Original Publication Date: 1995
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles
A baking company is holding a contest, and Claudia and Mary Anne decide to enter with Shea Rodowsky. Logan's also on a team with his sister and a classmate (Cokie and her cronies make up another team). Other members of the BSC are going to watch contestants' kids in a daycare.
Of course, it's not long before things go awry. A seven-year-old girl in the daycare keeps breaking things or making messes and hiding them. Turns out it's her brother and she just readily accepts the blame, which is so painfully obvious to everyone but the BSC. It's actually pretty creepy the way the boy sets her up and plays innocent and how the girl so easily gives up any thought of defending herself. The BSC does try to help once they FINALLY figure out what's going on, but still...creepy.
The baking contest holds the main mystery: a saboteur is on the loose. People are having their ingredients switched, their ovens tampered with, and so on. The BSC narrows down a list of suspects and sets up a trap, revealing the culprit to the judges. Then the contest can resume fairly, and Claudia's team wins using an old recipe that Mary Anne's mom used to make. Her dad brings in the recipe at the last minute and mentions how long it's been since he's had it...it's pretty touching.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: Snickers, M&Ms, and Fritos in her sock drawer, fruit leather under her bed, Smartfood in her nighttable, Twizzlers under her pillow
Dawn's feeling homesick for California, especially after the news about Sunny's mom.
I find it odd that there's no formal custody arrangement with Stacey and her parents. She just visits her dad when she feels like. Come to think of it, it seems that way with Dawn and Jeff too.
The Club (and clients):
Reading the beginning of the first chapter when Claudia's interacting with Jamie...she really is written as a fantastic sitter. Claudia, exist in real life and baby-sit my daughter!
Claudia gets to know Grace Blume a little, since Cokie's out sick. Turns out she likes Nancy Drew, too.
I know someone who doesn't consider following a recipe "real" baking, because "real" chefs don't follow recipes. Really? Then how do they reproduce a dish from one day to the next? Claudia tries to experiment with recipes but realizes that there's a reason some things are popular: they work (this applies to more than just recipes).
I think this book illustrates why you should tase your dough or batter as you bake. Delicious, and defends against sabotage.
Starting 8th grade: 7
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)
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2
Summers after 8th grade: 8
BSC Fights: 10
SMS Staff and Faculty: 48
Students (other than the BSC): 175; 111 8th graders, 6 7th graders, 42 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 33 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 112