Original Publication Date: 1986
A Phantom Caller is on the loose! He calls to see whether people are home, then burgles the house when they’ve left (not robs; robbery is when the victim is aware of the crime). Kristy and Claudia get some hang up calls so the BSC devises plans for what to do if they’re in trouble. But the Phantom Caller isn’t after them, boys are. Alan Gray wants to ask Kristy to the Halloween Hop; Trevor Sandbourne wants to ask Claudia. Both say yes. Aww.
Like most Claudia books, I enjoy this one. Because of all the storms it describes, it’s a good read for a blustery day.
Established or continued in this book:
Claudia has a crush on Trevor Sandbourne.
Claudia’s family is still checking her homework following a letter the school set about her falling grades as established in Kristy’s Great Idea. Janine finds the homework so boring she will sometimes give Claudia the answers.
Claudia’s IQ is above average. But she doesn’t know that the fourth dimension is time (in her daydream about Trevor, she thinks they’ve gone to the fourth dimension).
Claudia hates spiders.
Claudia’s hiding of Nancy Drew books is established here, with only Mimi knowing.
Claudia candy: licorice whips in her desk, root beer barrels under her mattress, giant chocolate bar in her notebook, and salt water taffy in her pencil jar.
Claudia is massively insecure in this book.
Mary Anne still dresses up her stuffed animals.
Mary Anne isn’t allowed to ride her bike to the mall.
Mary Anne wears reading glasses.
Stacey has a VCR! Gasp! But it’s broken.
The girls decided to keep the Phantom Caller a secret from their parents so they won’t be forced to stop babysitting. This starts a long tradition of never telling their parents anything.
Janine’s IQ is still 196. She’s still portrayed as a know-it-all in this book but it seems to come more from her having trouble finding something to talk about rather than being a show-off.
Claudia’s maternal grandfather died before she was born.
Kristy mentions “Grandma.” Not Nannie…would that be her dad’s mom, then?
Sam and Charlie share a room.
David Michael was born two weeks early.
Foreshadowing to #4? Stacey seems to imply that Claudia is job-hogging: taking jobs when the parents call outside business hours. Claudia admits she’s forgotten a few times, but not lately.
First emergency meeting! Held to discuss the Phantom Caller. At the meeting they invent the famous “Have you found my red ribbon?” exchange and the burglar alarms. A few months ago, my best friend dreamed she was kidnapped and her captors let her have one phone call. She called me and asked “Have you found my red ribbon?” When she was telling her dream I asked her, “Did I say ‘No, the blue one’?” In the dream, I had!
There’s a mysterious Mr. Willis, for whom Claudia has apparently babysat. I don’t remember that name.
Teachers: Mr. Miller (7th grade social studies), Mr. Peters (7th grade math), Mrs. Pinelli (music). Mr. Taylor is the principal.
Students: Trevor Sandbourne, Alan Gray, Alexander Kurtzman, Lauren Hoffman, Miranda and Mariah Shillaber, Dorianne Wallingford, Emily Bernstein, Howie Johnson, Pete Black, Rick Chow
As established in #1, Claudia thinks the food experiments the boys do are funny.
Kristy’s the only one who’s ever fought back against Alan Gray, in fifth grade. By bragging that she had a fantastic lunch, which he stole. He gathered a crowd to watch the unveiling. The lunch, packed by David Michael, was full of dead spiders and mud pies. Odd fighting, but apparently it embarrassed him.
The Marshalls have a cat. And don’t keep their house keys with their car keys, as evidenced by their being locked out after driving home. Strange.
The Brewers have peppermint stick ice cream, which I assume is the same as peppermint candy ice cream, only available here in the winter. I want to live in Stoneybrook where I can get it in the fall, too.
Boo-Boo catches and eats mice, but not all of the fur and tail. He left those on Mrs. Porter’s deck. When she gave the remains back to Kristy, Kristy was able to deduce (using logic!) that the woman was not a witch: a witch would have kept them for her spells. I would have deduced she’s not a witch because Mrs. Porter exists in the same reality, but that’s me.
The elusive Mr. Johanssen makes an appearance. The Johanssen’s schnauzer, Carrot, is also introduced.
Ugh. The spelled-out speech. David Michael has a cold and pronounces Mary Anne as “Bary Add.” Get used it; there’ll be lots and lots of this nonsense.
UGH. It’s also the start of sentences beginning with “Us babysitters…” WE! Remove the extra part and see if makes sense. “Us…have to stick together”? NO! WE! These books are usually so on-the-ball with grammar, too.
Mr. and Mrs. Goldman live next door to the Kishis.
The note from Ann M. Martin in the back mentions that she and her best friend had a code similar to the red ribbon one here.
Teachers: 4 (3 7th grade, 1 elective)
Students: 15 (7th grade)
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 10 (bubble gum, a chocolate bar, jawbreakers, licorice, licorice whips, peanut M&Ms, root beer barrels, salt water taffy, Twinkies, Wint-o-Green lifesavers)
Crushes: Claudia-1 (Trevor Sandbourne), Stacey-1 (Sam Thomas)