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BSC#12- Claudia and the New Girl.


BSC#12- Claudia and the New Girl.

Plot.

There’s a new girl in town, Ashley Wyeth, who is in to art and dressing weirdly and becomes Claudia’s art ‘mentor’. Claudia is so wrapped up with Ashley and art that she neglects the BSC and fights with all her friends.

Cover.


Claudia is wearing a disappointingly plain outfit. Blue jeans and a white shirt and plain sneakers? Anyone would think it’s a book about Kristy. If you squint really hard she is at least wearing some kind of dangly earring and a hair accessory. The red haired child is a Rodowsky, and that’s Ashley clutching Claudia’s arm in that pleading way.

Notes.

-An Ashley outfit, just to kick things off! “She was wearing a very pretty pink flowered skirt that was full and so long it touched the tops of her shoes- which I soon realised were not shoes, but sort of hiking boots. Her blouse, loose and lacy, was embroidered with pink flowers, and both her wrists were loaded with silver bangle bracelets. Her hair, which was almost as long as my friend Dawn’s and was dirty blonde, was pulled into a fat braid (which, I might hadd, was not held in place with a rubber band or anything; it just sort of trailed to an end). But the amazing thing was that because her hair was pulled back, you could see her ears. And she had three pierced earrings in each ear. They were all silver and dangly, but none matched.”

-The babysitters can be surprisingly judgemental of each other. Claudia “wishes for the thirty ninth thousand time that she’d do something about her clothes and hair. Kristy is really cute, but she never bothers to make herself look special.” Wow, bitchy much, Claudia?

-Ashley turns up in Claudia’s art class, wearing a puffy white blouse, a blue-jean jacket, a long blue jean skirt, and thos hiking boots again. Beaded bracelets circled both wrists, and she’d tied a strip of faded denim around her head, like an Indian headband.

-Ashley is an artistic genius, and tells Claudia she is also talented, and thus she begins her manipulations.

-Claudia babysits for Jackie ‘the walking disaster’ Rodowsky. She complains about him a lot.

-Claudia starts ditching her friends to hang out with Ashley and discuss an art show they’re both planning on entering. Ashley is obnoxious and pretentious about her art- although perhaps I’m just a philistine who doesn’t understand.

-Stacey slams Ashley in the club notebook by pointing out that she wears bell bottom jeans to school…for people who supposedly value the individuality in each other, they’re not very appreciative of it in others.

-Another Ashley outfit! Clearly Ann M Martin has to emphasise Ashley’s weirdness by her outfits. “She was wearing a long, all-the-way-to-her-ankles dress with three rows of ruffles at the bottom. A strip of black cloth was tied around her head. She looked…well, all right, I’ll admit it. She looked a little bizarre.” She looked a little bizarre? Claudia, of the lab coats and tuxedo pants and suspenders and weirdly painted shirts calling someone else’s fashion choices bizarre???

-The babysitters are so mad at Claudia for ditching all their meetings that the eat up her stash of junk food. Even Dawn abandons her health principles in the pursuit of sweet, sweet revenge! Then they hide what’s left over, which I always actually thought was kind of amusingly creative of them.

-Claudia eventually fights with Ashley because she won’t become a solitary art obsessive like she is, and then realises that she’s abandoned all her old friends, and that many things other than art make her happy.

- Claudia’s apology poem. Long ago in another time/ I had four friends and they were mine./ Then I found an artist who/ said I am good and so are you./ So I followed her here and there/ and round and round and everywhere./But she was false and it took you/ to show me friends that are really true. I love it, and it’s even all spelled correctly!

-Claudia wins an honourable mention in the art show for her unfinished sculpture (of Jackie Rodowsky, since she decided against being an artistic pioneer with Ashley and sculpting inanimate objects and concepts, which Ashley believes should be “sculpted with gentle curves and tender feelings”. And this kid is twelve???!). Ashley wins, and they wind up being polite friends.

 

Not the most brilliant and gripping of BSC books, but it does have a satisfactorily large amount of outfits described!


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BSC#11- Kristy and the Snobs


BSC#11- Kristy and the Snobs.

Plot.

Kristy has moved into Watson’s mansion and is the new girl in a neighbourhood full of snobs.

Cover.

Kristy, looking pretty normal in jeans and a turtleneck (pink, which I do find a little hard to take since tomboys are not generally known for their fondness for pink) with her lovely collie Louie. Two blond girls, Shannon Kilbourne and Amanda Delaney, wearing knee socks and sweater vests (and Kristy is intimidated by this?) with their fancy dog and cat are sneering at her.   

Notes

- Kristy starts the book by criticising her new snobby neighbours. I hate to be judgemental (lol, yeah right!) but I really do think her attitude here is kind of the problem. Just because someone has a pool and a room of money a la Scrooge McDuck doesn’t mean they’re necessarily snobs.

- Louie the dog is getting old and arthritic in this book. It’s quite sad actually. And I can’t believe that anyone would be as mean about someone’s dog as Shannon ‘the Snob’ Kilbourne is about Louie.

- Shannon’s dog is named ‘Astrid of Grenville’. What the hell?

- While Kristy’s babysitting, Shannon plays a prank on her by calling to tell her the house is on fire. That seems pretty extreme. What happened to playing Ding, Dong, Ditch?

- The Delaney’s golden fish fountain in the front hall! As a kid I used to think “wow, exotic” about that fish fountain. As an adult all I can think is “drowning hazard!”

- Kristy and Shannon settle their differences and make friends over a pizza. With peace making skills like that maybe they should offer their services to the UN.

- the chapter where Louie is put to sleep is just plain sad. Poor dog.

- Shannon admits that she was jealous of Kristy’s club and gives her a puppy. I don’t know, Kristy moves into the neighbourhood and steals all the babysitting jobs and gets a puppy as a reward?

- Of course, this is BSC world and everything has to end up well- the Thomas/Brewer clan gets Shannon the puppy who never grows up, and although Shannon the human can’t accept her invitation to join the BSC due to her packed schedule, she does become an associate member.

 

I liked this book as a kid, but it’s not all that gripping rereading it now. The parts about the dog are good, but I dislike the way everyone in Kristy’s fancy new neighbourhood are snobs, unlike the normal people in her regular neighbourhood who are all wonderful. And the lack of outfits is deeply disappointing!


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BSC#10- Logan Likes Mary Anne!


BSC#10- Logan Likes Mary Anne!

Plot- Mary Anne has a crush on the new boy in town, and he might be joining the BSC!


Cover.

Love it! You know you’re in for something awesome when the title of the book includes an exclamation mark! As a tween Logan from this cover really was my dream boy. And Mary Anne is wearing a giant baggy sweater and has a headband with a bow on the side of her head and is chewing her fingernail gazing up adoringly at Logan- it’s all so cute!

Notes.

-This book is the start of the endless year of eighth grade- if only they had known how many dances, Halloweens and babysitting jobs they’d have to endure before graduation.

- I adore Mary Anne’s crush on Logan. He looks just like her favourite movie star, she dresses up when she’s going to see him, she can’t even talk when she’s around him…it’s all a sign of true love.

- Look, I try to be open minded and not subscribe to gender norms too much, but the basic idea of a thirteen year old boy, rocking up to a bunch of girls he’s never met and saying how much he loves to babysit? Kind of weird.

- Mary Anne of the enormous crush gets to decide whether Logan is a good babysitter. I don’t feel they’re really taking her bias into account here!

- He doesn’t want to join the club after all that, but he asks her to the Remember September dance!

- They all go shopping to glam Mary Anne up for the dance, which means outfits! “I tried on a green sweater dress that made me look like a mermaid, and a yellow sweater dress that made me look as big as a house.” Sweater dresses…oh no. They’re not a good look for anyone.

- And then they find it, the ultimate babysitters club book outfit, Mary Anne’s famous cities skirt! “Claudia handed me a full white skirt with the words Paris, Rome, and London, and sketchy pink and blue pictures of the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge and other stuff scrawled all over it. She matched it up with a pink shirt and a baggy pink sweater. I would never, ever have tried on that skirt, but with the shirt and sweater it looked really cool. In the shoe department we found white slip-ons with pink and blue edging that matched the pink and blue in the skirt. I’d never have looked twice at those shoes either, but with the rest of the outfit they were perfect.”

- Dance outfits are always so much fun. Aside from Mary Anne in her new threads, “Claudia was wearing short, tight fitting black pants and a big white shirt that said BE-BOP all over it in between pictures of rock and roll dancers. She had fixed a floppy blue bow in her hair. Stacey was wearing a white t shirt under a hot pink jumpsuit. Dawn and Kristy looked more casual. Dawn was wearing a green and white oversized sweater with stretchy green pants. Kristy was wearing a white turtleneck shirt under a pink sweater with jeans.”

- I have to say that I always laughed at Mary Anne’s shoe flying off, but I also feel her pain. Lesson#109 from BSC books- don’t wear slip-on shoes to a dance!

- We know Stacey is so super sophisticated and all, but having people bring dates to her party is just pretentious. You’re eating pizza and candy in a basement, not going to a Regency Ball.

- Mary Anne running away from the surprise cake? NO ONE is that shy. And besides, someone who hates sports like Mary Anne would never run.

- However all ends up well, they all make friends and Mary Anne adopts Tigger, the kitten who never grows up.

 

Number of Halloweens- 1

Number of school dances- 2

I always loved this book. I like Mary Anne, there’s lots of outfits, and Logan is just the ultimate in non threatening boys for a tween girl to have a crush on! 



BSC#9- The Ghost at Dawn's House

BSC#9- The Ghost at Dawn’s House.

Plot.

Dawn keeps hearing weird noises at her house and then finds a secret passage between her room and the barn. She becomes convinced that there’s a ghost. Subplot involves the Pike family, and the way the triplets don’t play nice with Nicky.

Cover.

Ok, WHERE is Dawn’s looooong hair? Why do none of the Dawn covers have hair any longer than her bra strap? Although apart from that this is a pretty good cover- Dawn and Jeff actually look the ages they’re meant to be and it pictures something that does in fact occur in the book. But I do laugh at Dawn’s jeans that show off her ankles.

Notes.

-This book introduced Claudia’s hollow book as a place to hide her junk food. I always wanted one myself, but I think with all the book geeks in the Kishi household it’s probably the one item in Claudia’s room that someone might want to borrow.

-At least in this book it’s the summer, and mercifully Dawn is not whining about the cold Connecticut weather.

-For someone who apparently ‘loves’ ghost stories, Dawn is pretty easily scared- even I didn’t have to sleep with the light on if there happened to be a thunderstorm.

- Actually, all the babysitters are pretty easy to scare. They come over to Dawn’s house to look for a secret passage, and manage to terrify each other by moaning into heating vents. It’s not exactly Exorcist level frightening, it’s more like the kind of prank you’d get on Candid Camera.

-Dawn discovers the barn entrance to the secret passage because she sits on the trapdoor and falls through it.

-She finds a button, a buckle and a key that look old, so she decided that they’re all that’s left of a person who was kept prisoner in the secret passage and died trying to escape with the key. Because that’s the most logical explanation…

-Once again, Kristy is scared by her six year old stepsister Karen’s stories. How does allowing this to happen repeatedly give her parents confidence in her ability to babysit?

-Dawn shows Jeff the secret passage. They find more objects and Dawn expounds her haunted passage theory. Jeff doesn’t believe her, so she convinces him. A thirteen year old terrorising a nine year old really is fabulous babysitting.

-Conveniently Dawn finds a history book of Stoneybrook that has an old legend in it about a man called Jared Mullray, who Dawn now believes is the ghost in her passage.

- Dawn babysits for the Pikes and chases after Nicky when he runs off on his own. She finds him in the passage- turns out much of the ghost evidence can be attributed to Nicky who was using the passage for his ‘hideout’.

-Book ends ambiguously…is there a ghost or not? If there is, what does Jared Mullray want? Will the Pike triplets ever let Nicky play with them? Will Dawn manage to control her imagination in future? Will anyone be able to control Karen Brewer’s imagination? And most importantly…WHY ARE THERE NO OUTFITS DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK???

 

I remember enjoying this book a lot when I first read it back in primary school, but it hasn’t exactly stood the test of time. Dawn is a bit too inconsistent and hysterical, but at least she’s not the environmental bore she becomes later on. That Dawn would have just lectured Nicky (and the ghost, come to think of it) about littering in the passage way. Definitely not on the favourites list, but coming up is #10 Logan Likes MaryAnne! (yes, exclamation mark included in the title!) and that is pure babysitters awesomeness, so hang in there.


BSC#8- Boy-Crazy Stacey


Plot.

Stacey and MaryAnne are off to the beach for two weeks of surf, sun and fun as mothers’ helpers for the Pikes! Although, as the coverline says ‘Who needs baby-sitting when there are boys around!’


Cover.

I love this cover. Stacey looks hot (although I’m not entirely certain what she’s wearing…a jacket over a dress? Where’s the skimpy bikini?) and Scott is such a hunk. Although examining it now I’m a little disturbed by his open shirt and sculpted hairstyle. I know it’s a big deal in the book that he’s older than Stacey, but he looks about thirty on the cover, which is just a little skeevy.

Notes.

-There are so many outfits in this book! ‘I decided on this new pink shirt I got the last time we went back to New York City to visit friends. Big, bright green and yellow birds were splashed all over it. It was gigantic, so it would be cool. I put it on with a pair of baggy shorts, looped a wide green belt around my middle, and hunted up some jewellery-silver bangle bracelets and a pair of silver earrings shaped like bells that actually ring when they dangle back and forth.’ It’s hardly young and hip- that shirt sounds like something you’d see in a Florida retirees bingo hall.

- All the tears because the babysitters are going to be ‘split up’ for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! The horror! I do feel they’re somewhat overly dramatic here. World hunger is a tragedy. Not getting a date to the Halloween Hop is also very sad. Not being able to see your friends for two weeks because you’re going on a holiday? Yeah, not so tragic.

- Silly-billy-goo-goo. Oh, Claire Pike, you and your eternal silly stage…

- This book was clearly written back in the days before car seat safety. Claire and Margo Pike travel to Sea City lying down in the very back of the station wagon, and at one point Margo and Mallory swap places, by climbing across the car from the backseat to the front seat, while Mr Pike continues to drive along the highway!

- Stacey falls in ‘luv’ when she first sees lifeguard Scott with the sun glinting off his blonde hair, making it gleam…ah, the romance!

- Beach outfits! Stacey’s bikini was skimpy (and we’re talking very skimpy) and yellow, with tiny bows at the sides on the bottom part. And if I do so say myself, the top part was filled out pretty nicely. Stacey, you really should be dressing in order to babysit and play with kids, not show off your big boobs. (This is also one of the very few mentions of boobs ever in BSC books- they  must have been the only teens in history not to have been somewhat obsessed with boobs, bras and periods. Are you There God, it’s me, Margaret these books are not.) In contrast, MaryAnne has a perfectly nice pale blue bikini with white stripes running diagonally across it. It wasn’t quite as skimpy as mine, and the top wasn’t filled out at all… Nice to see Stacey picking on her friends lack of boobs!

- Stacey meets Scott the lifeguard when he fixes up Claire’s cut food. “Maybe we had better introduce ourselves. I’m Scott Foley. I’ve been noticing you.” Yikes. Sounds like the beginning of a relationship involving stalking and restraining orders.

- But then, again, who would stalk “Stacey McGill. Thirteen years old. Formerly of New York City.” Stacey, we know you’re from the city…so are millions of other people. You need a new claim to fame.

- MaryAnne gets sunburned. I feel sorry for her at the start of this book. Stacey leaves her to do all the babysitting work, and then she gets sunburned on top of it. What a vacation.

- Scott gives Stacey his whistle. Funny what difference a few years of perspective makes- as a nine year old reading this book I thought it was all romantic. As an adult, every time Scott speaks to Stacey I just think, ‘hello creepster.’

- Stacey bought another bikini! This one was pink, with palm trees and parrots all over it. Once again, I don’t see evidence of Stacey’s sophistication with her wardrobe choices.

- More outfits! For their night on the town Stacey wore a white cotton vest over a pink cotton dress and tied a big white bow in my hair so that it flopped over the side of my head. I remember wearing bows like that… MaryAnne is fashion challenged, so has to borrow an entire outfit from Stacey- yellow pedalpushers, a yellow and white striped tank top, and an oversized white jacket.

- Stacey sees Scott kissing some other girl and is crushed- really she’s quite a bitch to MaryAnne. The next day she skips out on watching the kids at the beach too.

- However, being Stacey she wastes no time in falling in ‘luv’ again- meets some guy called Toby on the beach, a cousin to the mothers helper Alex that’s been chatting MaryAnne up daily.

- They go on a double date, and Stacey and Toby go on a romantic ride in the Tunnel of Luv (must have been named by a Stacey type) where he leaned over and kissed me gently. Oh please. Like a fourteen year old guy isn’t going to be trying to feel her up and get it on the whole way through the tunnel!

- Stacey’s summation of her two week holiday- “in two weeks  I found my first real love, lost him, found another, and got my first kiss.” I don’t think being Scott’s errand girl really counts as a ‘real love’, but glad you enjoyed yourself Stacey.

 

This book really does rock. It’s full of outfits, and romance, and Stacey being a bitch- what’s not to love?!

 

BSC#7- Claudia and Mean Janine


BSC#7- Claudia and Mean Janine.

Plot.

Claudia’s grandmother has a stroke, and Claudia finds herself babysitting for Mimi instead of joining the other girls in running a playgroup for the local kids.


Cover.

Claudia’s jumper is something special. Oversized (it looks like she could fit in there twice), splotchy patterned, bright and hideous colouring…such 80’s glamour. I can just about feel the acrylic. And giant earrings. Don’t forget them. The frightening thing about the earrings is that I could go to the mall and buy a similar pair today.

Janine’s outfit is dreadful. Look, we get that she’s a genius and supposedly has no interest in clothes, but she must have SOME interest, since that outfit is so outdated and ugly that you would probably have to seek out a specialty shop to buy it at. She also has a Lego man haircut!

I think that kid is supposed to be Jamie Newton. He’s dressed rather formally for a four year old playing at home.

Notes.

-I dislike the way the character of Janine is written. She can’t even hold a conversation, “I was simply trying to uphold my end of a meaningful conversation with my sibling”…no one talks like that. I have been friends with a genius, and currently live with another genius and they don’t talk like that. Even I don’t talk like that when I’m trying to sound ridiculously pretentious!

- Kristy the idea machine is the mastermind behind the BSC playgroup. I have to concede that it’s not a bad idea, since they’ll get paid to babysit and can really just hang out together.

- Mallory Pike wants to come to the playgroup but feels like she’s too old. (At 10? Too old for a playgroup? Surely you jest!) The babysitters let her come along and help out (or be their minion) for free.

- Janine offers to play the Trivia Game with Claudia and Mimi. WHY???? Where is the fun? She wins on her second turn, which has to make it the most boring game in history. What’s wrong with a game of Snakes and Ladders?

- The game ends in a shambles of Claudia making accusations of cheating and Janine slamming the board shut and stomping off in a huff. Real mature girls!

- Claudia and Janine kind of make up, then hear Mimi fall. She’s taken to hospital in an ambulance, and it’s discovered she had a stroke.

- First day of playgroup=outfits! Stacey was wearing ‘a pair of knee length lime green shorts, matching green high topped sneakers, and a large white t shirt with a gigantic taxicab on the front’. Because white is so practical for running a playgroup! MaryAnne and Kristy were both wearing ‘blue jean shorts, running shoes, and T shirts.’ Sounds a bit more sensible really. Dawn had on ‘a surprisingly New York kind of outfit (she usually goes for California casual)…striped pants with suspenders over a red shirt.’ I just expect her to grab her suspenders and burst into a song and dance routine. And I love the way they think ‘california casual’ is an actual fashion genre. (If fashion can be said to have a genre?)

- They visit Mimi and Claudia gets her to use her eye blinking to communicate with them. She should become a rehabilitation therapist when she gets older. If she could learn to spell.

- Ann M does write the character of post-stroke Mimi very well. This book was the first time I’d really heard of people having a stroke, and it’s a pretty accurate portrayal.

- Karen Brewer causes havoc at the playgroup by telling everyone that Andrew’s going to turn into a monster because of a spell. The children of Stoneybrook do seem somewhat gullible.

- Claudia is PAID to look after Mimi in the mornings. Heartless bitch.

-Outfit! Claudia was invited to Lucy Newton’s christening, and she wore ‘a big, loose white shirt with black splotches over it, and white pants that came to just below my knee. My shoes (and I might point out I’d had a fight with Mom over permission to buy them) were dainty gold sandals that laced partway up my legs. Then I put on my pink flamingo earrings and a pink bracelet that said CLAUDIA in heart shaped beads. Finally I braided my hair into four long braids, tied a ribbon round the top of each,  and fastened the ends with butterfly clips.’ For real. I don’t think the sandals were worth fighting over, and what the hell is that hairstyle all about?

- Claudia and Janine have a heart to heart talk and appear to reach some understanding. Don’t they do this in every Claudia book though? Mimi reassures Claudia that she didn’t cause her stroke (although her crazy fashion sense probably sends everyone’s blood pressure rising).

 

This was never my favourite book. It’s kind of boring, especially coming after the high of Kristy’s Big Day, and before the brilliance that is Boy-crazy Stacey, a review of which will be coming soon!   

BSC#6- Kristy's Big Day.


BSC#6- Kristy’s Big Day.

Plot.

Kristy’s mum is getting married! However the wedding is a rush job, there are loads of children in the way…it’s the Babysitters Club to the rescue as they take on looking after fourteen kids for a week.

Cover.

Oh, it’s Karen…obviously before she got the pink and blue glasses. I guess her dress is pretty cute for a little flower girl, and I do love her lacy socks and double strap Mary Jane shoes. Kristy’s bridesmaids dress is not too bad, but I always wished her hair was better. Andrew looks like he wants to garrotte them with his tie, but he is wearing yellow trousers to match the girls’ dresses, so who can blame him?

Notes.

-I’ve got to say it. The whole premise of this book, that they’re throwing a huge wedding together in two and a half weeks so they can move in to Watson’s mansion after that? Why wouldn’t you just move in and THEN organise your wedding???

- And the ‘friends’ who arrive to stay for a week to help Kristy’s mom prepare, and bring with them all their kids? Who would do that? Don’t they realise that bringing a bunch of small children with you completely negates any help you’re offering?

- Outfit! Claudia is wearing ‘a black leotard and skintight red pants under a white shirt that was so big it looked liked a lab coat. Claudia’s a wonderful artist and she had decorated the shirt herself, covering it with designs painted in acrylic.’ What’s with the leotards? Is fashion worth having to get fully undressed just to go to the toilet? I also find it slightly odd that while they don’t specify what kind of designs are painted on the shirt, they make sure we all know they were painted with acrylic.

-‘Stacey enjoys looking good. She enjoys putting together outfits and she enjoys shopping. So does her mother, who has time for such things.’ God Kristy, what’s with the jab at stay at home moms?

- The club will be paid six hundred dollars to look after the fourteen children for a week. I know Watson’s a millionaire, but is that really a wise use of money? I think it would make more sense to hire professionals to make your canapés and arrange your wedding flowers, and have everyone look after their own children.

- Oh Karen. She goes to elementary school holiday program and spreads terror about a Martian invasion happening at 8pm that evening- she really  needs to be locked in a basement at times.

- “I know you think I’m so sophisticated, since I’m from New York and my hair is permed and everything…” Get over yourself Stacey! Although your favourite movie is Mary Poppins, which I also enjoy, so I’ll give you a break this time.

-I can’t believe the parents made them take six boys under ten to get their hair cut…those girls definitely earned their $3 an hour that day.

- David Michael thinks his haircut makes him look like ‘a horned owl’. Lol.

- As an activity, they have the kids do a fake wedding. Naturally shy, retiring Karen Brewer takes the bride role.

- While I can understand the babysitters’ rage, I always thought Emma’s little trick of switching the clothes the kids were supposed to change into for the party was pretty funny.

- the wedding sounds nice. I like weddings, and I thought it was lovely that all the kids got to be included, although I’m surprised ‘jeans and turtleneck uniform’ Kristy is so keen on the idea of a long dress and flowers in her hair.

 

I’ve got to say, this is one of the best babysitters club books ever. It’s fun, and doesn’t have any of the totally ridiculous subplots or anything, all the characters are good…it’s just dibbly fresh really!

Jul. 17th, 2009


BSC#5- Dawn and the Impossible Three.

Plot.

Dawn is the new girl in the club and is feeling kind of insecure. She becomes a regular sitter for the Barrett kids and finds it all too much.

Cover.

Dawn’s rolled up jeans, folded down socks and slip on shoes...not to mention the chambray shirt…what’s to say? Gorgeous Dawn. Very California casual of you. Love the rolling eyes.

I don’t think the Barrett’s house looks all that messy on the front though, and Dawn’s hair is hardly waist length and so blonde it’s almost white. But that’s just being picky.

I googled the name of the cover artist for this book (he also did several others.) He had a whole gallery of nudes, one of whom appears to have provided the inspiration for his Mary Anne Spier portraits on other books-  I guess she ended up rebelling against Richard’s strict upbringing in the end.

Notes.

-Dawn’s endless whining about the weather really chaps my hide. Just put on a coat and a hat and get over it. You’re in Connecticut, not the North Pole.

-Outfit! Mary Anne had on “her first sweatshirt and her first pair of jeans ever.” If Mary Anne didn’t wear sweatshirts until she was twelve, what on earth did she wear?

- I don’t understand how Dawn can be so critical of the Barrett’s messy house. Her mother leaves shoes in the refrigerator and soup cans in the living room and she’s just charmingly absentminded, but Mrs Barrett leaves dishes in a sink and she’s a slob?

- Kristy and Dawn are competing to be Mary Anne’s best friend by trying to better each other’s ideas for redecorating Mary Anne’s room.  Dawn, with her superior people reading skills, diagnoses Kristy as being jealous.

- Dawn makes the Barrett kids clean up the house every time she sits for them. And they like her coming over?

-Dawn sucks up to Kristy by inviting her over and playing in the barn. Kristy rewards her by making her Alternate Officer. By rights they should have become best friends with each other and started leaving Mary Anne out, since they seem to have more in common with each other than either of them do with MA.

- Dawn encourages her mother to buy a grill and serve meat at their barbecue. How could she betray her principles like that??

- While she’s babysitting for the Barrett kids, Buddy disappears. This chapter is quite well written actually- they get the neighbourhood searching and then the police. It certainly ranks as one of the all time stressful sitting jobs of the club.

-Turns out his dad took him to teach Mrs Barrett a lesson (why don’t any of these divorced mums revert to their maiden names?) and brings him back when he realises he’s pinched him from a babysitter. And unlike real life, where he’d probably be arrested, the police just suggest they maybe look at their custody arrangements.

- Dawn goes to see Mrs Barrett to say that she can’t sit for her anymore, and it’s ALL HER FAULT. That she’s too messy and disorganised and Dawn can’t stand it. This whole chapter is just…ergh. A twelve year old telling an adult that they are a bad parent and hopeless case? And not only does Mrs Barrett take it, she begs Dawn to reconsider and promises to change if she’ll sit for them again!

-Dawn says she’ll sit for them on a ‘trial basis’. The condescension of her!

 

This book certainly doesn’t make my top ten or anything. Until Jessi joined the club Dawn was always my least favourite character- she’s just such a self righteous bore- and I was hardly weeping into the pages when she left for California. Still, all that happens later on…

Next up you can look forward to Kristy’s Big Day, which probably does actually make my top ten!

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Jumping the Shark


This is just a few random thoughts about this series. It's a little known fact (at least to everyone who is not obsessed enough to have read the biography of Ann M Martin) that the Babysitters Club was not actually the idea of Ann M. Instead, some editor at Scholastic books had the idea for a series about some girls who babysit a lot and approached Ann M, who was working as a freelance writer, to do the actual plot development and writing. The initial contract was a four book series with each book written from the perspective of one of the girls.
The point of all this, is I think it explains why the early books are better. They were written by Ann M, who really is a good writer* rather than the army of ghostwriters who took over the production line of later books. The characters, rather than being the complete charicatures they became later on, are interesting and well rounded. And the plots...well, they go from reasonably believable (in a fantasy kid fiction kind of way) to somewhat implausible, to completely, ricidulously impossible.
Anyway, I'm not writing a dissertation or anything here, it was just something I thought was kind of interesting and worth mentioning! And to be honest, reading the later books is so fun mostly because they're so preposterous. Claudia's fashion sense just gets whackier! MaryAnne cries more and more! Stacey's snobbishness and bitchiness wins out! Kristy becomes a junior Stalin and runs the club with her iron fist of presidency! After getting through 7th grade in five books, they remain in 8th grade for 121 books, enjoying countless Halloweens, Christmases, summer vacations, overseas trips, cruises and shipwrecks and plays and DisneyWorld!

*The books she wrote as stand alone novels for kids/teens were really good. Fun, enjoyable, touching- there really was a lot to them. Some of my favourite examples-
With You and Without You- Oh god, I just bawled my eyes out over this when I read it in primary school! It's about a girl whose dad dies and she and her family have to learn to go on without him.
Ten Kids, No Pets- Well, the title describes it pretty well. It made me wish our family were bigger and we had alphabetical names. Although I once looked it up in the babyname book, and following her system my name would have been Babette.
Missing Since Monday- Maggie's little sister is kidnapped. In a way this was one of the earliest 'crime' books I ever read. (That's not counting stuff like T*A*C*K to the Rescue where kids solve mysteries that aren't crimes and that don't involve any real police).
Inside Out- A book about a family with an austistic child. Which I loved as a kid, and as an adult just kinda makes my heart hurt for that family.
Me and Katie (the Pest)- Hello, ponies and pesty little sisters? Brilliant!

 

 

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BSC#4- Mary Anne Saves the Day.


BSC#4- MaryAnne Saves the Day.

Plot.

The baby sitters club have a huge fight, and spend the next month either not speaking to or being mean to each other. Mary Anne has trouble with her father treating her like a baby and tries to convince him that she’s responsible enough to stay out late (only to babysit, not party!) and wear her hair in a style other than braids. She also meets Dawn, who becomes the fifth member of the club.

 

Cover.

This cover is kind of strange- I think the artwork is different to that on every single other cover. I remember I used to like it though, because Mary Anne has the same kind of fringe that I had at the time- parted at the side, hanging over one eye, and twanging out at the side of her head! Her outfit is just kind of unexciting, and I don’t know what Jenny Prezzioso is supposed to be wearing. One can only assume it’s meant to be lacy. And a blue and purple striped couch…really?


Notes.

-Stacey’s style…”she has this fabulous-looking shaggy blonde mane, and she wears the neatest clothes- big, baggy shirts and tightfiting pants- and amazing jewelry, like parrots and palm trees. She even has a pair of earrings that consist of a dog for one ear and a bone for the other.” Damn, I love the theme earrings. My most prized pair of earrings back in the day was a pair of skull and crossbones- how Claudia of me! I also have to say that although I can see Mary Anne’s dad objecting to the tight pants, what’s in a big, baggy shirt for him to be offended by? And Stacey wears parrots? What, on her shoulder?

- “Just once, I’d like to go to school wearing skintight turquoise pants, Stacey’s ‘island’ shirt with the flamingos and toucans all over it, and maybe bright red, high top sneakers. I’d like to create a sensation.” Oh, you’d create a sensation alright Mary Anne. Just perhaps not a good one- I don’t think skintight turquoise pants really work on anyone.

- Why does Watson Brewer always hire babysitters? He only has his kids every other weekend, which is approximately four days a month. What, he can’t spend that much time with his only kids? Then again, it IS Karen Brewer we’re talking about. I’d probably hire sitters too.

- The big fight starts because Kristy took a job looking after baby Lucy Newton without offering it around. See, this is why we can’t have nice things!

-It culminates in Mary Anne calling Stacey a “conceited snob”, Claudia a “stuck-up job-hog” and  “you, Kristin Amanda Thomas, are the biggest bossiest know-it-all in the world, and I don’t care if I never see you  again!” Whooo, sing it sister!

- Mary Anne starts dinner for her father and herself nearly every night. She’s twelve for god’s sake- that seems kind of harsh. Richard Spier might not think she’s responsible enough to use the telephone, but hot appliances and sharp knives? Go right ahead!

- MaryAnne writes an ‘apology’ note to Kristy. Dear Kristy, I’m sorry you’re the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, but what can I do about it? Have you considered seeking professional help? Ha ha…so, you still mad then? Mary Anne might be the most ‘sensitive’ of the babysitters, but she’s still a snarky bitch too!

- Kristy gets David Michael to slam the door in Mary Anne’s face. Burned!

- Because of their fight, they change the entire way the club runs with meetings and all. Wouldn’t it have been easier just to make up? Way to hold grudges girls.

- Mary Anne tries to convince her dad to let her stay out late, and wear make up and non braided hair. She winds up chucking a bit of a tanty and telling him he’s more like her jailer than her father. I guess she’s been reading up on how to win friends and influence people…

- Dawn and Mary Anne discover their parents used to date in high school, and manage to get them together again. There is something about the idea of a twelve year old setting up dates for her father that’s kind of disturbing.

- Mary Anne babysits for Jenny Prezzioso and takes her to hospital in an ambulance because she has a fever. Her dad is so impressed that he extends her curfew, and then there is a dramatic transformation scene where Mary Anne morphs into a princess-like figure with…oh. No. She takes the braids out of her hair. Hooray.

- The babysitters show their maturity by fighting at a four year old’s birthday party (it’s a bad sign when your sitters are more badly behaved than the preschool guest set), and then Mary Anne basically orders them to make up. Because wearing her hair down has given her new powers of bossiness and aggression.

- They invite Dawn to join the club by having a ‘pizza toast’ and holding food in the air. Um, okay. You couldn’t have just clinked glasses?

 

I have to say, I love Mary Anne in this book. She hardly cries, she throws the biggest insults at the other girls (and her dad) when they’re fighting, and she takes charge and bosses all the other babysitters into making up. She also masterminds Dawn’s inclusion in the club. Really, if she’d kept it up she could have instigated a coup, taken Kristy down, and ended up ruling the world.

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