October 15, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.8, Kristy and the Baby Parade: The Benefit of the Doubt

Posted in TV tagged , at 7:39 pm by Jenn

Everyone deserves a dorky dad like Watson

Summary: Watson and Elizabeth have decided not to have a baby after all (or possibly have learned they can’t have one; it’s kind of unclear), so the Thomas/Brewer family will remain as it is now. Fortunately, Elizabeth has something to distract her: Stoneybrook’s previous tradition, the Baby Parade, is being resurrected, and all the past winners have been invited to ride on a float together. Kristy and Watson are both past winners, and though Kristy really doesn’t want to participate, she agrees to do it.

And then, a bomb: Kristy’s father and his girlfriend are about to pass through Stoneybrook on their way to visit her family. Oh, and they have a baby, which none of the Thomas kids knew. They want to come to the parade and introduce Mr. Thomas’ first family to his new family. Elizabeth lets the kids decide for themselves if they want to do that. Charlie says yes, but Sam thinks Mr. Thomas just wants money now that his kids are living with a rich guy. Kristy, however, isn’t sure what she wants to do.

After giving it some thought, Kristy and David Michael both decide to see their father. Kristy wants to give him the benefit of the doubt that he really cares about her. Sam is upset that no one’s on his side, but that doesn’t get explored. When Kristy tells the BSC girls that Mr. Thomas is coming to town, they’re not sure if she should see him. Mary Anne says that what Kristy wants is important, not what her father wants. But Kristy can’t help taking David Michael and Elizabeth’s feelings into consideration, too.

Kristy gets more excited about the big meeting, wanting Mr. Thomas to see who his kids have become. Elizabeth tells her that whatever makes her kids happy will make her happy, too. She admits that it was hard to accept that she won’t be having another baby, but she’s glad that her kids will have their father’s new child to love.

Then, another bomb: There won’t be a big family reunion. Mr. Thomas and his girlfriend won’t have time to visit, so he’ll have to see his kids the next time he’s in town. Watson, who’s been completely silent about this whole thing, finally reveals his feelings: Mr. Thomas is selfish. He abandoned his family, he’s ditched them again, and Elizabeth shouldn’t just pretend everything’s going to be fine. (This is made slightly surreal by the fact that Watson is currently wearing a giant baby bonnet for the parade. It’s hard to overlook.)

Mary Anne agrees, having seen this over and over through her and Kristy’s childhoods. Every time Mr. Thomas said he was coming to visit, Kristy would get her hopes up and drop all her plans, only to have her heart broken again. Mary Anne is sure that her mother would have given anything to spend five more minutes with her. It hurts Mary Anne to see Mr. Thomas consistently throw away his chances to be in his kids’ lives. Dawn backs her up, saying parents are supposed to want to be with their kids.

Watson thinks he has a solution: He’ll adopt the Thomas kids so they can have him as a father. Kristy remembers how Watson has turned her whole life upside-down and keeps trying too hard to be a good father. But instead of turning him down, she puts on her own bonnet and announces that she loves him. Kristy acknowledges that family isn’t always who you expected them to be, but they’re the people who move forward with you. She and Watson ride in the parade with their family and the BSC girls behind them.

The B plot plays closer to the book’s storyline: Claudia reveals that she and Mary Anne were contestants in the costume contest the year Kristy won, and she thinks Kristy only took the prize because one of the judges was her great-aunt. For vindication, Claudia wants the club to make their own float. Kristy tries to talk them out of it, because how dare someone other than her have a good idea, but the girls are all on board.

The building of the float, with the theme of the old woman who lived in a shoe, unfolds a lot like it did in the book. The paint is orange, the costume fabric is pink, and no one has worked together to coordinate anything. The day of the parade, the girls dress their designated babies however they want. Then they realize that they haven’t figured out how the babies will actually sit in the float. It all falls apart – literally. But Mallory fixes up the float enough that it looks…well, okay. Claudia wins first prize in the costume contest (well, really, Lucy Newton wins), with a costume Mimi once made. And no one is horrible embarrassed. Success!

The details:

  • Like Momona Tamada in the previous episode, Sophie Grace (Kristy) does a wonderful job showing sadness.
  • Kristy’s costume the year she won the parade: Mrs. Claus. Watson’s costume, thanks to his grandmother: President Nixon. (Unironically.)
  • Claudia’s idea for the float is some weird, primordial structure, either like Stonehenge or a spaceship, with the babies dressed as creatures in the early stages of evolution. Crop circles are somehow involved. Claud, you have, like, $10 for this. Think smaller.
  • At the end of the episode, the show finally uses the song from the original ’90s series, “Say Hello to Your Friends.”

The differences/changes:

  • Other than the actual baby float, this episode is nothing like the book. That’s a good thing. The book was pretty weak.
  • Stacey suspects that her parents are on the verge of splitting up. Dawn gives her some great encouragement, saying that whatever happens will be the right thing. She needs to give them the benefit of the doubt that things will turn out well.
  • This would have been a great time to add Emily Michelle to the family. Oh, well.

If there’s a third season, maybe Mallory will get her own episode?

October 11, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.1, Kristy and the Snobs: How to Fit In

Posted in TV tagged , , at 2:46 pm by Jenn

New season, new squad

Summer is winding down, and the girls are back in Stoneybrook, trying to enjoy the rest of their free time while getting ready for the new school year. Kristy is also still trying to adjust to life with the Brewers – and life with money. She feels out of place in her new home, with her new family members and their customs she’s not used to, like big family breakfasts on the weekends. She’s also not feeling comfortable in such a rich neighborhood with snobby, judgmental neighbors.

The worst is Mrs. Delaney, who invites Kristy and Elizabeth over for a very stilted, awkward afternoon tea. She accidentally offends Elizabeth by commenting that she won the lottery by marrying Watson. Translation: Elizabeth lucked out by marrying rich and should feel blessed to have been raised out of the depths of poverty and single motherhood to live in the lap of luxury.

Kristy thinks she’s justified in disliking Mrs. Delaney until she hires Kristy to babysit Amanda. Amanda is less snobby than she is in the books, but still doesn’t have any friends. Kristy realizes she’s lonely and shouldn’t be looked down on for it. She also helps Amanda and David Michael become friends, and the two kids bond over their love of animals.

Part of the reason Kristy and David Michael feel uncomfortable in the new Thomas/Brewer household (Sam and Charlie have adjusted fine) is because they don’t have their former constant companion, Louie, with them. They put him down over the summer (no one in the whole episode uses the word “died” or “dead”), and the younger Thomas kids really miss him. They’ve gone through a lot of changes, and this one is the most painful.

The Delaneys help with that: Mrs. Delaney hosts a charity event, which Elizabeth doesn’t want to attend because she’ll feel like she’s being judged by all the rich people there. It turns out to be a pet adoption, and the Delaneys have picked out a dog just for the Thomas kids. David Michael names the dog after Mrs. Delaney, whose first name is Shannon. Sorry, Shannon Kilbourne – you don’t exist in this universe.

In the end, Kristy spells out the lesson for us: To feel like you fit in, fake it till you make it. With enough confidence, and by acting like you belong, sooner or later, you will.

In the B plot, Stacey and Claudia take it upon themselves to help Mary Anne get Logan’s attention, since Mary Anne isn’t sure where they stand. They make her an Instagram and immediately get Logan interested in it. It turns out to be someone else. Womp womp? Also, Dawn tries to get more info out of Logan for an astrological chart, or something, but it doesn’t work. She also reads tarot cards. So she’s THAT girl.

The details:

  • Watson is once again awesome. Kristy gets up for a midnight snack and runs into him in the kitchen. She just wants some cereal, her normal breakfast when she’s not being served a formal buffet so the family can all eat together. Watson gives her a bowl and takes her to his special midnight-snack spot. He tells her she can talk to him any time, or not talk to him any time. It’s so sweet.
  • Kristy keeps suggesting that Mary Anne just call Logan and let him know she misses him. The other girls think she’s crazy.
  • Dawn spent three weeks in California and feels “like a different person.” That’s an inside joke, since she’s now being played by a different actress. (The original actress took a role in the Marvel franchise. Enjoy that cash, girl!)
  • Stacey and Sam are friends, which makes Kristy a little uneasy.
  • Mallory is super-dorky and socially awkward. It’s painful, yet relatable.
  • Richard and Sharon make a brief appearance on their way to a date, while Dawn and Mary Anne are using tarot cards. Richard: “Just…finish your homework before you summon the devil.” Mary Anne, joking: “Dad, you’re so strict.”
  • Karen: “Amanda Delaney is a social climber but has no ability to speak to people.” She also asks to see the rescue lizards at the adoption event.

The differences/changes:

  • Amanda’s brother Max doesn’t exist. No big loss there.
  • The Brewers have a pool, so I don’t think there will be any pool drama like there was in Poor Mallory!

July 6, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.8, Kristy’s Big Day: Weddings and Other Life-Changing Experiences

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 4:19 pm by Jenn

Claudia’s outfit, like Karen, is a lot

Kristy’s preparing for two big changes in her life – her mother’s wedding and the family’s move across town to Watson’s house – but she gets a third big development out of the blue. The book is more about Elizabeth and Watson’s big day than Kristy’s, but this episode lives up to its title.

Before the big day, though, Kristy has to come to terms with the fact that her family’s life is going to change completely. No more worrying about bills or living in a too-small house. Life with Watson will be all about luxury and ease. The problem is, Kristy isn’t sure that’s what’s best for them. It means leaving behind what they’re used to. She feels like her mother’s joining a new family and might be more excited about that than worrying about how her old family will adjust. Is Elizabeth compromising her ideals for money? She and Kristy have a big fight and don’t make up before the wedding.

Kristy comes around on everything at the wedding. She remembers how her mom was always lonely and worried about money. Now she’s found someone she loves, and she never has to worry about her electricity bill being too high. It’s a small price to pay for Kristy to make the necessary adjustments. Plus, she genuinely likes Watson now, so she knows things will turn out okay. But she struggles to find time after the wedding to tell her mother she’s happy for her.

And then, at the wedding reception, Kristy gets her first period. This girl is having the most insane year of her life. Elizabeth is busy, obviously, but the other BSC girls, who have all had their periods, help her through it. These girls are definitely bonded for life.

Kristy thinks Elizabeth’s leaving for her honeymoon without saying goodbye, but Elizabeth comes back to make sure everything’s okay. She admits to holding Kristy to a higher standard than her brothers, but it’s because she’s so strong. Kristy’s growing up and her life is changing, but she’s still the same Kristy. And probably always will be, I expect.

The details:

  • Elizabeth gets mad at Kristy for ditching the ugly yellow bridesmaid dress she was supposed to wear after Watson tells her she can pick out any dress she wants. (Kristy’s the only bridesmaid, so there’s no issue with matching dresses.) The original dress cost $800 and they can’t get a refund because it’s been altered. I get Elizabeth’s anger over wasting $800, but…who picked out an $800 dress? Not Kristy. Plus, the wedding is at Watson’s house, so they don’t have to pay for a venue, which would have cost a lot of money. Call it even.
  • Morbidda Destiny/Mrs. Porter/Aunt Esme is the wedding officiant but no one warned Karen, who screams when she arrives. Esme announces that Karen thinks she’s a witch, which is true, and goes into this whole thing about spiritual beliefs, like, great, but this is a wedding. However, she wraps it up by saying that adults should believe what children tell them, which is awesome.
  • I also just realized that Mrs. Porter has the same last name as Sharon’s parents in the books, which must be why someone working on the show decided to have them be related. Nice job, whoever that was.
  • Richard and Sharon are nervous about seeing each other for the first time since Richard sent the turtle of reconciliation. Sharon can’t choose an outfit for the wedding, trying to decide between two completely inappropriate dresses. Richard’s version of fussing over his clothes is asking Mary Anne to help him choose between two identical white shirts. As they’re waiting for the wedding to begin, Richard tries to calm his nerves with a small glass of champagne. He’s stuck holding the empty glass and tells Mary Anne, “I don’t know what to do with this.” I love Marc Evan Jackson, and this cracked me up.
  • Richard and Sharon leave the reception to get an Epi-pen from Sharon’s car after she accidentally eats something she’s allergic to. We don’t see them for the rest of the episode. So…they hooked up in the car, right?
  • Karen’s middle name is Amaryllis. Please explain, Watson and ex-Mrs. Brewer.

The differences/changes:

  • Instead of Charlie’s crummy used car (here a 2007 Corolla), Watson gets him a new BMW SUV. Kristy gets to ride to BSC meetings in style. This will also make it easier for Charlie to transport her and her six BFFs everywhere they want to go for the rest of the series.
  • The BSC girls don’t do their big childcare thing like in the book, which makes sense. It would be difficult to deal with that many kids on the set and behind the scenes. Better to do away with that part of the story and focus on Kristy and Elizabeth’s relationship.

Netflix’s BSC 1.7, Boy-Crazy Stacey: Other Fish in the Sea (City)

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by Jenn

Sigh. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

It’s time to meet the Pikes! They’re even wilder than the books portray them – basically a step above feral. No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Pike want to bring two sitters with them to Sea City (just for a week, over spring break). They’re probably counting the days until these troublemakers go to college.

The plot mostly plays out the same way it does in the book. Stacey develops a crush on lifeguard Scott, who’s way too old for her, and starts neglecting her sitting duties. The normally mature, cool Stacey has no idea how to act around him. The words “holla at moi” are spoken. Stacey really should leave, put on a disguise, and come back to try again.

Mary Anne befriends Alex and Toby, who are very nice, age-appropriate guys for the girls to hang out with. In fact, when Scott accidentally humiliates Stacey and she realizes he’s way too old for her, it’s Toby who tries to salvage her feelings. He even gives Stacey her first kiss. Of course, now Stacey has a new crush to obsess over, but at least he’s her age.

Mary Anne used to think Stacey was mature and sophisticated, but after Stacey’s embarrassing crush, Mary Anne admits that that’s changed. Now she knows Stacey’s just as dorky as Mary Anne is. Their friendship is stronger because Stacey embarrassed herself. Yay?

The details:

  • Claudia calls Mary Anne and Stacey’s out-of-town sitting job a “business trip.” I love it.
  • Sharon gets back into the dating game with Tinder. Yikes.
  • Dawn wants to Parent Trap Richard and Sharon back together, but she doesn’t try very hard, and Richard’s too smart to fall for it. The parents work things out themselves when Richard, remembering that Sharon used to call him her turtle, sends her a real turtle with a note that says, “Sorry I went back into my shell.” SO CUTE.
  • Mallory barely gets any screentime. She’s very earnest and excited to hang out with Stacey and Mary Anne. You just know the actress playing her is praying for a second season so she can have a bigger role.
  • Byron has a huge crush on Stacey, which helps her understand the situation with Scott. She tells Byron she values his friendship, but there’s no potential for a relationship. Byron decides he can live with that, though he wants a little space.
  • Vanessa’s in her poetry phase, but she seems a little darker than in the books. She and Karen would get along well.
  • Mary Anne’s suddenly more comfortable around boys, so I guess her room makeover did the trick.
  • Watson describes Karen as “a lot.” No kidding.

The differences/changes:

  • Book Scott definitely used Stacey and led her on, but here I interpreted the situation differently. I think he thought her crush on him was cute, and he just paid attention to her to be nice. He didn’t think it would cause any harm. He’s just a clueless teenager.
  • Karen and Andrew do their steel-wool carwash here, and Kristy can’t stop them because she’s accidentally locked herself in a storage area where she was snooping into Watson’s stuff. She tries to get it fixed secretly, after contemplating just pushing it into the street and lying that a car hit it, which is very un-Kristy of her. She finally tells Watson the truth, and he’s not mad. Probably because he’s rich enough to just replace the car.
  • The Pike triplets aren’t identical, which is fine. It couldn’t be easy to cast identical red-haired triplets.

July 3, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.1, Kristy’s Great Idea: I Hope Their Rates Have Risen Since 1986

Posted in TV tagged , , at 2:35 pm by Jenn

Claudia doesn’t quite pull off her outfits like she did in the books

I’m not going to recap each episode of Netflix’s adaptation of the Baby-Sitters Club, but I wanted to do some posts on the episodes and how they compare to the books.

The show is pretty faithful to the book series, even having been updated for the 2000s. The incident that leads to the club forming – Kristy’s mom is unable to find a sitter for David Michael – is the same. The girls’ characteristics and personalities are also all the same. They’re immediately recognizable. And all of them seem like their ages. No 16-year-olds playing middle-schoolers here.

As for the details…

  • Kristy’s hair is light-ish brown, almost blond in some lighting, but other than that, the actress playing her just…looks like Kristy. She’s more likable in this episode than in the books. She knows she’s bossy, but it’s more about her wanting to be able to control everything in her life. She’s also a feminist on the verge of being an activist.
  • Claudia’s still an artist who struggles in school and wears crazy outfits. (The highlight: sunglasses shaped like cherries, complete with the stems.) She’s making a statue about menstruation and taking a college-level nude-drawing class.
  • Mary Anne wears her pre-Richard’s-loosening-up clothes (lots of plaid skirts and jumpers), is shy, and always has her hair in braids. The only difference between book Mary Anne and Netflix Mary Anne: Netflix Mary Anne is biracial.
  • Stacey doesn’t get much development in the first episode. She’s a math whiz, but also a marketing expert.
  • Kristy’s mom feels more present in her kids’ lives here than in the books. She’s very attentive to Kristy’s issues and gives her good friendship advice. She’s played by Alicia Silverstone, and at one point Kristy says, “She wasn’t totally clueless.” Heh.
  • Watson (Mark Feuerstein) is a warm guy who tells dad jokes and rides a bike. He’s super-excited about the club and is a big part of why it becomes successful, as he recommends the girls to people he knows. I think I might love him.
  • Janine is more of a computer expert than a book nerd.

The big differences/changes:

  • There’s no explanation of Stacey’s eating habits. Kristy worries that she doesn’t eat candy because she has body-image issues, which would set a bad example for their sitting charges. At one point, Stacey says she’ll be in New York over the weekend, but Kristy sees her in town. In the book, she gets called out and comes clean about her diabetes. Here, Kristy keeps it a secret, which Stacey is grateful for.
  • Claudia buys the club’s “olden-times” landline phone from Etsy.
  • The girls order pizza and ice cream through Postmates.
  • Mary Anne does some of her secretarial duties in a Google Doc on her tablet. Part of Stacey’s job is social media management.
  • Logan’s already in town, though he and Mary Anne don’t really interact yet.
  • Kristy doesn’t sit for Karen and Andrew yet, the point in the book where she starts to soften towards Watson. That doesn’t come until the next episode.

December 24, 2013

BSC #129, Kristy at Bat: Never Meet Your Heroes

Posted in books tagged , , , at 7:37 pm by Jenn

Kristy bats lefty. Who knew?

Kristy bats lefty. Who knew?

Summary: Kristy and Watson are off to spend spring break at Dream Camp, where they get to play baseball with other fathers and daughters. Dream Camp is the brainchild of former pro ball player Bill Bain, one of Watson’s heroes. Kristy’s been thinking a lot about her biological father lately, because she got her love of baseball from him, but she’s excited to spend some one-on-one time with Watson.

Unfortunately, just before she goes to camp, Kristy gets bumped down to second string on the school softball team. She was pretty confident (read: egotistical) in her skills before the tryouts, which led to her not giving it her all, and she suffered as a consequence. Now she’s worried about going to camp with a bunch of truly committed, truly talented players.

Camp turns out to be pretty awesome, though. The coaches are former pro players, with a couple of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players thrown in. They’re really helpful and encouraging. Kristy just wishes they were more organized. And since Kristy can’t help but be over-organized and take charge, she jumps in to help. The coaches are a little surprised but don’t discourage her from taking a leadership role. Still, Kristy’s a little down because she feels bad about being second string back at home.

As the week goes on, it becomes clear that Bill Bain is connected to the camp in name only. He pops up a couple times but doesn’t do any coaching (which was supposed to be one of the perks of the week), and he even blows Watson off when Watson tries to get some stuff signed. Basically, the guy’s a jerk. Kristy winds up telling him off, which just makes Watson mad, since she’s being rude to one of his childhood heroes. Really, though, he’s mad that this guy he worships isn’t worth being seen as a hero.

Kristy keeps thinking about her dad all week, wishing he could see her play. She also feels a little guilty that she wants to be with him so much when Watson, who’s been an actual father to her, is right there. She eventually decides that there’s nothing to feel guilty about, and that Watson is a great guy who she’s glad to have spent more time with. He’s proud of her for being a leader and speaking her mind. Kristy also helps a fellow player admit to her father that she doesn’t want to play baseball, because Kristy is truly a hero for our time.

Bill Bain totally gets that, and realizes that he’s a jerk. He starts to participate in camp stuff, crediting Kristy with turning things around for him because she told him what he needed to hear. At the end of camp, Kristy gets an award for coaching, since she was so helpful all week. She comes to terms with not being first string, deciding that it’s enough that she’ll get to play softball every day. Plus, she got to meet a bunch of famous people, so that’s pretty cool.

The B-plot is super-boring. David Michael starts collecting baseball cards and trading them with other kids in Stoneybrook. One of the kids is a little con man who takes advantage of the other kids’ lack of knowledge about the cards’ worth to trade for more valuable ones. Abby schools everyone by telling them that the cards her father gave her are more valuable to her than the actual valuable cards because they have sentimental value. David Michael decides to keep his “lesser” cards because he likes those players.

Thoughts: I would have no use for baseball camp, but I would go just to talk to the female players. One of them was a Rockford Peach, just like in A League of Their Own.

“I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I might make a friend at camp.” Because Kristy didn’t come here to make friends.

“How could I stay at Dream Camp when David Michael needed me?” 1) You’re only gone for a week. 2) You’re not his mother. 3) He doesn’t need you. 4) Calm the frick down.

Of course Kristy hits a home run in the last game at camp. I’m just surprised it’s not the game-winning play.

Just two more BSC books left! Don’t worry, I have another series all lined up as soon as I’m done with this one.

November 28, 2012

BSC Super Special #14, BSC in the USA: Are We There Yet?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:35 pm by Jenn

Mallory, stop being a dork

Summary: The premise for this book is incredibly dumb. Dawn’s father has a friend who’s moving across the country, and Mr. Schafer offers to drive his RV from Connecticut to California for him. He somehow convinces Dawn and Jeff to come along, even though they were supposed to spend the summer in Stoneybrook. Watson hears about this and decides he wants to cancel the Brewer/Thomases’ vacation so they can also drive across the country in an RV. And of course, Kristy can bring friends (but no one else can). So all of the BSC girls get permission to go along, and a trip that started out with three people balloons to include 15:

RV 1: Mr. Schafer, Dawn, Jeff, Kristy (her travel route didn’t match the rest of her family’s), Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne

RV 2: Watson, Mrs. Brewer, Abby, Jessi, Mallory, David Michael, Karen, Andrew

Sam and Charlie are at camp, and the family is smart enough to leave Emily Michelle behind with Nannie. (Can you imagine two weeks in an RV with a two-year-old?) The idea is that everyone gets to pick a special place to visit, and there will be other touristy stops along the way. RV 1 goes north, RV 2 goes south, and everyone meets up in California.

Highlights/lowlights from RV 1:

  • Kristy wants to visit as many baseball stadiums as possible and buy hats from them (plus go to some games, obviously). It’s something she once discussed doing with her father. At a Giants game, she sees him on a Jumbotron and manages to track him down. They talk briefly but he promises to write. Notably, he doesn’t ask about any of the rest of the family.
  • Dawn wants to go to a ghost town, but the one she picks is corny. The group ends up having fun there anyway.
  • Claudia goes to the Art Institute of Chicago, but nothing interesting happens. Later she stops at a flea market and buys a sketch that reminds her of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. When she gets to California, she looks at the back and discovers that it is an early O’Keeffe. Mr. Schafer’s friend, an art appraiser, offers her $500 for it, but she decides to keep it.
  • Stacey has a not-that-funny comedy of errors in Seattle when she tries to meet up with Ethan at a coffee shop. Also, she thinks Claudia read her diary and spends most of the book mad at her.
  • Mary Anne has no imagination and only wants to go to Maynard, Iowa, to spend time with her grandmother. (They end up meeting at the Mall of America instead.) She spends most of the book on edge because Mr. Schafer keeps making snarky comments about her and her father. She finally confronts him and he apologizes.
  • Jeff wants to go rock climbing in Yellowstone, and also get away from all the girls. I kind of feel bad that he has to spend his vacation with drama queens.
  • I don’t remember what Mr. Schafer wants to do, and I don’t care since he’s annoying in this book. He also runs out of gas in the Badlands and leaves the girls and Jeff alone in the RV so he can get help.

Highlights/lowlights from RV 2:

  • Abby is apparently obsessed with Elvis, which I don’t remember hearing about before, so she wants to go to Graceland. There’s some uninteresting stuff with an Elvis impersonator.
  • Jessi first takes everyone to her grandparents’ home in New Jersey and briefly suspects that Mallory is racist. (Um, what?) Her grandmother points out that Mallory is just uncomfortable because she’s with a bunch of people she doesn’t know, and she wants to make a good impression. Jessi’s other destination is Dalton, Mississippi, where some of her relatives were slaves. She sees firsthand how horrible that point in history was for black people.
  • Mallory wants to go to Chincoteague, because she’s still obsessed with horses. She does nothing interesting the rest of the book.
  • Watson has a college friend in Oklahoma, so the group stops at his house for lunch before going to a rodeo, David Michael’s pick. A tornado hits and everyone has to hide out in the bathroom. It might have been interesting if there was any possibility that someone could die.
  • Karen wants to go to Four Corners, the spot where four states touch. Karen is boring.
  • Andrew is obsessed with the pandas at the San Diego Zoo and has a full-on meltdown when he hears that one that’s supposed to give birth has been sent back to China. Then it turns out she wasn’t. I don’t know.
  • Mrs. Brewer wants to see the Grand Canyon, and Abby is secretly freaking out about it. It turns out that her father loved the Grand Canyon, and her family was planning a vacation there just before he died. When they arrive, Abby is sad at first but manages to enjoy the experience, feeling like her dad’s spirit is with her. She later writes in her journal that her dad once gave her a pep talk based on that “teach a man to fish” saying, and she sees the Grand Canyon as a huge fishing pond. She plans to fish a lot and bring her mom and sister back there one day. It’s really sweet and a little sad and I totally did not get a little misty-eyed, someone was chopping onions, shut up.

They also keep running into this annoying girl, Liz, who’s traveling with her grandparents. It’s dumb. There’s also a brief stop in New Mexico, where they meet some of the Stoneybrook kids’ pen pals. It’s actually too bad Dawn didn’t get to make that trip, since she was the force behind that whole thing.

Thoughts: I know I’m definitely, for real an adult because I can’t help wondering how expensive this trip was. Gas, food, baseball tickets, admission fees to the rodeo and things like that, souvenirs…that’s a big chunk of change.

Also, how do they all get home? Does Watson have to drive the rented RV back?

Also also, if I had to spend two weeks in an RV with anyone, I would probably never want to see them again.

Andrew whines a lot in this book. I don’t remember him being so annoying before. Maybe he’s just in a super-bad mood the whole two-week trip.

Watson’s college roommate’s last name is Romney. Um…

Who would you least want to be stuck in an RV with for two weeks, Karen or Dawn? Death is not an option.

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.

July 4, 2011

BSC #81, Kristy and Mr. Mom: Serious as a Heart Attack

Posted in books tagged , , , at 12:45 pm by Jenn

It was then that David Michael realized no one had noticed he was turning into a rooster

Summary: Watson has a heart attack and is told to stop working so hard. He decides to become a stay-at-home dad and let his vice presidents take care of his company. This works out well – too well, in fact, because Nannie decides that Watson’s doing such a good job at her job that the family doesn’t need her anymore. She announces that she’s moving into her own place.

Everything continues to go all right until Karen and Andrew show up for a month. (Of course it’s Karen’s fault everything falls apart.) Then suddenly no one in a  position of responsibility can keep it together anymore. Kristy tells Nannie how things are going and asks for help hiring a housekeeper. Nannie tells her that the family doesn’t need a housekeeper, they need her back. In the end, Watson decides to work a few hours from home each day and split the household responsibilities with Nannie. Yay, happy ending!

While this is going on, Mrs. Marshall (mother of Nina and Eleanor) keeps hiring sitters and not telling them there will be three extra kids in the house while they’re sitting. Mallory even has to call Jessi to come over and help when one of the kids gets hurt. The next time Mrs. Marshall calls, two sitters go over, and when she refuses to pay both of them, they leave. Then they realize that no one ever told their clients that there’s a club rule about sending two sitters for more than four kids. So the BSC girls realize that they made a mistake, and Mrs. Marshall realizes that she shouldn’t have sprung the three extra kids on them, but I still think she’s kind of a jerk.

Thoughts: I hate the phrase “Mr. Mom.” It implies that there are different jobs for mothers and fathers. There’s no such thing as a Mr. Mom. A Mr. Mom is a dad.

I’m not sure we’ve ever heard before what Watson does, but he’s the CEO of an insurance company.

I’m impressed with how well Watson’s ex and her husband get along with the Thomases. They even hire sitters from the BSC.

Five adults and teenagers can’t handle four kids without Nannie? Watson and the Thomases (which sounds like a Thomas Edison tribute band) are truly incompetent. Remember, just a couple years ago, Mrs. Thomas was caring for four kids on her own.

April 11, 2010

BSC, The Summer Before: Growing Up is Awfuller Than All the Awful Things That Ever Were

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Should Kristy be offended that her bracelet has a dog bone?

Summary: In the months before the series begins, Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey struggle through the summer, dealing with tons of issues that all pretty much come down to one thing – growing up is really, really tough.

Kristy is about to turn 12, and all she wants for her birthday is some sort of contact from her estranged father. She also really doesn’t want her mom’s boyfriend Watson around, partly because she likes her family the way it is and partly because she doesn’t want Watson to replace her father. Kristy gets her hopes up way too much, and when her father doesn’t show, she beats herself up for putting so much faith in him. Mary Anne creates Kristy Day to cheer her up.

Claudia has fallen in looooove with an older boy named Frankie, effectively stealing him right out from under Janine. She’s spending so much time with her new boyfriend that she has less and less time for Kristy and Mary Anne, but she feels like they’re growing apart anyway, since Kristy and Mary Anne haven’t quite matured to Claudia’s level yet. Frankie winds up dumping Claudia when the age difference proves to be too much, and as Claudia realizes that she doesn’t have many friends to turn to (a point she brings up early in the series, when she says Stacey’s her first real best friend), she discovers that even though she, Mary Anne, and Kristy are different now, they still have a friendship.

Stacey is preparing to move from New York to Stoneybrook and leave behind the only life she’s ever known. She’s more excited than nervous, as her friends have become total witches and she wants a new start. She finds Stoneybrook much more comfortable than she expected, and as the book ends, she’s starting to form a friendship with Claudia.

Mary Anne is stuck between childhood and adolescence, but mostly because her father has stuck her there. She wants to babysit like Claudia and Kristy, but her father only lets her sit with another person. Meek, mousy little Mary Anne takes her first stand in this book, letting her father know that she’s growing up and, though she still respects his rules, they’re going to have to start changing.

Thoughts: This book has quite a different tone than the others in the series – it’s very bittersweet. But even in my 20s, I find it relatable. Things are changing for all four of the girls, and they don’t know how to handle the new things they’re dealing with. They’re all growing up, in their different ways, and some faster than others. And that’s what adolescence is like. Some people mature faster than others, some people fit in more than others, and some people handle change better than others. But everyone has to deal with new experiences and feeling out of control. It’s all part of growing up.

I find it hard to snark on most of this book. There are a lot of moments that feel very real – like Stacey realizing that her relationships with her old friends are never going to be the same, or Claudia realizing that she doesn’t have anyone she can really talk to, or Mary Anne being frustrated over her the way her father treats her, or Kristy feeling devastated over the fact that her own father hasn’t taken the time to acknowledge her birthday. I think every woman can relate to this book. We were all teenagers once, and it wasn’t easy. No one has a perfect life. These girls just find a way to make it work.

Okay, so there is some snark here. Why does Stacey’s mom tell her to “have fun and be careful” in Connecticut but not in New York? Because Connecticut is such a dangerous place?

Janine wears jeans. Does that seem out of character to anyone else?

Possibly the best line ever in a BSC book, from Stacey, re: Laine, who has seemingly turned everyone against Stacey so that Laine won’t turn on them: “Her Royal Meanness had evil superpowers.” Laine is a complete bitca in this book, and I’m kind of surprised Stacey agrees to be friends with her again in The Truth About Stacey.

Should I be concerned that Stacey asks her parents for a dog after seeing a sign for a taxidermist?

Yeah, I bet there’s a synagogue in Stoneybrook.

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