Tagline: Mal's favorite author lives in Stoneybrook!
Cover: Oh, Mallory. But we'll get to that. Meanwhile...what's with the terrible spookiness of the cover? The dark mailbox, the bare branches...the baggy jeans. Is it safe to ride a bike with pants like that? And her thighs look GIGANTIC. Strange. And she's riding around in a bike with a basket on the front, like she's Jessica Fletcher or something. If you're dying to be cool, like Mallory is, would you really want to ride a bike with a basket? Also, if you look really close, Mallory's lips are pursed into the pout of judgementalness. Which fits, story-wise, considering who big of a moron Mal is in this book.
Plot!: Mallory starts spazzing out over Henrietta Hayes, who writes a YA series called Alice Anderson. She writes her a fan letter (even braving almost being late to a BSC meeting in order to mail it), and that's how she finds out that H.H. near Stoneybrook! Of course! Mallory sends her a bazillion letters and is crushed when H.H. doesn't personally write back, because Mallory wants to interview for this ridiculous English project she has to do. So Mallory goes to her house and is all, "Don't you know WHO I AM?" and H.H. decides to humour her by allowing Mal to interview her, and then offers Mal the chance to be her assistant. Along the way, Mal gets the idea that Alice Anderson is based on H.H. or her daughter or something, because she thinks all FICTION is based on TRUTH and stuff. So she freaks out at H.H. for lying, and H.H. awesomely puts her in her place. But then they work it out and Mallory just goes on being awkward.
At the same time, Mallory tries to write a play about her family exactly as they are, because authors don't lie. And her family revolts against this idea of perfect 'Valery Turnpike' and her crazy family. So Mallory re-writes it and everyone's happy.
Continuity Fairy: A lot of the Mallory books are people dumping on Mallory, so that is consistent. And there at least a couple "Mallory is a writer" books, although this one is probably the most annoying because of the whole "all fiction is true!" thing.
Points to Consider:
- This book, in addition to 'gratefully acknowledging Suzanne Weyn,' is dedicated to Summer Lynne Headley. Part of me hopes that Summer Lynne Headley is a girl that contacted Ann M. Martin and was all "why are you spreading LIES?"
- Opening line: "I love English class." Really, Mal? I never would have guessed.
- Mallory recounts meeting Amelia Moody and being too shy to say anything. I think that's in The Baby-Sitters Remember?
- Mallory spends a lot of time thinking about what her book jacket picture will look like one day. This time, she doesn't want a picture at all. Jessi tells her she's better looking than she thinks. Ha!
- The stupid English assignment is work 80% of their term mark. That seems ridiculous.
- I do not like how they writer her as Mme. Noelle. Just write Madame. It's not that much more space.
- We're all reminded about the time when Mal won Best Overall Fiction in the Sixth Grade. Sometimes I think that might be the high point of her life.
- We get a detailed explanation of what a skip-it is and how to use one. Why not just tell us about a ball-in-a-cup?
- Mallory decides to involve kids in her school writing project. Because between being a Pike and being part of the BSC, she doesn't spend enough time with kids. Whatever.
- Mallory cries when she's finished reading Alice Anderson. because it's just so awesome. I'm crying and I'm only on the first channel.
- She explains that Nannie moved in to watch Emily Michelle "during working hours." But at night, she's off the clock!
- Who describes their friend as having creamy skin? It's disgusting sounding.
- Mallory spends the first few chapters tripping over her ego, but everyone else is not impressed: the Kids Can do Anything leaders don't fall all over themselves for her, her English teacher doesn't like her proposal. Poor Mallory!
- Mallory gets a form letter from H.H. and decides to stalk her. I mean, call her on the phone because she lives close. It's actually kind of creepy.
- The Kids Can Do Anything Club: a boring plot device.
- Some kids that Mallory doesn't know are in her play group. Haven't these kids' parents discovered the amazing wonderfulness of the Baby-Sitters Club.
- Mallory, after reading HALF of H.H.'s books, decides that she is actually Alice Anderson or Alice's mother. I think she actually hurt herself jumping to that conclusion.
- Mallory calles H.H. the world's greatest living writer. What about Marguerite Henry?
- There's a VERY long explanation of why H.H. sends out form letters. We get it, Ann M. Martin. You're very busy!
- Mallory says she wants to find out what happened to Alice (because she thinks H.H. is Alice and she is a stalker). And H.H. reacts like this is the most genius thing ever and she had never even considered writing a reunion book. Bull.
- H.H. uses an electric typewriter, but not a computer because that's sooo high-tech. In 1994. I think even Jessica Fletcher had switched over by then (what's with all of my Murder, She Wrote references today?)
- Oh, Mallory's play. With Ranessa, Ricky, Margarita, and the rest.
- Mallory announces that J.M. Barrie is not considered one of the world's greatest writers. He's no Henrietta Hayes.
- Oh my Lord. Claire is changed to Delaware. What is Mallory on?
- Library shoutout! Mallory goes to the public library to see what is published about Henrietta Hayes. Mrs. Kishi, of course, helps her out, and Mallory freaks because she realizes that Henrietta Hayes is a big fat liar!
- Mallory's efforts at directing a play suck. Maybe because she's, oh, I don't know, eleven.
- Okay, I have to write this all out: "I mean..." I said shakily. I had to tell her. I just couldn't hold it in any longer. "I mean you're not being fair to your readers. Your books don't tell anything about your life. They're all made up.! They're lies!" By the time I reached the words "lies," my voice was shaking.
Ms. Hayes gave me that blank look I'd seen before. Then she drew her shoulders back, suddenly looking taller. "Mallory," she said in an even cool voice, "I have not lied. My books are not meant to reflect my life. They are novels. Fiction. I suggest you look up the definition of those words in the dictionary before you go about hurling accusations."
The phone rang then. "Excuse me, that's probably George, calling ahead of schedule," Ms. Hayes said in a formal voice.
With a final icy stare, Ms. Hayes went toward her study.
- I think it's odd that Mallory calls her Ms. Hayes, even when she thinks she's married. Weird.
- Ms. Hayes is her maiden name, she never changed it. I like Ann M. Martin's feminist inserts.
- Mallory tells Danielle, a girl sick with leukemia, that the whole future of the play rests on her. But no pressure.
- I would much rather be reading a Henrietta Hayes biography than this book. Also, I think of this whenever I hear of Helen Hayes. Thanks, ANM.
- Nicky thinks Ed is the coolest name a guy can have. It makes me think of the Meg/Ron think from Family Guy.
- If Mallory knew Matt Braddock was coming to the play, she would have arranged for a sign language interpreter. Because Stoneybrook has so many sign lnaguage interpreters who can come to an elementary school play, probably for free.
- Mallory's teacher says it was the best project in the class. As if.
- Kristy starts getting antsy because it's 5:05 and none of them are at Claudia's house for the meeting that starts in 25 minutes. I definitely could not be part of the BSC.
- The beginning of Mallory's next book sounds like the most boring book ever:
Valery Turnpike produced her first place, saw her work with a famous author completed, and was surrounded by good friends and family all on the same day. Valery tended to be a complainer, but on that day she opened her eyes and realized for the first time that she was a very, very lucky person.
- At the back of the book there's a contest to name the new BSC member: Dear Diary, I'm 13 now...finally in the 8th grade. My twin sister and I just moved her and this great group of girls asked me to join their baby-sitting club... I'd rather have one of the BSC dolls advertised a few pages later.
Final Thought: I wish Henrietta Hayes stayed around to lay icy smackdowns on random people from time to time.