gone, there’s a storm and the electricity in the inn goes out. The other girls decide to snoop around in the suspects’ rooms and safes, but they don’t find anything. They do, however, see Mrs. Moorehouse and realize how frail she is, leading them to believe she didn’t steal the diamond since she wouldn’t have been able to make a clean getaway. The girls remember seeing Martha wear high heels for most of the trip, except for the day of the theft, when she wore sneakers. This means she may have been planning to move stealthily. The girls also use the combination Stacey found to open Martha’s safe, another strike against Martha.

It’s all dark and creepy in the inn, and the girls are freaked out when they run into Sean, since they still don’t know what he’s up to. He reveals that he’s an insurance agent and has been in Salem to keep an eye on the diamond. The girls head off to…I don’t know, call the police? Probably not. But Abby gets separated from them and runs into Martha, who grabs the pumpkin and breaks it, revealing the Witch’s Eye inside. It turns out she bought the pumpkin at one gift shop, put the diamond inside, and accidentally dropped it in another gift shop, where Abby bought it. She’s also been working with Harvey to get her hands on it.

Abby holds Martha off (yeah, I bet) until the police arrive and the girls are branded heroes yet again. Then they have cake with Mrs. Moorehouse, who tells them that she thought she didn’t have insurance because Harvey called her pretending to be from the insurance company and told her they couldn’t insure the diamond anymore. I don’t know, it’s a stupid wrap-up.

Also stupid: the B-plot involving Claudia, Jessi, Logan, and Shannon organizing a Halloween parade back in Stoneybrook. Jordan Pike is annoying and the sitters let him embarrass himself until he learns A Lesson.

Thoughts: Harvey Hapgood is not a name for a villain, or at least not a dangerous one. It’s a name for a Harold Hill wannabe.

If I were Jessi or Shannon and Mallory asked me to send the notebook, I’d say, “Sure, Mal, it’s on its way,” hang up, snicker, and go back to whatever I was doing. Otherwise I would be an enabler.

When Abby’s fanny pack is stolen, she yells out to the crowd that there’s a pickpocket in the crowd. I feel bad for any guy who ever tries to grope Abby in public.

Turns out Mallory is kind of awesome and Jordan is kind of a jerk. Who knew?

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.

October 6, 2011

BSC Super Mystery #1, Baby-sitters’ Haunted House: Ghostbusted

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 11:13 pm by Jenn

I don't care if that house is haunted, I want to live there

Summary: Karen’s mother and stepfather are planning to spend some time in Maine with some friends, the Menderses, who have four kids. They want one of the BSC girls to come along to look after Karen, Andrew, and the Menders kids. All of the BSC girls want to go, and for some reason, the adults agree to bring Kristy, Claudia, Dawn, and Mary Anne along. Jessi and Mallory stay back in Stoneybrook to take on running the club.

There’s this whole back story about the house where everyone’s staying in Maine – it belongs to Mr. Menders’ family, and the guy who owned it may have died, and his wife might be haunting it. If the Menderses want to, they can move there. The kids don’t want to move, but the parents are all excited about opening a health-food store, so they spend their time in Maine researching. The BSC girls try to get the kids excited about possibly moving to Maine, even though there’s weird stuff going on in the house.

It’s typical haunted-house stuff: weird noises, a woman in white, etc. The butler and maid, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, are also a little shady. Mrs. Cooper supposedly can’t talk. There’s a fourth floor of the house that the Coopers claim they don’t have a key to, and the gardener, Georgio (who’s in college but totally has a crush on Claudia), keeps telling the girls it’s not safe to go up there. After the girls see a “ghost” in the hallway with a candle one night, they get suspicious of Georgio. It turns out the “ghost” was the oldest Menders kid, Lionel, who wants to scare his family away from moving into the house. But then the girls see a light going on in a window on the fourth floor, which supposedly no one has access to.

Mary Anne does some investigating and learns that there’s a dumbwaiter in the house. The woman she talks to at the historical society tells her another woman was in asking questions about the house; the only thing memorable about her was that she spoke with an accent. Claudia and Dawn check out the dumbwaiter and find a tape recorder, which they realize is where the weird noises have been coming from. Dawn winds up having to hide in the dumbwaiter when the Coopers come home, and she discovers that Mrs. Cooper can, in fact, talk.

More digging and research turn up the fact that the Coopers, who claimed to have lived in the town their whole lives, lied about that. The news also comes out that Mr. Menders has a cousin in Scotland who will get the house if the Menderses don’t want it. Thanks to Dawn, who remembers that Mrs. Cooper has an accent, and Lionel, who’s an aspiring actor and can do all sorts of accents, the BSC girls figure out that Mrs. Cooper is Scottish. They put this together with a photo of one of Mr. Menders’ relatives, who Claudia realizes looks like Mr. Cooper, and figure out that the Coopers are the people who stand to get the house (and the possible treasure on the fourth floor).

A storm hits while the adults are all gone for the day, and the BSC girls and Georgio get stuck in the house with the Coopers. But then it gets all anticlimactic and the Coopers just leave the country, apparently thinking the house is really haunted. Disappointing. Also, there wasn’t really a treasure. Also also, the Coopers don’t kill Karen before they leave. Like I said, disappointing.

Mallory and Jessi’s plot is really boring, and also something we’ve seen before: They have to turn down jobs because the two of them, Logan, and Shannon are the only sitters in town, and then people stop calling. They think the club is losing business, but people are just out of town or don’t need sitters.

In other news: Andrew’s obsessed with frogs and boats; one of the Menders girls, Jill, is obsessed with Dawn; Karen’s obsessed with getting the other girl, Martha, to make friends; and Claudia has to tell Georgio she’s 13 in a letter. But at least he didn’t go to jail.

Thoughts: There was a lot about this book I forgot, but I did remember the scene with Dawn and Claudia hiding in the dumbwaiter, and the scene where the BSC girls have Lionel speak in different accents so they can figure out where Mrs. Cooper is from.

It’s weird to read a BSC book where everyone gets a chapter except Stacey, since she wasn’t in the club at this point.

Shannon’s a jerk in this book. She shows up late to a meeting, stays for only 15 minutes, and tells Mallory and Jessi that they need to end meetings on time. Why did she even bothering coming?

“Elton Cooper grilled burgers, hot dogs, and chicken for us.” But what did Dawn eat? WHAT DID DAWN EAT??

Andrew wants to know the difference between a frog and a toad, so Dawn looks it up in the dictionary. How quaint.

Claudia follows Georgio to a dark shed even though he makes her nervous. Someone get this girl a copy of The Gift of Fear.

Kristy: “Why would he have a candle in the toolshed?” Mary Anne: “For light?” Thank you, Mary Anne, for teaching us all what candles are for.

Mrs. Pike complains about everyone leaving town and not being able to get a sitter, saying they “should have planned better.” Hey, maybe you shouldn’t have had eight kids you never want to take care of.

June 27, 2011

BSC Super Special #12, Here Come the Bridesmaids!: “I Do” Times Two

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 10:34 pm by Jenn

I didn't know 13-year-old girls could marry each other in California

Summary: Dawn’s dad is getting married, so Mary Anne, Claudia, and Kristy fly out to California to help with the wedding. Well, Claudia helps with the wedding. Kristy basically does nothing the entire book. Back in Stoneybrook, Mrs. Barrett is getting married, Stacey’s a bridesmaid, and Mallory and Shannon are hired to watch the kids at the wedding. Hijinks ensue.

  • Dawn thinks Mary Anne‘s going to be her fellow bridesmaid in the wedding, despite the fact that she never asked her dad or Carol about it. She buys her a dress and everything. When Mary Anne finds out that Dawn assumed she would be in the wedding, they get in a fight, but it doesn’t last long, like most of their lame fights. Dawn’s also adjusting to having Carol around all the time, and there’s some brief stuff about her having to make sure her grades are good before she goes back to Connecticut.
  • Mallory and Ben Hobart make tentative plans to take a bunch of kids Christmas caroling (oh, yeah, the book takes place right around Christmas), but she has to cancel them, and they get into an equally lame fight. Then they make up. Yeah, like you really care about Mallory. She also does a disastrous job looking after four of the Barrett/DeWitt kids at the wedding, which is pretty much what you would expect if you put a pre-teen in charge of four rowdy kids.
  • Jessi is enlisted to play Santa at the mall. Yes, Jessi. Apparently no one cares that she’s a) 11, b) a girl, and c) not white.
  • Claudia helps out a bunch with the wedding, taking photographs and styling hair and being dumb about flowers.
  • Kristy hijacks the We ♥ Kids Club’s goodbye party for Dawn, because we all know how flakey and unstructured they are, and how awesome and organized Kristy is. She should have stayed in Stoneybrook. Not only would she have had the kids in line at the wedding, she would have arranged a big project for them involving homemade wedding presents.
  • Shannon is also in this book.
  • Jeff worries that Mr. Schafer’s housekeeper, Mrs. Bruen, will be fired after Carol moves in, I guess because women are always so good at cooking and cleaning and all that stuff. But then he learns that Mrs. Bruen is actually going to be working more hours. Whatever, Mrs. Bruen, get in the kitchen and make Jeff a sandwich.
  • Suzi Barrett is worried that Santa won’t be able to find her house, since the families are moving. Inspired by two stories she heard in school – Hansel and Gretel and Theseus in the Labyrinth – she leaves a trail of cookie crumbs from the old house to the new one, which is both adorable and brilliant.

This also marks the end of Dawn’s six months (or whatever) in California and her return to Stoneybrook, which means we’ll barely hear about Shannon from here on out. Fortunately, we won’t be saddled with Dawn for too much longer.

Thoughts: The Vista Hills Mall has a health-food snack bar called Health’s Angels. Har har.

Why does Dawn have to pay for her bridesmaid’s dress?

Mallory once gave Claire a hole-puncher for Christmas. First of all, you suck, Mallory. Second of all, what’s a kid that age going to do with a hole-puncher, other than make a big mess?

They could have solved the whole Suzi problem by telling her Santa would find them through magic. Kids accept magic as a valid answer to any question. I guess Suzi’s smarter than everyone else in this book.

Why in the world would you arrange for movers to come the same night you get married? I guess the ghostwriter couldn’t have Carol move in with the Schafers before the wedding. That would be WRONG.

And why would you expect your future stepmother to ask her fiancé’s ex-wife’s stepdaughter to be her bridesmaid? Especially when they’ve only met once before? Also, why does Mary Anne think she deserves to be a bridesmaid when she hears she isn’t going to be one? These people mean nothing to her!

Trivia: Jessi’s dad is six-two.

The Schafers only serve health food while Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne are visiting, but then serve duck at the wedding. So not only are they rude, they’re also hypocrites.

Logan, why are you in this book?

Dawn: “I even loved every morsel of that cake, despite the fact that it was made with way too much refined sugar.” That cake had your face on it and was made by an 8-YEAR-OLD, you UNGRATEFUL WITCH. Urge to kill, rising….

“Franklin wears red pajamas every single night.” Uh…how do you know that, Suzi?

I would laugh more at Mallory, but I have my own horrible-sitting-job-at-a-wedding-story. Well, it’s actually a horrible-sitting-job-at-a-wedding-reception story. When I was in high school, my best friend and I were hired to watch four kids at a reception in D.C. (about ten miles from our hometown). There were two brother/sister pairs, all between the ages of four and eight. We didn’t know these kids or their families (they were out-of-town guests), and the kids barely knew each other. (I think they were distant cousins.)

We were put in a room with the kids, a TV, some videos, and some toys. The kids weren’t happy to be away from their parents, and they especially weren’t happy to be stuck in a room with two teenaged girls they didn’t know when there was a big party right down the hall. A big party with cake. So the kids kept trying to escape the room, every five minutes for about three hours. They wouldn’t listen to me or my friend, they kept whining and complaining, and they were rude to us and each other. The fact that the food brought to us wasn’t great didn’t help.

Finally, the reception was winding down, so one of the fathers came to relieve me and my friend and pay us. He was totally drunk (I remember him standing partway down the hall, just staring at me, looking like he would fall over if he took a step), and he handed me a couple of 20s, telling me it was for both me and my friend. Two sitters + four demons kids + three or so hours + horrible accommodations = $20 each, which works out to about $7 an hour. I can’t remember how much I usually made for babysitting back then (this would have been 1999), but it was probably closer to $10 an hour.

But wait, it gets better. He added that that had to cover our cab fare back home, because no one had arranged a ride for us. Cab fare from D.C. back home would have eaten up half our fee, at least. Fortunately, someone heard about the payment and gave us some extra money. We also got a ride back home from a couple of women (who hadn’t been drinking) going the same way. I believe that was when I told my friend that if she ever needed someone to babysit with her again, she should NOT call me.

April 25, 2011

BSC Super Special #11, The Baby-sitters Remember: Flashbacks!

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 10:56 pm by Jenn

My copy's yellow, not gold. Now I'm all jealous

Summary: Over summer vacation, all of the SMS students are assigned  to write about what they did over the break (LAME!). At a sleepover, the girls suggest alternate topics, and Jessi says they should get to write about their most vivid memories. This leads to the girls (and Logan, later) having various flashbacks about some memorable times in their lives:

Kristy remembers her first sitting job, when she was ten and allowed to watch David Michael after school. Mimi, Mrs. Newton, and various other family friends and neighbors check on her the whole time. Kristy proves to be very responsible, and thus begins her life’s meaning.

Mary Anne‘s memory is of Kristy and Claudia helping her play pranks on a babysitter when they were eight. They think the sitter is mean, but she proves to have a good sense of humor and takes the jokes well. She even plays a prank on them and teaches them another to play on someone else. Mary Anne came away from the experience learning that it’s okay to loosen up and be silly sometimes.

Stacey takes us through the time just before and after her diabetes diagnosis in sixth grade. Before, she had a great group of friends; after, they all turned on her because they thought she was either contagious or a hypochondriac. She’s happy when her parents tell her they’re moving to Connecticut because she wants a new start in a place where no one knows she has diabetes. At first Stacey decides she’s not going to tell anyone about her illness, but she feels comfortable enough with the BSC girls to tell them the truth.

Jessi‘s story is kind of sweet: She admits that she and Becca hated the thought of having a baby in the house when their mother was about to give birth to Squirt. Things didn’t get any better after he was born, since he had colic and cried all the time. One day Jessi is the only person around to tend to him, so she sings to him and quiets him down. After that, she realizes having a baby brother isn’t that bad.

Dawn thinks about her parents’ divorce and her move from California to Connecticut. It’s actually a good portrayal of the trauma that that kind of upheaval can cause. It ends with some of the events of Mary Anne Saves the Day.

Claudia remembers being six and having to draw a self-portrait. She draws herself as a butterfly and the teacher ridicules her for not following directions. Mimi goes to the school and tells the teacher that Claudia understood the directions better than anyone else.

Mallory‘s most vivid memory is of being ten and writing a letter to her favorite author, having been encouraged to do so by Mary Anne. She learns that the author will be doing a book signing at the mall, so her mom takes her. Mallory’s incredibly excited, but when she finally gets to talk to the author, she’s too nervous to say anything. She talks about how this memory stands out to her because it made her see how much a writer can affect a reader.

Logan talks about moving to Stoneybrook and meeting Mary Anne. It’s basically his view of Logan Likes Mary Anne!

Shannon‘s memory is of starting eighth grade and meeting a new girl named Sally. Everyone thinks Sally’s awesome because she lived in England and is rich, but the girl will only be friends with one person at a time. Then she and whoever she’s friends with ignore the rest of the group. Shannon briefly gets to be the chosen one, but after she has to decline plans with Sally to study, Sally dumps her for someone else. Shannon develops an aversion to new girls, which is why she’s so nasty to Kristy in Kristy and the Snobs. We also get a little info on Shannon’s family, namely that she doesn’t like being at home and that her parents don’t get along very well.

Thoughts: I really didn’t remember this book at all. So I guess that’s why it’s not called The Readers Remember.

Kristy disapproves of all the junk food Claudia eats, but she doesn’t seem to have any issues with helping her eat it.

“I am a native New Yorker. (You can’t say that about just anyone.)” You can say that about millions of people, Stacey. Grab a ladder and get over yourself, would you?

That said, I felt really bad for Stacey in this book. Laine and her other friends are really awful to her. I also felt sorry for Dawn for possibly the first time; I wouldn’t have been able to handle both a divorce and a big move at that age (or any age, really), and she came through it pretty well.

Stacey’s group of friends in New York was basically the Plastics, and Laine was Regina. This makes so much sense.

Trivia: Before she got sick, Stacey was going to try out for the soccer team at her school. Interesting – I thought Kristy and Abby were the only two BSC girls interested in sports. And I don’t think of Stacey as the athletic type.

Six-year-old Claudia talks just like Karen.

More trivia: Jessi’s mom had two miscarriages before having Squirt.

Have we ever learned why Logan’s family moved to Stoneybrook? I choose to believe they’re on the run from the mob. And that their accents are all fake.

Dawn’s dad stays out all night and Sharon calls him a liar? Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and guess he had an affair.

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


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.

November 17, 2010

BSC #61, Jessi and the Awful Secret: All She Wants to Do is Dance

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

Even Jessi's legwarmers look sad

Summary: Jessi volunteers to help out with a dance class for underprivileged kids. One of the other volunteers is her classmate Mary, who thinks she needs to lose weight and shows other classic signs of anorexia. Jessi’s really worried about her and starts looking into the disorder (aided by the BSC girls), but when she discusses it with Mary, Mary denies that anything’s wrong. Jessi’s afraid to tell any adults about Mary’s dieting and weight loss, so she keeps quiet while Mary steadily gets worse. Finally, after Mary collapses during class, Jessi tells her to talk to their teacher, or Jessi will do it for her. Mary balks, but Jessi follows through, and Mary finally gets help.

In what I guess would be the A- plot, the BSC girls inspire Jessi to help start a scholarship for two of the underprivileged kids so they can continue to take dance classes. Watson, awesome as ever, agrees to fund the scholarship, and Martha, a girl in the class who Jessi thought had a lot of potential, is picked as one of the recipients. Martha is black, and her mother admits to Jessi that she enrolled Martha in classes before but stopped sending her because a neighbor told her she was wasting her money, as there’s no future for a black dancer. But seeing Jessi doing so well has told Martha’s mother that that’s not true.

In the B plot, Shannon starts hanging out with the BSC girls more, and Kristy feels like she’s being replaced. It’s kind of ridiculous, and I kind of think the plot was only written because the ghostwriter realized Shannon never appears in the series.

Thoughts: Parts of the anorexia storyline border on preachy, but it’s an important topic, and it makes sense that Jessi would encounter it. Though I find it hard to believe that she wouldn’t know what anorexia is after taking ballet for so long. And I really liked the A- plot, with Martha’s mother admiring Jessi, and with Jessi trying to get scholarships for the kids. That was really sweet of her.

I also liked Jessi and Mary’s teacher, Mme Noelle, in this book. Mary says that she’s worried she’ll get too big to dance, and Mme Noelle asks her what would happen if she got too thin to dance. She adds that dancing isn’t just about talent, it’s also about passion, which includes loving yourself. If Mme Noelle ever needs a break from teaching ballet, she should be a counselor.

As sweet as Jessi was toward the end of the book, she was kind of annoying in other places. For instance, why does she always trash dancers who aren’t as good as her? We get it! You’re awesome! We believe you!

Jessi also feels bad for poor people. Good to know.

Linny Papadakis doesn’t want to play Let’s All Come In because he doesn’t want to pretend to hold fake suitcases: “I don’t want to stand around and carry air.” Ha!

Shannon and Claudia build a crooked snow condo, and Claudia says only crooked people can go there, like “thieves and con artists.” So she knows more than one meaning of “crooked,” but she can’t spell “deep”?

Claudia eats a whole bag of chips during a meeting. Maybe the girls should read up on some other eating disorders… (By the way, I finished this book while watching What’s Eating You on E!, which is an awesome show. I guess I have a theme going tonight. Now I’m going to go eat a whole box of cereal.)

April 25, 2010

BSC #38, Kristy’s Mystery Admirer: Her?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:19 pm by Jenn

Yeah, I can see why all the boys love Kristy

Summary: Kristy starts getting love letters (I know, right?), and at first she’s flattered, but then she gets creeped out because they turn dark. Her mystery admirer says he/she will remember her when she’s dead, and other weird stuff like that. Kristy and Shannon (who’s barely been mentioned since Kristy and the Snobs and is possibly featured more in this book than in any other) think Bart’s writing the notes to psych Kristy out since their teams will soon be facing off for a World Series.

Poor Bart gets the silent treatment from everyone until he finally confronts Kristy about the situation. It turns out he did write the love letters, but not the creepy ones. Those were from Cokie Mason, who wanted revenge for the events of Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery. Kristy’s only revenge is to tell everyone at school what Cokie did, then write her a stupid fake love note of her own. That’s weak, even for Kristy.

A lot of the other stuff in the book has to do with the World Series, which is really only one game, and not even a nine-inning game at that. And Kristy and Bart are pretty much officially dating now, which makes her the second girl in the BSC to get a steady boyfriend. Her? Yes, her. Also, Buddy Barrett develops a crush on Shannon, but that doesn’t go anywhere. Probably because Shannon is as boring to the ghostwriter as she is to the readers.

Thoughts: Seriously, Shannon is bossy and has no distinguishing personality. No wonder she barely appears in the series.

This book is so tame. If it were written today, Shannon would turn out to be the secret admirer and Cokie would be arrested for making death threats.

Kristy says that Shannon isn’t “gorgeous like Dawn or even attractive like Stacey. She’s more…interesting-looking.” Look, just because she’s not your type….

One of Kristy’s notes says she’s “as beautiful as a snow-covered mountain.” Frigid and insurmountable?

Stacey wears a fedora. Oh, sorry – a “distant” fedora. Also, Kristy and Bart go to a school Halloween dance dressed as lobsters. You read that right.

Mallory comes to a Krushers practice but apparently Stacey and Shannon don’t talk to her. Thus begins the dweebification of Mallory Pike.

November 21, 2009

BSC #11, Kristy and the Snobs: I Totally Did Not Cry While Reading This Book

Posted in books tagged , , , at 6:55 pm by Jenn

Shannon's Mini Me has her own cat of evilness

Summary: Kristy’s having trouble getting along with the rich kids in her new neighborhood, especially Shannon Kilbourne, who’s mad that the BSC girls have moved in on her territory. They engage in a series of juvenile pranks – Shannon actually goes for the old order-a-pizza-and-make-the-other-person-pay-for-it trick – and eventually…just kind of stop fighting. I don’t know, it’s weird. But the BSC girls end up inviting Shannon to become an associate member. And this is the only book where Shannon is heavily featured, so don’t get too attached.

The more memorable plot, however, revolves around the Thomases’ dog, Louie, and his health problems. He develops arthritis that gets so bad, they eventually decide to put him down. And it’s actually really sad and made me dread having to reread the book. But Shannon brings the Thomases one of her dog’s puppies, as sort of a peace offering, and they’re able to move on. Except David Michael names the puppy Shannon, so thanks for confusing everyone, DM.

The B plot introduces us to the Delaney kids, who will also be featured in book 39. Amanda, who’s eight, is the epitome of snobby and makes me not blame Kristy for thinking everyone in the neighborhood is a snob. Amanda and her younger brother Max are brats who bosses Kristy around when she sits for them, marking possibly the only time Kristy actually takes crap from someone. But then Stacey sits for the kids, packing some reverse psychology in her Kid Kit, and turns them into normal kids.

Thoughts: Louie’s death really is pretty emotional, especially for anyone who’s experienced the death of a pet. These books are usually so innocent and mostly fun, and it’s a jolt to come across a plot like this. Poor Louie.

In later books, Shannon – who really is barely mentioned ever again, except in the obligatory second-chapter club descriptions – seems like such a nice person, but she’s a real witch here. The pranks she pulls on Kristy are mostly dumb and harmless, except for one: She calls Kristy while she’s sitting and tells her the house she’s in is on fire. What a lovely person.

Shannon also introduces herself to Kristy using her full name. Who does that?

Stacey’s usage of reverse psychology on the Delaney kids is her most awesome moment ever. No wonder Stacey likes Mary Poppins so much – she kind of is Mary Poppins. Except with more of a challenge. No one ever wanted to shove Michael and Jane down a flight of stairs.

For such a sad book, it actually contains a pretty good joke. Karen tells the BSC girls that the ghost of Ben Brewer, which she believes haunts the house, sometimes chases her down the hall: “He says otherwise he never gets any exercise.” Mary Anne replies, “You mean any e-x-o-r-c-i-s-e?” Who knew the mouse could bring the funny?