Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mystery #11: Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum

Tagline: What kind of crook would steal art?

Cover: Apparently Claudia, the art savant, has never heard of an art thief. Or the cover writer hasn't. Anyway, this cover...has a lot of look. First of all, the background is quite purple. My copy is more pinkish purple than this picture looks, with the reddish "Mystery #11" in big letters. Right smack in the middle is Claudia, in a look that's also described in the book. She's with Corrie Addison and Marilyn-or-Carolyn Arnold, actually I think it's Marilyn because she has the longer hair. Corrie looks like how I imagine a mini-Mary Anne to be. Claudia has the same "whuh?" look on her face that she also has at The Mystery at Claudia's House (there is no mystery, by the way - spoiler?) and also in the illustration of her in Snowbound.

Plot!: Claudia, who likes art, by the way, did you know that? Anyway, she's really excited about this new sculpture exhibit at the conveniently opened Stoneybrook Museum. While she's there with some kids, some ancient coins are stolen. Claudia decides she's on the case! With the rest of the BSC, of course. So while they do their typically stupid stuff to chase criminals, they eventually find out that the real bad guy is the janitor, and not the two-eyed man.

While they're doing this, Claire Pike wants to be a STAAAHH! And she has a video of her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that she drags all over Stoneybrook, trying to get herself discovered. Eventually, she moves on, because she's five.

Points of Interest:
  • Even though I just said that I hadn't read this one before, I totally have. The subplot about Claire and her 'Over the Rainbow' video was very clear, and I knew the basics of the museum plot.
  • Remember in Kristy and the Secret of Susan, how Susan is withdrawn but then plays the piano? Or can say the date of something? That's what Claudia reminds me of, when she goes from being barely literate to spouting out all of this random art stuff.
  • Don Newman, this famous sculptor, supposedly lives in Stoneybrook. For a small town, Stoneybrook sure has a lot of famous artsy people living in it.
  • Claudia really wants to go see the sculptures in the museum, so she makes a plan - that involves also taking Corrie Addison and the Arnold twins. I get that she wants to share art with these kids, but couldn't she just do something on her own? I'm going to have to start commenting on stuff like that or else I'm never going to get through the whole series.
  • If the BSC members were animals, what animals would they be? It must be Chapter Two time! Kristy = dog, Mary Anne = koala (?) Claudia = parrot, Stacey = jungle cat, Dawn = dolphin, Mallory = a horse like Black Beauty, Jessi = a dancing Lipizzaner, Logan = hawk, and Shannon = cat.
  • The museum is part art gallery, part science center, part interpretive center, all in one. I would love to see their mandate or collection policy.
  • Claudia's first list of suspects: a janitor, a man with one blue aye and one green eye, and a Brownie troop.
  • After like, two seconds, the BSC decides they're going to solve the mystery. Because that's normal behaviour for a group of 13 year olds.
  • Watson didn't give any money to the museum. I find that weird, but maybe he was tapped out after spending lots of money to take his stepdaughter's friends on all kinds of trips.
  • I really don't think I could care any less about the Pikes going shopping.
  • Claudia calls something 'super-chilly', which she explains means 'cool.' Lame.
  • All of the girls get really excited at the museum, thinking of all of the kids who would love a place like this. Can't they just like it for themselves without wondering what Charlotte Johanssen will think of it?
  • When Claudia talks about Don Newman's sculpture 'Daphne,' that looks like a woman and a tree, I always think of like, a woman's torso, but on a skewed angle. Made of brown clay. Having that mental image was one of the ways that I knew I had read this one before.
  • Claudia, thinking that Daphne might be a fake, goes to harrass the curator, who reacts about the way you'd expect if a 13 year old came in and starting barking about art thefts and forgeries. And then she steals papers from his desk, and for the rest of the book they call him a creep and a thief. These girls need to chill.
  • Speaking of needing to chill, everyone makes a big deal about Claire wanting to be an actress. First of all, she's five. It's a phase. She wants attention - she has seven brothers and sisters! Secondly, let her parents deal with her being disappointed or whatever. They're her parents! Thirdly, just because you want to do something for one day doesn't mean that you're always going to want to do it. I know that Vanessa is a super-poet, Mallory a writer, Jessi a dancer, Claudia an artist, etc. but other people have phases! Let her outgrow it - she's five!
  • Mrs. Arnold is taking her daughters to the museum? A parent doing something with their own children?! This is highly irregular.
  • The security guard tells Jessi that there isn't really any more security at the museum? Why not just broadcast it in case any other thieves have any ideas.
  • Claudia phones up Don Newman to talk to him about his sculptures. Instead of being somewhat wary, he invites Claudia and her father to his fancy party. That's similar to what happened to Mallory when she stalked Henrietta Hayes, isn't it, where she shows up at her house and ends up becoming her assistant.
  • A lot of time is spent on Claudia wondering what to call Don Newman - Don, or Mr. Newman. This happens a lot in BSC books. Maybe ANM wanted people to call her Ms. Martin when they saw her.
  • Claudia acts like a lunatic, dragging Don Newman away from his party, making baseless accusations against the curator, and racing into dead ends.
  • At the party to celebrate Don Newman's sculpture exhibit, the sculptures....have already been taken down. It was a one-week exhibition? At a new gallery? It seems really short to me - I would have thought they might want to milk it for a bit longer. Maybe they have a new hot Stoneybrook talent all lined up - oh, wait, no, the curator tells Claudia that they want to do an exhibit of youth art, including her stuff. Right.
  • The book ends with a pizza toast. Yawn.
Final Thought: I think Marilyn Arnold's cover outfit is a lot wilder than Claudia's.


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Woohoo! I love finding more sites dedicated to the BSC. That BSC members = animals is a tad fail to me. Like this mystery. I've never read this one but I agree with you, thirteen year olds solving cases was never plausible. I'm 23 and I still haven't solved any damn mysteries. Will be back to read more :D

Caroline from Sheep Are In said...

Welcome! I'm just starting out here, but I have lots of books to work through. I kind of wish I could claim the BSC = animals idea was mine, but no, that comes straight from the book. Chapter twos are the most awkward parts, really.