Friday, February 11, 2011

The Babysitters Club #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

A phantom phone caller is striking areas around Stoneybrook. He calls people frequently and when they stop answering, he knows they’re missing and sneaks into the house to steal all their jewelry. The BSC is a little worried because they don’t know what to do if it happens while they’re sitting. They finally decide to come up with a code. They’ll call another and ask about a red ribbon, which is a sign that something is wrong.

Meanwhile Claudia is crushing hardcore on Trevor Sandborne, the new boy in school, but she isn’t sure if he even knows who she is. She takes a couple of sitting jobs and keeps getting random hang up calls, which freaks her out. The other girls aren’t experiencing the same thing, but Kristy starts getting a few calls too.

Mary Anne gets so freaked out by the calls that she decides to set up alarm systems around the house, while sitting for a sick David Michael. She rigs pots and pans on one door, rigs a radio to go off on another and ties a bag of marbles to the last door. One of the alarms goes off and she flips out, but Louis the dog accidentally set it off. The Thomas family gets a kick out of it when they get home to find her.

The club members start bringing their record book to school every day. They check out who is sitting where so they can call the cops if they need to. Stacey sits for Charlotte and the only unordinary thing that happens is when a storm knocks out the power. She points out that she didn’t get any calls, but no one seems to think it’s too weird.

Claudia and Kristy take a job sitting for Jamie Newton and his cousins. They get several hang up phone calls and it worries them even more because someone in their neighborhood was recently robbed. The kids notice a weird noise outside and the girls see a shadow outside. Claudia calls the cops and they show up, only to find Alan Gray sneaking around outside.

It turns out that Alan stole the club record book every day, looking for Kristy’s information. He wanted to ask her to the Halloween Hop dance, but was too scared to ask her. She agrees to go and the cops take him home. At her next sitting job, Trevor calls and asks Claudia to the dance. He got her information from Alan and was behind her phantom calls. They go to the dance and the real phantom caller is captured.

*Mary Anne’s dad won’t let her sit until the phantom caller is caught. She also opts not to go to the dance and is actually the only club member without a date.

*Claudia keeps complaining about Janine, but Janine actually comes in and wants to hear the whole story of what happened with the police. She also admits that she hides candy all over her room too, but of course they dislike each other again by the next book.

*Mimi helps Claudia with her math homework. I know Mimi helped her with school a lot, but given the description of her, I don’t know how helpful she would really be.

*Claudia wears purple knee length pants, clock patterned tights, matching purple plaid hat and shirt and lobster earrings, with high tops. That sounds…wait, is Claudia color blind? That would explain a lot.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Valley High #9: Racing Hearts

Roger Barrett is super poor yo. He’s never going to get some hot rich girl like Lila Fowler…or will he? There’s a huge race coming up and the winner gets a scholarship to Sweet Valley College. Years ago a guy who loved racing died and his parents set up the race and fund in his honor. Bruce Patman thinks he has a lock on it and no one else even stands a chance.

The school holds a race and the top three positions get to race in the main Bart event. Lila starts picking on Roger right before the race starts, encouraging him to race. At the last second, he decides to run and has to wear camo pants and regular clothes, but still manages to win. Lila suddenly thinks that he’s super cool and looking kind of cute, so she goes after him.

Elizabeth is the only one who knows that Roger works after school for a real hard ass. He can’t get time off to practice or work with the coach and he also can’t spend any time with Lila because of his job. Lila keeps inviting him to things like a pool party, dinner or just to hang out and he has to keep turning her down. She eventually makes it clear that she won’t be interested in him unless they can spend time together.

Roger’s best friend Olivia also has a thing for him, but she won’t tell him because she’s worried he won’t like her. Liz talks to her dad, who talks to Roger’s boss and he gives him time off for the race. Before he finds out though, he drops out of the race completely. Lila reads him a poem she wrote, but then backs away when he quits. He tells her about his job and she practically runs away in tears.

The race finally happens and Roger surprises everyone by showing up and winning the race. Of course Lila now wants to be his girlfriend, but he remembers how she acted and turns her down. Then he goes to Olivia and tells her that he never realized how much she cared about him. They kiss and decide to date each other.

The B-plot focuses on Jessica, who decides that it’s time to get serious about her future. She keeps seeing lawyers on television and begs her dad for a job at his firm. Of course she meets a guy and falls in love. She keeps lying and making excuses to stay late and be with him because everyone thought she’d find a guy and get distracted. He keeps coming up with reasons not to be seen with her in public. He finally admits that he’s only 15 and she breaks up with him because she couldn’t be seen out with a younger guy. After all, what would people think?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Babysitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea

Kristy’s mom hires a high school girl twice a week to watch her brother David-Michael. The rest of the week, she, Sam and Charlie take turns watching him. When her sitter cancels and all the kids have plans, she spends hours on the phone looking for a replacement sitter. Kristy decides to start the BSC and give parents the chance to find a sitter quickly and easily.

She talks to Mary Anne and Claudia about her idea and both are on board. Claudia even has a new friend Stacey, who she thinks would be perfect for the club. The girls get together, Claudia comes up with the logo, they appoint officers, come up with a flyer and decide on a meeting time. Before long, they all have sitting jobs and the club is a hit.

Problems start popping up fairly fast. The first is when Sam starts crank calling the club. Then, Claudia starts taking jobs from people calling outside of meeting times. Even Kristy is a little sad when Mrs. Newton starts calling other girls to sit for Jamie, who’s her favorite. Everyone is also a little upset at Stacey because she keeps lying and making excuses to stay away from them.

Kristy is also unhappy because her mom is dating Watson Brewer. He brings Chinese over to the house and she won’t even eat it. Then he shows up on leftover night. Mrs. Thomas announces that they are pre-engaged, but by the end of the book, they actually get engaged. He keeps asking Kristy to sit for his kids and she keeps turning him down.

Mary Anne does take a sitting job at his house. She thinks Karen is a handful, but Andrew is adorable. Karen tells her all about Morbida/Mrs. Porter next door and she also meets Boo-Boo. The cat gets outside and Mary Anne has her first run in with the “witch”. Kristy finally does sit for the kids and finds that she actually likes them. Karen asks her about being her step-sister and she agrees to be their primary sitter until then. She also makes up with Watson.

Stacey keeps making up excuses and then outright lies to the others. When they try to plan a pizza party, she backs out because of a trip to NYC. The girls then find out she was actually in town and lied to them about it. At the end of the book, she finally confesses that she’s a diabetic and explains that her family moved because of it and the way people treated her. They all make up and agree to be friends.

*Wowza. Kristy’s mom and Watson have only been dating for four months “off and on” when they get engaged. There’s also talk about him needing to straighten out insurance issues with his ex-wife, which makes it seem like she’s still on his insurance. Oh and his ex is engaged too. How fast do these people move???

*Stacey sits for David Michael and sees Sam for the first time. I didn’t remember them meeting so early in the series. It’s kind of cute that they have a crush on each other, but creepy at the same time. Stacey is only 12 in this book! What the hell Sam?

*Mary Anne’s dad won’t let her use $3 of her sitting money on pizza for the party. She actually bursts into tears when he tells her. Later he relents, as long as she puts back half of everything she earns.

*The club makes a total of like $27 in the first week and the girls think it’s a huge amount. Remember when that was a lot of money?

*I liked the early books, where Claudia and Stacey had lives and friends separate from the other girls. Even though Kristy thinks their friends are kind of snobs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Unicorn Club #4: Lila’s Little Sister

The Unicorns are volunteering at a child care center for people without a lot of money and Lila has gotten close to a little girl named Ellie. She even helped her mom Mrs. McMillian get a job working at Fowler Enterprises. She’s there when she sees the woman run into her old boyfriend Gerard, who recently transferred to Sweet Valley. It turns out that they dated and even got engaged, but he wanted to travel around the world, while she wanted to settle down and have kids, so they broke up.

The two start dating and Lila offers to babysit for free, just so they can spend time together. Ellie gets a little dependent on her, but she doesn’t see anything wrong with it. At the same time, there’s a big weekend coming up for middle school kids and their parents. Lila keeps seeing how the other girls are with their parents and wishes she had the same thing with her dad. She also hears Mrs. Wakefield talking about how a parent should never break a promise to their child and it sticks in her head.

Mrs. McMillian is really a horrible mom because she starts ignoring Ellie because of her new boyfriend. At a picnic for the center, she spends the whole time with him and doesn’t even notice Ellie acting out or throwing a tantrum, so Lila has to take care of her. Then she drops her off at the mansion and thinks she’s sick when she’s actually pouting. 

The last event of the weekend is a huge picnic where kids and parents are supposed to make a dish and share it at the dinner. Lila’s dad announces at the last minute that he can’t make it because he has to go out of town on another business trip. She makes plans to go with the Wakefields, but it isn’t the same. On Friday night there’s a huge dance and she’s waiting for Alice to pick her up, when Ellie randomly shows up on her door.

It turns out that Ellie ran away from home because she heard her mother talking about going away with her new guy and leaving her behind. Lila isn’t sure what to think because it doesn’t sound like her, but then again, she hasn’t been the same since this new guy popped up. Ellie makes her promise not to tell anyone that she’s there and to just spend time with her and take care of her.

At first it’s really easy and Lila thinks she makes a great surrogate mom. Then Ellie keeps asking for more and more and demanding things. She hates a crunchy peanut butter sandwich because it has lumps, wants to play with a specific doll, won’t go to sleep and makes Lila keep reading her stories. Jessica shows up and when she hears what happened, she tries to make Lila call her mom. Apparently Mrs. McMillian left the kid with a sitter for the weekend.

Mr. Fowler comes home the next day and Lila keeps hiding the kid, even after her mom calls in a panic because the kid disappeared. Jessica tells the other Unicorns what’s going on and they all come over. They all see how much Ellie changed, especially when she pitches another fit. Eventually they get her all riled up, she starts screaming and Mr. Fowler rushes in.

Mrs. McMillian is pissed off, but calms down when she hears what happened. She explains that she and her new guy are getting married and Ellie heard them talking about their honeymoon. She tells Ellie that he loves her very much and they’re going to be a family. Mr. Fowler realizes that he needs to be around for Lila more and that she’s still a kid, not an adult. They make a dish together and he cancels his trip, so he can take Lila to the picnic.

*Mrs. McMillian really is a horrible mother. She talks about never having any money, but then hires a sitter to watch her kid for a whole weekend. Plus she doesn’t pick up on the fact that Ellie is so unhappy.

*Gerard isn’t that great of a catch either. At one point, he sits in the car and starts honking because she’s taking too long to drop off her child and he never spends anytime with Ellie, despite wanting to marry her mom.

*I get that Lila is super rich, but no 7th grader needs to wear suede boots, pumps, a 60s style mini-dress or any of the other things she wears in this book.

*Mr. Fowler wasn’t always rich, but I think the ghost-writer forgot that. In this one, he doesn’t know what a measuring cup is and can’t figure out how to make rice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Babysitters Club #10: Logan Likes Mary Anne

Mary Anne has finally realized that boys are out there and some of them are pretty damn cute. There are also other changes in her life too, mainly getting her first bra. Kristy is a little jealous because she still doesn’t need one and they used to be the only two that didn’t wear them. On the first day of school, she also sees the new guy Logan Bruno and freaks out. Stacey announces that he just moved into town from Louisville and that he’s really nice.

The club is also having a few problems because they have too many jobs and not enough sitters. At one meeting, Mary Anne schedules a Saturday night job and announces that every single sitter has a job scheduled for that day. They discuss the problem in school and Logan comes over. He tells the girls that he did a lot of sitting in Louisville and would like to do it in Stoneybrook. They decide to invite him to a meeting, to let him see how they work.

The meeting is kind of awkward because no one knows where to sit or how to act around a guy. Mary Anne spills a big bowl of popcorn when Logan accidentally touches her. Then Claudia starts to tell a story, but stops in the middle of “bra strap” because it’s so embarrassing. Logan starts telling a story about sitting for a boy who was potty training and then stops that one because it’s embarrassing. Eventually they give him a job sitting for the Rodowsky family, with Mary Anne watching to see what he does.

Logan is really great with kids and their parents, but Mary Anne notices a few problems. When Jackie tries doing chin ups on the shower rod and breaks it, Logan tells him about trying to the same thing and doesn’t check him out for injuries. Mary Anne is overall impressed, but that’s probably because he likes her smile. They finally decide not to invite him to join though because it would be so awkward. Logan takes the news in stride and says that he didn’t want to join for the same reasons, but he wants to take her to the next dance.

The BSC goes shopping to get her a new outfit, which includes a skirt with city names all over the bottom. During the dance, she accidentally kicks her shoe across the room and spends most of the night sulking on the bleachers. Stacey then decides to throw Mary Anne a surprise birthday party, on the advice of Charlotte Johansson. She tells her that it’s a regular party, though a boy-girl one, and suggests she bring Logan as her date.

On the night of the party, Stacey calls and tells her to come over 30 minutes later and then Claudia makes up an excuse why they can’t walk over together. Mary Anne still doesn’t get it, even when she gets to the party and everyone is already there. Then Stacey brings out a birthday cake, Mary Anne gets mortified and runs home to cry. She keeps waiting for someone to come over and apologize or at least check on her, but no one does.

The next day she works up the courage to ask her dad for a cat. He decides it’s okay, as long as she gets a stray from the pound. Then she calls Logan and Stacey both, who apologize. Stacey brings the other club members over and they give her all her gifts, play with Tigger and treat her to a piece of her birthday cake.

At the next meeting, they get a job during a time when everyone is busy. Mary Anne decides that it’s a great job for Logan because it’s a family of all boys. They come up with the idea of an associate officer, someone who can take on jobs when everyone else is busy. Mary Anne calls to tell him about it and Kristy officially swears him in over the phone.

*Seriously, the Kishis let Claudia have a boy in her room?

*The Rodowsky family are new in this book and no one has sat for them before. I always assumed they were one of the original clients because they get mentioned so much!

*Mary Anne’s reaction to the party was kind of…insane? It’s not like it was a bunch of strangers, they were all people from her school.

*When Mary Anne first sees Logan at school, she thinks he’s Cam Geary.

*The cover art Logan is not at all like I pictured Logan in my head. On this cover, he kind of looks like a little boy and way too young for Mary Anne.

*Dawn eats some of the birthday cake and then runs off to brush her teeth. I kind of like how in the early books, she was always described as eating healthy, but would sometimes have junk food.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fear Street: The Fire Game (R.L. Stine)

Jill, Andrea and Diane are best friends in a little group that also includes Nick and Max. The teens joke around about starting a fire, to get themselves out of school for a little bit. They play around and accidentally light a folder on fire, but blow it out. Not long after, the trash can where they dropped the folder goes up in flames, stopping class for the day.

Andrea, who dropped the folder in the can, swears she thought it was out. The rest of the group think it’s kind of funny and don’t seem to realize how serious it actually was. Diane mentions that her good friend Gabe is moving to town and that he might help Andrea create a new song for her gymnastics routine. She makes it pretty clear that she isn’t interested in him as anything more than a friend.

Of course Gabe is hot shit, though he acts like a dick. He spends most of his first few days making fun of Shadyside and bitching about how nothing is like it is in the city. He talks down about the pizza place and everything else in town. Then he turns around and asks Jill to take him on a private tour of town. The whole group takes a small tour and he makes fun of the town. He also learns about the fire and pushes people to set more fires. By the end of the night, he’s making out in the backseat with Andrea.

The fire game starts progressing from there, moving from small, harmless fires to much bigger ones. The group sets fire to a small shack in the Fear Street woods and then run off laughing. Jill and Gabe have their great date and she’s in luv with him, except that he also has plans with Andrea. Diane starts acting a little odd about the whole thing. The night ends with someone setting fire to Gabe’s car. She blames Nick because he wanted to stop the fire game and also never started a fire himself.

The girls share a few odd experiences together anyway. While shopping at the mall, Andrea accidentally wanders into Diane’s dressing room and the other girl freaks out. She later apologizes and says she thought it was some random stranger breaking into the dressing room. Andrea makes a point of inviting them over to her house and showing off her brand new laptop and printer, which uses bright blue ink. Then Jill has a vivid dream that ends with her finding her cat burned to death.

Jill makes a study date with Nick, but when she goes to his house, she sees him driving off with Max. She follows them and sees them standing outside of an old house on Fear Street. She leaves again and is stopped by a police officer. A detective visits her at the house the next day, announcing that the fire caused the death of a man staying there. She swears she had nothing to do with it, then calls Nick and tells him the story.

Nick claims he got a letter that invited him to meet at the house. Max came over and had the same letter, so they decided to investigate together. He shows her the note, which was printed in bright blue ink. They have a group meeting and Jill thinks someone knows about them and is trying to set them up, but Gabe laughs it off and thinks it’s someone in the group.

Jill and Diane have a long talk that ends with them deciding that Andrea is behind the fire. They confront her and she gets pissed, thinking they’re both jealous of her date with Gabe. She throws them out of her house, but later calls and invites Jill to meet her the next day before school starts. Jill finds Diana waiting, who explains that Andrea calls her too. They wander into the gym and find Andrea lying at the bottom of the balance beam, unconscious.

Diane suggests that they get away for a few days together and wants Jill to come stay with her at her parents’ cabin in the Fear Street woods. Jill goes because she thinks that they’re going to talk about everything that happened and decide what to do, but Diane doesn’t want to talk. When Diane takes a shower, Andrea calls. She accuses Jill of hurting her, but then freaks out because she thought she was talking to Diane. She warns Jill to get out as soon as possible.

Jill grabs her stuff and runs out the door, but then can’t find her car keys. She runs off, gets lost and comes across Diane in the woods, who says she was worried about her and found her car keys sitting on the porch. They go back inside, but when Jill tells her what Andrea said, she turns cold. She admits to hurting Andrea and setting the fires because she wanted Gabe for herself. She grabs a blow torch of her dad’s and chases Jill around the house.

Jill knocks her robe off and sees hideous scars underneath. It turns out that Diane was staying with her grandma when her furnace exploded and she was burned. Gabe visited her in the hospital constantly and was the one thing that kept her holding on. They fight some more and Gabe suddenly appears, saving Jill. You’d think that he’d spend the end apologizing to Jill, but he doesn’t. He tells her that Andrea called him and he rushed over. Then he comforts Diane and the book ends with him trying to make her feel better.