Monday, April 22, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #126: The All-New Mallory Pike


Aw, how sad, Mallory is getting the hell out of Stoneybrook. She is about to head to Riverbend Hall, a boarding school for girls. She only has a few more days left in town, so she naturally attends a BSC meeting. Kristy refers to it as her last meeting, which makes her cry. The girls present her with a certificate that acknowledges her as an honorary member of the club. When it comes time to leave, Jessi and Claudia walk her home. It turns out that they planned her a surprise party. All of the BSC members, including Logan and Shannon, are waiting at the house, as are some of her charges.

The next day, she has breakfast with her family and tries to stop thinking that it's the last time she'll do it. Jessi comes over to say goodbye and help her carry her things to her car before she stays behind to watch the Pike kids with Mary Anne. Mallory naturally loves her new school from the first time that she sees it. She even makes a new friend and realizes that she feels more comfortable there.

The only downside is that her new roommate didn't make any room for her. She used up the entire closet, took over the entire shared dresser, and hung pictures all over all of the walls. Mallory thinks she can deal with it until she actually meets Alexis. Alexis gives her a list of room rules, which include study time every afternoon. Mallory kind of just ignores her because she made a new group of friends. Sarah is a super theatrical (and annoying actress) type, and Jen is a sweet and normal girl.

Alexis constantly oversteps her boundaries though. She sees Mallory writing in her diary, and she later comes home to find Alexis sitting on her bed and reading it. She points out that she didn't write anything interesting. Ooh, burn. She later comments on how Mal thought one of her teachers was cute while sitting in his class, and she makes a comment in class that she lifted right out of her journal. She also wears her clothes without asking and wears her favorite earrings, which were a gift from Jessi.

Instead of doing anything about it, Mallory whines to her new friends about Alexis. Sarah reveals that Alexis had problems with two other roommates this year alone. One girl wound up leaving school due to those problems and the death of a loved one, while her other roommate, Jen, moved into a single room. Jen tells her that she knows all about her silly rules, which is part of why she left.

Mal finally talks to her prefect, who basically suggests that they just work things out. She offers a few suggestions, but she really just wants them to talk. Mallory tries, and Alexis acts like she's the wronged party. She clears off the dresser and offers her more space, and then says that Mallory still won't be happy. The BSC sends her a care package with cookies and pictures they took at a recent meeting. She comes home one day to find that Alexis ate all of the cookies and completely destroyed her pictures.

She immediately goes to the prefect and shows her their room. Alexis tries to apologize, but the woman decides that they finally need to sit down and discuss the issue. The meeting does nothing because Alexis keeps saying that it's all Mal's fault. According to her, Mallory never gave her a chance and sought out other friends as soon as she got there. She storms out of the meeting and starts trashing the room.

Sarah sees it happen and runs for Pam (the prefect). Jen is one of the girls helping her clean up, and Pam later suggests that they give Alexis the single room and move Jen into their room. Mallory says she couldn't ask someone to do that, and Pam says that she'll do it. A few hours later, Jen appears at her door and calls her roomie. Mallory later talks about how nice it is to share a room with a true friend and how well they get along.

The B-plot starts as soon as Mallory leaves. Vanessa thinks that she can keep their room, but the triplets think they deserve it. All hell breaks loose anytime someone sits there because the kids constantly fight over the room. Byron doesn't really seem to care, but Nicky is so upset that he chains himself to his bed. When they realize that Vanessa is lonely and keeps sneaking into Claire and Margo's room, they finally reach a compromise. The three girls (and Mallory's bed) will move into the boys' big room, Nickey and Byron will love into Margo and Claire's old room, and Adam and Jordan get Mallory's old room.

*All of the school buildings are named after famous women, which is a cute idea.

*Mallory takes a French class, and she mentions that she's completely lost and doesn't understand it because everyone speaks French. Um, wouldn't they test her for something like that? I'm assuming that the school would offer a beginner level class for someone who isn't ready for an advanced class like that.

*The Pikes actually call Mallory to ask if it's okay to move her bed, which is sweet given that she won't really be home much.

*The school knew that Mallory previously lived with someone, which is why they put her with Alexis. They figured if anyone could handle her, it was Mallory.

*The problem with this book is that nothing changes. The spaz girl nickname stuck with her because she never stood up for herself. In this book, she's still willing to just sit back and take whatever Alexis throws at her.

*I'm not sure why it took the school so long to give Alexis her own room. She already had problems with two girls, so your best solution is to keep throwing her into a room with another girl?

*I read one of the older books a few weeks ago that was updated with Ann's notes in the back. She says that they contemplated sending Mallory to boarding school before, but they decided that fans of the series would miss her too much.

*Were her problems at SMS really that bad? There are several later books that I can think of where it was a Mallory story and there was no mention of her getting teased. Plus, I think that showing kids how to stand up for themselves and fight back against teasing/bullying might be a better option than showing kids running away to another school.

*Mallory naturally gets to take fun classes that she could never take at SMS like creative writing classes. Oh wait, she totally took that class at SMS.

*Hey Mallory, I know that Riverbend is oh so cool, but you do still need to take gym. It's one of those classes that you can't ever really escape. Then again, when she mentions her schedule, there is absolutely no mention of a gym or physical education class.

*All of the girls have to do volunteer work as a service requirement. Mallory naturally works at the library, baby-sitting kids during story time. Of course she does.

*I love when people comment that boarding school was a better choice for Mallory because she wouldn't get teased as much. I don't care what school you go to, there are cliques everywhere! Given that Mallory apparently had no friends until she met Jessi and joined the BSC, I find it hard to believe that she could make friends so quickly at a new school.

*In fact, I think she would have even more problems at a school like this. Riverbend comes across as one of those rich schools where people with money spend their kids. Even her friend Smita mentions that her family moved around quite a bit. Mallory's family doesn't have the money to send her on fancy spring break trips, and she probably doesn't even have money to go to the movies on Friday night with the other girls.

*Her math class bakes corn muffins for the whole school as a teaching/learning exercise. What the hell are they learning? This sounds like something you would do in third grade, not sixth grade.

2 comments:

  1. " I think that showing kids how to stand up for themselves and fight back against teasing/bullying might be a better option than showing kids running away to another school"

    I really wish they had done this because Mallory really was running away from her problems. I'm really surprise they chose this route to solve Mallory's problem this way. Its hardly anything to admire. And it would have been a good book to read, her standing up to herself.

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  2. I read one of the books about Mal that came before this one that had the notes in the back. Ann actually says that they thought about sending Mal to boarding school but decided against it.

    It just seems like it was a too easy of a fix. Mal runs away, has a few problems, and manages to overcome it all at the end to have this perfect happy life. Letting kids see someone stand up for herself and not run away from a problem would have been so much better.

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