Original Publication Date: 1994
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles
At Mrs. Kishi's request, Mary Anne decides to help out with the library readathon. It's not long before the mystery gets going: someone set a fire in a library bathroom! It's the first of a few fires, all set by torching books, and Mary Anne is determined to find out who wants to damage the library.
The suspect list gets narrowed down to a group of protestors who want to ban books (surprisingly they're not portrayed as monsters, just earnest if misguided), the new librarian (because if MST3K has taught us anything, it's that slightly unattractive people are evil), and Nicky Pike (very briefly), but none of those leads pan out. Then Mary Anne realizes that the burnt books are from the fifth grade reading list, and after a discussion the BSC deduces the next fire will be from that list on the next Wednesday. They stake out the library and find the culprit: Sean Addison. He's acting out of anger that his parents force him and his sister into extracurricular activities so that they're out of the way.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: Twizzlers and a chocolate bar in her backpack, pretzels (chocolate-covered and plain) and jellybeans in a box marked "kaligruphy pens," M&Ms (she says the brown ones are best, followed by red), Ruffles, Ring Dings, and bagel chips
It just occurred to me...on the surface, it seems unfair that while she recovers from mono Mallory can't sit for the BSC but has her own sibling foisted on her all the time. However, if her parents are paying her, maybe it's a way for her to still be able to earn some money but not exert herself by taking on extra jobs.
This won't be the last time Mary Anne has nightmares about fires...
While playing dress up (which has been noted as a favorite pastime of the youngest Pikes), Claire introduces herself as Mrs. Filthy-Rich. That's just hilarious.
Why is Betsy Sobak still considered a client? If she and her family had ever truly made amends I could MAYBE understand. Maybe. She did apologize to Claudia, but even before that the BSC was right back watching her, with no indication that her parents were going to do anything about her.
8th grader: Tiffany ?
Math teacher: Ms. Frost.
PSA Time: nothing stood out.
Mary Anne implies that Little Women is a children's book.
Really? The Stoneybrook police aren't interested in the fires being set at the library? The wanton destruction of government property (the burned books)? It's not like they're that busy, just the odd dognapper or counterfeiter or thief once in a while.
One of the protesters is Bertha Dow, who comes back later, maybe as late as the Friends Forever series, as the mother of an SMS eighth grader.
Starting 8th grade: 6
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2
Halloweens in 8th grade: 3 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 6
BSC Fights: 8
SMS Staff and Faculty: 40
Students (other than the BSC): 135; 97 8th graders, 4 7th graders, 19 6th graders, 15 unspecified
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 89