Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #11: Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum

Claudia is all excited about the new museum opening in Stoneybrooke because one of the displays is by her favorite semi-local artist Donald Newman. She saw one of his sculptures at New York and can’t wait to see it again. On one of the first days, she takes Marilyn, Carolyn, and Corrie to view the exhibits. Before getting to the sculptures, they hear a loud siren and security rushes out. Someone broke into the case holding a bunch of rare gold coins and took off. Claudia makes note of the people around, including a Brownies troop and a man with one blue eye and one green eye.

At the next BSC meeting, Claudia tells the club about the break-in and they all decide that they should solve the mystery themselves. They arrange to go back to the museum and examine everything. They see the same guy with two different colored eyes and follow him around until he leaves in a huff. Jessi thinks the thief may have hidden the coins in the fountain, but Claudia thinks he hid them in the donation box. They check everywhere and find nothing.

The rest of the club leaves, but Stacey decides to stay and check out the exhibit. Apparently Newman creates sculptures designed for people to touch and when Claudia touches the one she loves (called Daphne), it feels different. She convinces Stacey to go with her to talk to the curator Mr. Snipes. He is incredibly pissed off when she tells him that the sculpture is a fake. He shows her the serial number on the sculpture’s paperwork, which matches the number on the display piece.

At their next BSC meeting, Claudia reveals that she stole Snipes’ resume, which was sitting on his desk. The girls look at everywhere he worked before and compares it to searches they run on the museums. It turns out that almost every museum he worked at had some type of robbery or break-in that occurred around the time he worked there.

Claudia finally gives up and calls Newman herself. She tells him of her suspicions and he agrees to check the sculpture. He tells her that he placed three hiding spots in the sculpture and hid toys inside for his kids to find. Every time one was moved, it changed the feel of the sculpture. Sure, whatever. He invites her to a special party held that Friday in his honor.

So she goes to the party, meets him, and they go to the exhibit area, but the sculptures were all packed up. He agrees to sneak into the storage area with her and take a look at the piece. They literally stumble onto the custodian, with the stolen gold coins. The man with two colored eyes comes running out and jumps on the guy.

The book ends with the girls writing a letter to Dawn in California, telling her about their experiences. The weird guy was a federal investigator that was hired to find the thief. The custodian stole the coins and hid them in the sculpture, but security was tightened and he couldn’t get them out. Claudia becomes an honorary trustee of the museum and Snipes asks her to arrange a showing of younger local artists, including some of her own work.

*The whole “touching sculptures” thing really annoys me! I get that some artists would want their work touched, but why the hell would a museum agree to that? It would be a huge liability or lawsuit if someone damaged/destroyed the museum. Plus hundreds of kids would touch it every week, so it probably wouldn’t even be around that long.

*I’m a little confused. Towards the end of the book, it’s mentioned that the guy with the two different colored eyes is a private investigator hired by Snipes to find the coins. Three pages later it’s explained that he was a federal investigator. So, who exactly was he?

*The B-plot involves Claire Pike. She suddenly wants to be a big star and convinces her parents to let her film a video at the mall, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on a Wizard of Oz type set. She keeps showing the video to everyone and Claudia gets Rosie Wilder’s opinion. Claire sends a copy of her video to an agent. Jessi tells her the downside/hard things about being famous and Claire decides that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. Luckily the agent isn’t interested and she still ends up getting a role in her school play.

*The whole video thing kind of came out of nowhere. Claire sees a sign at the mall, asks to do it, they aren’t sure, she begs, and they give in and let her do it. It’s described as being expensive and Mr. Pike says they’ll consider it an early Christmas present. How the heck can they justify that expense?

*Claudia wears a French braid with a red ribbon woven through it, a red shirt, and red and white leggings…for lounging around the house on a Saturday morning. Heck, I don’t usually get dressed before three o’clock on Saturday mornings.

*She also wears one of Mimi’s kimonos for the big party at the museum, which is kind of sweet. At the same time though, why is she the only one that ended up with all of her kimonos?

*Newman is described as a fairly important artist in the area and yet he apparently has a listed phone number. Not only that, but when Claudia calls him, he’s perfectly polite and thanks her for calling…at home.

*Why would he devise hiding spots in his sculptures, just for his kids? Most artists I know (or have even heard of) created work to sell or work to display. Did he not plan on ever selling or displaying the piece in public, just keeping it around his house?

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