Abby's Un-Valentine (RS#127)

Original Publication Date: 1999

Ghostwriter? Yes, Nola Thacker


Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Abby couldn't care less. She's just not interested in romance. At thirteen, that's pretty realistic. Not everyone cares about Valentine's Day even as adults. But in BSC Land, this makes her an outcast. How dare she not like Valentine's Day! I'll be she doesn't celebrate Christmas, either--wait. (No, no one says that in the book; they just react over-the-top. Interestingly, no one cares that Shannon doesn't want to set up a date for Valentine's Day.)

Compounding things is the fact that Ross Brown--who Stacey once had a crush on--has a crush on Abby and wants to be valentines with her. If you look toward the bottom of my post, you'll see that Abby hasn't had a crush on anyone since her introduction, and she doesn't start now. She catches a lot of flack for it, and finds herself receiving unwanted advice about how to land a guy. Abby does bring some of it on herself, though: she's frankly pretty rude to people who are enjoying the Valentine festivities as SMS prepares for yet another holiday dance. Although I will give her points for trying to not lead Ross on and being honest with him without being a jerk, at least at first. She does have to be more abrupt when he refuses to take "no" for an answer, and evenutally realizes that Anna would actually be a really good fit for him. She tries to set them up, but Ross thinks that the twins are playing a prank on him by switching when it goes awry. The twins are able to apologize later, and Ross asks Anna out to a string quartet concert on Valentine's Day. Abby and Kristy (who is apparently still smarting over her past with Bart...or maybe missing Michel from Baby-sitters' European Vacation) go see a horror movie while the rest of the BSC is at the school dance.

Subplot: Kristy's family is just about finished training the guide dog, Scout. Poor Andrew seems to have never grasped the idea that they weren't keeping the dog, and has been thinking that since David Michael has Shannon and Karen has Pumpkin, he should get to have Scout. Since he's four, I can see that happening, especially since we know that the Brewer-Thomas household isn't one for explaining things as important as "we're adopting a little girl." Claudia makes some decent headway during a sitting job, and Kristy helps drive the point home. What really helps is David Michael stepping up and offering to share Shannon, since Shannon obviously loves Andrew. What a good brother.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: pretzels, Hershey's Kisses in Valentine wrapping, Snickers bars

Jessi prefers to wear pastels as they compliment her skin. Most women I've known with dark complexions prefer jewel tones for the same reason.

Shannon is the youngest member of her school's astronomy club (the only eighth grader) AND its president. Because that makes sense.

Shannon tans easily.

Their Families:

Okay, I had just decided that Abby comes from a Jewish family that doesn't keep kosher, but then she specifies that her mother gets takeout from a kosher deli. But then there's no description of what kosher means.

I need to add this to the list of things I'd punish Karen for that go unnoticed: when Scout is leaving for the final time, and Andrew is upset, she "h[olds] up her hands toward Andrew like a traffic cop. "Stop crying," she command[s]. "You'll upset Scout." I think the context around is suggesting that Karen's putting on a tough front because she'll miss Scout too, but geez. Andrew is four, and Karen needs to lay off and let him grieve the departure of a dog he very clearly loves deeply. No one even gives Karen a disapproving look or even suggests that Karen back off a little.

Kristy's family got Scout in early April, and was supposed to train her for ten months. Sure enough, Scout leaves on Valentine's Day.

The Club (and clients):

Mary Anne helps the Brewer-Thomas kids make pinecone bird-feeders, and a black-capped chickadee visits to eat. That strikes me as a surprisingly specific bird, but also accurate: it's a wide-spread bird that likes seeds, and is small enough to easily eat off a pinecone. My goddaughter likes them; I pointed out lots of birds to her when I watched her as a toddler and she started showing me the "chick-a-ees" after a while.

The tensions with the dance and whether Abby will have a date and some of the BSC trying to force a relationship between her and Ross lead to a short-lived BSC fight, number thirteen.


New teacher: Ms. Colley, 8th grade English.

PSA Time:

Even if you're justing picking up fallen pinecones from neighborhood yards, you should ask permission before tromping around other people's properties.


This is Abby's last book.

Valentine's Day is a Saturday in this book. It was a Friday in Stacey and the Stolen Hearts, which is the last time Valentine's Day was celebrated in Connecticut. However, it was a Saturday in California that year, according to that series. In 1999, Valentine's Day was a Sunday.

Valentine's Day was not created by Hallmark, although you could certainly say it's been taken over by the greeting card company. Same with Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Scout only gets fed once a day, at night. That seems like a really long time for any animal to wait for food. Anyone with experience in guide dogs have any insight?

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 11

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

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 4

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: 5

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

Summers after 8th grade: 11

BSC Fights: 13

SMS Staff and Faculty: 68

Students (other than the BSC): 216: 122 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 30 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 38 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 144

Mary Anne-2


Alycia said...

I think on the East Coast, saying a Kosher deli is the same as saying Jewish deli. The deli is kosher but that doesn't mean Abby and her family are. If you want a good Ruben sandwich around these parts, you have to go to a Kosher deli.

SJSiff said...

Ah, interesting! I live on the West Coast. I've visited the East Coast, but never knew this. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Abby's family definitely doesn't keep kosher. She eats non-kosher pizza with the other girls, is allergic to shellfish (which are not kosher, so she ought not to know she's allergic), and there's never any mention of her turning down any of Claudia's candy (which, granted, may mostly be kosher anyway). But it sounds like the Stevensons are really only "culturally Jewish", so they may just like to eat at kosher delis. I don't know. I always thought the books would have been more interesting if Abby had been religious.

Anonymous said...

I liked that Abby realized she wasn't into Ross Brown more then just a friend and didn't lead him on.

SJSiff said...

As a pretty religious person myself (although not Jewish), I would have liked to see religion play a larger role in some character's life.

Abby could have found out that she was allergic to shellfish through a skin prick test, which I assume she would have undergone when her other allergies started to show up. Regardless, it's pretty clear that whether a food is Kosher doesn't much matter to Abby and her family. Which is fine, some Jewish people don't keep Kosher. It surprises me that it's not mentioned in a BSC book, because so often they have all these little tidbits about different people's lives.

And yes, I was also happy that Abby at least tried to be honest with Ross, even if he didn't get it at first.

Sue K said...

My dog only eats one meal a day too. (She's not a guide dog though.) We give her a couple pieces of lunch meat in the morning though, but she only gets a bowl of food once.

SJSiff said...

Interesting, Sue K. I'm used to dogs and cats getting fed once in the morning and once at night, but clearly there are many ways to take care of your pets. Thanks!