Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #66: Maid Mary Anne

Mary Anne is sitting for Carolyn and Marilyn Arnold, when she decides to take them to see Elvira the goat. Mrs. Stone talks to her a little while the girls play and asks if she’s ever meet Mrs. Towne, who lives down the street. She loves gardening and quilting and Mary Anne is hooked. She’s suddenly decided that she wants to learn more about sewing, but she doesn’t know how to contact her and she thinks asking is too forward. Kristy suggests she just call her and she finally decides to do it.

Mrs. Towne asks Mary Anne to stop by for a visit. She shows her all of her quilts and some of her work and they have tea together. Mrs. Towne offers to give her lessons on sewing. Mary Anne arrives early for their first lesson, but no one answers the door. She goes inside and finds Mrs. Towne laying on the floor with a broken ankle. She calls her dad and calls for help.

When Mrs. Towne comes home, things are different. Mary Anne stops by and sees that her house is now a mess. She cleans up a little and then Mrs. Towne suggests they barter for the lessons: Mary Anne does things around the house and she gets her lessons. Things go okay for awhile, but pretty soon Mary Anne has no life.

Mrs. Towne calls her over to get a wasp out of her house, just as she and Logan are going on a picnic. They spend most of the day at her house. She then calls and interrupts a BSC meeting, only to have Mary Anne carry a box up from the basement. Mary Anne spends a good portion of the book worrying about how to talk to her about things. After she calls during another meeting, she finally tells her how she feels. Mrs. Towne is cool and suggests Mary Anne just go back to paying her for the lessons.

Mary Anne gets quilting fever and decides to teach lessons to kids, with Claudia’s help. Charlotte, Becca, Nicky, Buddy and Vanessa all join. After a visit to Mrs. Towne’s house, they decide to make a quilt for her. Buddy and Nicky quit because boys in the neighborhood make fun of them. In the end, they decide to make their pieces for the quilt anyway.

*It’s kind of ballsy of Mrs. Towne to suggest the barter system. She offers to give Mary Anne lessons, without mentioning any type of payment. I would have assumed she just wanted the company!

*Mary Anne describes a ton of sandwiches she and Logan make for the picnic, including avocado and cheese, pimento cheese and peanut butter and jelly.

*Mary Anne almost wets herself because Mrs. Towne has a pleater machine. Look, I learned how to sew and quilt from my grandma at a young age and even today, I wouldn’t know what the fuck that does.

*Mallory and Jessi sit for the Pike kids and find out that Nicky is getting teased. He makes fun of Byron for wearing an apron and helping make cookies, but he blows them off. Given how much Nicky wants to be accepted by the triplets, you would think he’d listen to them.

*They make a whole shitload of cookies at the Pike house: chocolate chip, peanut-peanut butter, chocolate chip coconut, M&Ms, oatmeal chocolate chip, chocolate chip raisin and one with the leftover pieces of everything else tossed into the mix.

*Ann’s notes say that she wanted to write a book that showed her love of quilting. Yeah, except that most 12 year old girls reading this book wouldn’t know what half that shit is, let alone the sewing stitches.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Point Thriller: The Snowman (R.L. Stine)

Heather inherited a large sum of money when her parents died, but she now lives with her Uncle James and Aunt Belle. James is a douche, who won’t let her have any of the money in her trust fund. He treats her like crap, lectures her constantly and even treats his wife fairly badly. Heather fantasizes multiple times about killing him, including letting him freeze on the roof and his sled crashing into a tree.

When the book opens, James catches Heather and her boyfriend Ben making out in her car. He pitches a fit and demands she go to work. That night, she meets a cute guy who just moved to town. He has snow white hair and goes by the name Snowman. They do some flirting and when he goes to pay, he realizes he forgot his wallet. He asks her on a date, to make up for not paying and she agrees.

Heather and Snowman head off to a dance club, but he freaks out because he thinks he sees a car following them. He comes back to visit her at work a few times too. Ben finds out about him and when she says she wants to date them both, he just pulls away and breaks up with her. Snowman then takes her to a secluded place in the woods, but she thinks someone followed them.

Snowman decides that he wants to come to dinner, even though she warns him about James. James is incredibly rude to them, acting like Snowman is just after her money. She learns that his dad died, his mom works as a nurse and the family doesn’t have very much money. James keeps up his rude act, even pushing Heather into a wood buffet and hurting her back. Then he turns it around on her, blaming her for ruining his dinner.

The next time she sees him, Snowman acts distant and weird. He reveals that his little brother needs an operation that they can’t afford. His mom works as a private nurse and doesn’t have insurance. Heather offers to pay for the surgery and he turns her down, but comes back the next day and asks for the money. He promises to get a job and slowly start paying her back.

When she sees him again, he has big news…he killed James. Heather refuses to believe him, until he takes her home and shows her the truth. He strangled James with a scarf and for some reason, left behind no incriminating marks. She flips out, decides she never wants to see him again and forces him out. Unfortunately, he shows up again and wants more money. If she doesn’t pay him, then he’ll take her other check to the cops and tell them that she paid him to kill her uncle.

Heather receives a visit from the FBI, trying to find Snowman nee Bill Jefferies. He killed his father and went on the lame. She won’t tell them the truth because he has that check and she assumes that no one will believe her. Heather gives him more money and he promises to leave. Except that he doesn’t just stay in town, he moves into a room above the garage.

Heather goes to Ben not only because she wants his help, but because she misses him too. He offers to help her get back her check and they sneak into Snowman’s room. He surprises them, hits Ben over the head and drags Heather out to their old spot in the woods. He hits her and when she wakes up, she’s inside a snowman. Luckily she has an old lighter her dad gave her and uses it to burn through the snow.

Snowman is waiting for her because he wanted to make sure she died. They have a huge fight and then the cops show up. It turns out that Ben woke up and called the cops. He followed them the day they went to the woods and suggested the cops look there. They hug and she thinks about how glad she is to have him around.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club Special Edition Reader’s Request: Logan’s Story

Logan Bruno is a babysitter and he dates Mary Anne, just in case you didn’t know! He’s an associate member, which means he never attends meetings. One night he’s just about to sit down to a homemade BBQ dinner, when Kristy calls him on the phone and asks him to attend the meeting. His dad is a little less than thrilled about him rushing off. He tends to look at the BSC as just a way for Logan to get close to his girlfriend.

The big news is that Dawn is leaving town for awhile because Jeff had a burst appendix and needs an operation. The club is way booked with jobs and Logan offers to take a few jobs. Kristy explains that they need him to actually attend the club meetings and take over as associate officer. He doesn’t really want to because he has football practice and is training for the track team, but he agrees to do it when Mary Anne starts crying.

Things go bad almost from the very beginning. The BSC is so slammed that Logan has to take two back to back jobs that take place during his football practice, so he has to skip practice. He keeps sitting for the Rodowsky boys because they like having a guy around. When Mary Anne brings some of her charges to his track practice though, things change. Jenny P. causes a huge accident and the guys start making fun of him. They call him Lois and act like he’s a girl.

At first, he handles all the teasing by fighting back. The more he babysits though, the worse it gets. At the same time, there’s a health fair taking place and Kristy gets the great idea to run a booth. They decide to run a booth dedicated to safe sitting. Logan has to take the Rodowsky boys and the club makes plans to alternate who runs the booth.

The boys want to go to the bathroom and claim they can go by themselves. Unfortunately Johnny wanders off and Logan can’t find him. It turns into a huge ordeal, but then Johnny turns up with King, one of the guys who kept picking on Logan. Johnny isn’t happy either because King said he had to use the “potty” and he’s too big for the potty. The BSC forgives him for his mistake, but Logan can’t take anymore and quits the club outright.

At the tryouts for the track team, Logan discovers that he has his own cheering section. The entire BSC turns out to cheer for him and not only does he get a spot on the team, but he beats King. The other guys suddenly decide being a member of the club isn’t such a bad thing because the girls are all pretty cute. He makes up with everyone and takes back his spot in the club.

*Look, I lived in Louisville and no way would you make BBQ sauce and cook the food an hour before serving it. BBQ is serious in the south, but Logan has his mom making the sauce when she gets home, slapping it on the food and his dad tossing it on the grill. Uh-uh.

*In what universe would Dawn get to skip school for weeks, just because her brother is sick? I understand giving her a few days to fly out and see him, but she’s gone for several WEEKS. I can’t even imagine her parents being okay with that.

*Why does Logan have to do Dawn’s job? Stacey is back, so she’s just the associate officer. It’s not like she really does that much. They could have just called him when they needed him to take someone’s job or take a sitting job.

*Logan gives Claudia’s number to a guy on the track team, but doesn’t bother to tell her. When he calls, she thinks it’s a prank and hangs up on him. I’d be more pissed about him whoring me out to his buddies, especially guys that are obviously assholes.

*The funny thing is that I have a friend staying with me and he kept cracking up when he saw BSC books all over the house. He saw me reading this one and when he heard the plot, he was shocked that there was even a boy in the club. He tried remembering if Logan was in the movie LOL.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #50: Dawn’s Big Date

Lewis Bruno is finally coming to town! Dawn thinks that hanging out with him will be the perfect way to practice having a boyfriend and get one in town. The more she thinks about him coming, the more she starts worrying about her looks. She borrows magazines from Stacey and flips through all of them, trying to find a way to update her look.

Mary Anne agrees to help by doing her makeup and fixing her hair, mimicking the look of a model in the magazine. Dawn cuts one of her shirts, turning it into an off the shoulder shirt. She pouts because it makes her look older and she takes a picture, before sending it off to Lewis. Dawn starts changing her attitude too. She talks back in class, starts chewing gum and acts like a hard ass. The other members of the BSC call her on her behavior. They don’t like the way she dresses, the way she acts or anything about her. She just kind of gets annoyed and says nothing.

This book also introduces Normal Hill. Dawn sits for him and his sister Sarah treats him like crap. He eats all the time and complains about the diet his parents put him on. Sarah’s friend Elizabeth calls him Enormous Hill and makes fun of him all the time. The other girls try encouraging him to exercise. What finally works is letting him rip up mean pictures Sarah drew and talking back to her.

Lewis finally comes to town and Dawn wears one of her new outfits to pick him up. They barely talk and she feels stupid. Mary Anne sets up another date, but things don’t go well. Dawn reads a bunch of articles on dating and tips on dating. She feels crappy on their date and Mary Anne keeps pinching her when she says the wrong thing. The next day they explode on each other at the BSC meeting and everyone sides with Mary Anne.

Dawn thinks some more and decides she wasn’t being fair to anyone. She goes to see Lewis and asks him for a second chance. She makes a bunch of vegetarian food, she changes clothes, they explore the barn and then she treats him. They have a good time and she then apologizes to Mary Anne. They go out on another double date and have a great time. He kisses her and she realizes that she likes him and doesn’t want to kiss anyone else.

*I always remembered Dawn wearing a skirt made from an old pair of sweatpants and flowered material. It seemed really ugly to me.

*Dawn makes a bunch of little braids all over her head. Later in the book, she undoes the braids halfway and leaves it all wild.

*She points out that no one flipped out when Mary Anne did her makeover. It’s been years since I read that book, but I’m pretty sure they did. In fact, that’s the book where I learned what pariah means!

*They are kind of bitchy to her though. Stacey and Claudia are especially bad and Dawn says they don’t want anyone else to act like an individual. Yeah, I kind of agree with that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet Valley High #19: Showdown

Lila has met the perfect guy. His name is Jack and he works in construction, but she knows he must be something much more important. She throws a huge party with him as the guest of honor. From the moment Jessica sees him though, she knows that he must be hers. She flirts with him constantly and then slips him her number when Lila is out of the room.

Jess is sure that Jack wants her and no one else, so she’s shocked the next day when Lila reveals that they have a date set up for the weekend. Then Jack calls and makes plans with Jess. He tells Lila that he can’t see her during the week because he has to get up so early. They have fun on their date and she decides that he’ll dump Lila soon enough.

Nicholas Morrow thinks that Jack looks vaguely familiar from back east, but he can’t place him. Lila keeps pumping him for details and he lets a few things slip, like going to boarding school. He keeps dating both girls, but only Jess knows he’s seeing them both. He promises her that Lila is just a friend and nothing more.

Unfortunately everyone at school keeps talking about Jack and Lila. Even Jess starts thinking that their names go together perfectly, but she refuses to give up on him. She thinks that he just needs to let her down easily. Liz tries to talk to her, pointing out that a guy who really likes you won’t date anyone else and that she can’t possibly be in love so quickly. Jess just points out that Liz and Todd fell in love pretty fast so it must be possible.

Lila makes plans with Jack, but gets the flu and has to cancel. Since he has the day free, he calls Jess. They go out to dinner and he starts talking about his old life and how he has a bunch of underwater pictures at home from when he scuba dived. As they’re leaving, they run into Nicholas again. Nicholas’s friend realizes that Jack is a guy from their old boarding school. He snapped after his little sister died, got messed up with drugs and robbed a female student they once dated. He held her at knifepoint and tried to kill her. They run to get Liz. Liz calls Lila and she tells them where he lives and expresses gratitude that Jess took the psycho from her.

Jessica notices that Jack is acting kind of weird, but she still goes back to his house. She makes a comment about knowing better than to go to a strange guy’s house, but that doesn’t stop her. They look at pictures and then she snoops through his things. She finds a box of drugs and calls him on it. He grabs her, but Liz and the gang burst in. They manage to save her life and it all works out in the end.

*Jack is apparently into a lot of drugs! He has uppers, downers, pot, cocaine and what seems like crack all in his little box.

*Jessica is truly a bitch in this book. I’m sorry, but Lila had already met him, had a thing for him and Jess went after him like a slut in heat, all because he’s cute.

*By the way, he totally wears a banana hammock at the pool party LOL.

*This is the book where Liz discovers that George is cheating on Enid with Robin Wilson. They keep finding random funny photos at the newspaper office. Penny is out sick and Liz is running the paper. She discovers that Penny’s sister Tina did all the photos, but finds one that shows George and Robin making out.

*Liz confronts them at the airfield where they took lessons and kind of does nothing. They tell her that they fell in love and George plans on ending it with Enid. Instead of telling Enid herself, she decides to just wait and see what happens. Nice friend.