Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Sister #51: Karen's Big Top

Tagline: Karen is clowning around!

Cover: When I did Mary Anne and Camp BSC, I'd completely forgotten that I had Karen's Big Top, so I decided to do this as a companion to that book. Anyway, here is Karen, and she's dressed like a clown. There's a guy standing underneath the elephant in a way that looks totally unsafe, and the girl juggling rings is either on stilts or has a really short torso.

Plot!: Karen is at circus camp, and makes friends with the performers. She's loving it, or, as the back of the book says, she "has gigundo fun learning all the circus activities." But she can't make her mind up about the activity that she'll do. But then, at the end, she becomes the ringmaster, because she's just that special.

Points of Interest:
  • Just so you know, the 'f' and 'w' keys aren't working on my keyboard (except now, amazingly enough), so if my phrasing sounds a bit...strange, it's because I'm going out of my way to avoid these letters.
  • Karen tumbles out of bed, because she's going to Circus Camp in seven days (see my strange phrasing?). Apparently, Mr. Willie and his family are circus folk, and they travel all year but spend July in Stoneybrook.
  • His real name is B. F. Willie, naturally.
  • I think that Karen always describes Vietnam as "faraway." Maybe that's how Watson and Elizabeth explained it to her.
  • Anyway, July is a Big House month. Karen says "Bye, Mommy! See you in August!" I've never really thought about this, but do Karen and Andrew really not see their mom for a whole month? Not even like, a visit, to have lunch or something? Is that more traumatic or something? It just seems like a really long time for a five and a seven year old to be away from their parents (and that goes the same for Watson on Little House months).
  • For July 4th, Karen's family gets permission to close off their block on July 4th during their barbecue. That seems strange.
  • After they get home from the fireworks, Kristy pulls all the kids aside and says that since Nannie's birthday is coming up at the end of the month, she thinks they should do something special. She probably counts that as one of her special Great IdeasTM.
  • On the first day of Circus Camp, Karen meets Laura, Mr. Willie's niece, and Jillian, his granddaughter, and he says that everyone is part of the B.F. Willie family.
  • Side note: would you let your child go to a circus camp, on the edge of town, with a man named Mr. Willie?
  • Karen is happy that her pretend husband is in the same group as she is, because she thinks it's good when married people do interesting things together. No, really.
  • Karen calls Lisa and Seth to tell them about Circus camp, so I guess it's not like she's shut away from them completely.
  • Apparently David Michael was a Winkie in the "Wizard of Oz." What's that?
  • Their big idea re: Nannie's birthday is to throw a surprise party. They stayed up all night, but it was worth it!
  • Andrew's idea of how to surprise Nannie is to tell her to get all dressed up and come to the living room. Charlie thinks it needs to be trickier, so Karen comes up with a plan involving loose elephants. They eventually decide on a party at the bowling alley.
  • Karen eavesdrops and overhears Nannie telling someone that she hates surprise parties and that the worst thing she can imagine is to have everyone yelling "Surprise!" at her. So Karen wants to tell someone, but she can't tell anyone because she'd get in trouble for eavesdropping.
  • Karen realizes that she wants to do everything in the Circus, so she can't decide on the one thing that she'll do at the big show.
  • Would the rest of the family really not know that Nannie doesn't like surprises? Actually, I'm not entirely sure that I buy that she doesn't like surprises.
  • Karen talks to Nannie and tells her about the surprise, so they decide to fake it, like this is an original thought and not something that hasn't been done a thousand times on various TV shows.
  • At the party, Karen's new friend Jillian calls Nannie, "Nannie." Would you really call someone else's grandmother by their familiar name, just like that? Maybe, if you're eight.
  • Karen is sad because she wasted all the practice time dithering about what to do in the Circus. BUT at the last minute, the ringmaster is sick and can't do it, so - da da da DA! - Karen to the rescue! Barf.
  • Karen realizes that she is really lucky because even though she has to move between the Little House and the Big House, her friend Jillian has to move from show to show, all over the country. Just in time for a sappy ending!
Final Thoughts: I don't think that the person who wrote Mary Anne and Camp BSC actually read this book, because in that one they say that Karen never really went on a REAL high wire, but in this one, yeah, she does. I hate to take Karen's side (and they are obnoxious in Mary Anne and Camp BSC), but this is a real circus camp, and if I went to the BSC Circus after going to Mr. Willie's camp, I'd be disappointed, too.


Lucy said...

Oh cool, let's make Karen ringmaster. It'll be a great opportunity for her to boss everyone around, for a change. Sidenote: a Winkie in the Wizard of Oz was one of those green-faced guards of the Wicked Witch's castle.

Caroline from Sheep Are In said...

Thanks! I've just called them flying monkeys, but I've never read the book, just seen the movie.

Susan said...

I think that when my cul-de-sac had Fourth of July parties the adults had to get a permit. Of course, we were setting off fireworks in the middle of the road, so that could be why.

As for non-relatives calling her Nanny, that seems totally normal to me. My grandmother introduces herself to everyone under the age of 35 as "Granny" rather than her name. My husband's sister calls her Granny, even.

Thanks for recapping this book, after the Mary Anne book I was curious!

Sadako said...

Yeah, I think it is a little weird to think of the kids not seeing their other parent for a month at a time. Gah. Divorce sucks.

And I think it's weird to call a friend's grandparent Granny or Nannie. I know they did it with Mimi but she was special. Remember Uncle Joe in Mystery #3? Claud's all, "Hi Uncle Joe!" and he replies stiffly, "Um, it's Mr. Pike." I love you, Uncle, Mr. Pike.

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