Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jazzy Jo Dupre and the Fly Boys; or, BSC #61: Jessi and the Awful Secret

I always liked the books about Jessi and her dancing. She always seemed more complete than other characters, although ANM’s portrayal of the dancing world was more than a little na├»ve. And I liked that she had something other than babysitting…and I know Claudia has her art, and Kristy has her jock, and Mallory has her writing, but I liked that Jessi had something bigger than I had…Cause I liked writing, and I played sports, and I took art classes, but I didn’t dance…

Anyway, Jessi volunteers to help with a six week ballet class for “underprivileged” kids. One of the other volunteers is Mary, who is also in Jessi’s regular ballet classes. When all the volunteers go out for fast food (yeah, right, ballet students going out for fast food after class…my ass), Mary doesn’t eat, she just pushes her food around. She also obsesses about her body in the locker room, if that’s what it’s called in ballet. Well, Jessi gets to worrying, especially after Mary collapses in class. After checking in with the BSC, she decides to confront Mary about her anorexia. Well, of course, Mary denies it; what, has Jessi never seen that tv movie starring Tracey Gold? Or that one after school special? Or Center Stage? Then Jessi talks to big, scary French ballet teacher…and all is well in the world of ballet, you know the one that encourages healthy bodies and even healthier body image. Oh, and Kristy’s MILLIONAIRE stepdad sponsors a scholarship for two of the underprivileged kids.

Now, I give ANM credit for addressing the major issue of eating disorders, but I find it hard to believe that none of those girls had ever come across anorexia before…

No real secondary story to speak of, just a lot of baby-sitting for crazy Karen Brewster and Co.

PS--my real life has been interrupting my BSC blogging, so my new goal is one post a week, on Monday or Tuesday. 'Kay?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Confusing Cover Art

I love how the cover paintings of the books are so inconsistent...Not only do characters look different ages from cover to cover, but sometimes they're just plain wrong. How many times do the books mention that Dawn's hair is crazy long and super white-blond, yet on the covers, she and Stacey have the same hair--shoulder length, medium blond, really full...No hippy-dippy bleached out long hair...The covers from after I stopped reading do a better job with the ages than the early ones. Sometimes they look 13 or so, but other times they look like they're old enough to vote. And Jessi. She looks like completely different girls from cover to cover; everything looks different, from facial features to hair length.

Anyway, I'm sorry I haven't updated in a little while. My regular life has been all over the place lately. I'll be posting either tomorrow or Tuesday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The new Dawn was cool; or, BSC #50: Dawn’s Big Date

So, why do these bitches get mad at their friends for changing their looks? Not just in this one, but also in the-not-yet-recapped Mary Anne’s Makeover. Apparently, when you start to look even a little different, you are a traitorous bitch…at least in Ann M. Martin’s world.

Anyway, this book is kinda a sequel to BSC #37: Dawn and the Older Boy. At the end of that travesty, Mary Anne schemes to get Dawn into a long distance thing with Lewis Bruno, Logan’s cousin in Louisville. Well, in this one, Lewis is coming to visit. And Dawn freaks out. Even though he seems to like her in his letters, Dawn just can’t believe any boy would like her as she is. So she decides she needs to get cool…So she goes to the proto-Hot Topic store in the mall and buys some “wild” clothes and changes her hair. Mary Anne helps a lot, making Dawn think that Mary Anne thinks that Dawn is all wrong (so confusing). But on top of changing her look, she adopts sullen cool-girl persona. Well, when Lewis shows up, he doesn’t know what to make of “the new Dawn.” (Sidebar: apparently Lewis is 13 or 14, and he’s 5’10”. Um, isn’t he a little young to be that tall? Boys don’t growth spurt until 15 or 16, usually, right? Plus, in the cover painting, he looks about 19.)

After some disastrous get-togethers, Dawn finally realizes she’s being a twat, and changes into jeans and a sweatshirt (which apparently is the chosen apparel of the California casual individualists) and sets things right with Lewis…And decides she really likes him, instead of WANTING TO USE HIM TO PRACTICE FOR HAVING A LOCAL BOYFRIEND. Um, isn’t that a little shitty?

Subplot: The BSC’s new clients are a fat kid and his crazy bitchy family. They make him feel better about himself and empower him to lose weight for his own sake, not for his family…aw, touchy-feely.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

That’s why prejudice isn’t rational; or, BSC #56: Keep Out, Claudia!

The kids on the cover of this book are really frightening. I even thought so as a kid…They’re all blond and mean looking, and I guess they’re supposed to be all Aryan and doll-like, but I swear they’re in the original Village of the Damned.

So, in this book, the BSC meets the Lowells. Mary Anne has the first job, and she thinks the three kids are angelic and doll-like. But when Claudia gets the next job, Mrs. Lowell makes her feel uncomfortable, and the kids are nightmares. The next time she calls the BSC, she specifically asks for anyone BUT Claudia. Well, of course Claudia starts to doubt her sitting abilities (as they all do whenever any little thing doesn’t go as expected). But when Jessi shows up to sit, Mrs. Lowell quickly says that she forgot to call, but there have been a change of plans…Well, it’s official: something’s wrong. Kristy decides to get to the bottom of things. Finally, they all figure out that the Lowells are racist. Then, when Mrs. Lowell calls again, asking for the “blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby-sitter she’s heard about.” So, Kristy goes into this elaborate (and immature) thing in which she gives Mrs. Lowell a list of things to hate about the BSC, which convinces Mrs. Lowelll that she doesn’t actually need a sitter. Note: I totally didn’t get the way this was handled. Why not just say that the BSC doesn’t work that way; all sitters have an equal chance at getting all the jobs.

Subplot: The BSC helps a bunch of kids form a band to do showtunes. Yes, I said showtunes. At first, they’re going to do songs from Annie. But then THE CHILDREN decide to do songs from Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t get it. The music in that particular show isn’t very interesting for kids, I would imagine. Annie, I get. I would even understand, like, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. But Fiddler on the Roof? That’s like My Fair Lady or Phantom of the Opera for kid-appeal. Good songs and shows, but I sincerely doubt some fifteen under-10s would dig.

Oh, and at the beginning, Claudia and Janine get along really well-ish. When did that happen?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I am going to be a writer; or, BSC #47: Mallory on Strike

Holy crap! Mallory is annoying! I had totally forgotten just how lame she is! This is the first Mallory book I’ve read since I started this project (except pre-blog Super Specials), and I wanted to smack her. HARD.

The premise of this book is as follows: Mallory gets crazy excited when her really cool, published author creative writing teacher, Mr. D., announces Young Authors Day, which includes a writing contest. Mallory decides to enter the competition for Best Overall Fiction for the Sixth Grade. But every time she sits down to write, her family interferes. Stops baby-sitting, gets up early, but her parents always ask her to do stuff. So, she starts being crazy bitchy to her sibs, to the point where Margo and Claire make up a ballet about Mean Old Mallory. Then, she goes on strike and tells her parents that she’s not doing any family stuff until she’s done with her story. Finally, she talks to her parents and they set up a system so that Mallory can have time to herself when she needs to work. (Well, duh. They’re parents: sure, they enjoy a built-in baby-sitter, but all she had to do was say it was schoolwork…like they’d say “No, you can’t do your homework. Now scrub the floor.”) She also gets a “special day” from her parents as a way of showing their appreciation. She takes Jessi shopping at the mall, they have a special lunch and see a movie. But she misses her family! Well, finally, she wins her contest, makes up with the BSC and gives her sibs a special day. She and Jessi set up a series of lame games and activities for the other Pike kids. Happy ending. Blah.

My favorite part? The little blurb on the front: “How could Mallory ever get tired of baby-sitting?” And the front cover painting shows Jessi, Mallory, Dawn/Stacey (I can’t always tell them apart in cover art. Sometimes trendy/sophisticated and California casual look EXACTLY THE SAME!) are playing in the leaves with some kids, possibly Pikes, Um, that’s not baby-sitting. Plus, she thinks she’s lost the baby-sitting skills when one of her charges gets bloody while she’s distracted by the other two…who lets and 11-year-old take care of three children, let alone an 8-, 5- and 2-year-old. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Even if he did sound a little jerky; or, BSC #20: Kristy and the Walking Disaster

Okay, here’s what I don’t get. Can you think of a group that wants to read about sports LESS than bookish girls, aka BSC fans? I don’t get it-- why does ANM write about sports? I played sports as a kid, and I certainly didn’t want to read about it! And other girls who read these books operated on a no-sports-at-all policy…

To the plot…Kristy creates a baseball/softball/wiffleball team comprised of kids that suck too much or are waaaaay too young to play on a Little League team. Or they’re girls, who aren’t allowed on Little League teams unless there’s no softball league. They play against Kristy’s rival/crush Bart. And lose, but, as we’re reminded every other page, they never give up…they show spirit. Blah.

This book was boring, and I really didn’t care…The only thing I really want to mention was the fact that they make a huge deal about how much crap you have to lug around with a two year old, but don’t mention how stupid it is to include a two-and-a-half year old with kids up to 10 is…

Oh, and Kristy keeps saying Watson “sounds jerky” when he sounds like a TV dad…maybe it’s cause she’s never really had a father…(cue sad piano music).

There’s a fun scene in which Claudia pulls the walking disaster’s tooth; I used to love pulling my teeth and tasting the blood. I’m weird.