3/30/13

Baby-sitters' European Vacation (SS#15)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis. Angelo Tillery provided the illustrations in the book.

Synopsis:

Kristy, Stacey, Abby, Jessi, and Mallory go on a school sponsored nine-day trip to London and Paris during the summer, There are SMS students as well as French-Canadian students from Toronto. Mary Anne, Claudia, Dawn, and Logan work at a playground camp. Shannon is away at camp, like most "other" summers that have taken place. Here's what happens to the girls:

Jessi goes to watch a Dance New York team coincidentally performing in London. She goes with a bit of mixed feelings, because if she had taken the offer to join the team, she would have been performing. Naturally, one of the dancers gets hurt before the performance, and Jessi fills in for her (a member of the corps; the understudy has food poisoning).

Abby apparently grew close to Vicki before she and her parents returned to England, and is the eyes through which we see the visit she, Stacey, Kristy, Jessi, and Mallory have with the Kents. It turns out that Vicki is supposed to be part of audience to greet the Queen, and needs someone to stand with her for it. She asks Abby since her parents and her nanny aren't able, and Abby readily accepts. She ends up accidentally stepping on the toes of a prince (I guess Charles, judging from when this was written?).

Stacey thinks the only wrinkle in her trip plans is that her mom is a chaperone. But something slightly bigger happens: her luggage gets mixed up with that of a WWII veteran...who brought an urn containing his friend's ashes to spread at Normandy (both were part of the Allied Forces on D-Day). While they wait for that mess to get sorted, Stacey's mom gets her two outfits to tide her over...from Harrod's. Stacey's mom is able to finally reach the suitcase's owner, who is staying in Paris, and arrange for them to deliver the urn personally when they arrive. Having learned some about World War II, Stacey asks if she and her mom can accompany the man on his journey, and he agrees. Stacey is very moved by the whole experience.

Kristy meets a Canadian student named Michel. At first they're acrimonious to each other, but before long they hit it off. Getting lost together in Paris helps, since it forces Kristy to rely on his knowledge of French. They even share a few kisses in Paris. They exchange addresses, and a letter or two.

Claudia "gets" to share her summer job with her sister. Janine was a last-minute fill in, suggested by her ex, Jerry. Janine is stressed with the suddeness of the job and with being around Jerry, and takes it out on Claudia. They finally have it out, and Janine reveals that Jerry's been hard on her, and that in turn has made her lash out at Claudia. Claudia advises Janine to ignore Jerry, and Janine promises to be fair to Claudia. Inspired by Claudia, Janine stands up to Jerry when he's being especially unreasonable, and Claudia backs her up.

Mallory meets up with her mother's cousin, who lives in England. Her first-cousin-once-removed is a writer as well, with a contract to have her manuscript published. Her cousin shows Mallory a family tree, which includes William Shakespeare (he's her great-times-seventeen grandfather).

Mary Anne doesn't see much action in this book, aside from Cokie trying to weasel her way into Logan's good graces. What finally helps is Janine listening to Claudia and standing up to Jerry, who had been letting Cokie do whatever she wanted.

Dawn ends up having to take the place of Janine's replacement at a different day camp briefly. This camp is for children with a variety of disabilities, mental and physical. One of the campers is Susan Felder, from Kristy and the Secret of Susan.

We also get a chapter from Robert, who's being annoyed by Jaqui until he finally tells her off.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

Abby knows what champagne tastes like: she says sparkling cider tastes better. I agree with her myself, but I'm not a huge fan of alcohol. I have nothing against it morally for most people (some people can't handle alcohol and shouldn't drink it). I just think most of it tastes bad.

Jessi thinks Quebec is a city. It's actually Canada's largest province.


Their Families:

Mallory's mother's maiden name is Bennett. She's the second of five children.


The Club (and clients): nothing new.


SMS:

Cokie Mason's mom is on the Board of Education (which is how she got accepted as a playground camp counselor).

Jaqui Grant smokes.

There are only two chaperones for the 50 SMS students, Mrs. McGill and Mallory's writing teacher, Mr. Dougherty. The latter wanders off from time to time and doesn't really have any consideration for Mrs. McGill's time. Who at SMS thought it was a good idea to have fewer than five chaperones, and not more like 8-10?


PSA Time:

Should you wish to discuss a veteran's military service, DO NOT ASK IF THE VETERAN KILLED ANYONE. No one makes this mistake in the book, but I remember someone's grandfather coming to speak my first-grade class about World War II and someone asked him that. He started crying and had to leave the room, and the teacher told us that during war, there are unavoidable casualties and it will have an impact on everyone, and that we shouldn't pry.


Misc:

This is the last Super Special, not including two smaller pseudo versions of them in the Friends Forever series (which I will be getting to soon!).

Actually, yes, parts of Europe are older than parts of North America. Parts of the west coast didn't exist during the Mesozoic, which is why you won't find a lot of dinosaur fossils there. It was accreted later.

Alan Gray gets detained briefly at customs for purposely acting suspicious. Had this book taken place a few years later, I bet he'd have been held longer...

I've seen people get annoyed that we Americans call ourselves that sometimes, since "America" is also part of the name of two continents, and say we should have a name derived from United States. One suggestion is USian. I think this is nonsense for two reasons: one, I can call myself what I want to, thank you very much. I don't ask people from Germany to not call themselves Deutsch because it sounds like Dutch to me and it would be arrogant and rude of me to not let a country decide what to call itself. Two, practically no one insists that people from the United States of Mexico (its full name) stop calling themselves Mexican. (I don't mean that someone speaking a different language should switch to English for the word "American" or that language's equivalent; I mean I don't like being chided for calling myself American--which has happened.)

The D-Day invasion took place on five beaches, not just one as is implied at one point in the book (though it is clarified later). Fortunately the book gets it right that it was American, British, and Canadian forces; I think people tend to forget about the Canadian soldiers.

Kristy sarcastically suggests she can communicate with French speakers using sign language. Since American Sign Language is derived from French Sign Language, she might have had a bit of luck. Maybe as much as my dad who used his combined knowledge of Spanish and Latin...


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 11

BSC Fights: 12

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 141

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-2
Abby-0

3/27/13

Mary Anne and the Playground Fight (RS#121)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Dianne Molleson.

Synopsis:

Summer break is coming up, and that means another whirlwind trip sponsored by SMS. This time it's to London and Paris, a nine-day trip. Those nine days happen to fall in the middle of another summer event that catches the BSC's interest: working at a playground camp. A lot of the girls want to do both, despite the fact that they'd be missing a week of the camp, because they're the BSC and who wouldn't want them to work at the camp (which is a pretty entitled attitude). Add to that there's only six spots available, and a dozen other SMS students are also applying. Nine BSC members are applying; everyone but Shannon, because does Shannon even exist anymore? It's not long before they start sniping at each about who has a better chance or is more qualified, or whether those who want to go to Europe should be able to miss a week of work (Dawn, Mary Anne, and Logan have elected to stay in the USA for the summer). The eighth grade BSC members score job interviews, but Mary Anne and Dawn have legitmate concerns about whether the ones planning to do the Europe trip will be honest about their intentions. While they wait for the results of the interviews, they continue to steam at each other, and even start to reenact the fight they had at Jamie Newton's birthday party in Mary Anne Saves the Day at a goodbye party for Victoria Kent. They catch themselves before going too far, at least, and apologies are had all around. Then they find out who made the cut: Mary Anne, Dawn, Logan, and Claudia will be camp counselors. That leaves Kristy, Stacey, Abby, Jessi, and Mallory free to enjoy Europe.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: M&Ms, Ring Dings, sour cream and onion potato chips, salt and vinegar potato chips, Cheeze Doodles, tortilla chips

Mary Anne says she "always looks forward to summer because that's when...Dawn visits." But their parents got married during the eighth grade school year, and Dawn moved back to California in the fall of eighth grade, so Mary Anne shouldn't know that Dawn always visits in the summer. And this is why having the BSC repeat the same year over and over and over gets fun.

Claudia's favorite potato chip flavor is sour cream and onion. That's tied with sour cream and cheddar cheese for me.

Shannon loves to wear red.

Dawn's room has hardwood flooring. It's not specified if the rest of the house does.

Claudia and Stacey go with Mary Anne, Richard, and Sharon to pick up Dawn and Jeff at the airport. They stop at Dawn's favorite restaurant (Cabbages and Kings) to eat on the way home. Mary Anne narrates that Claudia doesn't like a lot of the food there, but she's polite enough to not say anything. Pay attention, Dawn. Claudia is also very honest and forthright in her application for the summer camp, which I like.

Shannon will be at camp all summer.

Dawn seems to have gotten over her resentment of and forced emotional distance from her little sister. Good.

Kristy hates to cook even more than Mary Anne does.

Abby's allergic to tomatoes, cooked or raw. I know people who are only allergic to raw ones. Cooking them changes their chemical properties enough that these people can be fine with tomato soup or tomato sauce, but will get hives from raw ones. Incidentally, that same change that comes with cooking makes the nutrients in tomatoes more easily accessible to the human body, so cooked tomatoes are healthier than raw (until you add a bunch of junk to make a sauce). Same with carrots.


Their Families:

No, Mary Anne's father relaxes his rules for her in seventh grade, not eighth grade.

Abby's mom did her junior year of college in England.


The Club (and clients):

Victoria Kent is about to go back to England. For her remaining time, she wants to be called Vicki, which the BSC does a lot of eye-rolling over behind her back (they do at least act decently in person). Rude. It's hard to remember when a person wants to be called by a different name, but it's only respectful to listen to a person's wishes about what name is preferred. Forgetting is one thing, being dismissive is another.

Hey, in this book, Jessi and Mallory bring some food a meeting (fancy hummus platter in honor of Dawn's return). Claudia's hospitatlity skills are rubbing off on the other members. They also use it as their "Welcome Back, Dawn" present, which is smart because of how often the BSC ends up giving Dawn presents.

Mary Anne kisses Vicki goodbye after a sitting job. Maybe it's because I'm all about personal space, but I've never kissed a sitting charge, not even when I watched my then-infant goddaughter. If the kid wants a hug, sure, but a kiss is waaay too familar for me.


SMS:

Dawn has sent Mary Anne pictures of Gracie, who was born June 17. Mary Anne is still going to school after having received them. SMS goes late into June! I'm used to public schools being done about the middle of the third week of June (I went to private school, and we'd usually be out by June 10 or so; we had fewer days off during the school year).

Abby and Mary Anne still have the same math teacher, which is consistent with Abby's Lucky Thirteen, but take it at the same time, which is inconsistent with the same book.


PSA Time: nothing stood out.


Misc:

The lighthouse from the twenty-seventh mystery book makes a brief cameo.

Vicki Kent buys some movies to take back to England with her. I'm assuming they're VHS copies, not DVDs. Although one is Toy Story, so who knows. I know that DVDs from one region of the world won't always work in another; I wonder if she'll be able to watch her movies in Europe.


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 11

BSC Fights: 12

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 141

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/24/13

Dawn Diary 2 (CD#7)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Jeanne Betancourt.

Synopsis:

Dawn and Sunny are still not speaking to each other after their fight that was covered in Sunny's second diary. Sunny still comes over a lot to spend time with Carol, time which Dawn thinks would be better spent with Sunny's own mother. Dawn doesn't understand that it's easier for Sunny to see life at its beginning--the nearly-due baby--than at its end. Of course, it can't be easy for Dawn to see her dad so excited about a new baby, and with all the care Carol needs, part of her must feel like he's more excited about this baby than he was about her. But Dawn's making it much harder than it has to be, by letting her resentment of Carol spill onto the baby and refusing to get excited about the idea of a brother or sister. She even gets in a funk that her dad is with Carol when she's in labor rather than sitting in the waiting room with her and Jeff.

On June 17, Carol goes into labor, and Elizabeth Grace is born. Seeing the baby helps Dawn connect. Which is good because I was getting pissed that she was always going "HALF-sibling" especially considering she doesn't qualify Mary Anne as her step-sister too often. Anyway, Carol and Gracie are fine. Sunny comes over to drop off some flowers for Carol, but no fences are mended between her and Dawn. Dawn heads back to Stoneybrook unsure whether she'll be friends with Sunny again or not.



Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Ducky):

Dawn's known Maggie longer than she's known Sunny.

Maggie thinks she's overweight, despite Dawn noting that she's very slender. Dawn and Amalia even talk about it a bit, concerned for their friend.

Dawn snarks inwardly about how Carol and her dad are waiting for the baby to be born to find out the sex and thinks it's stupid to wait. But when Jenny Prezzioso's mom was pregnant, she didn't want to know.


Their Families:

Holy crap, Carol's OB ordered bedrest so strict she can't even get up to use the bathroom. I've heard of bedrest where the woman can only get up to bathe once every ten days. I would go out of mind with boredom. I was on "modified rest" for about two and a half weeks with my first pregnacy (mild preeclampsia), meaning I was supposed to take it easy, not go to work, and not move around too much, but I could still get up to fix myself food and take short walks and go to church, and I was bored enough with that. But Carol...she should almost be hospitalized for the remainder of the pregnancy if it's that bad.

Sunny's mom's cancer has metastized to her bones. That's not good.

Maggie's mom asks the maid for ANOTHER pitcher of gin and tonic. Just for her.

Sunny's mom wanted more kids. She had a miscarriage after Sunny was born, and never got pregnant again.

Jeff gets his little sister an NBA poster which causes Carol to laugh (and say she loves it), and Dawn and her dad to exchange looks. Guess I was wrong to put up those MLB, MLS, NFL, and college football pictures in my daughter's room. (The only reason there are no NBA pictures is that Seattle doesn't have an NBA team)


PSA Time:

Shut up, Dawn. Just do so completely shut up. The baby will be "only" your half-sibling, and won't have a chance to get to know you? My mom is thirteen years older than her half-sister, and they are as close a full sisters. Because my mom is not horrible like you. Family doesn't have be constrained to biological relations. Between my parents, I have aunts and uncles are their full siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, adopted siblings, and even an ex-sister-in-law (divorced from an uncle), but each as much my aunt or uncle as the other. Dawn's attitude pisses me off majorly.


Misc:

This book takes place in June. One entry is labeled June 7, and Dawn muses that the baby is due any day now. Back in  Dawn's first diary, Carol was said to be three weeks pregnant at a date which would have put the due date about June 26, but with a rough pregnancy it's not crazy to assume the baby will come early or be induced, or even born via scheduled c-section. However...why would Dawn be leaving for Stoneybrook so close to the due date? Seems odd to schedule a flight when she could miss a fairly significant event.


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 9

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 209: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 26 7th graders, 47 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 130

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-10
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/21/13

Abby and the Notorious Neighbor (M#35)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.

Synopsis:

Abby comes down with bronchitis and has to take several days off school. She gets bored pretty quickly and spends a lot of time channel surfing. One show she catches sounds like a knock off of America's Most Wanted, and she thinks she recognizes one of her neighbors on it! The BSC helps her do some sleuthing and with some information she gets from calling the show's tip line, they're able to gather enough information to prove that he's living under an assumed name and on the run. They call the cops, and he's arrested in short order, with the TV cameras there to film it.

Subplot: a go-cart race for kids. The Kormans win.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: Hershey's Kisses, Ring Dings

The cover has Abby with short hair, consistent with her getting it cut when Anna was first diagnosed with scoliosis.

Either Kristy has a key to Abby's house, or Abby leaves the door unlocked when she's home. I wouldn't do that if I were too sick to stay awake, but I live in the real world whereas Stoneybrook seems to exist in the 1950s (I know some areas people still leave doors unlocked; but even then I wouldn't if I were sick).


Their Families:

Anna likes birdwatching.

Karen and Andrew's stepfather has an extended carpentry contract (six months, if I recall; a Little Sister book has more detail) in Chicago, and Andrew is staying there for the duration while Karen splits her time between her two parents.

Mrs. Stevenson breastfed Abby and Anna. Quite a feat, considering they're twins and everyone in the BSC-verse seems to use formula.


The Club (and clients):

Stacey says the club treasury has almost enough for a leather jacket she saw at the mall (embezzlement joke). Guess the strawberry festival last book really raked in the cash.


SMS:

Abby still calls the school bus "Wheeze Wagon."


PSA Time:

"Normal" looking people can still be criminals. It's not just the ones who look sketchy.


Misc:

This is Abby's last mystery book.

It's early June in this book, but it's dark--or at least the sun is set--by around 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening.

Kristy explains she hates the kind of prank calls that end up with an unsuspecting person getting a pizza. I would LOVE someone to randomly order me a pizza. I realize I'd still have to pay for it, but PIZZA. In fact, an hour ago I called my husband and asked him to pick up a pizza on his way home from work.

This book sadly fails to make a bird pun. Abby uses the binoculars her dad had for birdwatching to keep an eye on her neighbor, whose last name is Finch. A finch is also a type of bird, common in suburban yards. I kept expecting someone to ask Abby why she had the binoculars out and her to reply, "Birdwatching."


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 139

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/18/13

Stacey's Ex-boyfriend (RS#119)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn.

Synopsis:

Stacey and other SMS students have been noticing that Robert is acting oddly. He's sort of in a perpetual fog, and losing interest in things he used to enjoy. At the urging of his younger sister, Stacey talks to him and soon it's clear that there's level of clinical depression going on. Stacey tries to pull him out of it, but fortunately realizes before too long that she's in over her head, and encourages Robert to talk to a trusted adult. The book ends without him being 100%, but feeling better about life in general.

There's a pointless subplot about picking strawberries and having a strawberry festival.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

Stacey wishes she had Abby's hair.


Their Families:

Nicky Pike seems to sunburn easily.

Stacey gets along well with her dad's girlfriend.


The Club (and clients):

Abby brings snacks (strawberries) to a meeting! For once Claudia can relax a bit. However, I hope Abby didn't eat any, because as Anonymous pointed out in the comments section, Abby has been established in both Stacey the Math Whiz and Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade as being allergic to strawberries (thank you for catching that!).

I've read a lot of criticisms about how the BSC takes over for parents. But I think they have to. Case in point, this sentence: "Parents had to ask Shannon and her sister to set a two-cake limit [at the strawberry festival] so that their kids wouldn't make themselves sick." Hey, parents? Take responsibility for your own kids and watch what they eat yourselves. When I took my toddler to a festival at my church that included lots of from various nations, I didn't expect anyone but me (my husband was at work, otherwise him, too) to keep an eye on how many cookies she had.


SMS:

The SMS baseball team is doing really well, and on its way to winning a regional championship.

A teacher who has previously only been seen teaching Short Takes classes, Mrs. Boyden, also teaches homeroom for some students (including Robert).


PSA Time:

Stacey claims "you can always use a plain white blouse." Just remember that white becomes see-through when wet. Figured that one out the hard way in a lake...

Assuming you have a car, keep an old towel in the trunk. You'll know why I say this when you need it.


Misc:

A bit of trivia inspired by Claudia painting black stripes on a white leotard to make zebra stripes: zebras are black with white stripes. You can tell because their noses are black.

Kristy uses the internet in this book. Weird!


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 139

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/15/13

Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer (RS#118)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Nola Thacker. Special thanks is also given to Michelle Saunders and Anne Aldrich.

Synopsis:

Kristy's family decides to raise a guide dog for the blind. The program has families take care of puppies for a year, getting the dogs used to people and different situations, then returning them to be trained. Kristy's family will actually only train their puppy for ten months, because they're stepping in to replace a different family who is suddenly moving out of the country. They all accept the responsibility happily, and learn a lot about guide dogs as they progress with the dog's training.

They're spurred to this because a seventh-grade student at Shannon's school named Deb Cooper has recently gone blind from glaucoma. The BSC sits for her younger brothers several times, and Deb is home while they do. Understandably, Deb is having a hard time adjusting and is pretty angry at the entire universe. Her brothers, eight and four, are confused too. Kristy is able to get through her facade a bit after Deb tries to walk to a nearby store on her own (she doesn't have a cane or other means of assistance, and is too young for a guide dog) and ends up in the middle of a fairly busy street. The situation gives Kristy the opportunity to tell Deb that yes, what she's going through sucks, but she's making it worse by lashing out and alienating everyone. By the end of the book, Deb is still frustrated with a lot of things, but more open to learning how to cope with her new world and the idea of still being part of her old world.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: home-made chocolate chip cookies (made by her mom's coworker), Cheez Doodles

Kristy is still the shortest person in eighth grade. She also mentions that Mallory is taller, which we knew, and also that Jessi is.


Their Families:

Watson is still watching his diet, to lower the risk of another heart attack.

Ah, Boo Boo is still alive. At least for now!

I like that Kristy and Watson are comfortable calling her his daughter, especially considering what an absymal job Kristy's biological father has done as a dad. It's nice to see the stepchild/stepparent relationship in such a positive light.

Claire seems to be maturing a bit. Both this book and the one before have moments during which a BSC member thinks she'll have a tantrum but instead Claire just accepts whatever frustration.


The Club (and clients): nothing new (the Coopers don't become long-term clients).


SMS: nothing new.


PSA Time:

The book has a brief PSA about getting your pets spayed or neutered.

I have to say I'm impressed with Deb's brothers. They don't try to do everything for their sister, but instead give her help by saying things like "Your plate is in front of you on the table," so that she can still do things for herself. A good thing to remember for dealing with anyone, especially those with physical limitations. (The BSC learns quickly, from a mistake, to announce that they're coming or going to someone who can't see that happening, another thing to keep in mind in the real world.) Her brothers want to save up money to buy Deb a guide dog, too; they later find out that they're free to those who need them. I'm sure part of this is the pregnancy hormones, but aww! They're so sweet!


Misc:

This book takes place in early April. I think Stacey's birthday is in April...I'd complain about how we almost never see birthdays in the books, but I guess they're avoided because of how many times the girls repeat the same school year.

I've "known" three guide dogs, and none of them have been for people with visual problems. One was a hearing dog, some sort of poodle mix, who could alert his Deaf owner to anything from the doorbell to a car honking to a baby crying (if she'd had a baby, but she didn't). Another was a black Lab and gave his owner stability, since he had ceberal palsy. Another black Lab aided her human with a variety of things, like switching the laundry, which was difficult for her do to with her severe fibromyalgia. The last dog could be "off-duty" sometimes and we could play with her then, but the other two were pretty much working all the time.

I realize this book was written fifteen years ago, but are people really that stupid about guide dogs as to demand someone with a guide be kicked out a grocery store and arrested? My faith in humanity is wavering...


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 139

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/12/13

Mary Anne and the Haunted Bookstore (M#34)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Vicki Berger Erwin. And this copy reveals the new mystery cover artist: Ed Acuña.

Synopsis:

A new bookstore is opening in Stoneybrook, with an emphasis on Edgar Allen Poe and other mystery writers. Mary Anne ends up there a lot, taking care of the son and daughter of the owner while it's being set up. The kids are dealing with not only moving, but their parents' recent divorce. Their mother hasn't been in touch a whole lot, either, which makes things even more difficult for them. The bookstore is in the former house of one of Poe's (fictional) contemporaries, and there's some rivalry between the contemporary's descendants and the new owner. The bookstore is full of creepy ambience, and Mary Anne and the other members of the BSC, who are helping set it up, often find themselves on edge. Is the house haunted, is someone playing pranks, or is it just their imaginations? A lot of the odd things going have to do with Poe: the family's black cat (named after a cat in one of Poe's works) accidentally gets trapped behind some drywall, someone's pet raven flies in through an open window; there's even the possibility of a grave in the basement. After some inspiration from a line in a Poe book, Mary Anne and the BSC get down to some detective work, and find that the owner and his assistant have been faking most of the incidents (the cat really was stuck, though) to drum up publicity for the store. Just before the grand opening, Mary Anne discovers a small hidden room, with the desk of its former occupant containing letters Poe had send him. All the publicity from the events, real and fake, culminate in a successful grand opening to the bookstore.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: mini candy bars under her bed, popcorn in her desk drawer

Jessi's punny in this book. Looks like some ghostwriter read Jessi's first book and remembered she's supposed to be a joke-teller!

Kristy's able to use her experience with parental abandoment to help the bookstore owner's kids a bit.


Their Families:

It's hinted that Andrew and David Michael sometimes gang up against Karen.


The Club (and clients): nothing new (the Cates family--bookstore owners--don't become long-term clients; the son is almost old enough to watch his sister).


SMS:

One reason Mary Anne is excited to help out with the bookstore is that she's doing a report on Poe for school. Refreshingly, it's for her English class and not for a Short Takes class.


PSA Time: nothing stood out.


Misc:

This is Mary Anne's last mystery book.

This book used to belong to the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eu Claire, WI.

Most non-Super Specials are around 150 pages. This book is just over 180.

To brush tangles out of hair with less pain, hold the hair between the scalp and the tangle. That way the brush won't pull the hair from the scalp so much. Also, start at the bottom of the tangle and comb and work through it bit by bit; don't just yank all the way through the hair. This message brought to by the owner of thick, wavy/curly hair and the mother of a curly-haired toddler.

Ooh, pet peeve of mine. Don't assume you can nickname a person. My name has many diminutives but I go by my full name and I don't like it when people assume they can call me by something cutesy. Especially when the person doesn't listen to me when I correct; it seems like some sort of power play to me (the recurrent "forgetting" of my real name has only happened with people older than I am). For example, if I were an Elizabeth, people trying to calling me Lizzie when I've introduced myself as Elizabeth would really annoy me. It's just rude to ignore what someone wants to be called. If you have trouble with names, be upfront with that so I don't seethe at you.


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 139

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/9/13

Sunny Diary 2 (CD#6)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis.

Synopsis:

Sunny's mom is getting worse. A lot worse. Sunny's even realizing that all the treatments are just delaying the inevitable, and wonders if her mom wouldn't be better off just coming home and receiving pallative treatment to keep her comfortable until she dies. Of course, this sort of situation is causing the family no end of stress. Sunny's dad deals with it by burying himself in his work. He also has a short temper, and takes it out on Sunny from time to time. Sunny sometimes stays at Dawn's house, trying to escape the pain of it all (she's also still cutting classes). She grows close to Carol, but further from her dad and from Dawn, who aren't sure how to deal with Sunny during all the turmoil. Part of the problem with Dawn is probably some resentment, that Sunny is closer to her stepmother than Dawn is. In fact, Sunny is with Carol when Carol passes out and has to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. She's ordered to be on bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy (two more months; the baby would actually have a good chance of surviving if born that early, but would have an increased risk of birth defects and long-term problems; it's best to delay birth until at least 37 weeks when possible).

But Sunny has the same sort of thing; Dawn seems closer to Sunny's mom than Sunny does. Sunny's still chasing boy quite a bit too, which causes a problem when she's distracted by one while she's supposed to be staying with Carol. She's busy chatting when a small fire starts on the stove. Everything (and everyone) is fine, but Carol is pretty shaken up, and Sunny is mortified. The Schafers are pretty pissed, too, but accept Sunny's apology. The incident sparks a fight and a falling-out between Sunny and Dawn.



Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Ducky):

Dawn snores.

Amalia is still getting creepy phone calls from her ex. CALL THE POLICE.

Ducky's friend Alex is sinking deeper into depression.

Sunny gets Ducky a job at her father's bookstore, solving her problem of being relied on for free labor, her father's of dealing with high employee turnover, and Ducky's of his brother not paying him back after borrowing cash.


Their Families:

Carol is now about seven months pregnant. She and Jack are waiting for the baby to born to find out whether it's a boy or a girl.

Sunny's mom mistakes her daughter for her late sister, Robin, at one point.

Jeff tries awkwardly to comfort Sunny when she's upset about her mom. It's not terribly effective, but it's a nice thought.


PSA Time:

The whole "eating for two" during pregnancy? Just remember that the developing baby is tiny. I had an ultrasound at about 28 weeks and the estimate weight was just over two and a half pounds. And that's with only about three months left in the pregnancy.

Want to cook something for several hours with a low risk of fire? Get a Crock-Pot or other slow cooker. They're awesome. You'll use less energy, too.


Misc:

This book from mid-March to early April.

Sunny is disdainful of the acrylic yarn Carol is using to knit something for the baby. Yes, it's true that acrylic can melt if it catches fire, but it's also washer/dryer safe and there are many types of nice, soft acrylic. It's more likely that a baby will get something dirty than catch fire. Although considering Sunny was raised by hippies, I could see her preferring organic material, like cotton which is still washer/dryer safe. Some wools are okay for the washing machine too, but not all.


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 9

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 209: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 26 7th graders, 47 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 130

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-10
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/5/13

Claudia and the Terrible Truth (RS#117)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.

Synopsis:

Claudia goes to sit for the Nicholls, the family who moved into the Addisons' place. Right away, she notices that the two boys are almost too polite, and seem worried about upsetting their father. More odd is that their mother has the same worry. And they react so fearfully to making small mistakes, like putting a little tear in a kid-kit book. Then Claudia hears their dad screaming at them, saying some nasty stuff that parents tend to avoid. The kids themselves do some name-calling casually, as if they're used to it. Claudia thinks it's all very strange, but doesn't quite connect the dots beyond thinking the father is unusually strict. She's confused by how nice their father acts when she's around (which is actually pretty creepy when you think about how abusers are, and I'm glad it was included in the book). But cracks start to appear in the act.

As Claudia's leaving a sitting job, she hears the father hit one of his sons (he thinks Claudia's left, but she forgot her jacket). She goes back to the room where they are desperate to do something, but can't think of what to do and just stutters out a goodbye and leaves. Now, obviously, she should have called the police as soon as she had a chance, but she is only 13 and hasn't had any real experience with this sort of thing; she's unprepared. She does at least consult the BSC right away, and the girls all talk to Claudia's mom together. Her mom then talks to Mrs. Nicholls, who works with her at the library, and also calls a social worker friend of hers. But Mrs. Nicholls denies everything, and the family stops using the BSC, calling Erica Blumberg instead.

But Erica calls Claudia when she's sitting for the boys, asking for help. The boys have several bruises and an unconvincing story to explain them. Claudia calls her mom, who goes to the house with Mrs. Nicholls. Claudia shows up to give Erica moral support...and sees Mr. Nicholls's car in the driveway, too. There's a very loud fight going on inside. A moment later, the door opens and the boys come out with their mom, Erica, and Claudia's mom. They all pile in to Mrs. Kishi's car and take off for Mr. Kishi's office (after dropping Erica off with her mom), because Mr. Nicholls won't think to look for them there. They call social services, and eventually the police to get a restraining order. Claudia keeps the boys occupied while her parents get the mom set up for a long drive to her sister's, even filling up her gas tank for her and getting food ready. If I were in a crisis, I'd want the Kishis helping me. The book ends without all the loose ends tied up, but with the reassurance that the boys are safe.


Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: Junior Mints, Milky Way bars, Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, peanut M&Ms, Triscuits

Claudia used to "fingerpaint" with her baby food. My toddler was fingerpainting with the frosting on a doughnut we got after church; maybe she'll be artistic like Claudia. She already has a sweet tooth!


Their Families:

Claudia's aunt and uncle (Peaches and Russ) leave Lynn with the Kishis for a week. The baby is six months old. My toddler is 27 months old and hasn't been away from us over night yet (but soon will, I hope). While this is a bad idea for a nursing mother, they leave formula for Lynn so either she's been weaned by now for any of a variety of reasons or she was on formula from the start--which isn't necessarily a bad thing; some women can't produce milk well or need medications that would passed through the milk.


The Club (and clients):

The BSC invites Erica to the meeting after all this goes down, which is nice of them. It gives her a bit of closure.


SMS: nothing new.


PSA Time:

At one point, Claudia refuses the offer of a ride home from Mr. Nicholls based on intuition (it's before things really escalate). Listening to your intuition is often a good idea, as long as it doesn't prevent you from living a normal life, for example, if it slips into paranoia. Most reasonable people are correct when they have a sense that something isn't right.

If you have a reason to suspect abuse, report it. Better safe than sorry. And don't assume someone else will take care of it; too many people do that and then nothing gets done. The book is right when it points out that it's a serious accusation, but the police or whoever you report it to will know how to investigate and will take the proper steps. You can report anonymously, too.


Misc:

I 100% agree with Claudia: there are few things better than a baby falling asleep on your chest. My own goddaughter did that a lot when she was a baby (I watched her three days a week for a while).

St. Patrick's Day happens during the course of this book. By the way, the proper response to "Top of the morning to you!" is "And the rest of the day to yourself."


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 4

St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 138

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-11
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0

3/3/13

Ducky Diary 1 (CD#5)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis.

Synopsis:

Christopher "Ducky" McCrae is 16, a high school sophomore at Vista. He has trouble fitting in with his peers, most of whom are Manly Men, Into Sports And Other Manly Pursuits. Ducky privately calls them Cro Mags, as in Cro Magnon, the prehistoric version of early man. He has a couple close friends, although one (Jay) has recently been drifting away to the Cro Mags. In fact, he and Jay have a falling out after Jay won't accept that Ducky doesn't want to be dating and keeps trying to force girls on him. The other (Alex) has been very distant lately as he struggles to deal with his parents' recent divorce. And more than the divorce: it comes out that he's always felt depressed and has been seeing a therapist since he was five or six. Ducky tries to connect with Alex, but it's hard when Alex wants to be alone. Ducky has been hanging out with Dawn and her friends since the beginning of the school year, causing much rolling of eyes from his male classmates. He also doesn't feel quite at home in his own skin; he's unsure of how to describe himself and wonders if he even really knows himself.

Ducky lives with his college-age brother Ted, who acts as his guardian since their parents are so often out of the country for long periods of time, researching or teaching. During this book they're in Ghana. Ted and Ducky aren't exactly great housekeepers, and suddenly the horrible state of the house forces Ducky to realize that. He starts cleaning the filth and mentions his efforts to Jay, who shocks Ducky by insisting he come help, with his girlfriend and one of the Cro Mags...and the four actually get along well and make a lot of progress. Ducky even feels okay accepting Jay's invitation to a party, and Alex comes along too. For a little bit it seems like things are going okay, but then the alcohol starts flowing and Cro Mags are back to their nasty selves (Jay tries to get them to behave, for what it's worth). And then Alex, drunk, tries to take a shower in his clothes and passes out with the drain plugged. Later it hits Ducky that it wasn't just an odd drunken act, it was a suicide attempt. He calls Alex's therapist to tell him about the attempt, which is the right thing to do (calling a medical professional with concerns like this is always okay; usually you won't get to talk much about the patient's confidential information, but it will allow the professional to take appropriate action). Alex takes this as traitorous, and now it seems Ducky is left with only his eighth grade friends.



Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Ducky):

Ducky likes to wear vintage clothing.

At least one of the girls uses suntan oil, which has almost no SPF. By 1998 I remember skin cancer getting a lot of press. While some people go overboard and then don't get enough vitamin D, I'm surprised that they're using the oil rather than sunscreen when they're at the beach and presumably in the sun all day.

Dawn gets mad at Jay for questioning her eating preferences, but she made the first move by glaring at the meat on his plate and saying, "Ew." Jay was rude, don't get me wrong, but Dawn was rude first and isn't innocent.

Sunny is very thoughtful in this book and able to recognize when people are trying to be nice, moreso that I'm used to seeing in the other California Diaries. Not that she's totally oblivious, but she puts up a strong front so often that the softer side of her gets obscured.


Their Families:

Sunny's mom is losing her hair, and losing weight. She's thinner than Sunny, who's probably not finished with puberty yet.


PSA Time:

When you pick a font type, be careful with the all caps ones because sometimes an L and an I next to each look like a U and when the word you're trying to spell is something like flickering...


Misc:

This book takes place around Valentine's Day (and the several days after), which is on a Saturday instead of Friday like the Valentine's Day in Stacey and the Stolen Hearts. It was a Saturday in 1998, when both books were published.

Gotta say, I'd wonder about a therapist not making progress with her patient after a decade of sessions. I know that a lot of mental illnesses are long-term or life-long, but it seems like a long time for a kid to be in therapy, especially if he's doing so poorly. Especially when that same therapist forgets to renew anti-depressant prescriptions.


The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 9

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 209: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 26 7th graders, 47 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 130

Crushes:
Stacey-12
Claudia-10
Dawn-5
Jessi-3
Mallory-2
Mary Anne-2
Kristy-1
Abby-0