Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sidebar: BSC FanFic

If you're between books at the moment or looking for something to read that says the things you've always thought, I highly recommend Viva Las BSC! It was written a few years ago by a group of fans from the Fametracker boards, and in my opinion it captures the spirit of BSC snarkery perfectly.

I waded through a fair amount of BSC fanfic in the time between I discovered the online BSC following and decided to start a blog. A lot of it gets to be the same, though, and few of them are actually finished stories. In my unscientific view, I think that the most popular things to write about are the BSC reunion story and the Karen/Vanessa/Charlotte/someone else in that age group start their own BSC.

Here are some things that I'd like to see explored in the fanfic (and if anyone knows of or has written something along these lines, feel free to recommend it!)
  • The Kristy/Charlie/Sam relationship, especially with their father
  • Janine/Charlie (friendship...and maybe more?)
  • Watson/Lisa/Elizabeth (not necessarily a love triangle, but how the one marriage ended and how Watson and Elizabeth met)
  • Richard/Elizabeth (they never seemed like they even knew each other! Not romance, just as neighbours)
  • Richard/Sharon in high school
  • Laine in New York, living it up like Jen Lindley and Blair Waldorf

Monday, July 27, 2009

Little Sister Super Special #5: Karen's Baby

Tagline: Karen's a fairy godsister!

Cover: That is a creepy looking baby. And that is a terrible pattern on the walls.

Plot!: Karen is excited about Nancy's soon-to-be-born little brother or sister. She's pestering the Dawses every chance to get. Finally little Daniel is born, but he's pretty little and kind of sick, and that freaks Nancy out. Eventually he can come home and Nancy calms down and everyone's happy. She makes Karen's Danny's fairy godsister, which doesn't happen until the end of the book even though it was included on the cover.

Points of Interest:
  • When the book starts, Karen is pestering her mom for a little brother or sister. Her mom says it is out of the question. Maybe Seth is sterile? Also, she tells Karen that she already has a little brother, but doesn't say anything about a little sister (Emily Michelle). Is that weird, or would it be weirder for Lisa to mention her?
  • Karen has taken to calling the Dawses' house all the time to see if Nancy's mom has gone into labour yet. And...the adults allow this? Karen seems weirdly overinvested in someone else's baby.
  • BSC shoutout! They have a sleepover at Kristy's/Karen's, and the BSC gives Nancy advice on taking care of a baby.
  • Someone in Stoneybrook goes into labour, and they DON'T call the BSC! Nancy goes to stay at Karen's Little House instead.
  • Nancy names her little brother Daniel. I wonder if her parents were planning to use their veto power if they didn't like the name she chose.
  • When Nancy sees her brother, she gets scared and starts crying because he's so little.
  • We all get a Cultural Awareness lesson in what a Mezuzah is. Because Nancy's Jewish, remember.
  • The Three Musketeers decide to sell the baby supplies that they made. Because people are dying to own mobiles and bottle warmers made by seven year olds.
  • Nancy's mom spends about five days in the hospital.
  • Daniel comes to school as a special show and share guest. He's a few weeks old. But in the accompanying illustration, he looks about six months old. I don't know a lot about babies, and I know they change pretty quickly, but still...something looks off.
  • Nancy makes Karen Danny's fairy godsister in an elaborate ceremony that involves a crown with Karen's name on it. Karen loves it.
  • In the back pages, there's a list of the most popular boys's and girls' names from 1950, 1980, and 1988. The 1988 girls names are: Jessica, Jennifer, Stephanie, Melissa, Nicole, Ashley, Tiffany, Amanda, Christina, and Samantha. That sounds about right.
Final Thought: I'd never really realized that a Little Sister Super Special is the same size (20 chapters) as a regular LS book, only with crafts and stuff at the end. Huh.

Friday, July 24, 2009

#107: Mind Your Own Business, Kristy!

Tagline: Oh, brother!

Cover: Go for it, Charlie! Although he looks kind of fug through the face. Angelica is exhibiting quite the bitchface. And Kristy looks kind of like Blair from Gossip Girl, if Blair was undercover, Blair would never look like that.

Plot!: It's Spring Break! So naturally, Kristy decides to organize a softball clinic for the Krushers. She gets Charlie to help her, but he starts exhibiting normal teenage behaviour when he'd rather be around Angelica. Kristy gets jealous and upset and they fight, and it's not pretty. Then, on their way to a concert, Angelica gets everyone in an accident and it's a big mess. Eventually Kristy and Charlie work out their differences and bond in a siblingy way.

Points of Interest:
  • One of the colleges that Charlie receives a brochure from is from Levithan Polytechnic Institute, which I think is a Peter Lerangis shout-out to YA writer David Levithan.
  • Kristy wins tickets to a Blade concert. Blade is her all-time favourite rock group, in case you didn't know.
  • Kristy + Bart = not that much, apparently. They're on the outs for this book.
  • A Sassy reference? I think that's another case of Lerangis seeing how much he can slip by AMM.
  • Kristy decides to hold a softball clinic for the Krushers. But uh-oh! Dissension in the ranks! Stacey whines that they're on vacation. And so, accordingly, Stacey isn't much heard from for the rest of the book.
  • Charlie is distracted by Angelica, who is baby-sitting from the Hsus (an outside baby-sitter?!?). We know we're not supposed to like her because Kristy doesn't, and we know she's bad news because she smokes!
  • Watson takes Kristy shopping at a sports store, but then goes into a gourmet shop and Kristy explains that he isn't an athlete. But didn't he help her set up the Krushers? And doesn't he umpire for them? Maybe he's just being nice.
  • Kristy tries to set Charlie up with Sarah, his ex-girlfriend, by arranging for them both to be in the same place at the same time. And just like every other time this has been used on TV or in a book, it doesn't work.
  • Charlie starts blowing off the Krushers' Klinic (no, really, that's what it's called) to spend time with Angelica. So Kristy tells Charlie that he's acting like their dad. Low blow, Kristy.
  • Charlie borrows Watson's car to take him, Angelica, Kristy, and Claudia to the Blade concert, but he's so used to driving the crummy old Junk Bucket that he has no idea how to drive a fancy car. So Angelica drives, but gets pulled over by a cop car. But it turns out she didn't have a license! So she and Charlie try to switch places (while driving!), and the car rams into the shoulder barriers. Watson is going to be pissed.
  • But when they get home, Charlie's punishment is to pay for the traffic ticket, not drive the Junk Bucket (not even to Kristy's BSC meetings?) and to rethink his social attachments. Harsh.
  • Oh, and Charlie also promised to get Jack Brewster, a famous ex-ball player, to come to the Krushers' Klinic. But he flaked on that, too. But Sarah, his ex-girlfriend, is related to Jack Brewster and she arranges for him to come after all!
  • Angelica sends a note to Charlie: "Dear Charles. I haven't called you because I'm really upset. I didn't want to cry and yell over the phone, so I figured I'd write instead. First of all, I'm sorry for what I did. It was stupid. My parents are so mad at me. They don't want me to see you ever again. They said it was totally unlike me to do what I did. They think you were a bad influence. I argued with them a lot. But then I thought about it. My last boyfriend had a car, too, and I never tried to drive it. Well, he was a great driver, that was the main reason. But even if I asked, no way would he have let me. He was this super-mature type. We actually had a lot in common. I think we broke up because we were almost exactly alike. Then I met you. You were so different - like a big kid. I needed that for awhile. But I have this weakness - I let other people's personalities rub off on me. So what I'm saying is, I think my parents were right. I need to move on, Charlie. I need to find someone on my wavelength. Hope you're not mad at me. Ciao, Angelica."
  • Okay. Unless Charlie and Angelica knew each other from school (and she probably goes to Stoneybrook Day School or something), they've known each other less than a week. They were on like, one date.
  • The rest of the book is kind of hit and miss (no baseball pun intended, if there even is one there), but pages 124-127 are really, really good. Charlie is forced to confront Angelica's statement that he's a big kid and Kristy's allegation that he's just like their dad. He and Kristy talk about what is was like when their Dad left and how Charlie pulled the whole family together. I know I mentioned this in Kristy's Big Day (probably in reference to this book), but I really do like the Kristy-Charlie-Sam dynamic, especially when they're talking about serious stuff.
  • Jack Brewster shows up and everyone is happy. And he tries to get Charlie and Sarah back together. He's a ballplayer AND a matchmaker! I smell sitcom!
Final Thought: This, like almost all of my books, is one that I bought used (this one is from eBay) and the previous owner filled in the notebook pages at the back. She's seven and in 2nd Grade and bought the book from Chapters. Her favourite part was when Sarah helped Charlie, her favourite member is Mary Anne, she is most like Claudia because they have jet black hair, and if she could write a BSC book it would be about "kissing and in love things." This is what she thinks of Angelica: she's a show-off, a liear, and is acetative.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

#52: Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies

Tagline: How much trouble can a bunch of babies be?

Cover: Mary Anne is at her most soccer mom here, with tight legging-like pants, an oversized sweater and push-down slouch socks. Ricky, the baby in the white and red outfit, has really pointed ears; he looks a little like Batboy.

Plot!: Once again, the BSC is baby crazy. They get a call from parents of baby twins, wanting them to sit for their twins. So Mary Anne does, and the jobs start out easy, but then they get hard, because looking after babies is hard. At the same time, the girls have an assignment for Modern Living where they have to take care of an egg and pretend it's their baby. Mary Anne and Logan are paired up, and they can't agree on anything, and they have big fights. And in the end they decide that they're too young to raise a baby, even an egg baby. Also, Dawn and Mary Anne are pestering their parents for a little brother or sister, but they change their minds after the sitting and the class. Luckily, Richard and Sharon didn't take their family planning cues from their 13 year old children, and instead offer to get them another pet, which they decline.

Points of Interest:
  • Mary Anne finds hedge clippers in the bread drawer. Oh, Sharon.
  • Shillaber twins shoutout! Mariah and Miranda have a new baby brother. This starts Dawn and Mary Anne talking about how awesome it would be if their parents had a baby. I just don't get it. The household had enough of a hard time adjusting to TIGGER when he moved in, how are they going to handle a baby?
  • Dawn and Mary Anne leave an hour early to go to Claudia's. That seems...excessive. How far away is Claudia's house?
  • Ugh. Mary Anne describes Claudia's skin as creamy. Ew. That is currently my number one pet peeve about the series. I'm dealing with it by imagining fake conversations that the ghost writers had with each other:

    Ghostwriter #1: Hey, ghostwriter #2.
    Ghostwriter #2: Hey, ghostwriter #1. What's up.
    G1: I'm just wrapping up work on #55.
    G2: Nice. I'm almost done Mystery #7. Hey, what kind of Claudia outfit did you include?
    G1: A fringe vest, culottes, yellow boots, red socks, a cowboy hat, and a side ponytail. You?
    G2: A tie-dyed unitard, a skirt made of ties, feathered earrings, lace-up sandals, and a sombrero.
    G1: Awesome. Is it summer for your book?
    G2: Yeah, again.
    G1: Me, too.
    G2: Oh, I wanted to tell you, I managed to work all of our suggested phrases into Chapter Two.
    G1: No way. I've only ever managed about 75%.
    G2: I know, it wasn't pretty but it's all there. Creamy, bi-coastal, an exaggerated 'long,' mansion and millionaire, steady boyfriend, orthodontist appointments, diabetes, ew, Nancy Drew, California Casual, genius, math, perm, broken leg, French, contacts, War and Peace, sophisticated, dibble, fresh, day-glo, exotic, an individual, Stamford, barre, six mentions of divorce, junior members, triplets, Kentucky, and ice cream.
    G1: I can never bring myself to write California Casual.
    G2: Yeah, I know. Although it's describing her as an individual that I have the hardest time with.
    G1: Hey, did you cram the BSC information together with the chapter two stuff, or did you leave them separate?
    G2: No, I left them separate. That way there's less room for the real plot, because it just doesn't make any sense. I mean, it directly contradicts the last book I wrote.
    G1: Tell me about it. (beep beep) Oh, I have another call. (new call) Hello?
    AMM: Ghostwriter 1? It's Ann M. Martin.
    G1: Oh, hi, Ann. How are you?
    AMM: You know, I think you should call me Ms. M. Martin. We don't know each other that well.
    G1: Okay, Ms. M. Martin. How are you?
    AMM: Fine, thank you. I was just having tea like a Lovely Lady and I had a Great Idea.
    G1: What was it?
    AMM: In Chapter Five, I want you to make an I Love Lucy reference. To the time when she and Ethel worked in the chocolate factory.
    G1: (sigh) Okay, Ms. M. Martin. I'll make sure it's in there.
    AMM: Great. Do you want to talk to my cats?
    G1: That's okay. I'll catch them next time. Bye.
    AMM: Bye. (hangs up)
    G1: You still there?
    G2: Let me guess - I Love Lucy.
    G1: I need a drink.
  • In Modern Living, the teacher asks who is capable of parenting of being married, or living on your own. And Mary Anne thinks that she is, because she babysits a lot. Gah. Really, Mary Anne? I had so much hope for you.
  • Oh, it gets worse. She also thinks that she and Logan are ready to 'take the big step.' As long as 'the big step' means getting fake married in your 8th grade class.
  • Shawna Riverson is drawn as being really ditzy. But in Claudia and the Middle School Mystery, she's supposed to be an A student and really capable of organizing stuff.
  • Four boys in the class have to marry each other. But they have to pretend that one is a girl, because there HAS to be a husband and a wife. Otherwise it's not a marriage! Boy, attitudes were really different back in 1992!
  • Their first assignment is to figure out if they can afford to live on their own and pay all of their bills. What 13 year old can do that? Unless they're receiving money from some kind of trust or something, I guess, or if they're emancipated minors of some kind, but I hope it's an exercise designed to show them that they can't take care of themselves yet.
  • Whoa! Microwave popcorn! That seems really advanced for AMM.
  • The Modern Living class is given eggs, and have to pretend that they're children. I remember being really nervous that one of my classes was going to try that, but they never did.
  • This is bringing back memories of Degrassi Junior High, the episode Eggbert, where Spike is pregnant and Shane wants to kind of be involved, so she gives him the egg to look after. Spoiler alert: It doesn't end well.

  • I know I'm giving you a lot of non-book content in this one, but it's kind of a boring book.
  • Mary Anne and Logan walk around for the whole book calling each other Dear and Sweetheart. I think they're getting into this a little too much.
  • Kristy "marries" Alan Gray and they name their egg Izzy. She takes him on a job to the Papadakis' house, and Alan calls to check on them. And then Kristy tells him that the egg is shy and nervous and then they talk about the egg's socialization and development. No, really. They talk for so long that Hannie and Linny and Sari wander off and do their own thing. And that's what I call Bull on. Yes, Kristy would be into a school assignment, but no way would she neglect her baby-sitting duties while on the job. Think of the club's reputation!
  • Mary Anne and Logan name their child Samantha.
  • Stacey "marries" Austin Bentley and their egg is named Bobby. She shows how sophisticated she is by not really being into the project that much. Then she sits for the Gianellis and Alicia is terrified by the egg, because she saw it in a bed. So she calls her 'husband' to come over and take the baby, and realizes how difficult it is to be a single parent.
  • Dawn marries some guy named Aaron Albright and her egg is named Skip, and she hates that name. She would have named the egg Douglas. But she does PSA that she is never ever changing her name, no matter who she marries.
  • One of the couples in the class lost their baby: she was in the tin they keep her in when they left school, but when they checked at the park she was gone. They say that they don't know she got out of the tin. Except...she didn't. She's an egg. Either there's a hole in the tin, or something or someone took her out. I can't snark too much on a lost child, but these people seem to be forgetting that it's still just an egg.
  • Mary Anne thinks that she'll wait until she's a lot older before she gets married. Like, when she's 22.
  • At the end of the class, they hand in a 32-page, typed, single spaced paper. That a lot. They also have to write a good-bye letter to their egg, twenty-one years in the future. That would be in...2013. So their Egg would be now 17 years old...if it wasn't an egg.
  • Mal wants eight kids, just like her mom. I have a hard time believing that.
Final Thought: I had no idea so much Degrassi Junior High was on Youtube. This is really making me happy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Super Special #8: Baby-Sitters at Shadow Lake

Tagline: Campfires, ghost stories - summer vacations are the best!

Cover: I feel like we've seen that outfit on Claudia before. I guess wearing cowboy boots to a camp-out is what classifies her as wacky. Dawn looks kind of simple, and has really dark eyebrows. Jessi looks like a man. Mallory looks middle-aged.

Plot!: Watson is asked by his aunt if he wants to inherit an old cabin at Shadow Lake. He isn't sure, so he decides to spend some time their with his family. And the BSC, of course. Kristy really wants him to keep the cabin and organizes the BSC into keeping a diary to give to Watson as an after-trip gift.
Individual plots are:
  • Dawn finds out a mystery and thinks that Shadow Island (where they go on a camp-out) is haunted
  • Stacey has to deal with Sam, who is suddenly in love with her
  • Jessi meets a boy, teaches him to dance, and is conflicted because of Quint
  • Mary Anne baby-sits for Karen, Hannie and Nancy, and they find a playhouse in the woods
  • Kristy learns how to drive a boat
  • Mallory is attacked by bugs and baby-sits for David Michael, Linny and Nicky, who fight a lot
  • Claudia decorates a boat for the boat parade
No, seriously. Those are the plots. There's even less going on here than in a regular Super Special. Anyway, in the end Watson decides to keep the cabin (or agree to have it willed to him, I guess) and calls Kristy his daughter, which she likes.

Points of Interest:
  • Shadow Lake is in the mountains of Western Massachusetts. In case you want to go there for yourself.
  • The Brewer/Thomases are allowed to bring friends, so David Michael invites Linny Papadakis and Nicky Pike, Karen invites Hannie and Nancy, and Kristy brings Emily Bernstein. No, just kidding, she invites the whole BSC. And Watson and Elizabeth go for it, because they don't really want to spend time with their family when they can get 13- and 11-year olds to do it for them.
  • FYI: Jessi is black and Mallory is white. For your information.
  • Jessi sees a cute guy (who is dark-skinned like her (again, that's what the book says)) and starts getting excited, then feels badly because she forgot about Quint. As if, in all of NYC, Quint never sees a girl and thinks "Hmm, she's cute." Or a guy.
  • Sam calls Stacey Dahling and ravishing.
  • The sitters make fun of Stacey for saying Yo, as in "Yo! Look out at the middle of the lake." I would maybe think that this was strange, but I'm watching MuchMoreMusic's 100 Greatest Hip Hop songs and all of the slangiest words from the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s are running together in my head.
  • The BSC finds a boat under the dock, but Watson and Elizabeth decide that only people over 12 can take lessons to drive it. Take that, Mallory and Jessi.
  • Karen gets two chapters in this book. So does David Michael. That's as many as Mallory. Sam gets one, too.
  • Kristy's mom wears a bikini when she's just hanging out around the cabin. Not bad for a mother of four.
  • The BSC goes to the lodge to eat by themselves. Kristy says she has a great idea. Then the waiter comes and they say they need five minutes. Then they choose, and the waiter comes back 15 minutes later. THEN Jessi says "what was your great idea, Kristy?" So what were they talking about for the 15 minutes? The menu?
  • Anyway, Kristy's Great IdeaTM is to go out to Shadow Island and spend the night. Everyone thinks it's a great idea except for Dawn, who is pretty much scared out of her mind. What? Dawn loves ghost stories and mysteries. I find this highly out of character for her, especially when Mary Anne is okay with going out to the island. I guess it's in line with her New York, New York persona when she wouldn't even go outside, but it still doesn't seem like Dawn.
  • So Daniel, the boy Jessi's obsessing over, says hello, and Jessi starts freaking out because she has previously in her life also said hello to another guy. Seriously. Jessi, chill.
  • Daniel asks if she wants to go to the dance at the lodge with him, and Jessi says yes, even though in the previous paragraph she realized they had nothing in common - he likes sports and hates reading and baby-sitting, and he can't dance.
  • Mallory is being eaten alive by bugs, and Kristy called her hopeless and an embarassment. Claudia and Stacey tease her about her bug netting, and Mallory flips out, telling them to shut up. I kind of hoped that this would be Mallory's chance to really go crazy and call out the BSC on all of their shit, but no, by the end of her chapter she's back to fretting about mosquito bites.
  • Claudia is looking after Andrew and Emily Michelle, and she takes them to the docks and then announces she is going to stop and draw. Andrew says they will too, and Claudia is relieved because she didn't know what they were going to do. That...seems like pretty bad baby-sitting to me.
  • Sam is obsessed with shaving and talks on and on about 'whiskers.' Because he's a grizzled old prospector.
  • Dawn gets a lead on the Shadow Lake mystery, and it's about the Bayard family, who disappeared years ago under mysterious circumstances. By an astonishing coincidence, the clerk at the general store was Annie Bayard's fiance, and Dawn pushes ahead and pumps him for details, no matter how painful.
  • There's a picture with Claudia, Kristy and Dawn in the boat parade, waving to the crowd - but Claudia and Kristy were the only ones in the parade. Dawn just joined them for the ride home. Bad continuity!
  • Oh, and the boat, dressed up like the Lake Monster, wins for Most Spirit.
  • In the picture where he's driving them to Shadow Island, Sam is wearing a button-down dress shirt. While driving a boat. While camping. Wouldn't he be more comfortable in a T-shirt or something?
  • To pass the time on the island, the BSC sings the theme song to the Beverly Hillbillies. Naturally.
  • When Dawn's brother Jeff was younger, he called it a "waterlemon." Precious.
  • Mallory shares her theories on alien abduction for the purposes of scientific discovery. What?
  • Dawn finds a locket in the remains of the Bayard house and gives it to her fiance when they get back to the mainland. "This is for you," she says. "It's from Annie." Which is pretty much exactly what Jessica and Elizabeth say in Sweet Valley Twins' The Curse of the Ruby Necklace.
  • David Michael and his friends were trying to make a fort to compete to Karen's playhouse, but their efforts don't lead to much. But everything works out in the end and Karen agrees to share their playhouse, because they're bored with it.
  • It takes Stacey and Claudia FOUR HOURS to get ready for a casual family dance at the lodge. That seems extreme.
  • Stacey and Claudia work out a secret signal for Claudia to rescue Stacey from Sam: blinking their eyes. It's perfect! Because no one ever blinks their eyes otherwise.
  • So Stacey and Sam dance at the dance, and I really hope this picture turns out, because you have to see this illustration. Stacey looks like she's too weak to stand on her own legs so she's grabbing at Sam for support, and Sam looks like he's medically checking to see if Stacey is wearing a bra. It's the most awkward picture this side of Logan and Mary Anne's Sea City date.
  • At the dance, Jessi awkwardly and embarrassingly confesses to Daniel that she already has a guy she likes. But it turns out that he already has a girlfriend back in Boston! Wait. Time out. Now, it's true that most of Jessi's "OMG he likes me!" is made up (like, he walks her home after their dance lesson), but I have to say he was leading her on a little bit. He stalks her to the dance studio and asks her for dance lessons, invites her to the dance with him. calls her gorgeous, and puts his arm around her. Those are kind of dick moves for a guy with a girlfriend.
  • To get Stacey's attention, Kristy says "Yo, Stacey!" I guess Stacey's sophisticated New York language has rubbed off on her.
  • Stacey whispers that Shadow Lake is soooo romantic. I can totally see her as the type who would honeymoon here with Sam because it was where they first fell in LUV. That should be a BSC fanfic, if it isn't already: The BSC is reuniting for Stacey's wedding to Sam, and it's all happening at Shadow Lake! Will Dawn try to solve the mystery? Will Jessi get time off from her fabulous ballet career? Will Kristy bring Abby as her date? Will they remember to invite Mallory?
  • In the end, Watson decides to allow his aunt to will her cabin to him, and in a letter to her he refers to Kristy as his daughter. And she's really touched by that, which is kind of sweet.
Final thought:

I love the Super Special illustrations, in the way that it's like, "OMG I can't believe they put that in a book and people bought it."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mystery #2: Beware, Dawn!

Tagline: Someone is out to scare Dawn!

Cover: Yep, it's a mystery. Dawn, California Casual in denim-on-denim and some weird bracelet, needs the curtain to protect her from the eeeeevil envelope. It kind of looks like the house is on fire, too, but that doesn't really happen.

Plot!: This is one of the most poorly plotted Mysteries, I would say. Because not only does it pretty much rip off two previous books (Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn, and Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls), it has all of the girls working separately and only really coming together at the end of the book. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One by one, the sitters (except Kristy) start receiving mystery notes and calls on their sitting jobs. They each decide not to tell each other, because at the same time there is a Sitter of the Month contest, and they each want to win (even though they agree not to compete against each other). Eventually they do share the ideas and come up with a plan to trap Mr. X. Which they do, and it's a little boy who hates the BSC because they got him in trouble for teasing. But he gets the help he needs and everyone is happy. Oh, and there's a seven-way tie for the best sitter, and they all win. The end.

Continuity Watch: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn, Stacey's Emergency and Jessi's Baby-sitter all get shoutouts. That does not make up for basically recycling the plots.

Points of Interest:
  • In the first chapter, there are a bunch of regulars (Nicky Pike, Jamie Newton, the Hobarts) and then two other boys, Zach Wolfson and Mel Tucker, who apparently also made an appearance in Kristy and the Secret of Susan. Do you think that this random mention has anything to do with the mystery? Knowing the BSC, there are probably a tonne of red herrings, but in this case it's more like the random 8 year old in the first act will go off in the third act.
  • Dawn shares that her "wardrobe is mostly in bright colors, and it's all pretty informal stuff - loose and kind of sporty." Really?
  • So Ben Hobart and Mallory were studying at the library. When Dawn breathlessly reports this to Mary Anne, MA sighs and gets teary eyed. There's sensitive, and then there's emotional problems.
  • Although if you're going to cry at a telephone commercial, it better be the one about the grandson calling his grandfather from Dieppe and saying thank you.
  • Dawn says she likes to hear Mallory rattle off the names of her brothers and sisters. Really? I mean, there are seven names to say, but it's not that impressive. It's not like it's Matt Damon's imaginary siblings in Good Will Hunting.
  • Ben thinks that Mal is a "bonzer sheila," which apparently means a great girl, although this has never been confirmed by an actual Australian person.
  • The kids at school decided that there should be a contest for "Sitter of the Month," to show who is the most fun and nicest and the best baby-sitter. I love the idea that the kids came up with this specifically because they KNEW that it would mess with their minds.
  • While sitting for Karen, Andrew and David Michael, Dawn plays Let's All Come In, featuring Bruce Stringbean, Darryl Blueberry, and Ladonna. Then Kristy accuses her of being "super-sitter" to win the contest. I have a feeling there's no pleasing Kristy.
  • Stacey says that when they compete with each other it never goes well. Jessi agrees, bringing up the time she stole Jackie Rodowsky's science project out from under him. Which...was not about that at all. It was more reactionary because of how Aunt Cecelia was treating her. A better example is the Miss Stoneybrook pageant, which they do eventually bring up.
  • While sitting for the Prezziosos, Dawn has Jenny - a four year old - answer the phone. That does not seem like a super-sitter decision. Especially because the caller is Mr. Nobody/Mr. X, the mysterious figure who is menacing the sitters.
  • Dawn's letter to her brother: "Dearest Little Bro, What's up? What's fresh? Everything's cool back here in Stoneybrook. What's happening out there in sunny Cal?" No, really.
  • Mr. X leaves a note on the Prezziosos' front porch: You'd better watch out, you'd better not shout! I'm going to get you. Mr. X. And it's done in cut-out letters, like a ransom note. Dawn immediately thinks that Jenny is behind it. Jenny, the four year old, who is currently asleep in bed, was behind this complicated note. Dawn is full of wild assumptions in these mysteries.
  • Also, Dawn decides to not tell anyone about this. Gah. This note is really scary! Also, why does Dawn assume it's for her? Maybe someone wants to kidnap Jenny or Andrea or something, and Dawn is hiding evidence.
  • When a similar thing happens at the Rodowsky's house, the boys want to call the police. Why are the children smarter than the baby-sitter?
  • Is anyone surprised that Becca's favourite show is The Cosby Show?
  • Ah, popcorn makers. Do people use those anymore?
  • When Jessi is sitting, she gets a note from Mr. X (Best wishes from your secret admirer) and a bouquet of flowers with dead flowers on it. But Jessi doesn't say anything either, because she wants to impress the others.
  • The Pike parents. I never know what to think about them. I've talked before about the ridiculousness of having four kids under the age of 2 and then continuing to have more children each successive year, but they also talk about how easy going they are when it comes to rules. But then Mallory (whose perspective is definitely skewed) says how tough they are about her clothes and appearance. I wonder what they would do if Mallory wore, like, a sparkly top or something. They'd probably ground her, but then insist that she babysit for them anyway.
  • The note for Mallory and Mary Anne: Do you like your hamster? If you do, you'd better keep an eye on him. And there's a picture of an eye instead of the word. Okay, that's pretty much a direct threat. And they still decide not to do anything.
  • But the Pikes see it and freak out and decide to spend the rest of the day protecting Frodo, their hamster. So now this crazy person is affecting the kids, and yet the sitters still decide to not do anything. This is aggrevating.
  • Oh, and a dead mouse shows up on the Pike's porch. Here's my thinking: if you're ever in a situation where you're trying to decide if it's serious or not, and dead animals show up, it's serious.
  • Kristy sits for the Kormans, and she gets a mysterious phone call....from her mom. And then the door rings....and it's Mr. Papadakis. Waah-waah.
  • Chapter 11, page 98: the sitters FINALLY come clean about Mr. X. And it turns out that they all have Mr. X stories - except Kristy. So, of course, Dawn starts to suspect Kristy as the culprit. Because Kristy would TOTALLY sabotage the club in order to win the super-sitter contest.
  • Claudia's notebook entry: Whooever Mr. X is, I wish he wuld just dissapear off the fase of the eurth. I mean, even if he is'nt danjerus, or evil, or any of that stuff, the fact is that hes' a pest. A reel pane. And I wish he'd quit buging us. I get that she can't spell, but not even the word FACE? or REAL? GAH.
  • Mr. X smears baked beans all over the Johanssen's porch. O...kay.
  • While baby-sitting for Jamie Newton, Jamie lets it slip to Dawn that Mel Tucker is going to do a secret baby-sitting check on them. Mel...Who? Oh, right, that random guy from the first chapter. I'm sure glad I paid attention to that!
  • When the doorbell rings Dawn says: "I had a feeling it wasn't Avon calling, if you know what I mean." This line cracks me up.
  • With a suspect in mind, the BSC set up a sting to catch Mr. X in the act. I don't know why they didn't do this already. Mr. X has a pretty similar M.O.: a few phone calls, and then something left at the door. So why wouldn't they just have someone staking out a sitting job? No, instead they have this fake thing, where Dawn tells everyone that she'll be home alone, sitting for her 'cousin.'
  • Mr. X breaks into Dawn's house through her secret passageway. That's...really creepy.
  • So Mr. X turns out to be Mel Tucker after all. He confesses to everything, except for the dead mouse and making some noises that Dawn heard. The reason he was doing all this? Because the BSC told Mrs. Hobart that he was teasing her boys, and she told Mel's parents, who grounded him.
  • After hearing Mel's story, including that his parents want to send him to a psychiatrist (or, as Kristy says, a feelings doctor), Dawn tells Mel's dad that Mel is basically a sweet kid. Um, how do you know that, Dawn? You've already said you don't know him very well, and what you have seen: teasing an Autistic girl, teasing the Hobarts, threatening the BSC, and breaking his grounding to scare the BSC and their charges, not to mention conning the rest of the kids into giving him the information of where the BSC would be sitting. So, stay out of it.
  • Sleepover, pizza: guess what! Yes, that's right, a pizza toast. Dawn eats cheesy pizza? I guess it's vegetarian, but I would see her going for a sprout topping or something.
  • A whole bunch of kids show up at Claudia's to announce the winner of the Sitter of the Month contest. And it's a seven-way tie. Yes, they all win. Gag.

Final Thought: Even though this one comes fairly deep into the series (1991), there's still a lot of Kristy and Dawn tension simmering just below the surface.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

#99: Stacey's Broken Heart

Tagline: Will Stacey and Robert be together forever?

Cover: Why do these covers always ask such stupid questions? Anyway, the cover. Is it just me, or does Robert look like he's saying something like "Stacey, I know we're young, but I promise I'll take care of you and the baby." My interest is definitely more in the guys in the background, silently arranging some kind of train-based rendezvous.

Plot!: It's summer time in Stoneybrook, and Stacey is heading to New York for a week-long baby-sitting job with the Walkers, the arty couple from the building she used to live in. The problem is that she's nervous about being away from Robert, her boyfriend. But while she's there she meets Ethan, who's older and a city guy, and Robert starts seeing other people, and they break up. Meanwhile, Kristy is on vacation with her family, and Abby's in charge of the BSC. She decides to have a Mexican festival, and it's kind of a disaster, because Abby sucks as president and they all miss Kristy's tyrant ways.

Points of Interest:
  • Stacey says that the popular kids' values "are the pits." Take that, popular girls.
  • But that doesn't keep Robert from smiling at Andi Gentile! But Robert! Think about their values.
  • Another girl, Sheila MacGregor, wore a tight purple unitard to play tennis in. Huh?
  • The Walkers are a big deal on the New York arts scene, apparently: she's an illustrator, and he does oil paintings, and they're having a show at a major gallery. But when they need someone to watch their kids, they call a 13-year old girl who lives in Connecticut. What about every other time they need a sitter?
  • Stacey and Robert spend time together playing a video game, Marvel in the Mist. Cool?
  • Stacey talks about how much she loves a tan, even though she knows it's, like, bad for you. I can totally see Stacey's Skin Cancer being a later BSC book.
  • Stacey says that Mary Anne's haircut is adorable. That's definitely not what they said when she got it cut! Mary Anne's Makeover is probably my most favourite BSC book.
  • Heh. Stacey says Mal has "inner beauty." Poor Mallory!
  • Okay, the time line is a little weird on this one. I think that this is right around the same time as Dawn Schafer, Undercover Babysitter, but in this one she's not in Stoneybrook anymore. And Stacey leaves town, but in the other book she's here. It's been awhile since I read Dawn and Too Many Sitters, so I'm a bit confused on the timeline.
  • Stacey wonders if she's heartless because she's not upset about leaving her boyfriend for a week. No, really.
  • In this book, when Abby's in charge, she says it's okay to be a few minutes late - not 15, but up to a few minutes. This jumped out at me because it also came up in Jessi's Baby-sitter, when Jessi's ten minutes late and said that she would have called if she was 30 minutes late, but not for ten minutes. Who decides these things? It's all about a slope, isn't it?
  • How long is Kristy going to be away for? Abby's making sweeping changes, like cutting dues.
  • Instead of calling Stacey at home, Emily Bernstein calls Stacey at a BSC meeting to say she saw Robert with another girl. Are the McGill's not listed in the phone book? I guess TECHNICALLY they haven't been in Stoneybrook a year, so they might not be listed.
  • Stacey wears sunglasses to spy on Robert at the mall. And Claudia is like, "take those glasses off, you look ridiculous." CLAUDIA.
  • Robert and Pete Black go see a romantic movie together. Maybe he's into Pete Black.
  • Abby goes overboard on this Mexican festival, spending the BSC's money and then her own, and insisting that the members pay her back. And then makes posters (with Caludia Butterfly in charge of spelling) without knowing where the festival will be held, and then tells the kids it's a race to finish the posters. She's really not cut out for this.
  • The New York part doesn't really get going until Chapter 9. Until then, it's just baby-sitting and paranoia.
  • Stacey and her dad have this long, awkward converation about her relationship with Robert while they're in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not only is it awkward to be talking about this stuff with your dad (especially since you still have anger at him over the divorce), but can you imagine what it must be like for the other people there?
  • Ethan, Stacey's soon-to-be beau, has deep blue eyes, long black hair, high cheekbones, a straight nose, and a wide mouth. Hot?
  • Claudia saw Robert kissing Andi - on the lips! Cue Saved by the Bell audience-style "ooooo-oooo"
  • For all of her sports experiences, Abby isn't really a team player, is she?
  • Stacey and Robert break up. He didn't want to do it earlier, because he wasn't sure about what was going with Andi and he didn't want to upset her. Real nice, Robert.
  • Stacey decides that she's sadder but wiser, and that she'll live. Yay.
Final Thought: Stacey's little headshot on the cover is really unfortunate. She's all jaw and teeth. Not that the cover picture does her any pictures, either.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Little Sister #34: Karen's Snow Day

Tagline: Hurray! No school today!

Cover: Karen, Hannie and Nancy build a snowman, and pretend his name is Parson Brown.

Plot!: Karen is obsessed with having a snow day. She listens to the radio every morning and makes a list of the perfect snow day activities. Meanwhile, Karen's stepbrothers Charlie and Sam have started snowblowing driveways, and they enlist Karen to drum up business. She goes overboard, of course, and when she does get a snow day she has to spend it helping out Charlie and Sam because they are overbooked, and she is too tired to do her activities. But that's okay, because the next day her school boiler is broken and school is closed, so the Three Musketeers have their snow day after all.

Points of Interest:
  • The book starts out with one of Kristy's Great IdeasTM: A reading party in the big house den. And all of the family shows up. Because Sam, Charlie, and even Nannie have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon. Is this really how big families act?
  • I think I might have mentioned this in the other Karen book that I blogged about, but I have no idea what the timeline is for when her parents split up. In this book, she says that she lived at the big house when she was younger than Andrew, who is four (in this book). Watson is already dating Elizabeth when Karen is six. Does she remember her parents together? Does Andrew?
  • One of Karen's annoying habbits is saying "Guess what" before she says something that's supposed to shock you (like she has a pet rat, or she and Ricky are pretend married).
  • Isn't Hannie pretend married, too? I thought something like that was mentioned once.
  • Karen gets really excited about inviting her teacher to dinner. I don't remember inviting my teachers to dinner, but I know at least one of my sister's teachers did.
  • So Charlie and Sam have a snowblower and want to start a snowclearing business, but they're nervous about calling up people and asking for work. And they agree to let Karen do it. Why wouldn't they ask Kristy, who has her own business? And is older than seven?
  • Then when Karen finds them more clients, they are all booked. But they don't think to tell Karen this, so she keeps on finding customers for them. Charlie and Sam KNOW what Karen is like - why wouldn't they say "Karen, thanks, that's enough?" Why are these books full of dumb misunderstandings because people don't communicate with each other?
  • The time span of Karen books can really vary, especially if it's a book with big-house weekends. In the early ones, a whole book could be about a day. This one spans about six weeks. Not like time matters anyway.
  • Karen gets to choose what she wants for dinner with Ms. Colman. She chooses a salad with artichoke hearts. When I was seven, I would have chosen something like hot dogs.
  • When they are expecting a blizzard, there's a mention of the events around Snowbound.
  • Just on a general note, snow days were pretty awesome. So was getting to go home early because of the weather.
  • When Charlie and Sam don't show up, the clients call Karen. I'm not sure why - why wouldn't they call Charlie and Sam? They're all practically neighbours of the Brewer/Thomas house. Also, even if they didn't know them, they would know she was Karen Brewer...did Karen give them her number?
  • Oh yeah, Karen lined up all of these new clients...and then didn't tell Charlie and Sam. So they're pissed, and they make the Three Musketeers come over and help them out, which ruins their snow day. Also, I'm surprised that Karen's mom lets her go over to the big house on a little house day.
  • Karen's snow day is ruined, and Ms. Colman has to cancel their dinner because of the snow. But then, because this is Karen and Karen always gets what she wants (including charging a manicure to her Dad's credit card in Baby-Sitters on Board), the next day her school is closed because of a boiler problem and Ms. Colman can come to dinner. Ugh.
  • The snowman on the cover's name is actually Dudley.
  • When she comes to dinner, Ms. Colman announces to these relative strangers that she is getting married: "That is why I have been so busy lately. The wedding will be several months from now. After the wedding I will go away for awhile for our honeymoon. But then I will come back to school. Oh, and my name will still be Ms. Colman." Well, thanks for clearing that up in the least realistic speaking manner possible.
Final Thought: Is it wrong that I was actually kind of disappointed when Karen got her snow day?

Monday, July 13, 2009

# 14: Hello, Mallory

Tagline: Why are the Baby-sitters making it so hard for Mallory to join their club?

Cover: Because the girls can be cliquey bitches when they want to be. This is Mallory's first book, and unlike Dawn and Abby, she gets to narrate a story before she's even officially in the club. By the way, I always say this title like Jerry's saying "Hello, Newman" in Seinfeld. Is that a cat on Claudia's shoulder? Oh, no, it's just her hair (but I could totally see Claudia wearing a stuffed cat on her shoulder, like a parrot). I think it's the Perkins girls that are on the cover with them - RoboToddler Gabbie and The Amazing Myriah.

Plot!: Stacey has just moved away back to New York, and the BSC is looking to replace her. They have already asked Mallory to consider joining, so this one picks up just before Mallory meets with them. They make her take a test, which she flunks because it's ridiculously hard, and observe her sitting, and Claudia makes her so nervous that that's a bust, too. So she quits before she even joins. While this is going on, a new student starts as MSS. It's Jessi Ramsay, and hold on to your hats, guys - she's black! She and Mallory bond over horse stories and feeling like outsiders, and even try their own baby-sitting club before the BSC comes crawling back, and they both join.

Points of Interest:
  • Claire Pike calls her parents Moozie and Daggles.
  • Okay, here's a new entry on the Mallory hair continuity: all of the Pikes have dark brown hair. Then why is Mallory sometimes a redhead?
  • While Mallory is baby-sitting, Nicky breaks his finger playing volleyball. I only mention it because it will be important later.
  • Mallory pictures the BSC members in their cool clothes: brightly coloured sweater dresses, sparkly tops, and tight pants. Hot.
  • Speaking of hot, Mallory wears a red jumper with MALLORY across the front (oh, please tell me that all the Pikes have clothes with their names on it), a short-sleeved white blouse, and white tights with hearts on them.
  • When Mallory gets to school, she sees Jessi for the first time, and of course she notices Jessi's loooooong legs, even though Jessi's probably wearing jeans or something. Also, she calls Jessi beautiful.
  • Proud moments in Stoneybrook history: the homeroom teacher doesn't ask Jessi to introduce herself, Benny Ott shoots rubber bands at Jessi, the English teacher pretends he doesn't see Benny Ott shooting rubber bands at Jessi, Sally (a sixth grade girl) says that Jessi doesn't belong here, Anita (another sixth grader) thinks that Jessi moved from Africa, and Sally (again) thinks that her real name Mobobwee.
  • When Mallory arrives at her first BSC meeting, both she and the BSC members act like they don't know her at all. They've been baby-sitting for the Pikes for ages! Mallory even went to Sea City with Mary Anne. This is dumb.
  • Mallory tells them about Nicky's accident, and the club reacts like Mallory just told them she spent the afternoon drowning animals in the toilet. They tell her they need responsible sitters - even though a kid was KIDNAPPED while Dawn was baby-sitting, the four originals ruined Jamie Newton's birthday party with their fighting, Logan's first job with Jackie Rodowsky was nothing BUT accidents, and Jenny Pereziosso had to go to the hospital while Mary Anne was sitting (which wasn't her fault, but neither was Nicky's finger).
  • Also, Dawn says that they need responsible sitters because they've had trouble in the past. But the whole Baby-Sitters Agency thing (that I think Dawn is talking about) happened BEFORE Dawn joined. Which would make the last full-time regular sitter who joined Dawn. Of all of them, I would think that Dawn would be the most sympathetic to Mallory.
  • The next day, Mallory dresses down and wears a shirt that says "I'd rather be writing my novel." I know it's casual and everything, but if you're trying to join this group, why would you advertise that you'd rather be doing something else?
  • Jessi's birthday is June 13th. Mark that on your calendars.
  • At this point, Mallory doesn't have braces yet. It's a wonder there wasn't a Very Special Episode about Mal's braces.
  • At one point (on a non-meeting day) Mr. Perkins calls Claudia to say that Mrs. Perkins has had a new baby (Laura Elizabeth). Apparently, the reason is to arrange some extra baby-sitting or something. But don't these people have adult friends? Why is he calling a 13-year old girl?
  • The BSC members give Mallory a ridiculous test based on things they read out of textbooks. One of the things was to draw a diagram of the digestive system. She should have turned it around on them and asked Claudia how to spell digestive system. Considering Claudia calls it the divestive system, I think Mallory would have a good case.
  • Mallory and Jessi bond over horse books. And their feelings of being outsiders. Because racism is totally the same as not being allowed to join the BSC.
  • According to Jessi's mom, Jessi is Squirt's second mother. Gah? She's 11! I get what she's trying to say, but it still seems weird.
  • When Jessi comes over to the Pikes, Claire almost asks if she's come to clean their house. Awkward.
  • Mallory and Jessi decide that to start their own sitting club: Kids Incorporated. They baby-sit AND sing songs:

  • Dawn is pleased that Mrs. Barrett has finally found a woman to help her with her cleaning. That...doesn't seem like any of Dawn's business.
  • Dawn wonders why, if Mrs. Pike needed a baby-sitter, she didn't call the BSC. Well, maybe because you were just pretty terrible to her daughter. And if the BSC thought that Mallory was old enough to sit, why wouldn't Mrs. Pike? And if Mallory was the co-sitter, why would the BSC want to co-sit with her? It seems like the question is, why would Mrs. Pike call the BSC?
  • On page 116, the BSC members FINALLY remember that Mallory helped out the mothers' helpers in Sea City and at their Summer Camp.
  • Before joining the club, Jessi says that she's afraid her blackness is going to be an issue. After THINKING ABOUT IT FOR AWHILE, the rest of the BSC says that if it is, they'll deal with it later. Seriously, they have to think about letting her join, because she's black. Who would have thought that only twenty years from then, the US would have Barack Obama as president.
  • On Mallory's do-over sitting job at the Newtons', Claudia sat down at the table and tried to look invisible. you do that? Close your eyes?
  • In the end, it's assumed that Mallory and Jessi join the club, partly because they're good sitters and partly because the club is desperate.
Final Thought: Racism is bad. But so is a jumper with your name on it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

#36: Jessi's Baby-sitter

Tagline: Jessi doesn't need a baby-sitter - she is one!

Cover: This one has been updated to show that we're not in the late 80's/early 90's anymore. Jessi is wearing a blue sweater with strange colours and patterns all over it. Her un-slouched socks make her loooooong dancer's legs look really kind of stumpy. Becca looks a bit like she was inspired by Ashley from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Aunt Cecelia looks...pretty much what she's supposed to look like. In the update, everyone's the same but Jessi: she has a new sweater, a new hairstyle, new socks, and a new expression. It's more "This is soooooo unfair" than the original book's "Die, bitch."

Plot!: There are some baby-sitters club books that make you want to throw them against the wall for one reason or another. A character does something that goes completely out of character, they do something improbable, there's a giant event that involves a lot of babysitting and/or some fun thing for their 'charges.' With this one, I just want to keep yelling "You're 11!" over and over, much like Luca in the BSC movie yells "Thirteen!" in the cab.

Anyway. Jessi is 11. Her mom decides to go back to work, so Aunt Cecelia moves in to help look after the children - because there are three children. And Jessi and Becca don't like it, so they play pranks on her and call her Aunt Dictator. Then finally they confront their parents and it all works out because the parents let Jessi go to her BSC meetings and tell Aunt Cecelia to lighten up. Meanwhile, Jessi helps Jackie Rodowsky make a volcano for his science fair project, but does it all for him, and it's pretty much a train wreck. Also, the Pike kids open up a library for a chapter.

Points of Interest:
  • Do 11 year olds really dance en pointe? Aren't they still growing?
  • When her Dad says that they have exciting news, Jessi thinks that her parents might be pregnant and is really thrilled. This has happened to at least Kristy, Dawn and Mary Anne. Really? Especially given the not-so-happy reaction Jessi had with Squirt in The Baby-Sitters Remember...but I guess that bit of history hasn't been written yet.
  • Do you think advertising is really a 9-5 type of job? I picture people pulling all-nighters, trying to meet deadlines and redoing copy and stuff. Then again, I also picture Mad Men, so I doubt that's what Jessi's Mom's new job is like.
  • Jessi's sign on the door:
    KEEP OUT (please)
    Who is her audience? Becca? Her parents? Squirt?
  • Jackie wants to make a volcano because he saw it on the Brady Bunch. As far as old tv references go, I will let this one go, because the Brady Bunch was airing all the time on stations like TBS around this time.
  • When Jessi and Jackie go to the library, Claudia's mom, the head librarian, is just hanging out there. She has a lot of desk hours for the head librarian - wouldn't she have a lot of meetings and committees and stuff? Maybe she's the head librarian because she's the only librarian. Anyway, she greets them with "What are you doing here?" Friendly.
  • Why would the BSC convince Jackie, the walking disaster, to build a volcano made of clay and glass? I'm all for encouraging him, but this seems kind of dangerous. When his mom comes home, she's all "Great, Jessi, why don't you help him with this instead of me? Good luck with that!"
  • The Pike kids opening up their own lending library. As far as Pike kid plots go, it's the kind of thing I can see a big family doing together, especially when they're fairly close in age like that. It wouldn't work so well in Kristy's family, for instance, with the age variance from Emily Michelle to Charlie. I could see Karen trying something like it, though, maybe with Hannie and Nancy. Anyway, it's only a chapter long, and it's kind of memorable, so long story short: this is the book with the lending library.
  • Jessi calls Aunt Cecelia "Aunt Dictator" because she dared to bring her own belongings when she moved into their house, she told the girls to get ready for bed, and she made them breakfast. That night, Jessi and Becca short-sheet her bed, fill her slippers with shaving cream, and put a spider on her pillow. Yeah, that's totally a fair response, and going to convince her parents that she should be in charge.
  • Okay, I have to take a time-out here to talk about Jessi's parents. Most of the trouble here could have been avoided if they had taken any time to talk to Aunt Cecelia about the new situation. They know Jessi is defensive about being a baby-sitter, so why wouldn't they start off by saying, "Cecelia, don't call yourself Jessi's baby-sitter." And one of the reasons that Aunt Cecelia is hard on Jessi is because of her baby-sitting schedule and not knowing where she is. Again, why wouldn't the parents set some ground rules? Talk about who's in charge, and privileges, and routines and stuff? All of this is covered at the end of the book, and it's true that Aunt Cecelia is a dominating personality, but really, if the Ramseys had thought about it for half a second, it wouldn't have been so stupid.
  • Mr. Ramsey has a secretary named Ed?
  • Charlotte does an experiment to see what music plants grow to best, and the winner is the plant that listened to Duran Duran. Awesome.
  • Jessi learns a valuable lesson from helping Jackie with his science project: volcanoes are almost always more trouble than they're worth.
  • Oh, BARF. Aunt Cecelia confesses that she's afraid she's not as good a baby-sitter as Jessi. GAH. This is just so dumb. She's already raised children!
  • Style alert! Mal has high-tops with beaded designs on the sides. Fresh.
  • David Michael's ribbon from the science fair is hanging over his bed. In Kristy's Big Day, the Thomases had a trophy table/wall in their house, and they wondered if they'd have one at Watson's. I guess not.
  • The BSC is really hard on Jessi about the whole Jackie fiasco. Yeah, she made a mistake, but AGAIN, she's 11. And the rest of the BSC did a variation on this in Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn, so, deal. When Jessi says that Jackie doesn't want her help next year, Kristy says "I don't blame him." Nice.
  • Foreshadowing! Mallory is worried about her dad's job (#39, Poor Mallory!) and Stacey tells Dr. Johanssen that her diabetes has been hard to control lately (#43, Stacey's Emergency)
Final Thought: Ads in the back of the book include the BSC board game, a t-shirt, a 1991 calendar, a contest to win a trip to New York in honour of the next Super Special (the answer is California), a 1990-91 School Planner and Date Book, an announcement of a winner of a previous contest, and BSC Videos. It really was quite a moneymaker, eh?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sidebar: New Acquisitions

A recent trip to Value Village unearthed some non-BSC BSC books, and I just couldn't say no:
  • Friends Forever #3: Mary Anne's Big Breakup
  • Friends Forever #4: Claudia and the Friendship Feud
  • Friends Forever #5: Kristy Power!
  • Little Sister #4: Karen's Kittycat Club
  • Little Sister #34: Karen's Snowy Day
  • Little Sister #70: Karen's Grandad
  • California Diaries #2 Sunny Diary One
  • California Diaries #3 Maggie Diary One
  • California Diaries #4 Amalia Diary One
  • California Diaries #9 Amalia Diary Two
  • The Kids in Ms. Colman's Class #1: Teacher's Pet
I'm most interested in the Friends Forever books, because it's directly related to the BSC. I've never read any of the Amalia Diaries, and I can take or leave the Little Sisters. And in this case, I took them.

There were a lot of BSC books there too, mostly early ones (below #10), and I left those. I did group them all together, though, just in case another intrepid BSC reader came along behind me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mystery #26: Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-Sitter

Tagline: Dawn's a detective in a baby-sitter!

Cover: Actually, Dawn's a baby-sitter...who just likes to snoop around in other people's business. And that's pretty evident in this cover. She's only vaguely paying attention to the kids, to make sure they don't see her going through their mothers' stuff. And it's not even like, looking at the desk to see what's out there...she's going through a little box of stuff! Unbelievable. Other than that, Dawn looks a little off but not as bad as some covers, and it looks like Hodges Soileau just skimmed through the book for the cover: portrait? check! red-haired kids? check! uncomfortable looking house? check!

Plot!: Dawn's in Stoneybrook for one of their many summers, but it's already coming to a close. Before she leaves, she takes a semi-regular job with a new family who are living in a mysterious mansion. The three Livingstone sisters are trying to solve a mystery in order to claim their inheritance, and of course the BSC has to get involved (because two of the sisters hire sitters to come and watch the kids while they're out doing...stuff? Solving the mystery? I don't know). So they do, not only solving the mystery but also repairing the broken family dynamic. Meanwhile, Dawn overbooks herself because that's what the plot demands of her, and she's finding it hard to say goodbye to everyone because Dawn is just so awesome everyone in the whole town wants a piece of her before she leaves. So she says goodbye in groups, and eventually moves the whole town with her heart. No, that's actually what the last line of the book: "Because I would be moving the whole town out there - in my heart."

Points of Interest:
  • As far as mysteries goes, this one at least makes sense, because there is a mystery but it's not ridiculous, in the sense that it could happen. What is ridiculous is that the BSC gets so involved in it and the family lets them, and also that the family hasn't already solved it.
  • I think I've touched on this before, but 'steady boyfriend' is one of those stock BSC phrases that I just don't get. What teenage girl uses that? It seems really out of date.
  • In terms of chronology, this one takes place just after the Super Special Aloha, Babysitters! But then at the end of the book, Kristy and her family go to Hawaii too, which I think is mentioned in the rest of the series. This is probably also the summer of Dawn and Too Many Sitters, the terrible experiment where Jeff and the Pike Triplets join the BSC.
  • "Mary Anne and Richard aren't above eating a steak once in a while, or ordering their pizza with extra pepperoni." Thanks, Dawn.
  • Dawn is using cosmetics that haven't been tested on animals: "After all, why should some fluffy little bunny suffer so I can be beautiful?"
  • Both Erica Blumberg and Emily Bernstein make plans with Dawn to do stuff before she leaves. I didn't know they were this close. Dawn didn't really have a chance to make other friends before she was taken in by the Cult of the BSC, and since then she's only really socialized with them. I know they're friendly, but Dawn starts blowing plans with like, Mary Anne to accomodate these people? This is a stupid plot-driven plot.
  • For the Chapter Two set up, Dawn takes "memory pictures" of the club. But Mallory and Jessi have to share one - they don't even rate their own memories!
  • The BSC goes against the wishes of the Livingstone sisters (now Mrs. Keats and Mrs. Cornell) and bring their children to play together. In addition to having a reputation for being good sitters, the BSC should have a reputation for being enormous buttinskis.
  • Okay, this was when I almost threw the book down in disgust. Dawn, in planning all of her 'before I leave' stuff, made plans to go to the pool complex with Matt and Haley Braddock. Not as a baby-sitter...just...because. What? I mean, I guess it's no different than Claudia going to the museum with Corrie Addison and the Arnold twins, but's just such a different mindset from the one I have.
  • Also, in order to facilitate this "Dawn is just too popular for her own good" plot, she also overbooks herself, forgets appointments, and in general acts very unlike the regular orderly, organized Dawn. She acts a lot like her mom does with keys and shoes.
  • Ugh. At one point, Dawn sees a check signed by A. Livingstone and immediately assumes that Arthur Livingstone, the dead man, is alive. Rather than thinking that it was signed by Amy Livingstone, who is still alive. OR it was a post-dated cheque. This book is full of "red herrings."
  • Each sister got a clue from Arthur Livingstone that would help them find the treasure. The clues are: "The first is always the most important," "The signature tells all," and "I didn't do it, I was _______." The first two are kind of obscure, but doesn't the third one give it away? What else could it be? Set up? Innocent? In Europe at the time?
  • Oh, and the butler is really their brother. Their father had told them he was dead, but Amy was in touch with him the whole time. That is really messed up. But then later, Mrs. Keats says that she wanted to find him but the father said to forget about him. So...huh?
  • Anyway, the mystery is solved, because the answer is behind a really ugly portrait of Mr. Livingstone. And they decide to split the estate four ways. Hurrah.
  • Yawn. Another BSC party for the charges.
  • On page 122 it says that Jamie Newton ate three cupcakes and then asked Dawn to marry him (heh, he was sugar-drunk!), but on page 123, it says Claudia matched Nicky by eating three cupcakes. Which is it?
  • At Dawn's party for her friends, it's BSC members, Emily Bernstein, and Mari Drabek. Who?
  • OMG! The BSC members skip their meeting because they're at Dawn's, partying. You know that shit would not happen if Kristy was not in Hawaii with her family.
  • OMG II! Dawn eats some Ben & Jerry's ice cream and does not lecture about sugar content or having teeth when she's 90.
  • The next day she has Family Day, where the Schafer-Spiers do things like: eat breakfast! eat lunch! and eat dinner! Pretty wild.
Final Thought: This is the last book narrated by Dawn in the BSC series. Farewell, Dawn.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

#50: Dawn's Big Date

Happy Canada Day! Sadly, The BSC Wiki isn't giving me many Canada references...I think Lisa and Seth Engle go to Nova Scotia or something once, and Pierre D'Amboise is almost from Canada, which sort of counts. Anyway. Since there's nothing else, let's continue on (redundant!) with another book:
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Tagline: Is Dawn's date a total disaster?

Cover: In a word...yes. Dawn looks okay but not at all California Casual, or denimy, which is how we know she's not herself. Mary Anne is rocking the soon-to-be soccer mom look, which goes nicely with Logan's ken doll blandness. Lewis, his cousin and Dawn's date, is glaring at Dawn, which seems kind of rude, and I hope it was just a glance and not how he spent the whole movie. The background looks really kind of creepy - lots of blurry faces, one that looks kind of like Dustin Hoffman, a girl over Logan's shoulder that is totally staring at the foursome, and lots of old-fashioned haircuts.

Plot!: Dawn's been writing to Lewis, Logan's cousin, and they kind of like each other. He comes to town, and Dawn gets nervous, so she decides to completely change her personality. Nobody likes it, so she changes back, they start over, and they get along okay. In subplot land, Norman Hill is fat, and the baby-sitters try to get him to drink water and not down entire bags of cookies. Which they do, by telling him to pretend that he's a toilet. Garbage in, garbage out.

Points of Interest:
  • Okay, I have to make a confession: I like tofu. It's true, I do. I also eat meat (I'm eating a hamburger as I write this, so take that, Dawn), but I really enjoy tofu. I starting eating it while I was at school, in the residence dining hall, and it was in food and I didn't really know it, but I liked the texture and the taste. I guess that makes me a weirdo like Dawn.
  • Having said all that, I still would not serve tofu apple nut loaf or soybean pie at a party.
  • Dawn on hot dogs: yick! Okay, this is like the third time it's come up: who says yick? I don't think I've ever said it. Yuck, ick, yes. Come on, ghostwriters!
  • They're planning for a New Year's Eve party. I love the whole Christmas season. I can't even snark on this one too much...okay, that's a lie, because this one is totally snarkable, but I am having a general good feeling as I'm reading it just because I love the Christmas season so much.
  • Wait. The BSC is having a New Year's Eve party? No one in Stoneybrook needed a sitter for New Year's Eve? Not even their own families? What?
  • Here's the Dawn we all "love": Other girls are always saying I should be a model or an actress. They say, "Oh, I wish I had your silky hair." Or, "I'd die to have your skin." (They might have good hair and skin if they didn't eat so much junk food.) Enough people have told me I'm pretty, so I should believe it.
  • Kristy is tense because Mary Anne and Dawn are late to the meeting. Dawn says that she's also jealous of Dawn because of her friendship/step-sistership with Mary Anne. I wish that had been a bit more explored in the series.
  • Jessi eats caramel-covered popcorn? What about being a fat ballerina?
  • Dawn puts up a cardboard New Year's Baby with a banner that says 1979, because she's just that offbeat. Also: why do they have a cardboard New Year's Baby with a banner that says 1979? I doubt it's Richard's, and if it's Sharon's, that means that she moved it all across the country. Maybe it has sentimental this book, it's 1992, so Dawn would have been born in 1979(ish). Aaaaand now I've officially given too much thought to a throwaway detail.
  • Would a vegetarian eat caviar? That's what Watson and Elizabeth send to Richard and Sharon.
  • Stacey wore a form-fitting purple dress. To a sleepover.
  • Claudia thinks that Arthur Feingold has gorgeous hair. Mallory thinks that Ben Hobart has an adorable nose.
  • Dawn doesn't have much to add to the conversation, because no boy has made her go crazy. Well, except for Travis. I think Dawn should start paying more attention to this whole 'change herself for a guy' pattern.
  • At midnight, the BSC decides to call boys. Claudia calls the mysterious Arthur Feingold, Stacey calls Pete Black, Kristy calls Bart, and Mary Anne calls Logan. Dawn hangs out near the finger foods with Mallory and Jessi.
  • Ugh. Dawn's resolution is to be more attractive to boys. It's almost as bad as Mary Anne, who resolves to be more outgoing so that Logan will be happier. Everyone else makes resolutions based on what they want, but these two frame it in this terrible way. I hate this book.
  • Reading this now, it's almost like Norman Hill is doing something dirty in his room...and then it turns out to be eating cupcakes.
  • If the parents really want Norman to lose weight, why do they have all of this junk food in the house? And why do they have to go to such an extreme, cooking with kale and okra? Why can't they just eat like, lettuce and vegetables and lean meats and stuff? This doesn't make sense.
  • So not only does Dawn totally change her appearance, she also starts acting like a jerk and starts dumbening herself down. Double ugh.
  • Ooooh. She's blowing bubbles during the BSC meeting...she's such a badass!
  • None of the BSC members like her makeover (except Mary Anne). Big surprise! These girls hate everything that isn't part of the same old box they're all in.
  • Dawn decides to dress like Avril Lavigne to pick up Lewis: she wears black ballet slippers, black lace capris, a short metallic silver skirt with crinoliny stuff, a stretchy tight, black and white striped top, six bangle bracelets, feather earrings, and hoop earrings.
  • Mary Anne is totally acting like Dawn's pimp, getting her a makeover, telling her to be more talkative, giving her conversation tips.
  • Oh my Lord. On their double date, they go see Gone with the Wind. Just like every ordinary 13-year old wants to go see. Nothing is more romantic than the Civil War.
  • There's a big spoiler in here about GWTW, too. Strange.
  • OMG! Dawn realizes, after a big fight with Mary Anne, that Lewis just likes her for who she is! Makeup and sweatpant-skirts are evil!
  • BUT Dawn acts like this is all Mary Anne's fault, because Mary Anne didn't bow down before the altar of Dawn and say stuff like, "On no, Dawn, you're too gorgeous to change! You're special and magical and beautiful and you should never do anything differently." Barf.

Final thought: Something that is covered in cheese sauce doesn't really sound that healthy. Food can be made of vegetables and cheese and still not be healthy, DAWN.