Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Baby-Sitter’s Club #40: Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

Janine is helping Claudia study for her next math test and surprisingly enough, she’s doing really well. Her regular math teacher is out of town or sick or something, so she has this substitute named Mr. Zorzi. Check out that pic of him on the cover. He reminds me of a teacher from a bad 80’s sitcom, but I can’t quite think who.

Anyway, everyone tells her that she’s going to do great on the test and she starts to feel more confident. A few days later, they get their test results back and she totally nailed it! A- suckers. The teacher calls her and Shawna Riverson to the front of the room after class and points out that not only did they get the same grade and miss the same questions, but they answered every single question in the same way. Shawna instantly does the “I’d never cheat”, while Claudia twiddles her thumbs.

By the time she gets around to defending herself, the teacher has already made up his mind. He thinks she cheated, so she’ll get a failing grade on the test. The principal calls her parents and at first they think she cheated, but when Janine jumps to her defense, they instantly believe she didn’t cheat. Nice parents.

Claudia tells the club what happened and they all kind of believe her. Mary Anne points out that if she did cheat, she can tell them the truth and they’ll all be on her side, which pisses the whole group off. She ends up crying and making Claudia feel bad.

The girls come up with this “great” plan to catch Shawna by breaking into her locker. Claudia keeps referring to it as Breaking and Entering. Apparently Dawn used to have her locker, so she knows the combination. Stacey agrees to be the look-out and they make everyone else go home, as if a teacher would care what they’re doing.

They find a note from one of Shawna’s friends, congratulating her on cheating off Claudia. She takes the note, but then puts it back because she realizes that she’d have to tell the principal where she got it. Um, no you wouldn’t. Just tell him that it fell out of someone’s notebook!

Claudia then sees Shawna and her friends going into the bathroom and hides in the last stall. She hears her say that she was too busy with drama club and other activities, to study for the test. That night she tells Janine all about what happened and Janine comes to the school and meets with the principal.

The end result is that Claudia gets the chance to take the test again and actually does better than she did originally. The teacher tells Shawna what happened and says that she can take the test the next day. Shawna breaks down in tears and confesses that she cheated. She gets a two-day suspension and a failing grade on the test. Claudia’s parents reward her with a special cake and tell her that they’ll never doubt her again. Aw.

*Claudia wears the Miss Frizzle outfit that is permanently stuck in my head, even after all these years! A blue skirt with fish on it, a green blouse (to represent seaweed), jellies with stickers of seahorses and fish and a sand dollar barrette.

*The Pike triplets break a window (the third one in a few months?) and since no one will confess, they all get grounded. Mallory gets so sick of them stuck in the house that she lets them reenact the scene. Turns out that the pitch was wild, it glanced off the hitter’s bat and the catcher couldn’t reach it. Since technically it was no one’s fault, they all get off.

*Ann reveals in notes to the reader that she struggled with math, until an older boy (and former baby-sitter!) started tutoring her. She suggests sitters help their charges with their homework.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sweet Valley High Super Thriller: A Stranger in the House

For some reason, I really like this book and I remembered way too much about it!

The book opens with this buy John Marin, who’s stuck in prison. He cuts a bunch of photos of the twins from local newspapers and sticks them up in his cell. He talks about using Liz’s love of books and Jessica’s love of the spotlight against them both.

Then the books jump to the Wakefield house, where the twins are getting ready to start their 700th summer jobs. This time they’re working at the Marina Café and I’m summer, but I can’t see Jess voluntarily working as a waitress. Steve is home for the summer too (big surprise) and working at the law office.

Ned nearly chokes to death when he reads in the paper that John Marin was paroled. We get the backstory of how Marin killed a woman and her teenage daughter, after kidnapping them from Secca Lake. He threatened the twins when he was being lead out of the court.

This brings up two questions. First of all, how the hell do you get paroled after ten years, when you killed two people? Second, wouldn’t the court tell Ned that he was out? He did threaten the man and you have to think that he left behind at least one picture of the twin in his cell. Ned kind of warns the girls to be careful, but of course doesn’t tell them what’s going on.

The twins get to work and meet Mr. Jenkins, the café manager who can’t tell them apart. He thinks Jess being a total ass is actually Liz and Liz being super perfect is Jess. They learn that he’s hosting a tip contest, with the winner getting a gift certificate for food and shopping. I don’t get the tip contest either because it’s based solely on money. Every shift, they have to tell him how much they earned in tips. Shouldn’t it be based on the highest percentage or something?

Of course as soon as Marin gets out, he becomes obsessed with the twins. He sneaks into the house and leaves a half-eaten apple on the counter, then steals a Christmas card photo from the mantle. Ned finds a card from Marin, which has a “nice family” note on the back and their photo on the front. He calls the cops and they refuse to do anything because they have no proof. Um, k.

Todd stops by the café because he’s teaching windsurfing down the beach and Liz gets kind of annoyed. They head out for dinner and she thinks about how they’re trapped in a rut. Jessica is stuck with a customer and meets Marin, who introduces himself as Scott Maderlake. He tells her that he’s scouting locations for a TV series and she practically dry humps him in the restaurant.

This book kind of pisses me off because after dozens of books where Liz is ultra smug about her relationship with Todd, now she’s all annoyed by him. They see Roman Holiday and she goes on and on about how she’s just like Audrey Hepburn. Then when Todd does make an effort, she gets pissed at him.

They go to the Dairi Burger and she decides to get out of her rut by ordering an iced coffee with three sugars and half and half. This annoys me because you put your up fucking sugar and milk in your coffee, but she makes the waitress do it. Then she spots someone writing in the corner and of course it’s Marin, even though five seconds before he was with Jessica. Pretend you forgot that.

Jessica comes home late and Ned flips out. He tells her and Alice that there were a string of crimes in the neighborhood. He calls the police, who tell him that they can’t find Marin because he never met with his parole officer and gave a fake address. Ned hires PI James Battaglia to watch over the girls.

The whole book is just Marin breaking in, the cops doing nothing and everyone else being stupid. The girls see this weird guy in a whole sailor outfit, who’s actually working for the investigator. There’s also a weird guy following them, who Marin paid off. Liz finally meets Marin, who passes himself off as Ben and says he’s sailing around the world while he writes a book. She’s convinced that he’s her soul mate because he orders the same iced coffee as her and his boat’s name is Emily Dickenson. Seriously, even Enid thinks he might be her soul mate…and yet they haven’t said more than ten words to each other.

Jessica tells Lila all about her new guy. She says she won’t tell Liz because Liz will get upset at her dating someone new, while Ken is out of town. Ah, remember when she dated Ken? She’s guessing he’s around 20 and she knows Liz will freak out because of what happened with Jeremy Randall. Yeah, well when you date a guy who’s engaged to someone else…

Jess and Scott go around town and she tells him stories about everyone. Despite the fact that Enid is such a dork, she even includes the story of her plane crash. When she gets home, she realizes that her necklace is missing. Later Ned gets a note from Marin, with the necklace attached.

Liz runs into the weird guy in the storeroom, rushes outside and runs right into Ben. She goes for a walk with him and tells him all about how she feels like she’s stuck and he totally understands her! Not at all like that awful Todd! She’s totally in love!

Battaglia suggests that Ned tell everyone what’s going on and he refuses. He does send Steve to San Francisco for another job and convinces Alice to go out to town too. Then he sends a photo of Marin to the investigator, but doesn’t double check it. Of course Marin switches it out. Ned does ask the girls if they’ve seen anything suspicious, but they change the subject.

I’m tired of recapping this, so let’s just cover the highlights. Marin breaks into the house and moves Prince Albert’s collar. He gives Jessica an expensive new necklace and she dry humps him again. He breaks into the house and steals back the same necklace, so Ned has no proof that he was inside…except for all those fucking notes.

The cops arrest the creepy guy, thinking that it’s Marin because the photo matches. Um, ok? Marin takes dirty pics (kind of) of Alice’s legs and sends them to Ned. Scott takes Jessica to Miller’s Point, someone spies on them and Scott “chases” him off. Later it turns out that he killed Battaglia’s man.

Neither twin wins the contest (say what? Don’t they win everything?). Some guy jumps at them in the storage area and they have to go to the police station. They both identify the weird guy, but he’s been in custody, so he wasn’t the guy that attacked. On the way home, Liz tells Jess all about her new boyfriend.

Ned tries to call Battaglia and tell him what happened. When he doesn’t answer, he runs over to talk to him and finds him dead, with a note from Marin on his back. Liz goes for a moonlight cruise with Ben and Jessica lies for her, saying she’s with Todd. Todd then calls and the cops show up, so Jess has to tell them the truth.

They tell Jess what’s going on and show her a picture of Marin. She’s laughs because it’s Scott and then realizes that he’s a killer They go to the Beach Disco and get Jane, one of the other waitresses. Jane sees the pics and tells them that Marin is Ben. Oh-uh.

Liz is with Ben, when the Coast Guard shows up. He holds a knife to her throat, she stomps on his foot and when he lets go, she runs off. Unfortunately she whacks her head on the side of the boat and Jess has to jump in and save her.

Later the twins go home and the cops are changing the locks in the house. The cops leave, but one offers to sleep outside in his car and keep an eye on things. Marin pops up and reveals that he escaped and made it look like he died. He hits Ned in the head and goes upstairs with a knife to kill the twins. Suddenly he’s hit from behind by Ned, who sends him flying out the window. The cops handcuff Marin and promise that everything will be fine…

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Baby-Sitter’s Club #103: Happy Holidays, Jessi!

Ann M. Martin apparently decided that no one realizes Jessi is black, so she had this book done just to remind us. I think the whole book is about how she’s black and no one understands what that means for her.

When the book starts, she’s all excited about Kwanzaa and gives us a long (I mean pages and pages long) description of the holidays. Apparently she’s the only one in the family who cares because Becca is making a list for Santa and talking about everything she wants for Christmas.

At a BSC meeting, Kristy points out that Kwanzaa is only for African-American people and Jessi gets kind of pissed off. She thinks that other people might feel this way, when it’s actually about bringing people together. Yet five pages before, she actually said it’s only for black people. Make up your mind Jessi! So she comes up with this “brilliant” idea to host a festival and invite people of all colors.

Aunt Cecilia is living with the family and acting as bitchy as ever. She keeps lecturing the kids and treating them like crap. Like she takes them Christmas shopping, but won’t let them go into any store where they need gifts and tells them what to buy people. They want to get their dad a new shirt and she says it’s too expensive and takes them to the accessories department.

Eventually their dad gets sick of her shit and tells her to lighten up. He reminds her that she’s living with them and she doesn’t have to, kind of insinuating that he might kick her out. She takes the kids to the mall again, but makes a big deal out of buying a new blender. She literally starts yelling at the store workers because the blender now has a plastic container and she wants a glass one.

Jessi and Becca dress up in funny costumes and try to scare her. She gets so pissed that she makes them leave the store right away. On the way home, she’s driving way too slow and Squirt is fussing, so she makes the “smart” decision to let them take him out of his seat. Their car gets hit from behind, Squirt topples over and has to be rushed to the hospital. Since he’s a kid and has a concussion, they make the family leave him there for a few days.

Jessi has to skip the first Kwanzaa celebration, leaving Mal in charge, which cracks me up. The first people who get there, think they’re at the wrong spot because they only see red-headed, super white Mal. We’re reminded again that Jessi is black because she tells us that she met one new black family in the grocery store and another family is one of the few African-American families in town that she doesn’t know. I thought there weren’t any other black families in Stoneybrook?

The rest of the book is equally lame. Squirt misses being home, but bonds with the people at the hospital and starts ignoring his family. Cecilia becomes even worse because she blames herself for what happened. Becca gets the flu and misses pretty much everything.

We’re treated to one chapter from Mary Ann’s perspective, where she baby-sits for the new family and they go all crazy making Kwanzaa crafts. Then Jessi hosts a cooking event, where the kids and sitters make a bunch of Kwanzaa dishes and freeze them for the festival. She also arranges for the kids to put on a play. Kristy goes all psycho, trying to get her to mention the club every few lines because it’s perfect PR for them.

Mallory is super great in this book though. She knows the family doesn’t have time to get a tree, so she buys one and her family helps her decorate it for them. Then she offers to bring them over Christmas dinner and I so want her to be my friend right now. Claudia gets to sit for Becca, who can’t go to the hospital. They decorate the house and get everything ready, but then everyone is pissed off when they come home and ignore her.

The whole family is pissed at each other, but then their other family arrives for Kwanzaa dinner. Uncle Charles picks up on the tension, makes a joke and suddenly everything is fine again. The big festival goes off without a hitch and Kristy gives out business cards/flyers, so the BSC is back on top again!

*There are “Notebook Pages” in the back that ask a bunch of questions about you, your life, your age, etc. I told the boyfriend that I wanted to fill them out with all my info now (I’m 30 and my favorite club member is Stacey because she’s just like me!) and then donate the book back to the thrift store. I so want someone to buy this book and read that lol.

*I find it hard to believe that Cecelia would let Squirt out of his car seat, especially when she’s so paranoid about the kids in general.

*Cecelia is the one person who expresses doubt that Jessi and the club can pull off the festival. She thinks the parents will get stuck with all the work, but then Jessi does it without any adult help.

*A bunch of sitters and a dozen kids somehow make several main dishes and a bunch of cookies in like two hours. I call bull shit on this one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fear Street Super Chiller: High Tide

Adam and his girlfriend Mitzi (what a name) are out on the water, tooting around on a water scooter. Anyone know what that is? Anyway, they’re goofing around and she accidentally falls overboard. When he turns around to save her, he accidentally hits her in the head with the scooter and she starts bleeding. He falls off and tries to save her again, but the scooter goes crazy and starts chasing them both.

Suddenly he wakes up in his own bed, with his roommate Ian staring at him. It turns out that his girlfriend Mitzi died the previous summer when they snuck out on a scooter. Ever since then, he’s been having bad dreams. He looks down at his legs and starts screaming because his legs are missing.

Cut to Adam sitting with his psychiatrist Dr. Thall and telling him about his hallucination. The doctor’s worried because Adam had hallucinations before, but he got passed them. Adam then goes off to his job as a lifeguard…seriously? Would anyone want a guy who’s girlfriend drowned and has hallucinations, to work as a lifeguard?

Anyway, his buddy Sean is flirting with this girl Alyce, who he’s supposedly dating. I say supposedly because she doesn’t seem all that interested in him and I can kind of see why. He keeps chasing her around and asking her out, even when she’s not interested in him. Sean then tells Adam that she’d better not be sneaking around on him.

He proceeds to tell a story about his old girlfriend. Apparently she started sneaking around with another guy, so Sean started stalking him. He left him threatening notes and threatened him in the hallways at school. Then he jumped him in the woods and beat the shit out of him. Adam starts talking about a date he has that night, which isn’t with his kind of girlfriend Leslie.

Sean shows up at Alyce’s house that night, despite the fact that she told him they weren’t going out because he thinks she was joking. Her roommate answers and says that she went to the movies, so he starts stalking her. He sees her out with a guy and freaks out about her date. He runs into Leslie, who’s about to cry and they talk about Alyce’s date.

I love how Sean gets like two chapters from his viewpoint and then it’s all about Adam. Adam runs into Joy and Raina, two girls he graduated with from Shadyside. Ooh and they mention that Joy went out with Gary Brandt! So either she was dating someone younger than her or apparently our old school kids all graduated. Apparently Adam dated them both and now they just happen to be in town on a break from college and waiting for their summer jobs to start.

Adam and Ian are also having problems because Ian keeps borrowing everything he owns, including his clothes and food. Plus Ian is girl crazy and keeps going out with different girls every night of the week. He’s also having problems with Leslie because she thinks they’re a couple and he’s not feeling that.

One night he meets Raina and Joy for dinner after blowing Leslie off and she shows up at the restaurant. They have a minor altercation and she pushes him into a table before storming off. The next day he runs into the girls again at the beach and they want to know what’s up with his girlfriend, but he kind of blows it off.

Sean keeps ignoring him and then runs off, leaving Adam alone at the beach. Jeez, they didn’t even do that at Sweet Valley Shore. He warns the girls about the water being rough and then notices them trapped in the water. Adam runs off to save them, but only manages to save Raina. She’s passed out in the water and Joy keeps screaming and dragging him under, so he pulls Raina to the shore. He thinks that Joy will be fine until he gets back, but she goes under and never comes back up.

He wakes up in his room, thinking that it was all a nightmare, but Ian confirms that it happened. The next day he sees Leslie, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The drowning wasn’t on the news and she shows him that it wasn’t in the paper. Then he thinks he sees Joy, but the girl disappears. He does notice that the “ghost” left behind footprints in the sand.

On top of all that, he starts having visions of Mitzi again and he’s getting threatening phone calls from someone. He even has a hallucination, where an apple turns into a skull and starts talking to him. Leslie offers to help, but he blows her off. Then he runs into Raina, who thanks him for saving his life and he thinks that somehow Leslie is screwing him. Raina comes back and arranges to meet him later.

He comes home and finds a dead sea gull, wrapped in his sweatshirt and laying on his bed. Then he comes home and finds Sean attacking his bed with a knife. Sean reveals that Alyce was dating Ian and because Ian wore Adam’s sweatshirt, he thought it was his. He also thought Adam’s bed belonged to Ian. Adam suggests he talk things over with Alyce and then leaves to meet Raina.

Raina apologizes to Adam and then out walks Joy. It turns out that Dr. Thall thought Adam was repressing something about last summer and wanted to do something drastic to make him remember. He somehow tracked down the girls…and Ian…and got them to agree to fake a drowning. I smell a lawsuit.

Adam rushes off to grab a water scooter and hits the water, where he sees Ian coming at him. Somehow that makes him remember what actually happened the last summer. Ian and Mitzi were screwing around, they went out on the water, she fell overboard and he hit her with the scooter. Ian rushed back to shore, told Adam what happened and he raced off. Somehow it got all muddled in his mind and he thought that he did it.

Ian starts chasing him because he wants him to die or something. Ian ends up falling off the scooter and Adam saves his life. The book ends with Leslie coming to see him and him making a joke about whether or not she’s real. She kisses him, asking if it feels real and he tells her he doesn’t care and kisses her back.

High Tide is only around 170 pages long. Does that seem short to anyone else for a Super Chiller?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Baby-Sitter’s Club #18: Stacey’s Mistake

So Stacey is now living in New York, since her dad got transferred back to town and her parents are still together. The people in her building decide that they need to get together and figure out what to do about the homeless in their neighborhood. But what will they do with all their kids? It’s the BSC to the rescue when Stacey invites the elder members to stay with them for a weekend.

The girls take the train to NYC and agree to meet at the information desk. Stacey ends up waiting around for like 20 minutes, freaking out that their train was delayed or they somehow ended up lost. Turns out that they followed everyone else off the train and got a little lost. She gets all annoyed because they walked right past the desk and didn’t see her, even though she didn’t see them either.

She also gets annoyed because Mary Anne won’t shut the fuck up about the town and Claudia brought some huge ass suitcase that looks more like a trunk. After dropping their bags off at the apartment, they take a cab to the Hard Rock Café. Of course everyone oohs over the restaurant (just like I would at their age) and buys tee-shirts to remember the trip.

Mary Anne has all these plans and things she wants to see, but apparently they don’t have enough time. They can either go to Bloomingdale’s or the Museum of Modern Art and pick shopping because Claudia is the only one who really wants to go to the museum. Then it’s back to the apartment to get ready for the party Stacey planned.

It cracks me up because Mary Anne becomes obsessed over clothes and getting everyone to wear a sophisticated outfit. She asks Stacey to pick out their clothes, but then rejects the outfit she picks for her. She ends up wearing a ruffled white blouse, short brown boots and a paisley skirt. Stacey thinks she looks like she’s from Little House on the Prairie.

Laine comes over early and wows everything with her outfit. For a junior high party, she wears a little black dress, hose, black flats and a few pieces of silver jewelry. She and Claudia dislike each other right away, with both commenting on how the other abandoned Stacey at one point.

The party finally comes, but the BSC won’t have anything to do with the NYC kids. Stacey finally introduces Kristy to this guy Coby and they hit it off, but then Claudia cuts in to dance/flirt with him. Mary Anne makes an ass of herself by confronting random people with stupid facts about the city or asking them shit, like when they rode the ferry last. Then she makes fun of Dawn, who’s terrified of the city and Dawn hears her. By the end of the night, no one is talking and Laine cuts out early.

The next day they have to be on their best behavior because they’re baby-sitting. The kids all show up and somehow the parents think it’s a smart idea to send five 13 year olds out with a dozen kids (one as young as four)…in New York City.

They take the kids to the natural history museum and manage to lose one little boy. Mary Anne steps up and finds him. Then they take the kids to Central Park. One little girl almost throws up and Dawn takes care of her because she knows how Stacey feels about barf. By the end of the day, they’ve all made up.

Laine calls and she’s ready to give everyone a second chance. Her dad managed to get tickets for all of them to a Broadway show and lets them take a limo there. Stacey asks Laine to stay the night and she decides to give the BSC some time together, but exchanges info with Claudia because they’re now friends.

The girls stay up all night, talking and bonding. They even make a prank call to Jeff in California. The next day, Stacey makes them all try lox on bagels and they read the newspaper. They head back to Stoneybrook and everyone is back to being friends again.

*Instead of those stupid journal/diary entries, we get letters and postcards back home. Even though they’re only gone for three days, they write to Logan, Shannon, Mallory, Jessi, Jeff, Nannie and Karen/Andrew.

*Dawn wears a peach sweater dress for the party, with lace stockings, while Claudia wears a “sophisticated” black outfit with stars all over it. Stacey wears yellow socks with a short yellow dress and white stockings. Kristy refuses to dress up and wears a turtleneck and jeans.

*Check out that cover! Is this the only one of the regular series books that had such a plain/non-bright colored cover?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Valley Twins #7: Three’s A Crowd

Oh dear lord, do you guys have any idea how long it’s been since I picked up a Sweet Valley Twins book? I stopped reading these way before I gave up the BSC. For some reason, when I hit 12 or so, I became obsessed with SVH and BSC. I *may* have even stopped reading these by the time I was the same age as the twins. This was a total trip for me!

So Jessica has this friend Mary, who’s in the Unicorn club, but doesn’t seem nearly as snotty/bitchy as the girls in that group. OMG, the Unicorn club, I love it! Sorry LOL. The club all meets because they want to throw a dance (this is Sweet Valley after all), but the club treasury is way low.

They decide to write celebrities and ask for their favorite recipe, then make a book and sell it. Really? Does the ghost writer think celebrities write back in a few days? I’m still waiting for Christian Slater to respond to the letter I wrote him when I was 12. Do you think it’s time to give up on that dream?

Jessica volunteers to type everything up because Liz has an electric typewriter (I’m dying here), though of course she doesn’t know how to use it. Liz meanwhile is busy with the Sweet Valley Sixers, the sixth grade newspaper. She’s doing a big story on the upcoming career day and can’t be bothered with Jessica’s crap.

Mary is a foster child who lives down the street and Jess starts noticing that Mary is always around. Plus when she’s there, she’s always helping Mrs. Wakefield and basically ignoring her. Jess decides to stop inviting her over, but then Mary pops up with Liz. She even asks her friend Ellen if Mary hangs out with her mom and Ellen acts like she’s crazy.

Jess pretends that she’s sick, but then Mary comes home with Liz. She finally talks to Liz about her suspicions, but Liz acts like she’s crazy. Then she starts watching Mary and realizes that Jessica was right. Ha! Jessica was right, that pained me to say. Eventually Liz agrees to stop inviting her over too.

Jess wants to write to Vanessa Britain from her favorite soap, but finds out that Janet (club president) is writing her, so she writes to Parker something from the same show. Liz tells her that the two stars just got married, so she asks him about being married to a celeb. He writes back and sends her a recipe for sweet and sour ribs.

Mr. Bowman, the newspaper advisor, tells the kids that some massive group is hosting a competition for the best middle school newspaper and he thinks they have a shot. Liz goes out of her way to write the best damn article she can and then Jess screws it up. She does some work for her twin and Jess has to get all the details about Career Day, but messes up all the names and dates.

Career Day finally comes and all the Unicorns go to see Gretchen Tyler, a local fashion designer, talk. Janet demands that Jessica get to work on the cookbook because everyone heard back from their celebrities. Since Liz has no time and Mary is the only one she knows who types, they make up. Mary gives her this gold and silver bracelet she always wears and invites her over to dinner with her foster parents.

While working on the book, they knock over grape juice and ruin Liz’s article on Tyler. Jess rewrites it and when she doesn’t have enough words, she includes the rib recipe. It’s got some mistakes, but Mr. Bowman loves it. Jessica also includes a note in the gossip column because she hears her dad say the Altman family wants to adopt Mary.

Mary reveals to Liz that she doesn’t want to get adopted. She has a mother and she knows that she’s looking for her. Apparently her mom was friends with this woman Annie and Annie volunteered to watch her, while her mom took care of her grandpa. Annie took her to California, but got sick of having a kid and just turned her over to child services, but not before changing her name back to her maiden name.

Mary tells the Altmans that she doesn’t want to be adopted because of her mom. They try pointing out that it’s been years since she heard from her, but she refuses. The CPS decides to put her into a new home and give them a chance to adopt another child. She only has a few months until it’s time to move on.

Liz runs into a woman, who kind of looks like Alice and is looking for Mary. At first she thinks it’s Annie, but it turns out to be Mary’s mom. They have a happy reunion and she reveals that they only reason she found her was because Annie was arrested for shoplifting. She asks if she still has her bracelet and Jessica gives it back. Later her mom decides to transfer to Sweet Valley, so Mary can stay with her friends. I guess at some point in the next four years, they move away anyway.

The cookbook is a huge hit and Liz decides to buy a copy for their mom and one for Mr. Bowman. Mary decides to buy the copy for their mom, as a thank you gift. Liz then reveals that she combined her article and Jessica’s article into one and put it in the paper. Yeah.

*Jessica makes mention of Bruce Patman being the cutest boy in seventh grade. Just wait a few years….

*I just realized that given the age we have for Alice in SVH (early 40s), she’s actually like 38-ish here. Suddenly that seems pretty young to me!

*They mention one of the girls writing to Jeremy Franks. I thought he was like early 20s in the SVH series, so that would make him late teens here.

*Caroline Pierce writes in her gossip column that the school is getting vending machines. Of course it’s a rumor, but Lois Waller shows up and gets disappointed that she can’t buy a candy bar. I hate when they include her like this. Apparently if you’re overweight, you can only care about food, nothing else.

*Lila is all about buying a horse in this book and Jess suggests she talk to Liz. Remember when Liz was obsessed with horses? Yeah and I totally remember that book too.

*I have to say that I’m kind of loving the Sweet Valley Twins series, not quite as horribly great as the high school years. Hopefully I can track down more of these.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Baby-Sitter’s Club Mystery #14: Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall

I promised you wouldn’t get an onslaught of BSC books, but would could be better for Halloween than a mystery book? Granted it does take place at the mall and no one wears any costumes…What can I say? I always liked Stacey.

Stoneybrook Middle School is hosting a new program called Short Takes, where the students have a week-long class in a different area. They just finished up one on buying stocks and since it involved math, Stacey naturally nailed it. The next program forces the kids to get a job in the neighborhood and I find it completely ridiculous.

First of all, it’s a week long program and they get out of school for like three full days because of it. Second, it’s illegal for 11-13 year olds to work (even Mal and Jessi are part of it). Plus they somehow got enough shop keepers to agree to this program that every kid in school can take part. How big is this freaking mall?

Of course all the girls get to do something they like, except for poor Jessi. She’s stuck working as an usher at the movie theater and I’m surprised that they don’t suddenly invent a dance class/store at the mall. Mal is working at the book store, Claudia at the art store, Mary Ann at the pet store, Kristy’s in security and Stacey gets the toy store. Oddly enough, she’s the only one who volunteers to work at a toy store. Yeah right. You know Alan wanted that job!

Anyway, Stacey gets to do all sorts of fun jobs, like work on the displays for the store, take orders and run the cash register. Seriously, someone call the cops…or a lawyer. She learns from her boss that the mall is having a high rate of theft. Later she learns that everyone was warned to watch out for shop lifters because of the problem.

Of course someone steals a computer game system, while Stacey is working the register and she’s literally three feet away. She offers to pay for it, but no one blames her. Then Mal is doing a book reading for kids and sees two little scruffy blond kids come in. The little boy steals cookies from another girl, which she thinks is weird, but doesn’t put two and two together.

Kristy somehow comes up with this great idea to start a day care center in the mall. Apparently a bunch of parents are forced to bring their kids to work because they can’t find a sitter, which I also think is illegal. They talk to Mr. Morton, who is manager of the mall and he thinks it’s a great idea. He offers the girls half-price rent on one of the store fronts, but only if they can get the shop owners to help out. Mal talks to him about the little blond kids because she’s seen them with him, but he pretends to not know what she’s talking about.

Since it’s a BSC book, all the adults love the idea of a day care and volunteer to help, but it’s really all about the club. Somehow they get a bunch of donations and other crap, to keep the day care running. They’re also responsible for hiring help and doing a bunch of other stuff they shouldn’t do.

Stacey is at work one day and hears a big commotion. She runs outside and discovers that the cops nabbed a bunch of teenagers, who were stealing from the mall. One of the guys has yet another game console on him, which he stole from her shop. Case closed! Ok, not really.

No, it turns out that other stuff keeps going missing. A bunch of little stuff like toothpaste and brushes are missing from the pharmacy and big stuff like TVs are also disappearing. Logan’s working at the Mexican restaurant and someone keeps breaking in and using the grill. Eventually the girls realize that it’s the kids from the mall and track them down in the not-yet-open daycare.

Mara is the oldest sister and she tells them their sad story. Apparently their mom got sick and needed to go to the hospital. Their aunt was supposed to stay with them, but never showed up. They ran out of money and rent was due, so she and her little brother Kyle and little sister Brenda hid out at the mall and have been living there ever since. Mr. Morton discovered them and agreed to let them stay, but only if they didn’t tell anyone that he was stealing all the big stuff from the mall.

The girls take the kids to get something to eat and Stacey stays behind to call the cops. The cops show up and Mara reluctantly tells them what happened. She also tells them about Mr. Morton and the cops spring into action. Social Service contacts their mom and agrees to help them all move back into their same apartment (right) and the cops arrest Mr. Morton. The end.

*No proof apparently doesn’t matter. The cops arrest him, based on the word of three kids who were living in the mall and stealing from shops.

*Jessi has apparently seen the same movie ten times, while working at the theater.

*Kristy acts like she’s a major member of the security force, but has to confess that she didn’t know they were doing a major sting to catch the teens, until it already happened.