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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

#79: Mary Anne Breaks the Rules

Tagline: Boyfriends and baby-sitting don't mix!

Cover: Mary Anne is looking her mom-iest with a big oversized sweater and mom jeans, helpfully looking on while the boys play. All she needs is plate of rice krispie squares and a pitcher of Tang. Also, I'm not sure that this would have actually happened, because it's pretty clear that whenever Logan comes over she's inside, playing with the girls. Logan looks decent, if way too old to be 13, but poor, poor Jake Kuhn. He's heftier than I think any boy we've seen on a BSC cover, his tongue is sticking out in concentration, and he can't even button his jacket up properly. Also, that is the most awkward attempt at a soccer ball kick I've ever seen.

Plot!: Mary Anne is sitting for the Kuhns (two girls and big brother Jake) in one of those convenient 'lots of sitting for one family' assignments, and she notices Jake is struggling, in sports and life, and is sad that his dad lives far away. So Mary Anne asks Logan to come by and spend some guy time with Jake, which is great, until Mrs. Kuhn finds out and thinks that Mary Anne has been having her boyfriend over for heavy petting and makeout sessions. Mary Anne inexplicably doesn't tell her the real reason, so Mrs. Kuhn threatens to tell everyone in Stoneybrook. Business is slow and the BSC all turns on Mary Anne, but it turns out Mrs. Kuhn didn't tell anyone, Mary Anne tells her the real reason, and everyone ends up in a good place.

Points of Interest:
  • Mary Anne starts right away with the foreshadowing: she was happy because not one person was mad at her. Hope she's ready for a whole lot of people to be mad at her!
  • She calls her look 'Neat Preppy Casual.' Does everyone have to have a look that's so defined?
  • She also likens her Dad and Sharon's relationship to "Beauty and the Beast." Uh...what? Apparently because Sharon tamed him from being so strict. I...guess?
  • Page seven: Stacey shares that you "never" get over your parents' divorce. And while this isn't something I know about, at this point her parents have been divorced for, like, a couple months.
  • There's a lot of talk about how bad it is that Jake's dad moved all the way to Texas. And of course Mary Anne thinks about bicoastal Dawn. But no one ever brings up how Sharon moved to another coast and took her children with her.
  • Stacey says that Mary Anne is lucky because now she has two parents when she ever only had one. This seems like a really tactless thing to say. What's Mary Anne supposed to say? "Gee, Stacey - one day you could have four! oh, but I'll still only have two, with my mother being dead and all."
  • Logan offers to strip for the girls (as kind of a joke), and Stacey gets all blushy and stops him. Mary Anne and Mallory, I could see blushing, but Stacey, I'd see her totally encouraging it.
  • I thought that I had never read this book, but I totally remembered the description of Jessi running toe first.
  • While Mary Anne is sitting for the Kuhns, Jake comes home after having a fight with Buddy Barrett. He called him Cruddy Carrot and Buddy called Jake Fake Prune. Which is not how I was saying his last name - in my head, I say it like, Kun, but it's more like Koon? Whatever. Where's Claudia with her phonetic spelling when you need her?
  • The fight was over Cruddy inviting Fake to his mom's wedding, and Fake got upset because he thought Cruddy was rubbing his new stepdad in Fake's face. Which is dumb anyway, because in Here Comes the Bridesmaids, there are no kids at his mom's wedding. This whole convenient fight was for nothing!
  • While on a date with Logan, they order a pizza that's half mushrooms, half pepperoni and cheese. Not that I don't love both of those things, but it seems weird to have a pizza that's just mushrooms.
  • While on a date, they talk about the Kuhns. These people are waaaaaay too into these kids (and in this case, these adults) and their lives.
  • Robert and Stacey crash their date, and Stacey is wearing a black double-breasted tuxedo suit with a satiny white tank top. They'd been to Chez Maurice with another couple, but the other guy ordered sweatbreads and that put a damper on the evening. There are just so many unbelieve things here.
  • While playing a ball game, Nicky is assigned to be on the red team, and starts freaking out because red is a girl's colour. Maybe some shades of it, and definitely compared to blue, but you see a lot of guys wearing red, don't you?
  • That segues into a subplot about a haunted house that is way too boring. Some kids want it to be gross, others want it scary, so they make two houses and it's just sooooo boring.
  • The next time Mary Anne sits for the Kuhns, Logan comes over to play with Jake, as they had discussed on their date.
  • There is a really long (for a BSC book) that's actually a montage of all of the fun times that Logan and Jake have. And then in that same chapter, Mrs. Kuhn comes home early and busts them. This book has so much filler.
  • Mary Anne doesn't tell Mrs. Kuhn that Logan came over to help Jake, or that she's noticed Jake is a little down. I know - a BSC member who doesn't get all up in the parent's life! Only this time, it might have been more legitimate than Dawn telling Mrs. Barrett to get her shit together.
  • Mrs. K calls the BSC and talks to Kristy, who then starts picking on Mary Anne for destroying the club's reputation. And Mrs. Kuhn doesn't even threaten to tell other parents! The BSC just jumps to that all by themselves.
  • Mary Anne has a dream where Mrs. Kuhn comes after her with an axe. Wow.
  • UGH. Mary Anne asks if the others are mad at her, and they say they're not mad, exactly, but they are concerned. OMG. These girls turn on each other at the drop of a hat!
  • There's a description of Shannon "laughing through her nose," derisively. Snob!
  • The BSC starts freaking out because noone is calling to book babysitters, and it's Halloween. Maybe the parents are taking an interest in their own children for once!
  • Mrs. Kuhn comes to Mary Anne's house and apologizes to her. And while I sympathize with Mary Anne, I don't actually think Mrs. Kuhn has anything to apologize for. She came home and found her baby-sitter with her boyfriend while the kids were there. It was not something they had talked about, and she gave Mary Anne a chance to explain, and then there was a week that passed, and then when she learned the truth she went right to Mary Anne to discuss the situation. Whatever.
  • At that day's meeting, all the Stoneybrook parents call to book sitters for trick-or-treating. So they didn't show an interest after all, they just didn't get their act together.
  • Everything is resolved, and there's still two chapters to go.
  • Those last two chapters are about the haunted houses, which are both successes, or something. Happy ending!
  • Okay, I like this part, even though it's totally WTF. Alan Gray helped with the other haunted house, because Vanessa said they needed someone to be gross and disgusting, so Mal said "Call Alan Gray, he's an expert." I like snarky Mal. Also, just imagine how that phone call went.
Final thought: even when Mary Anne does break the rules, it's still kind of lame.

Monday, August 31, 2009

#59: Mallory Hates Boys (And Gym)

Tagline: Boys and gym. What a disgusting combination!

Cover: Mallory doesn't actually look too bad, as far as covers go. The uniform isn't hideous, and it's baggy, but I remember when that was in. The guys come off less favourably. Who likes short shorts? That guy out in front likes short shorts. The guy in the back is rocking some sort of mullet, and the guy in the back is oddly proportioned.

Plot: Mallory is having trouble with gym class. It's gone co-ed, and she doesn't get along with her gym teacher, and it's all a big mess. But then it turns out that she's good at archery, so everything works out in the end. Meanwhile, all the guys she knows, including her brothers and the guys in her gym class, are acting like jerks.

Points to consider:
  • Mallory just read about the word 'pandemonium,' and now she has a chance to use it in her daily life! Imagine that!
  • The rest of the Pikes turn this word into a game: Nicky thinks it's a disease, Claire thinks it's a panda, Vanessa thinks it sounds like dishwashing detergent.
  • We get another 'Byron-is-different' reminder.
  • Mrs. Pike asks Mallory to watch Claire while she makes some phone calls. Mallory kind of overreacts and gives us a speech about how her parents take advantage of her. She practically tells her mom to ask her during BSC hours. Also, does Mrs. Pike really need to arrange for care for Claire while she makes some phone calls? Couldn't she just like, I don't know, suggest Claire and Margo play together for while? Or set Claire up with a puzzle or something? It must be an important phone call.
  • Ben is totally Mark Darcy - he like Mallory just as she is.
  • Mallory's brothers start pulling pranks and stuff, so they go over to Ben's house, where she eats his chocolate cake. Dirty?
  • For once, Mallory points out that she and Kristy have the same amount of people in their families but she gets to live in a mansion. Work that indignation, Mallory!
  • Logan's mom calls to get a sitter from the BSC, and ends up with...Logan.
  • Mallory wears a one-piece denim jumpsuit to school.
  • I hated gym, so I kind of sympathize with Mallory. Kind of.
  • Heh. On her way to join her team, she suddenly becomes really aware of her arms, and isn't sure how to move them. Do you think 30 Rock writers were secret BSC fans?
  • By the end of Chapter 3, we have our central theme set up: Mallory hates boys. And gym.
  • Mrs. Newton gets her hair highlighted.
  • Mallory gets into a battle of wits with Jamie Newton. And loses. Poor Mallory!
  • Between gym class and babysitting, Mallory starts thinking that all boys are pains. And that's enough for her to come up with a theory - boys are pains.
  • I hated gym, but I was really good in volleyball. At least at an elementary grade level.
  • At least Mallory has the presence to realize that in the big picture, none of this matters.
  • At the next game, Mallory benches herself and refuses to play. So she gets detention. Why don't these girls ever TALK to anyone about their problems? I mean, not that it would do any good in this case, but at least it would mean that she would stop coming up with ridiculous plans.
  • After acknowledging that Ben, the rest of the Hobarts, and Logan aren't jerks like the rest of the guys she knows, Mallory decides that only guys native to Stoneybrook are pains. But what about Logan's brother? He was described as being a pain, too. This theory has flaws.
  • And then she decides to blame it all on gym. Does Mallory have this poor of a grip on reality in all of the books she narrates?
  • Mallory commits mail fraud when the detention notices start coming to her house; she hids them from her parents.
  • Ms. Walden, the gym teacher, tries to talk to Mallory about her problem with gym, but Mallory decides she'd rather take detention. So Ms. Walden has Mallory wash all of the pinneys. And that's what I remember most from this book.
  • Stacey comes up with a mathematical way to say that Mallory's theory is full of crap.
  • People are always shooting people a Look in these books. What's with the random capitalization?
  • The Pike boys and the Hobart boys (minus Ben) switch places, and Mallory thinks that she'll have a night of peace and quiet. Instead, the boys act wild. There goes your theory, Mal! I can't believe there was a whole book about this.
  • While over at the Hobarts, Adam discussed the plight of the Zuni people (no, those are not my words), Byron talked about the Pike lending library, and Jordan played piano, and Nicky loved Mr. Hobart's slideshow of Australia. I wish we'd seen those chapters.
  • Mallory goes to Ms. Walden and asks for extra help in gym. Ms. Walden shoots her down, because she doesn't want to take anyone out of the game. Why would it be during gym class, though? Couldn't it be like, after school? Couldn't someone like Kristy do it?
  • Volleyball is over about one class after Mal and Ms. Walden talk. Then it's archery. In the first class, one guy gets his finger sliced open by an arrow...and Mal says she can sympathize, because she's had a paper cut. Uh, what?
  • SMS has an archery team?
  • Anyway, Mallory tries out for it and makes it, and when she gets home the Pikes have a cake for her and it says CONGRADULATIONS. And that messed me up on spelling it for a long time.
Final thought: Despite having a lot of the Hobarts, there is a remarkable lack of "Australian" talking (where the writers try to spell out "roit" or "Hoi Melry."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Portrait Collection: Abby's Book

Tagline: None. It's Portrait Collection book!

Cover: Coincidence that the cover is done in blue and red? Probably, even though that turns out to be significant later in the book. I think the picture of Abby is taken from the Welcome to the BSC, Abby! cover. Oh, wait, no, it's just looks like it was inspired by that. There are some things on here that we know are associated with Abby (the soccer ball, Aretha, Kleenex for her allergies) plus some new things, like a harmonica (I think we know this belonged to her dad), a party noisemaker, a fortune cookie, and crocodile. So let the retconning begin!

Plot!: Abby goes through the 8th Grade SMS rite of passage and writes her autobiography. Her story includes growing up as a twin, her father's death, a vacation with her mom and sister, and moving to Stoneybrook.

Points of Interest:
  • Abby's alarm wakes her up at 8, and the radio is playing commercials. Assuming her clock is set to the correct time (mine is always fast on purpose), why would the radio be ENDING a set of songs at the hour? And it's for commercials, not like, the news.
  • Abby calls her autobiography Me, Myself and I: The Autobiography of Abigail Stevenson.
  • The twins were born about a month early, and their dad almost missed their birth (he was at a meeting in Chicago), arriving just in time to see Anna born. Abby was born 8 minutes later.
  • All of the pictures of Abby in this book are totally fug, which is sadbecause usuallyAbby looks kind of good on the covers.
  • One day at the mall they meet another set of twins, but these girls are really old women and they still dress alike and live next to each other. It sounds terrifying.
  • Did Abby ever sit for the Arnold twins?
  • When Abby and Anna start school, they are in a class where people are unable to tell them apart. The teacher remains remarkably out of touch and suggests that one twin be in red, and the other dress all in blue. This doesn't work at all, as instead of being called "Abby-Anna" they are now called Red and Blue. They switch places/colours one day, and the teacher has no idea. That seems...kind of unsafe.
  • That's also a day when their Dad comes to school, and he doesn't appear to notice the switch, calling Abby "Anna." Abby is rocked to her very core, but it turns out that he was only playing along with them, and of course he can tell them apart. Whew. I think I saw a variation of this plot on an old episode of Full House once.
  • Also, this whole "Abby-Anna" /switching places stuff is very reminiscent of Mallory and the Trouble With Twins.
  • The part where Abby's dad dies is a lot like "With You and Without You" , except without the horrible advance notice of knowing someone is going to die. I mean, I guess in general it's good to have the chance to say goodbye and put your affairs in order, but it's all just so sad.
  • Also with added Jewish elements like shiva.
  • Their mom starts withdrawing from the world, not paying attention to what Abby and Anna are doing or eating. It's very sad.
  • A while later they go on a trip to Sanibel, in Florida, over New Year's, for a supposed family vacation, but they spend it all separately, and the mom works all the time. This sounds kind of like a retread of Stacey's issues with her father. Maybe Ed McGill and Rachel Stevenson should have hooked up.
  • The family decides to start new traditions to makeup for the ones that they don't want to do now that their dad/husband has died.
  • After getting back from the trip, Abby's mom starts working on a mysterious project with a renewed zeal. It turns out to be a move to Stoneybrook! Hurrah!
  • There's a picture of their new Stoneybrook mansion. It looks to be the size of a large airplane hangar. Seriously - I get wanting to move to a good neighbourhood, but why would they choose a house that had five bedrooms? Maybe they're planning for when the grandparents will move in with them.
  • Their Mom goes through a real pitching fit before they move - none of the furniture from their old place makes the move, and a lot of stuff is given away. It's a wonder that the box of stuff of their father's that they discover in Welcome to the BSC, Abby!.
  • Abby recounts the story of how they moved in but had no water or power, so moved in with the Brewer-Thomases for the night. Do you think she really picked up on the fact that Kristy liked Anna better or is that just someone trying to work in Kristy and the Dirty Diapers? I think Abby probably knew, she has terrible puns but she does seem to have an understanding of the situation.
  • Abby's teacher is named Ms. Belcher. What an unfortunate name for a teacher who works with adolescents.
  • Also, Ms. B. has personalized stationary from SMS. Really? That seems likes like something that could be cut from a public school's budget. Maybe it belongs at a fancy place like Stoneybrook Day or Stoneybrook Academy.
  • Abby gets an A-on her autobiography, which she wrote in a weekend. I think she is going to be just fine at university.
Final thought: I have very few Abby books to recap, so that's why I broke out the Portrait collections. I'm not the biggest fan of these books, because, like The Baby-Sitters Remember, they have a way of going back and making up history that usually works contrary to what they've already told us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#44: Dawn and the Big Sleepover

Tagline: This was going to be one long night!

Cover: Why the past tense tag line? I have no idea. I've always thought that the curves in Dawn's turtleneck make her look oddly well-developed. I have no idea who any of the kids are supposed to be, except one boy has red hair, so it might be Jackie Rodowsky. I've also always thought that the girl in front had hair that did not match her colouring at all.

Plot!: The Stoneybrook Elementary School kids have Zuni pen pals, kids from a school in New Mexico. Then the Zuni school burns down, and they don't know what to do to help. So Dawn suggests a giant sleepover, that the BSC runs, of course. And it saves the day, or something.

Points to Consider:
  • I never had a penpal. Once we randomly wrote to elementary schools as a class project, but no one wrote me back.
  • The penpals send their school pictures to the Stoneybrook kids. Adam is disappointed because his penpal, Conrad, doesn't look enough like an "Indian." He expected warpaint and headdresses.
  • Byron is crushed because Jordan used pig latin - their secret language! - with his penpal.
  • Dawn is practically gushing over Mal, saying how smart and creative and uh, practical she is.
  • You might be shocked: Sharon Porter Schafer Spier is NOT Julia Child.
  • Dawn wants a Zuni pen pal, but she doesn't have one, so she's sad. Then Mary Anne suggests writing to the elementary school and asking about a middle school writing exchange, and Dawn reacts like it's the greatest idea in the history of the world. No, Dawn, just the most obvious.
  • No, Dawn. Orange stirrup pants do not look "totally cool" on ANYBODY.
  • But wait. Dawn, who was so upset that she didn't have a penpal that Mary Anne immediately started asking her what was wrong, then "sort of forgot about it."
  • Claudia is dressed like Pebbles Flinstone.
  • Maybe it's just the books I've been reading lately, but there are an awful lot of times when some of the girls are at a meeting and they start giggling about something and then someone walks in and says "What's so funny?" and they all start laughing again, usually with food in their mouth. It's just so FUN being a member of the BSC.
  • The Zuni school was destroyed in a fire. It was next to a gas station and it exploded and the fire spread.
  • Dawn tells Richard and Sharon about the fire. Richard's reaction: "Maybe they didn't have a good sprinkler system." If this was a fire at a GAS STATION, I don't know what a sprinkler system could have done...?
  • Ugh. There's this whole thing where Dawn talks about how poor the Zunis are, but still noble. It probably is coming from a genuine place, but the writing in this section is just cringeworthy.
  • Mary Anne is reading Tiger Eyes. Maybe there should be a new blog, in addition to What Claudia Wore - What the Baby-Sitters Read.
  • Why is Claudia always put in charge of sign making?
  • Charlotte is nervous about her house burning down, especially because she doesn't have an aunt to move in with like her pen pal did. She asks Stacey if she could live with her if her house burned down, and Stacey does this weird, "uh, well, that's, uh, that's really unlikely..." Come on, Stacey! She's your almost sister!
  • This books is really boring, and quite a downer.
  • Aparently, Ray Stuckey is the class clown in Dawn's homeroom class. He makes fun of Dawn for not answering her name, and then bitches that the BSC gets excused to go to SES for an assembly. So Dawn says, "Eat your heart out, Ray." Ooooh, that's like, the worst thing a teen can say to another teen. Um, what?
  • Wow...the school secretary has a computer! That's something I was not expecting.
  • Ah, the days when some random adult could just drive students off-campus without a handful of permission slips.
  • Woman-in-a-position-of-power alert: The SES principal is a woman.
  • Everyone acts like Dawn is the second coming for thinking up this great idea, but NOBODY is saying that the emperor has no clothes. Dawn's great idea was a vague "let's do something to send them food and clothes and money." ZOMG - that's...exactly what everyone does when there's a crisis.
  • There are also Make Way for Ducklings and Freddy the Pig mentions.
  • The Pikes have a carnival to raise money. The Rodowskys have a yard sale. Both times, BSC members are in charge of it. Where are these people's parents? Is there some kind of underground swingers club that they're all part of? Where's that fanfic?
  • Kids start donating things that belong to their parents, without asking permission, like book sets, lamps, and fancy suits. Maybe if the parents paid attention once in awhile this wouldn't happen! (Don't worry - I'm not down on all parents. Just the Stoneybrook ones).
  • Alan Gray apparently has a crush on Kristy. Remember that for when we get to Claudia and the Disaster Date.
  • It's a big deal that the pizza place doesn't have flour, so they almost have to cancel the order, but then the pizza guy decides to make them with whole wheat flour. I guess that was a big deal back then...?
  • One of the songs that they play at the sleepover is "Who built the ark? Noah! Noah!" which is strangely religious for a public elementary school sleepover.
  • A second Robert McCloskey book is mentioned - what are you doing, Lerangis?
  • Ms. Besser asks the BSC to stay exactly the same age for a few years (until she has kids to be babysat). Hahahah...ha.
  • I don't even want to think of how much it cost to send all of this stuff to the Zunis. Oh, remember the Zunis? The ones whose school burned down? Yeah, we didn't hear too much about them in the middle of the book, as the BSC managed to turn someone else's tragedy into something that was all. about. them.
Final thought: Even though like, no one is voting for more Karen/Little Sister recaps, there will definitely be more coming up, because they're shorter and easier to get through. So y'all have that to look forward to.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friends Forever #8: Mary Anne's Revenge

Tagline: Look out, Cokie!

Cover: These photograph covers have been growing on me. This one is someone I could buy as being Mary Anne, except for the long hair (cutting off her hair was one of Mary Anne's most awesome moments and Mary Anne's Makeover is one of my favourites).

Plot!: Mary Anne has broken up with Logan, and she's starting to move on. But Cokie (who is the yearbook editor, and Mary Anne works on features or something) has it in for her, over Logan, I guess, and starts these horrible rumours about Mary Anne being desperate and throwing herself at Logan. Mary Anne stands up to Cokie, and decides to be a new, improved Mary Anne. Also, she and her father have been clashing, because of the fire and the aftermath, but Sharon helps them work it out.

Points of Interest:
  • Mary Anne is having nightmares about the fire, experiencing that night over and over and waking up convinced that she's IN the fire. That is horrible.
  • Mary Anne thinks that Cokie is lacking in kindness and decency. Burn!
  • Rick Chow is the other editor on the yearbook, and Abby and Austin Bentley are working the features with Mary Anne.
  • Cokie plans to have an expanded "Best and Most" section, the part where people vote for the most likely to whatever. Mary Anne objects, because she wants the space used in other ways. Cokie then turns on her and says she's just upset that she and Logan won't be able to win Best Couple.
  • Oooh, Mary Anne's dad buys her a bed, and she's upset because she couldn't pick it out, and Richard offers to return it, but she says 'whatever.' Ooh!
  • I'm still a little shaky in my Friends Forever chronology. Stacey and Claudia suggest each other for flattering categories, like Most Beautiful and Most Stylish and Most Artistic, so they must be on friendly terms. Which is good, because reading the books where they're fighting is not fun.
  • At one point, Logan comes into the yearbook office to drop off some pictures, and Cokie throws herself at him. After they leave, Mary Anne and Abby proceed to disect some of the situation, and Austin Bentley is like, "Uh, do you want me to leave?" It's actually kind of funny.
  • Mary Anne gets upset that people treat her like she's an invisible pushover, so she takes it out on Kristy, instead of Cokie. Which...fine. But this is nothing new. It's come up over and over and over. It's why Mary Anne and Logan broke up the first time. It came up in Mary Anne's Makeover. It even dates back to the fourth book. And each time she realizes that she can speak up and still be herself...and then apparently forgets it. I think that's why I found this book so boring: it's stuff we've all seen before. And even the 'Cokie is mean to Mary Anne and then gets a comeuppance.' Been there, done that.
  • While they're at the movies, Mary Anne and Kristy have a weird conversation about old TV shows being turned into lame movies. What about classic 80s/90s book series? (I kid. The BSC movie is a total fondue of delicious cheese).
  • Mary Anne and her father have an out-and-out shouting match in front of an historical house tour...or something. This at least is a bit more organic, since we haven't really revisited the Mary Anne/Richard personality dynamic since the first few books of the series.
  • After overhearing Richard and Sharon discussing her and him calling her his little girl, Mary Anne announces to herself that she's "nobody's little girl." This book could have gone in a COMPLETELY different direction.
  • Cokie starts a rumour that Mary Anne begged Logan to take her back, but he said no, so she sent him a bazillion emails and desperate messages. Is Logan...really worth all this? By this point in the series he's been portrayed as a controlling dick. Cokie can have him.
  • Also, I'm still shocked that there is email in the BSC universe.
  • Mary Anne and Kristy come up with a bunch of lame ways to get revenge on Cokie. I'm not even going to write about them, they're so lame.
  • Logan and Mary Anne talk about the rumour, and he confesses that he is sort of interested in Dorianne Wallingford. Wasn't she into Pete Black or something, when Stacey was into him? What is with it with Dorianne and the BSC's sloppy seconds?
  • I'm cringing. Mary Anne tells Cokie, "When they were handing out awful, you were the first in line." I'm cringing! It's so terrible.
  • Mary Anne, Austin and Abby count the ballots, and Cokie wins everything. Then they realize that their ballots are missing, and that the election was tampered with. They go to Mr. Fiske with their suspicions about it, and there's a new election called. Because the sacred offices of Best and Most require this much scrutiny.
  • Wasn't there a Dawson's Creek plot about someone rigging the Best Couple election, and Joey and Dawson won when Joey and Pacey were really the couple? or something? Oh my god, I can't believe it's been over ten years since I first watched that show.
  • Mary Anne joins forces with Cary Retlin in case she seriously needs to wreak havoc over Cokie. As bored as I was by this book, I was really intrigued by this development. I've only read a few books with him in it (Kristy Power and Kristy in Charge are the main ones), but I've really enjoyed him as a character, mostly because he messes with the BSC. I've always seen him as a foil for Kristy, but I actually like him paired with Mary Anne. It's classic good girl/bad boy stuff. Mary Anne and Cary fan fic, please!
  • Oh, and he gives her a back-up plan: fill out magazine subscription cards with Cokie's address, and hold onto them in case she does something mean, I guess. It's a secret weapon to build up Mary Anne's confidence.
  • Mary Anne stays at Kristy's past curfew, and when she gets home Richard explodes at her. He grounds her - but Cokie's party is that weekend, and Cokie's already announced that she bets Mary Anne won't show up.
  • Continuity! Kristy recalls the time that she snuck (or sneaked? Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls flashback!) out of the house to go to the softball iniation thing in Kristy and the Copycat. Whoever wrote the Friends Forever books was way up on their continuity - such as it can be in a series that has approximately 37 summer vacations.
  • Mary Anne considers going out her second floor window by climbing a tree. I find that is highly unlikely, because there's no way that Mary Anne (Mary Anne!) hasn't seen Pollyanna.
  • Abby drinks Mountain Dew.
  • Mary Anne and Cary dance at Cokie's party. I'm almost squeeing with excitement over this non-couple.
  • Cokie baits Mary Anne, so she gets up and calls Cokie a bad person with an ugly heart. Or something.
  • When Mary Anne gets home, she is caught by Richard and Sharon sneaking back into the house. Sharon helps them both realize that neither one can sleep, both are haunted by the fire, and both of them are hurting. Then she tells them that they don't have to do it alone anymore - it's not just the two of them, it's her, too. And it's actually a really nice part.
  • Mary Anne decides that she's not the new Vengeful Mary Anne, and she's not the old Pushover Mary Anne, but she has changed, and she's a girl who can stand her ground. Yawn.
  • And now, because you've waited so patiently, here are the winners of the Best and Most:
    Claudia wins Best Artist
    Abby and Logan win Best Female/Male Athlete
    Cary and Alan tied for Wittiest
    Emily Bernstein wins Most Likely to Succeed and Most Intelligent
    Kristy won Most Likely to be Elected President
    Stacey wins Most Likely to be Seen in Beverly Hills
Final Thoughts: Seriously, why am I so into Cary/Mary Anne?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#33: Claudia and the Great Search

Tagline: Claudia thinks she's adopted, and no one understands.

Cover: I guess that it's like, a rule that practically every cover has to feature baby sitting of some kind, because instead of actually showing Claudia and the Great Search, it's showing her with Emily Michelle. I don't understand why the Brewers would take a couch and place a chair and table in front of it, but I guess when you're rich and you live in - get this - a mansion, you can afford to have impractical furniture. Claudia is rocking a top-pony, but other than that she doesn't look too wild. Big surprise.

Plot!: Claudia starts to believe that she was adopted, and when she can't find any evidence that proves she wasn't, she decides that she was. She looks for her 'birth parents,' but when she tells her parents what she's discovered it turns out she wasn't adopted after all. Meanwhile, she's been helping Emily Michelle with shapes and colours and stuff, because she knows how it is to be behind everyone in terms of learning. Or something. And in minor subplot land, the Papadakis' grandfather has hurt himself so Kristy has a regular job there.

Points of Interest:
  • Claudia thinks that Peaches and Russ can't have kids. That kind of makes her later miscarriage even sadder.
  • I don't understand Janine's taking community college courses while she's still in high school. Do those count as, like, real college courses? So, theoretically, she could get her degree really soon after finishing high school? Huh. I wonder where Janine really would go to school.
  • Claudia gets to leave early because Janine is getting a prestigious award...on a Monday afternoon. Oookay.
  • Claudia gets really snarky about Janine's friends, wondering if they get dressed in the morning by closing their eyes and reaching into their closet. Which I'm sure many people think that about her. Also, she gets huffy because they're wearing checks with plaids, and I'm SURE there's one time where she says something about how she likes to break fashion rules like that. Gah. Claudia was never one of my favourite characters.
  • Claudia says that Kristy has never missed a meeting, which is a total lie, because Kristy missed one when Louie was sick.
  • Kristy says that she has news about Emily Michelle, and Claudia says that they try to keep each other up to date on the kids they sit for. Okay, except it's Kristy's FREAKING SISTER. Why are these girls all so coldly detached?
  • Apparently "me" (pronounced "meh") is Vietnamese for Mommy.
  • If Claudia had $250 (Janine's award money amount), she would run to Bellair's Department Store and buy a Day-Glo green sweater with charms knitted into it. I think it's a good thing she does not have the $250.00.
  • Instead, Janine thinks that she'll put the money towards college. She'd better invest it well, because otherwise $250 will cover about the cost of highlighters for her textbooks.
  • Claudia decides that she's adopted because there are no baby pictures of her, just her, alone.
  • Claudia discovers that her mom is certified to teach school in Connecticut.
  • Ugh. Claudia discovers a locked box in her parents' room, and just knows that her adoption papers are in there, and that's why her parents don't love her as much as Janine. Ugh.
  • Sam and Charlie went to a play at the high school. Really?
  • David Michael has a cold, so he talks just like Abby and Hunter Bruno when they have allergies.
  • OH my Lord. Claudia tells Stacey that she thinks she's adopted, and Stacey's advice? Seach for her birth parents. Not anything reasonable, like talk to your parents.
  • Argh. Dawn gets upset when Emily Michelle puts something in her mouth, and then starts to compare her to other kids they know, like Gabbie Perkins (robo-tot who plays on a FREAKING softball team!) and Marnie, who, really, is not that much more advanced than Emily.
  • And then Kristy talks about how Emily is different from Karen, Andrew, and David Michael. Okay, except they did not GROW UP IN AN ORPHANAGE UNTIL THEY WERE TWO. The first years, the first year especially, are HUGELY important for babies' development, not just language and motor skills but also emotional growth. Gah.
    Watson and Elizabeth and Nannie need to spend more time with Emily, reading and talking about shapes, letters, and pictures. And less time needs to be spent comparing Emily to other children.
  • (This is an area that I work in, so I think I'm extra sensitive to how it's portrayed in these books)
  • BLGHAH. Claudia says that Emily doesn't seem to be as smart as everyone else in her family, which is bullshit. First of all, she's a toddler. Second of all, see everything I just wrote.
  • There's an adoption agency in the phone book (so presumably in Stoneybrook, or Stamford, or close) called Love Bundles, and it only specializes in placing Vietnamese children. I guess that's how it usually works, it just seems odd for the area.
  • Okay, later she opens the Stamford phone book, so Love Bundles is in Stoneybrook. How many adopted Vietnamese children are there in Stoneybrook?
  • This book is how I learned that you need to have two keys to open a safety deposit box.
  • Lois Lowry shoutout! Stacey finds a copy of "Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye" at the Perkins' house (o...kay?) and calls Claudia to tell her it's a story about an adopted girl.
  • FARGH. There is a student volunteer at the library's reference desk. There are SO MANY things wrong with that. If the Stoneybook Public Library is a unionized workplace, there are SO MANY violations. (Libraries are my field too, so I'm just set off by how improbable everything is. Wait until we get to Mary Anne and the Library Mystery if you want to see arghs.)
  • Apparently, all birth announcements automatically go to the local paper. I find that hard to believe. Isn't that an incredible invasion of privacy?
  • This part makes the least sense of anything. Claudia thinks that one of the other people born the week she was might really be her. So...if this couple was going to give up their daughter for adoption, they still had an (automatic) baby announcement?
  • Stacey's parents couldn't have any more kids after Stacey. I think I knew that, but it's one of those things that I forget.
  • There's a random Krushers practice interlude. These books could have used a good editor.
  • Chapter 13: Stacey finally suggests that Claudia talk to her parents. FINALLY.
  • Claudia's parents tell her she's not adopted. And they have an explanation for everything: they didn't take pictures because they were busy, Claudia looks like a combination of both of her parents, her birth was announced in the Stoneybrook Gazette, the special locked box has $500 in it (for emergencies). A LIKELY STORY.
  • In the end, Emily is accepted into preschool for the following fall (too bad she'll be two and a half forever) and Claudia accepts that she's a Kishi by birth and makes tentative peace with Janine. The end.
Final Thought: Doing a post a day has really taken it out of me, so I feel like this one isn't as snarky as it could have been. I will try to update more frequently, though, in the future, so stick around for that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friends Forever #11: Welcome Home, Mary Anne

Tagline: Nothing stays the same...

Cover: This is the first Friends Forever title I'm covering. Thanks to a fairly reasonable recent eBay purchase, I know own all of the Friends Forever books, with the exception of Graduation Day (but thanks to ANOTHER eBay purchase, that one should be arriving soon). The Friends Forever series uses real photographs of models for the cover, I guess to make it look 'hip' and 'new'. It kind of works...? I guess...? I don't know. The whole flower motif is totally late-90s girl power. Mary Anne is the one in the middle (she has long hair in these shots, even though you can't really tell in this one, and even though she definitely has short hair on the cover of The Fire at Mary Anne's House). I would guess that Dawn is on the left (and Sunny is on the right), but the book describes Sunny as having freckles, and that's what the left side model does, but the right one doesn't look like Dawn to's all so confusing.

Plot!: After The Fire at Mary Anne's House, she, Richard and Sharon have been moving from rental home to rental home while they remodel the barn so they can live in it (that's covered in Mary Anne's Breakup). In this book, the house is ready to be moved in to, so they do, and it takes some adjusting. Dawn and Jeff are home for the summer (I guess it's summer...?) and they bring Sunny with them, because Sunny's mom has just died (in the California Diaries series) and a change of scenery will be good for her. But she's not dealing with her grief, and Jeff hates the new house, and Mary Anne is starting to lose it. But then Sunny breaks down and bonds with Mary Anne, Jeff decorates her room, Sunny goes back to California, and everything is okay again.

Points of Interest:
  • The character bios are on the inside cover, so there's no Chapter Two. And I know that we make a lot of fun of it, but I tried reading the Sweet Valley series after the earthquake where Elizabeth is living with some weird family, but it was like #3 in the series and there was no explanation of ANYTHING and it was all kinds of confusing.
  • Also, the BSC has been whittled down to its original Fab Four. Mallory is at private school, Jessi is taking a lot of extra dance classes, Abby is around but not sitting, and Mary Anne and Logan have broken up. Again.
  • The book starts with "there's no place like home," so Mary Anne can ruminate on the meaning of home, and how she both has a home and doesn't have a home.
  • One of Mary Anne's diary entries is dated June 27. So I guess it is summer. Then when does Graduation Day take place? I haven't read it yet. Do they go through another year, just in that book? There better be a good answer for this! (There probably won't be).
  • In other other California Diaries continuity, Dawn and Jeff now have a little (half-)sister named Grace.
  • Jeff is aggressively angry towards the new house. I don't think he came from California to see the house after the fire, did he? I just remember Dawn coming. So why is everyone surprised and unprepared for him to be having these feelings?
  • Mary Anne is jealous of Sunny and Dawn's connection. I guess it's normal - she's never really had to see Dawn with her other best friend before. It still kind of feels out of place in this book, though. There's a lot going on.
  • The three girls go to the pool for the day, and of course Mary Anne is wearing one of her outrageous beach getups. Sunny, whose dial is stuck on 'manic', tells her to take it off. Mary Anne asks, "haven't you ever heard of skin cancer?' Sunny, whose mom died of lung cancer, replies that she's heard enough about cancer to last a lifetime. Awkward.
  • Speaking of, what did Mary Anne's mother die of? Is it mentioned in the books?
  • Sunny tries to set Mary Anne up with this jock guy, and they go out on a group triple date. The guy is actually interested in Mary Anne, but she shuts him down pretty quickly. But it's okay, because Sunny is already on to the next plan.
  • I love the lack of baby-sitting in these books. Mary Anne just goes on one job, at the Pikes, and it's less about them and more about Jeff's pain.
  • As if there wasn't enough fuel for Byron slash, he also shows remarkable talent in interior design.
  • Sunny feels a bit left out when the Schafer-Spiers are talking like a family, and when Mary Anne tries to talk to her about it, she flips and starts planning a rogue trip to New York. WHICH THEY GO ON, secretly, and lie to Sharon and Richard about. And they never get caught, which is surprising and kind of awesome.
  • Sunny throws an absolute tantrum while she's in New York, refusing to leave a store and go back to Stoneybrook before they're discovered. While Mary Anne is dealing with this, she takes the time to get freaked out by a man in a sequined pink prom dress. Hey, Oiny!
  • After they get home, Sunny and Mary Anne bond a bit, and Sunny decides to go back to California to grieve and be with her dad.
  • At the end of the book, Mary Anne decides she feels like she's home. Which is good, because this is the last book that she narrates in the series.
Final thought: I really like the Friends Forever series. I have a hard time thinking of them as canon, but that's getting easier, and I like the actual character growth and development that they go through.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#65: Stacey's Big Crush

Tagline: He's smart. He's handsome. He's 22!

Cover: Stacey is giving us her best "oh, my prince" pose. Wes is smartly oblivious, but way overdressed for a school dance. Jessi is giving her best "girl, please" look, which might be Jessi's most awesome moment ever. Meanwhile, what's happening in the background? Are those streamers, or lights, or what? Where are the balloons falling from? Why does the banner have apostrophes on it? Who is on this decorating committee?

Plot!: Stacey has a crush on Wes, her new student teacher. She gets pretty obsessed with him and is confident she's in love with him (and he's in love with her), but nothing happens because she's THIRTEEN. Dawn and Mary Anne take care of Elvira, a goat, and chaos ensues.

Points of Interest:
  • "I knew Mr. Zizmore was giving an oral problem." So that's what the kids are calling 1993.
  • Stacey calls herself a Divorced Kid and a Latchkey Kid. She's knee deep in a pity party and hasn't even STARTED talking about her diabetes.
  • Mr. Z tells Stacey that she's his star student. Even though this isn't the big crush, it does have a bit of that about it. Stacey is totally going to have an older man thing as she gets older. Do you think that's because of the divorce?
  • Stoneybrook Community College has a master's program? A teaching master's program? That...seems strange.
  • Stacey think that Wesley Ellenburg sounds like the biggest nerd ever. Didn't she learn anything from the time that Kelly dated Marvin Nerdly?
  • Claudia is Stacey's "one-and-only-best" friend, since she and Laine had a big fight.
  • Apparently, Stacey and Sam are still "technically" going out, even though they've drifted apart. So is this book after the Shadow Lake? What's the chronology here?
  • When Mrs. Stone stops by to ask Dawn and Mary Anne to look after her goat, Stacey is not aware that Elvira is not actually a goat, and starts freaking out about things like leaving the two month old alone and feeding her garbage and stuff. Wah-wah....
  • Stacey gets really excited about Dawn and Mary Anne taking care of a goat, because she's so sophisticated.
  • Mr. Ellenberg is compared to Tom Cruise. Okay.
  • Stacey's dad went to school at Wesleyan. Just in case that comes up in a trivia quiz later.
  • Okay, so he's completing is B.A., apparently in education, although he just has to do three weeks of student teaching, which does not seem like a lot. So why did Mr. Z it was a master's program?
  • What's going through Stacey's mind? "Wes. Wild Wes. How the Wes Was Won." Whoa, calm down. Later, she calls him "drop-dead incredibly hunkified gorgeous." Kristy claims there's no such word as 'hunkified.' My spell check agrees.
  • There's a rumour that Sabrina Bouvier (the middle school student) went out with Mr. Jordan, presumably a student. I HIGHLY doubt that. Maybe she babysat for him or something and someone saw him giving her a ride home.
  • Stacey spends a lot of time preparing her outfit for math class. Claudia has to tell her that it's not a date. Ugh. Stacey is all kinds of pathetic in this book.
  • Charlotte has a crusth on Bruce Cominsky, someone we've never heard of before and doubt we ever will again. He sounds...manly. There's also some random girl named Diane Dumschat in her class. That's an unfortunate name.
  • We also get a lesson that the "whoop" in "big whoop" is like "whoopee," but sarcastic. Thanks, Lerangis.
  • Wes asks Stacey to stay after school and help him arrange his paperwork, if you know what I mean. And that's where I start disbelieving this book. I'm sure that Wes would be hyper-aware of inapropriate student/teacher relationships and I highly doubt Stacey is being subtle about it - she wanted to wear a ball gown to class!
  • Oh my lord. After staying after class to help him with his papers, Stacey announces that she and Wes have a relationship. She is going to be a total bunny boiler when she's older.
  • Ugh. Elvira unleashes a whole bunch of 'kid' puns.
  • Oh my lord part two. Stacey starts imagining that she and Wes are goatherds in the Alps. This book is cracked out!
  • Wes has Stacey figure out the average grades of everyone in the class. He hides the names, but still. That seems unseemly.
  • OH MY LORD. Wes drives Stacey to a BSC meeting (in his car!) and on the way there he sings along to a love ballad. INAPPROPRIATE.
  • So of course, Stacey writes a poem:
    I see two stars in summer's night
    Blinding, hovering, lost in light
    Each so dull in heaven's net
    So each remains as yet unmet
    But Fortune moves in strangest ways
    It lengthens nights, it shortens days
    May this night end and day begin
    And bring two lovers back again.
  • Sam calls to invite Stacey to the Spring Fling dance, and even though at the beginning of the book they are technically going out, she tells him she's going with someone else.
  • HAHAHA Stacey gives Wes the poem. She changes 'lovers' to 'young people' but still. Wes bolts from the room.
  • The BSC learns the hard way that taking care of a goat is hard work. Gah. Wouldn't they have thought that before? That's how they approach EVERYTHING. "oh, pet sitting will be so much fun! Oh no, it's hard work!" "oh, looking after infants will be so much fun! Oh no, it's hard work!"
  • So a week after giving him THE POEM, Stacey corners Wes at the end of math class. He asks if she has a question about the assignment (no), so he asks if she has another poem for him. I laughed out loud.
  • OH MY LORD INFINITY. She tells Wes that she's in love with him. I am laughing and cringing and it's so awful and I love it.
  • Sam is going to the Spring Fling with Amanda Martin. Why is this book filled with people we've never heard of before?
  • Okay, after the whole declaration of love thing, Wes still does things like tell Stacey he's going to miss her....class, and confide in her about a good recommendation. This guy is crazy!
  • If the dance is called the Spring Fling, why doesn't the banner say SMS Spring Fling?
  • It's never explained why Wes is wearing a tux.
  • Wes to Stacey: "You're THIRTEEN!" Classic.
Final thought: I only skimmed through the Elvira stuff, so I don't know about that, but there's barely any Mallory in this book. Poor Mallory!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Super Special #12: Here Come the Bridesmaids!

Tagline: It's a California wedding!

Cover: Where do I even start? Left to right, I guess. Kristy...I believe that if she had to wear a dress, she'd wear that one. Mary Anne is too tall, but the dress looks appropriately awkward on her. Dawn looks better in the dress but not at all California Casual (maybe if she took off the sleeves?) Speaking of sleeveless, Claudia looks different but not wacky. Jeff cracks me up, because he looks like a game show host making patter with a contestant "Ha, ha. Wonderful. Now, back to the game!"
Plot!: This book is really two different plots in one, joined together with the tenuous thread of Christmas weddings. On the west coast, Dawn's father gets married (to Carol), and on the east coast, the Barrett-DeWitts get married, and for some reason this is a big deal for the BSC. Because this is a super special, everyone gets their own little drama:
  • Dawn: her father gets married and she moves back to Connecticut, for awhile.
  • Mary Anne: does not want to be a bridesmaid at Jack Schafer's wedding, then is hurt that she isn't, and it's all Dawn's fault. It's even stupider than this sounds.
  • Kristy: organizes the We Heart Kids Club's goodbye party for Dawn.
  • Claudia: the thirteen year old acts like a wedding planner and does weddingy things, including taking pictures
  • Jeff: watches Jack and Carol fight about things like an entertainment unit and a lava lamp
  • Stacey: is a bridesmaid for Mrs. Barrett
  • Mallory: gets into a fight with Ben over caroling
  • Shannon: watches the Barrett kids at the wedding
  • Jessi: is a Santa at the mall. Which has nothing to do with the weddings.
  • Suzi Barrett: is nervous that Santa won't find her family once they move

Points of Interest
  • Dawn opens the book by announcing that her dad is getting married, and she’s already making it all about
    her. Apparently she has to pass her midterms (midterms?) if she wants to pass her classes (wouldn’t they be called finals?), and right after the wedding she’s flying back to Stoneybrook to live for awhile.

  • But the biggest WTF? Me, Me, Me moment comes when she laments that the Barrett-DeWitt wedding is the same day as the Schafer-Olson wedding, because that means that the BSC won’t be able to come to California. Wait. Time out. She was expecting all of the BSC members to come to California, to watch her Dad (who they have met once) get married? Plane tickets are not cheap!

  • I’d better slow down here, because there are so many WTF moments I might pull a muscle if I get outraged at them all.

  • Anyway, Dawn is the one who is like, “since I can’t be everywhere, and people have made the ridiculous choice not to come to my dad’s wedding, let’s keep journals!”

  • The other thing about this book is that there is very little explanation...of anything! It doesn’t say who is going to California or who’s helping out at the B-DeW wedding until it’s happening. I’m used to way more exposition.

  • Dawn buys her bridesmaid dress because she loves it: satiny material, shirred off-the-shoulder sleeves, a fitted bodice and a skirt that flared mid-calf. It’s...a pretty standard bridesmaid dress, it looks like. It does not look like something a thirteen year old girl would be excited about wearing, especially if they were as much of an individualist as Dawn is. What are you up to, Lerangis?

  • Dawn buys two for her, and one for Mary Anne, who is apparently also a bridesmaid. Luckily, this turns into a plot point later on.

  • Stacey eats a big greasy cheeseburger at Burger Town? But what about her diabetes? Actually, I have no idea if she’s eaten burgers before, it just seems strange.

  • Mrs. Barrett asks Stacey to be a bridesmaid. In her wedding. At least there are other, adult bridesmaids there.

  • Jessi becomes a Santa for Bellair’s department store. This plot feels really out of place, because I keep forgetting it’s set at Christmas.

  • Mallory and Ben get into a stupid fight: they are planning to go carolling with kids, but then Mallory agrees to watch the Barretts at the wedding, which is the same day. And instead of doing the logical thing and rescheduling the carolling to like, the next day, they have a big fight. And eventually they end up going the next day anyway. Sigh.

  • Dawn describes her life as a soap opera. Mary Anne calls Kristy’s life a soap opera. That should have been the direction they went in for the HBO show.

  • I have watched too many TLC wedding shows to think that hiring a thirteen year old girl (with Claudia’s artistic sense) to decorate and/or plan your wedding is a good idea. But that’s how Claudia ‘works’ off the ticket that Jack Schafer buys for her to come to California.

  • Okay. Dawn forgets to tell Mary Anne that she’s a bridesmaid, and Mary Anne freaks out, because she hates being the centre of attention and she’s worried about being sunburned from the dress. Then she comes around, but it turns out that she’s NOT a bridesmaid – Dawn just assumed she would be, and didn’t talk to Jack or Carol or anyone about it. Oh my Lord. Is Dawn really that dense? Mary Anne has met Jack once. She’s the daughter of the man that his ex-wife married. Why the hell would she be in the wedding?

  • Mary Anne is also pretty judgemental about a beach wedding. She’d prefer a nice normal indoor wedding, which Dawn takes offence to, because Mary Anne is calling them abnormal.

  • Carol’s dress is not at all a wedding dress. It’s more like a dress you’d put on to have brunch with your friends because you don’t really have to impress them. Also, I always thought she was a blond, but the illustration is of a brunette.

  • Oh, right, the Barrett-DeWitt wedding. Shannon and Mallory are looking after the youngest B-DeW kids, and they have to sit all the way at the back of the church. I don’t get this. Why couldn’t they be up closer, sharing the day with their parents and Bobby and Lindsey, who are in the wedding?

  • Marnie makes a break for it and stands up at the front with her mom. Ryan DeWitt (the Stoneybrook one) starts crying and Shannon takes him out of the church. And that’s about all of the drama there.

  • Mrs. Barrett has three bridesmaids and a maid of honour. That seems really big for a second wedding, especially given all the stress they had planning everything.

  • Her dress is: a long white beaded antique gown with a plunging neckline. How plunging? Why aren’t there any pictures of that? Come on, illustrator!

  • After the weddings, the book kind of peters out: there’s a going away party for Dawn, Logan helps move furniture for the DeWitts, Suzi leaves a trail of bread crumbs for Santa to find her at her new house, Mallory goes carolling, Dawn gets a ticket back to California from her Dad and Carol, and she and Jeff go to Stoneybrook. The end.

  • Final Thought: I think my favourite part about this book is the picture of Jeff on the cover. It just makes me smile!

p.s. sorry about any weird formatting...this one kind of got away from me.