#20 – Kristy and the Walking Disaster
This book reveals something very important about Kristy Thomas: she’s grossed out by loose teeth. Bloody, loose teeth really, really bother her, in fact. This seems like a strange character trait. I wonder if Ann M. Martin thought that Kristy was too much of a stereotypical tomboy and gave her this little quirk to round her out a little bit.
Speaking of strange character traits, this is a book where Kristy gets a crush on a boy. Raise your hand if you buy this plot development. No one? Okay. (Side note: I hope I’m not offending any LGBT readers with my constant “Kristy is a lebsian” jokes. The reason why I make this joke is largely due to this piece of fanfiction. Enjoy.)
Another thing about Kristy? She’s a huge brat and a hypocrite. She constantly talks about Watson being a jerk and saying jerky things, even as this man helps her put together her kiddie league softball team. Watson Brewer is a really nice man and Kristy is always belittling him – it makes me want to smack her. She also cancels a BSC meeting for a Krushers game, and can you just imagine what would happen if another club member wanted to cancel a meeting for one of her extracurricular activities? It would NEVER HAPPEN.
Aside from Kristy’s jerkiness, though, this is a pretty cute book. Kristy’s Krushers is a decent plot device, and reading about kids playing sports together is more interesting to me than reading about individual babysitting jobs. The title doesn’t really fit the book, though. Jackie Rodowksy’s klutziness is really a B or C plot. But I suppose Kristy and the Walking Disaster is a catchier title than Kristy and the Krushers or Kristy’s Softball Team.
Also, the other baby-sitters are barely in this book. They have a few lines here and there and are always hovering in the background, but the real spotlight is on Kristy, Bart, and the kids on the team. That rarely happens in a BSC book.
And there are a few times when Kristy genuinely amuses me. There’s a part where she offers to do David Michael a favor, and he gets suspicious, wanting to know what Kristy wants in return, and Kristy’s all, “I actually didn’t want anything, but hey, now that you ask…”
#21 – Mallory and the Trouble with Twins
Do you know how many times I read this book when I was a kid? Neither do I. (It’s been a long time.) But I think I read it at least a dozen times – for the same reason that I loved both versions of The Parent Trap, and watched all of the made-for-TV-movies starring the Olsen twins, and was heartbroken when Sister, Sister was canceled. I wanted a twin sister when I was a kid, and thus all stories about twin girls were fascinating to me.
So, I was really excited about re-reading this book, and when I finally got to it, I realized that it wasn’t as good as I remembered. It’s still a good one, but I had built up the memory in my head to something much more epic.
I do enjoy the Marilyn-and-Carolyn name-switching games, and I’m terribly amused when they commit to switching places and trick Claudia right before Marilyn’s huge important piano recital.
I’m also discovering that Mallory Pike really does have a good head on her shoulders. I remember Mallory being much more pathetic and whiny than she’s been in her first two BSC books. Maybe she develops the whiny, pathetic trait in later books. She does a good job looking after the twins, and while I’m surprised it takes her half a book to realize that Marilyn and Carolyn don’t like wearing the same clothes all the time, she catches onto it pretty quickly considering that she’s only eleven.
This is another book where Mallory emphasizes that Dawn is an INDIVIDUAL who has INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS, and doesn’t like doing what everyone else does. (Someone really needs to make a Hipster Dawn Schafer tumblr account and macro.) And then, in the last chapter, Dawn decides that she needs to get her ears pierced after seeing Mallory, Jessi, and Claudia get their ears done. Oh, the irony. Dawn sucks.
#22 – Jessi Ramsey, Pet-Sitter
I was not looking forward to reading fifteen chapters about Jessi looking after pets, but I completely forgot that the eighth-grade babysitters have a fight in this book! I love it when the babysitters fight!
The fight: Mary Anne, Dawn, and Claudia are tired of their jobs and the extra responsibilities. They’re also sick of Kristy, who, in my unbiased opinion, is a psycho controlling dictator who thinks it’s okay for her to boss around people her own age. Mallory and Jessi decide to be Switzerland in this scenario, but none of the eighth-graders are making neutrality easy for them. In the end, it all works out, because they have elections and each person unanimously votes for all of the officers to keep their old jobs. And Kristy promises to be less bossy, and promptly forgets about said promise for the rest of the series.
The climax of the fight is a little…well, anticlimactic, but I appreciate any book that calls Kristy out for not doing any actual work in the meetings (aside from being a control freak).
Also, Kristy marches into Claudia’sroom and tapes her dumbass checklist over Claudia’s pictures on Claudia’s bulletin board, because Kristy is a terrible person. On the other hand, Mary Anne cries at one point for no real reason, and when Dawn calls her out, Kristy exclaims, “I didn’t do that! Mary Anne cries all the time!” And that’s pretty funny, and accurate.
Oh, the pet-sitting main plot. Boring, yet nice to get a break from too many annoying kids. Frank the parrot helpfully says, “Where’s the beef?” I have to remember that this book was published in 1989.
#23 – Dawn on the Coast
This book is so boring that I can’t even remember many details of what happened in it, despite the fact that I finished reading it two hours ago (from the time I’m typing this entry). Here’s the plot: Dawn visits her father and Jeff in California. She misses California and thinks about staying there permanently, like Jeff does. Then she changes her mind and goes back to Connecticut after all. THE END.
No, really. That’s the book! That’s IT!
Well, no. I’m lying. The babysitters have a going-away pizza party for Dawn even though she’s only leaving for two goddamn weeks. Who has a goodbye party for a friend who’s taking a fucking vacation?!
And even though the narrator of the book is in California, we STILL have to be subjected to a Karen Brewer sitting job. I thought Karen and Andrew only saw their dad every other weekend. Why are they in every book? Doesn’t Karen have her own spinoff by now?
#24 – Kristy and the Mother’s Day Surprise
This is amusing: in the first chapter, Kristy made a specific point of mentioning that Karen and Andrew were staying at the Brewer-Thomas mansion for longer than usual, and I groaned because I was expecting extra Karen time. Yet she was much less annoying in this book than in earlier books. I guess Karen is less annoying when she’s sprinkled throughout a book instead of limited to her own Very Special Chapter.
Anyway, Kristy and the Mother’s Day Surprise is an excellent example of how good babysitting does not always equal good storytelling. In this book, Kristy decides to give all the mothers in Stoneybrook a break and have the BSC watch their kids for a day. Unlike some other crackpot schemes of Kristy’s, this is a legitimately good idea – I’m surprised that the mothers didn’t break down and sob with happiness and gratitude when the BSC reached out to them. But it doesn’t lead to a very interesting story. Kristy has an idea, they organize the idea, they execute the idea, and all is well. The end! There isn’t even any decent baby-sitter drama. Oh, but Watson and Elizabeth adopt a little Vietnamese baby, in a plot that’s kind of cute but kind of dull.
However, much is made of the fact that Mary Anne Spier doesn’t have a mother, and everyone is awkward about that fact – especially Kristy, who is trying very hard to be more sensitive and less bossy. This drama seems a little manufactured, almost like Ann M. was writing this book and forgot herself that Mary Anne’s mom is dead, felt bad, and wrote it into the “plot.”
At the end of the first chapter, Kristy is thinking about the definition of family, and it’s all sentimental and trite, until she gets to this part about her bio dad: “And there’s my real father….But, no, he doesn’t count. Somebody who never writes, never calls, never remembers your birthday, never says he loves you, doesn’t count at all.” Um. OUCH. Surprisingly bleak and realistic. I’m not used to genuine emotion from these books. Someone help me!
Beginning of chapter 2: “As president of the Baby-sitters Club, I get to run the meetings. I adore being in charge.” Oh, thank god – I’m much more comfortable making fun of Kristy’s control freak nature than empathizing with her.
Oh, speaking of uncomfortable, Mimi appears in the book several times and is already visibly fading and forgetting things. Kristy comments that it’s not funny at all, and I agree. Sorry – I can’t snark about Mimi.
I *can* snark on Kristy’s wildly inappropriate thoughts about Stacey and Jessi meeting for the first time. As the eighth-grade baby-sitters are reuniting, Mallory and Jessi get to the meeting. Stacey says hi to Mallory, and then turns and says, “I guess you’re Jessi Ramsey.” Kristy, somehow, interprets this comment as Stacey calling attention to the fact that JESSI IS BLACK. She thinks Stacey is making a big deal about Jessi’s race (because JESSI IS BLACK), but I think Stacey is just making a segue from greeting Mallory to introducing herself to Jessi. In short, I think Kristy is being the unintentionally racist one by noticing racism in Stacey that isn’t there.
Now that I’ve read 25 BSC books (including the first super special), I’m going to write my current ranking of babysitters from favorite to least favorite: Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Mallory, Jessi, Kristy, Dawn. We’ll see if this changes as I proceed.
Coming up next on Stoneybrook Revisited: Mary Anne loses her cat, the BSC has a summer vacation in a weird alternate super-special timeline that doesn’t coincide with the original series timeline, Jessi baby-sits a movie star (because that makes sense), and Stacey returns. Claudia also loses her grandmother, but again, I’m probably not going to be able to be snarky about that book.