Monday, August 31, 2009

#59: Mallory Hates Boys (And Gym)

Tagline: Boys and gym. What a disgusting combination!

Cover: Mallory doesn't actually look too bad, as far as covers go. The uniform isn't hideous, and it's baggy, but I remember when that was in. The guys come off less favourably. Who likes short shorts? That guy out in front likes short shorts. The guy in the back is rocking some sort of mullet, and the guy in the back is oddly proportioned.

Plot: Mallory is having trouble with gym class. It's gone co-ed, and she doesn't get along with her gym teacher, and it's all a big mess. But then it turns out that she's good at archery, so everything works out in the end. Meanwhile, all the guys she knows, including her brothers and the guys in her gym class, are acting like jerks.

Points to consider:
  • Mallory just read about the word 'pandemonium,' and now she has a chance to use it in her daily life! Imagine that!
  • The rest of the Pikes turn this word into a game: Nicky thinks it's a disease, Claire thinks it's a panda, Vanessa thinks it sounds like dishwashing detergent.
  • We get another 'Byron-is-different' reminder.
  • Mrs. Pike asks Mallory to watch Claire while she makes some phone calls. Mallory kind of overreacts and gives us a speech about how her parents take advantage of her. She practically tells her mom to ask her during BSC hours. Also, does Mrs. Pike really need to arrange for care for Claire while she makes some phone calls? Couldn't she just like, I don't know, suggest Claire and Margo play together for while? Or set Claire up with a puzzle or something? It must be an important phone call.
  • Ben is totally Mark Darcy - he like Mallory just as she is.
  • Mallory's brothers start pulling pranks and stuff, so they go over to Ben's house, where she eats his chocolate cake. Dirty?
  • For once, Mallory points out that she and Kristy have the same amount of people in their families but she gets to live in a mansion. Work that indignation, Mallory!
  • Logan's mom calls to get a sitter from the BSC, and ends up with...Logan.
  • Mallory wears a one-piece denim jumpsuit to school.
  • I hated gym, so I kind of sympathize with Mallory. Kind of.
  • Heh. On her way to join her team, she suddenly becomes really aware of her arms, and isn't sure how to move them. Do you think 30 Rock writers were secret BSC fans?
  • By the end of Chapter 3, we have our central theme set up: Mallory hates boys. And gym.
  • Mrs. Newton gets her hair highlighted.
  • Mallory gets into a battle of wits with Jamie Newton. And loses. Poor Mallory!
  • Between gym class and babysitting, Mallory starts thinking that all boys are pains. And that's enough for her to come up with a theory - boys are pains.
  • I hated gym, but I was really good in volleyball. At least at an elementary grade level.
  • At least Mallory has the presence to realize that in the big picture, none of this matters.
  • At the next game, Mallory benches herself and refuses to play. So she gets detention. Why don't these girls ever TALK to anyone about their problems? I mean, not that it would do any good in this case, but at least it would mean that she would stop coming up with ridiculous plans.
  • After acknowledging that Ben, the rest of the Hobarts, and Logan aren't jerks like the rest of the guys she knows, Mallory decides that only guys native to Stoneybrook are pains. But what about Logan's brother? He was described as being a pain, too. This theory has flaws.
  • And then she decides to blame it all on gym. Does Mallory have this poor of a grip on reality in all of the books she narrates?
  • Mallory commits mail fraud when the detention notices start coming to her house; she hids them from her parents.
  • Ms. Walden, the gym teacher, tries to talk to Mallory about her problem with gym, but Mallory decides she'd rather take detention. So Ms. Walden has Mallory wash all of the pinneys. And that's what I remember most from this book.
  • Stacey comes up with a mathematical way to say that Mallory's theory is full of crap.
  • People are always shooting people a Look in these books. What's with the random capitalization?
  • The Pike boys and the Hobart boys (minus Ben) switch places, and Mallory thinks that she'll have a night of peace and quiet. Instead, the boys act wild. There goes your theory, Mal! I can't believe there was a whole book about this.
  • While over at the Hobarts, Adam discussed the plight of the Zuni people (no, those are not my words), Byron talked about the Pike lending library, and Jordan played piano, and Nicky loved Mr. Hobart's slideshow of Australia. I wish we'd seen those chapters.
  • Mallory goes to Ms. Walden and asks for extra help in gym. Ms. Walden shoots her down, because she doesn't want to take anyone out of the game. Why would it be during gym class, though? Couldn't it be like, after school? Couldn't someone like Kristy do it?
  • Volleyball is over about one class after Mal and Ms. Walden talk. Then it's archery. In the first class, one guy gets his finger sliced open by an arrow...and Mal says she can sympathize, because she's had a paper cut. Uh, what?
  • SMS has an archery team?
  • Anyway, Mallory tries out for it and makes it, and when she gets home the Pikes have a cake for her and it says CONGRADULATIONS. And that messed me up on spelling it for a long time.
Final thought: Despite having a lot of the Hobarts, there is a remarkable lack of "Australian" talking (where the writers try to spell out "roit" or "Hoi Melry."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Portrait Collection: Abby's Book

Tagline: None. It's Portrait Collection book!

Cover: Coincidence that the cover is done in blue and red? Probably, even though that turns out to be significant later in the book. I think the picture of Abby is taken from the Welcome to the BSC, Abby! cover. Oh, wait, no, it's just looks like it was inspired by that. There are some things on here that we know are associated with Abby (the soccer ball, Aretha, Kleenex for her allergies) plus some new things, like a harmonica (I think we know this belonged to her dad), a party noisemaker, a fortune cookie, and crocodile. So let the retconning begin!

Plot!: Abby goes through the 8th Grade SMS rite of passage and writes her autobiography. Her story includes growing up as a twin, her father's death, a vacation with her mom and sister, and moving to Stoneybrook.

Points of Interest:
  • Abby's alarm wakes her up at 8, and the radio is playing commercials. Assuming her clock is set to the correct time (mine is always fast on purpose), why would the radio be ENDING a set of songs at the hour? And it's for commercials, not like, the news.
  • Abby calls her autobiography Me, Myself and I: The Autobiography of Abigail Stevenson.
  • The twins were born about a month early, and their dad almost missed their birth (he was at a meeting in Chicago), arriving just in time to see Anna born. Abby was born 8 minutes later.
  • All of the pictures of Abby in this book are totally fug, which is sadbecause usuallyAbby looks kind of good on the covers.
  • One day at the mall they meet another set of twins, but these girls are really old women and they still dress alike and live next to each other. It sounds terrifying.
  • Did Abby ever sit for the Arnold twins?
  • When Abby and Anna start school, they are in a class where people are unable to tell them apart. The teacher remains remarkably out of touch and suggests that one twin be in red, and the other dress all in blue. This doesn't work at all, as instead of being called "Abby-Anna" they are now called Red and Blue. They switch places/colours one day, and the teacher has no idea. That seems...kind of unsafe.
  • That's also a day when their Dad comes to school, and he doesn't appear to notice the switch, calling Abby "Anna." Abby is rocked to her very core, but it turns out that he was only playing along with them, and of course he can tell them apart. Whew. I think I saw a variation of this plot on an old episode of Full House once.
  • Also, this whole "Abby-Anna" /switching places stuff is very reminiscent of Mallory and the Trouble With Twins.
  • The part where Abby's dad dies is a lot like "With You and Without You" , except without the horrible advance notice of knowing someone is going to die. I mean, I guess in general it's good to have the chance to say goodbye and put your affairs in order, but it's all just so sad.
  • Also with added Jewish elements like shiva.
  • Their mom starts withdrawing from the world, not paying attention to what Abby and Anna are doing or eating. It's very sad.
  • A while later they go on a trip to Sanibel, in Florida, over New Year's, for a supposed family vacation, but they spend it all separately, and the mom works all the time. This sounds kind of like a retread of Stacey's issues with her father. Maybe Ed McGill and Rachel Stevenson should have hooked up.
  • The family decides to start new traditions to makeup for the ones that they don't want to do now that their dad/husband has died.
  • After getting back from the trip, Abby's mom starts working on a mysterious project with a renewed zeal. It turns out to be a move to Stoneybrook! Hurrah!
  • There's a picture of their new Stoneybrook mansion. It looks to be the size of a large airplane hangar. Seriously - I get wanting to move to a good neighbourhood, but why would they choose a house that had five bedrooms? Maybe they're planning for when the grandparents will move in with them.
  • Their Mom goes through a real pitching fit before they move - none of the furniture from their old place makes the move, and a lot of stuff is given away. It's a wonder that the box of stuff of their father's that they discover in Welcome to the BSC, Abby!.
  • Abby recounts the story of how they moved in but had no water or power, so moved in with the Brewer-Thomases for the night. Do you think she really picked up on the fact that Kristy liked Anna better or is that just someone trying to work in Kristy and the Dirty Diapers? I think Abby probably knew, she has terrible puns but she does seem to have an understanding of the situation.
  • Abby's teacher is named Ms. Belcher. What an unfortunate name for a teacher who works with adolescents.
  • Also, Ms. B. has personalized stationary from SMS. Really? That seems likes like something that could be cut from a public school's budget. Maybe it belongs at a fancy place like Stoneybrook Day or Stoneybrook Academy.
  • Abby gets an A-on her autobiography, which she wrote in a weekend. I think she is going to be just fine at university.
Final thought: I have very few Abby books to recap, so that's why I broke out the Portrait collections. I'm not the biggest fan of these books, because, like The Baby-Sitters Remember, they have a way of going back and making up history that usually works contrary to what they've already told us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#44: Dawn and the Big Sleepover

Tagline: This was going to be one long night!

Cover: Why the past tense tag line? I have no idea. I've always thought that the curves in Dawn's turtleneck make her look oddly well-developed. I have no idea who any of the kids are supposed to be, except one boy has red hair, so it might be Jackie Rodowsky. I've also always thought that the girl in front had hair that did not match her colouring at all.

Plot!: The Stoneybrook Elementary School kids have Zuni pen pals, kids from a school in New Mexico. Then the Zuni school burns down, and they don't know what to do to help. So Dawn suggests a giant sleepover, that the BSC runs, of course. And it saves the day, or something.

Points to Consider:
  • I never had a penpal. Once we randomly wrote to elementary schools as a class project, but no one wrote me back.
  • The penpals send their school pictures to the Stoneybrook kids. Adam is disappointed because his penpal, Conrad, doesn't look enough like an "Indian." He expected warpaint and headdresses.
  • Byron is crushed because Jordan used pig latin - their secret language! - with his penpal.
  • Dawn is practically gushing over Mal, saying how smart and creative and uh, practical she is.
  • You might be shocked: Sharon Porter Schafer Spier is NOT Julia Child.
  • Dawn wants a Zuni pen pal, but she doesn't have one, so she's sad. Then Mary Anne suggests writing to the elementary school and asking about a middle school writing exchange, and Dawn reacts like it's the greatest idea in the history of the world. No, Dawn, just the most obvious.
  • No, Dawn. Orange stirrup pants do not look "totally cool" on ANYBODY.
  • But wait. Dawn, who was so upset that she didn't have a penpal that Mary Anne immediately started asking her what was wrong, then "sort of forgot about it."
  • Claudia is dressed like Pebbles Flinstone.
  • Maybe it's just the books I've been reading lately, but there are an awful lot of times when some of the girls are at a meeting and they start giggling about something and then someone walks in and says "What's so funny?" and they all start laughing again, usually with food in their mouth. It's just so FUN being a member of the BSC.
  • The Zuni school was destroyed in a fire. It was next to a gas station and it exploded and the fire spread.
  • Dawn tells Richard and Sharon about the fire. Richard's reaction: "Maybe they didn't have a good sprinkler system." If this was a fire at a GAS STATION, I don't know what a sprinkler system could have done...?
  • Ugh. There's this whole thing where Dawn talks about how poor the Zunis are, but still noble. It probably is coming from a genuine place, but the writing in this section is just cringeworthy.
  • Mary Anne is reading Tiger Eyes. Maybe there should be a new blog, in addition to What Claudia Wore - What the Baby-Sitters Read.
  • Why is Claudia always put in charge of sign making?
  • Charlotte is nervous about her house burning down, especially because she doesn't have an aunt to move in with like her pen pal did. She asks Stacey if she could live with her if her house burned down, and Stacey does this weird, "uh, well, that's, uh, that's really unlikely..." Come on, Stacey! She's your almost sister!
  • This books is really boring, and quite a downer.
  • Aparently, Ray Stuckey is the class clown in Dawn's homeroom class. He makes fun of Dawn for not answering her name, and then bitches that the BSC gets excused to go to SES for an assembly. So Dawn says, "Eat your heart out, Ray." Ooooh, that's like, the worst thing a teen can say to another teen. Um, what?
  • Wow...the school secretary has a computer! That's something I was not expecting.
  • Ah, the days when some random adult could just drive students off-campus without a handful of permission slips.
  • Woman-in-a-position-of-power alert: The SES principal is a woman.
  • Everyone acts like Dawn is the second coming for thinking up this great idea, but NOBODY is saying that the emperor has no clothes. Dawn's great idea was a vague "let's do something to send them food and clothes and money." ZOMG - that's...exactly what everyone does when there's a crisis.
  • There are also Make Way for Ducklings and Freddy the Pig mentions.
  • The Pikes have a carnival to raise money. The Rodowskys have a yard sale. Both times, BSC members are in charge of it. Where are these people's parents? Is there some kind of underground swingers club that they're all part of? Where's that fanfic?
  • Kids start donating things that belong to their parents, without asking permission, like book sets, lamps, and fancy suits. Maybe if the parents paid attention once in awhile this wouldn't happen! (Don't worry - I'm not down on all parents. Just the Stoneybrook ones).
  • Alan Gray apparently has a crush on Kristy. Remember that for when we get to Claudia and the Disaster Date.
  • It's a big deal that the pizza place doesn't have flour, so they almost have to cancel the order, but then the pizza guy decides to make them with whole wheat flour. I guess that was a big deal back then...?
  • One of the songs that they play at the sleepover is "Who built the ark? Noah! Noah!" which is strangely religious for a public elementary school sleepover.
  • A second Robert McCloskey book is mentioned - what are you doing, Lerangis?
  • Ms. Besser asks the BSC to stay exactly the same age for a few years (until she has kids to be babysat). Hahahah...ha.
  • I don't even want to think of how much it cost to send all of this stuff to the Zunis. Oh, remember the Zunis? The ones whose school burned down? Yeah, we didn't hear too much about them in the middle of the book, as the BSC managed to turn someone else's tragedy into something that was all. about. them.
Final thought: Even though like, no one is voting for more Karen/Little Sister recaps, there will definitely be more coming up, because they're shorter and easier to get through. So y'all have that to look forward to.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friends Forever #8: Mary Anne's Revenge

Tagline: Look out, Cokie!

Cover: These photograph covers have been growing on me. This one is someone I could buy as being Mary Anne, except for the long hair (cutting off her hair was one of Mary Anne's most awesome moments and Mary Anne's Makeover is one of my favourites).

Plot!: Mary Anne has broken up with Logan, and she's starting to move on. But Cokie (who is the yearbook editor, and Mary Anne works on features or something) has it in for her, over Logan, I guess, and starts these horrible rumours about Mary Anne being desperate and throwing herself at Logan. Mary Anne stands up to Cokie, and decides to be a new, improved Mary Anne. Also, she and her father have been clashing, because of the fire and the aftermath, but Sharon helps them work it out.

Points of Interest:
  • Mary Anne is having nightmares about the fire, experiencing that night over and over and waking up convinced that she's IN the fire. That is horrible.
  • Mary Anne thinks that Cokie is lacking in kindness and decency. Burn!
  • Rick Chow is the other editor on the yearbook, and Abby and Austin Bentley are working the features with Mary Anne.
  • Cokie plans to have an expanded "Best and Most" section, the part where people vote for the most likely to whatever. Mary Anne objects, because she wants the space used in other ways. Cokie then turns on her and says she's just upset that she and Logan won't be able to win Best Couple.
  • Oooh, Mary Anne's dad buys her a bed, and she's upset because she couldn't pick it out, and Richard offers to return it, but she says 'whatever.' Ooh!
  • I'm still a little shaky in my Friends Forever chronology. Stacey and Claudia suggest each other for flattering categories, like Most Beautiful and Most Stylish and Most Artistic, so they must be on friendly terms. Which is good, because reading the books where they're fighting is not fun.
  • At one point, Logan comes into the yearbook office to drop off some pictures, and Cokie throws herself at him. After they leave, Mary Anne and Abby proceed to disect some of the situation, and Austin Bentley is like, "Uh, do you want me to leave?" It's actually kind of funny.
  • Mary Anne gets upset that people treat her like she's an invisible pushover, so she takes it out on Kristy, instead of Cokie. Which...fine. But this is nothing new. It's come up over and over and over. It's why Mary Anne and Logan broke up the first time. It came up in Mary Anne's Makeover. It even dates back to the fourth book. And each time she realizes that she can speak up and still be herself...and then apparently forgets it. I think that's why I found this book so boring: it's stuff we've all seen before. And even the 'Cokie is mean to Mary Anne and then gets a comeuppance.' Been there, done that.
  • While they're at the movies, Mary Anne and Kristy have a weird conversation about old TV shows being turned into lame movies. What about classic 80s/90s book series? (I kid. The BSC movie is a total fondue of delicious cheese).
  • Mary Anne and her father have an out-and-out shouting match in front of an historical house tour...or something. This at least is a bit more organic, since we haven't really revisited the Mary Anne/Richard personality dynamic since the first few books of the series.
  • After overhearing Richard and Sharon discussing her and him calling her his little girl, Mary Anne announces to herself that she's "nobody's little girl." This book could have gone in a COMPLETELY different direction.
  • Cokie starts a rumour that Mary Anne begged Logan to take her back, but he said no, so she sent him a bazillion emails and desperate messages. Is Logan...really worth all this? By this point in the series he's been portrayed as a controlling dick. Cokie can have him.
  • Also, I'm still shocked that there is email in the BSC universe.
  • Mary Anne and Kristy come up with a bunch of lame ways to get revenge on Cokie. I'm not even going to write about them, they're so lame.
  • Logan and Mary Anne talk about the rumour, and he confesses that he is sort of interested in Dorianne Wallingford. Wasn't she into Pete Black or something, when Stacey was into him? What is with it with Dorianne and the BSC's sloppy seconds?
  • I'm cringing. Mary Anne tells Cokie, "When they were handing out awful, you were the first in line." I'm cringing! It's so terrible.
  • Mary Anne, Austin and Abby count the ballots, and Cokie wins everything. Then they realize that their ballots are missing, and that the election was tampered with. They go to Mr. Fiske with their suspicions about it, and there's a new election called. Because the sacred offices of Best and Most require this much scrutiny.
  • Wasn't there a Dawson's Creek plot about someone rigging the Best Couple election, and Joey and Dawson won when Joey and Pacey were really the couple? or something? Oh my god, I can't believe it's been over ten years since I first watched that show.
  • Mary Anne joins forces with Cary Retlin in case she seriously needs to wreak havoc over Cokie. As bored as I was by this book, I was really intrigued by this development. I've only read a few books with him in it (Kristy Power and Kristy in Charge are the main ones), but I've really enjoyed him as a character, mostly because he messes with the BSC. I've always seen him as a foil for Kristy, but I actually like him paired with Mary Anne. It's classic good girl/bad boy stuff. Mary Anne and Cary fan fic, please!
  • Oh, and he gives her a back-up plan: fill out magazine subscription cards with Cokie's address, and hold onto them in case she does something mean, I guess. It's a secret weapon to build up Mary Anne's confidence.
  • Mary Anne stays at Kristy's past curfew, and when she gets home Richard explodes at her. He grounds her - but Cokie's party is that weekend, and Cokie's already announced that she bets Mary Anne won't show up.
  • Continuity! Kristy recalls the time that she snuck (or sneaked? Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls flashback!) out of the house to go to the softball iniation thing in Kristy and the Copycat. Whoever wrote the Friends Forever books was way up on their continuity - such as it can be in a series that has approximately 37 summer vacations.
  • Mary Anne considers going out her second floor window by climbing a tree. I find that is highly unlikely, because there's no way that Mary Anne (Mary Anne!) hasn't seen Pollyanna.
  • Abby drinks Mountain Dew.
  • Mary Anne and Cary dance at Cokie's party. I'm almost squeeing with excitement over this non-couple.
  • Cokie baits Mary Anne, so she gets up and calls Cokie a bad person with an ugly heart. Or something.
  • When Mary Anne gets home, she is caught by Richard and Sharon sneaking back into the house. Sharon helps them both realize that neither one can sleep, both are haunted by the fire, and both of them are hurting. Then she tells them that they don't have to do it alone anymore - it's not just the two of them, it's her, too. And it's actually a really nice part.
  • Mary Anne decides that she's not the new Vengeful Mary Anne, and she's not the old Pushover Mary Anne, but she has changed, and she's a girl who can stand her ground. Yawn.
  • And now, because you've waited so patiently, here are the winners of the Best and Most:
    Claudia wins Best Artist
    Abby and Logan win Best Female/Male Athlete
    Cary and Alan tied for Wittiest
    Emily Bernstein wins Most Likely to Succeed and Most Intelligent
    Kristy won Most Likely to be Elected President
    Stacey wins Most Likely to be Seen in Beverly Hills
Final Thoughts: Seriously, why am I so into Cary/Mary Anne?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#33: Claudia and the Great Search

Tagline: Claudia thinks she's adopted, and no one understands.

Cover: I guess that it's like, a rule that practically every cover has to feature baby sitting of some kind, because instead of actually showing Claudia and the Great Search, it's showing her with Emily Michelle. I don't understand why the Brewers would take a couch and place a chair and table in front of it, but I guess when you're rich and you live in - get this - a mansion, you can afford to have impractical furniture. Claudia is rocking a top-pony, but other than that she doesn't look too wild. Big surprise.

Plot!: Claudia starts to believe that she was adopted, and when she can't find any evidence that proves she wasn't, she decides that she was. She looks for her 'birth parents,' but when she tells her parents what she's discovered it turns out she wasn't adopted after all. Meanwhile, she's been helping Emily Michelle with shapes and colours and stuff, because she knows how it is to be behind everyone in terms of learning. Or something. And in minor subplot land, the Papadakis' grandfather has hurt himself so Kristy has a regular job there.

Points of Interest:
  • Claudia thinks that Peaches and Russ can't have kids. That kind of makes her later miscarriage even sadder.
  • I don't understand Janine's taking community college courses while she's still in high school. Do those count as, like, real college courses? So, theoretically, she could get her degree really soon after finishing high school? Huh. I wonder where Janine really would go to school.
  • Claudia gets to leave early because Janine is getting a prestigious award...on a Monday afternoon. Oookay.
  • Claudia gets really snarky about Janine's friends, wondering if they get dressed in the morning by closing their eyes and reaching into their closet. Which I'm sure many people think that about her. Also, she gets huffy because they're wearing checks with plaids, and I'm SURE there's one time where she says something about how she likes to break fashion rules like that. Gah. Claudia was never one of my favourite characters.
  • Claudia says that Kristy has never missed a meeting, which is a total lie, because Kristy missed one when Louie was sick.
  • Kristy says that she has news about Emily Michelle, and Claudia says that they try to keep each other up to date on the kids they sit for. Okay, except it's Kristy's FREAKING SISTER. Why are these girls all so coldly detached?
  • Apparently "me" (pronounced "meh") is Vietnamese for Mommy.
  • If Claudia had $250 (Janine's award money amount), she would run to Bellair's Department Store and buy a Day-Glo green sweater with charms knitted into it. I think it's a good thing she does not have the $250.00.
  • Instead, Janine thinks that she'll put the money towards college. She'd better invest it well, because otherwise $250 will cover about the cost of highlighters for her textbooks.
  • Claudia decides that she's adopted because there are no baby pictures of her, just her, alone.
  • Claudia discovers that her mom is certified to teach school in Connecticut.
  • Ugh. Claudia discovers a locked box in her parents' room, and just knows that her adoption papers are in there, and that's why her parents don't love her as much as Janine. Ugh.
  • Sam and Charlie went to a play at the high school. Really?
  • David Michael has a cold, so he talks just like Abby and Hunter Bruno when they have allergies.
  • OH my Lord. Claudia tells Stacey that she thinks she's adopted, and Stacey's advice? Seach for her birth parents. Not anything reasonable, like talk to your parents.
  • Argh. Dawn gets upset when Emily Michelle puts something in her mouth, and then starts to compare her to other kids they know, like Gabbie Perkins (robo-tot who plays on a FREAKING softball team!) and Marnie, who, really, is not that much more advanced than Emily.
  • And then Kristy talks about how Emily is different from Karen, Andrew, and David Michael. Okay, except they did not GROW UP IN AN ORPHANAGE UNTIL THEY WERE TWO. The first years, the first year especially, are HUGELY important for babies' development, not just language and motor skills but also emotional growth. Gah.
    Watson and Elizabeth and Nannie need to spend more time with Emily, reading and talking about shapes, letters, and pictures. And less time needs to be spent comparing Emily to other children.
  • (This is an area that I work in, so I think I'm extra sensitive to how it's portrayed in these books)
  • BLGHAH. Claudia says that Emily doesn't seem to be as smart as everyone else in her family, which is bullshit. First of all, she's a toddler. Second of all, see everything I just wrote.
  • There's an adoption agency in the phone book (so presumably in Stoneybrook, or Stamford, or close) called Love Bundles, and it only specializes in placing Vietnamese children. I guess that's how it usually works, it just seems odd for the area.
  • Okay, later she opens the Stamford phone book, so Love Bundles is in Stoneybrook. How many adopted Vietnamese children are there in Stoneybrook?
  • This book is how I learned that you need to have two keys to open a safety deposit box.
  • Lois Lowry shoutout! Stacey finds a copy of "Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye" at the Perkins' house (o...kay?) and calls Claudia to tell her it's a story about an adopted girl.
  • FARGH. There is a student volunteer at the library's reference desk. There are SO MANY things wrong with that. If the Stoneybook Public Library is a unionized workplace, there are SO MANY violations. (Libraries are my field too, so I'm just set off by how improbable everything is. Wait until we get to Mary Anne and the Library Mystery if you want to see arghs.)
  • Apparently, all birth announcements automatically go to the local paper. I find that hard to believe. Isn't that an incredible invasion of privacy?
  • This part makes the least sense of anything. Claudia thinks that one of the other people born the week she was might really be her. So...if this couple was going to give up their daughter for adoption, they still had an (automatic) baby announcement?
  • Stacey's parents couldn't have any more kids after Stacey. I think I knew that, but it's one of those things that I forget.
  • There's a random Krushers practice interlude. These books could have used a good editor.
  • Chapter 13: Stacey finally suggests that Claudia talk to her parents. FINALLY.
  • Claudia's parents tell her she's not adopted. And they have an explanation for everything: they didn't take pictures because they were busy, Claudia looks like a combination of both of her parents, her birth was announced in the Stoneybrook Gazette, the special locked box has $500 in it (for emergencies). A LIKELY STORY.
  • In the end, Emily is accepted into preschool for the following fall (too bad she'll be two and a half forever) and Claudia accepts that she's a Kishi by birth and makes tentative peace with Janine. The end.
Final Thought: Doing a post a day has really taken it out of me, so I feel like this one isn't as snarky as it could have been. I will try to update more frequently, though, in the future, so stick around for that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friends Forever #11: Welcome Home, Mary Anne

Tagline: Nothing stays the same...

Cover: This is the first Friends Forever title I'm covering. Thanks to a fairly reasonable recent eBay purchase, I know own all of the Friends Forever books, with the exception of Graduation Day (but thanks to ANOTHER eBay purchase, that one should be arriving soon). The Friends Forever series uses real photographs of models for the cover, I guess to make it look 'hip' and 'new'. It kind of works...? I guess...? I don't know. The whole flower motif is totally late-90s girl power. Mary Anne is the one in the middle (she has long hair in these shots, even though you can't really tell in this one, and even though she definitely has short hair on the cover of The Fire at Mary Anne's House). I would guess that Dawn is on the left (and Sunny is on the right), but the book describes Sunny as having freckles, and that's what the left side model does, but the right one doesn't look like Dawn to's all so confusing.

Plot!: After The Fire at Mary Anne's House, she, Richard and Sharon have been moving from rental home to rental home while they remodel the barn so they can live in it (that's covered in Mary Anne's Breakup). In this book, the house is ready to be moved in to, so they do, and it takes some adjusting. Dawn and Jeff are home for the summer (I guess it's summer...?) and they bring Sunny with them, because Sunny's mom has just died (in the California Diaries series) and a change of scenery will be good for her. But she's not dealing with her grief, and Jeff hates the new house, and Mary Anne is starting to lose it. But then Sunny breaks down and bonds with Mary Anne, Jeff decorates her room, Sunny goes back to California, and everything is okay again.

Points of Interest:
  • The character bios are on the inside cover, so there's no Chapter Two. And I know that we make a lot of fun of it, but I tried reading the Sweet Valley series after the earthquake where Elizabeth is living with some weird family, but it was like #3 in the series and there was no explanation of ANYTHING and it was all kinds of confusing.
  • Also, the BSC has been whittled down to its original Fab Four. Mallory is at private school, Jessi is taking a lot of extra dance classes, Abby is around but not sitting, and Mary Anne and Logan have broken up. Again.
  • The book starts with "there's no place like home," so Mary Anne can ruminate on the meaning of home, and how she both has a home and doesn't have a home.
  • One of Mary Anne's diary entries is dated June 27. So I guess it is summer. Then when does Graduation Day take place? I haven't read it yet. Do they go through another year, just in that book? There better be a good answer for this! (There probably won't be).
  • In other other California Diaries continuity, Dawn and Jeff now have a little (half-)sister named Grace.
  • Jeff is aggressively angry towards the new house. I don't think he came from California to see the house after the fire, did he? I just remember Dawn coming. So why is everyone surprised and unprepared for him to be having these feelings?
  • Mary Anne is jealous of Sunny and Dawn's connection. I guess it's normal - she's never really had to see Dawn with her other best friend before. It still kind of feels out of place in this book, though. There's a lot going on.
  • The three girls go to the pool for the day, and of course Mary Anne is wearing one of her outrageous beach getups. Sunny, whose dial is stuck on 'manic', tells her to take it off. Mary Anne asks, "haven't you ever heard of skin cancer?' Sunny, whose mom died of lung cancer, replies that she's heard enough about cancer to last a lifetime. Awkward.
  • Speaking of, what did Mary Anne's mother die of? Is it mentioned in the books?
  • Sunny tries to set Mary Anne up with this jock guy, and they go out on a group triple date. The guy is actually interested in Mary Anne, but she shuts him down pretty quickly. But it's okay, because Sunny is already on to the next plan.
  • I love the lack of baby-sitting in these books. Mary Anne just goes on one job, at the Pikes, and it's less about them and more about Jeff's pain.
  • As if there wasn't enough fuel for Byron slash, he also shows remarkable talent in interior design.
  • Sunny feels a bit left out when the Schafer-Spiers are talking like a family, and when Mary Anne tries to talk to her about it, she flips and starts planning a rogue trip to New York. WHICH THEY GO ON, secretly, and lie to Sharon and Richard about. And they never get caught, which is surprising and kind of awesome.
  • Sunny throws an absolute tantrum while she's in New York, refusing to leave a store and go back to Stoneybrook before they're discovered. While Mary Anne is dealing with this, she takes the time to get freaked out by a man in a sequined pink prom dress. Hey, Oiny!
  • After they get home, Sunny and Mary Anne bond a bit, and Sunny decides to go back to California to grieve and be with her dad.
  • At the end of the book, Mary Anne decides she feels like she's home. Which is good, because this is the last book that she narrates in the series.
Final thought: I really like the Friends Forever series. I have a hard time thinking of them as canon, but that's getting easier, and I like the actual character growth and development that they go through.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#65: Stacey's Big Crush

Tagline: He's smart. He's handsome. He's 22!

Cover: Stacey is giving us her best "oh, my prince" pose. Wes is smartly oblivious, but way overdressed for a school dance. Jessi is giving her best "girl, please" look, which might be Jessi's most awesome moment ever. Meanwhile, what's happening in the background? Are those streamers, or lights, or what? Where are the balloons falling from? Why does the banner have apostrophes on it? Who is on this decorating committee?

Plot!: Stacey has a crush on Wes, her new student teacher. She gets pretty obsessed with him and is confident she's in love with him (and he's in love with her), but nothing happens because she's THIRTEEN. Dawn and Mary Anne take care of Elvira, a goat, and chaos ensues.

Points of Interest:
  • "I knew Mr. Zizmore was giving an oral problem." So that's what the kids are calling 1993.
  • Stacey calls herself a Divorced Kid and a Latchkey Kid. She's knee deep in a pity party and hasn't even STARTED talking about her diabetes.
  • Mr. Z tells Stacey that she's his star student. Even though this isn't the big crush, it does have a bit of that about it. Stacey is totally going to have an older man thing as she gets older. Do you think that's because of the divorce?
  • Stoneybrook Community College has a master's program? A teaching master's program? That...seems strange.
  • Stacey think that Wesley Ellenburg sounds like the biggest nerd ever. Didn't she learn anything from the time that Kelly dated Marvin Nerdly?
  • Claudia is Stacey's "one-and-only-best" friend, since she and Laine had a big fight.
  • Apparently, Stacey and Sam are still "technically" going out, even though they've drifted apart. So is this book after the Shadow Lake? What's the chronology here?
  • When Mrs. Stone stops by to ask Dawn and Mary Anne to look after her goat, Stacey is not aware that Elvira is not actually a goat, and starts freaking out about things like leaving the two month old alone and feeding her garbage and stuff. Wah-wah....
  • Stacey gets really excited about Dawn and Mary Anne taking care of a goat, because she's so sophisticated.
  • Mr. Ellenberg is compared to Tom Cruise. Okay.
  • Stacey's dad went to school at Wesleyan. Just in case that comes up in a trivia quiz later.
  • Okay, so he's completing is B.A., apparently in education, although he just has to do three weeks of student teaching, which does not seem like a lot. So why did Mr. Z it was a master's program?
  • What's going through Stacey's mind? "Wes. Wild Wes. How the Wes Was Won." Whoa, calm down. Later, she calls him "drop-dead incredibly hunkified gorgeous." Kristy claims there's no such word as 'hunkified.' My spell check agrees.
  • There's a rumour that Sabrina Bouvier (the middle school student) went out with Mr. Jordan, presumably a student. I HIGHLY doubt that. Maybe she babysat for him or something and someone saw him giving her a ride home.
  • Stacey spends a lot of time preparing her outfit for math class. Claudia has to tell her that it's not a date. Ugh. Stacey is all kinds of pathetic in this book.
  • Charlotte has a crusth on Bruce Cominsky, someone we've never heard of before and doubt we ever will again. He sounds...manly. There's also some random girl named Diane Dumschat in her class. That's an unfortunate name.
  • We also get a lesson that the "whoop" in "big whoop" is like "whoopee," but sarcastic. Thanks, Lerangis.
  • Wes asks Stacey to stay after school and help him arrange his paperwork, if you know what I mean. And that's where I start disbelieving this book. I'm sure that Wes would be hyper-aware of inapropriate student/teacher relationships and I highly doubt Stacey is being subtle about it - she wanted to wear a ball gown to class!
  • Oh my lord. After staying after class to help him with his papers, Stacey announces that she and Wes have a relationship. She is going to be a total bunny boiler when she's older.
  • Ugh. Elvira unleashes a whole bunch of 'kid' puns.
  • Oh my lord part two. Stacey starts imagining that she and Wes are goatherds in the Alps. This book is cracked out!
  • Wes has Stacey figure out the average grades of everyone in the class. He hides the names, but still. That seems unseemly.
  • OH MY LORD. Wes drives Stacey to a BSC meeting (in his car!) and on the way there he sings along to a love ballad. INAPPROPRIATE.
  • So of course, Stacey writes a poem:
    I see two stars in summer's night
    Blinding, hovering, lost in light
    Each so dull in heaven's net
    So each remains as yet unmet
    But Fortune moves in strangest ways
    It lengthens nights, it shortens days
    May this night end and day begin
    And bring two lovers back again.
  • Sam calls to invite Stacey to the Spring Fling dance, and even though at the beginning of the book they are technically going out, she tells him she's going with someone else.
  • HAHAHA Stacey gives Wes the poem. She changes 'lovers' to 'young people' but still. Wes bolts from the room.
  • The BSC learns the hard way that taking care of a goat is hard work. Gah. Wouldn't they have thought that before? That's how they approach EVERYTHING. "oh, pet sitting will be so much fun! Oh no, it's hard work!" "oh, looking after infants will be so much fun! Oh no, it's hard work!"
  • So a week after giving him THE POEM, Stacey corners Wes at the end of math class. He asks if she has a question about the assignment (no), so he asks if she has another poem for him. I laughed out loud.
  • OH MY LORD INFINITY. She tells Wes that she's in love with him. I am laughing and cringing and it's so awful and I love it.
  • Sam is going to the Spring Fling with Amanda Martin. Why is this book filled with people we've never heard of before?
  • Okay, after the whole declaration of love thing, Wes still does things like tell Stacey he's going to miss her....class, and confide in her about a good recommendation. This guy is crazy!
  • If the dance is called the Spring Fling, why doesn't the banner say SMS Spring Fling?
  • It's never explained why Wes is wearing a tux.
  • Wes to Stacey: "You're THIRTEEN!" Classic.
Final thought: I only skimmed through the Elvira stuff, so I don't know about that, but there's barely any Mallory in this book. Poor Mallory!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Super Special #12: Here Come the Bridesmaids!

Tagline: It's a California wedding!

Cover: Where do I even start? Left to right, I guess. Kristy...I believe that if she had to wear a dress, she'd wear that one. Mary Anne is too tall, but the dress looks appropriately awkward on her. Dawn looks better in the dress but not at all California Casual (maybe if she took off the sleeves?) Speaking of sleeveless, Claudia looks different but not wacky. Jeff cracks me up, because he looks like a game show host making patter with a contestant "Ha, ha. Wonderful. Now, back to the game!"
Plot!: This book is really two different plots in one, joined together with the tenuous thread of Christmas weddings. On the west coast, Dawn's father gets married (to Carol), and on the east coast, the Barrett-DeWitts get married, and for some reason this is a big deal for the BSC. Because this is a super special, everyone gets their own little drama:
  • Dawn: her father gets married and she moves back to Connecticut, for awhile.
  • Mary Anne: does not want to be a bridesmaid at Jack Schafer's wedding, then is hurt that she isn't, and it's all Dawn's fault. It's even stupider than this sounds.
  • Kristy: organizes the We Heart Kids Club's goodbye party for Dawn.
  • Claudia: the thirteen year old acts like a wedding planner and does weddingy things, including taking pictures
  • Jeff: watches Jack and Carol fight about things like an entertainment unit and a lava lamp
  • Stacey: is a bridesmaid for Mrs. Barrett
  • Mallory: gets into a fight with Ben over caroling
  • Shannon: watches the Barrett kids at the wedding
  • Jessi: is a Santa at the mall. Which has nothing to do with the weddings.
  • Suzi Barrett: is nervous that Santa won't find her family once they move

Points of Interest
  • Dawn opens the book by announcing that her dad is getting married, and she’s already making it all about
    her. Apparently she has to pass her midterms (midterms?) if she wants to pass her classes (wouldn’t they be called finals?), and right after the wedding she’s flying back to Stoneybrook to live for awhile.

  • But the biggest WTF? Me, Me, Me moment comes when she laments that the Barrett-DeWitt wedding is the same day as the Schafer-Olson wedding, because that means that the BSC won’t be able to come to California. Wait. Time out. She was expecting all of the BSC members to come to California, to watch her Dad (who they have met once) get married? Plane tickets are not cheap!

  • I’d better slow down here, because there are so many WTF moments I might pull a muscle if I get outraged at them all.

  • Anyway, Dawn is the one who is like, “since I can’t be everywhere, and people have made the ridiculous choice not to come to my dad’s wedding, let’s keep journals!”

  • The other thing about this book is that there is very little explanation...of anything! It doesn’t say who is going to California or who’s helping out at the B-DeW wedding until it’s happening. I’m used to way more exposition.

  • Dawn buys her bridesmaid dress because she loves it: satiny material, shirred off-the-shoulder sleeves, a fitted bodice and a skirt that flared mid-calf. It’s...a pretty standard bridesmaid dress, it looks like. It does not look like something a thirteen year old girl would be excited about wearing, especially if they were as much of an individualist as Dawn is. What are you up to, Lerangis?

  • Dawn buys two for her, and one for Mary Anne, who is apparently also a bridesmaid. Luckily, this turns into a plot point later on.

  • Stacey eats a big greasy cheeseburger at Burger Town? But what about her diabetes? Actually, I have no idea if she’s eaten burgers before, it just seems strange.

  • Mrs. Barrett asks Stacey to be a bridesmaid. In her wedding. At least there are other, adult bridesmaids there.

  • Jessi becomes a Santa for Bellair’s department store. This plot feels really out of place, because I keep forgetting it’s set at Christmas.

  • Mallory and Ben get into a stupid fight: they are planning to go carolling with kids, but then Mallory agrees to watch the Barretts at the wedding, which is the same day. And instead of doing the logical thing and rescheduling the carolling to like, the next day, they have a big fight. And eventually they end up going the next day anyway. Sigh.

  • Dawn describes her life as a soap opera. Mary Anne calls Kristy’s life a soap opera. That should have been the direction they went in for the HBO show.

  • I have watched too many TLC wedding shows to think that hiring a thirteen year old girl (with Claudia’s artistic sense) to decorate and/or plan your wedding is a good idea. But that’s how Claudia ‘works’ off the ticket that Jack Schafer buys for her to come to California.

  • Okay. Dawn forgets to tell Mary Anne that she’s a bridesmaid, and Mary Anne freaks out, because she hates being the centre of attention and she’s worried about being sunburned from the dress. Then she comes around, but it turns out that she’s NOT a bridesmaid – Dawn just assumed she would be, and didn’t talk to Jack or Carol or anyone about it. Oh my Lord. Is Dawn really that dense? Mary Anne has met Jack once. She’s the daughter of the man that his ex-wife married. Why the hell would she be in the wedding?

  • Mary Anne is also pretty judgemental about a beach wedding. She’d prefer a nice normal indoor wedding, which Dawn takes offence to, because Mary Anne is calling them abnormal.

  • Carol’s dress is not at all a wedding dress. It’s more like a dress you’d put on to have brunch with your friends because you don’t really have to impress them. Also, I always thought she was a blond, but the illustration is of a brunette.

  • Oh, right, the Barrett-DeWitt wedding. Shannon and Mallory are looking after the youngest B-DeW kids, and they have to sit all the way at the back of the church. I don’t get this. Why couldn’t they be up closer, sharing the day with their parents and Bobby and Lindsey, who are in the wedding?

  • Marnie makes a break for it and stands up at the front with her mom. Ryan DeWitt (the Stoneybrook one) starts crying and Shannon takes him out of the church. And that’s about all of the drama there.

  • Mrs. Barrett has three bridesmaids and a maid of honour. That seems really big for a second wedding, especially given all the stress they had planning everything.

  • Her dress is: a long white beaded antique gown with a plunging neckline. How plunging? Why aren’t there any pictures of that? Come on, illustrator!

  • After the weddings, the book kind of peters out: there’s a going away party for Dawn, Logan helps move furniture for the DeWitts, Suzi leaves a trail of bread crumbs for Santa to find her at her new house, Mallory goes carolling, Dawn gets a ticket back to California from her Dad and Carol, and she and Jeff go to Stoneybrook. The end.

  • Final Thought: I think my favourite part about this book is the picture of Jeff on the cover. It just makes me smile!

p.s. sorry about any weird formatting...this one kind of got away from me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Little Sister #116: Karen's Reindeer

Tagline: Karen, the Red-nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose...

Cover: It looks like Karen, Hannie and Nancy are in some kind of school performance. We never had matching outfits like that in any of my school shows, but I guess that's what makes Stoneybrook Academy different.

Plot!: Karen wants to be Rudolph in her school play, but it goes to Hannie instead, and she's jealous. She's trying to be extra good for Santa, but she steals Charlie's ornament and breaks Nannie's vase and then lies about it.

Points of Interest:
  • Karen, in an attempt to be good, picks up someone else's gum and puts it in the garbage. Ew. I think Santa would understand if she left someone else's gum on the ground.
  • Heh. Emily Michelle calls Karen a meanie-mo.
  • Karen sees a reindeer in her yard. She immediately assumes it's Rudolph.
  • Nancy is telling the class that they should do a Hannukah presentation, when Karen blurts out "Rudolph!" because she's thinking about the reindeer, but the rest of the class immediately decides to do a Rudolph number. Nancy is some pissed.
  • The big house trims the tree and decorates the house with all of their big house decorations. I wonder if Karen ever thinks of Mom in the little house, decorating the house all by herself.
  • So if Karen is here in December, she'd be there in December next year, right? Assuming the month-to-month thing doesn't change. Little House: Jan, Mar, May, July, Sept, Nov; Big House: Feb, April, June, August, October, December. I guess it's about even for holidays.
  • Karen keeps claiming that she sees the Reindeer, but whenever Charlie looks, it's disappeared. He's being really nice about the whole thing, going along with the food in the backyard plan. He is a good big brother. More Charlie fanfic, please!
  • Hannie gets to be Rudolph, while Karen is Elf #4. Heh. Of course, Karen starts pulling diva fits all over the place.
  • Hannie gets wired up to some kind of harness so she can fly as Rudolph, but she's scared to do it. I'm so sure. First of all, what kind of school has harnesses so kids can fly? That just seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Also, I do not buy Hannie as being scared of heights or flying.
  • Karen finally confesses that she broke the vase, and it turns out not to be a big deal, because she's Karen.
  • In Karen's stocking is a note from Santa, thanking her for taking care of his reindeer, in what I imagine is Charlie's handwriting.
  • At the end of the book is a weird little change "Carefully I folded the note and slipped it into my robe pocket. I would treasure it forever. But, as it turned out, I would never see my reindeer again." Karen writing this from the future? An adult Karen telling stories about her younger days? What's going on here?!

Final thought: The other day I saw some Halloween decorations in a store, and I thought, "this is ridiculous! it's not even September!" but then I looked at the store's other wall and saw Christmas decorations, and thought "oh, I love Christmas, I can't wait!" So I'm a total holiday hypocrite.

Monday, August 17, 2009

#11: Kristy and the Snobs

Tagline: Nobody's going to tell Kristy what t o do - especially not the Snobs!

Cover: Shannon is shorter than Kristy is, which is not the image of Shannon I have in my head at all. Shannon's skirt is distractingly long. And why don't Shannon and Amanda have the same uniform? Don't they both go to Stoneybrook Day School? Maybe there's a primary and middle school difference? When I am wondering about the dress codes of the Stoneybrook school that we know the least about, I know it's time to step away from the computer.

Plot!: Kristy is having a hard time adjusting to being in Watson's neighbourhood, because she thinks the other people in the neighbourhood are snobs. And they're sort of proving her right, because they're mean to Louie, the Thomases sick dog, who eventually dies. But Shannon comes around and gives them Shannon, the dog, and she becomes an Associate member of the BSC!

Points of Interest:

  • Things Kristy cannot stand: blood, cabbage, people chewing with their mouths open, squirrels, and snobs. Where's Kristy and the Cabbage Wars or Kristy vs. the Squirrels?
  • Apparently Watson has been talking about putting in a swimming pool, although that never happens, does it? Too bad - I'm sure there would have been some kind of mystery in the backyard that only the BSC could solve!
  • Okay. What's the Brewer-Thomas car situation? In this book, Charlie drives the station wagon, and Watson and Elizabeth both have cars. Does one of these get sold/traded when Charlie gets the Junk Bucket? What about when Nannie moves in? Do they have five cars?
  • The Thomases' vet? You guessed it, a woman. I never noticed how many professional women there were in these books.
  • Kristy calls Shannon a snob, and Shannon calls Kristy a jerk. Both of them really escalated this situation pretty quickly.
  • While babysitting for the Papadakises (for the first time), Shannon calls Kristy and tells her that the house is on fire. That's messed up.
  • Kristy orders a diaper delivery service to make deliveries to Shannon's house, starting early the next morning. And they show up, presumably without a credit card number or any kind of billing information, unless Kristy billed it to the Kilbournes. There's just something not right about that whole ordering scenario.
  • There's a weird moment when Mary Anne is babysitting for the Perkinses, and it switches from "Mary Anne asked" to "I asked," even though Kristy isn't there.
  • I still think it's kind of weird that Sharon Schafer would have to call the BSC to arrange for a sitter for Jeff, and the job ends up going to Dawn, because she's free. What if someone else took it? Would that sitter and Dawn just hang out there? I guess Dawn might get another job. It kind of makes sense, but I just find it needlessly official.
  • Sharon goes out on a date with the Trip-Man.
  • Jeff is acting up and wants to go back to California and live with his Dad. Dawn is starting to say things like "I'd never do that!"
  • Stacey tames the snobs with a little reverse psychology, because she's so sophisticated.
  • Shannon orders a pizza to the Delaneys while Kristy is sitting there, but Kristy outwits the delivery guy and sends it to Shannon, who storms over and they have a big fight about baby sitting territory but end up being friends. Pizza - is there anything it can't do?
  • Five of the Pike kids have the chicken pox. By the time Claudia leaves, seven of them have it, all except Mallory. Poor Mallory?
  • Kristy misses a meeting because of Louie. I'm sure this contradicts later stuff, like "Kristy never misses a meeting" or "Mary Anne never makes a mistake" (not that she does here, but that's something that also gets tossed around that I'm pretty sure is not true)
  • Heh. Kristy calls Lisa "the first Mrs. Brewer," even though she's probably married to Seth Engle by now.
  • Okay, I'm not a big animal person, and I've never had a pet other than a goldfish, but the part about the family meeting where it's revealed that Louie is going to be put down is pretty freakin' sad.
  • Okay, I'm not going to lie. I'm at the part where they're at the vet, saying goodbye to Louie, and there are tears in my eyes. Damn you, Ann M. Martin!
  • Kristy and Karen get into a big discussion about whether to put RIP or Rest in Peace on Louie's cross. Aaaaand my tears are gone.
  • Astrid is a girl's name, and it means divine strength. There's your little tidbit for today.
  • Mary Anne makes an exercise/exorcise pun. Because there's nothing that thirteen year old girls like better than wordplay!
  • They make a play for Shannon to join the club, but she kind of shoots them down before they get around to asking, and so becomes an associate member, and we're one more person closer to the classic BSC lineup.
Final Thought: The chicken pox plot is very, very random. It's as if they realized they only had enough story for fourteen chapters, or they hadn't included their obligatory Pike kids reference.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#42: Jessi and the Dance School Phantom

Tagline: Someone - or something - is out to get Jessi!

Cover: I think Jessi actually looks kind of cute on the cover...way better than the fug looks that they usually give her. And if not for her loooong legs, I think she'd even look kind of age appropriate. No, the hot mess on the cover is Dawn, who is in her California Casual denim-on-denim, wearing a strangely obtrusive watch, has her hair pouffed in a way that makes her head look square, and is going for...maybe scared and surprised? But comes out looking stoned. Also, why is Jessi wearing so much jewelry? Rings and a watch? At a ballet practice? I don't think so.

Plot!: Jessi gets the lead in another ballet - Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. But soon after practices start, she starts getting threatening notes, and someone keeps stealing her stuff. Of course, the BSC handles this on their own (even though Jessi is INJURED by the 'phantom') and while everyone in the class is a suspect, it's eventually narrowed down to Hilary, who is jealous of Jessi and has a pushy stage mom. Meanwhile, the BSC organizes a pet show/competition thing, and I'm really not a pet person so it's even more boring that usual for me.

Points of Interest:
  • Ugh. This book starts off in French. Which I don't have a problem with, except that I know Jessi's fake French talking is going to come next. Maybe it's because I grew up taking French in school, but I didn't need her pronounciation guide, and even if I did, the italics indicated that it was in a different language so...whatever, Mademoiselle Romsey.
  • Jessi talks about being the only black student in the class, and wanting to be a ballerina when there are very few black dancers in general. It always sounds awkward and added-in when the others talk about race, but I think it's good coming from Jessi.
  • Carrie Steinfeld is so over the hill. It doesn't give her age, but she's about to graduate (from the school? from regular school? I don't know) and she hasn't had any lead roles. Maybe the next school she'd want to be in is like the school in Center Stage, which is kind of a university but more like a ballet school with book props.
  • This is all happening at an audition for Sleeping Beauty, and they all want to be Princess Aurora.
  • If Mr. Ramsey works in Stamford, and Jessi's dance school is in Stamford, why didn't the Ramseys just move to Stamford?
  • Jessi talks about how she likes wearing a uniform, because if there wasn't one there would be too much neon in the class.
  • The Ramseys are basically the only BSC family that shows affection for each other. Maybe it's because she's eleven, but I think Jessi's family figures into her books more than the other families (well, I guess Mallory is always doing stuff with her family, but because it's so big it's not the same).
  • SO. The phantom's first move: steal Jessi's toe shoes. But I don't understand how she does it. Jessi puts her bag down and changes out of her clothes. She puts the clothes in her locker and put the tights on. Then, she goes to put the shoes on, and they're not there. Did the phantom move so fast that she took them when Jessi's head was in her sweater? Did Jessi go to the bathroom or something?
  • Okay, here's anothing thing I don't get (and I HATE being so confused by a BSC book): Mary (the future anorexic girl?) wishes she could lend Jessi her extra shoes, but they're at home, and anyway everyone's toe shoes are different. She describes her breaking-them-in routine, and then says that she needs a new pair of toe shoes every week. Wait, what? Really? Earlier in the book, she said that Hilary gets a new pair of toe shoes whenever she needs them, while the rest of them have to make them last. So does Hilary get a new pair every day or something? Are there any dancers out there that can help me clear this up?
  • Suspicious behaviour: Hilary suggests everyone look for them again, while Katie Beth finds them in an allegedly empty bag.
  • Painstaking is a word that I learned (or semi-learned, since I'm not sure exactly what it means but I have a good idea) from the BSC books, but I've never used it or seen it used in real life.
  • More suspicious behaviour: Carrie keeps plowing into Jessi when they dance. That's...kind of obvious for a phantom.
  • The phantom's second move is to steal Jessi's entire back up outfit, and leave her a note that says BEWARE and WATCH YOUR STEP.
  • Jessi is way too excited over the fact that Hannie and Scott Hsu are pretend married.
  • Kristy babysits for neighbourhood kids and everyone gets competitive about the pet show. Boring.
  • Jessi slips and falls during a class, and she gets a second note: I TOLD YOU SO. FROM NOW ON, WATCH OUT. This would be a logical time to go to someone, anyone about this stuff, right? Ha hahahahaha. This is the BSC!
  • Third note: IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. TOO BAD IT WASN'T. I don't care if it is some teenaged ballerina - this person sounds crazy and needs help.
  • Jessi won't go to Madame Noelle because she's convinced Madame Noele will think she's making it all up. What? What about her parents?
  • Mallory sits for the Barretts, and they're fighting over Pow in the pet show. Boring.
  • Charlie, for some reason, volunteers to drive the BSC to Stamford so the others can be Jessi's bodyguard. Whatever.
  • They come up with nothing, so there are more phantom activities: Jessi's leotard is returned (but cut up into shreads), she's pushed into paint, someone hides thorns in her dance bag, letters are sent, and a piece of scenery almost lands on her head. Just a normal ballet practice.
  • The chapters in this book jump around a lot: we're at a dance rehearsal, we're at a BSC meeting, we're at Jessi's house - all in one chapter. It's paced very strangely.
  • So Jessi confronts Hilary with this stupid plan to get her handwriting and it only works because Hilary does the classic bad guy move of saying to much. She says "sorry, I won't do it again" and Jessi is like, "okay, fine." SERIOUSLY. THIS GIRL NEEDS HELP. SHE TRIED TO HURT YOU. SHE DID HURT YOU. GAH.
  • The big solution to the pet show problem: giving everyone an award. Why didn't they just think of that sooner? That's like, the first rule of doing something with a large group of kids.
  • Stacey wears a tuxedo to Jessi's opening night. Because she's sophisticated.
  • In the dance, Jessi has to perform with a boy! He's an eighth-grader, and he has to lift her and kiss her onstage! Where were those rehearsals? That would have made for a much better story.
  • In the end, Hilary decides to quit dance and Jessi goes out for ice cream. Everyone is happy.
Final thought: the picture on the cover never really happens in the book. Which makes me dislike it even more. Sorry, non-fug Jessi.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sidebar: New Content Coming...Soon!

Thanks everyone for being so patient. My move is completed and while I am still kind of roughing it (in only the way that someone with electricity, water, pillows, blankets, and cable tv can rough it), I am ready to jump back on the BSC blogging train.

As a thank you, I am going to have a full week of brand-new content. Starting tomorrow, there will be new books recapped every day for a week! Well, that's the plan. As I'm writing this, there are copies of Jessi and the Dance School Phantom and Here Come the Bridesmaids! beside me. And I don't want to give anything away, but in both books there have been parts where I'm just like, "oh, come on!" So I think they will blog well.

I've also just made some purchases on eBay, so I am now several books closer to completing my collection. When I get everything assessed, I think I'll post my duplicates in case there's anything anyone is looking for. sum up: coming soon - more of the same! In a good way!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sidebar: John Hughes

It might be a little longer than usual in between posts for the next little while...I'm in the middle of a move so normal services will be disrupted for awhile. Hopefully not very long.

I was really shocked by the news about John Hughes' death. 2009 seems to have had a number of high profile deaths, but I don't think anyone would have anticipated his death. Sixteen Candles was mentioned in at least The Ghost at Dawn's House, and maybe in more, too (I always liked Pretty in Pink better).

Anyway, to keep this BSC related, I'm going to match up the members to the John Hughes movie that they're most like.

Dawn - Just Visiting (screenplay by Hughes). Because, since she's bi-coastal, whether she's in California or Stoneybrook she's really just kinda visiting until she goes to the other place.

Claudia - Pretty in Pink, definitely (written by Hughes). Andie (Molly Ringwald) is a crazy dresser and everything thinks she looks awesome, and she takes a beautiful vintage prom dress and makes it look like ass.

Mallory - The Breakfast Club. She'd be the geeky one, the one who would probably volunteer to write the report at the end of the day, and the one who doesn't end up romantically paired with another person.

Jessi - Ferris Bueller's Day Off. While everyone else is boogie-ing to "Danke Shoen" and "Twist and Shout," Jessi could spice things up with some jetes or pirouettes.

Mary Anne - Sixteen Candles. I can totally picture Mary Anne kissing someone on a table with her birthday cake candles glowing away. Plus, she has a steady boyfriend, which somehow fits in with my image of this.

Stacey - Maid in Manhattan (Hughes, under a pseudonym, is credited with the story for the movie). Because, and you might not have known this, she's from New York.

Kristy - Mr. Mom (written by Hughes). Not only is Kristy and Mr. Mom an actual BSC title, but I can also see Kristy marrying a Mr. Mom type while she runs whatever successful business she runs.

Abby - Curly Sue. Along with her soccer and her Jewishness, her curly hair is what stands out for me. She narrowly beat out Stacey's inconsistent perm for this one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

#43: Stacey's Emergency

Tagline: Stacey just can't win.

Cover: For once, Stacey's hair looks kind of permed, at least near the bottom. The top is kind of flat, but her bangs are happening. I hope Becca is standing on top of of a stool or something, otherwise the perspective is all out of whack.

Plot!: Stacey starts to feel sick because of her diabetes, but she doesn't tell anyone. She goes off her diet and really isn't very well, and then when she's in New York visiting her dad she ends up in the hospital. She confesses how sick she's been and talks to her parents about how they've been putting her in the middle. While she's in the hospital, Charlotte becomes convinced that she's sick, too, but she gets better when Stacey comes home.

Points of Interest:
  • The first chapter includes a lot of information on diabetes, just to get us prepped for the rest of the book.
  • Stacey is still trying to sort out a lot of the divorced kid stuff in this book, like how to talk to her parents and how to deal with the fact that she chose to live in Stoneybrook rather than in New York.
  • Uh-oh! Stacey steals a Ring-Ding from Claudia's room and puts it in her purse. But what about her diabetes? Won't somebody think of her diabetes?!
  • The scene of Stacey drinking water on the train by cupping her hands together has stayed with me since the first time I read this book. It's a strange image to remember, but there are random scenes that stick in people's minds.
  • I know it's partly because it was reaching a critical point, but after spending like, one night with Stacey, her father takes her to the hospital. How was she hiding this so well from her mother? And knowing how nervous her mom is about Stacey's diabetes, it's a wonder her mom doesn't go through her room and stuff.
  • So Stacey goes to the hospital on Saturday morning, and her mom hears about this on Saturday night? Why did they wait so long to call her? Even if there's post-divorce stuff, that's still a long time, especially because by the time Mr. McGill calls her, she doesn't have enough time to get the last train to New York.
  • Stacey's mom brings her a stuffed pig. I forgot about Stacey's thing for pigs.
  • Laine comes to visit and brings Stacey a wind-up spider with red glasses, and blue plastic tulips. Very sophisticated.
  • While she's worrying about Stacey, Charlotte thinks she has a pinched nerve, an ulcer, diabetes, and anemia. Later she thinks she has Lyme disease, arthritis, kidney disease, and strep throat.
  • On Friday Stacey wakes up and feels bad, so she rings for a nurse. Last year I was in the hospital, and not in a private room like Stacey. My bed was added into a two bed room, right between them. And my buzzer was actually the buzzer for another bed. So whenever I rang it, a nurse would pop her head in, check the first bed (mine was on the other side of a curtain), and then leave. It took me awhile to figure out what was happening.
  • Stacey and her mom have a weird talk about her Dad, and his workaholic ways and how he avoids problems. But then Stacey doesn't want to talk anymore, so they find a Woody Allen movie and watch that. Because Woody Allen movies ALWAYS make situations less awkward.
  • Other sophisticated New York gifts from Laine: A camouflage print hat that says "Daddy's Little Hunting Buddy," a pair of light-up sunglasses, glow in the dark jewelry, a palm tree pen, and a mirror that laughs at you.
  • Alan Gray set off a cherry bomb in the bathroom? That seems...really serious.
  • Cokie got a nose job? That also seems unlikely.
  • After she comes home (after two weeks in the hospital), Stacey finally tells her mother that she's tired of being put in the middle. And her mom seems to listen. Hurrah!
Final Thought: I really like the colour of blue of Stacey's shirt on the cover. When I first read this, I would have thought that was the coolest shirt ever.