Friday, December 30, 2016

The Babysitters Club Super Mysteries #1: Baby-Sitters' Haunted House

So, the super mystery books came out way after I stopped reading these books. This is the first time I ever read one, and it ticked me off a lot!

It's summer for the 700th time, and it conveniently falls in between Dawn moving back to California and Abby joining. Stacey is also out because of her whole thing with the bad girls, so Shannon fills in sometimes. When the book starts, Kristy has just demanded that everyone skip out vacations so they can work as much as possible. Claudia also learned that she failed English class, but her teacher was nice enough to let her do one last paper over the summer to make up for it.

They get a call from Lisa, Karen and Andrew's mom. Seth's, her husband's, assistant got hurt and they need someone to watch the kids. Their schedules are so full that only Claudia can take the job. Lisa calls a few days later with an even bigger job. Her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Menders, recently inherited a house in Maine. They and their four kids are heading to check it out and decide whether to live there. Since they want to open a health food store and need some help, Lisa and Seth go too. They need someone to watch Karen, Andrew, and the Menders' kids.

Kristy automatically assumes that she should get the job since they're her siblings. Everyone else doesn't agree because she's the one who demanded they work. Tons of people want to go, so they decide to ask their parents for permission and decide the next day. Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Kristy all get permission. Dawn wants to help them open the store, Mary Anne wants to see all the historic sites, and Kristy thinks she should still go anyway. Lisa hears the story and invites them all to come without pay. Nice, right?

After a long drive in which Mary Anne puts everyone to sleep reading from travel guides, they get to this big ass mansion and meet the family. Lionel is 14 and obsessed with everything California and wanting to be an actor. Jason is quite and standoffish. Jill is around 11 and wants to be just like Dawn. There's also Martha who is basically Mary Anne at nine. They also meet the Coopers, who are the caretakers. Mrs. Cooper has chronic laryngitis and can't talk, but they seem fine.

Naturally, a bunch of random and weird things happen. The uncle who passed away and left them the mansion also left behind a black cat that bursts out of nowhere. Dawn hears a screeching noise in the hallway late one night. They also see candles flickering in the windows. The girls then meet Georgio, the grandson of the old caretakers. He wears all black and is pretty much a goth kid, but they can't decide whether to trust him or not.

Dawn and Claudia find orange candle wax splattered across the hallway and catch Lionel watching them. While coming back one night, they see someone walking across the fourth floor. Mr. Cooper says that it's impossible because no one can get up there. They also catch Lionel and find out that he was the one with the candle. He swears that he wasn't upstairs though. To make matters worse, Georgio warns them to stay away from that floor.

That makes it odd when he shows up the next day and asks Claudia for help. Since she's “so artistic,” he suggests that she help him decide on the layout for some rose bushes. They bond a little when she tells him that the kids want to participate in a parade for the town's anniversary, and he seems disappointed when he learns she's leaving soon. Complicating matters is the fact that Georgio is much older. Not only does he have his license, but he's in college, eek.

Mary Anne checks out the historical society and finds plans for the house. The woman in charge tells her that another woman was there recently and had an accent. She finds that there is a dumbwaiter in the house that they never noticed before. The girls go to a fair in town and spend the whole time following around women who speak with an accent but find nothing. They do uncover the dumbwaiter and find something inside. Dawn climbs in and discovers that the pulleys make the noise she heard and finds a tape recorder inside of a woman screaming, which explains another odd noise they heard.

The Coopers show up unexpectedly, leaving Dawn trapped inside. She conveniently overhears Mrs. Cooper talking with a Scottish accent. Claudia gets the chance to meet the old caretakers, but Georgio keeps changing the subject every time she brings up the fourth floor, which makes her suspect him. The kids finally get inside but only find a missing dress and a bunch of antiques. They also learn that before the uncle died, he kept talking about a treasure in the attic.

One night, Mr. Menders casually mentions that if they turn down the house, his cousin gets it. They only get if they live there full time, which he never thought to mention before. Also, his cousin moved to Scotland. Mary Anne winds up seeing Mrs. Cooper running away from the historical society.

They wind up stuck in the house with the Coopers during a massive storm. Claudia thinks Mrs. Cooper poisoned the kids hot chocolate and flips out. Nothing happens at all. The next day, they finally tell the adults what happened. They search their rooms and find a list they left behind of all the things they planned to do to screw with them. The Menders then go to the police.

Since the mystery is over, the girls all head to the parade and then the fair following. Georgio invites Claudia to spend Homecoming weekend with him and tells her how much he likes her. Mary Anne thinks that she sees the Coopers, which is impossible because they apparently hopped on a plane and took off. They pretty much just get over the whole thing that same day.

Back in Stoneybrook, Jessi and Mallory are left with the club. Shannon and Logan can barely make any meetings. They wind up so overloaded that they consider asking Stacey for help and actually give Janine a job. Things get so bad that they wind up turning jobs down. Mrs. Pike is particularly upset over this. They also forget to turn on the answering machine and miss out on some other jobs.

Becca is ticked because Jessi promised to give her roller blading lessons but has no time. Their clients are ticked because no one can sit for them. Eventually, people just stop calling. They flip out and think they ruined everything. After making some calls though, they find out that their regulars just have plans. They get a bunch of kids together to walk in the Celebrate America parade and have a great time. Mallory even convinces Sam to ride in front on his unicycle and films him so Kristy can see later. Huh, Sam just gets better and better.

In the end, we get a bunch of letters. Claudia confesses to Georgio that she's only 13. Andrew and Kristy write to let the Menders know that a boat he found on the fourth floor has treasure on the side and was the treasure all along.

*Mary Anne says that Karen is precocious, which means that she's smart for her age. I want to strangle Karen though. She's so annoying in this book, and every time she does something irritating, they just laugh and say she's precocious. No, she's an annoying pain in the ass.

*Multiple times they mention that Lionel is pompous or whatever, but I have a hard time believing that none of them would find him attractive or develop a crush on him. He winds up volunteering to coach Jason's new baseball team and gets a job working in the theater.

*Despite her reason for going, Kristy spends most of her time with Jason. She takes him to the clubhouse to meet kids and gets pissed because they don't bend over backwards to make him feel welcome. The kids admit that they don't play with summer kids anymore because it lost them the championship before and how they always leave. Kristy thinks the best way to fix this is to talk smack about how they don't have a sponsor and how they suck on the field. Yeah, that will make things all better.

*Jill becomes obsessed with Dawn as soon as she meets her. She dresses like her all the time and won't leave her side. Dawn tries to get her to join the swim team with Martha, but she refuses unless Dawn joins too. It would make me scream. They finally convince her to start sitting, which leads to them both joining the swim team.

*Karen goes overboard trying to find Martha new friends. She then gets irritated when Martha says her best friend is back in Boston. Even though she can have other best friends, Martha should only like her. Martha eventually makes friends all on her own.

*Georgio is 19, which makes the whole Claudia thing super creepy. He thinks she's 16, which still seems a little weird to me. She also spends most of the book trying to decide if he's evil or a good guy, but then winds up with a crush on him anyway. I'd love to get a response back from him regarding the letter she sent!

*Seriously though, even if she was 16, what parent lets their teenager go to college Homecoming weekend and spend the whole weekend with a guy she spent a total of 19 minutes with one summer?

*In Stoneybrook, Jason, Lionel, and probably Jill would be too older for sitters. Yet, Lionel is the only one who doesn't need one. They have four girls sitting for five kids, and Jill then becomes a sitter all on her own.

*This whole not getting paid thing is ridiculous! They basically spend all their time watching over the kids, the parents are never home, the adults literally never do anything with their kids, but they pay the girls with food and a place to stay.

*Also, on the Georgio story, he and Claudia wind up on the ferris wheel. Despite him clearly being into her and asking her to spend a weekend with him, he's happy just giving her a kiss on the cheek. Sure.

*Even though Shannon promised to help as much as possible, she skips most meetings and can only sit a few times. I guess it's good that all parents in Stoneybrook suddenly decided to stay home at night?

*There is no way I would forgive Kristy as easily as they do. She literally tells them that no one can go on vacation because it will make the club look bad if there aren't any sitters available. She then decides that all four of them should just take off for an extended trip. Did she not even look at the schedule first??

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Babysitters Club #111: Stacey's Secret Friend

Stacey is suddenly a member of the Pep Squad, which is some random club filled with kids who have school spirit or something. She and Barbara (remember her as the best friend of the girl who passed away?) recently made a large jaguar from paper mache for some upcoming school event. Claudia gave them the “brilliant” idea to use two big ass glass marbles for its eyes. Just as they finish, the new girl walks right into and completely destroys the jaguar. Her name is Tess Swinhart, she feels awful about what happened and offers to help, but she winds up dumping glue all over Alan Gray.

Alan thinks the new girl is totally awful and makes it his mission to destroy her. He starts calling her Swine-hart because she's a bigger girl who wears pink all the time. Alan even creates a comic book to make fun of her. Kids pass it all around school and make fun of her behind her back and to her face. She doesn't get it when someone writes Petunia on her locker, and she doesn't get why King constantly calls her Babe. Stacey decides that she'll make over Tess and turn her into one of the cool kids.

Since they're partners in their English class, Stacey invites her over to work on their project, which is a replica of a real castle. Instead of working though, she encourages Tess to flip through her fashion and makeup magazines. Tess really isn't into it, so Stacey drops a bunch of not too subtle hints about how she can change her style. Stacey then makes up an excuse that she needs to leave for a BSC meeting before they get any work done. She also drops hints about how Tess should switch from her thick black glasses to new contact lenses.

Though Tess does join the Pep Club at Stacey's urging, it's clear that she doesn't want to be there. Someone randomly decides they should change the school mascot, the administration agrees, and they decide to vote on it at the next pep rally. Stacey suggests a panther because they really wouldn't have to change the mascot much. When everyone else submits their ideas, there are multiple cards with Tess's name. Barbara and Stacey just throw those away and decide to make large cards with the animals on the front that they'll hold up for kids to vote on at the rally.

Tess eventually comes to school with a little bit of makeup on and a blue sweatshirt instead of one of her pink outfits. Stacey keeps going on and on about how good she looks to the point of making the poor girl uncomfortable. The rest of the BSC are too sure how to feel about Tess. She's definitely a little odd, dresses weird (always in pink), is something of a klutz, and seems pretty cold. Kristy thinks it's weird that Stacey won't invite Tess to sit with them, and Claudia points out that the two girls aren't really friends. Stacey does attempt to warn Tess about King, but Tess thinks she's only doing it because she likes him too. Stacey really doesn't know what to do when she hears that Tess has a date with King at some new restaurant called Hog Heaven.

During the pep rally, Stacey holds up the cards as the crowd yells for which mascot they like the best. When she holds up the pig card, people laugh like crazy. It turns out that someone blew up a big picture of Tess and pasted it on the card. Someone in the crowd hits the poor girl with a hot dog. As she tries to get up and run away, she falls over the side of the bleachers. Stacey runs over to help, but Tess realizes that Stacey knew about the kids making fun of her all along and tells her that they are not friends.

Still not one to give up, Stacey stops by her house. Poor Tess sprained her wrist and broke her ankle. She finds that Tess has this amazing room with a replica of a famous mobile hanging from the ceiling and all this unique stuff. Tess then reveals that she transferred from a school in Paris. Stacey realizes that's why she didn't get all the pop culture references and why she acted so odd. She also finds a bunch of photos of Tess and her friends and even a fashion magazine from Paris that show kids wearing bright pink clothes and thick black glasses. Tess once again tells her that they aren't friends and asks her to leave.

Emily comes to Stacey with some bad news. King, Alan, and some other random guy are planning on playing a bad joke on Tess. When she goes on her “date” with King, he'll keep putting her in front of all this pig stuff. They'll take pictures, make horrible comments, and put the whole thing in the paper. Stacey tells the BSC, Kristy comes up with an idea, and surprisingly, Tess agrees to go along with it.

Claudia gets a huge plate of fries and smothers them in ketchup. When they see King and Tess, Stacey pretends to trip, which causes Claudia to drop the whole platter on him. Stacey then pulls out a rag covered in blue paint and smears it all over him. Abby stands nearby and takes photos of everything. They then tell him to knock it off or they'll share the embarrassing pictures with everyone they know. King kind of slinks off with his tail between his legs. Tess is suddenly okay with everything and happy, but in the end, she seems to like Barbara way better than Stacey or anyone else.

While all this is going on, Jackie starts acting weird. He keeps stealing his mom's new cell phone and inviting Nicky over. When Nicky can't come over, Jackie flips out and mumbles to himself a lot. Abby finds Nicky giving Jackie a “lesson” that involves walking on the roof of the house. While sitting for him, three other kids show up to talk to him. She sees them acting really threatening to him and being bullies but decides to see what happens. It turns out that one of the kids thought he stole his jacket, so Jackie hired Nicky as his bodyguard. When he explains that it was really his jacket, the other kid calms down and they even play soccer together.

*Abby does a really bad job of watching over Jackie. There is no way she should have let those kids into the yard, and there is no way she should have left Jackie alone. That could have ended way worse.

*The comic Alan makes is really mean and kind of makes me rethink the way I felt about him in the FF series.

*Tess outfit #1: black boots, brown cords, shirt with a Peter Pan collar, and pink cardigan. That's what she wore when she walked through the mascot.

*Speaking of the mascot, who just suddenly decides to change their school's mascot? The administration should have just said no!

*Stacey picks panther because she says that she can just paint the one they made a new color next year. Damn, even she knows that she's never leaving eighth grade!

* Tess outfit #2: hot pink sweatshirt and matching pants with white lace collar and cuffs. I don't think even Claudia could pull that one off...

* Tess outfit #3: the one from the cover: hot pink overalls with a pink, green, and yellow flowered shirt underneath. Mary Anne thinks it looks cute, but everyone else finds it disgusting.

*Tess also wears a pink, yellow, and maybe green pantsuit type outfit that Stacey thinks looks like it's from the 70s. Tess says it was her mom's and she loves it. If Claudia wore it, people would be all up in her business about how it was so innovative.

*Stacey basically says that Tess growing up in Paris is even more impressive and sophisticated than how she grew up in NYC. Ooh, I think someone is jealous.

*When Tess shows up with makeup on, she's incredibly uncomfortable and even says that she doesn't like the way the mascara feels. Stacey poo poos her because you “can't feel” makeup. Fuck yeah you can, it's why I pretty much wear makeup once a year. Well, that and the fact that I work from home, so some days I don't even wear pants!

*It's funny that her glasses are so lame when hipsters today made those glasses stylish. I may not be a hipster, but the glasses I wear most days look a lot like the pair on the cover but in brown.

*I'm sure I did a bad job of recapping this book, but Stacey is really and truly awful. She gets it in her head that Tess needs saving and does all this crap to change her looks without really being her friend or spending any time with her.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #75: Jessi's Horrible Prank

Ugh, this is the book that makes me so glad I never wanted to be a teacher.

Even though SMS is constantly running out of money for school things, they keep doing Short Takes. This time, Jessi signed up for a class on computer programming because she thought it sounded interesting. SMS once again brings in a brand new teacher. Mr. Trout is kind of dorky. He's super tall and skinny, always wears pocket protectors, and worst of all, he seems afraid of his students.

This causes the kids in his class to go a little crazy. They stop listening to him and do whatever the hell they want. They throw spitballs at each other, make fun of his name, joke around about how he has a lisp, and generally act like little assholes. Jessi feels bad for him but not so bad that she doesn't go along with them. They do stupid shit like arrange to throw their books on the floor at the same time. It makes Mr. Trout jump and gets him a little distracted, but they all act like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Jessi feels bad enough that she talks it over with the BSC. Kristy pretty much rolls her eyes and says that he needs to grow a back bone. Everyone else feels a little bad for him but wonder why he became a teacher. Mary Anne being Mary Anne almost cries about the whole thing. Everyone in his class fails their first test because they were too busy goofing off to learn anything, but he just goes over the materials again, which does absolutely nothing.

It's also time for the Sixth Grade Follies. It's some lame show that the sixth grade puts on to make fun of their teachers. Jessi volunteers as both a performer and a member of the finance crew. The teachers decided to charge admission and give the money to a local charity. The two Dollies, two teachers who look and act just like Dolly Parton, are in charge of the whole thing. They kind of encourage Jessi and her Latino friend to participate by saying they want to represent all students, which is a little weird.

Despite the fact that Jessi is black, which she thinks means people hate her, she hosts the first meeting. Everyone shows up except for one girl, but her parents wouldn't let her hang out with Jessi anyway because they are totes racist. Becca finds the whole thing so exciting that she keeps following them around all the time. They come up with some funny sketches, including one where Jessi dresses up as one of the two Dollies to start the show.

Jessi starts feeling even worse for Mr. Trout. She notices that he's super quiet and keeps to himself most of the time. He doesn't even talk with the other teachers. One of the girls in her class realizes that he wears a toupee and tells everyone. They set it up so that one kid gets his toupee off with a fishhook. He's clearly embarrassed, especially since the hook gets caught in his coat, but he lets everyone off.

Someone else then comes up with a “super funny” skit. Jessi will come in with a bald cap on her head and dressed like a Klingon. A kid dressed up like their teacher as Elvis will say he was kidnapped by a Klingon, Jessi will step out and repeat it with his lisp, and everyone will laugh. She doesn't want to do it and even plans on backing out, but before she can, the kids tell one of the Dollies. She thinks it's absolutely hysterical and pushes Jessi to do it.

Cut to the night of the show. Jessi as Dolly opens up the show on a huge note, but her doing Mr. Trout brings down the house. People just can't stop talking about. The BSC pig out on ice cream and keep telling her how she's a superstar. Becca keeps staring at her like she's Taylor Swift or something. Jessi gets so many compliments that she decides Mr. Trout will be fine with it.

He's definitely not okay though, so not okay that he doesn't come to school the next day. She finds out from one of the Dollies that he just didn't show up to work one day. The principal went to his house, found the place empty, the phone shut off, and his car gone. Mr. Trout apparently called in later to say he wasn't coming back because he was going back to grad school.

They get a brand new teacher who doesn't give them lip. He sends one kid to the principal's office right off the bat and makes it clear that any other disruptions aren't tolerated. The Dollies tell Jessi not to worry about Mr. Trout because he didn't really fit in and that her skit shouldn't have bothered him. The principal refuses to give him a second chance and tells her that he wasn't cut out for teaching. Even her friends and parents say the same thing.

Jessi eventually makes up a petition to bring him back and hangs it up in school. Only the BSC members sign it. Jessi starts thinking that maybe everyone else was right and that he wasn't cut out for teaching. They learned more from their new teacher in a few days than they did the whole time with him. She finally decides to write him a letter to apologize for being a brat. At the end of the book, she gets a letter back. Mr. Trout sucks up to her by saying he always thought she was an intelligent and polite young lady, that he holds nothing against her, and that while he appreciates the gesture, he won't come back because he's going back to college.

In other news, Becca starts acting a little weird. She goes with Jessi to a sitting job at the Pike house and gets all the kids interested in her. Other kids in town keep showing up at sitting jobs and working together on some mysterious project. Charlotte finally gives Stacey something and tells her not to open it until the BSC meeting. It's an invitation to the BSC Follies, a show the kids decided to put on together.

Vanessa dresses up like Claudia, which is hysterical. She carries around a backpack filled with food, keeps snacking in the middle of the show, and at one point, contemplates turning a clock into a hat. It's just so amazingly adorable that Mary Anne almost cries and everyone else laughs their asses off. Vanessa is the only good part.

*This book pisses me off really bad. There is no way those kids shouldn't get punished. I don't care how lame Mr. Trout is, the toupee incident alone would result in some serious detention time. Even if he doesn't tell on him, the story spreads around the school in no time.

*These are the kids who will get their parents to come to their high schools and bitch to their teachers about how they have too much homework, count on it.

*I can't stand the teachers either. They think he was a terrible teacher because he didn't hang out with them in the teachers lounge. I guess some people really never get over the whole high school mentality.

*Claudia outfit: a tie dyed tee shirt, bell bottom pants, an alligator barrette, and cats eye glasses from the 50s. I bet older Claudia is one of those chicks walking around in clear lens glasses to look smart.

*Jessi merely “suggests” that the Dollies let her help come up with a dance routine, and they put her in charge of it.

*The girl who doesn't come to her house? She squeezes her hand after the show and tells her she did a good job, so I guess she cured racism!

*For the meeting at her house, they put out potato chips, pretzels, M&Ms, Goldfish and Triscuit crackers, tortilla chips, and a massive bowl of fruit. Jessi starts worrying that they won't have enough food, even after her mom reminds her that her dad is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs too. How much food does she think eight people will eat??

*One guy shows up early, his dad walks him in, and stops to talk to her parents. Jessi kind of makes it out like a racist thing, but I think it's more the dude wanting to find out where his kid will be all day.

*How many books have we had where the school does some fundraising thing because they need money? Maybe they should stop hiring teachers to teach one month classes all the time!

*Jessi keeps talking about Peter Pan and making it out like she was the star. I think she even comments that she was the comedic highlight. Hm, I think I read a different book...

*Despite being the one who planned the whole damn thing, Becca is so embarrassed to perform at the follies that she runs backstage at first. She wears a tutu and keeps stretching all the time to play Jessi.

*Claudia and Kristy have a minor fight over nose piercings. Kristy thinks it's crazy, but Claudia thinks it looks cool until she puts a clip on ring in her nose and says it hurts. Kristy also complains that a piercing is FOR LIFE, which is insane. I've now had one eyebrow pierced twice and one pierced once. Don't wear one anymore and have just a tiny scar in one eyebrow.