Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #4: Mary Anne Saves the Day

It's another ordinary BSC meeting when Mrs. Newton calls in needing a sitter for Lucy and Jamie. Kristy takes the job and instantly starts gushing about how she can give Lucy a bottle. This was back in the days when Mrs. Newton only occasionally let the girls sit for Lucy. The other girls get annoyed because Kristy didn't share the job around. They call each other job hogs (Claudia), bossy know-it-alls (Kristy), stuck-up city girls (Stacey), and shy little babies (MA). Mary Anne gets so upset that she tells them all off and storms home.

She thinks that she can make up with Kristy after they all cool down, but Kristy won't even look out the window and actually shuts her shade. Mary Anne feels so bad that she writes each girl a letter, which is actually pretty snarky. The only nice letter is one she writes to Claudia because they didn't get mad at each other.

The next day at school, Kristy sits with the twins, and they spread their lunches out so there's no room for Mary Anne. She takes a seat by herself, but a new girl (Dawn) sits down next to her. She tells her that all of her friends are out sick and uses lunch as an excuse to get back at Kristy by putting her head near Dawn's and acting like her best friend.

This is also the first time that anyone in the BSC sits for Jenny P. Mary Anne notes how they seem a little stiff around each other and she thinks it's weird that they keep calling Jenny a little angel. During her sitting job, Jenny spills paint on her dress, and Mary Anne makes her paint in her underwear for most of the job.

Kristy doesn't show up for the next BSC meeting, so she misses out on a bunch of jobs. She decides that they should take turns running the meeting, take all of the jobs that they can, and pass the rest along. Mary Anne and Claudia make up, but then Claudia hears Mimi call her "my Mary Anne" and flips out, so they stop talking.

All the while, Mary Anne and Dawn become good friends. They discover that their parents went to high school together and go through Richard's old yearbooks. They find a note he wrote to Sharon, and they realize that they actually dated. They later find a prom picture and learn that Sharon saved her corsage.

Kristy brags about getting to stay out later to sit, so Mary Anne asks her dad. He tells her no and won't listen when she points out that she's more responsible. She also gets a lot closer to Dawn, hanging out at her house and being all chummy. While at Mary Anne's house, she puts her arm around Dawn and sticks her tongue out at Kristy who is watching from her window. Dawn sees it, goes ballistic, and storms out because Mary Anne used her. She feels so bad that she writes her a note of apology and also writes one to Kristy and slips it in her locker. Dawn forgives her, but Kristy keeps ignoring her.

Mary Anne gets another sitting job with Jenny, and she notices that she's being really quiet. While reading her a book, Jenny falls asleep and she realizes that she's running a fever, which is actually 104. She calls Dawn to come over and help, and Dawn suggests she call 911 when neither of their parents and none of the neighbors are home. Mary Anne also calls to notify her parents, leaves a message for the doctor, etc.

Mr. P is so happy that he gives both girls $10 for helping out and drops them off at home. Mrs. P calls later that night, and Richard has no idea what she is talking about. Mary Anne tells him the whole story, and he realizes that his little girl is growing up. He agrees to let her sit later and to take down some of her baby-ish decorations. She even gets to wear her hair out of braids!

Mrs. Newton asks the girls to help out at Jamie's birthday party, and it doesn't go well. Mary Anne deliberately pours punch in Kristy's lap, Claudia throws a wet napkin at Stacey, and Stacey rubs a wet napkin in Claudia's face. When it comes time to feed Lucy, they all get into a fight, and Mrs. Newton yells at them. At the end of the party, Mary Anne calls an emergency meeting. She says they either need to make up or breakup, and they realize that they can't even remember why they were mad at each other.

Mary Anne also talks to her dad about Sharon and he gets a dazed look, but warns her not to get her hopes up. Dawn talks to Sharon, who gets the same look in her eyes, and they learn that her parents didn't approve of Richard because his dad was *gasp* a mailman. She throws a party for the BSC at her house, and Sharon and Richard get to chat when she drops Dawn off, and they make a date.

The other girls get the chance to meet Dawn. She tells them about all the sitting that she did in California, and they all do the subtle nod to each other. Mary Anne asks her to officially join the BSC. She also gets to bond a little with Stacey and Kristy about moving and divorces.

*It's funny how young Kristy comes across in this book compared to the later ones. When they have to sit for the Pikes, she won't even look at Mary Anne let alone talk to her, and all of the kids pick up on it.

*Check out how young Mary Anne is on this cover! Yeah, there's no way I would let some kid who looks like that sit ALONE for my child.

*Jenny literally has no play clothes, just a drawer full of new and clean "slacks" and blouses. I would hate to see how she would react to the Pike house!

*Mrs. P poses with her husband and asks Mary Anne how they look. She says they look like they just stepped out of a magazine, which seems to confuse her. That seems odd considering it seems like the look she's going for.

*When Jenny gets sick, they're going to a college basketball game, and Mrs. P mentions that they'll go to the game, grab dinner, and be home by 7. Um, my local college (and alma matter) doesn't start games until 6 or 7 at night, and this game is a championship game.

*BTW, Mrs. P wears a black cocktail dress and heels to the game. Am I the only one who wants someone to trip and drop nachos on her?

*Dawn says that she started sitting when she was 9, which makes me feel really bad for poor Mallory. Then again, Jeff (who is 9 in the early books), gets to stay home by himself sometimes.

*When Dawn asks her mom about Richard, Sharon calls him Ritchie, which was his high school nickname. I so wish she called him that in other books.

*Mary Anne frequently makes dinner for her dad when he gets home from work. For some reason, the image of a 12 year old girl making herself look all prim and proper and cooking dinner for her dad skeeves me out.

*In this book, Mary Anne makes Stacey a hamburger for the party because she can't eat the processed cheese on pizza. It's funny how she could in the early books when they had pizza parties, couldn't when they went to Sea City, and then suddenly could again.

*Richard says a prayer before every meal and asks God to watch over Abigail. Mary Anne thinks that praying before bed is enough. It's just odd that this doesn't get mentioned again.

*I somehow ended up with a copy of the original and then one with the new cover. In the original book, it clearly says that her mother's name is Abigail. It's only in the redesigned book that they use Alma.

*This is also one of those infamous books with Stacey and the New Kids on the Block listed on the order form.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Special Christmas

It's Christmas in Sweet Valley, and I think this might actually be the first Christmas! Everyone is all atwitter because Todd Wilkins is coming back for the first time since he moved to Vermont. Elizabeth is a little worried because she isn't sure how she feels about him anymore.

Jessica doesn't give a crap about anyone except herself, shocking right? She's in love with Hans, an exchange student from Germany, and she thinks that if she becomes Miss Christmas or some crap like that, he will fall head over heels in love with her. She gets a call from Cara on the day of the pageant, asking her to take over her job giving out gifts with Santa. Jess agrees, only to find out that she's stuck there all day. Lila set her up and with her out of the picture, Lila wins the title.

There's also a secret Santa thing going on at school. Elizabeth is sooo trust-worthy that Mr. Collins asks her to help assign people names. Jessica demands that Hans get her name, but Elizabeth goes by the book. Jessica doesn't care though because she thinks Hans will get her name because it's fate or something.

None of this matters though because the Wakefields have some bad news. Apparently, Suzanne Devlin called and asked to come spend Christmas with them. Ned and Alice tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted and they felt that they needed to let her do what she wanted. Steven and Jessica convince Liz to call her and try to talk her out of it, but “Suzy” still wants to come. She even wrote to Mr. Collins, who accepted her apology and thinks she should come for a visit.

Everyone agrees to pretty much treat her like crap once she gets there. They pretend that they forgot when she was coming, make plans without her, and Jessica frequently makes snide comments. Liz tries to make amends, but she still thinks things are weird. Jess then goes to Aaron and a few other guys and suggests that they act as bad secret Santas to her.

Todd shows up and pretty much loses it when he sees Suzy. He saw her recently at a ski resort, they spent some time together, and they kind of like each other. He asks her not to tell Liz what happened, Jess overhears, and naturally assumes that they had an affair. They keep acting weird around each other, and for some reason, Liz never picks up on it.

The guys do some stupid crap like leaving notes on the doorstep. Every time something happens, Suzy gets a little nervous but she doesn't seem to really care. Jess sees her taking some pills and spreads a rumor that she's a pill popper. She also makes up lies about how Suzy thinks Sweet Valley is full of hicks and doesn't like anyone there.

Aaron calls and asks Suzanne to some big party as his date and suggests they go to another (fake) party beforehand. The Wakefields leave the twins a bottle of champagne to celebrate and they offer some to Suzy. She gets a new bottle of pills from her doctor, and she wonders why he didn't include any instructions, but she still downs two glasses of champagne and takes her pills. Aaron calls to say that she needs to meet him at the party, and he gives her the address of an abandoned house. She drives off and gets a little dizzy.

The doctor calls the house in a tizzy because he got a message from Suzy. If she drinks even a drop of alcohol, she could die! The twins flip out and tell their parents, and the police call to say that she wrecked the car and is in the hospital. Ned and Alice finally decide to tell the twins that Suzy has MS, which means she will likely end up in a wheelchair soon.

They start feeling really bad and rush to the hospital. Jessica spills the beans about Todd, who finally admits that he ran into Suzy recently. Liz sees (in his eyes, barf) that he loves her despite only spending a few hours with her, and tells him that he should go after her. Suzy's doctor then calls to announce that she doesn't have MS but mono and was misdiagnosed. The twins then get everyone together and throw a party for Suzy.

*I love that Jessica and Lila are the only two girls worth competing in the pageant. Basically, if one of them doesn't show up, it pretty much goes to the other one.

*Cara is passing out presents as part of a special project for the sorority. No one else volunteers, but the whole sorority gets credit. How is that fair?

*The secret Santa thing is weird because they wait until the last day of school, and then everyone has to track down their person during the break. We did secret Santa in one of my school clubs, but we did it the last week before break.

*Why the fuck would they want her to come for a visit? And why in the hell would Roger forgive her? She nearly ruined his career and made life a living hell for everyone in town.

*Ned and Alice are worried about her because of her illness, yet they still agree to let her come. Um, wouldn't it be worse for her if everyone picks on her and treats her like shit?

*I love how Jessica blames Suzy for what happened with Pete, and Suzy actually apologizes. Yes, it's totally her fault that Jessica threw herself at the guy, got drunk around him, and dressed like a slut to attract him.

*Yeah, so Suzanne literally flips the Fiat into a ditch, but it's not only drivable but it only has a few scratches on it. I call bull shit on that.

*I don't have MS, but I did have mono, and there is absolutely no way that a doctor could confuse the two. He should have his license revoked.

*Liz thinks that it would hurt to see Todd with someone else, but she can't imagine the idea of ever cheating on him. Ha! I don't really get this book either, because they decided to date other people in the book where he left, but now they act like they were still exclusive.

*Todd sees Suzy while skiing with a friend, they go to dinner, and they meet up later for a few hours. I would laugh at how fast they fell “in love,” but they actually spent more time together than most couples in Sweet Valley do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sweet Valley Twins #27: Teamwork

It's just another typical day in Sweet Valley. Jessica is sitting around reading about dinner parties, while Elizabeth kicks back with a French cookbook. Jessica decides that they should throw a dinner party and Elizabeth wants to make a bunch of stuff from the book. They run to tell their parents, who immediately think that they are crazy because parties like that take a lot of planning and money.

After some more talking, they decide to ask if they can visit their aunt in Sandy Hook for a three-day weekend. They run back downstairs, and Ned asks if they thought about the cost. Jessica calls the bus station and it's $20 one-way. Elizabeth asks if he can't afford the trip, and he tells them that he's worried they don't think about money. He says that if they raise the money to go, they can.

The twins decide to walk dogs around the neighborhood to raise the money. Steven offers to lend them $5 for photocopies if they pay 50% interest, which they agree. Jessica whines because she has to miss a Unicorn meeting to hand out fliers and because they keep seeing big dogs and she only wants to work with little dogs. They get a few calls, but it only adds up to $20.

Jessica naturally starts slacking off at work. On one walk, she leaves Liz with three dogs so she can try on some clothes at a store they pass. She skips one day to go to a Boosters practice, and she skips another to go for ice cream. Luckily, Ken Matthews loves dogs and he offers to help, but he won't take any money.

One day, Lila and Ellen stop by to see Jessica watching a couple of dogs. A woman offered them $20 if they kept her dogs overnight. They want to go to the mall, and when Ken shows up, he says that he'll watch the dogs for her. This annoys Elizabeth, who finally took the day off to go roller skating, but she takes it.

While sitting at home, a guy named Mr. Quincy shows up with his dog Joe. He offers them $20 to watch the dog for one week and another $20 when he picks the dog up. He even gives them money to buy some dog food. As soon as he leaves, they notice that the dog is skittish and won't come to them. Ken finds bruises and cuts all over his body and realizes that the dog is abused.

The twins don't tell their parents because Ned gave them a huge lecture about how they needed to start being responsible and he didn't want to hear any complaints. Ken buys the dog special food and a special cream that he puts on all the cuts. Joe starts acting friendly and he forms a bond with Ken, who comes over every day to play with him.

They decide that they can't give Joe back to Mr. Quincy. Ken asks his mom if he can keep the dog, but she tells him that he's not old enough and they aren't around enough to take care of a pet. He then decides to ask his cousin to take the dog since the guy lives on a ranch outside of town. Worrying that Mr. Quincy might find him, they cut his hair and dye the white dog black. They take Joe over, and he agrees to take him in.

They head home to find Mr. Quincy there. He explodes when they say that Joe ran away, and he threatens to sue them. Ned makes them go around town looking for him, but of course he's not there. The next day, Ken calls and says that Joe ran away from the ranch. They look all over and find him waiting at the Wakefield house. Ned and Alice say that he showed up there and that they called Mr. Quincy.

When Mr. Quincy shows up, he tries to take Joe and Ken won't let him. The adults lecture him on how it isn't his dog, and he bursts out with the abuse charge. Quincy denies it, but Joe growls and shakes every time he goes near him. Ken offers to show the Wakefields the bruises and scars, and Quincy backs down. Ned threatens him that if he ever gets another dog, he will call the cops. Quincy rushes off, saying he never wants to see another dog.

Ken's parents show up just in time to hear the whole story. His cousin called to say that the dog ran away and they wanted to know what was going on. Mrs. Matthews doesn't even recognize the dog because he got caught in the rain and his hair is now white again. They tell them the whole story, and his parents decide to let him keep the dog. Ned gives the twins the money they need to go to Sandy Hook, and he even agrees to pay Steven back for the loan as a reward for doing the right thing.

*The twins want to throw a sit down dinner party for 14 people, and they think that it's not only easy but that they can do it themselves. Oh, and they think that they can get 12 year old guys to wear suits.

*Jessica thinks that chocolate mousse sounds disgusting because she reads it as chocolate mouse. I'm almost certain that they made chocolate mousse in a previous book at home or in school.

*Ned suggests they have a barbecue for their friends, which makes them pout and whine. Any other time, they would be jumping off the walls about having a party.

*Jessica had the dye because she wanted to color her hair black. I hate to point this out, but no matter what the bottle says, black dye on blond hair will not wash out in a few days. A friend of mine in high school had dirty blond hair and she dyed it black with temporary dye. Her hair stayed dark until it finally started growing out.

*A dog that was abused as much as Joe would not suddenly become a fun loving pet in one week, no matter how much love he got.

*The cream Ken got must be some kind of miracle cream! It healed all of his cuts and bruises in just a few days, leaving no marks or scars behind.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Valley Junior High #10: Twin Switch

Kristen asks Jessica to join her Homecoming Poster Committee, and Jessica agrees because she's still worried that she has no friends. Since Kristen is popular, she thinks that it might make her a little popular too. The next day, she shows up at school with four posters that actually seem pretty cute. There's a bunch of cats (wildcats) throwing glittery nets over dolphins (the other team) with phrases like "kill the dolphins" across the top.

Unfortunately, one of the school's science teachers just read an article about dolphin slaying and vowed to make a stand. She drags Jessica and her posters into the principal's office, who clearly has no clue why these are bad until she tells him. Jess points out that it's the name of the other team, and the teacher gets embarrassed for not knowing. The principal initially gives her a week of detention, but then he decides to put her in charge of the dance since the girl who was going to do it suddenly moved.

Jessica wants to have the best committee ever, so she gets Damon, Kristen, Bethel, and Brian to help. Brian and Kristen both say no until she tells them that the other joined. They're having some weird on-off thing. Ronald also volunteers, but Liz says that she's way too busy with the Zone and school to help at all.

The first meeting goes really bad. Kristen wants to build the dance around the school colors, and Bethel wants to make it around the colors purple and yellow. Brian sides with Bethel, which pisses off Kristen, and Ronald keeps talking about science and how loud colors make people crazy. Damon skips out early, and Jessica ends the meeting without making any decisions.

Every other meeting goes just as bad. Kristen and Brian kissed a few times and when he doesn't ask her to the dance, she wonders if he hates her. Bethel fights with Kristen constantly because Kristen just beat her in the election for student council president. Ronald keeps suggesting stupid ideas like doing a fossil dig at the dance, and Damon keeps leaving early to take care of his sisters.

After a particularly disastrous meeting at the Wakefield house, Jessica sends everyone home and starts crying. Liz decides that they should do a twin switch, which makes Jess gasp because she was always the one doing crazy schemes before. Liz will wear Jessica's clothes and run the meetings while pretending to be her, while Jess hides out until it's time to be her again.

Liz runs the first meeting and Kristen realizes that it's not Jessica. Everyone there knows that she's not Jessica, except for Ronald. Damon notices that she smells different than Jess, which leads to Ronald making a hilarious comment that he finds it rude to sniff people. They decide that Jess was so upset with them that she couldn't handle being in the same room with them so they agree to do what Liz wants.

This whole time, Damon kept worrying about Jessica and how to ask her to the dance. He buys a magazine filled with tips on what girls want from a homecoming date. He goes shopping, but can't afford a new outfit, and he goes to get her roses, but he can only afford daisies. He keeps worrying that she won't be happy with him as her date and then realizes that he never even asked her.

Kristen and Bethel finally start getting along by bonding over how much they like Jessica. Kristen makes a comment about Brian, and Bethel doesn't get why she is so upset because she thought they were dating. Brian never does ask her to the dance, but he does ask her to save a dance for him.

Jessica winds up going to a few Zone meetings because Anna and Sal think that she's Liz. She pretty much sits in the corner and tries not to mess things up because Liz didn't want her going. The dance all falls together when they start working together. Ronald even gets a former student (from SVU) to set up a laser light show, and Kristen and Bethel get food donated from the pizza place.

The night of the dance, they realize that no one knows if the real Jessica will make an appearance, so they all get dressed and head to her house. Liz is there, wearing one of Jessica's favorite dresses. They tell her that they hope she comes too but they are there for Jess, which makes her realize that they knew all along. Damon gives Jess the flowers and she changes clothes to go.

At the dance, Brian makes a comment about Kristen being his girlfriend, and she realizes that she was a dumbass this whole time and that he always did like her. Damon tells Jess that she looks really pretty and she gets starry eyed about it.

*I forgot to mention this, but the reason Liz offers to help is because she screws up. She pretends to be Jess when approached by the editor of the paper, but because she doesn't know any of the homecoming plans, she makes a bunch of random and generic comments, and the girl writes an article about how the dance will be a failure.

*Just to show how different this series is from the others...Kristen is *gasp* pudgy. A pudgy girl who is popular, cool, and has a boyfriend? I'm surprised they didn't run her out of Sweet Valley.

*I want to smack whoever edited these books. Is it really that hard to stay on track? Jessica gets the job on Tuesday, goes home and talks to Elizabeth about joining the committee, and starts making plans. In the next chapter, they mention that it's now WEDNESDAY, but Jessica explains to Kristen about what happened "that morning" with her getting the job.

*Early in the book, Liz wears a tee that's too short to tuck into her jeans. Later, Jessica makes her wear a similar shirt, and she keeps complaining that it's too short and how she doesn't understand how her sister can dress like that. Editing, it's called editing.

*Brian makes a cartoon/story about an alien who visited a homecoming event. The alien can't figure out what a homecoming queen is and makes a comment about football players being of lower intelligence. The Zone members laugh so hard that Liz falls off a chair. Even in eighth grade, I would not have found that funny.

*There's a point where the writer mentions that their new friends know them better than their old friends because their old friends never caught on to the twin switch before. I guess that's kind of true, but it's not really true here. Granted, Jessica's friends did figure it out, but it seems like Liz's friends just thought she was acting a little weird.

*This is kind of cute. Damon knows that it's not Jessica because she smells like peaches (her body wash) and the girl in front of him smells like raspberries.