Friday, April 5, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #72: Dawn and the We Love Kids Club

I cannot believe that I haven't recapped this one yet because I've had it forever!

So, Dawn is living in California on her "break." She loves it because she gets to play on the beach, her school doesn't have that annoying alarm, and her friends are all super laid back. They meet up at the end of the school day and decide to hold a meeting the next day before heading off to sit for Stephie.

During a meeting of the We Love Kids Club, Sunny gets a phone call that she thinks is a prank. It's a woman named Rhonda Leib, who wants to do a profile on the club for the newspaper. Dawn calls back and schedules an appointment, and they all freak out. It turns out that because there is absolutely no news left in the world, she's going a special on kids who run their own businesses.

The articles comes out and it is such a hit that the news calls Sunny to ask about doing a special feature on their club. They spend hours with the reporter before he heads off with his crew. The feature ends up running for around four minutes, and everyone loves them. Carol even gives Dawn a director's chair with her name on the back and a pair of new sunglasses.

Things almost instantly go bad for the club. Some parents call more than one girl and double-book for sitting jobs, while the girls wind up double booking themselves. Dawn has to sit for both Stephie and Eric and Ryan. Sunny has some problems too, mainly because her calender is out of date and she messed up some jobs.

Dawn notices that Stephie has some problems adjusting. She keeps talking about her mother, and she mentions that she used to look at Joann (her sitter) as her mother but she doesn't anymore. She also draws pictures of her "new" mom and carries around her mom's old school picture. While at Eric and Ryan's house, she clings to Dawn and wants nothing to do with the boys. She later gets upset because Dawn is supposed to be her almost sister and a sister wouldn't forget about a sitting job. She also gets upset because the boys' mom brings them stuff like shoelaces and gum, and she doesn't have anyone who does that.

Dawn decides to send a copy of the news and the paper to her friends back in Stoneybrook, which sets off the B-plot. Kristy can't figure out why no one wanted to highlight the BSC. She suggests making a video, and Jessi wants to do a spoof one with her dad. When no one seems excited, she decides to go forward on her own.

Kristy contacts a few newspapers, which laugh her off the phone (just the way any real newspaper would). She also calls a few television stations, and they tell her that she needs a clip or reel. She ends up sending them the video of the We Love Kids Club with a note about the BSC, but she doesn't rewind the tape. The station manager sees a commercial and sends her back a list of their advertising rates.

While all of this is going on, Dawn is being a mega bitch about Carol. She thinks Carol is incredibly immature, and she hates smelling her dad's chimichungas cooking because it means she's coming over for dinner. When her dad and Carol announce their engagement, Dawn runs into her bedroom and slams the door shut. She later apologizes and eats dinner with them, but she decides that her dad doesn't really love her.

The next day, she steals his credit card information and books a flight back to Connecticut. She uses all of her sitting money to pay for a taxi and flies "home." Her mom meets her at the airport because her dad called. She makes Dawn stay in the house and books her a flight back to California the next day, pointing out that she made the decision to move out there for six months and her time isn't up yet. She isn't even allowed to contact anyone in the BSC and only gets to spend a few hours with Mary Ann.

Her dad is definitely not happy, but he does agree to forgive her, and she gets stuck paying for both plane tickets. Jeff tells her that their dad and Carol had a huge fight, which led to Carol throwing her engagement ring. Dawn gets a little excited, though she does sit down and have a long talk with her later.

Dawn sits the We Love Kids Club down and forces them to make some rules. They agree on set meeting times, using a record book, and being better members. She goes home and notices that Carol came over again. They start fighting, and Carol says that she's always at the bottom of his list, while he says that she will claw her way to the top of any list. The fighting gets muffled, and Carol comes out while Dawn and Jeff are making dinner. She tells them goodbye, and Dawn says that they'll see her the next day. Their dad then comes out and lets them know that they broke up for good. Dawn apologizes and kind of blames herself, but he tells her not to worry because it just brought up issues they needed to handle.

*Dawn and her "junk food" really annoys me. She talks here about eating vegetable chips because they are so much better for you, but in the 1990s, they really weren't. I bet her chips had the same fat and calories as ordinary potato chips.

*I really wonder if any of the ghostwriters actually worked in television before. I'm pretty sure that the news wouldn't spend 4+ hours filming a bunch of teen girls so they could do a short broadcast on them.

*Dawn says that they have set meeting times, but I guess it doesn't stick. In the wedding book, they still meet whenever they feel like it.

*Carol is not a smart woman. A man who makes you feel like you rank behind his kids, ex-wife, and anyone else who comes along is not someone you should marry or have kids with.

*Why does Dawn hate Carol so much? She says that it's because Carol acts too immature, but she seems like a normal woman. Maybe Dawn just has daddy issues.

*There's no resolution with Stephie. She writes a story that basically ends with a woman dying and becoming a flower named Dawn. Dawn doesn't even wonder if she should talk to Stephie's dad about it.

*Kristy is such a little bitch in this book. I can completely see her point and I would probably be upset too, but I wouldn't go crazy like she does.

*Dawn gets annoyed because Carol eats Thai food with a fork instead of a chopstick like they do. BUT, then she mentions that they learned to use chopsticks as a family, which comes across as super bitchy. Does she get all annoyed when Mary Ann and Richard use forks?

*People who read the paper start calling them right away to schedule sitters. People in my area tend to just gloss over the local features section without really paying attention.

*Apparently, their local news station broadcasts in a number of areas because one parent who calls lives two hours away. If the station is that big, why would they waste so much time on this silly little club?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #129: Kristy at Bat

Aw, this book kind of makes me sad because it's the newest BSC book that I have left to recap, except for maybe one or two of the FF books.

Watson signed him and Kristy up for Dream Camp, a baseball camp hosted by Bill Bain, who is an old school player that he just loves. Kristy is pretty excited because it's spring and she can now play baseball all of the time. Her coach holds try-outs for the new team, and Kristy thinks that she has it in the bag. She shows up to practice, doesn't really make an effort, and acts condescending to those around her.

When the list comes out, she finds that she's now on the junior varsity team. The coach pulls her into her office and explains to her that she didn't show herself well on the field. She acted like a junior varsity player, and that's where she ended up. She says it wasn't fair to the other girls who did make an effort. She mopes around the house and worries about going to camp because she's only a second string player. Sigh.

All Watson wants to do is celebrate going to camp, but Kristy keeps pouting and feeling mopey. She meets this girl Vicky on the first day, who admits that she doesn't really love baseball and only came because her dad wanted her there. Bain makes one appearance before disappearing again. They end up on his team with a former pro player and a former woman's player named Gloria.

Kristy takes over a little bit because Matt, their other coach, doesn't seem to care. She also gives coaching tips to some of the other players, all while moping about her own skills. Bain never comes to any of their practices, but he does show up at dinner. Watson talks to him, and Bain completely ignores him before telling him that he doesn't like to be disrupted during meals. Gloria feels bad, but not as bad as Watson. He suddenly doesn't find baseball that interesting anymore and doesn't make much of an effort.

Bain finally does come to a practice session, and he proceeds to rip apart the other coaches. Kristy goes off on him, reminding him that people came here because of him and that he's basically a horrible person. He turns red in the face and storms off, while everyone else bows down to the great and powerful Kristy. He comes to dinner that night, apologizes for his actions, and promises to do better.

This all leads up to one big game at the end of camp. Kristy hits a home run (of course), and Watson makes it across home plate too, where Bain gives him a high five. Vicky asks Kristy for help talking to her dad. She tells him that she doesn't want to play baseball anymore and that he doesn't need to brag about all of her accomplishments and he agrees.

Bain and Watson chat at dinner that night, and he gives Watson a photo of him and Joe DiMaggio, which the player signed. He signs it and tells him that Kristy is a good player. They give out a bunch of awards, and since this is a BSC book, a member has to get one. They give Kristy a brand new award for Best Coach for all of the help that she gave them. She finally admits to Gloria that she isn't on the varsity team, and the woman basically tells her that it doesn't matter. Kristy also realizes that it's okay to think about her real dad when she thinks about baseball because now she will think about Watson too.

David Michael suddenly has an interest in collecting baseball cards. A bunch of other kids do too, and they hold trade meetings at school on the playground. One of the kids, Barry, just wants the best cards so he keeps doing one-sided trades. David Michael gets a new fancy kit to organize his cards and keep track of them.

Barry suggests that they make a trade: 2 of his cards for one of David Micheal’s cards. He thinks it was a good deal until he gets home and finds that his card was way more valuable. He won't shut the hell up about it, so Abby comes up with a plan. She takes a shoebox of her own cards to the playground and shows them a rare card her dad gave her. Barry suggests and a trade and thinks she won't because the card is worth a lot of money. She explains that it means a lot to her because her dad gave it to her and he was his favorite players. All of the other kids suddenly decide that they want to trade for their favorite players and not because of value.

*How does the whole softball thing work? Is that for this year's team or for next year's team? Kristy already made the team for this year, but this is probably just another one of those crazy errors that you have when you are stuck in the same school year for decades.

*Abby keeps trying to cheer her up, so Kristy asks what she would do if she landed on the junior varsity team. Abby gets all shocked and stops talking. Really, this thought never crossed your mind?

*How big is this freaking school? It never really seemed that big to me, but it apparently has varsity and junior varsity soccer and softball teams for the girls alone. We didn't even have second string teams for most sports in my high school.

*This might sound a little mean, but could Gloria really coach? This book came out in the late 90s and she played during WWII. Maybe it's because my grandparents were less active, but this woman is out on the field, throwing and hitting all day long without any problems.

*Kristy is impressed because of their hotel room and the meals they get. Does she really have no idea how much money Watson paid for something like this?

*If Kristy really is a mediocre player, how could she hit a home run off a pitch thrown by an adult with probably way more experience?

*The BSC members act like it's such a huge and disappointing thing that some of the kids keep track of the value of their cards. Isn't the that the point of collecting? Most kids I knew who collected baseball cards always kept track of what they had and what the cards were worth.

*The whole B-plot seems like something they should have left alone anyway. Let the kids figure it out for themselves! David Michael would probably remember that trade forever and never made a bad one again. Now, who knows what cards he might give away.

*The food at Dream Camp is kind of insane though. Stake, grilled salmon, chocolate cake with raspberry sauce...

*Kristy orders chicken cordon bleu because she doesn't know what it is. I call bull shit! I'm almost sure that they had this on one of the flights to California, and I think they served it in the cafeteria too.

*They get a video that shows the highlights of their time at camp. Naturally, multiple people tell Kristy that they wish it included her telling off Bain.

*I know that the Kristy/Bain thing was important to the plot, but I didn't like it. Watson gives her a short lecture and then pretty much forgets about it. Even if an adult was wrong, my parents would have flipped out if I did this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sweet Valley Kids #2: Runaway Hamster

The twins' class has a pet hamster Tinkerbell, and the teacher gives everyone the chance to take her home for the weekend. Jessica thinks the hamster looks like a rat and has no desire to get anywhere close to her, while Elizabeth thinks that she's adorable and can't wait for her turn. The teacher pulls Elizabeth's name out of a hat, and since she gets to take her home for a longer vacation, the teacher decides that Jessica should help.

Jessica really, really hates this hamster, so naturally Alice decides that they should share responsibilities all week long. This basically means that she keeps asking Jessica is she feed the hamster or whatever. Amy comes over to play with Tinkerbell and even Lila comes by for a visit, but Jessica still wants nothing to do with the hamster.

When it's finally her turn, she gives it some water and food, and then leaves to talk to Steven. He shows her a mousetrap that he made from an old shoebox and explains that he wants to use Tinkerbell as a test subject. She refuses and rushes back to their room just in time to find Elizabeth freaking out because the hamster is missing.

They search all over the house without any luck, and Jessica finally decides that they need to buy a replacement hamster. Elizabeth thinks it's like lying, but she agrees and they go to Alice. Alice agrees to buy them a new hamster as long as they tell the teacher the truth.

No one seems to notice the difference until Jessica bursts into tears and tells everyone what happened. Todd claims that she must have lost her because Elizabeth knows how to take care of animals, while Ellen screams when Charlie wonders if his cat ate Tinkerbell. They decide to name the new hamster Thumbelina and everyone kind of forgets what happened.

The twins are sharing a snack after school when Ned shows up. He was gone for like a week on business and missed everything. He finds a box of chewed crackers in the cabinet, and they realize that she's still alive. After a short search, Steven finds her in his mousetrap. Jessica finally holds the hamster and decides that she likes her after all, and the class gets two pet hamsters.

*Apparently, the twins have matching name bracelets, which is the only way that people can tell them apart when they dress alike.

*The ghostwriter did some research on this one. Not only does Elizabeth have her money neatly organized, but Jessica has a change purse with some jewelry inside and no money.

*Amy and Elizabeth put Tinkerbell in the bathtub with a bunch of doll furniture, which really doesn't sound that much fun to me. Jessica does however scream and claim that she can never play with that stuff again.

*The teacher actually gets a little misty eyed in front of the class when she learns they lost the hamster. Maybe it's the cynic in me, but that doesn't really seem professional.

*I don't agree with schools that make students do this. I think it should be a voluntary process, and if you don't want to take the hamster home, you don't have to. They sent out letters to the parents and let them decide if they wanted it or not.

*I actually did get stuck taking our class hamster home one weekend. Everyone who did it kept talking about how much fun it was, but even in like fourth grade, I thought it was lame. I remember putting it in the ball and letting it run around the floor, but it spent most of its weekend in the cage. We always had dogs when I was growing up, so playing with them was a lot more fun LOL.

The Baby-Sitters Club #85: Claudia Kishi, Live from WSTO!

Claudia is sad because her life sucks. Despite being an amazing artist who can somehow create art out of absolutely anything, she suddenly thinks that she needs another hobby. She's also sad because she doesn't have a boyfriend and because she and Stacey are no longer friends. This leads to her making a list of hobbies that she wants to try, but she fails at each one.

Luckily though, the local radio station WSTO is hosting a contest for younger teens, and the winner gets their own radio show. She writes this long ass essay and submits it, but she learns that they will announce the winner live on the air. During a BSC meeting, she makes them listen to the radio, and she naturally gets chosen for the job.

Charlie drives her there the next day, and Kristy goes inside with her. Kristy naturally takes charge, which makes everyone think that she's the contest winner, but Claudia gets things straightened out. She learns that her "assistant" (which is actually the second place finisher) is Ashley Wyeth. Apparently, she decided that even devoted artists need to take time out of their schedules for some fun.

The two girls need to come up with a show title and format fast because their first episode is quickly approaching. Ashley keeps rolling her eyes and whining whenever Claudia makes a suggestion, or just sitting back and saying that she's the boss in a way that makes it clear if the show fails, it's all her fault. The station decides to host auditions, and the girls have to sit through a bunch of other kids playing instruments, singing, and doing other stuff to pick who lands on the show. They fight some more because they both like different people.

It doesn't help that Kristy naturally assumes she will land a spot on the show because of their friendship. She works out a play with the Barrett-DeWitt family first, but the audition is terrible and Claudia has to turn her down. She then "borrows" one of Mallory's stories and auditions with the Pike kids, but things go even worse. She finally comes up with a book trivia game with the Arnold twins that is a big hit.

During one show, a kid named George calls in and asks for advice because his parents are getting divorced. Claudia suggests that he call a therapist and gives him the number of Mary Anne's doctor. They also learn from an engineer that the station might shut down. It lost one of its biggest sponsors, and they used their show to fill in the slot of a show they can no longer afford.

Claudia suggests that they write some editorials and let people know about the situation, but the station manager asked his employees to keep everything a big secret. One of their shows runs short and she has to talk for a few minutes. She ends up mentioning Stacey in a roundabout way, which leads to Stacey extending an olive branch.

On their last show, they host another call-in and answer questions from other kids. An adult woman calls in and says that she's the mother of George and that she wants to thank them for helping. She plans to make a sizable donation that might save the day. After the show ends, they discover that she made a big enough donation that it will keep the station afloat for at least six months.

*One of her potential hobbies is cooking. She makes an omelet in the microwave, it takes gross, so she takes it off her list. Yes, because most chefs cook eggs in the microwave.

*She also wants to play the tuba until she thinks about lugging it home, and she adds tap dancing to her list. Jessi gives her a lesson and she completely sucks, but somehow Dawn and Shannon are great dancers.

*The essay thing really bothers me! They only have like four days to turn it in before the announcement comes. Does that mean the kids have to drop it off at the station or hope that the mail delivers it in time? If they drop it off, how does Claudia get it there? Charlie and her dad have to drive her there later because it's so far away.

*They meet with people for 90 minutes on day and over two hours another day to host auditions and every slot is filled. Would parents really get that excited over their kids maybe appearing on a local radio show for kids?

*Running a teen show would not save the station any money. They still need engineers and other workers to run the show, so they could just run music or a cheap talk show for the same price. Plus, if the sponsor was so big, why did they only have to cut a show that
only ran twice a week?

*Since famous people really have no lives, they manage to get a children's book author on the show. He reads from his newest book and answers some questions from fans. Oh, and Ashley only called him on Friday, and he responded the next day.

*Mallory is so upset at what Kristy does to her character that she literally has to leave the room. Nice way to be a friend there Kristy.

*Claudia wears a tuxedo that she found in a thrift store, and she took the shoulder pads out so it would look slouchy. I'm not really sure how that would work....She also pairs it with a red cummerbund, socks with silver sequins, and red tennis shoes. Ashley asks her if she's going to describe her outfit on the air, and I want to scream.

*Claudia mentions that when she worked on the personals column, she did a lot of writing. Is that really true? Sure she had to move things around, but it's not like she was actually writing all of the ads.

*Dawn has an annoying scene where she whines about Kristy eating meat and then launches into stories about the photos that she saw of meat processing plants. If it bothers you so much, walk away you dumb bitch! No one forced you to sit with meat eaters.

*At one point, Claudia wears overalls that she made from sewing together two different pairs. When Janine sees her, she says its Frankenstein's jumpsuit, but Claudia thinks it's just her deconstruction look. She does, however, change clothes before a sitting job.

*I really don't get the WTSO thing. It's clearly a station aimed at adults, given that whenever someone listens to it, they're playing Elvis, The Beatles, or some other oldies group (BTW, I am a huge Elvis fan). It doesn't really seem like the kind of station that kids would listen to, and even Charlie complains about the music.

*Claudia points out that Ashley dresses normal now but kept her six earrings because it's not like she could get rid of them. Um, yes she could. If you take them out, your holes will eventually grow close. Take it from someone with experience. I had two piercings in each ear for a few years, took my top ones out, and they grew closed until I had them done again.

*Since it's an advice show, someone naturally calls in with a question about baby sitting. She wants to know how to calm a fussy baby, and Claudia gives her like a dozen tips on air. Who cares?