Friday, January 23, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club #101: Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout

Yay, someone is finally giving Claudia exactly what she needs! Claudia is at home, chilling and thinking about the 900th Halloween she will experience in middle school when Stacey calls. They chat for awhile until Claudia says she's having problems using a protractor. Stacey offers to help, but Claudia changes the subject.

See, Claudia doesn't want everyone to know that she's once again sucking at school. No matter how hard she studies or what she does, she just keeps failing. One of her teachers pulls her aside to tell her that she'll face some serious consequences if she fails again, which is why the principal calls a meeting when she does fail. Before she can fail, Janine and her parents offer to help.

Janine pairs her up with one of the girls from her class as a tutor. We know Rosa
is cool because it's the 90s and she wears a newsboy hat. She pretty much calls Claudia out on how she has horrible study habits and really needs to work harder. We also learn that Claudia is failing nearly all of her classes.

At the same time, her art teacher suggests that she enter her portfolio to the community college. Some famous artist is doing a special class and will pick the best students to work with. She naturally picks Claudia, and her parents agree to let her take the class as long as she improves her grades. When she keeps failing, the principal makes a drastic decision, but one he should have made years ago. Claudia has to repeat the seventh grade.

Claudia has a dream that she's in school and all her old friends ignore her. The only person who notices her is some seventh grade dweeb she knows. This makes her think that going back a grade will make her life miserable. She spends the first day sitting by herself and complaining about how dorky the kids in her class are.

It doesn't take long before things get a little better. The seventh grade boys all develop crushes on her, and the seventh grade girls all want to be her best friend. The other girls even start dressing like her. To make things better, she realizes that she's doing better in school. She gets an A on a test, gets called out for her work, and even raises her hand to answer a question. Unfortunately, she then sees a sign for the big Halloween party and realizes that it's only for eighth graders. She talks to the principal, but he went let her go to the party.

This turns Claudia into a mega bitch. She barely talks to her friends, gets really nasty with the kids in her class, and mopes all the time. All she can talk about is how those kids look like babies and how they are soooo immature. Luckily, she still has her art classes. The teacher keeps calling her out for being such an amazing artist. She does go to the party held for other students, but she practically screams as Jessi and Mal and makes them feel like crap.

There's some random art showing for the students in her class. She doesn't tell her family or friends because she acts like she doesn't care. Then, because she's clearly the most talented artist in the entire state, she wins first prize over people who are 2-3 times her age. Her teacher tells her that she had to repeat two grades in school and that some artists aren't good learners, which makes her feel better.

Jackie, who had that accident in the last book that led to the group breaking up, is still in the hospital at the beginning of the book. The BSC throws him a welcome home party, but Kristy can't stop thinking about the kids still in the hospital. They decide to throw a party for the kids and get their charges to donate some of the candy they go trick or treating. Claudia shows up at the party, apologizes for being a bitch, and everyone congratulates her and decides to check out her art show.

*Yeah, so one of the other students says she spent the last 15 years trying to get to the point where Claudia is at. So, why was she picked for the class?

*In her dream, Claudia sees Stacey wearing a plaid kilt, white over the knee socks, Mary Janes, and a baby tee. Someone watched Clueless!

*Oh man, this was easily the most annoying I've ever seen Claudia. She whines about how the boys try to get her attention and all this other stuff, but it's exactly what the guys in her former grade are like and exactly how the BSC acts.

*Ugh, how can sending a student back one grade and then forward a few months later really going to solve anything?

*Mal and Jessi want her to enter the pumpkin carving contest so they can show her off, which causes Claudia to tell them that she didn't care what a bunch of babies thought of her. That would make me punch her in the throat.

*Stacey goes as a flapper, Abby goes as a soccer player, Jessi as a ballerina, and Mal as Elizabeth Barrett Browning? Maybe some other famous old poet. Mary Anne and Kristy go as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, which is...odd.

*One Claudia outfit is moss green jeans, a brown sweater, and her hair up like Pebbles. It's totally the same outfit from the cover.

*Claudia also wore tie dye leggings, red high tops, and black overall shorts. Ah, anyone else remember those?

*Kristy decides that since the club has done so well recently that they're now off probation. That was fast.

*Abby super duper annoys me. She has a sitting job at the Pike house. They're all fighting about Halloween costumes when she gets there, and she somehow manages to solve everything in a single page.

*Claudia does wear a fake nose ring to freak everyone out at a club meeting. For some reason it made me think of those fake tattoo bracelets and how I wore one all the time. I even wore one to my family reunion as a teenager and had multiple people freaking out about how my mom let me get a tattoo LOL.

*There is a cute moment at the party where Jackie lectures everyone on wearing a helmet from now on. It's also cute that the BSC all freaks out over him being the walking disaster and how he's fine while everyone else screws up. They get paint everywhere, drop a baseball in the punch bowl, and almost knock over the food table.

*I want to punch them all at one point. They start bragging about how their teachers now treat them like they're adults and how much more freedom they have. Um, you're in middle school?

*Why does everyone treat her like she's some kind of queen? I can see the younger kids maybe thinking she was kind of cool, but they would have to giggle about her basically failing eighth grade.

*It's nice to know the Halloween Hop is over. Remember how in ALL the other Halloween books there is a dance that's open to all the kids and how everyone in the BSC went to the big dance in seventh grade? Nope, now there's one dance for eighth and one party for everyone else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sweet Valley High #16: Rags to Riches

I always forget that there's some of the early, early books that I've never read before, and this is one of them. I can't remember if I read this as a kid or not, but I know I never recapped it before, so here goes!

Roger Barrett went from the poor kid who can't even afford running shoes to one of the richest men in Sweet Valley overnight. Remember when his mom got all sick and was dying in the hospital and the Patman family finally decided to step up and take care of her? Well, now she's dead, he's living with Bruce, and everyone pretty much wants to know why he can't be more like Bruce. Um, maybe because he's just not a huge douche canoe?

Marie, Bruce's mom who is way nicer in the last books, pretty much just looks down his nose at him. She doesn't like that he has an interest in medicine instead of the family business, she thinks his clothes are gross, and she really doesn't like Olivia. It's clear that she'd much rather just be chilling with her servants fetching her Valium and lounging by the pool than dealing with a normal person living in her home.

This definitely comes to a head when Mr. Patman (good old Hank) invites some business associate and his wife to dinner. The women turns her nose up and makes it clear that she dislikes Roger from the very beginning. When he accidentally spills wine on her, it's on. No, seriously. She throws a massive hissy fit and says that her dress is ruined. When he points out that it landed on the table and barely on her dress, she flips out even more.

While all this is going on, Olivia starts worrying that she won't fit in with his new life. Jessica, being the manipulative witch that she is, decides that this is the perfect time for her to snag Roger for herself. Though she never had any interest in him, she suddenly decides that she must win him over so she can be his date to some big party. She and Marie basically work out an agreement that Olivia will be history within a few weeks.

Since she's a high school girl, she really can't do much damage, right? She makes Olivia take *gasp* two plates of food at a Patman party, which leads to Bruce making rude jokes about her being a fat ass. She then suggests that she and Bruce play doubles with Olivia and Roger. Jessica pretends like she hasn't played in a long time, but then she makes Olivia look like a moron on the courts. She also insults the dress that Olivia wanted to wear to the party and makes her feel like an idiot for even attempting to wear it.

While all this is going on, Todd has his eye on Regina. He keeps seeing her sneaking out of school early and convinces Elizabeth that they need to follow her. They see her sneaking away with an older man, which Lila sees too. Lila then spreads rumors that Regina is having an affair with an older man.

It actually turns out that he's some huge modeling agent. He was in charge of a modeling contest, saw Regina on the street, and awarded her the top prize. Lila tries to steal her thunder, which leads to the guy telling her that she's basically pretty girl pretty and not model pretty. Her win lands her on the cover of the magazine, so everyone loves her again.

Jessica uses her manipulative side to convince Roger that Olivia is no longer right for him and that she doesn't like him anymore, and she convinces Olivia to just give up on him. She then arranges to be Roger's date for the dance. Liz, worrying about her friend, goes to Olivia and finds out what happened. Roger overhears his aunt on the phone with the bitchy lady and talking about how Jessica manipulated him this whole time. He goes to Liz, who naturally agrees to help.

Roger and Liz basically tell Jessica that they know what she did without actually telling her. They point out that she's been so helpful lately that she'll obviously want to help Roger and Olivia get back together. Liz takes him over to her house, they apologize for being stupid, and make up. They go to the dance together, and Jessica calls Neil Freemont for a date at the last minute. Oh, and Roger stands up to his aunt for once.

*The Neil thing is funny. Jessica's been "seeing" him for awhile, but she points out that she really only sees him when she has nothing better to do. Ned gets a little excited when he sees the same guy coming around, and Jessica basically tells him to chill out. It's like he knows his daughter is a whore and does nothing about it.

*Olivia's dress really isn't appropriate. It's some kind of cotton material with little white flowers on it. Liz says she looks like a goddess in it, but Jessica thinks it would make a better beach cover up. I have to agree with Jess. It doesn't sound like a fancy party dress.

*Bruce wears a Speedo! Strangely enough, George and Todd are way too interested in it and pointing out that he's in it.

*I don't know about you, but if my boyfriend was watching some hot girl so closely that he knows when she goes and where she goes, I'd be worried. Liz just thinks it's sweet that Todd is so concerned about one of her friends.

*You have to love the modeling contest too. It's apparently been advertised in the magazine and made to be a huge deal in town. Lane, the agent, then sees Regina on the street and just chooses her as the winner. I'd imagine that the girls submitting their portfolios weren't too happy.

*Hank takes Roger shopping to pick out some new clothes and sports equipment in this book. You'd think that maybe he would have done that a little sooner?

*The Patmans are kind of evil. Apparently Roger's mom and dad had an affair, they broke up, and she raised him to believe another guy was his dad. His real dad later died in an accident, but this book makes it clear that he always knew he had a son and made him his sole heir. So, why didn't the Patmans or their lawyer do something before his mom ended up on her death bed?

*Hehe, I loved when Lila went to see the agent and he told her she wasn't model worthy. It's nice to see these girls get knocked down every now and then.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #62: Sarah's Dad and Sophia's Mom

The twins' art teacher announces a new project for the class. They need a new mural for the library. He asks for suggestions as to a mural theme, Elizabeth brings up recycling, and everyone agrees to use it. It's super confusing though. The teacher puts them in groups of three and asks them to come up with an idea, but then everyone creates their own murals. Are they planning on putting all the murals together at the end?

Anyway, Liz gets put on a team with Sophia Rizzo and Sarah Thomas. Sarah is kind of a cry baby, and Sophia is kind of bitchy, so they naturally don't get along. They decide to make a mural that shows goofy drawings of their classmates. During their first painting session, they get into a fight and start throwing paint at each other. They accidentally hit one of their teachers with paint and have to come in for a meeting with their parents.

Both Sophia's mom and Sarah's dad blame their own kids for what happened. During their meeting, Mrs. Rizzo suddenly can't speak English well enough to keep up with the conversation, but no worries because Mr. Thomas is fluent in Italian. He then suggests that they take the kids to a baseball game. They have so much fun at the game that Mrs. Rizzo suggests they go to the lake for lunch the following day.

Both girls are so upset at the idea of spending time together that they ask Liz to come with them. They end up being really nasty with each other and it ticks everyone else off. Sarah complains that Sophia broke her toe when she dropped a grill on her foot even though it landed nowhere near her foot, and Sophia doesn't like the way Sarah looks at her. Everyone else works together to throw Sarah in the water after she complains again, and because Sophia makes fun of her, they toss her in too.

Sophia's mom comes over to pick her up from a meeting at Sarah's house. She finds out that Mr. Thomas creates kites in his spare time, which causes her to talk about the kite she had as a kid. This is the final straw for their kids. They decide to work together to break them up. They try a few things before Sarah shows up with pictures of her dad and his ex-girlfriend Annie, you know, the same woman who almost killed her. They send the pictures to Mrs. Rizzo with a note on the back to stay away from "her man."

Once they break up, both parents become completely miserable. Sarah finds out that her dad was building his girlfriend a kite just like the one she had as a kid, and Sophia sees how unhappy her mom is all the time. They work together to get their parents back together. Sophia takes her mom to the lake, they see Mr. Thomas flying the finished kite, and she runs directly into his arms. Aww.

Then we have Jessica. Tired of people talking about how no one famous ever came from Sweet Valley or something, she tells them that her cousin is Quake Field Wakefield, a famous baseball player. When her art group pushes her to get him to model for their project, she makes up a story about how their sides of the family never talk because his great-great-great-great grandfather or something stole her great-great-great-great grandmother.

Ken ends up writing to Quake Field and creating a petition that almost the whole schools signs. Quake Field then takes out a full ad in the local paper to explain that his last name isn't even Wakefield. He changed it when he became famous. Alice figures out that they actually do share a relative and that they really are cousins. He comes to Sweet Valley and poses for their mural in the end.

*Yeah, so Ned literally just calls the clubhouse and asks for Quake Field, explaining that he wants to tell him about the article in the paper. And they get him on the phone!

*Since I just read Poor Lila, I think it's funny that the "troublemakers" in Sweet Valley both have older brothers named Tony. First Melissa McCormick and now Sophia Rizzo.

*Sophia has a dream that their parents get married. Tony suddenly dresses all fancy, her mom wears ballgowns, and Tony calls Sarah his favorite little sister. Mr. Thomas buys him everything he wants and gives her a coupon for a free tattoo.

*Sarah has a similar dream, but in hers, Tony is a low life thug. Sophia and her mom wear gold lame outfits and have stolen stuff all over the house, including a stolen poodle.

*Mrs. Rizzo has a full-time job and occasionally has to work late. That must be hard given that she can barely speak English. Seriously, how does she communicate with her own kids? Sophia even says that neither her nor her brother can speak Italian. Plus, isn't she supposed to work from home and make quilts and stuff that Alice sells?

*Sarah comes across as a huge baby in this book, which is funny because that's how Jessica refers to her. She fake cries to get her dad to pay attention to her, and when he doesn't, she just stands in the room and says, "boo hoo" a few times really loudly.

*The whole Mr. Thomas/Mrs. Rizzo thing is just kind of stupid. She's a poor woman from the wrong side of the tracks who loves decorating her home and cooking. Mr. Thomas works all the time and comes across as a huge yuppie.

*I also get the same vibe from Mr. Thomas as I do Mr. Fowler. If you have so little time to spend with your only daughter that you need to hire a housekeeper/cook so she isn't alone every day, you really shouldn't spend your free time dating. Try spending some more time with your kid!