Friday, April 22, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #15: Little Miss Stoneybrook…and Dawn

Dawn is feeling kind of bad because Kristy arranges for a special induction to the BSC for Mallory and Jessi. She knows that they weren’t the best of friends when she first joined, but it still kind of hurts a little. It doesn’t help when Dr. Johansson calls and asks for Claudia specifically because Charlotte misses Stacey. Then Mrs. Pike calls and asks just for Dawn; she needs someone to help Margo and Claire enter the Little Miss Stoneybrook contest.

At first Dawn thinks it will be fun and easy, but she quickly learns she was wrong. Neither girl is really talented and both are kind of hard to control. Then Kristy sits for Karen and encourages her to enter the pageant. Mary Anne sits for Myriah Perkins, who wants to enter too. Then Claudia sits for Charlotte and convinces her to enter too.

Before long, the members of the BSC are barely talking. Margo decides to peel a banana with her feet, while reciting a poem and Claire is going to sing the Popeye song. All the girls learn their plans, but then clam up and won’t share anything about their girls. Claudia and Charlotte even drop by unexpectedly, trying to spy on them.

It all leads up to the big day of the pageant. Margo spots Sabrina Bouvier right off the bat because with a name like that, she has to be the girl with all the makeup. Karen messes up her interview, then Claire does and then Margo. Charlotte runs off stage in tears during the talent portion and makes her parents take her home. Myriah ends up placing second, while Sabrina wins.

The B-plot involves Jeff feeling home sick and still acting out in school. He finally announces that he wants to go home and Sharon promises to think about it. She must think about it pretty fast because by the end of the week, they’ve agreed to let him go back for six months. Two weeks later, he hops a flight and heads back to California.

*Sabrina totally sounds like one of those girls from the reality shows now. I love how all the girls point out that she isn’t very talented, wears too much makeup and seems fake, but “somehow” wins. Have they never watched a pageant before?

*I’m not going to point out how Dawn says 5,000 times in the book that she would never, ever leave her mom behind and do something selfish like move back to California.

*Why would Claudia even attempt to enter Charlotte in the pageant? Everything we know about her, says she wouldn’t do it.

*Jessi and Mallory are kind of stuck up. They take the Liz Wakefield role of they know better than anyone else and pageants are completely wrong.

*Claire calls Dawn at the end and asks for help entering a modeling contest at the local department school. For some reason, I wish they had wrote that book!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Beast (R.L. Stine)

James and his cousin Ashley have an entire day at King’s Island, which ends with a ride on the roller coaster The Beast. He’s rode it multiple times before, but it’s her first time. He convinces her to ride it one last time and while in line, they meet two teenage boys. The boys tell them that the ride has a ghost that rides the coaster late at night. Neither one believe the story.

When the ride is over, James can’t find Ashley anywhere. He wanders around the park looking for her and when he finds her, it turns out that she was looking for him. A thick fog rolls across the park and by the time they get to the front, the park is empty and everyone is gone. James wants to call his mom and go home, but Ashley convinces him to stay and sneak around. She also bets him $10 that they’ll see the ghost of the roller coaster.

While walking back to The Beast, they walk right into a couple of security guards. At first the guards don’t see them because of the fog, but once they do, they chase them through the park. The kids make it to the roller coaster and see an old, white haired man working the controls and moving the coaster. When he sees them, he introduces himself as P.D. Walters and says he tests the ride.

P.D. also explains that he’s been coming to the park for over 60 years, every since the old Firelight Park stood on the site. The park got its name from the hundreds of old-fashioned torches arranged around the park. In 1931, a tornado came through unexpectedly, knocking over the torches, setting a fire and killing a lot of people. When he hears the guards coming, he tells the kids to jump on the ride and starts it running.

The kids go through the fog, but when they come back, no one’s around. The walk outside, get lost in the fog and come across and old-fashioned looking area, complete with people in old clothes and torches. Ashley realizes that they’ve gone back in time and are at the Firelight Park. James gets off on the cheap prices of food, especially ice cream cones for two cents each. They keep getting odd looks for the way they’re dressed and accidentally run into another boy.

His name is Paul and he takes them to get some clothes. He explains that the park does a lot for people in the area that lost their jobs because of the Great Depression. He also tells them that his own dad lost his job, his whole family shares a small apartment and he sneaks into the park, but doesn’t have money to do anything. James buys him some food, they take a few rides and get to know each other.

Ashley finds a copy of the newspaper and realizes that it’s the day of the tornado! They run up to the front office, hoping to make an announcement. Then they get a megaphone and try to help people, but no one wants to listen to them. Ashley mentions P.D. and how he’s the only one that can help them. Paul freaks out because he’s P.D.! Ashley realizes that they went back in time and of course P.D. would be a young man.

Two security guards start chasing them and he shows them a shortcut through the woods. They manage to stumble across The Beast and P.D. has them jump on, while he figures out how to work the controls. He gets the ride going, but then the guards grab him. The ride takes off and the two guards jump on board. When they come out the other side, the guards are nothing but skeletons. James explains that they went forward 60 years and the guards died of old age. WTF?

The present day guards grab the kids and lecture them on sneaking around late at night. They call James’s mom and has her come to get them. They get up to the front of the park and find a memorial to the old park and the people who lost their lives. There at the very bottom is P.D.’s name.

*Okay, so I live about 30 minutes from King’s Island and grew up living there, so I was kind of excited about this book. And then I read it. There is totally a ghost story surrounding The Beast, but it’s nothing like this story. It’s about glowing red eyes seen back in the woods around the ride. Why couldn’t Stine at least take the real story and use that for the book?

*The kids also come across a freak show in the past, with a bearded lady and two-headed boy, but of course all the freaks are just normal people with fake stuff added on.

*James keeps handing over money for stuff and no one looks twice at it. But, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have pre-1931 money stuck in his pocket. Seriously, wouldn’t the stores and shopkeeps notice that his money looks funny?

*Yeah, so James calls his mom and tells her they ran into a friend of his and that guy’s mom drove them back, so they’re staying the night. She just kind of believes it and leaves it at that. Um, yeah…

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #12: Claudia and the New Girl

Claudia meets the new girl in school Ashley Wyeth and instantly likes her. Ashley took art classes at some fancy school in Chicago and is taking the same art class as her. They talk some and Claudia kind of likes her, but she’s more flattered by her. Ashley thinks she’s a talented artist and likes her portfolio.

Before long, Claudia is spending all of her free time with Ashley. They spend most of their time talking about art and really don’t get to know each other. They go downtown to get ideas for their next project and Claudia is late for a meeting. She kind of blows it off though because she wants to enter this big sculpting contest/show and needs Ashley’s help to get an idea.

Ashley keeps trying to get Claudia to sculpt an inanimate object. She wants to do a fire hydrant and wants Claudia to sculpt a traffic light. Claudia doesn’t really get the idea and thinks that Ashley is just trying to push the boundaries. She skips a meeting and has Dawn cover for her. Then, she skips another meeting and the BSC reacts. They eat a bunch of her junk food, hide it all over the room in new places and leave her nasty notes.

Claudia sits for the Rodowsky boys and discovers that Ashley lives next door. She’s flabbergasted by the idea of sitting and can’t figure out why she would do it. She tells her that she should focus on just her art and not worry about anything else. Ashley keeps pushing her and she doesn’t know what to do. She finally decides to sculpt Jackie for the contest.

Then she discovers that she’s super far behind in all of her classes and has to spend days making it up, even missing another club meeting. She tries explaining it to Ashley, but she doesn’t want to hear it. She ends up dropping the contest because school is more important than art. The whole BSC turns out for the show and Claudia wins a special mention ribbon. Her teacher entered her sculpture as a work in progress and thinks it might have won, had she finished. Ashley wins first place with her fire hydrant.

At the end of the book, Claudia and Ashley have a talk and decide to be friends. Ashley sits with them at lunch and gets along with everyone, even Kristy. Claudia says that from then on, Ashley sometimes sat with them, but usually sat by herself.

*The other girls think it’s weird that Ashley wants to be friends with Claudia, but doesn’t want to be friends with anyone else. It’s a good point, but one that isn’t explained.

*Ashley hangs up on Claudia, but she just keeps trying to explain and be her friend again. Why even bother with it? It wasn’t like they were real friends or anything.

*Dawn, Kristy and Stacey all leave notes for Claudia in her room and some of them are actually kind of mean!

*Claudia keeps saying that Ashley wore hiking boots. Looking at the cover though, she’s wearing construction boots. I totally wore those all the time in the early 90s and we always called them construction boots.

*She has to explain to Jackie that his sculpture won’t be in the show. She takes the time to explain to him early on that it might not win a prize. Shouldn’t she have explained that she might not get it done in time? She had less than two weeks to go at the time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sweet Valley High #58: Brokenhearted

Todd Wilkins is moving back to Sweet Valley! It seems like everyone in the world knows this little tidbit, except Elizabeth. Lila informs everyone that his dad got a promotion, they’re buying a huge house down the street from her and Todd will be going to Lovett Academy, a nearby private school. Liz is heartbroken about the whole thing, until she gets a letter from Todd. He wrote her weeks before hand to tell her the news, but it got lost in the mail.

Liz is naturally freaked out because she loves Jeffery, but she isn’t really sure how she feels about Todd. She never thought they’d have a chance together again and now he’ll be back. Jeffery is equally freaked out and tries harder to prove that he’s the right one for her. When Todd finally comes back, Liz makes the mistake of wearing the locket he gave her. He thinks it means something and then agrees to give her time.

Alice decides the best way to fuck with her daughter’s head is to invite Todd to a good old family dinner. It really freaks Jeffery out because he feels like Todd is sliding right back into his old spot. He takes Liz out for a fancy dinner, they have a great time and then go parking. She says she loves him, but admits that she’s confused about her feelings. Like a dumbass, he agrees to give her more time to work out her feelings.

Jessica is pulling for Todd because now he’s super rich. She wrangles an invite from him to take the twins to view his new school. There she meets Sheffield Eastman, a super rich guy who has a serious interest in her. They go out a few times and she starts fantasizing about double dates with her sister. She also brags about her new boyfriend because she knows Lila’s wanted a private school guy for awhile.

Lila has a new friend at the country club named Courtney Kane. She reveals that Courtney and Todd have been going to the country club together a lot and going out. Liz feels jealous, but thinks that he’ll pick her. Courtney meets Liz and decides she’s a pain, so she goes to Sheffield and tells him that Jeffery gave Liz a pre-engagement ring. He tells Todd, who pulls away from Liz.

Todd is having a huge party and Liz keeps waiting for him to ask her as his date. Then she gets an invite, for her and a guest. She feels so bad that she immediately asks Jeffery to go with her. The party is big and elaborate and completely unlike Todd. Liz feels really bad when she sees him with Courtney. Courtney knows that Todd has feelings for Liz, so she slips a note in her pocket, saying he wants to meet her outside.

Jeffery sees her put something in Liz’s pocket and then sees her go to Todd and pretend she’s sick. She asks him to take her outside to the gazebo and he agrees. Then she grabs him and kisses him. Liz sees it happen and runs off in tears. Jeffery watches the whole thing and doesn’t know what to do.

Liz drives out to Secca Lake, where she cries for an hour. She thinks that things are really over and Todd is in love with someone else. Just then, Todd pulls up in his new car. Jeffery tracked him down and told him what happened, so he came after Liz. They make up and get back together (um, don’t you need to break up with your boyfriend first?) and Liz realizes that they will always belong together.

Oh and Sheffield announces at the party that he’s doing a senior thesis project the following year. He’s taking the whole year off to work full-time in a homeless shelter. Seeing as how Jess doesn’t like dirty stuff, you know the relationship is over.

*Lila is jealous because Sheffield goes to a private school, but her new boyfriend is college. I don’t care where you live: college boys trump high school boys in the boyfriend department.

*This book reminds me of all the reasons why I hate Elizabeth Wakefield. She hasn’t mentioned Todd in months, but all the sudden he comes back and she’s crazy about him. She doesn’t tell Jeffery that she has feelings for her ex, but thinks he should understand. Then both guys willingly sit back and let her date them both, until she makes up her mind. Grow a fucking backbone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey

The entire BSC is heading off for a few weeks, except for Kristy, who is staying home and having some blended family time. Dawn is going to California, Claudia to a winter resort and both Mary Anne and Stacey are going to Sea City with the Pike family. Stacey’s parents are a little worried about how she’ll do away from home, but give in and let her go.

Once they get to town, they’re instantly smitten. Stacey notices a good looking lifeguard and despite Mary Anne’s warnings that he’s way too old for her, she talks to him anyway. His name is Scott, he’s 18 and getting ready to go to college. She thinks he is too old, but it doesn’t stop her. She notices that he calls her beautiful and treats her differently than he does the other young girls that hang around.

Stacey quickly starts spending all of her time with Scott and ignoring her duties as a mother’s helper. She thinks Mary Anne is okay with it because a cute boy mother’s helper is always hanging around. Scott gives her his whistle and she thinks he’s in love with her. The Pike family give them the night off and they spend all night going out. Stacey drags her into a bunch of stores, trying to find the perfect gift for Scott. She finally guys him a box of chocolates, only to find him making out with another girl.

Stacey is devastated and heartbroken. She refuses to go back to the beach because she might run into him. After a few days of this, Mary Anne finally calls her on her shit. She goes into town with one group of kids and Stacey has to go to the beach. She meets Alex, the boy mother’s helper and discovers that he’s pretty nice. She suggests Mary Anne ask him out and ends up doubling with his cousin Toby.

They go out on the town and she ends up really liking Toby. She wins him a hat and he wins her a stuffed animal. They see the boys the next day, which is their next to last day in town. Toby wants to kiss her, but doesn’t because of the kids. They all head back home and she calls Mary Anne. Mary Anne tells her that she exchanged rings with Alex and really likes him. Stacey reflects on her time and decides Scott probably did like her as a friend, but he was way too old after all.

*I don’t know what kind of diabetic Stacey is. I have diabetes, as do several cousins, friends and my parents. Not a single one of us are forbidden from eating processed cheese. Stacey has to say no to a cheese omelet because it uses processed cheese.

*I find it hard to believe that Richard would even let Mary Anne go away for two weeks. It wasn’t that long ago that he was making her wear little kid clothes.

*The Pikes better pay those girls an awful lot of money! Except for two nights off and one day trip, Stacey and Mary Anne spend every minute with the kids. Mother’s helpers need some time away from the kids.

*Scott has Stacey get him drinks and even make him sandwiches. The whole time, she’s actually excited because he’s asking her and not the other girls. I remember acting like this as a teenage girl LOL.

*Mary Anne complains about Stacey not doing her job, but she lets her get away with it for most of the trip. If you have a problem, then fucking say something.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition: Jessica Next Stop Junior High

Jessica Wakefield is starting to feel different about her life and her friends, especially Lila. They’re just about to start eighth grade and Lila is now dating a soon-to-be high school guy named Wiley Upjohn. She talks to him all the time, ignores her friends and treats everyone like dirt. At a slumber party, Kimberly announces that her aunt Pippa has invited everyone to her home in Hawaii for a month. Kimberly is just excited because she starts high school and it’s their last hurrah as a group of Unicorns.

Once they get to Hawaii, they discover that Kimberly’s cousin Marissa is also there. Not only is she a year younger, which makes her totally uncool and beneath them, she’s also a bossy brat. From the moment they get there, she orders them around and acts like she knows everything about the area, even though she’s only been there a week more.

Lila turns into a total terror. She claims that Wiley’s friends all want dates for upcoming events and are willing to take lowly 8th graders, provided that they’re cool. She wants everyone to do what she says, like telling Jessica to lose some of her clothes. Marissa isn’t much better. She gives them advice that comes off really bitchy, like suggesting Jess get highlights because her hair looks dull.

This all leads up to Jess meeting this guy Josh, who is super cute and sweet. She totally wants him, but every time she turns around, Marissa is there. Marissa interrupts them whenever they’re alone and acts like he likes her, even though he keeps following Jess. Mandy also meets a cute guy named Cal, but starts ignoring him on the advice of Lila.

Somehow this soon-to-be freshman from Sweet Valley, Pete arrives on the island. Lila is pissed because if he sees them with Marissa, he’ll know they’re all losers and tell Wiley and everyone else. They decide to pull a bunch of pranks to make her feel bad, like short sheeting her bed, turning off the power and just being bitchy. Then they have to pretend like it’s a rite of passage, so Pippa won’t send them home.

Jessica goes too far by putting green dye in her toothpaste. All the girls have to dye their teeth to get away with it. When they go out that night, Jess runs into Josh and he still thinks she’s cute, especially when she explains what happened. He asks her on a date, which turns out to be at a day camp for sick kids where he works. She lies and tells everyone it was a romantic date.

Lila finds out the truth and tries to blackmail her, but she has news of her own. Peter saw Marissa, thinks she’s cute and wants her to have his number. If Lila tells the girls the truth about her date, she’ll give Marissa the number. Josh isn’t around much, so Jess tries acting like a huge flirt. She goes out with random guys and acts like the thing with Josh wasn’t a big deal.

Lila still hates Marissa and wants to get rid of her. She knows that the girl is allergic to peanuts and decides to throw her a surprise birthday party and serve peanut laced foods. Jessica is the only one to speak up, but she can’t even go to Kimberly because she left for a few days with her aunt. She and Josh go on a sleepover at his camp, kiss and seem to like each other. Then she discovers from another girl that food allergies are so bad that it can kill some people.

She rushes back and warns the group, but no one will listen to her. They go ahead with the plans for the party, so she calls Josh and asks him to take Marissa out for the day. Marissa misses the party and the other girls know that Jessica was behind it, so they stop talking to her. Marissa comes back all happy and mellow. Jess sneaks out to see Josh and he reveals that they fell in love. It turns out that he had a crush on her all summer and he thinks Jess was the only one who saw it.

Jessica runs inside, accuses Marissa of stealing her guy and cries for hours. Marissa sits with her the whole time and tries to comfort her. Jess confesses about the party and Marissa says she probably saved her life. Later, she tells Kimberly the whole story and she’s kind of pissed. It turns out that Kimberly was getting sick of the Unicorns and looking forward to getting away from their group. Jessica realizes that she feels the same way.

They come up with a plan to get the Unicorns back for what happened. Pippa takes them out for a fancy dinner and Kimberly pulls out a plate of cake, saying it’s leftover from the party. Mandy, who Jessica got back together with her cute guy, tries to stop her, but she eats a piece and dies. Everyone freaks out, but Marissa pops up and announces it was all a joke. In the commotion, Wiley calls Lila and breaks up with her, so the girls get one last week to spend together.

*This is supposed to bridge the gap between The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley Junior High (even though it’s technically a Sweet Valley Twins book). At the end, it’s supposedly a few weeks before classes start and no one knows what’s going to happen. I’m sorry, but there’s no way redisctricting would still be going on a few weeks before school starts. They’d have to deal with buses, parents, the number of teacher, class sizes, scheduling and 900 other issues.

*Lila comes off as a much worse bitch here, than she did anywhere else. She and Wiley talk every day at the same time and she always goes off on her own or expects everyone else to leave the room. At one point, she totally ignores Pippa because Wiley is on the phone.

*The whole peanuts thing is seriously disturbing. I know the girls are young, but they think everyone who has a food allergy, just gets a rash.

*Josh is a douche! So he had a crush on Marissa all summer long, but kissed Jessica and dated her? Yeah, he’s a total catch.