Wow! It's been awhile since I did one of the earlier books. I estimate that I probably read this one 30 to 40 times when I was a kid!
Stacey is in NYC and thinking about how hard it is to be the daughter of a divorced couple. Yes, because her dad takes her to shows, restaurants, and fancy stores every time she visits. He even takes her to some expensive store and tells her to pick out anything she wants. Though she thinks about taking him up on his offer and getting a purple suede jacket with fringe, she chickens out and gets sunglasses instead.
At the next BSC meeting, she can't wait to tell them how she saw some teen star on the street. Before she can though, they want to talk about the big mansion in town getting torn down. The historical society plans to save a bunch of architectural elements before it goes down. Dr. Johanssen then calls with a unique offer. Her father (father in law?) is sick, they need to go stay with him while he has an operation, and they need someone to watch Charlotte. Jessi can't do it because they're going out of town, so Stacey gets the job.
She's so excited about having her “little sister” stay with them that she goes overboard getting the house ready. Stacey decorates their spare room with Raggedy Ann sheets and some of Charlotte's books. Charlotte is less than pleased though. She immediately starts crying, begs her parents not go, and spends the night moping or crying over being alone. Though Maureen made Charlotte's favorite dinner, she can't eat and asks to go to bed early.
To cheer her up, Stacey takes her to the old mansion. Even though everyone already left for the day, Stacey swears that she sees a face in one of the windows. They also hear creepy moaning sounds coming from the house, and Stacey sees a swarm of bees like in The Amityville Horror.. At the BSC meeting, which Charlotte goes to, they tell them all about what they saw. Mallory tells the group that she once picked flowers from the yard and had terrible nightmares that night. This is clear proof the house is haunted, so they agree to investigate.
While sitting for her family, Kristy gets a little creeped out after Karen goes off on one of her tangents about ghostly Ben. After the kids go to sleep, she goes through some old books that Watson just bought at an auction. Though she doesn't find much, she does discover that a large portion of the town sits on top of an old cemetery. The house is apparently right in the center of that cemetery.
Charlotte starts whining about not feeling good, which Stacey blows off as her missing her parents. When she wakes up one day though, the poor kid has a massive fever. Stacey makes an appointment with Charlotte's doctor. She has tonsillitis for the 900th time. While she'll need to get her tonsils out at some point, the doctor is “nice enough” to recommend that she take antibiotics until her parents get back. Charlotte winds up missing a few days of school to recover.
Claudia gets in on the action while sitting for the Perkins' girls. As they sit in story time, she does some research of her own and finds out that the owner of the house is a man named Ronald Hennessy. When she asks her mom how to find out if someone still lives in town, she feels dumb when her mom tells her to check that phone book. That's how she learns that Hennessy lives in a nearby retirement home. I'm not sure those homes would have listed phone numbers for each room but whatevs.
When Charlotte gets a little better, they go back to look at the house again. This time, they see a fire break out. Stacey grabs some water but the fire is gone and there is no sign that one occurred. Claudia then tells the BSC that she stopped by the house and felt someone touch her arm when no one was there. That leads them to see out Hennessy at the retirement home.
Though he's pretty old and a little scary, he perks up when they tell him about their experiences. Hennessy tells them that the house was always haunted. There was a guy they called Old Rubbernose because after a horse bit off his nose, the doctor made him one from rubber. Another ghost was a beautiful young woman who only came out when his uncle was in town. His stories leave them convinced that it's actually haunted.
On the day the house comes down, Stacey and Charlotte just can't stay away. Stacey watches in shock as fire comes shooting out of one of the windows and a man screams for help. She looks around to realize that no one else saw anything and looks back to see the man gone. After leaving Charlotte with Claudia, she rushes to the retirement home and asks to see Hennessy. The nurse tells her that he sadly passed away the night before but left her a note. The note says that he made the whole thing up to have some fun before he died and that there never was any haunting.
Stacey goes back to the house and finally finds out why some of the strange stuff happened from stories Charlie told Kristy. The first fire she saw and the man's face were actually from a construction worker staying late to cut out some plumbing fixtures with a pipe, and the bees were actually wasps that went wild when workers accidentally disrupted their hive. And the weird moaning sounds were the pipes. Not really a mystery in the traditional sense, but what are you gonna do?
*I love how Stacey makes comments about how she has to go right home after school to watch Charlotte or how she takes her to a BSC meeting because her mom can't watch her. What the hell is Maureen doing? Is she seriously going “job hunting” between the hours of three and five every day? Can't she do that while the girls are in school?
*I really thought that Charlotte being sick would mimic the book where Stacey was in the hospital and it would turn out that she just wanted to be with her parents.
*Maureen doesn't even freaking take Charlotte to the doctor! Stacey is the one who sits with her and talks with the doctor. I understand that the parents are paying her, but come on! Would you rather have an adult mother or a 13 year old girl taking your kid to the doctor?
*Claudia laughs and says the librarian must be new because she asks for the Perkins girls' names and if she wasn't new, she would know them already. Yes Claudia, because librarians know the names of ALL kids who check out books.
*Dawn and Mallory sit at the Pike house during one of their infamous smorgasbords. Dawn gets grossed out because the kids eat stuff like cold Spaghetti-Os, bologna and peanut butter sandwiches, or bologna and jelly sandwiches. I'm more grossed out at her eating old carrots, some plain yogurt, and wheat germ.
*The Pike kids go so crazy that the girls convince them to put on a play based on the Wizard of Oz. The kids get super excited because they just saw it. Karen is also in love with the movie because she just saw it for the first time. Some of these kids seem a little old to have never seen it before.
*Claudia figures out all on her own that she can find the owner of the house by looking at old tax records. Funny, but I didn't learn how to do that until my senior year of college while taking a historic preservation class.
*Stacey wears a white jumpsuit with a blue patent leather belt, blue tank top, white slouch socks with blue hearts, and a funky necklace. I refuse to use the term push down socks. They're slouch socks, dammit!
*She later changes up the same jumpsuit with the addition of red socks and a pink tank top.
*Stacey gets really upset that Charlotte is unhappy because she imagined them having of so much fun together. It's realistic but annoying.
*While at the doctor's office and flipping through Highlights, Stacey gets embarrassed because a super cute guy who looks like a younger version of lifeguard Scott comes in with his little brother. Have the parents in this town just given up on caring for their own kids?
*Last Stacey outfit: pink skirt with polka dots and straps, white shirt, and pink shoes folded down to show the stripes inside. Those totally sound like Converse! I was obsessed with Converse for like 10 years and ended up having somewhere around 12 to 15 pairs. Sadly, ever since Nike took over the company, I can't wear the shoes anymore. The last pair I bought literally rubbed off a two inch strip of skin from my toe :(
*The book mentioned multiple times the towers on the front of the house. The house on the cover clearly has no towers.
*Does anyone know why this book went from being Stacey and the New Kid on the Block to Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook? One of my fellow bloggers had a link to a site with an explanation but the page is no longer active. The book that came before this one originally advertised the next book as being the New Kid one, which got me so excited because I was a major NKOTB fan back in the day. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm still a major NKOTB fan!