Original Publication Date: 1998
Ghostwriter? Yes, Nola Thacker. Special thanks is also given to Michelle Saunders and Anne Aldrich.
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.
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.
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!
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...
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