Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank You...

...I'm out.

This isn't going to e be a surprise, probably, given that it's been ages since I last posted. I had a blast doing these postings, but after taking a bit of a break I've realized I don't think I want to return to it, at least not right now. As much as I love snarking on things (and I do), I don't really want to be spending so much time in that headspace. I think I would rather spend time celebrating books that I love.

I will be resurfacing in a new blog, I'm sure, and I hope to reconnect with all of you there. The best part of this blog has been reading your comments and your blogs, and it's been so much fun. I just wasn't as ready to commit to it as I thought it was.

Thank you again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friends Forever #10: Stacey's Problem

Tagline: Hang on, Stacey!

Cover: It's Stacey. And she has her fingers over her face, so you know she's stressed.

Plot!: Stacey is concerned because her mom has been down in the dumps...and to make things worse, her dad is getting married! Stacey is concerned about how its making her mom feel, so she does the same old thing of trying to make everyone happy and making no one happy. In the end, she is happy for her father and her mom decides to open a clothing store, which Claudia is super enthused about.

Points of Interest:
  • Stacey's mom loves anchovies. She wants to put them on the pizza that's she's sharing with Stacey and Claudia, but Stacey is afraid that the anchovy juice will contaminate the rest of the pizza and the anchovies will swim all over the rest of the pizza.
  • Stacey's mom also reminisces about a time before Stacey was born, when she and Ed happily ate clams at Sheepshead Bay.
  • Maureen also wants to play Scrabble, and it's like she's never met Claudia before. Maybe Claudia has successfully hidden her word problems from adults? I don't know.
  • Stacey points out that she and Claudia are only recently close again, after getting into a big thing over a boy - a boy who turned out not to be worth any of it, basically.
  • Stacey complains that when you're as gorgeous as she is, with blond hair and blue eyes, people have a hard time believing you're also a math genius. Although I don't think that you necessarily have to be a math genius to play requires a cutting edge, I think, and the ability to see moves ahead.
  • They end up playing Sorry instead. But Maureen has been distracted by all this Ed talk, so she has a hard time concentrating, and that gives Stacey a chance to talk about the divorce and that she didn't see anything wrong with their marriage but that there were really big loud arguments at the end.
  • Once the pizza has been cooked, Stacey enthuses that it is delicious, and it's something she can eat, which makes sense in a broader context, but seems strange at her house. Like Maureen usually goes around cooking up nothing but liquid sugar and inserting that into everything she makes.
  • Stacey meets Ethan at Grand Central so they can catch up on things and so her dad can see them and be disapproving.
  • She notes that she sees more of her workaholic dad no that he has weekend custody than she did before the divorce.
  • Chapter 3: Ed and his girlfriend, Samantha, announce that they are getting married, nicely setting up Stacey's Problem.
  • The wedding is going to be in about a year, because Samantha wants the time to have plan a big ceremony. Naturally, the BSC will be bridesmaids. No, I'm kidding, but can't you just see it?
  • They eat at a restaurant on top of the world Trade Center. Mentions like that take me right of the book.
  • Stacey's dad tries to push the responsibility of telling her mom about his remarriage onto Stacey. Samantha tells him to man up, but Stacey still breaks the news first.
  • By the end of Chapter 4, Stacey's told her mom about the marriage, her mother has talked to both Ed and Samantha, and Stacey and Maureen have cried and said that they're proud of each other. which feels like the end of the book. It could totally have been a short story or something like that.
  • Oh, never mind. Apparently it's also Mallory's homecoming, or something. That's one thing I've wanted more of - Mallory subplots.
  • Stacey volunteers to stay home with her Mom, but even as she valiantly gives up going to what is sure to be the party of the year, she's resentful about it. And that means we're going to get another book about Stacey putting everyone else's emotions ahead of her and how stretched out she feels.
  • Stacey got Mal a bunch of accessories, and one of them is a hemp choker. Hot.
  • Mallory says that it's great that they've stayed in touch through e-mail. And that might be the most jarring thing about the book to me.
  • Mallory is disappointed that Jessi is so busy that they can't spend every moment together, setting up the subplot that mirrors the main plot - life goes on.
  • Byron has stepped up in Mallory's absence to become the new big sibling. And Mallory seems threatened by this.
  • Claudia and Stacey talk about Claudia dating Alan Gray. Claudia thinks that she's starting to see the real Alan, but Stacey is not convinced. Stay tuned for Friends Forever #12 for more details on that.
  • Maureen tries to help Claudia by saying that Anne Bancroft married Mel Brooks. Because nothing convinces teens like old movie star references!
  • Stacey and Claudia think that Maureen is unhappy because Ed is remarrying, so they get some tapes from a dating agency to try to get some dates for her. Do plans like that ever actually succeed?
  • Mal is still stressing out because her siblings have all moved on since she's been at school.
  • Ugh. Stacey and Claudia (she called a dating agency and told them she needed some tapes for research for a college class) invite all BSC members over to have a party and see the tapes. They have an incredibly long discussion on baldness that just doesn't make sense for a bunch of 13 year olds.
  • Mallory gets all hot for a guy grandfather-aged (and he's also on disability).
  • BUT! It turned out that Maureen got a date all by herself! He's a buyer for a department store or something. But oh no! The date is for Saturday - and Stacey's in Manhattan that day! Oh no!
  • Chapter 10: Stacey's in Manhattan, but she's thinking about her mom. And her mom hasn't even gone on her date yet. She can't concentrate on anything.It's very much like Stacey's Choice (the time her mom is sick but her dad gets a promotion and she goes but is thinking about Stoneybrook the entire time).
  • Samantha and Stacey start to bond, but Stacey feels guilty because of her mom.
  • Oh my LORD. The next day at breakfast, Stacey sees LAINE. And it's all uncomfortable. Stacey calls her "part of my past."
  • Stacey finally talks to her mom and it turns out the date didn't go very smoothly, and they aren't going to see each other again. Maureen tells Stacey not to rush home on her account, and OF COURSE Stacey rushes home on her account.
  • Samantha volunteers to drive Stacey home, and they talk on the drive to Connecticut.
  • It turns out Samantha is also a workaholic, and she's a fashion photographer. Stacey is suitably impressed. Also, I can't believe this hasn't come up before.
  • Mallory feels distant, and not the good kind of distant. Not that there is any good kind of distant.
  • Mallory's the president of the Riverbend Internet Club. Dork!
  • Maureen has made a big decision - she has decided to go back to Spencer. No, not an old boyfriend; her maiden name. And from a feminist note, it's not called a maiden name in the book - it's referred to her 'original name' and her name before she got married.
  • She's also decided to quit her job and open a clothing store in Stoneybrook. Stacey is thrilled.
  • The BSC helps her come up with names for the new store. Kristy - Serious Clothing. Claudia - Funky Petunia. Mary Anne - Amazing Grace.
  • And in the end, to demonstrate how much she's changed (?) Stacey volunteers to eat some anchovies. O...kay.
Final thought: Good luck, Samantha. I think you'll need it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Special Edition Readers' Request: Shannon's Story

Tagline: Shannon would never do anything bad...would she?

Cover: This only vaguely happens in the book, but that's better than a lot of the other covers. Shannon looks really short and young in this picture, sweater notwithstanding. Her younger sister in the purple skirt (Maria? Maybe?) looks kind of weathered, and like she has bad skin.

Plot!: Apparently by demand, here's Shannon's Story! Shannon is really looking forward to her school's trip to Paris, to be held during the summer. All she has to do is pass, and she's there! At the same time, she's being overparented by her mother, clearly having some kind of crisis. The news that her mother is going to be a chaperone on the school trip is enough to have Shannon snap and flunk her exam, thereby removing her spot on the trip and relegating her to seven days at home playing mom. In the end she realizes that her mom is lonely and unappreciated, and her mom decides to go back to work. Happy endings all around!

Points of interest:
  • The Kilbourne sisters play a game called "gross food," but Tiffany doesn't play, which underscores that she's different from the others.
  • Hmm. Apparently Tiffany has short hair, like their mom, so that's probably her in the purple skirt on the cover.
  • Prior to doing her homework, Shannon anvilliciously remembers happier times with her parents.
  • Mrs. Kilbourne is desperate to hang out with her daughters, and it's just so obvious that by page 14, I'm yelling at the book "You need to get a life of your own!"
  • Blah blah blah, Stoneybrook Day School is sooooooooo cool, it has Astronomy class!
  • Dr. Patek is the headmaster at SDS and - surprise! - she's a woman.
  • Page 16: people that don't get a B average overall and an 85 in french can't go on the trip to Paris - foreshadowing!
  • Greer Carson is one of Shannon's best friends. I guess they couldn't just out and out call her Greer Garson?
  • Shannon and the others are trying to get "Sabrina," set in Paris, and at least this time there's a reason that they're all excited over an old movie.
  • Shannon is not very sophisticated about explaining Stacey's diabetes ("yuck!")
  • They make a really big deal about Richard Spier being strict, but really, in book terms, he's been laid back a lot longer than his strictness.
  • Is a Dream Machine an alarm clock?
  • Shannon and her mom get into an argument about salad, but it's not really about salad - it's about their deeper issues. And as much as it sucks that Mrs. Kilbourne is unhappy, it's not cool that she takes her resentments out on Shannon.
  • Shannon's mom goes out to get groceries, and comes back with mother-daughter dresses. Creepy.
  • In subplot land, the BSC will not rest until they've taken over Mother's Day and butted in to everyone else's plans.
  • Shannon's mom comes over to Kristy's and embarrasses her by calling her "Shanny," and the BSC teases her about it, and act like they haven't heard that already. But at least Kristy has, because she heard Max Delaney call her that.
  • Chapter Six: Shannon's Mom announces she's coming to Paris, too! I don't think anyone saw that one coming!
  • Heh. Mr. Kilbourne gives Mrs. Kilbourne a Mother's Day present that says "Happy Birthday," because it's a stock present that his secretary probably assembles. They go to lunch anyway, and it's all awkward, exactly like you'd expect.
  • Chapter Nine: Shannon comes up with the genius plan to purposely tank her wrench exam so that she can't go to Paris. Even originally reading this, I thought this was such a dumb plan.
  • Shannon is stunned by the change in her mom, who usually treats her like a baby but expects her to take care the rest of the Kilbournes while she's away.
  • On the last day of school, kids at SDS can wear whatever they want. And they're really excited about it.
  • Shannon tries to tell herself that she did the right thing, but I still think it's basically the dumbest move ever made in the BSC books - and that includes Dawn's impromptu cross-country flight.
  • Shannon has groceries delivered, but when it arrives, it's actually Astrid's food, and of course Shannon has told the delivery guy that they needed it to make dinner.
  • The dog dressing on the cover does happen, but in the book Shannon is against it because it makes Astrid look silly. Thanks, cover artist.
  • Shannon plays on the Mom team in the Mother-Daughter (or child, I guess, Mother-Child) Krusher's game, and she likes learning that mothers are real people, too. Gasp! If only she had learned that at the beginning of the book - she might be in Paris!
  • She also realizes that keeping a house running is not stimulating enough for her, and it might not be enough for her mother, either.
  • Maria is thinking of competing in an Iron Man triathlon. Isn't she, like, eight? Is that even safe?
  • Mrs. Kilbourne decides that she's going to get a job somewhere. Everyone's problems are solved! Hooray!
  • Shannon concludes that the trip was just the beginning, and there might be a way to save their family after all. which is good, because I don't think we hear about it ever again.
final thoughts: Shannon is a lot more interesting when we don't know that much about her, I think.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Sister #51: Karen's Big Top

Tagline: Karen is clowning around!

Cover: When I did Mary Anne and Camp BSC, I'd completely forgotten that I had Karen's Big Top, so I decided to do this as a companion to that book. Anyway, here is Karen, and she's dressed like a clown. There's a guy standing underneath the elephant in a way that looks totally unsafe, and the girl juggling rings is either on stilts or has a really short torso.

Plot!: Karen is at circus camp, and makes friends with the performers. She's loving it, or, as the back of the book says, she "has gigundo fun learning all the circus activities." But she can't make her mind up about the activity that she'll do. But then, at the end, she becomes the ringmaster, because she's just that special.

Points of Interest:
  • Just so you know, the 'f' and 'w' keys aren't working on my keyboard (except now, amazingly enough), so if my phrasing sounds a bit...strange, it's because I'm going out of my way to avoid these letters.
  • Karen tumbles out of bed, because she's going to Circus Camp in seven days (see my strange phrasing?). Apparently, Mr. Willie and his family are circus folk, and they travel all year but spend July in Stoneybrook.
  • His real name is B. F. Willie, naturally.
  • I think that Karen always describes Vietnam as "faraway." Maybe that's how Watson and Elizabeth explained it to her.
  • Anyway, July is a Big House month. Karen says "Bye, Mommy! See you in August!" I've never really thought about this, but do Karen and Andrew really not see their mom for a whole month? Not even like, a visit, to have lunch or something? Is that more traumatic or something? It just seems like a really long time for a five and a seven year old to be away from their parents (and that goes the same for Watson on Little House months).
  • For July 4th, Karen's family gets permission to close off their block on July 4th during their barbecue. That seems strange.
  • After they get home from the fireworks, Kristy pulls all the kids aside and says that since Nannie's birthday is coming up at the end of the month, she thinks they should do something special. She probably counts that as one of her special Great IdeasTM.
  • On the first day of Circus Camp, Karen meets Laura, Mr. Willie's niece, and Jillian, his granddaughter, and he says that everyone is part of the B.F. Willie family.
  • Side note: would you let your child go to a circus camp, on the edge of town, with a man named Mr. Willie?
  • Karen is happy that her pretend husband is in the same group as she is, because she thinks it's good when married people do interesting things together. No, really.
  • Karen calls Lisa and Seth to tell them about Circus camp, so I guess it's not like she's shut away from them completely.
  • Apparently David Michael was a Winkie in the "Wizard of Oz." What's that?
  • Their big idea re: Nannie's birthday is to throw a surprise party. They stayed up all night, but it was worth it!
  • Andrew's idea of how to surprise Nannie is to tell her to get all dressed up and come to the living room. Charlie thinks it needs to be trickier, so Karen comes up with a plan involving loose elephants. They eventually decide on a party at the bowling alley.
  • Karen eavesdrops and overhears Nannie telling someone that she hates surprise parties and that the worst thing she can imagine is to have everyone yelling "Surprise!" at her. So Karen wants to tell someone, but she can't tell anyone because she'd get in trouble for eavesdropping.
  • Karen realizes that she wants to do everything in the Circus, so she can't decide on the one thing that she'll do at the big show.
  • Would the rest of the family really not know that Nannie doesn't like surprises? Actually, I'm not entirely sure that I buy that she doesn't like surprises.
  • Karen talks to Nannie and tells her about the surprise, so they decide to fake it, like this is an original thought and not something that hasn't been done a thousand times on various TV shows.
  • At the party, Karen's new friend Jillian calls Nannie, "Nannie." Would you really call someone else's grandmother by their familiar name, just like that? Maybe, if you're eight.
  • Karen is sad because she wasted all the practice time dithering about what to do in the Circus. BUT at the last minute, the ringmaster is sick and can't do it, so - da da da DA! - Karen to the rescue! Barf.
  • Karen realizes that she is really lucky because even though she has to move between the Little House and the Big House, her friend Jillian has to move from show to show, all over the country. Just in time for a sappy ending!
Final Thoughts: I don't think that the person who wrote Mary Anne and Camp BSC actually read this book, because in that one they say that Karen never really went on a REAL high wire, but in this one, yeah, she does. I hate to take Karen's side (and they are obnoxious in Mary Anne and Camp BSC), but this is a real circus camp, and if I went to the BSC Circus after going to Mr. Willie's camp, I'd be disappointed, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#86: Mary Anne and Camp BSC

Tagline: Everyone's a happy camper...except Mary Anne!

Cover: A lantern in a hay-filled barn? That seems very unsafe. Who are the kids on the cover? A Rodowsky, or a Hobart? Karen, I think, and some Pikes? Maybe? And why am I not surprised that they have "Camp BSC" T-Shirts.

Plot!: The BSC decides to run a day camp, of course, because that's what they do. But one of the campers, Alicia Gianelli, is having a hard time being separated from her mom, for some reason. Mary Anne sympathizes, because Richard is away on a business trip and she really misses him, and no one understands. Also, there's a camp revolt, because some campers have been to REAL camps and they're unimpressed by the BSC efforts.

Points of interest:
  • The book starts with an incredibly laboured 'Pike's Peak/Pikes' Peak' pun at the start at the book. Way to suck us in, AMM.
  • Ooh, Stacey quit the BSC to be with her "sophisticated" friends. Neither Mary Anne or Mallory want to talk about it, even to mention it by name. I know she as their friend and all, but really, they wouldn't gossip about it even a bit? Well, maybe not these guys, or at least not Mary Anne. And probably not Kristy, who would be steamed at the affront to the club, and Claudia, who was her closest friend. Maybe Dawn?
  • Richard announces that thanks to a merger at his firm, he's going to be traveling more, starting with a two-week trip to Cincinatti. Sharon is thrilled, because it means that she and the girls can "bach" it, or be 'bachelor girls.' What an old-fashioned term.
  • Watson is a real, live millionaire, which is a lot more legal than if Elizabeth had married a real, dead millionaire.
  • The BSC is worried about the two or three week lag between the end of school and the beginning of real camp, so they decide to host a day camp. As you do.
  • Mary Anne is semi-judgemental about people sleeping late. I would be in bed right now if I wasn't writing this. I love sleeping.
  • Why are Richard and Sharon always so cool with having dozens of kids on their property? With the barn and everything? Supervised by other children? Me, I would be anticipating dozens of lawsuits.
  • Kristy decides that the theme of the camp is going to be "Circus," as if it isn't complicated enough.
  • They don't even try to pretend that the BSC people are graduating out of middle school. It's just "school ended," and they go right back to eighth grade in the fall.
  • Twenty-two children signed up for BSC camp, including most of the usual BSC Suspects, plus a lot of kids from the Little Sister series.
  • Mary Anne takes a sidebar to point out that Logan looks really handsome on a bicycle. O...kay?
  • I'm pretty sure that Alicia Gianelli goes to nursery school with Andrew, so why is she suddenly so shy and nervous and not wanting to leave her mom? Then again, she is four.
  • They way that Vanessa Pike rhymes EVERYTHING, I'm wondering if maybe she shouldn't go in for some kind of psych consultation.
  • Oh, apparently this is the longest that Alicia has ever been separated from her mom. Maybe nursery school comes later? I hate being confused by BSC books.
  • Mary Anne calls Mal unfeeling because Mal thinks that it's a good idea for Alicia to stay at camp and not cry for her mom. I think Mary Anne needs come counselling, too.
  • Karen has already been to circus camp, along with every other kid from Stoneybrook Academy. So she declares the BSC camp to be 'babyish' and leads a rebellion. Kristy vs. Karen here is aggrevating; Kristy vs. Karen in the future is the stuff of fanfiction.
  • After getting rid of Richard, Mary Anne starts feeling lonely and weepy. So Sharon suggests a terrible video night, and they pick out Plan Nine from Outer Space, Girls, Girls, Girls, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • They watch movies and eat Chinese food and *gasp!* don't clean up the cartons right away. Mary Anne prudes out and goes off to bed, stewing about the fact that Dawn and Sharon are close to each other.
  • The Camp goes on a day trip to Mrs. Stone's farm, to see Elvira the goat, of course, because a goat is the height of fascination to Stoneybrook (maybe Stacey was right about the club).
  • Mary Anne says that if she never met Dawn, she never would have discovered three-cheese macaroni, which I call bull on, because macaroni is delicious and anything ith three cheeses in it is not necessarily a health food.
  • Mary Anne is waxing nostalgic about macaroni because she misses home cooked food and clean dishes. I'm failing to see what the huge problem is, mostly because my natural state is a lot like their 'baching it' state (maybe because I am a bachelor girl?).
  • Mary Anne even brings up the "Maid Mary Anne" situation where she was being taken advantage of, but, proving that BSC members never learn anything, she doesn't actually SAY anything to Dawn and Sharon, about anything, like, "I really miss my Dad and this has taken me by surprise" or "I feel left out because you and Dawn are so close" or "This was fun for a bit but now I really would like the house to be a little neater" or "I think I need some help."
  • Claudia deliberately singles out Becca and Carolyn in front of Hannie and Nancy to thank them for being cool kids because they don't complain about the realness of the circus camp. Which seems kind of bitchy and not the mature thing to do.
  • Mary Anne is surprised by the number of places in Stoneybrook that deliver food. Given that it is allegedly the home of a university, I am not.
  • When Sharon and Dawn order *gasp!* pizza twice in one week, Mary Anne has. had. enough. She makes herself a hamburger! And cooks it! And participates in a toast, but her heart isn't in it. Take that, freewheeling lifestyle!
  • Also, two weeks of nothing but delivery food is going to add up, fast. I'm sure the Schafer/Spiers can afford it, but still.
  • Camp BSC has a campout and they scare the children with a ghost story and Logan jumping out from behind a stall.
  • Mary Anne starts worrying that a week might not be enough time to get the house in order for her dad. what did Sharon and Dawn do to the house?
  • Mary Anne is in a bike accident, which is a lot funnier than it should be because when it happens she's too busy shouting "Hooray for the day!" No, seriously.
  • She ends up with a sprained ankle and tearfully begs her father to come home, which he does not, so Mary Anne ends up feeling even more alienated and alone.
  • She desperately tries to hold on to Alicia Gianelli (remember that plot?), well past the point where Alicia is ready to join the group and have fun.
  • Finally, Alicia tells Mary Anne that she's ready to move on, because she was missing all the fun. And that's the lightbulb moment for Mary Anne, who realizes that she was missing out on all the fun Sharon and Dawn were having with movies and take-out food and county fairs and drive-in movies.
  • The dress rehearsal for the circus is terrible, because all the circus purists basically flaked out in the whole preparation department. But they all magically come together in the end and the circus is a success, and that's good because all the parents and grandparents and siblings came to the show, even if they had to get off work early.
  • Chapter 15 is all about Richard coming home. He tells Mary Anne to loosen up in the future and talk about her feelings, and Mary Anne promises that she will. Until the next time something bothers her, that is.
Final Thoughts: This is not Mary Anne at her best. And for all of her seeming obliviousness in this book, Sharon seems like a pretty great step-mother.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

#61: Jessi and the Awful Secret

Tagline: Only Jessi knows what's really wrong with Mary.

Cover: Jessi's leg warmers make her loooooong legs look pretty stumpy. The girl in front has lots of attitude...I think she's going to be a star! Also, it is really safe for the kids to be dancing in socks? Bare feet would be better I think? Oh, who knows. Also, Mary isn't even trying to hide the fact that she's pretty zombie-fied.

Plot!: Jessi gets involved with this program to give ballet lessons to underprivileged kids. One of the other students in her ballet class, Mary, is acting strange, and it's because she has anorexia. Jessi is able to get Mme Noelle on her side and convince Mary that she has a problem. Also, Watson gets involved and gives some of the kids scholarships so they continue ballet.

Points to consider:
  • AMM thanks a doctor in the opening pages, so you know this is a serious book.
  • Jessica Ramsey is not actually Jessica Romsey, in case you were wondering.
  • Mary Bramstedt gets a mention on the first page, so you know she's an important character in this serious book. Also: is that a common spelling? The second T seems superfluous.
  • Jessi's one of the best dancers in the class. But she's not conceited - she's just truthful. She's one of the first ones volunteer for the six week course for the less privileged.
  • The other is - duh duh duhhhhhhh: Mary.
  • There's a lot of retread of everything we learned in Jessi and the Dance School Phantom: ballet is competitive, Carrie is as old as the hills, Lisa is only a so-so dancer.
  • Jessi says that Stacey is just as cool as Claudia, and in some cultures, even cooler.
  • Kristy is avoiding Shannon because she doesn't have any time to hang out with her. So instead of like, telling Shannon to call some other friends (nicely!), Kristy avoids her. Good thing the BSC sets her straight. A little slow on the Great Idea Machine, Kristy.
  • Jessi cheers when she hears that she doesn't have to wear her outfit, even though previously she said how happy she was to have to wear it. Maybe she changed her mind.
  • Apparently, Jazzy Jo Dupre and the Fly Boys is a popular group. Or an amalgam of things that were actually popular.
  • There's a very, very awkward part where Jessi talks about the 'sorrow' of the underprivileged parents.
  • Hannie calls the bell captain in 'Let's All Come In' the Bill Capstin. I get like, a four year old saying that, but Hannie seems too old for that. Unless it's a leftover joke from when she WAS four years old.
  • Shannon comes over to the Papadakises while Kristy is sitting. Can't these girls entertain themselves for an afternoon?
  • Okay. So remember when Kristy was avoiding Shannon? And decided to tell her to talk to other friends and bother them? So Shannon does, and then Kristy feels left out.
  • Meanwhile, Jessi is so anxious for outside friends that she even agrees to go eat at Burger King with the other volunteers from the Underprivileged Dance Class.
  • Jessi wears a neon-green leotard and deep blue work out pants with yellow slouch socks. Hot.
  • Some of the other volunteers, particularly Raul, jump to the conclusion that because the class isn't like the ones they had when they were little, Mme Dupre is racist and classist and doesn't expect anything from the Underprivileged kids. And while tacit racism is a real thing, I think it has more to do with the structure than actual racism. The volunteers were probably in real long-term classes - this is a six week program, where fun is just as if not more important than the actual skills. Also, this is what, the third class? Just because they're not dancing en pointe yet doesn't mean that they're not learning anything. In my early ballet classes, we did a lot of things like skipping in a circle.
  • Mary pushes her fast food around, hiding it and making it look like she's eating when she's not. Years after I read this (and other tween books - not that they were called that then) the daughter of a friend of my mom's showed textbook signs of anorexia, as described in these books. Her mom already knew about it but she was doing it anyway - and I had to clue my mom in!
  • Apparently Jessi has never heard of anorexia...? In the ballet world? Post-Karen Carpenter? Okay.
  • Stacey reminds us that when she joined the BSC, before she told people about her diabetes, they thought she was anorexic.
  • Stacey and Sam are in an awkward phase. I really think that they would totally have a fling or something when Stacey is home from university for the summer, when she's a freshman or sophmore and Sam is...well, two years older.
  • Kristy asks Shannon if she's having problems at home, since she never wants to be there.
  • I highly doubt that the ballet teachers aren't very aware of what anorexia looks like.
    Especially Mme Noelle.
  • Jessi asks Aunt Cecelia what she would do if she knew that someone else was hurting themselves, and Aunt Cecelia immediately wants to know if it's drugs. I know she gets a bad rap, but I think Aunt Cecelia can be awesome in her own way.
  • She also calls Jessi Jessi. I thought she made a point of calling her Jessica. Or maybe that's a way of showing she's mellowed.
  • Aw, Kristy feels left out, and because of that she's acting like a major jerk. It's like the reverse of Kristy and the Snobs!
  • FINALLY, Jessi mentions to Mme Noelle that she's worried about Mary, and Mme Noelle talks to Mary, and the truth comes out. Why do all of these Jessi ballet stories involve someone quitting ballet?
  • Watson ends up sponsoring a scholarship for two of the underprivileged kids.
  • Aw. Jessi has a heart to heart with Martha (one of the kids from the class)'s Mom about being black in ballet that leaves them both feeling hopeful. This series is full of so many cringeworthy moments that I forget there are sort of nice ones, too.
  • Kristy and Shannon make up, and the kids have their final routine, and the two kids with potential get the Watson and Elizabeth Brewer Dance Scholarships, and Mary, off screen, is allegedly getting help. Everyone wins!
Final thoughts: I've covered book #59, and now #61, so that means I should get to #60 soon! And it's probably one of my top three favourite BSC books and one of the most snarkworthy, so it should be a good time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Little Sister #90: Karen's Haunted House

Tagline: It's not supposed to be this scary!

Cover: I should adopt that tagline for this blog. Meanwhile, can we talk about what Hannie's wearing? I don't know what's going on with her jeans. They are super baggy and her crotch is off to one side. And the way the shirt is drawn, it looks like she's pregnant but instead of wearing maternity pants she is just wearing really really big ones that don't fit at all and will likely fall down. Also, Nancy gets to hold on to Karen's hand, but Hannie has to hold on to Karen's coat. I guess we know who's higher up in the friend hierarchy (although, really, Karen has probably known Hannie her whole life and has only known Nancy for a year or two, in actual time).

Plot!: It's Halloween again, and Ms. Colman's class is making a haunted house in Karen's neighbourhood. It's a lot of fun for everyone until Karen starts hearing spooky noises, and that doesn't take much to get Karen's ghost-obsessed mind to run away with her and accuse Drucilla, Morbidda Destiny's granddaughter, of being behind the pranks. In the end, though, it turns out that the noises were made by Charlie and Sam...except one bucket of ashes that is unaccounted for! Spooky!

Points of interest:
  • Whenever I hear the word spooky, I think of the X-Files. I loved that show.
  • Karen and Hannie start out the book being Leaf Monsters. Karen points out that she is not normally a leaf monster, but a mild-mannered seven year old. I would never describe Karen as mild-mannered.
  • Karen wants to be Cinderella for Halloween. Hannie wants to be a butterfly.
  • Aw, their school has a Halloween parade. We had one of those at my elementary school and it really was a lot of fun. Looking back, it was one of the best educational time-wasters that also did not cost any money.
  • Druscilla and her mom move back in with Morbidda Destiny, who I guess is Druscilla's mom's mom. Karen is convinced that Druscilla is a witch in training. I have a very clear memory of reading Karen's Little Witch (I think that's its name) at my Grandparents' house, lying in a bunk bed looking at the stickers that came with it.
  • In one illustration of Hannie, she is wearing a hockey jersey in her classroom.
    For no reason at all.
  • Anyway, conveniently the city owns a house on Karen and Hannie's street that Karen and Hannie already think is haunted, and Hannie's family is going to run a haunted house. Where is the BSC to butt their nose in?
  • Karen's class signs up to make one of the rooms.
  • Karen is convinced that Druscilla is a witch in training because she wears all black. Maybe that's just her personal style, like Stephanie from the Sleepover Friends series.
  • When Karen tells Morbidda Destiny about the haunted house, Morbidda Destiny freaks out and starts yammering about the bats. Apparently that house is a haven for bats, and the haunted house will disturb them. Uh, what was she planning on doing if someone BOUGHT the house?
  • Also, is Morbidda Destiny's house a mansion like all of the other ones on the block? If so, where did she get all her money?
  • Charlie and Sam are going through this weird competitive phase where they argue all the time. It's so strange to see people acting like normal teenage siblings.
  • Addie, who has cerebral palsy (if my memory is correct), is in a wheelchair, and some high school boys carried her wheelchair upstairs. Is that even safe? What if there's an emergency? Couldn't Karen's class get a room on the ground floor?
  • Ms. Colman has a daughter, Jane, who she brought along to decorating the haunted house. In Karen's Snow Day, she was just getting engaged! Ms. Colman moves fast.
  • Pest control has determined that the bats are free and full of disease. Well, that's a relief! And I guess they just poop outside, because isn't bat poop really dangerous? And icky?
  • Watson and Elizabeth decide they will buy bat houses for their yard. Maybe they could get some bat mansions.
  • Karen flies off the handle at Druscilla, who had the audacity to want to be Cinderella for Halloween, even though Karen ALREADY DECIDED to be Cinderella, and there can only be ONE CINDERELLA in the whole wide world, and Druscilla should have known that even though Karen didn't even TELL HER, EVERYONE should know what Karen is thinking.
  • Karen becomes convinced that Druscilla is trying to scare her at the haunted house because of the whole costume thing, and because the world revolves around Karen.
  • Hannie keeps pushing that the real culprit is a ghost.
  • It turns out that Druscilla wasn't behind the haunting, because she was sick all weekend. Also because she's not really a witch.
  • Kristy does Karen's hair for Halloween? I have a hard time picturing Kristy doing anyone's hair.
  • It turns out that Karen is Cinderella AFTER her transformation and Druscilla is Cinderella BEFORE her transformation, so they're not the same after all. Wah-Waaah.
  • Karen's mom only lets them eat two pieces of candy a day. That seems kind of strict, for Halloween.
  • It turns out that Sam and Charlie were behind all of the weird noises and pranks at the Haunted House, because they had found hidden passageways and stuff. So it's a happy ending! And Halloween was not ruined for Karen, thank goodness.
Final thought: Halloween is not a holiday that I've ever really been a big fan of, candy and all.