Blog PostsStoneybrook Revisited: BSC Books #25-28, Super Special #2

#25 – Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger
This book should really be titled Mary Anne and the Search for a Better Boyfriend. Logan is a total jerk when Mary Anne loses her kitten. When she gets emotional at a meeting, he even whispers to her, “Mary Anne, can you stop being so…sensitive?” First of all, Logan, if you’re looking for a girlfriend who’s not sensitive, look elsewhere. Second of all, this isn’t equivalent to Mary Anne getting teary when Kristy’s voice is too loud. Mary Anne has lost her pet. At the end of the book, his excuse is that he’s worried about his poor performance on the baseball team, but he seems wholly uninterested in his girlfriend’s problem, beyond the point of simply being distracted by his own problems. Shut up, Logan.

“I might as well be straightforward (even though I hardly ever am) and say right out that Jessi’s family is black.” That has got to be one of the most awkward “JESSI IS BLACK” references in the entire series. If I come across descriptions that are even worse, I’ll let you know.

“We had all just seen each other at school, but that didn’t matter. Every time we get together, it’s as if we haven’t spoken in a week.) Uh-oh, y’all – the baby-sitters are collectively suffering from short-term memory loss. Someone get them a doctor.

In the third chapter, Mary Anne and Logan are sitting outside the house talking, and he seems annoyed by everything she says and does. Then she asks him what he wants to drink, and makes a big deal of telling the reader, “I knew exactly what he wanted. That’s how well we know each other. I didn’t even need to ask him.” She really sounds like a girl who knows deep down that her boyfriend’s an asshole and is overcompensating by talking about their great connection. Fortunately, this is a book where the baby-sitters live up to their “we’re such good friends” reputation, because all the girls are very supportive of Mary Anne losing her kitten. Even when Kristy’s running the search, she manages not to make it all about her.

This is Mary Anne’s second book in a row that’s all about a “mystery” plot. The first one was about a series of stupid back luck instances, and the second was about a stupid search for a lost kitten. (Not that I don’t sympathize with people who lose their pets, but I didn’t need to read a whole “whodunnit” book about which person took Tigger.) Meanwhile, Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic, a story that actually addresses a very important part of Mary Anne’s past, is NOT in the original book series, but is shoved to the mystery spinoffs. Bad decision. Bad, bad decision.

#26 – Claudia and the Sad Goodbye
Mimi’s gone. 🙁 🙁 🙁

I’m not cool with Martin’s decision to kill Mimi. Mimi was just so classy and gentle. This book is a good tribute to her memory, and a decent portrayal of a teenager’s feelings of grief and loss. But now I still have more than one hundred Mimi-less books to read. I guess Mary Anne’s dad is going to have to replace Mimi as my favorite BSC guardian. (I don’t know why; I just find that man adorable.) I wonder if Ann M. didn’t anticipate writing (or having people ghost-write) hundreds of books after this – and if she did anticipate it, maybe she wouldn’t have killed off Mimi so early in the series.

Anyway, like I said, this book has a decent plot and portrays Claudia’s emotions well, but the writing is hampered by the 15-chapter BSC format. Claudia starts getting bratty about taking care of Mimi after Mimi’s been in the hospital for, like, a day. Then she’s apologetic very shortly afterwards. The book has to cram all of Claudia’s emotions into such a small window of time that she comes off as bratty and a little unhinged rather than a normal thirteen-year-old. This could have been a good book instead of just a decent one if she had more space to explore Claudia’s emotions over time.

I think it’s sweet that Claudia tells Mary Anne first, and it’s sweet that Mary Anne offers to call the other BSC members so Claud doesn’t have to.

Claudia describes Stacey’s diabetes as a “huge drag,” by the way.

Claudia is also snarky about Janine’s class, Advances and Trends in Computerized Biopsychiatry, saying she doesn’t know any of those words except “and” and “in.” Oh come on, Claud. You don’t understand “trends?”

The baby-sitters are Very Concerned when Corrie Addison looks like she’s getting attached to Claudia, even though they never said boo about the fact that Charlotte Johanssen has complete emotional breakdowns when she can’t be near Stacey. Stacey’s allowed to have her favorite charge in Char, Kristy’s allowed to have Karen & Andrew and Jamie, Mallory gets the Arnold twins, Jessi gets Matt Braddock, why can’t Claud have a favorite kid?

“Kristy may be a loudmouth. She may be bossy sometimes. But I think she understands kids better than the rest of us does.” Holy bad grammar, Batman, but Claudia might have a point, and this is the second book in a row where Kristy doesn’t act like an asshole, so she gets points for that.

Rest in peace, Mimi.

Super Special #2 – Babysitters Summer Vacation
This book was published after Claudia and the Sad Goodbye, except Mimi’s still alive in this one. Oops. Maybe Claudia’s writing her postcards to Ghost Mimi.

I love kid and teen books about summer camp, which is why this is one of my favorite super specials. I don’t care about Dawn and her weirdo camper who turns out to be useful, or Claudia and her romance with a male CIT, or Stacey and her poison ivy. But I love Kristy getting her big feminine makeover from her girly CITs, Mary Anne proving her gutsiness to the other CITs, and Jessi and Mal teaming up to fight racism! I’m especially delighted that the racist idiots in Mal and Jessi’s cabin don’t even know how to use a racial slur correctly, calling them both Oreos. LOL.

What makes me LOL even louder is when Kristy’s cabin mates loudly sigh over the boyfriends, and Kristy just pipes in with, “I miss Bart.” Oh, poor repressed gay Kristy trying to fit in.

Claudia’s postcard to her parents: “Hi how are you? Me just fin.” OH MY GOD how have the Kishis not signed her up to be evaluated? She breaks my heart a little bit when she purposely mispronounces the camp’s name so she can laugh at herself and not feel embarrassed. “That’s a good way to get out of embarrassing situations – make a joke. I do that a lot in school.” People make fun of her bad academics all the time. Poor girl.

I love when the boys come to the girls’ cabin and they all freak out. “I’m changing!” “I’m naked!” “I’m Claudia.” I love that girl. I really do.

A lot of the characters joke that the cabins have such “boring” names, and it just irritates the crap out of me, especially when Logan does it. Why exactly should cabins at summer camp have creative names? What are they expecting aside from Cabin 7-A and 7-B? Logan also doesn’t stand up for Mary Anne when his male counselor/CIT buddies call her a “feeb,” because he is a terrible boyfriend.

#27 – Jessi and the Superbrat
Jessi baby-sits for a child television star, because that makes sense, and said television star rips off the plot of Shirley Jackson’s short story “Charles.” Then she flirts with the idea of trying to be a star herself, but realizes that she was only pretending not to care about being cast in Swan Lake because she really DID care after all.

I want to make a Black Swan joke about Jessi. I probably shouldn’t, because it would be racist, but to be fair, the books make such a big obnoxious deal about Jessi BEING BLACK that I can’t help that it popped into my head!

Yeah, I don’t have much to say about this book except that I think Becca and Squirt seem like cute kids, and her parents seem reasonable. So that’s nice for the Ramsey family.

#28 – Welcome Back, Stacey!
Woot woot! Anastasia Elizabeth McGill is in the HOUSE!

It’s pretty neat that three of the seven main baby-sitters have divorced parents. Girls who grow up reading these books and struggling with their parents’ divorces probably felt comforted seeing representations of themselves in the BSC.

The fights between Stacey’s parents are pretty well-done, but I don’t remember them not getting along before this book, so the divorce seems rather sudden. I guess we can’t spend too much time with Stacey while she’s still in New York.

“You know what’s funny, though? When I’m with the Walkers, I don’t think of them as black, just as people.” WOW, STACEY, YOU ARE SO PROGRESSIVE AND AWESOME. I’m going to throw a “Congratulations On Not Being Racist” awards ceremony JUST FOR YOU.

Noteworthy about this book: Dawn is not a jerk, nor is she boring. She gives Stacey some practical divorced kid advice and does not guilt trip Stacey into coming back to Stoneybrook. Good for you, Dawn! Keep it up!

Welcome Back, Stacey! is a very good BSC outing. Very little baby-sitting (heh heh) and I think Stacey’s mixed emotions and anger come across as very realistic. The ending isn’t neat and tidy, and things aren’t all better for Stacey just because she’s back with the BSC. I’m actually moved when she realizes that Stoneybrook kids are better friends than the New York kids; I flash back to descriptions of poor Stacey being ostracized right as she started to get sick. Claudia and Stacey’s friendship is also quite sweet in this book, very mutually supportive, and wow – for once I’m more moved than snarky. Who’d a thunk?

In some ways, I think this book is even better than Claudia and the Sad Good-bye. The pacing and timing of Stacey’s changing emotions seemed more organic and less rushed than Claudia getting tired of being Mimi’s maid after, like, a day. Even the baby-sitting was better integrated into the main plot. Stacey’s attachment to Henry and Grace Walker is better developed than Claudia’s sudden attachment to Corrie, because Stacey’s sat for them in the past, and Henry and Grace weren’t just introduced for the sake of making her feel conflicted.

I also love her reaction to her dad calling his new apartment his “pad.” “His new pad. He actually said that.”

Coming up next: Mallory gets a stupid mystery book that’s posing as a regular BSC book, Mary Anne’s dad and Dawn’s mom get married, and they have another super special that I only read once and don’t remember very well.

Also, Kristy baby-sits an autistic child. When I read that book for the first time as a kid, I was neutral on its portrayal of autism. We’ll see how I feel this time around. That book review might take a separate post because the topic is of special importance to me.

This entry was posted in Blog Posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stoneybrook Revisited: BSC Books #25-28, Super Special #2

  1. I remember that I only read Jessi and the Superbrat once because I thought it was a stupid book, and that although I wanted Stacey back in Stoneybrook, I really didn’t like her parents getting divorced, because they had always seemed happy before (before the past few books where there was some foreshadowing). As an adult, though, I can cut Stacey’s parents a little bit of slack, since sometimes good marriages fall apart rather suddenly.

    This is also about where I feel like the series jumped the shark, but I still look forward to your next set of reviews!

    • Lady T says:

      I’m not sure the series was ever BEHIND the shark, to be honest. Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls was a total dud and that was only the second book! But thanks for your kind words.

Leave a Reply