Tagline: How could anyone accuse Claudia of cheating?
Cover: "Hmm. This is very odd." That's what I imagine Mr. Zorzi saying. Is that who it is? I get him and Mr. Zizmore mixed up. Anyway, while he's murmuring "veeeery peculiar...", Claudia is busy being all "like, I don't KNOW!" and Shawna is...looking kind of like how I imagine Shannon Kilbourne to look. As in, she's kind of dressing like Janine, but trendier. Speaking of dressing, Claudia's outfit is not outrageous. What Claudia wore was boring. It's jeans, a shirt, and a vest. With earrings. And her hair is pulled back. Maybe something wild is happening below the picture. But you know if they described it, it would totally be like, "Claudia was wearing another one of her wild outfits. She had jeans that flared at the knee into day-glo yellow pleats. She was wearing a man's blue dress shirt with white stripes all over it and her sleeves were rolled up to the elbow. Over that she had layered this funky brown vest. She had dangly earrings and her hair was all piled on top of her head. It would look weird on someone else, but Claudia was totally pulling it off."
In real time, when this book was published (1991), Claudia would have been 17.
Plot!: Claudia has been studying with Janine to bring up her math grade. She gets an awesome mark on a test, but then her teacher accuses her of cheating off of Shawna Riverson. Claudia knows she is innocent, so she sets out to prove it, through such great plans as breaking into her locker or saying words like "cheat" and "lie" over and over again. That doesn't work, so Janine goes right to the principal and gets Claudia another chance. Cornered, Shawna finally confesses and Claudia celebrates with cookies and cake.
Meanwhile, one of the Pike triplets breaks a window, but they won't say who did it. They are grounded and it's all uncomfortable at home. Eventually they reenact it and it's found at that none of them broke the window because they all did, or something dumb like that.
Continuity Fairy: Claudia isn't really dumb, she just...blah blah blah, or something. They are really inconsistent with Claudia and whether or not she has a learning disability.
Points of Interest:
- When she's describing herself, Claudia says she has long black hair and almond-shaped eyes. Why would she talk about the shape, but not the colour? Oh, that's right, because she has to make sure we know she's Japanese-American.
- The teacher is Mr. Zorzi. But he's just a sub.
- Janine would be happy wearing a white blouse, plaid skirt, red cardigan, and flat shoes. Me too! Except I'd like a pair of pants, too.
- Claudia's lucky earrings are Princess Di knock-offs. She's also planning on wearing black leather high-tops and a tie-dyed T-shirt dress. Hot?
- Stacey tells Claud to chill out about the test because by the time of the next BSC meeting, the test will be over. I totally use that as a coping strategy.
- Yes, Watson lives in a mansion. The rest of them need to get over it.
- Claudia is surprised that Mary Anne is allowed to have a boyfriend. But does Mr. Spier even know about Logan? I know he must, and he knows they spend time together. Maybe he thinks Logan is just a friend? I haven't read "Logan Likes Mary Anne!" in a long time.
- Claudia calls Dawn absolutely gorgeous. Bizarre.
- Wait. She also calls Dawn mellow, which is absolutely 100% not true. Try Dawn Save the Planet, or Dawn and the School Spirit War, or basically any Dawn book.
- Most awkward chapter two segue ever: "There's this secret passage in that old farmhouse, and someday I'm sure Dawn will catch the ghost that she believes lives there. I don't think Stacey believes in the ghost."
- Claudia gets an A-on the test. Go, Claudia. Maybe you should listen to Janine more often.
- Claudia's blood ran cold. Her memories had just been sold! Er, Mr. Zorzi called her a cheater.
- Mr. Zorzi handles this really badly. He doesn't know the students, and they both have the same test, and he's just all "Shawna, I believe you when you say you didn't do it, even though that's totally what the person who cheated would say."
- As if Claudia knows who Emily Dickinson is.
- How much of an allowance do the Pike kids get? The triplets have to give up their allowance until the broken window is paid for. Where do the Pikes get all this money?
- Mmm, tacos. Delicious. But it's hard to picture Janine eating a taco.
- Oh my Lord. Claudia convinces her parents not to get involved. I don't understand why they have to handle all of this stuff themselves. Her parents should have been like, "No, Claudia, this is serious, and we have to deal with this." Maybe then she could have gotten a re-write and all of the other dumb stuff wouldn't have had to happen.
- I like it better when Janine and Claudia are friends, like in this book. It humanizes both of them.
- Claudia talks about being in her pyjamas. I wonder if it's that weird negligee thing from the cover of Claudia and the Bad Joke. Hey, look. Her earrings are the same.
- Kristy makes Claudia's problem the club's problem. I could definitely not deal with all of these girls up in my business.
- Heh. Mary Anne pretty much accuses Claudia of cheating, and then SHE gets upset. Mary Anne is totally going use passive-aggressive tactics when she gets older.
- California-cool, mellow Dawn suggest breaking into Shawna's locker. When I was in grade eight, our lockers didn't even have locks on them.
- Claudia decides they don't need a search warrant because they aren't looking for a pistol, just a note. It's all evidence, Claud! Remind me not to hire her as my lawyer.
- Adam likes Al-cay Ipken-ray Unior-jay over Ave-day Infield-way.
- Kristy makes fun of Susan Taylor because all she does is shop and get perms. How is this different from Stacey?
- Dawn's sort of a badass in this one. Meanwhile, Mary Anne is extra-drippy.
- I wish I could snark more on Claudia's strategy of having Shawna confess by saying the words CHEAT and COPY a lot, but that's totally how it works in old-school Perry Mason. And if it's good enough for Perry...
- Claudia decides to stage a re-enactment of the the cheating, because just like last time, she won't cheat, but Shawna would. It's fool proof!
- Claudia dresses as Ms. Frizzle as The Sea. Of course. And then she has to go to the Principal's office! Awesome.
- Mr. Zorzi gives this strange basketball-is-life metaphor to Claudia before telling her she passed. Thanks, Mr. Zorzi.
- The BSC meeting turns into a party. Wild.
- There's this weird side-bar devoted to the Pike triplets' baseball-card collecting philosophy. Why not just end the book early instead of filling it with details like that?
Final Thought: For someone who reads a lot of mysteries, Claudia is spectacularly bad at solving this one. Maybe because it's NOT A MYSTERY.