#11 – Kristy and the Snobs
This is the book where Kristy snarks at the snobs in her neighborhood and eventually becomes friendly with them, and also the one where her dog is put to sleep. Which one of these plots gets the title? The snob one. Well, at least that prevents the book from being a complete Very Special Episode About The Time We Put Our Dog To Sleep.
Kristy doesn’t like squirrels. We have that in common. We should form a squirrel-hating support group. The members would be me, Kristy, and Dug from Pixar’s UP.
Okay, we know how chapter 2 of each BSC book is the chapter where Ann M. Martin lists everyone’s background and character traits? Well, the chapter 2 in this particular book is the most awkwardly-written one so far. Kristy actually documents each member’s likes and dislikes as though they’re Playmates of the Month.
I know the message of this book is that Kristy and Shannon Kilbourne pre-judge each other and they’re both guilty and blah blah, but I actually have no problem with Kristy deciding that Shannon is awful after Shannon pretends that a house is on fire while Kristy is babysitting. That is a perfectly legitimate reason to think someone is a jerk! Kristy’s real mistake is forgiving Shannon and inviting her to join the club after Shannon exhibits irresponsible and dangerous behavior. Oh, well. Maybe their conflict can all be chalked up to sexual tension.
For some reason, I’m stuck on a throwaway line from the narration: “Sam was helping David Michael with a tricky subtraction problem.” Unless you are hopelessly bad at math or have dyscalculia, what exactly would count as a “tricky” subtraction problem for a seven-year-old? I don’t know why this bugged me, but it did. Why can’t she just say that Sam was helping David Michael with his difficult math homework?
Oh, I think this is the first book where Dawn’s brother Jeff misses California and wants to go home. This arc actually lasts for a couple of books, with an attempt to build up tension along the way.
Hey, when Kristy misses a meeting, Dawn has to take over as president since she’s the alternate officer. So Claudia’s vice-president title basically means nothing. How rude.
Also, the descriptions of a sick Louie are rather uncomfortable to read. But it’s okay in the end, because they get a new dog, and David Michael names her Shannon. So there are two Shannons: one’s a snob and the other’s a bitch. *rimshot*
#12 – Claudia and the New Girl
This is the first – but not the last – book where the POV character makes a friend outside the club, and the other club members turn into selfish, cliquey assholes because they cannot handle any outsider threatening the status quo. They are jerks to Claudia regarding Ashley from minute one, and while Ashley does indeed prove to be a jerk herself, Kristy and Mary Anne are icy-cold to her for no reason the minute they see Claudia talking with her. SO RUDE.
This actively annoys me, to tell the truth. We’re supposed to see the BSC members as Claudia’s true friends while Ashley only likes Claudia for being an artist. We’re supposed to see that the BSC are the REAL DEAL where friends are concerned. Yet these supposedly great people judge Ashley immediately because she dresses weird (according to them) and doesn’t talk to them comfortably. Then they get to smugly pat themselves on the back when Ashley turns out to be a user, and we, the readers, are meant to applaud them For Having Been Right All Along. When all I can think is, “Run, Claudia, run! Run away from Ashley AND the BSC!”
Seriously, I know I’m supposed to frown at Claudia for her whorish meeting-skipping ways, but there’s really nothing wrong, in theory, with an aspiring artist to become close to another artist her age, and develop a friendship with someone who shares an important common interest. When Claudia claims that they’d all still like each other even if they didn’t have babysitting in common, I want to shout, “LIAR!”
The worse part is that this is NOT the most obnoxious the club gets when one of them makes a friend outside of the group. We haven’t even reached the massive shit fit they collectively throw when Mary Anne gets a haircut. (I can’t WAIT for that book.)
Also, Jackie Rodowsky is still wicked adorable. I also like the Perkins girls, who name their characters Mrs. Xerox and Mrs. Refrigerator.
Also, the first chapter description of Claudia feeling bored in class is decently-written and kind of funny, but Claudia is seriously missing out by not having read The Westing Game. Get on that immediately, Claud.
HA. In a Claudia book, Janine is not mentioned until page 66. No one even tried to edit this, did s/he?
#13 – Goodbye Stacey, Goodbye
The very title of this book gives me a headache. The one comma but not the other. Why. WHY?
Anyway, this book is super boring. Stacey learns that she is leaving. Everyone is sad that Stacey is leaving. Stacey is sad that Stacey is leaving. People cry and talk about best friendships. The BSC throws a goodbye party for Stacey that includes them having to watch after a bunch of little kids, because these girls have problems. They’re thirteen years old and their idea of the most fun thing ever is to PAY for a party that entails them watching children.
Also, Stacey is all huffy that Howie Johnson asked out Dorianne Wallingford, even though previous books pointed to Pete Black as Stacey’s sort-of boyfriend, and basically she’s pouty over nothing, and how can we care when these two characters (Howie and Dorianne) haven’t even had LINES in most of the books? What the hell ever, Stacey.
The best thing about this book is Stacey’s full name: Anastasia Elizabeth McGill. Because of this book, I fully believed for a really long time that “Stacey” was almost always a nickname for “Anastasia,” and I was shocked to hear that it was a name in its own right. Thanks a lot, BSC books.
Dawn says that “people in California don’t have yard sales.” Any Californians want to contradict/confirm? It occurs to me that Ann M. Martin could’ve trolled us all and dropped made-up tidbits about California all these years, knowing we’d all swallow it.
Charlotte reads Iggy’s House, a story about a black family moving to a white neighborhood. And the next book will introduce Jessi. Well-played, Martin. Well-played.
#14 – Hello, Mallory
Mallory joins the club, but that’s only the second-most important part of the book. The most-important part of this book is that JESSI IS BLACK.
In all seriousness, though, this book manages to be…not completely unsubtle about racism, unlike future books that bring up the fact that JESSI IS BLACK in the most awkward ways possible. I want to snark at the over-the-top racist comment from Mallory’s classmate when she thinks that Jessi’s “real name is Mobobwee or something,” but then I remember that a girl my own age once sneered at my American Girl Addy doll and said that “those people smelled bad,” so maybe the “Mobobwee” comment is, sadly, not that over-the-top after all.
Anyway, Mallory and Jessi become fast best friends, mostly because Mallory becomes pretty stalkerish and possessive of Jessi and decides that she’s going to be best friends with the new girl the moment she sees her, and obsesses over whether or not she’ll have any classes with the new girl every damn period of the day. Still, they have a lot in common and DO become friends despite the adversity they face, given that JESSI IS BLACK. Jessi also likes to tell a lot of corny jokes. I don’t remember this character trait of Jessi appearing at all in later books. Where did Jessi-the-amateur-comedienne disappear to?
Wait, I just thought of something. Jessi is now living at Stacey’s old house. Jessi occupies the house that Stacey and her family once occupied. Jessi has a sister named Becca and a best friend in Mallory. She has a “girl,” though not in a romantic sense. So, Jessi’s girl once lived in the house as Stacey’s mom.
I know, I know. My jokes are hilarious. Not to mention timely.
So, in terms of plot, Mallory annoys me from the very beginning by acting like she’s SO UNUSUAL and SO PUT-UPON for having to wear glasses and braces. Yet, she manages to be less annoying than the BSC members who are two years older than she is, so I’m going to cut Mal a little slack. The parts where she and Jessi get to know each other are pretty cute, and she makes me chuckle when she speculates on Dawn’s job before Dawn took over the treasurer position: “Nothing too important, I guess. Maybe she was just another sitter.”
Wait. Hold on a minute. These supposedly super-superior excellent babysitters don’t know the difference between soy SAUCE and soy FORMULA? That’s it. They’re all fired. Except Mallory and Jessi, I guess. The fate of the club rests in the hands of two eleven-year-olds.
In these last four books, Kristy, Claudia, and Mallory each make a new friend, but Claudia is the only one judged for it. Let the lesson be learned: new friends are only acceptable if they become members of the Baby-Sitters Cult. I mean, Club.
Super Special #1: Baby-sitters On Board
This is the first super special and it’s a weird book for a few different reasons.
First, the book was published in between Hello, Mallory! and Little Miss Stoneybrook…and Dawn, yet it doesn’t fit with the timeline. In this super special, we have yet to meet Jessi, Stacey is still with the BSC, and Mallory isn’t in the club.
Second-of-ly, the book’s timeline is all off, not syncing up with the other books at all. This is their summer vacation, but it was published after Logan Likes Mary Anne!, where the girls first start eighth grade, and before Mary Anne’s Bad–Luck Mystery, where it’s almost Halloween. WHOOPS your timeline is non-existent!
Thirdly, Ann M. Martin decides to show the perspectives of three non-BSC characters. One is Mallory – okay, that makes sense. She’s going to become a BSC member shortly in the alternate timeline where they don’t go on the cruise, and this is the author’s way of introducing her to the readers. Another narrator is Karen Brewer. I can’t stand Karen, but maybe Ann already had the idea for the Little Sister series and was testing another narrator. Fine. But the third non-BSC POV character is Byron Pike, one of Mal’s triplet brothers, and – why? What does Byron bring to the table? Was this a misguided attempt to get boys interested in reading the BSC books? I don’t get it.
Finally, the book is boring. Super Specials are hardly ever boring, but the plots here are so dumb: Kristy makes friends with an old man. Stacey makes friends with a boy in a wheelchair because it’s just like diabetes!!! The boys think there’s a treasure on the ship. A daughter of two singers lies to Mary Anne. Boys like Claudia and Dawn and there’s no tension or suspense to make anyone care about their little romances. The only thing mildly interesting is Kristy and Dawn’s Odd Couple-esque feud but the story doesn’t live up to its potential. Kristy is mean to Dawn for no reason, and then stops being mean. Okay then.
The one good thing about Baby-sitters on Board is Mal wanting to keep a spy book like Harriet the Spy. This gives me more affection for Mal. I wanted to be Harriet the Spy at one point in my life, too. But it doesn’t make up for Karen being SO obnoxious. She sneaks away for like an hour, gets a manicure and charges a bunch of stuff to her father’s credit card, and Kristy’s response is to laugh and say “You’re too much?!” Is Karen that spoiled or is she that creepy kid from The Twilight Zone who could control everyone’s mind?
Coming up next on Stoneybrook Revisited: Jessi gets her first book which is also the first Very Special Episode book, Mary Anne has bad luck, the girls visit Stacey in New York, and Claudia breaks her leg.