Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #20: Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery

Animals are pretty much everywhere in this book from the very beginning. Mary Anne tells Dawn about Mojo and James, two gorillas on loan from the San Diego Zoo. Then they go to the movies and see signs about a store that bought an elephant from a circus and use it as a display. Little Babar has a collection and donations go towards saving him.

They go to school and see a giant cardboard box outside and all the science teachers wearing trench coats and sunglasses. The classes all meet in the auditorium and they bring out the giant box. The teachers open their jackets and reveal shirts with the slogan of the Bedford Zoo on the front. Then they learn that they are all getting divided into groups and each group must study animal behavior. Buses will take kids to the zoo.

Mary Anne gets stuck with Alan, while Dawn, Claudia and Logan end up in another group. Kristy is most pissed because she’s in a group with Stacey. This book comes during the timeframe where Stacey quit/Kristy fired her and they never talk. Kristy wants to work at home, observing dogs. Mary Anne points out that Stacey doesn’t have a god, but she doesn’t care. Mallory offers to let her work with Pow. Mary Anne tells everyone about Little Babar and they decide to host a charity elephant walk.

The head of the zoo Mrs. Wofsey gives everyone a key that opens different boxes at each exhibit with information about the animals inside. Conveniently the keys look like the keys to the actual exhibits, but won’t open the exhibits. Everyone wants to watch the new gorillas, but Mary Anne convinces her group to do a fur, feathers, and flippers report. Howie watches bears, Alan watches seals and she watches an emu.

The emu escapes her cage one day and Wofsey freaks out a little since her key went missing. Howie notices a weird couple in matching jogging suits wandering through the zoo with a camera, but they never take any pictures. The next trip to the zoo finds a giraffe escape from her cage. Wofsey promises that it won’t happen again.

Mary Anne sees the couple again, follows them around and peeks in the notebook they keep writing in every day. She sees a bunch of notes with prices listed. She and Logan follow them around again and overhear them discussing the cost of certain monkeys. She also has to deal with Logan and Alan fighting over who will have the best project and people picketing outside the zoo.

Jessi brings Matt Braddock to the zoo because one of the gorillas knows sign language. He asks the gorilla who let the animals out and it looks at Mr. Chester, one of the zookeepers that is feeding her. He asks again and the gorilla signs the word for food. He asks the gorilla once again and still gets the food sign. Mary Anne becomes convinced that the berry stains found outside one cage are a clue.

Alan writes a kick ass paper and Mary Anne doubts him. All of their stuff gets mixed up and when she goes to use her key, she discovers that she has the missing exhibit key. She confronts Alan, thinking he let the animals loose, but he admits that he just cheated by using a textbook. They confront Howie and he admits that he found the key, but didn’t know what to do with it.

They meet up with the members of the BSC and go over everything they know. Claudia discovered that the couple are working for an eccentric tycoon that wants to build his own zoo and the zoo knows all about them. They realize that it must be Mr. Chester and tell Mrs. Wofsey. After like five seconds she decides that they must be right and plans to set him up. Apparently he always wanted her job and was next in line, but they hired someone outside the zoo.

Claudia stands near the gorilla cage and waits for Mr. Chester. He unlocks the cage, she snaps a photo and Wofsey confronts him. He admits that he wanted to make her look bad, so they would fire her and give him the job. They all celebrate the fact that they were right yet again.

Jessi sits for Squirt and Becca, who invites a bunch of kids over. They write a ton of letters to the owners of the store and the mayor, asking that they release Little Babar. The Pike kids decorate and make buttons and sell them around town. Everyone pays $10 or more for the buttons with Free Babar on the front. Kristy sees Stacey watching Charlotte and gets pissed off.

Everyone gathers together and does a four-mile walk to raise money for Babar’s release. Watson organizes the event and the kids accept donations for each mile they walk. At the last minute Jessi realizes that they need a boom box. Claudia thinks of Stacey, but then points out that they aren’t speaking to her anymore. Jessi asks Becca, who calls Charlotte, who calls Stacey and she agrees. The walk goes off without a hitch.

The book ends with the whole group celebrating their success. Mary Anne’s group got an A-, but so did Logan’s so he and Alan ended their feud. The newspaper ran an article about the walk, which revealed that a wealthy donator put up the rest of the money, paid for Babar’s release and sent him to a sanctuary in Florida. Me thinks Watson had something to do with that…

*Mary Anne mentions that Claudia gets a lot of her clothes at thrift stores. This gets mentioned a lot and yet nothing she wears ever seems like it’s vintage or even old. One outfit described here is an oversized white man’s shirt, black bowler hat and leggings.

*In a ridiculous waste of money, the school arranges for a bunch of buses going to the zoo, but then lets the kids decide whether or not to work at the zoo.

*Supposedly people pay the zoo an extra fee and get one of the keys, but all the students get the keys for free. How exactly does the school keep getting all this stuff?

*Every time they mentioned picketers outside the zoo, I wondered why Dawn wasn’t standing with them and waving some huge sign. I guess she’s selective when it comes to her protests.

*Kristy gets pissed off when she sees Stacey sitting for Charlotte because don’t you know that the BSC are the ONLY baby-sitters allowed anywhere in the world.

*The Stacey thing kind of annoys me. Were they really only friends with her because of the club? They act like they can’t even speak to her now that she’s not in the club. Even Claudia stays away from her and Mallory seems like the only one interested in her. Stacey doesn’t help though. She lets them use her radio, but insists on carrying it at the front. Basically she walks up front, even though she didn’t take part in any of the planning.

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