Category Archives: children’s books

Kristy’s Big Day, Or, Who’s Really Getting Married Here? (Baby Sitters Club, #6)

We open with Karen, Kristy’s soon-to-be-stepsister, waxing poetic about old Ben Brewer, a family ghost that apparently lives in the attic. Kristy is concerned that Andrew, soon-to-be-little-stepbrother, is getting frightened by all this ghost talk. Yes, I mean, Ben Brewer eats fried dandelions, I’d say that’s pretty scary.

Kristy exposits that her mother is getting married to Watson, the kids’ father, and they will be moving to his mansion on the other side of town. This will be a good thing for everyone – everyone but Kristy, that is. I know, she’s a kid, she’s never lived anywhere else, all of her friends live close by, blah blah. With her flair for the dramatic, however, you’d think she was moving to Mars. Stoneybrook can’t be terribly big. Also, Watson can be a jerk.


I don’t remember seeing any evidence of that – he’s paid you for watching his kids even though you’re nearly family; he seems to treat you and your brothers well enough. Oh, I get it, you’re just pissed that he’s taking your mom away. To live in a friggin’ mansion.

Anyway, the step kids and Watson have come over for dinner of “pasketti,” as Andrew says, who is perturbed that worms are on the menu. Kristy sets him straight. Kristy wants to eat outside, her mom makes a joke, and Kristy acknowledges that her mom has been in a “great mood” since the engagement. So maybe you should stop drinking the Hatorade? Kristy goes around the table and gives a long detailed explanation about how the family comes together. She wonders if the two youngest will be fighting over toys and things.

Karen pipes up and basically repeats what Kristy has just thought. Charlie asks for wine, but they tell him no. Wah-wah.

Mrs. Thomas announces the wedding date to the table. Andrew needs to have a wedding explained to him. Kristy finds out that she’s going to be a bridesmaid. She’s excited to wear a dress and flowers, and I must ask where the girl is coming from. This is tomboy Kristy, right? Sweatshirts and jeans and sneakers? And now she loves dresses?

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Mary Anne Saves the Day (and then hides under the bed), Part Three

Mary Anne tries to finagle later curfews, but no dice. This makes her ponder responsibility. Was she being irresponsible because she didn’t call her father to tell him she would be five minutes late? And what about the club? Mary Anne decides that she is going to be the one to fix things – that will be responsible. And take lots of courage. Methinks a visit to the Wizard is in for her.

Mary Anne ponders writing a note to Kristy. In the meantime, Dawn calls and Mary Anne invites her over. They go through Mary Anne’s dad’s high school yearbook to see old pics, and discover that Dawn’s mom and Mary Anne’s dad dated in high school. When they look through Mrs. Schafer’s yearbook later, they also find a dried rose pressed between the pages. Awww. As twelve-year-old girls are wont to do, they tear this subject to bits – what did they mean by “just one more summer?” And why “love is blind?” All of this distracts Mary Anne from The Plot to Put the Band BSC Back Together.

And then, Mary Anne sits for Mr. and Mrs. P. Jenny acts weird and Mary Anne wonders what’s up. The kid feels hot-blooded, so Mary Anne checks it to see. A fever of one-hundred-and . . . four! Mary Anne tries the P’s phones (which obviously is a modern edit – none of these people would have had a cell in the 80s). Mary Anne can’t reach anyone, so she calls Dawn. Dawn comes over and suggests calling 911, and they send an ambulance. The girls make phone calls, and bundle Jenny up, and they all ride together to the hospital. The doctor diagnoses strep throat.

Jenny’s parents come and Mr. P drives Mary Anne and Dawn home, and even pays Dawn, complimenting them both on their level-headedness. Mary Anne invites Dawn over and they look through old photos, right in view of Kristy (whose bedroom can see into Mary Anne’s, if you remember). Dawn catches on to the game and is understandably upset. She leaves, and Mary Anne cries into her pillow.
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Mary Anne Saves the Day (and then hides under the bed), Part Two

Claudia’s grandma, Mimi, opens the door, so this is a Bad Sign. Kristy doesn’t show. Business is stiffly conducted, along with faces made and sarcastic comments. Mary Anne waves on leaving the house, though, and, encouraged by Claudia’s return wave, gives the note she has written to Mimi. At home, Mary Anne calls Claudia, and is stiffly forgiven. Mary Anne and Claudia discuss the future of the BSC, and Mary Anne promises to talk to Kristy, which . . . good luck with that, little chicken.

Mary Anne attempts accosting Kristy the next day at school. Kristy is haughty and says she doesn’t have to go to meetings because it’s HER club. Buh? Her compromise is taking turns in Claudia’s room, answering the phone and offering jobs to the others only if the girl on deck cannot take them herself. Isn’t that what started the trouble in the first place?

In the meantime, Dawn comes up and Mary Anne invites her over for Saturday. She gets the reaction from Kristy that she’s seeking. But then, Kristy tells Mary Anne that she can now stay out until 10 p.m. on weekends, which makes Mary Anne the only one in the club who has to be home early.

Mary Anne does her first lone shift at the next BSC meeting, and takes a job for the Prezziosos. She tells us that Mrs. P is very fussy, and likes things just so – like Mary Anne’s own father, it seems – and the kid is just . . . well, not. Her mom dresses her in frilly clothes. Mary Anne has a painting book, and the kid spills water on herself, and Mary Anne cleans it up with a problem. I’m surprised to see mention of Colorforms in here! Are those still a thing? According to Amazon, they are! Holy childhood flashback, Batman!
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Mary Anne Saves the Day (and then hides under the bed), Part One

This is book 4 of the Baby-Sitters Club series, told from Mary Anne’s point of view. I must, once again, voice my displeasure at these new designs for the covers. This one has a set of colorful Band-Aids floating on a blue background. Dumb.

Mary Anne reminds us that her mom is dead, and that the BSC was Kristy’s idea, and Claudia eats junk food, and Stacey is a glamorous diabetic from . . . New York City.

The girls converge on Claudia’s room for their meeting. Several job offers come in and are assigned without incident.

Then Mrs. Newton calls (mother of Jamie, the “hihi!” kid) and all the trouble begins. Kristy gets so excited about the opportunity to watch the new baby as well as Jamie that she automatically takes the job. This causes the friction between the girls to erupt into sparks! Kristy begins pointing fingers at Claudia, who has also done this before. Stacey piles on, and then she turns around and calls Mary Anne a shy little baby, who defends herself by crying. And then calling Stacey’s diabetes dumb. More name-calling, and then Mary Anne leaves, slamming all the doors behind her. Claudia’s grandmother is home – doesn’t she wonder why everyone is making so much noise?

Horror of horrors, now Mary Anne has to have dinner with dear old Dad, who still makes her wear her hair in braids, and dress appropriately at mealtimes. She manages to calm down enough to have an awkward meal with her father – they don’t seem very comfortable with each other.

After dinner, she can’t concentrate on homework – she revolves the fight in her head again. She would try to call Claudia, but her father won’t allow her to use the phone for items non-homework related. Mary Anne describes her room to us – it is pink and white, colors which are not her favorite, at all. She has little kid decorations, like Humpty Dumpty; no posters because her father doesn’t like the idea that they make holes in the walls. Have you gathered that her father is kind of clueless?

Mary Anne is hoping to talk to Kristy via their flashlight code, but Kristy never appears at their scheduled time. She must be PISSED.
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The “Truth” About Stacey, Part Three

Chapter 11. The sandwiches return -I mean, the boards. Stacey will be missing out on this, however, as that is the weekend she meets New Doctor.

Stacey watches Jamie, who is mopey. She thinks it’s because his baby sister is getting all the attention, but it’s really because his new baby-sitters watch TV, talk on the phone, and burn the couch with cigarettes rather than, you know, watch the kid. Stacey is appalled and tells him to tell his mother all about it. Seriously, how does the mother not know about the cigarettes, if they’re smoking on the couch? You can smell it, especially in a non-smoking house. Sometimes these characters are so obtuse.

Stacey gets home to find that Charlotte has been asking for her. Stacey is pleased because she wants to ask Dr. Johansson to recommend a sensible doctor for Stacey to use in combating her parents’ craziness.

Charlotte is very quiet, which concerns her mother. She knows it’s school-related, which is true. Her new baby-sitters are sucky and don’t want to play with her. Charlotte thought that her baby-sitters were her friends, but one of the little bitches at school burst her bubble. Stacey convinces her that, for her at least, it’s not about the money, it’s the kids. And Dr. Johansson has a doctor for Stacey, so overall, she’s doing well, I guess.
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Claudia and the Erotic Phone Calls, Part Three

Chapter 11. Mimi drills Claudia on her multiplication tables. Shouldn’t you have learned this in, I don’t know, third grade? She’s saved by the doorbell. Her neighbors have been robbed, presumably by the Phantom Caller.

Or maybe it’s a copycat, because it’s not a ritzy neighborhood. So say the police. Because the thief certainly wouldn’t be trying to throw anyone off the track.

Anyway, Kristy told MaryAnne, who told her father, and now, she’s forbidden to babysit until the Phantom is caught.

Claudia gets a brilliant idea to get Trevor to notice her – which backfires and ends with a lap full of Jell-o. Aww. Now that’s sad.

MaryAnne feels bad about being a burden. They switch her jobs around. Then MA says that she should quit the club. Blah-blah-blah, woe is me. The others decide to keep her on as secretary. All this false drama, when will it end?

Chapter 12. The obnoxious Feldman kids are back, but this time Claudia has Kristy to help her. Claudia, last time, had the good sense to ignore them. What does Kristy do? Whistle like a soccer coach and threaten the kids with PUNCHES. Wow, babysitter of the year here, folks.

They get three calls, then there’s banging outside, so Claudia calls the police.

Chapter 13. The operator takes Claudia’s information. The police arrive, and with them is Alan Gray, Kristy’s nemesis. He’s been calling and stalking them because he stole a peek at their record book every day. And why?

Because he wants Kristy to go to the dance with him.

And then the parents come back early. Oh ho, no!

Chapter 14. Claudia can’t believe Kristy agreed to go to the dance with Alan, when she can’t stand him. But now she realizes that her (Kristy’s) mother was right – that boys tease you when they like you. And now Kristy is so confused, because a boy likes her! And she’s going to a dance? All when she was ready to tattoo the name Sappho on her upper thigh . . .

Instead of Claudia being happy for her friend, she’s bummed she isn’t going to the dance. But then she has a nice talk with her sister about her adventure that night.

Claudia wonders who her random caller is. Maybe it’s a boy!

And, of course, it’s Trevor. He’s been stalking her phone to get up the courage to ask her to the dance.

Chapter 15. The girls decide not to go in costume to the dance. Instead, Claudia wears baggy jeans and a bulky sweater. You’re thuggin’ out now? Claudia can’t dance, apparently. But she got a B-plus in math! And then Phantom Caller was finally caught. All’s well that ends well.

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Claudia and the Erotic Phone Calls, Part Two

Chapter 6. Claudia tries to be nice to her sister, but is quickly overcome by Janine’s over-explanation. Then she hears on the radio that the Phantom Caller is in New Jersey, which is like, a whole other country.

But the next night, the Phantom Caller is discovered to still be at large. While Claudia is baby-sitting, she gets a phone call with silence on the other end. And of course, she can’t remember the code. She calls Stacey, who keeps her company by phone, as every little thing is disturbing. Finally, she’s so freaked out by noises – that turn out to be the kids’ parents coming home without house keys. And the phone rings again, with no one on the other line.

Chapter 7. Kristy baby-sits for Watson, her future stepfather. The little girl, Karen, is very serious. Because of “Morbidda Destiny,” the “witch” next door. Karen has more freckles now, so she’s convinced she’s been cursed.

Andrew lets out Boo-Boo, the cat. Which is Not Done, if you’ll recall. But Kristy goes on with the night, eschewing Karen’s choice of a book called The Witch Next Door in favor of a Beverly Cleary.

And then the phone rings! But it’s just MaryAnne checking in. Kristy tours the house on a lock check. And then the phone rings again! No answer on the other line! And then again! But this time, it’s Claudia, who tries to assuage Kristy’s fears. Then she asks Kristy if she remembers the code, but Kristy doesn’t. Smooth!

Kristy decides to sack up and read her schoolbook, but her imagination runs rampant instead. Boo-Boo returns, with “Morbidda Destiny” in tow. Apparently, Boo-Boo was eating a mouse on her porch, and she hands Kristy the remains in a paper sack. Classy. But it’s okay, Kristy theorizes, because if Mrs. Porter were really a witch, she would never have given away her spell ingredients. Excellent deduction, but what if it’s a fake-out?

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The Babysitters Club – Claudia and the Erotic Phone Calls, Part One

As you may have gathered from the title, this one is narrated by Claudia. Let’s see what ridiculous shenanigans THIS time!

Chapter 1. It’s a dark and stormy night, to borrow from Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Claudia wants to read Nancy Drew and eat candy, or paint and moon about boys. But, no, homework comes first. Sigh! It’s so tough, innit? It must be done, though, or she can’t stay in the BSC, of which she recaps the origins, as well as the fact that she hasn’t done any homework since the start of the school year. How did that go on this long without your parents being notified sooner?

School is boring, Claudia bitches. Who cares how to solve for x? I just want to read mysteries! And my sister, Janine, is a “real and true genius,” which is different from a fake and false one, believe me. Supposedly, Claudia’s IQ is also above average, but she doesn’t want to concentrate and buckle down, so her spelling sucks. Right, like that’s your only problem, especially when she uses the non-word “trigonomulus” a few paragraphs later.

On this night, it’s Claudia’s grandmother’s turn to help her with homework. Mimi has a “rolling accent that reminds [Claudia] of a ship at sea.” She’s Japanese, and polite. That’s about all we get.

Claudia talks with Mimi about Nancy Drew mysteries and Halloween. Claudia is already prepared for the latter: purple knee-high pants with suspenders, tights with a clock print, purple plaid shirt and hat (wasn’t she wearing purple plaid in the last book, too?), high-tops, and lobster earrings. The hallmarks of a crazy person, even in 1980s Stoneybrook.

Claudia wants to work on her portrait project, so Mimi sits for her. This devolves into a conversation about sisters and getting along, and Mimi advising her that these things involve patience and time.

Later, Claudia is settling in with Nancy Drew, but her thoughts quickly drift away to Trevor Sandbourne. He’s dreamy!

Stacey calls, and lots of sighing occurs – about boys, about no sitting jobs, about Stacey not knowing enough people. Claudia promises a get-together with the others, and goes back to her book.

Chapter 2. The girls are at Kristy’s and very bored. Kristy suggests looking at old toys, but that’s childish. Claudia tells us that both Kristy and MaryAnne look and act younger than twelve, and are totally not sophisticated like her and Stacey. MaryAnne suggests cookies, but Stacey has the diabeetus, so that’s out. The player is broken, so they can’t rent a movie.

Claudia tells them about the guy she’s been mooning over, and apparently, Kristy has a class with him – and Alan Gray, who is gross. Kristy was the only one to beat him at his own game – by packing an irresistible lunch for him to steal, only to find in covered in dead and disgusting things. Ha, ha.

MaryAnne goes back to her newspaper and is freaked out by the “Phantom Caller.” He calls people and then robs them. And he’s moving closer to Stoneybrook. Suddenly, Claudia remembers that at her last sitting job, she got two phone calls, and each time, they hung up without saying a word.

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The BabySitters Club – Kristy’s Piss-Poor Idea, Part Three

Chapter 11. The girls count up their money and decide they should have a pizza party to celebrate the club. Stacey starts making weird excuses about not being there, because maybe she’d be in New York, or visiting friends, or visiting friends in New York.

Then she abruptly leaves.

Watson is in Kristy’s living room, which irks her. Her mom tells her that they are having leftover tonight, and would she please go put on a dress? They eat leftover Spaghetti-os, and how do you have leftovers of those? They come in a soup can, right? How many cans would you have to make to have leftovers? Ew, anyway. The thrust of all this fanciness is that Watson has asked Mrs. Thomas if she would like to get engaged, and she is thinking about it. Kristy starts asking all sorts of practical questions, but they don’t know anything about that right now, and Kristy is glad that they don’t, because maybe then her mom will see the light and not get married and let their family return to “normal.” Because it was so normal before.

Chapter 12. The plans for the pizza party continue apace, except now they have nine dollars instead of twelve, because of Stacey backing out. And how, pray tell, are you going to be able to buy pizzas and all the other crap you want for just nine dollars? In 2014 money, even if you went to a second-rate chain pizza place that offers pizza on request for five dollars a pizza, you can only get one, and maybe two bottles of soda from the dollar store. Hardly a party.

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The BabySitters Club – Kristy’s Piss-Poor Idea, Part Two

Chapter 6. Kristy exclaims over the little ad they put in the local paper. They didn’t know that they charge you by LINE, and OMG, it was so expensive it took most of their first week’s dues to pay for it. The girls take the last of their flyers and go on their bikes to deposit them in mailboxes, and is that legal? I don’t think that you’re allowed to put that sort of thing INSIDE people’s mailboxes, but the outside is okay, because then you can’t be accused of tampering with anything. Then again, this is Stoneybrook, circa 1986, so I guess no one is really doing any sort of mail fraud . . .

Two days later, Kristy is over at Claudia’s house super-early. I thought she felt awkward around Claudia, and yet, here she is, hanging out with her, an hour earlier than she was set to arrive. They take turns holding the phone, and then there’s a knock at Claudia’s door, and Kristy wonders if it’s a customer. Um, you gave them a number, not your address! Dumbass. It’s Janine, who is wondering if the Baby-Sitters Club sign has a mistake, wondering if it needs the apostrophe or not.

Everyone else arrives, and Claudia passes out candy, again. How does this girl not have a weight problem, or acne?

Their first call is Kristy’s mom, who needs a sitter. Kristy concedes the job to Stacey, so she can get to know the neighborhood, and Kristy’s older brothers, too. Then they get a call for a Jim Bartolini. Then another sitting call, from a lady who has two kids named Buffy and Pinky, which makes the girls giggle. Then more calls for Jim. Then Kristy’s mom calls again, this time to ask if someone will be willing to watch Watson’s kids. MaryAnne takes it, because she’s curious. So is Kristy, but she refuses to admit it. Then “Jim Bartolini” calls, which turns out to be Kristy’s brother pranking them the whole time. Haha. Go play a video game. All of this comes to a head when Kristy gets home, which leads her mother to send her to her room, which suits the little brat fine because Watson was coming over, anyway.

Claudia calls Kristy later to tell her that she got a job sitting for Jamie, the Newton kid, which upsets Kristy, because SHE usually sits for Jamie, and why did Mrs. Newton call after the hours posted? Gee, maybe she was trying to get through when you were tying up the line with “Jim Bartolini” shit and giggling about Buffy and Pinky, hmm?

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