January 7, 2014
Summary: Time for another Short Takes class! Stacey’s in a film-making course, where she gets to learn about screenwriting, producing, directing, and using a video camera. She and her group mates – perennial BSC background characters Pete Black, Emily Bernstein, and Erica Blumberg – first decide to make a zombie movie, but realize it’s pretty cheesy without special effects. Then they decide to make a documentary about what it’s like to be a middle-schooler in suburban Connecticut. Wherever did they come up with that inspired idea?
Emily and Stacey conduct most of the interviews, and Emily quickly proves to be both a) a promising journalist and b) a bit of a bitca. She asks very personal questions, often using information she knows about the interviewees to dig deeper. She asks Jessi about being a minority in Stoneybrook, she asks Abby if she thinks she’s like her mother because they’re both so busy (apparently this is something Abby doesn’t want), and she asks Stacey herself if she has commitment problems because of her parents’ divorce. An interview with Cokie leads to Stacey realizing that the BSC is just as cliquey and exclusive as Cokie and her friends are.
But it’s Emily’s interview with Mary Anne that really causes problems. Mary Anne is upset because she had a fight with Sharon, and she later admits that sometimes she hates her birth mother for dying. She also says that she doesn’t consider Sharon her mother. She quickly regrets what she said and asks to have her interview removed from the movie. Stacey agrees to talk to her group about it, since she wants her interview removed, too. But her group members want everything to stay in.
What follows is a bunch of pages about artistic control and reality vs. art and editing something real vs. telling the truth. Stacey has a choice between honoring Mary Anne’s feelings and showing something dramatic and real in the movie. In the end, there’s something of a compromise: Stacey adds some footage allowing Mary Anne and herself to explain their words. And of course, the movie is good, even though it was made in two weeks by a bunch of 13-year-olds.
The B-plot is also about the class, and how Kristy and Alan are in a group together. Alan’s supposed to be the director, but Kristy can’t bring herself to let him take charge. Their group is filming kids in Stoneybrook when they do funny stuff, but thanks to Kristy and Alan’s power struggle, not much funny footage is actually getting filmed. Finally Kristy realizes that Alan has some good ideas, and that the process needs to be more democratic. I’m sure Kristy will promptly ditch that concept as soon as the class is over.
Thoughts: “Tombs and mummies are so cool.” I think Mary Anne broke.
“It never occurred to me that [Jessi] might think of us as white kids.” Uh-oh, someone forgot to tell Stacey she’s white. How awkward.
Cokie: “Boys are pretty much the most important thing in the life of a middle school girl.” And that might be the most middle school thing ever said.
If all students in a group are getting graded on a film, shouldn’t they all get a vote on the content and see the final product before it’s submitted? If I were getting graded on a group project, I would want to be involved in the whole project.
October 15, 2013
Summary: There’s a new family in Stoneybrook, the Brookes, and Stacey’s the first of the BSC girls to sit for them. The kids, Joni and Ewan, are sweet but sad; their mother has ditched them to become a reporter in Atlanta, so the kids are in Stoneybrook alone with their dad, John. He’s a writer and usually needs a sitter to watch the kids while he works. Stacey finds him nice and cute.
So does Stacey’s mother. When she and John meet, they quickly hit it off. Stacey’s thrilled, since her mom hasn’t dated since her divorce, and she likes that Mrs. McGill has fallen for such a great guy. Joni, however, is unhappy. She hasn’t come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so she doesn’t want her father to get involved with another woman. Totally understandable, right? Unfortunately, no one handles the situation well.
Joni is a brat to Stacey, since she’s the one who introduced their parents, and gets Ewan to be bratty to her, too. She’s also a little jerk to the other BSC girls, since they’re Stacey’s friends. Stacey lets John know how the kids are acting, and he talks to them about it, but Joni doesn’t listen and continues to be a little jerk. She also figures that if John can’t write during the day, he’ll have to skip dates with Mrs. McGill and write at night, so she messes with his computer to keep him from working.
The McGills and Brookes spend some time together, and Joni continues to be a brat, but John is almost as annoying. He just yells at her to get in line, punishing her in front of Stacey and Mrs. McGill. Mrs. McGill has started to cool on John, having learned more about him and realized that they have a lot of differences in ideologies. (I’d think she’s also a little turned off by his lack of sympathy for his daughter.) Stacey, however, still wants them to date.
John suggests that the two families have Thanksgiving together, and it’s a disaster. Joni is in full-on brat mode, and when her father yells at her yet again, she reaches her breaking point and runs off to hide in Stacey’s room. Stacey goes after her and finally shows the girl some compassion, assuring her that her parents love her and all that. Joni sobs heartbreakingly, unable to deal with her parents’ divorce. But Stacey helps her feel a little better, and Joni calms down.
Mrs. McGill decides to break up with John, which Stacey disapproves of. She plans to warn him, but when she goes to New York to visit her father and Ethan, she cools off about it. Ethan gets her to see that Mrs. McGill, as an adult, gets to make her own decisions. Stacey and her mom are also reading Pride and Prejudice, and the book helps Stacey realize that Mrs. McGill deserves a Mr. Darcy, not just any old guy.
There’s not really a B-plot, but there’s talk of how Mallory is still struggling at school after her disastrous student-teaching gig. She hates going to SMS so much that she’s considering going to boarding school in Massachusetts. The BSC girls are sad at the possibility of her leaving, and Jessi’s really upset. More on that in future books.
Thoughts: According to Stacey, people still use word processors in 1998. Poor dear. They have computers now. Smartphones are really going to blow your mind.
“I was never sure if Dad’s girlfriends liked me or if they were only pretending to like me because of Dad.” Richard had girlfriends before he married Sharon? Multiple girlfriends? Richard Spier? I call bull.
Okay, Mallory has officially been bullied out of SMS. WHY IS THE ADMINISTRATION NOT DOING ANYTHING? I can’t believe her parents haven’t gone down there and demanded that the school do something about the way Mal’s being treated.
Claudia: “Mrs. McGill loves kids who are a pain. She loves Stacey.” Nice best friend you got there, Stace.
June 26, 2013
Summary: Stacey and Robert haven’t been close since they broke up, but she’s noticed (and heard from his friends) that something’s wrong with him. He’s alienated himself from his friends, not paying much attention in class, and uninterested in baseball. She decides to check up on him, and he’s appreciative of the fact that she still cares about him, but he just says he’s bored with his friends and life in general.
Things are worse than he lets on, though: Robert’s having trouble in school and shocks everyone by quitting the baseball team. He gets grounded because of his grades, so Stacey offers to tutor him in math. They start spending time together, leading everyone to think they’re back together. Stacey’s a little concerned because she thinks Robert does want to get back together, and she hasn’t mentioned to him that she’s dating Ethan. Fortunately, he just wants to stay friends.
Unfortunately, all the time Stacey’s spending with Robert hasn’t made much of a difference. And the BSC girls are kind of rude about how she keeps hanging out with him. I forgot that there’s a contract they sign when they join the club, saying they’ll spend all their free time with each other, even if one of their outside friends is having a tough time and needs help. Stacey tries to compromise by inviting Robert to hang out with the BSC girls, but it doesn’t go well. She then convinces Robert to rejoin the baseball team, but he skips the first practice and ticks off the coach.
Out of ideas, Stacey calls a radio show to ask advice from a psychologist. The doctor thinks she needs to ask an adult for help – Robert’s problem is too big for a teenager to handle. Stacey tells Robert about this, but he’s mad that she talked to someone about his problems. Stacey then talks to her mom, who thinks they should tell Robert’s parents what’s going on. Stacey balks, since Robert’s already mad enough.
That night, Robert shows up at the McGills’, really upset. He’s crying and tells Stacey that he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him. (This part really got to me.) She encourages him to call an adult he can talk to, so he calls his coach. From there, the adults take over, making sure Robert will get help. Stacey realizes that all the stress of the situation has made her physically sick, and she was right to ask for help.
Stupid B-plot: Stoneybrook has another popular small business, Strawberry Fields Forever, where you can pick your own strawberries. Everyone in town goes, picks tons of berries, and gets sick of them. Kristy throws a strawberry festival, because of course she does.
Thoughts: Claudia’s lost her mind – she wears a zebra-print leotard, leopard-print overall shorts (which would be awful enough on their own), a tiger-stripe scarf, a lizard-print scrunchie, and giraffe earrings.
Stacey buys jelly sandals with heels. Ew.
The strawberry plot means two things: 1) The writers have run out of ideas, and 2) Kristy has finally exhausted every kind of festival she could possibly organize.
At the festival, Mary Anne and Logan run a game where people have to guess how many strawberries are in a basket, and the winner gets all the berries. No one guesses because they already have too many berries at home and don’t want any more. Hee.
The Kilbournes make strawberry shortcake – “parents had to ask Shannon and her sisters to set a two-cake limit so that their kids wouldn’t make themselves sick eating so many.” Uh, how about you actually parent your kids so Shannon doesn’t have to be the bad guy?
May 1, 2013
Summary: For Valentine’s Day, Stacey and Pete Black organize a fundraiser for the eighth-grade class involving valentine-grams. A bunch of the middle schoolers buy valentines for their boyfriends and girlfriends, some write them for crushes, and some send joke valentines to get people’s hopes up, because that’s what middle schoolers do. Then the valentines disappear, and notes surface commenting on what people wrote.
There are a number of suspects: Alan, Cokie, Cary, Stacey’s ex Robert, and even Pete. Their motives aren’t known, so the BSC girls start investigating. They find out that Pete has a crush on Emily Bernstein and sent her a valentine, but it’s possible he stole them all back so she wouldn’t see it. (Though why wouldn’t he just take his own back?) Cokie and her boyfriend are having trouble; she sent him a bunch of valentines but he didn’t send her any. Robert has been acting so weird that Andi, the girl he almost cheated on Stacey with, asks her to talk to him. (He’s not the thief, he’s just depressed.)
Cary looks more and more like the thief, especially after the girls see a striped sleeve photocopied with one of the valentine-grams, then see him wearing a striped shirt the next day. Stacey asks him if he had anything to do with the theft, but he has an alibi, since he was at the dentist. Then Stacey realizes that he gave his alibi before he knew the timeframe she was trying to nail down.
Cary says he isn’t the thief, but he knows who it is – someone who was about to receive a joke valentine from a girl he had a crush on. Stacey puts together that he’s talking about Alan. She questions him, but she feels so bad for him that she gives him the chance to return the valentines with no punishment. He does, and everyone’s satisfied.
In the B-plot, the BSC girls throw a “Valentine’s festival” for their charges. It’s not a festival, it’s a lame party. They just ask the kids what they want so everyone’s happy.
Thoughts: I wish Alan hadn’t been the culprit. The thief should have turned out to be someone completely unexpected, and Cary shouldn’t have been involved at all. It was too obvious.
Kristy wonders if the Hobarts know about Valentine’s Day. Kristy, they lived in Australia, not on the moon. Also, they’ve been in the series for, like, nine Valentine’s Days already.
Abby wants to “check out” Cary and “keep an eye on him.” That’s my girl.
Mary Anne calls Pete shy, but since when? He’s the class president, and they don’t tend to be shy.
The BSC runs a focus group for their Valentine’s party. Kristy has officially lost her mind.
I’ve never Xeroxed a sleeve, so I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure stripes wouldn’t show up on the copy.
When Stacey questions Cary, he’s in the school basement, chilling in an armchair. It’s like he’s in a secret lair. I love it.
January 9, 2013
Summary: Stacey meets a new girl at SMS, Tess Swinhart, who’s nice but seems a little weird. Stacey thinks she just needs a makeover; she always wears pink, she never wears makeup, and her hair isn’t styled like anyone else’s. Due to the pink thing, Tess’ slightly porcine nose, and the fact that the first part of her last name almost contains the word “swine,” Alan gets everyone at school to start calling Tess “Swine-heart” behind her back. Tess is pretty oblivious and doesn’t get it when people start oinking at her. There’s also a comic book circulating about Swine-heart the Destroyer. Stacey decides not to tell Tess anything because…well, good question.
Since makeovers fix everything, Stacey tries to take Tess on as her project (a la Cher and Tai). She gets her to read some magazines, puts some makeup on her, and encourages her to wear something other than pink. Tess humors her a little but clearly couldn’t care less about whether or not her clothes are trendy or “in.” Most of the time, she just ignores Stacey, which is smart, because Stacey gets super-annoying. She also keeps saying she’s not Tess’ friend, since no one likes Tess and I guess, as Cher would say, Stacey’s “stock would plummet.”
At a football game, the students vote on a new mascot by applauding when Stacey and other students hold up signs with pictures of their choices. Stacey holds up a pig and everyone goes wild. She doesn’t realize until it’s too late that the pig picture has been replaced by a drawing of Swine-heart the Destroyer. Tess is so shocked at the reaction that she falls off the bleachers and breaks her ankle. She’s furious with Stacey and orders her to leave her alone.
Even though everyone knows Stacey would never switch the pictures, a bunch of people tell her that she wasn’t much of a friend to Tess. She just thought of Tess as a project and didn’t tell her what people were saying about her behind her back. Though, in Stacey’s defense, she did warn Tess not to trust a guy named Clarence King who asked her out, since Stacey thought it was some sort of scheme. But anyway, Stacey feels bad about everything and apologizes to Tess. While at Tess’ house, Stacey discovers that Tess lived in France, and her wardrobe is in style there. So suddenly Tess is cool.
The BSC girls band together with Tess and another girl, Barbara (who was best friends with Amelia and has become good friends with Tess), to enact some stupid 13-year-old revenge on Clarence. They mess up Clarence’s clothes and take pictures, then threaten to share them with everyone at school if Clarence and Alan don’t leave Tess alone. And then I don’t think Tess is ever mentioned in the series again.
The B-plot is kind of clever: Jackie Rodowsky and Nicky Pike have been acting weird. In fact, Nicky seems overly protective of Jackie. Eventually Abby learns that some kids were hassling Jackie, so he hired Nicky to be his bodyguard. I guess Nicky is intimidating or something? Why not hire the triplets?
Thoughts: This book brings up an interesting question: If you knew someone was being mocked behind her back, would you tell her? I think I would, because if I were the person being mocked, I’d want to know.
Stacey says that Alan has no sense of humor about himself, but aren’t a lot of his jokes at his own expense?
Tess and her friends once carved a bunch of ducks, painted them to look realistic, and put them in a river to confuse people. I’d rather hang out with that group than the BSC girls.
Nicky, up in a tree with Jackie: “We were practicing invisibility.” Claudia: “Well, practice visibility and come down from there.” That cracked me up, for some reason.
Moral of the story: Solve your problems with blackmail.
October 2, 2012
Summary: Apparently Stoneybrook has a Fashion Week. Who knew? They’re having some runway shows and shooting a catalog at Bellair’s, and Stacey’s hired to be one of the models (who are all teens, for some reason). Cokie is also hired but manages to not be all that annoying in this book. Stacey thinks there’s a mystery afoot when one of the models, Harmony, drinks tea that makes her sick. Everyone starts freaking out that she’s been poisoned, but no one even takes her to a doctor or calls the police, so it’s pretty dumb.
Then some clothes are ruined and weird notes start turning up, so the BSC girls start playing detective. No one seems to specifically be a target, even after Stacey and Harmony fall off the roof (onto a lower level of roof) during a shoot. There are a ton of suspects (the other models, the heir to Bellair’s, a photographer) but there are so many characters that it’s impossible to figure out anyone’s motive. In fact, it’s hard to even remember which model is which.
But somehow, Stacey figures out that Harmony is the culprit. Her mother is a typical stage mom who keeps pushing Harmony to model even though Harmony doesn’t like it. She poisoned herself, wrote the notes, and loosened the railing in hopes that she would have an excuse to drop out of Fashion Week. Stacey and the other BSC girls tell her to, you know, talk to her mother instead of putting people’s lives in danger.
In the B-plot, a bunch of the BSC’s charges are tired of their parents smoking, so they organize a play on the Great American Smokeout called the Great Stoneybrook Smokeout. It’s a good message for the book’s younger audience, but since we’ve never heard about these people smoking before, it’s not that affecting.
Thoughts: Not only are there too many suspects to keep track of, the whole plot is anticlimactic. Stacey basically has an epiphany, then sets Harmony up to get caught writing a message. There’s a teeny confrontation and Harmony agrees to stop doing stuff. That’s…it.
The models have seven minutes to change looks during their first show. That must be the longest runway show ever.
Why do the models keep talking about “assignments”? The girls are walking a runway. They’re not competing in challenges or doing projects. They’re putting on clothes and trying not to trip.
Not that I object to anti-smoking education, but it’s not really a sitter’s place to lecture kids about it. They need to let the parents parent.
Stacey wears a pink jumper. Did she raid Mallory’s closet?
August 13, 2012
Summary: Stacey joins the Mathletes, because math is cool, you guys! It’s not dorky at all! She’s awesome at it, becoming one of the highest scorers in the state. Her father loses his job and starts visiting her a lot, which she enjoys but which annoys her mom. He’s very Disneyland Dad, as Dawn would say. Between his activities and the Mathletes, Stacey’s schedule is pretty full.
Inevitably, the two worlds collide: Mr. McGill wants to take Stacey to a concert the same night as one of the state championships. Instead of just explaining the situation, she decides family is more important than the competition and agrees to go to the concert. Then she changes her mind and decides being there for the team is more important. Of course, her father agrees and supports the decision.
The night of the first of the three state championships, the Stoneybrook team wins, and a bunch of people decide to go out to celebrate. Stacey goes off with her parents, learning that her father has a new job, and winds up not making it to meet with her friends. Then she thinks they’re all mad at her for ditching them. She’s really just projecting because she’s mad at her father for not being able to make the second meet. She’s also mad when it looks like he won’t make it to the third meet. But he does, and they win, and everyone’s happy, yay.
The B-plots involve Claudia tutoring Lindsey DeWitt in math (no, seriously) and some math fair at the elementary school, but seriously, an entire book about math makes me itchy, so I don’t want to go into it.
Thoughts: I know this book is supposed to show that math is cool, but I will never, ever fall for that.
Here’s an idea for the Barrett/DeWitts: Hire a real tutor for Lindsey, not a babysitter.
It’s ironic that Mrs. McGill complains about Mr. McGill’s spending when one of the things they used to fight about was her spending.
There don’t appear to be any parents at the elementary school’s fair, so…way to support your kids, adults of Stoneybrook.
The final question of the final state-championship meet is the same brain teaser Lisa couldn’t solve on The Simpsons.
May 3, 2012
Summary: The Walkers, Stacey’s favorite clients in New York, ask her to come visit for the week and look after their kids while they put together an art show. Stacey agrees but is sad to leave Robert, who’s been acting kind of funny. For example, he’ll say he’s playing basketball with his friends, then wind up doing something else. Andi, one of the bad girls, is hanging around him a lot, too. Someone sees him out with another girl and lets Stacey know, so Stacey and Claudia stalk him but don’t see anything particularly incriminating.
While Stacey’s in New York, Claudia calls to let her know that Robert’s been hanging out with Andi. Well, not just hanging out. Making out. Stacey’s surprised to find herself less upset than she’d expected. It may have something to do with Ethan, a guy who’s been working with the Walkers and hanging out with her and the kids while she babysits. Ethan and Stacey have more in common than Stacey and Robert did anyway. (Sounds like he’s hotter, too.)
When Stacey gets back to Stoneybrook, Andi’s waiting for her, wanting to tell her about the cheating. Stacey tell her she already knows, adding that Robert isn’t hers to control, so if they want to be together, they can. She then tells Robert that they’re done, obviously. He pulls that “I hope we can still be friends” crap, but fortunately, Stacey isn’t ready for that. She’s totally ready for some Ethan lovin’, though.
In other storylines, Kristy’s off to Hawaii with her family, and Abby’s the acting president. She wants to throw a big Mexican festival to benefit an orphanage, but she’s not as organized as Kristy and doesn’t do well with the budgeting aspects of the event. The other BSC girls try valiantly to help out, but things barely come together. Because, you know, Kristy is the best at everything, so don’t even pretend you’re better than her.
Thoughts: Someone majorly screwed up – in Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-sitter, Kristy had just left for Hawaii. At the beginning of this book, she’s about to leave. But Dawn isn’t in this book, and in the previous one, there was no mention of Stacey and Kristy being gone at the same time. So it’s like the two books are set in the same time period, but none of the events are the same.
Freaking A, this summer just WILL NOT END.
I guess unicorns, like sheep, are in, because that’s what Claudia has on her shirt.
I love this exchange:
Henry (five years old): “The Rice Krispies fell on the floor and I spilled the milk.”
Stacey: “Bummer. What did your mom do?”
Henry: “She looked up at the ceiling and said, ‘Give me strength!’ How could the ceiling give her strength?”
Grace (three years old): “Cereal is not heavy.”
Ghostwriter, it’s 1996. It’s time for Stacey to stop getting perms.
January 16, 2012
Summary: Stacey wants to take Robert to a Broadway play for his birthday, which means she needs to babysit as much as possible so she can buy tickets. A job comes up for a family named the Cheplins; they need a sitter every afternoon right after school until 5:30. Even though it leaves her little time for homework, her friends, her mom, Robert, and other sitting jobs, Stacey takes it.
Mrs. Cheplin is hesitant at first since Stacey’s only 13. But Stacey wins her over with the fact that she has diabetes, which Dana Cheplin has just been diagnosed with. Mrs. Cheplin gives Stacey a bunch of household work to do along with watching the kids and helping them with their homework. Though she claims she still isn’t comfortable with the arrangement, only extending the deal two weeks at a time, Mrs. Cheplin keeps giving Stacey more and more responsibilities and paying her more for them.
Stacey’s happy with the money, but soon realizes how much time and energy the job is taking. She has to miss out on plans she’s made with Robert, her friends, and her mom so she can complete homework and do other things she isn’t able to do during the week. Dana has a diabetes-related emergency one day, and though Stacey handles it very responsibly and maturely, Mrs. Cheplin is still clearly not impressed with her.
On Valentine’s Day, things really start to come apart. Stacey forgot to buy Robert anything and finally tells him why she’s been working so hard. Then, after she has a particularly hectic day at the Cheplins’ but still only gets a two-week extension of the job, Stacey tells the BSC girls about all the chaos. They note that the money she’s been making isn’t as important as everything else in her life. Stacey realizes that she’s turning into her workaholic father and tells Mrs. Cheplin she can’t keep working for her every day. Robert may not get to go to Broadway, but Stacey’s still happy.
In the B-plot, Logan wants to buy Mary Anne a ring for Valentine’s Day. He asks Stacey for help picking it out, but she’s busy (of course), so she suggests that he ask Kristy instead. Charlotte and Becca spot Logan and Kristy ring-shopping together, and when they see him put the ring on her finger, they think Logan’s a two-timer and Kristy’s a home-wrecker. They spread the news to a bunch of other kids, and suddenly Kristy starts getting hate mail from eight-year-olds. She has no idea why kids are mad at her; her only idea is that some of the Bashers are mad at the Krushers.
When the news comes out and Logan tells the kids what was really going on, his sister Kerry admits that she canceled his and Mary Anne’s Valentine’s Day reservations (thinking he was going to take Kristy out instead). To make things up to them, the kids make them dinner, which is actually really sweet.
Thoughts: Kristy actually wants Stacey to turn down the job at the Cheplins’ because she won’t be free for other jobs. So she wants Stacey to say she can’t sit so she can…sit. Kristy, you’re a horrible businesswoman. I get her not wanting Stacey to sit every day, but can’t the girls split up the job? Turning it down completely would be a huge loss.
…Although Mrs. Cheplin is a huge bitca. I would never be able to handle working for her. She leaves Stacey two- and three-page-long lists of chores, such as doing laundry and starting dinner, which she’s expected to do in just over two hours, while helping the kids with their homework. She questions Stacey every time she can’t complete some task, like she’s testing Stacey to make sure she can handle everything. But they’re the sorts of things that a stay-at-home mom or housewife would complete over the course of a whole day, not in just a couple of hours. Then when Stacey finally tells her she has to quit, Mrs. Cheplin says it’s because she’s not mature enough for the job. Girl, please! She was more mature than any 13-year-old should be expected to be!
Mary Anne and Logan bring their own pencils to the bowling alley to keep score. Cough nerds cough.
December 10, 2011
Summary: SMS is holding a Halloween Masquerade on Mischief Night, the night before Halloween. It’s the first masquerade in 28 years because the last one held there ended with a stampede, and a teacher died of a heart attack. Stacey’s really excited about the dance, so she joins the planning committee, which is headed by a teacher named Mr. Rothman. Cokie and Grace are also on the committee, and Grace hates everything the others come up with, while Grace is at least brave enough to have her own opinion.
Someone has been pulling off pranks at school, and the pranks lead to vandalism against the dance decorations and posters, plus graffiti that reads, “Will you still love me tomorrow?” The BSC girls suspect that someone doesn’t want the dance to go forward. They really only have two suspects: Mr. Wetzler, a school board member who was very vocal about his anti-dance stance (say that five times fast), and a group of students called the Mischief Knights, who were responsible for the original pranks. For some reason, no one suspects new student Cary Retlin, though his attitude indicates that pranks would be right up his alley.
The BSC girls decide to look into the last masquerade and learn that a girl was somehow involved. They also discover that Mr. Wetzler and Mr. Rothman were both students at the time. Stacey talks to Mr. Wetzler, pretending to be writing about the budget for the school paper, and he tells her there was a girl involved somehow. More research, this time in the off-limits school basement, leads the girls to the name Elizabeth Connor. It turns out she lived in the Johanssens’ house, so Stacey and Mary Anne make sure they’re looking after kids there together, then search the house. The only thing interesting they find is a heart drawn in the cement that says LC + MR – Liz Connor + Michael Rothman.
The next time Stacey sees Mr. Rothman, she decides to throw her cards on the table and tells him she needs information about Liz. He tells her everything: He was popular and Liz wasn’t, and his friends paid him $10 to take her to the masquerade as a joke. He felt bad about it but didn’t want to compromise his popularity. The last dance of the evening was to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and afterward Liz found out what was really going on. She ran off, and moments later the fire alarm went off and the lights went out, causing the stampede. After that, Liz left school and no one heard from her again. Mr. Rothman thinks Liz could be back in Stoneybrook.
Fast-forward to the masquerade (which isn’t really a masquerade since everyone knows who everyone else is). In the bathroom, Stacey runs into a teacher who was dancing with Mr. Rothman and has had her cloak stolen. Stacey figures out that Liz took the cloak and is now wearing it while dancing with Mr. Rothman. She reveals herself, and…we cut to the BSC girls telling Shannon what happened. (LAME!) Though nothing really happened, as Mr. Rothman just took Liz out of the gym and I guess got her help. Apparently Liz had some mental problems that accelerated after the original masquerade, and she’s spent 28 years obsessing over what happened. And that’s pretty much how the book ends.
The B plots involve Grace telling people she’s coming to the dance with a guy no one thinks exists, but who actually does, and the kids the club sits for all being obsessed with Ghostbusters.
Thoughts: The Mischief Knights are kind of lame, but I’m mainly impressed a bunch of middle schoolers can spell “mischief.”
There’s a big deal made about this being the first Halloween masquerade at SMS in almost 30 years, but there were Halloween dances in Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery and Kristy’s Mystery Admirer. So is there some difference here between a masquerade and a regular dance? A masquerade usually involves a mask, but at least some of the students don’t wear them.
I think I had a little crush on Cary when I was younger. Good girls do like bad boys after all. And I’m with Kristy: He makes things interesting.
The structure of this plot doesn’t really work for me. No one knows who Liz is until the last third of the book, so there’s no way for the reader to figure out what’s going on. They should have made the culprit the son or daughter of the teacher who died at the original masquerade.