#6 – Kristy’s Big Day
Early in the book series, Ann M. Martin seemed to have decided, “You know what would make the best Baby-sitters Club book ever? If we have a story about Kristy’s mom’s wedding and have the book focus very little on the actual wedding, and instead have the baby-sitters run a sort of day camp for a bunch of kids who we’ll never see again!”
And that is exactly what happened with Kristy’s Big Day. Most of the kids they baby-sit will never be seen again (she said ominously). Meanwhile, the actual wedding ceremony takes place in, like, half of one chapter. It’s ridiculous. The wedding also takes place on Watson’s lawn, and in continuing with the “Stoneybrook has very little religion” theme, we have no idea what kind of ceremony it is.
Also noteworthy about this book: we learn that Stacey’s favorite movie is Mary Poppins. She thinks it makes her less sophisticated. I disagree, Stacey – what makes you less sophisticated is the fact that you keep calling yourself sophisticated.
I read the Kindle version of this book and the Kindle version was pretty badly edited. At one point Claudia makes a comment that clearly was supposed to come from Kristy, as she talks about her mom’s marriage and wanting to look after her brother David Michael. I mentioned to my fellow BSC-loving friend, and she said, “Maybe the editor of the Kindle version was Claudia.” Well played, friend – well played.
#7 – Claudia and Mean Janine
Spoiler alert: Janine is not really that mean. She’s just really weirdly characterized and she looks about forty years old on the book cover. (Proof.)
Seriously, though, Janine’s characterization is so over-the-top and hilarious. Martin seems to have decided that people with really high IQs speak in outrageously convoluted sentences filled with jargon and verbosity all the time. Instead of asking how the club is going to deal with Kristy living on the other side of town LIKE A NORMAL PERSON, she asks, “May I ask how your agency plans to function once your founder is residing in a different district?” Granted, I don’t know that many people who have 196 IQs – especially because that IQ level is SO EXCEEDINGLY RARE that Janine apparently is smarter than ISAAC NEWTON (source) – but really smart people are not entirely clueless about functioning in social situations.
She’s not mean, though. “Claudia and the Insufferable Janine” would have been a more accurate title. The “meanest” thing Janine does is not tell Claudia about Mimi the very second she steps on the soil of Stacey’s backyard. Um, what a bitch?
Part of Claudia’s narration: “Presently a car pulled up and Janine stepped out.” LOL, yes, I am sure that Claudia knows how to correctly use the word “presently” in a sentence.
Another part of Claudia’s narration: “When Dawn and I stand next to each other, we kind of look like a photograph and its negative.” Um, what? Is that racist?
Ah, a sign of religion in this book: Lucy is going to be christened at some kind of church. We don’t really know what kind of church, but it’s one of the only hints about religion we get.
This is also one of many books where the narration uses the not-so subtle foreshadowing of Mallory Pike being a really great helper and she’s going to make a great babysitter herself someday! Oy. I’m looking forward to her joining the club so we can stop with the foreshadowing.
I’m not sure how realistic the depiction of Mimi recovering from a stroke is. Sometimes it seems a little heavy-handed (heavy-handed?! in a BSC book?! Pull another one!) but it doesn’t seem entirely unrealistic to me that Mimi might remember Japanese words before English words sometimes.
Finally, the kids groom Louie the collie and tie ribbons into his fur, and Kristy worries that her neighbors won’t realize that Louie is a boy dog. She jokes about nicknaming him “Louella.” Kristy, I get that gender politics can be difficult to navigate sometimes, but Louie? IS A DOG. I don’t think he CARES if humans think he might be a girl dog. Yeesh.
#8 – Boy-Crazy Stacey
Ah, it’s only Stacey’s second book and she’s already prioritizing boys over friends and baby-sitting. One would think that she’s a normal thirteen-year-old or something.
Anyway, if the point of this book was that Stacey becomes a really bad babysitter because she’s obsessed with the lifeguard, the point is a little lost on me. This is part of the “showing vs. telling” problem in this book. Stacey tells us that she spent entire days on the beach flirting with Scott while Mary Anne looked after the Pikes, but that explanation takes up about a paragraph. Meanwhile, entire chapters are devoted to Stacey and Mary Anne’s adventures with the Pikes at restaurants and going miniature golfing. And when she’s on those outings, Stacey seems as attentive of a babysitter as Mary Anne is. So while I believe Stacey spends too much time flirting with Scott, it’s hard for me to really process that when the flirting takes up very little space.
I do, however, think Stacey is a complete whiny dumbass when she has to avoid the beach for an entire day because she saw Scott kissing his girlfriend. I was a highly sensitive teenager and I had romantic fantasies about boys, but I would not have needed to spend an entire day away from the beach when I was thirteen because a boy I liked had a girlfriend. I don’t know ANYONE who would have done that.
Also, supposedly sophisticated Stacey falls to the ground laughing hysterically at Toby’s supremely corny “Al Buquerque” joke. Nope, I don’t buy it.
ALSO, Kristy is such a control freak that she makes everyone update the notebook THROUGH POSTCARDS WHILE THEY ARE ALL ON VACATION. Kristy is seriously bored, people.
#9 – The Ghost at Dawn’s House
Ugh, this one is SO BORING. I know it’s a boring BSC book when the babysitting arc of whatever’s going on with the kids is more interesting than the main plot. I don’t care about Dawn’s stupid secret passage, I don’t care about her being scared of a stupid secret passage, and Ann M. Martin sucks at writing anything remotely “scary.”
I’m also annoyed that I can’t go for one book without an annoying appearance from Karen Brewer and her annoying fears and annoying Morbidda Destiny crap, BUT she does make me laugh here, after Kristy tells the “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana” joke and falls apart laughing. Karen and David Michael and Andrew give her the awkward silence and then Karen basically says, “So…anyway…” and it’s pretty funny. A rare moment where I like Karen.
At one point Dawn calls Mary Anne a ‘fraidy-cat for being afraid of the barn. This happens in a whole book where Dawn is scared of a hypothetical ghost in her house. Shut up, Dawn. (Wow, I’m really not used to saying that outside of watching Buffy reruns.)
I actually like Dawn’s description of her dad as a “Disneyland Daddy” – “you know, two weeks with a guy who hasn’t seen his kids in months and feels really guilty.” And Mr. Schafer isn’t even a deadbeat dad like Kristy’s father – he just lives on the opposite side of the country, so of course he can’t see his kids that often. It’s kind of a realistic, bittersweet moment.
Mary Anne is impressed that Gabbie and Myriah Perkins know all the words to “Hush, Little Baby” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” because not even Mary Anne knows all the words to those songs. Yeah. Okay. Mary Anne is too easily impressed.
Dawn and Jeff are kind of assholes to their mom’s date “The Trip-Man,” which is not a funny nickname in the slightest. And Trip is really quite a decent guy if he’s willing to interrupt his evening to deal with the ghost fears of his date’s stupid kids. Aside from that, though, I rather like Jeff. He might be my favorite of the babysitters’ siblings, as he seems like a decent kid with enough pre-teen angst to seem realistic but not SO much angst that he becomes unbearable.
When the BSC has their slumber party, Claudia’s movie suggestion is Star Wars. Good for her, but does anyone else find that a little unbelievable? I can buy Stacey loving Mary Poppins over Claudia loving Star Wars.
#10 – Logan Likes Mary Anne!
One of the babysitters gets a boyfriend and this occasion is so monumental that it gets an exclamation point in the title!!!
In all seriousness, this is the beginning of eighth grade for the BSC, and the characters get stuck in this perpetual eighth-grade time warp for approximately one hundred books. It’s rather depressing.
Mary Anne when describing the babysitters: “[Kristy’s] mother got married again and Kristy was her bridesmaid! Honest.” Um, we believe you?
According to this book, Stacey is the vice-president of the school’s dance committee. I’m going to pay attention to the rest of the books to see if this detail ever comes up again.
This is the book where Mary Anne gets a bra and Kristy is fascinated and jealous. This is obviously one of many signs that Kristy is in love with Mary Anne, but I’m supposed to take it as her just being jealous that she doesn’t need a bra yet. Whatever. Later on, Kristy, like every other girl in the BSC, “can’t take her eyes” off of Logan, but come on – we all know she’s just scoping the competition for Mary Anne.
Mary Anne criticizes Kristy for not predicting what would happen when the babysitters expanded their advertising. She mentions that she’s shy and doesn’t criticize often, except we saw her be much more passive-aggressive and awesomely bitchy in her first POV book. Every chapter 2 of a BSC book should just say, “Mary Anne is really shy and quiet, except for every other book where she’s not.”
Oh yay, the introduction of Jackie Rodowsky! I really like that kid. He’s probably my favorite of the regular baby-sitting charges. That poor kid, falling into everything all the time. I’ll take Jackie’s mishaps over Karen’s stupid ghost stories and Claire Pike going “silly-billy-goo-goo” any day of the week. He has a male grasshopper named Elizabeth! I’m sorry – that’s just adorable.
“Every now and then our president becomes zealous and tries to run our club meetings according to parliamentary procedure.” This is an entirely realistic piece of prose from the inner dialogue of a character who is a thirteen-year-old girl.
Hey, I forgot that this is the story with Mary Anne’s surprise birthday party! All of the BSC decide to throw a surprise birthday party for Mary Anne, because apparently they have never met her.
Kristy wants Mary Anne to buy an outfit for the dance in the Sportswear department. Of course she does.
Stacey wants Mary Anne to shop in the underwear department. Of course she does.
Wait. Hold on. Morbidda Destiny’s real name is Mrs. Porter? Isn’t Porter the last name of Dawn’s mom? Morbidda Destiny is the great-aunt of Dawn Schafer! That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
This book has a whole paragraph explaining how to play the card game Memory. Thanks, book.
Well, that’s it for this edition of Stoneybrook Revisited. In the next edition, Stacey says “bye,” Mallory says “hi,” Kristy’s dog dies, and Claudia is the first to make a friend outside of the BSC and face consequences because of it. Stay tuned!