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.


Sadako said...

I remember that awful, awful jumper. So hideous.

But not as bad as her I <3 Kids shirt.

nikki said...

Well, fuck. I just bought this book to review on my blog and finally getting around to posting my Mallory essay. You beat me to it.

Lucky for me, I'm ass-deep in books so Mallory and her nitwitedness can be put on the back burner for a mo'.

LAK said...

Wouldn't the BSC Journal have mentioned Mallory helping out once or twice? Jeez, for 116 pages no one thought of reviewing that thing???

Caroline from Sheep Are In said...

Yeah, Sadako, even though Claudia gets most of the attention there's enough questionable fashion in the books to go around.

Sorry, Nikki! This was a last minute decision, mostly because I just couldn't face "Mallory on Strike" and I couldn't find the one about the Arnold twins.

Seriously, LAK. There's so much foreshadowing in the books about Mal joining the BSC that this one just seems needlessly complicated.