Original Publication Date: 2000
Ghostwriter? Yes, Nola Thacker.
Claudia and Alan Gray are still tiptoeing around the idea of dating. Alan seems to genuinely want to show Claudia a good time, but Claudia's unsure because of all the jokes he's pulled in the past. They go out to see a movie and Claudia doesn't even tell the BSC because she's worried she'll be judged, and also a little worried about hurting Alan if word spreads that he was up to old tricks. Kristy doesn't help matters by refusing to see that Alan might be trying to change, or at least that there's more to him than the prank-pulling boy she met in first grade. At Alan's suggestion, the entire BSC (Dawn included, as she's visiting for the summer) joins him, Cary Retlin, and Pete Black for an outing. Alan's on his best behavior, which almost seems fake to Claudia. Later he and Claudia talk, and she tells him that he can relax and be himself. A little while later, at a party in Claudia's backyard, he is able to be funny without being a jerk. Claudia and Alan agree to officially be boyfriend and girlfriend.
Also, Claudia and Erica Blumberg have a temporary job at the Stoneybrook Library, helping in the children's room until a new librarian is hired. Erica takes advantage of being at the library to continue searching for her birth parents after her shifts are over (she eventually realizes where her parents keep her birth certificate and finds out her parents' names--they didn't name her, she's just "Baby Girl"--and talks with her mom and dad, after which she's not as interested in finding her birth parents). Claudia suggests redoing the mural for the children's room, which her supervisor is thrilled about but which mom is unenthusiastic. Claudia comes up with a really nice idea for the mural, only to discover that her supervisor has told the kids they can "help" with the painting. It doesn't go well, and Claudia's mom is even less thrilled. She and Claudia have a heart-to-heart and Claudia fixes the mural, painting the image she had in mind and having the kids put their handprints around it as a border.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: candy corn, mixed nuts, and cheese-filled pretzels in her closet (tucked inside a boot), a chocolate bar, Oreos, cereal
Claudia doesn't like movie theater popcorn butter. That seems odd.
Dawn seems to have mellowed a bit, especially in this book and the last California Diaries book (coming up next). She's less judgmental than she'd be portrayed in lots of later books. Until she spouts off something about pesticide use in golf courses.
Claudia is pretty sure that Janine talks in larger-than-necessary words to screw with people. Remember Janine, never use a large word when a diminutive one will suffice.
The Club (and clients):
Kristy's back to YOU MUST NOT BE A SINGLE SECOND LATE mode for BSC meetings.
SMS has book orders for all its grades. My school only did them through sixth grade. I got a lot of BSC books that way.
"Fewer" and "less" are not synonyms. Fewer refers to things you can count; less to things you can't. So you add fewer tablespoons of sugar to a recipe and the resulting food is less sweet.
This is Claudia's last book, and the last Friends Forever book, not including the Super Special which will have its own post after the last California Diary.
Starting 8th grade: 12
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 5
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-6, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 6
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 13
BSC Fights: 13
SMS Staff and Faculty: 69
Students (other than the BSC): 218: 123 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 31 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 16 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 38 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 151