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?


nikki said...

I've always thought that Becca looks like Ashley from FPoBA on this cover! Also, she looks a little pregnant.

The Luca "Thirteen!" scene from the BSC movie is one of the truly, genuinely funny moments from that otherwise dull and boring movie.

Horrible book,this one!

nikki said...

Also. Love your blog. I just added you to my blogroll..