Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery (M#20)

Original Publication Date: 1995

Ghostwriter? Yes, Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner


In a similar vein to the short takes classes, the 8th grade biology classes will spend three weeks studying animals. They can either choose a pet at home or be bussed to a nearby zoo after school (why they can't pick squirrels or wild birds I have no idea). The students are assigned to groups of three--Mary Anne is with Howie Johnson and Alan Gray, Kristy's with Stacey, and Logan, Claudia, and Dawn are together--and whichever group has the best presentation will be rewarded with extra credit and a trip to a Sea World type place. None of the BSC groups win, though.

At the zoo, some animals start getting out of cages. Who's responsible? A student? A disgruntled employee? The animals rights protesters? The strange couple taking cryptic notes? Turns out it's the disgruntled employee, who was passed up for a promotion and was trying to make the person in that position look bad. Claudia uses her photography skills to get evidence.

Because we can't have a book without a subplot, the BSC organizes a walk-a-thon to raise money to help an elephant that's being kept in the mall as a tourist draw.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: pretzels, Oreos in a shoebox

Mallory knows calligraphy.

Dawn gets really upset at one point when Marilyn Arnold wanders off. And if I'd been watching a kid would I thought was kidnapped (Buddy Barrett in Dawn and the Impossible Three), I'd be sensitive the that issue as well.

I guess Mary Anne doesn't like fish, from her comments while watching the seals get fed.

Their Families:

Jessi's mom knows how to sew.

The Club (and clients):

The BSC isn't quite ready to get a permanent replacement for Stacey yet. For now, Dawn is treasurer and Shannon is alternate officer.


8th graders: Brent Jensen, Todd Long

8th grade science teacher (a third one): Ms. Griswold. Also mentioned is the shop teacher, Mr. Kirkwood.

Really, THREE science teachers for one grade? I know I went to a small school--my graduating class had 69 students--but still. Three seems like a lot. So far I've counted 111 students in the 8th grade, including the BSC.

A teacher drives the school bus to the zoo. In my experience, public schools have employed specifically to drive buses. However, I went to a private school and the teachers and coaches had CDLs so they could drive the buses. There were no buses that picked up kids every morning and dropped them off every afternoon; buses were only for field trips and sports events. So now I'm really confused about who drives the buses for SMS.

PSA Time: nothing stood out.


Would it be even remotely legal to keep a wild, endangered animal in a cage at a mall? It seems so bizarre that this would an issue. Maybe it's to distract us from how a middle school can get a chimpanzee as a "guest speaker" for an assembly.

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 7

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2

Halloweens in 8th grade: 4 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 1

Christmases in 8th grade: 1 (Hanukkah is also mentioned, but no one in the BSC celebrates it)

Summers after 8th grade: 7

BSC Fights: 10

SMS Staff and Faculty: 48

Students (other than the BSC): 169; 105 8th graders, 6 7th graders, 42 6th graders, 15 unspecified

Clients: 31

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 104

Mary Anne-2


noseinanovel said...

My (public school) graduating class was a little over 100 students, and we had one teacher per subject for each grade with some overlap. I lived in a rural community with around 7 school buses, all of which were only ever driven by a "bus driver" - person hired for just that. For any field trip or extracurricular a bus driver was employed, never a teacher or staff member.

SMS is so weird :)

SJSiff said...

Yeah, my limited experience with public school (did some high school sports that my small private didn't have at the local public one) is that there are people employed SPECIFICALLY to drive the bus.

My senior year, the graduating class was 69 people. We had one science teacher (physics and chemistry), who as also the math teacher (trig, pre-calc, and calculus). So I had him two years in a row for science and three for math. Also one English teacher, one teacher for each of the three foreign languages offered (Spanish, French, and American Sign Language), one PE teacher, one music teacher, one Bible teacher, etc.

I think that Ann M. Martin and the ghostwriters weren't keeping track of how many teachers SMS had...