Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Baby-sitters Club Super Special: Baby-sitters’ Winter Vacation

The BSC is off for a week long trip to a ski lodge. Apparently the owners of the lodge have a ton of money and offer free or reduced price trips to kids all over the East Coast. A winter war is also taking place, where the kids are on a red or blue team and compete in different winter sports. The night they get there, an elementary class crashes on the way. The teachers are injured and the BSC steps up to help out.

Kristy spends the whole book bragging about her team and how they will kick everyone’s ass. She gets pissy at Claudia who judges the ice sculpture contest for letting someone on her team win. She wins her leg of the skiing competition, but watches everyone else lose. Then she forces a bunch of kids to do cross-country skiing, despite having no experience. One of the guys, Jay, falls and breaks his ankle. She cries to Mary Anne, but he forgives her and even dances with her.

Dawn attempts a bunch of different activities and fails at every single one. Some kids make fun of her for dropping a baton during the relay race and she decides to sit out the rest. She tries playing Monopoly, but sucks at that too. She goes to Mary Anne, who barely listens and they fight. They later make up and she feels better.

Mallory feels panicky and crappy because the school is hosting a dance. She spends the whole book freaking out and not wanting to go. She gets the big idea to take the kids to the dance and volunteers to watch them all night. Of course some random guy asks her to dance and she feels perfect.

Stacey meets this guy Pierre because no super special would be complete without her having a random hookup. She constantly wonders if she’s in love because of how she feels and how she never felt that way before. She finally decides that it probably is love. They say their goodbyes, exchange addresses and promise to write, but I don’t think he’s mentioned again.

Jessi is paired with Pinky, one of the little girls and because she acts rude, Jessi naturally decides that she must be a racist. It turns out that Pinky is just sad at being away from home and trying to cover it up. Jessi gets put in charge of the big talent show and worries about no one listening to her, probably because they’re all racist. She decides to do a big, fancy ballet number (after a bunch of funny acts) and gets a standing ovation.

Mary Anne gets extra credit to write a history of the lodge. She reads about a possible ghost and hounds everyone at the lodge, before learning it’s probably just a story. She decides to have everyone write in a journal and present it to Logan later because he went to Aruba with his family. She spends the whole book moping over how much she misses him. She finally gets over it, but the trip is almost over.

Claudia meets Guy, a skiing instructor and develops an instant crush on him. She’s absolutely sure that he feels the same way, until he shows up with his wife and two kids. She mopes for a little while, but then he shows up at the dance and dances with her once. She feels moderately guilty because of Will, but he’s hardly ever mentioned either.

*The more I read these books, the less I like Kristy’s attitude. When the lodge owners ask for help for the kids, she just steps up and says the BSC will help. Then she acts kind of ticked that they don’t jump all over themselves to have them help.

*Why does Claudia get to judge a contest, when she’s taking part in the war? That seems like a major conflict to me.

*These girls are way too close! Mary Anne and Jessi practically cry when they find out they’re grouped by classes and won’t sleep with the other members. Like they never talk to girls in their classes?

*So, do the lodge owners have a fully equipped staff on hand too? Where did they get their money? They have a cook, a full kitchen staff and apparently skiing instructors too.

*Apparently the only way a student can get out of the trip is if they have existing plans. Logan’s family planned on going to Aruba, so he got out of the trip. They all kind of act like they feel sorry for him, but I’d much rather be in Aruba in the middle of winter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #83: Stacey vs. the BSC

Stacey has been spending a lot of time with her boyfriend Robert and his friends. She goes out frequently with his group, shows up late for BSC meetings and doesn’t take any responsibility for her actions. When his group decides at the last minute to go out for pizza, she asks Mary Anne to take her sitting job at the Pike house, saying she had an emergency.

Of course Dawn follows her, sees what she’s doing and confronts her. She then tells the rest of the BSC and they gang up on her. She makes plans to go shopping with Mary Anne to make it up to her. When they get ready to leave, she realizes she has a sitting job and has to cancel their trip. This pretty much explains the whole book: she knows she’s doing something wrong, but keeps doing it anyway.

Robert’s group then decides to throw a party at his house. Stacey gives it some thought and decides to invite Claudia, but no one else from the club. She decides this after seeing Kristy, Mary Anne and Dawn acting up at a restaurant. Claudia makes it clear that she doesn’t want to come, but Stacey kind of forces the issue.

Then Robert learns that he can’t have the party at his house because his parents have plans already. He asks Stacey to do it and she agrees, but then decides to still not invite any other club members. People keep talking about the party at school and yet she doesn’t realize that’s a bad thing. Mary Anne and Dawn show up at her house and both are sad that she didn’t invite them. They see Claudia, exchange words and then she gets pissed at Stacey for putting her in the middle.

The BSC is also helping get a talent show going with kids from the neighborhood. Charlotte is taking piano lessons and doesn’t want to be in the show, but Stacey convinces her by promising to sit in the audience and watch her. The talent show comes the day after the party and Stacey doesn’t want to see any club members, so she doesn’t go. Charlotte bursts into tears because she isn’t there and Claudia calls to yell at her about it.

At the next meeting, Stacey has a standoff with the other girls. They all point out that she didn’t act this way until Robert, but she’s tired of hearing them complain about Robert when it’s “clear” that she’s just too mature for them. She quits the club and Kristy fires her. The book ends with her feeling a little sad at 5:30 on a Friday, but going to see Charlotte play at a recital.

*Claudia wears oversized black pants tied with a silk scarf and an oversize men’s white button-up shirt, with a barrette made to look like teeth. Sadly that’s the only clothing description in the book.

*Claudia makes her a painting called Anastasia Fantasia that Stacey doesn’t like because it’s abstract. Yet when she brings it to the party, everyone else likes it so all of the sudden she likes it too.

*Stacey so has a double standard in this book. Allie (one of Robert’s friends) checks out a waiter, but she gets pissed when Dawn does it to a high school guy. It’s okay for her and Robert to fight over a piece of bread, but she’s embarrassed that Kristy sticks straws up her nose.

*Stacey also sits for Jamie Newton, but spends the whole job talking to Robert on the phone. Jamie feels sick, she ignores him and he pukes on the rug. The Newtons tell her not to worry about it, but then call Kristy and tell her that they only want the girls making emergency calls from now on. Apparently they tried calling multiple times and kept getting a busy signal.

*Stacey is annoyed that Mary Anne wears a Mickey Mouse shirt, has an “I heart my kitty” sticker on her bag and giggles. She would so hate me, seeing as how I have approximately 986 Hello Kitty items around my house!

*I really dislike the way Stacey comes across in this book. She was always my favorite character, but here she’s just a snobby, stuck up brat. She keeps breaking all of the rules and then whining that no one should expect her to follow them.

*Kristy isn’t much better either. She’s incredibly formal and rigid during meetings, but then kind of acts like a kid when out in public.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Goosebumps #16: One Day at HorrorLand

Lizzy, her little brother Luke and his friend Clay are out with their parents, driving to a local zoo and amusement park. Their dad decides to not bring along a map, assuming that signs will be posted everywhere telling them how to get to the park. They keep driving and find absolutely nothing: no stores, cars and no other people. They stop to check again for a map and she notices a huge monster looming overhead.

It turns out that they are only one mile away from HorrorLand amusement park and they decide to go there instead. They park in the almost empty lot and as they near the entrance, their car explodes! Mom doesn’t seem too fazed and wants to just enjoy the day. All of the workers are in monster costumes and they promise that they will fix everything. Despite that, dad is still worried and wanders off with mom, trying to find a phone.

The three kids wander off and see some super weird things, like black ice cream, snakes dangling from trees and wolves roaming the park. They decide to get on the doom slide ride and the attendant warns them that if they pick the wrong slide, they’ll slide forever. Lizzy and Luke appear on the other side, but Clay is missing. They go back up and take the same slide he did. They slide for what seems like hours, face bugs and slide through fire, before popping out on the other side of the park.

Lizzy is the only one that realizes the rides are real and the only one that wants to find their parents and go home. The guys just want to keep riding more stuff. They go into a hall of mirrors, only to wind up trapped inside three different mirrored rooms. When they finally get out, they circle the park multiple times and wind up by the alligator pond. The parents show up, tell them they found no phones and decide to just leave.

Their mom decides that they should do one more ride and just have some fun as a family. She picks a floating ride, where you drift along the water in coffins. Halfway through the ride, the coffin lids slam shut and Lizzy finds herself covered in bugs. They get to the other side of the park, climb out and decide to just get the hell home.

Unfortunately the monsters pop up at that moment. The lead worker explains that they were on a Monster Channel reality show and won a new car. All they have to do is walk through a door to the parking lot and get their car. The door leads into a massive obstacle course, which they must finish in 60 seconds or less. Luckily everyone makes it out, but the monsters turn up, revealing that they aren’t wearing costumes, but are real monsters.

They manage to get outside and steal one of the tour buses out front. The monsters start chasing them, but dad drives off into the sunset. When they get home, one lone monster hops off the back of the bus, where he’s been hiding for the whole trip. While they freak out, he hands over a free prize: passes for next season.

*The parents act more concerned about getting a ride home, than their car blowing up. I’d be worried about my insurance!

*Luke constantly screams and nearly wets himself, but then acts like he was only pretending to be scared to freak them out. It reminds me why I never wanted a little brother.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #6: The Mystery at Claudia’s House

Claudia comes home one day to find her room completely ransacked! Okay, that’s kind of an overstatement because things are just moved around. Things get even weirder when Jeanine suddenly starts taking an interest in girl stuff, like hair, clothing and makeup. She even gets grounded, after coming home late and not telling anyone.

Claudia decides to follow her sister and sees her meet a really handsome guy at the park near the school. They shake hands and then walk off together. Claudia starts watching her sister carefully and trying to figure out what could possibly make her sister change so much. Jeanine even borrows her favorite sweater multiple times and asks for advice about putting on makeup.

At the same time, Derek Masters has come back to town since his show is on hiatus. Word gets out that in the next season his character has to kiss a girl in his class. Derek plays things up, making it seem like he’s kissed lots of girls and is an expert on kissing. The Pike boys keep bringing Vanessa around and trying to make him kiss her, just to prove that he really is an expert.

Since he was on a detective show for kids, Claudia decides that he’s the perfect one to help her spy on her sister. They call Jeanine one day, asking her for help on a civics project. Derek pretends like he has to hold a mock court and they swear her in, so Claudia can ask her questions “under oath.” Unfortunately Derek breaks down and cries over how he’s never kissed a girl and they both end up comforting him.

Mrs. Braddock stops by with some freshly baked bread and lets it slip that she saw Jeanine at the pizza restaurant one night, when she said she was studying at the library. Claudia tells her mom about seeing Jeanine driving off in a car with a boy and all the other stuff. Their parents confront her that night and she finally admits that she has a boyfriend Jerry. She was afraid to tell her parents because she was worried they wouldn’t approve, given her past history of just studying. They ask him to come over for dinner, but Jeanine isn’t happy that Claudia told on her.

Jerry turns out to be a super nice guy and everyone likes him. Jeanine doesn’t speak to Claudia for a few days, but then stops in her room to talk. She thanks her for being nice to him and says he liked her and even thought she was cute. Claudia finally gets to dish with her sister about her new boyfriend, in the way sisters do.

*I love how the cover makes it look like a burglar or robber trashed her room. Then the book explains that someone moved around her clothes, jewelry and makeup.

*This was a lame, lame, lame mystery. Who didn’t see it coming? I told my roommate about a girl suddenly picking out new clothes, fixing her hair and wearing makeup and his first response was, “she got a new boyfriend.”

*Derek finally admits to his friends that he hasn’t kissed a girl and they’re fine with it. Then they announce that the kiss was canceled because the characters are “too young.”

*What is up with Vanessa? She lets the triplets bribe her into kissing Derek for around $2 and then when he doesn’t want to do it, she runs off in relief.

*Claudia asks why Jeanine shook Jerry’s hand that day and she says they hadn’t worked their way up to kissing yet. Still, shaking your boyfriend’s hand? No worries though because they’ve kissed by the end of the book.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #25: Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger

Mary Anne loves her adorable little kitten Tigger, as if we didn’t know. At the beginning of the book, Dawn goes with her to pick out some new toys for him, since he keeps rolling them behind the refrigerator. A few days later, Logan comes over and they sit outside playing with Tigger. A few neighborhood kids stop by and she thinks it’s super cute, but Logan acts kind of put off by everyone interrupting their date.

When it comes time to leave for her BSC meeting, Tigger doesn’t want to go inside. Instead of making him, she lets him stay outside, thinking she’ll let him in when she gets back. But when she shows up after the meeting, Tigger is missing. Richard isn’t too concerned because he thinks he’s napping and will come back later. When he isn’t back at bedtime or the next morning, he gets a little worried too.

Mary Anne calls Kristy, who declares an emergency meeting. The girls pool their money and take money out of the treasury to create a reward. They make flyers, Kristy’s mom copies them at work and everyone, including Logan, hangs the flyers around town. One kid stops her and tries to get the reward money, by just reading her the facts.

Mary Anne ends up sitting for Kerry and Hunter, Logan’s siblings. Hunter has really bad allergies and they keep kicking up, but no one can figure out why. Mary Anne keeps moping around, wondering what happened to her poor cat. It doesn’t help that the smaller kids cry over him and miss him too. Logan also starts acting weird, ignoring her for the most part and acting rude when they are around each other.

Then she gets a letter in the mail, demanding $100 for the safe return of Tigger. Logan comes up with a plan to have her drop off an envelope full of fake money at the spot, while everyone else hides and watches. All they manage to do is catch the same punk kid as before, trying to get the money for finding Tigger.

Mary Anne finally sits for Hunter again and she keeps trying to find ways to lessen his allergies. He reveals that he knows why his allergies are so bad. He takes her to Kerry’s room, opens the closet and she finds Tigger. She confronts their mom with the truth and takes Tigger home. She won’t look at Logan or talk to him because she thinks he knew the truth all along.

After a few days, she decides that she’s ready to make up with him. She invites Logan over to her house, makes him his favorite cookies and they have a long talk. He tells her that he is about to get kicked off the basketball team and that’s why he was so rude. She cries, they make up and agree not to fight anymore.

*Logan is kind of a douche in this book. I know, right? He blows her off frequently and acts like Tigger disappearing isn’t that big of a deal, when he knows how sad she is. And yet he gives her one tiny excuse and apology and she completely forgives him.

*I kind of get Logan’s side of things though. Mary Anne wants to just sit on the porch and watch Jamie and Charlotte playing with Tigger. That sounds like the perfect afternoon…when you’re 60.

*Kerry gets off really easy for hiding the cat in her house for a week and making Hunter sick. She has to do a few random chores around the house, like washing the cars.

*The fact that Mary Anne would leave Tigger outside, especially for 30+ minutes alone kind of just blows my mind. She mentions several times at the beginning that he’s just a kitten, so why would she let him wander around outside? Did she actually think he would just stay in one place that whole time?

*This book made me stop and think about that poor cat. Poor Tigger was stuck as a kitten for what, 20 years?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mallory is excited about the new Short Takes class at SMS. Not only is the topic children’s literature one of her favorites, but she also has the cute, new teacher at school. Once class begins though, she isn’t too thrilled. The teacher spends more time with the guys, especially those from his baseball team. He only gives the girls a few seconds to answer, but lets the guys take forever. He also lets the guys yell out answers, but the girls wait with their hands raised forever.

At the same time, the sixth grade class must plan a fundraising event and use that money for the school. As one of the class officers, Mallory has to help plan the events. She volunteers to check out the old classes and see what they used the money for. One class donated $1,000 for a student lounge in the library, but the money disappeared.

She enlists the help of Sondra, another officer. Sondra is a smart girl, but she keeps dumbing herself down for guys because guys don’t like smart girls. I feel so sorry for my boyfriend right now. She discovers that the money was used by the school to fix the roof and paint a few classrooms. She’s ready to drop things, but Mallory wants answers.

The class officers take their research to the principal. He confesses that they used the money after a bad storm and never put it back. They go to the librarian, who tells them that the school still needs a student lounge and that the school should have a discretionary fund for things like this. They go back to the principal, who tells them that if they raise the original $1,000, then the school will match that and use the funds to build the lounge.

They decide to run five different days and raise money each day: selling flowers, candy, and stuff like that. They naturally raise enough money and the school gets its lounge. After talking things through with the BSC, Mallory confronts Mr. Cobb. He doesn’t believe that he acts the way she says, but then he catches himself doing it in class. He apologizes to everyone and Mallory still manages to get a B in the class. She also talks to Sondra and convinces her to act smart every now and then.

The B-plot involves the Memorial Day parade through town. Buddy Barrett is pissed off because his step-sister gets to march with her Brownie troop. Kristy decides that all the kids should get the option to walk in the parade and comes up with a marching band idea. They give the kids kazoos and even though they have way more kids than they thought, they’re still a hit.

*Mr. Cobb is described as young and hunky, but he looks old, middle aged and gross on the cover!

*Also, Cobb supposedly has a master’s degree in American Literature. Um, I’m not sure how things work in Connecticut, but that wouldn’t qualify him to teach in most states. Here, you have to have a teaching degree and teaching certification for elementary, middle school and high school. He’s qualified to teach college though!

*Cobb calls her Valerie because she’s so quiet that he mishears her name. She totally lets him get away with it for almost a week, but then gets pissed that he’s still doing it.

*At the parade, Kristy asks all parents to drop their kids off 30 minutes before the start. All of the parents drop their kids off way early and she and Jessi are left watching 20+ kids by themselves. Parents literally drop the kids off and drive off without a word. I’m sorry, but I’m not leaving my kids anywhere with two sitters.

*On top of that, kids randomly show up without their parents. So parents in town are just sending their kids out and telling them to look for the BSC members. Yeah, that sounds super safe.

*If the school has a discretionary fund, then why wasn’t it mentioned in the first place? It’s described as extra funds put back for improvements and construction projects, yet they have to twist the principal’s arm to get any of that money.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Valley High #107: Jessica’s Secret Love

The twins are back from London and Jessica is (naturally) ready to fall in love again. When Liz starts recapping their adventures, she convinces Lila to go for a job along the beach. A Frisbee comes out of nowhere, almost taking off her head. When she looks up, a gorgeous man is standing in front of her. Lila wanders off with his friend, but Jessica stays with the hot guy. They share a “moment”, he kisses her and just as she’s falling in love (yet again), he announces that he can never see her again and rushes off.

Jessica is heartbroken because, despite the fact that they only saw each other for three minutes, she is absolutely certain that he is the great love of her life. She even tells Liz and her friends that he means more to her than Sam, which makes them realize that she’s serious. I love that, considering how many guys she’s been with since Sam died! There was James, Todd, that guy in London and now a new guy.

At the same time, Alice’s old college roommate had a daughter Sue. Sue writes to Alice, asking for advice in planning her wedding, since her mom died. Alice invites her to town and Sue arrives pretty quickly. She tells them all about her wonderful fiancĂ© Jeremy and we all know where this is going. They met while working for a conservation group, fell in love at first sight and are crazy about each other.

Sue starts planning the wedding because Jeremy is in New York. The girls look at wedding rings and each pick out their favorites. Liz starts thinking that Sue seems kind of immature. Compared to who, I wonder. She isn’t concerned about the environment, wants a huge engagement ring and wants a big wedding in a church. Jessica claims that her perfect wedding would be a small one on the beach.

Jeremy finally arrives in town and of course he’s the guy from the beach. Jessica wants him, but he’s obviously engaged to another woman. Jessica decides that she has to make him realize she’s the one. She is supposed to take him to meet Sue, but pretends to get lost so they end up at Miller’s Point together.

She keeps weaseling her way into his life and when that fails, she decides to find a way to call off the wedding. When they go to look at rings, he picks out the ring Jessica wanted. Then he makes a comment about wanting a small beach wedding. Sue changes her original plan and it’s proof to Jess that he’s her soulmate. She calls a bunch of guys on the phone, trying to get someone to take her out to dinner.

Jessica ends up at the same restaurant as the happy couple, with Bruce. She pretends that they’re a happy couple and has dessert with them. Jeremy acts pretty jealous and Jess is sure that he loves her. He still refuses to call off the wedding, so she throws Sue’s wedding dress in the street. All that does is piss off Alice and result in Jess paying an expensive cleaning bill.

Liz tries pointing out that he’s too old for her and that he shouldn’t have kissed someone, while engaged. Jessica just keeps saying repeatedly that it’s fate. She tries ruining things for Sue, by acting like a brat when picking out bridesmaid dresses. Liz finally gives her a copy of an article the two wrote together and it opens her eyes a little. She starts thinking of the two of them cozying up together in New York, throwing dinner parties and hanging out with friends. Liz points out that his friends probably couldn’t even accept the idea of him dating such a young girl.

Lila starts dating Jeremy’s friend Robby, who goes out of his way to wine and dine her. He takes her to his huge house, drives her around in his fancy car, buys her expensive gifts and shows her his upscale dog. He’s an artist and he starts dropping hints about whether she would still like him if he didn’t have money. He finally admits that he’s broke and she breaks up with him. Lila asks how Jess would feel if Jeremy lied to her. Jess eventually admits that even if she was engaged to Sam, she would have left him after one kiss with Jeremy. Poor Sam.

Cut to the big engagement party at the Wakefield house. Jess manages to get Lila and Robby back together, but then mopes over Jeremy. Sue convinces the two of them to dance and he starts ranting about Bruce, who showed up with Pamela. She admits that they aren’t dating and she used him to make Jeremy jealous. They dance off into the shadows and Jessica begs him to give their love a chance. He tells her that he loves Sue like a sister, but loves Jessica in a different way. He thinks she’s stronger than Sue and will eventually meet the right guy for her. They end up kissing and the book ends with Sue wandering around, trying to find her fiancĂ©.

*I love this one part of the book. Sue mentions something about the undergarments she bought for her wedding night and Jessica freaks out because she suddenly realizes that Jeremy will see Sue naked after the wedding. Really Francine, really? Do you honestly expect us to believe that an engaged couple are saving themselves for marriage?