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
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.
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."