Friday, August 12, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #124: Stacey McGill...Matchmaker?

Before a BSC meeting starts, Claudia gets a call from a brand new client. Mr. Brooke just moved to town with his kids and heard from Mrs. Pike about their club. Since she's the only one free, Stacey takes the job. It turns out that he's a best selling author of mystery novels and needs someone to watch the kids while he can work before his next deadline. Both his kids, Joni and Ewan, are adorable and sweet.

Joni explains that their mom was a former model who got a job hosting a news program in Atlanta. Stacey asks if they plan on moving with her later, and Joni gets a little sad because their parents divorced. Though she feels bad, that doesn't stop her from gossiping with the club. Mallory reveals through her mom that Mrs. Brooke stopped working as a model to raise her kids and then left her husband so she could focus on her own career. And this is why some people should never have kids.

When Maureen comes by to pick up Stacey, sparks fly between her and Mr. Brooke. He even asks her out on a date, which makes Stacey almost wet herself because her mom hasn't had a single date since the divorce. As happy as she is though, Joni is far from happy. She starts snapping about how her dad has a deadline and how he'll never get his work done if he keeps slacking off. Joni sounds just like an adult, which makes Stacey realize that Joni is just repeating stuff her mom said to him.

Maureen and John, as everyone now calls him, go to a show. He wrote a play that a local theater group produced. Kristy sits for the kids and has to listen to Joni bitch and moan about her dad going out with Maureen and how her own mom is so much prettier. Stacey gets home late from spending some time with her dad and notices that her mom isn't home. Maureen comes home after midnight but doesn't seem as happy as she should.

After finally telling him how his kids and especially Joni ask, John finally decides to sit down and talk with them. It turns out that his wife basically waved and took off. She has no interest in raising her kids or even being around them because she's pretty much a weather girl now. He didn't think they could really understand it before but now thinks he should talk to them. Though they learn the truth, nothing changes.

John thinks the key to their happiness is a family dinner out together. Joni acts like a huge brat. She complains about the food, takes potshots at Maureen, and just makes ti clear that she doesn't want to be there. When he reprimands her, she runs away from the table and pouts in the lobby. Stacey is the one who goes after her and convinces her to come back to the table.

Maureen decides to talk with Stacey about how she isn't really happy. She points out that he's sometimes rude to his kids and how he didn't handle what happened at dinner very well. Even though Stacey thought he should have went after his kid, she thinks he's still perfect for her mom because he once called her luminous. Maureen also doesn't like the themes that she sees in his book. He seems to think that people only look out for themselves, but she believes most people are inherently good. Eh, I think I probably side a little more with him.

Since none of them have plans for Thanksgiving, John suggests they all eat together. Maureen hesitates before agreeing. He shows up with a bunch of fruit, cold shrimp, crackers, and cheese as well as dessert. Joni refuses to eat any of the food they made and will only eat the crap her dad bought. She even claims she's now a vegetarian and can't eat the turkey. When she whines and complains about the classic music playing, John gets so angry that it even upsets Stacey. Joni rushes off, but Stacey finds her and calms her down enough that the little girl agrees to come down for dinner.

This is kind of the breaking point for Maureen. She can't handle the way he treats his kids, she thinks that he's selfish, and she isn't happy that he didn't other to help clean up or do the dishes, which makes him a chauvinist. Stacey tries to point out his good sides, they have a fight, and she winds up storming off and slamming her door shut before spending the weekend with her dad. Ethan tries to tell her that maybe her mom just isn't ready to date yet and points out that not all people get over a divorce really fast.

Claudia shows up to sit for the kids because of a date Maureen and John had. John makes up an excuse for why they didn't go out but asks her to stay so he can write. The kids get all excited because they think if a sitter is there, it means that he went out on a date. It turns out that they now like Maureen and that Joni was actually looking forward to seeing more of them. Stacey comes back, makes up with her mom, and then takes the kids some gifts. She tells them they can be honorary siblings even if their parents aren't together anymore.

In other news, Mallory wants to leave SMS. Remember when she did that school project thing and all the kids made fun of her for being their English teacher? They keep calling her Spaz Girl and being super mean to her. Alan even knocks all her books out of her arms in the middle of the hallway. She admits to Stacey that she wants to leave and even looked into going to Stoneybrook Day Academy. When she learns the school doesn't offer scholarships, her parents take her to look at Riverbend, a boarding school in Massachusetts.

*Kristy tells Claudia not to answer the phone when Mr. Brooke originally calls because it's outside of their hours, and Claudia has to point out that it's her phone and might be call for her. Kristy does realize the world doesn't revolve around the BSC, right?

*I get that Joni is young but she should really get what's going on. She says that she wrote her mom a letter, and when Claudia asks why she didn't just call her mom, Joni says her mom is way too busy with her career to talk to her on the phone. Yet she somehow thinks her mom will still rush to Stoneybrook and get back together with their dad.

*Mary Anne asks if they have money in the budget to start a movie club. Dawn and her friends go to the movies once a week and then talk about the movie. Um, don't most groups of friends do that, and do they really need to take money out of the treasury for that?

*They decide to do a book club instead. Stacey and her mom have their own book club and are in the middle of reading Pride and Prejudice. I would have hated that book in eighth and am pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten it back then either.

*At one point, Abby sits for the kids. Joni decides that if her dad can't get his work done during the day, he won't be able to do work at night and won't be able to go out on dates. She blares loud music, deletes an entire book chapter he wrote, and then throws his computer mouse in a tree. Maureen isn't happy that John laughed that stuff off but then isn't happy when he grounds her. What the heck does she want?

*It's nice to see Stacey dressed like a normal kid on the cover. The outfit Maureen wears looks like something Stacey might wear in another book!

*Mary Anne comments that her dad dated a lot in the past and that she never knew if his girlfriends were nice because they liked her or because she was his daughter. I always figured Richard never dated anyone until Sharon came back.

*Mallory hates school so much and is so unhappy that she has stomach cramps every morning. The Pikes are more willing to send her away to school then talk with SMS administrators, which is just sad.

*Ann's letter at the end is kind of ridiculous. She talks about how you should always keep a cool head when sitting and points out how Stacey avoided an emergency by immediately going to find Joni when she ran off. It's not like the kid ran out in the middle of the street!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Baby-Sitter Club Super Special #11: The Baby-Sitters Remember

During a slumber party at Kristy's house, the girls start whining about school coming up and how they'll have to write an essay on what they did that summer. They keep coming up with ideas on what they could write about that actually sounds like fun. Jessi suggests writing about their most vivid memory, which gets everyone excited to start writing.

Kristy remembers being 10 and how the sitter her mom hired was a loser. She would constantly call in the morning to say she couldn't make it that night, so her mom would have to ask Mrs. Pike to pick up David Michael and scurry to make everything work. One day, when neither Charlie nor Sam could sit, she agreed to let Kristy do it. Kristy ran home early, made him a snack, made sure he went to the bathroom, and even forbade Mary Anne from coming over. She did such a good job that her mom fired the housekeeper and gave the kids more duties to do around the house.

Jessi remembers when they still lived in Jersey and her mom was pregnant with Squirt. Since they had no extra room, they moved Becca in with Jessi and gave Becca's room to the new baby. When her mom went into labor early, Cecilia showed up to help get everything ready. Squirt wound up having colic and screamed all the time. She and Becca kept wishing they didn't have a little brother. While he was screaming one night, Jessi went in, held him, and sang to him. It turned out to be the only thing that stopped him from screaming and made her realize that she actually liked having a little brother.

Stacey recalls the week she started school and how she couldn't wait to make all these big changes. A new girl, Allison, shows up at the school at the same time that one member of their clique leaves. Laine isn't too happy when Stacey starts spending time with Allison and even asks her to a slumber party. At the same time, Stacey keeps eating and drinking all the time. She keeps growing taller but keeps losing weight too. Aw, poor baby. At the party, she eats more pizza than anyone else and drinks a ton of soda. Laine wakes her up in the middle of the night freaking out over the bed they shared because Stacey wet the bed. Her mom picks her up, and her parents decide she should see a psychiatrist. The doctor realizes that she has diabetes, recommends a doctor, and she finally gets treated. Allison though spreads the story of the party to everyone in school, Stacey becomes a loser, and she misses a ton of school. Her parents finally sit her down to tell her about her dad's new job in Stoneybrook, and she can't wait to move.

Claudia gets my least favorite story. When she was six and in the same class as Mary Anne and Kristy, their art teacher told them to make a self portrait of themselves. Claudia drew a huge butterfly and used almost all the crayons in her box. The teacher then yelled at her for not doing the same thing as everyone else, which was draw a picture of themselves. She ran home crying, Mimi heard, and freaked out. Mimi went back to the school and pretty much yelled at the teacher that only Claudia got the assignment right because she actually drew a picture of how she sees herself.

Logan has my second least favorite story. He remembers making the move from Louisville to Stoneybrook and how his parents decided to drive instead of fly. He met Stacey but couldn't remember if her name was Stacey or Tracey and fell head over heels in love the first time he saw Mary Anne. He then tells the same story we already read about sitting for Jackie but tells Mary Anne in the end that he'll love her forever.

Mallory was obsessed with this YA author Amelia Moody. Mary Anne suggested she write the author a letter, and she got one back that had a written note that she would be nearby signing books soon. After worrying about what to give her, she decided to bring her a bouquet of flowers. She would up completely freaking out in line though and almost losing it, so her mom had to talk to the author for her.

Dawn is back in California when her parents were still married. Her dad started coming home late all the time or not at all, her parents constantly fought, and her mom even started sleeping on the pull out couch. They finally sat them down and told them they were getting a divorce, and her mom later announced their big move. Dawn then reminisces about when she met Mary Anne and the friendships she had in the club.

Shannon remembers the beginning of eighth grade and meeting this chick Sally White. Sally pretty much ignored everyone in her group for one specific girl, dropped her, went after another girl, dropped her, and kept the cycle going. She's the rich daughter of some actress with a thoroughbred horse, a big house, and access to awards shows and hot parties though, so everyone just goes with it. She picks Shannon next, but when Shannon blows her off to prepare for a test, Sally drops her for someone else. Shannon says the experience made her distrust new people, which is why she was so mean to Kristy originally.

Mary Anne has a memory of Mrs. Tate, a woman from the agency her dad hired to watch her when he went out of town on business for the weekend. She's so unhappy that her dad agrees to let Claudia and Kristy sleep over. Mrs. Tate scolds her for trying to eat a brownie on the same day she wants to get pizza, which makes me wonder what she would think of my Dominos order or pizza and a brookie! Kristy decides to get back at the old lady for being so mean to her friend. She coats her salad with black pepper, but the woman just makes a new salad. She then nails her slippers to the floor, but the woman just laughs and pries them up. They then put a scary monster mask in the refrigerator and wind up playing pranks on each other all night. Mrs. Tate gets them back the next day by making breakfast, which turns out to be vegetable peelings, old socks, and gross stuff.

*Jessi mentions multiple times in this book plus in others how her neighborhood was so friendly and how everyone looked out for each other. But, when her mom went into labor early, NO ONE offered to help. Not a single person was like, hey let me cook you guys dinner or hey, why don't you let my family paint the nursery. Yup, they were super friendly though!

*Stacey planned on trying out for the soccer team before she got sick. Given that she doesn't even seem to know what a ball is later, that doesn't seem too realistic.

*Stacey says that only Laine is nice to her and only because her mom made her be nice. Too bad Laine's mom wasn't around in the later books!

*I think Mimi gave Claudia a little too much credit. Never once did she say that was how she saw herself. It came across more like she just wanted to use all her crayons.

*Logan's parents took the weirdest route to Connecticut. They went from Kentucky to Ohio, down to West Virginia, up to Pennsylvania, and then over through several states before getting to New York. As someone who once lived in Louisville and now lives in Ohio, there's a much easier route to take.

*He spent most of the trip coloring in one of Hunter's books until his brother ripped one from his hand because he was using up all the pages LOL.

*Mary Anne once wrote to Louisa May Alcott and got a letter back from the publisher that the author was dead. She was all embarrassed, but it seems like something she probably should have known already.

*Mallory is disappointed that it took four weeks to get a response. Tell me about it. My soon to be 36 year old self is still waiting for Christian Slater to write my 11 year old self back.

*Ooh, but I did get a letter from Tom Cruise! I wrote to him when I was a kid about how I was in love with him and how we were soul mates but that if he didn't want to wait for me, he should marry Nicole Kidman instead. I got a form letter and a signed picture back in the mail!

*I'm almost certain that Dawn's dad cheated. He's coming home in the middle of the night, and at one point, doesn't come home until they next morning. She says he was just out with his friends but come on!

*Dawn's mom also calls him a liar and tells him she won't stand for a liar in her house, which makes him just act super rude and then leave again. He totally had an affair.

*There's also a scene where her mom suggests they go out to the movies just the two of them, which makes it seems like she's at least trying to make an effort. He just blows her off because he would rather go out with his friends that night.

*I think it's shitty that her mom decided to move back to Stoneybrook, which somehow means that her dad got to keep their house. Why wouldn't they sell it and split the money? What does a single guy need a house with three bedrooms for?

*Shannon's test is an astronomy test that she has to take to join the astronomy club. The science teacher asks her to join, and then several days later asks if she's ready ready to take the test. When she's confused, he laughs it off as oh no, that was just an invitation to take the test. WTF, man?

*She also takes some crazy classes for an eighth grader, including philosophy and psychology. I didn't take my first psychology class until high school and didn't touch philosophy until college.

*One of Mary Anne's sitters always smelled like Ivory soap and apparently used so much that when they baked cookies together, all the cookies tasted like soap. WTH, was she rolling around in the dough or what?

*Mary Anne's dad won't ask her friends' parents to let her stay with them for a weekend because he doesn't want to impose. I can't imagine Mimi or Elizabeth telling him no or even seeing it as an imposition.

*Are these really vivid memories though? When I think of a vivid memory in my mind, I think of one specific moment like the night I met my boyfriend. These girls have memories that last for days or even weeks.

*One of my cats had an unfortunate “accident” and barfed on my copy. I managed to get it cleaned off, but a bunch of the gold peeled off. So sad.

*Shannon has a completely different assignment but uses their talk as inspiration. The funny thing though is that she's in a creative writing class and writes an essay about the whole Sally thing. All my creative writing classes required fictional stories.

*Jessi mentions that her mom lost two babies in between Becca and Squirt. She kind of glosses over it, but that seems pretty heavy for a BSC book.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #90: Welcome to the BSC, Abby

Abby is fairly happy living in Stoneybrook. Her mom is a little less than happy though because the twins won't unpack their boxes. After stubbing her toe on one, she tells them that they must absolutely finish unpacking right away. They find some tin pans that she once used for desserts when she was a culinary expert that they put around the top of the cabinets in the kitchen. They then find a box filled with stuff of their dad's and not knowing what to do with it, decide to hide it away in the attic.

While heading to a sitting job for the Papadakis family, she starts suffering from allergies. It gets so bad by the time she gets to their house that she suggests they play outside to get some relief from the animals. Mold on tree leaves causes her to have an allergy attack. Hannie runs to get help and runs right in front of a car, which causes Abby to have a full on asthma attack. Though she gets her inhaler, she still can't breathe. Kristy, who Hannie ran and got, watches over the kids while an ambulance takes her to the hospital.

The doctor gives her some medicine and she's basically fine. Anna comes to sit with her until their mom can get in from the city. The doctor even tells her that she's fine to go back to school the next day. Kristy doesn't feel nearly as confident. She keeps pestering Abby about how often she has attacks and what she would do if one happened again while she was sitting for a baby and no one else was around to help. Kristy even stops her from taking sitting jobs.

SMS is in danger of losing all its art programs because of a lack of funding. The school board decided to hold a big carnival and let people set up to raise money for the school. Watson even rents real carnival rides and hires ride operators. Kristy decides that the BSC should have a booth of their own. They make buttons from music pictures that they sell for $1. Some buttons have a star on the back that awards free hours of babysitting, which I'm sure the parents of middle school kids will appreciate.

Abby thinks her family should have their own booth. Neither Anna nor her mom really care, so she takes over all the planning. She makes a cake shaped like a piano, puts ballet slippers on a plain cake, and sells slices. She also makes cupcakes and lets kids and their parents decorate the cupcakes on their own. The first day goes fairly well.

On the second day, Anna and Shannon actually show up to help run the booth. While checking out other booths, she hears about a train derailment, which is the same train her mom was taking. Kristy's mom drives them to the train station, someone leaves a note on their front door in case their mom goes home, and they try to find out what happened. Sadly, they get no news.

Abby and Anna go back to the carnival to shut down their booth when their mom shows up. She was on the train behind the first one and got stuck in the tunnel. Since she forgot her cell phone at home, she couldn't contact anyone. Instead of shutting down and going home, she says they should stay and finish out the day with her help.

When they get home, the twins show her the box of their dad's stuff. She completely forgot that she put all that stuff away. She gives Anna her dad's harmonica, gives Abby his favorite watch, and decides to put some other stuff on display around the house like hanging his bathrobe on the bedroom door. He even had his tickets to Woodstock, which she decides to frame and hang on the wall. Oh and seeing the way she handled the thing with her mom makes Kristy realize that Abby can handle sitting and puts her back in the rotation again.

*I love that their mom complains about their boxes and how she unpacked her weeks ago, but then they find a bunch of her cooking stuff and their dad's stuff that she basically hid away from them.

*Her getting sick in their house makes no sense. She isn't allergic to their turtle, says she's fine around poodles, and as other books told us, she's allergic to kitty litter and not actually cats.

*When Jessi makes a comment about how dance is just as important as sports, Abby kind of rolls her eyes. What, because middle school soccer is so important and such a big money maker? Hell, in my high school, most soccer games had like 50 people show up to watch.

*Their mom says that their dad went to the first Woodstock, which made me check the date to see if this came out after Woodstock '99, which it totally didn't. Not sure what she's talking about then.

*For someone super into the arts, Anna doesn't really seem to give a shit that if they lose their funding, she won't have music classes or band anymore.

*Kristy kind of has a good point though. If Abby had a serious asthma attack while sitting for a baby or toddler and couldn't get to her inhaler, something bad could happen.

*By the way, if she has such bad attacks because of mold on the leaves or whatever, how the hell does she handle all these soccer practices and playing outside?

*Mrs. Stevenson moving her kids to Stoneybrook really makes no sense. I know that I've said it before, but why would you move somewhere that requires you take a 2+ hour commute back and forth every day? For what she paid for a mansion in Stoneybrook, I'm sure she could get a place closer to NYC.

*Why the hell would Abby wear that outfit on a sitting job? Not to mention the fact that she doesn't really seem like a velvet dress kind of gal.

*The Pike family makes a booth to sell arts and crafts that people donate. During a sitting job, Claudia helps them decorate the booth to look like a carousel and Claire pitches a fit because she can't ride cardboard horses.

*Claudia says it's a classic booth with three sides and a door on one side so people can enter and exit. If it has a massive open side, why the hell does it need its own door? And also, how much money are people wasting to build these booths? You'd think they'd just set up tables like every rummage sale and flea market in the world does.

*Kristy literally stops the meeting to say she has an idea, Abby asks what it is, and Claudia just smiles as she says that she'll find out. OMG, it's so annoying and unnecessary! Kristy's brilliant idea, which occurs five seconds later, is that they should have their own booth like no one else could come up with that idea.

*Some kids set up a booth with Elvira the goat. They sell goat shaped cookies and charge a fee for people to have their pictures taken with the goat. It's just a goat.