Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #56: Keep Out, Claudia

The BSC has a new client named Mrs. Lowell, who has three small children. Mary Anne sits for them first and describes them as perfect angels. All three kids are polite, well behaved, and impeccably dressed. She does notice that Mrs. Lowell gives her the onceover, but it doesn’t really phase her. She also notices the older kids giggling about an Asian boy riding his bike on TV.

A few days later Claudia has to sit for the kids and she has a much different experience. Mrs. Lowell is kind of rude, snaps at her, and is annoyed that she doesn’t pay attention. The kids are completely out of control and won’t listen to a word she says. They want more snacks and for her to do whatever they say, or they’ll tell their mom that she was a bad babysitter. She stops them from getting more snacks, so they sneak into the kitchen and steal grapes.

At the next meeting, Mrs. Lowell calls and talks to Kristy, making a specific request that Claudia not sit for her anymore. Claudia can’t figure out what she did wrong and Mrs. Lowell won’t give her an answer. Kristy schedules Jessi for the job. Jessi shows up at the house, but Mrs. Lowell won’t even let her in the door. She tells her that she forgot to call and doesn’t need a sitter.

Mary Anne is scheduled to work, but Kristy takes the job instead. She wears a dress, tries to act like Mary Anne and Mrs. Lowell loves her. She asks about the Claudia situation and Mrs. Lowell gives her a lame line about how the kids just liked MA better. The kids act super sweet and nice, so Kristy peppers them with questions. When she brings up Jessi and tells the kids that she’s African American, she swears that one of the girls says that’s why her mom didn’t like her.

She goes home that night and asks to talk to Nannie, Watson, and her mom. She explains the situation and says that she thinks Mrs. Lowell is a racist. They talk things through and she brings it up to the total club. Jessi completely agrees with it and kind of takes the story in a matter of fact way. Claudia is more hurt than anything and angry that someone wouldn’t like her just because of how she looks.

At the same time, the Rodowsky boys want to put on a show and decide to form a band for kids in the neighborhood. A ton of kids sign up, including Karen, Andrew, David Michael, Charlotte, Hannie, and others. The BSC gets involved, helping the kids practice and pick out songs. The Lowell kids also take part, but then stop coming to meetings. One explains that their mom doesn’t want them to take part until she sees the kids they play with.

The kids originally learn Tomorrow, but then decide to put on a show with lots of songs. They decide to play songs from Fiddler on the Roof because over half the kids saw the actual musical. Mrs. Lowell shows up at the next meeting and makes a beeline for Dawn. Dawn tells her that Claudia is in charge, but she just keeps talking to her. When she learns what the kids are learning, she grabs hers and takes off.

Mrs. Lowell does call back, but this time she asks for that pretty blonde hair, blue eyed sitter that she’s heard so much about. Jessi takes the call and hands it off to Kristy. Kristy explains that they don’t have any sitters matching that description, but she’d be happy to take the job. Then she mentions her adopted sister from Vietnam, Mrs. Lowell makes an excuse and hangs up the phone.

The girls talk things through and decide that none of them would really be good for Mrs. Lowell. Half of them come from divorced parents, they all have different backgrounds, and some are minorities. Claudia feels like they should teach her a lesson, but they decide that they just won’t sit for her anymore.

The day of the performance arrives and everyone does a great job. They accept donations to pay for matching shirts for their band. After it’s over, Claudia notices the Lowell kids sneaking off. She decides that the kids will learn more about people from different cultures/religions/etc. from school and that racism doesn’t have to be passed down.

*It takes them a really long time to realize Mrs. Lowell is a racist. Jessi, who screams “racist” every five seconds doesn’t even pick up on it. She says she feels uncomfortable about her turning her away, but that’s it.

*Claudia talks to her dad, but instead of some big heart touching moment, it’s like one page. Her dad pretty much just says that you can’t change the way some people think.

*I completely skipped any “handwritten” page from the BSC diary that involves Claudia. The more books I read, the more her bad spelling pisses me off. She spells so many words wrong that she should NOT be in junior high. Seriously, thought is “thot”? Sometimes I can’t even figure out what some of the words are supposed to be.

*The book felt kind of…flat to me. I appreciate that it was a Claudia book and not another Jessi book, but it still felt kind of flat. Plus, when I started writing the recap, I realized that not a whole lot happens in the book.

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