#29 – Mallory and the Mystery Diary
Without a doubt, this is the most pointless book in the series so far. They find a diary in a trunk in Stacey’s attic. Mallory is obsessed with the diary because it’s like one hundred years old OMG. And it turns out to belong to Old Hickory’s granddaughter. And Old Hickory had a portrait of his daughter that was painted over. The baby-sitters are all fascinated by this mystery, especially Mallory, who literally can’t get to sleep because she’s so obsessed with solving this mystery, and oh my god not a single one of your readers give the tiniest infinitesimal shit.
This is a book that makes me doubt Ann M. Martin’s wealth of experience baby-sitting, because none of the characters come across as real teenage girls at all (except Kristy, which I’ll get back to in a minute). Every single one of the BSC members, aged eleven to thirteen, can’t stop thinking about this dumb mystery. Meanwhile, nine-year-old Vanessa Pike is more interested in the old clothes and funky jewelry she finds in Stacey’s attic. Why is Vanessa Pike the only one acting like an actual girl?
Mallory and the Mystery Diary is the fifth mystery-posing-as-a-normal-book in the series. The BSC mystery spinoff series didn’t happen until around book #46 of the original series. These books go a long way in explaining why Claudia is such a fan of Nancy Drew, though. Claudia is obviously a fan of Nancy Drew because Ann M. Martin is a fan of Nancy Drew, and she uses her baby-sitter characters to act as pale copies of Nancy Drew.
Anyway, the only remotely enjoyable thing about this book is Kristy trying to run a seance as Madame Kristin, before admitting that she thinks seances are stupid. You know, Kristy is starting to grow on me. She’s a bossy little jerk most of the time, but I can usually count on her to make me laugh at least once a book, even if I’m usually laughing at her, and she was the only non-boring thing in this one. I’m also starting to see why everyone thinks Mal is such a dork, because Mal is SUCH a dork.
Super Special #3 – Baby-sitters Winter Vacation
So, each super special is narrated by all of the baby-sitters in alternating chapters. Instead of simply taking turns narrating the book, though, Ann M. and her ghostwriters invent a reason for each girl to write a journal cataloging the events of the book. In the first super special, Kristy was collecting their journals to put together a present for her mom and stepdad as a thank you for taking them on a cruise (whatever). In the second super special, Stacey was collecting their journals as a keepsake and memory of her Stoneybrook friends as she went back to New York (okay, I can accept that). In this one, Mary Anne wants to put together a book for Logan about her and her friends’ trip so he can read about it when he gets back from Aruba (WHAT-EVER).
Usually, I am Team Mary Anne in any Mary Anne/Logan plots, but come ON, M.A. Why on earth do you think a thirteen-year-old boy would want to read a bunch of diary entries written by seven thirteen-year-old girls? What in god’s name made you think that was a good present? For crap’s sake.
For the third super special in a row, Claudia is saddled with the “romance” plot. Martin is worse at writing teen romances than she is at writing mysteries. Poor Claudia. Stacey gets a dose of this, too, and we get to see her AMAZING LOVE with a French guy (of course) develop in the three Stacey-POV chapters.
Mary Anne writes a skit for the kids to perform that is all passive-aggressive and secretly about her and Logan. Jessi has to try very hard not to laugh when she reads it, bless her.
Speaking of Jessi, there’s an uncomfortable plot where she assumes that a rude little girl is racist. It turns out the rude little girl is not racist, but just homesick, and she’s lashing out at all of the baby-sitters, not just Jessi. Jessi learns a Very Special Lesson that not all people that are rude to her are rude because she’s black, and I don’t know why a white author thought this was a good storyline for her one main black character. It’s so awkward.
Also, Kristy almost gets a guy killed when she pressures him into entering a winter sports competition. And a group of elementary school kids get stranded at the resort they’re all staying in, because GOD FORBID the girls ever have an actual vacation that doesn’t involve baby-sitting.
#30 – Mary Anne and the Great Romance
When I was a kid, I didn’t care about any of the romances between the baby-sitters and their boyfriends. The one exception might have been Stacey’s flirtation with Sam Thomas. But I always thought the Mary Anne’s dad/Dawn’s mom story was sweet and pretty adorable. I’m a sucker for stories about grownups who fall in love for a second time, and the setup here is so very The Parent Trap that I have to like it.
Another fun thing about Mary Anne and the Great Romance is that I don’t dislike Dawn! At all! She’s rather funny and sweet in this book. When Mary Anne says that “Gozzie Kunka” is a weird name and Dawn says, “For the longest time, I thought Logan Bruno was a pretty weird name,” I want to throw her a party. Go Dawn!
“If Claud’s fashion sense can be rated as a ten, and Kristy’s a two, I guess I must be about a six. Maybe a seven.” Sidebar about Kristy’s clothes: the characters are always talking about how Kristy is not interested in fashion whatsoever, but is it really fair to say that her fashion sense is a “two?” Her outfits always include jeans and a turtleneck and/or sweater. That’s not going to win her any Best Dressed awards, but it’s almost impossible to screw up that combination. Kristy’s never going to look bad, is what I’m saying. Her clothes will always be presentable.
Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold fight, and the fight is pretty amusing, especially when Marilyn puts tape down the middle of the room and points out that fashionable Carolyn is separated from her dresser. What’s REALLY funny is that Mary Anne doesn’t take this as the obvious sign that it is, and still agrees to share a room with Dawn.
Karen Brewer, meanwhile, sets up her little sister and pretends Emily Michelle did something bad, and somehow she’s less annoying in this exceptionally bratty act. At least someone holds Karen responsible for the shitty thing she did, for a change.
Mary Anne blows up at her father when she realizes that they’ll be moving to Dawn’s house. This moment is noteworthy because Mary Anne hardly ever gets vocally angry with people – except, you know, for at least one time in each book where she’s the narrator.
And then the book actually ends on a “who will catch the bouquet?!” cliffhanger. LOL.
#31 – Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister
And I’m back to hating Dawn after going through a whole book where I mostly found her mostly likable. I knew that couldn’t last.
First, Dawn is all pissy because Mary Anne caught the bouquet at Dawn’s mother’s wedding, and later on she’s grumpy because Mary Anne gets a sitting job over her.
Second, Dawn is totally unsympathetic and rude about Mary Anne not wanting to leave the house she grew up in. Dawn has her fantasy of the perfect blended family, see, and Mary Anne being whiny about having to move ruins Dawn’s fantasy. You’d think that a girl who was forced to move across the country from the house SHE grew up in would be a little more sympathetic about seeing her friend go through the same thing, but no.
Third, she switches Richard’s socks in the drawer because she’s annoyed with Mary Anne. Fuck you, Dawn. Richard Spier is a dear man and you don’t deserve him as your stepfather.
Fourth, when Dawn decides that she and Mary Anne sharing a room is a bad idea, her response is not to TALK to her favoritest stepsister about it, but to scare Mary Anne out of the room. And she’s then PROUD of herself for doing it. And the reason she doesn’t talk to Mary Anne about the problem isn’t because she’s worried about hurting Mary Anne’s feelings, but because she DOESN’T WANT TO ADMIT SHE WAS WRONG.
She is such a total asshole. Mary Anne has plenty of rude moments in the book, too, but scaring your supposed favorite sister into leaving your room is the height of assholery.
She’s also really fucking stupid, too, when she doesn’t understand why she can get along with Mary Anne half the time but not get along with her other times. “Is this what having a sister is all about?” Dawn, you have a brother. Sometimes you and Jeff get along and other times you don’t. How can you be that surprised when your relationship with Mary Anne is similar?
God bless Claudia for being all “Sis?” when Dawn calls Mary Anne “sis.” God bless her.
Anyway, the babysitting subplot where all the Pike kids are sick at the same time is one of the more amusing babysitting plots, and I enjoyed those chapters.
The next book is Kristy and the Secret of Susan, and I’ll be writing a separate post about that, because autism.