Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I can be a real pain sometimes; or, BSC #7: Claudia and Mean Janine

I think this book should actually be called “Claudia’s a mega-bitch; an exploration of sibling rivalry gone wrong, while several 13-year-olds care for a large number of children during their summer vacation instead of loafing like any sane person.” Or maybe “Hi, I’m Ann M. Martin, and this is one of the last few books I wrote in this series that acknowledged the passage of time in any sort of realistic or logical way.” Or maybe “What kind of public library doesn’t hold Nancy Drew books (or whatever current YA series is popular? Seriously? They’re not trashy or dumb or even dumbing down or whatever…” How about “It’s a good thing Janine wants to be a physicist, cause she and the words don’t work well together.”

Okay, plot goes:

Claudia and Janine are SOOOOO DIFFERENT. They don’t get along.

Mimi has a stroke.

Claudia blames herself, so throws herself—voluntarily—into caring for Mimi, then gets all bitter and lashing-out-y towards sis.

They finally come together and realize that they need to cut each other some slack (ESPECIALLY CLAUDIA, because, contrary to the title of the book, Claudia is a super-duper hag to Janine, especially when Janine is trying, albeit ineffectually, to be nice).

Subplot=BSC are INSANE, cause they choose to spend their mornings caring for many children in a play group rather than sleeping late. Dumbasses.

Other subplot=Jamie Newton’s crazy jealous, cause his baby sister Lucy is getting baptized, and she gets presents and a party.

Claudia’s fashion highlight?

“It was a big, loose white shirt with black splotches all over it, and white pants that came to just below my knees. My shoes (and I might point out that I’d had a fight with Mom over permission to buy them) were dainty gold sandals that laced partway up my legs. Then I put on my pink flaming earrings and a pink bracelet that said CLAUDIA in heart shaped beads [both mature and wild]. Finally I braided my hair into four long braids, tied a ribbon around the top of each, and fastened the ends with butterfly clips.” Classy.

28 comments:

Miss Scarlet said...

wow, that hair style sounds...um, just awesome.

nerr said...

i've always wondered how crazy her hair was. remember the one time she tied one half into braids? ponytails? and left the other half alone? like, are you serious? that sounds wacky to me. heeee.

bmad said...

personally if i was a girl i would always dress just like claudia and this is not a joke or anything. i actually think her outfits sound very amazing and like something to aspire to.

dammit sami said...

Remember when all the BSC went to Cali for a SuperSpecial and Claudia met the smart boy so she called Janine to find out things to talk about like current events ("glasnost") and Janine advised her to just be herself because her self totally ruled? Aw. I heart Janine - who had the most awesome handwriting of anyone in the books, btw. I can remember it looked almost like it was typed, but it wasn't.

Marissa said...

I really love this blog! I found it through someone who found it through someone who found ... well, you get it. But I love it; it's great!

Library Lady said...

I love how you just toss in blah blah Mimi has a stroke blah.

p.s. I never understood how Claudia's parents were always pushing her to do well in school and to "get smart," and yet stopped her from reading. Yea, good plan. Sorry, who's the dummy here?

Anonymous said...

Actually this was always one of favorite books because of the "emotional intensity". I used to get really sad about how Mimi couldn't knit anymore and threw her knitting needles into the closet. Other than that though I am shocked that Claudia's fashion sense was something I once aspired to. I tried to "bold" and "graphic" like her, but braids with ribbons at the top? With an outfit like that I excepect she looked less edgy and more like she'd suffered severe head trauma.

Tiff said...

actually, the knitting thing made me sad, this time around, as I've been knitting for a few years now...and then I was like "Maybe she could be a pit knitter? Or figure out a modified continental style? They've got to figure out some way for her to knit, even if she can't get as fancy!" Then I remembered that Mimi wasn't actually the focus of the story. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Confession: I wanted to be just like Claudia when I was 11. In an effort to emulate her style, I spent an entire evening planning my outfit for the next day at school. Orange "leggins'", a tie-dyed shirt, a flared blue-jean skirt, doubled and multi-colored socks, and high heels. I completed the look with a side ponytail high on my head and dangly earrings. As I stepped out of my mom's station wagon, I thought I looked awesome: just like Claudia.

When I walked into the classroom, everyone pointed at me and laughed.

It's passages like the one you just cited that made me the one of the least popular girls in the 5th grade. ha!

Your blog is really great...thanks.

cara said...

She totally laced her sandals all the way up to meet her pants. And wouldn't those technically be capris? Or did we not call them "capris" back then?

McGeek said...

It's outfits like that, which make me wish they would come out with a "Babysitters - Where are they now?" documentary. I would love to see Claudia years in the future, struggling with a bad crack habit and living a drug induced fantasy in which she's the head of a major fashion empire.

I can picture it now. She's wearing black and yellow polka dot pajama bottoms over white leggings and knee high pink and white striped socks, staggering drunkenly down the streets of New York on clear plastic stripper shoes because they're so "mature". On top she's wearing a sparkling pink and white ice skater inspired leotard that hangs loose over her shorts. Her hair is done up, the top layer being pulled into two high pigtails. The bottom has been braided into small individual braids that hang past her shoulders. Finally, to accessorize she's used her old Jazzy Jewels kit to create paper earrings that are absolutely dibble, and has a candy necklace around her neck that doubles not only as fashion, but food whenever she gets the munchies.

Sadly though, in her drug induced state, poor Claudia can't seem to realize that the people stopping to take pictures with her aren't doing so because they admire her, but much like Stacy when she brought her children to visit her old friend years ago, are using her image to warn their children away from the dangers of drugs, junk food, and Nancy Drew novels.

Library Lady said...

McGeek, you're hilarious. That's gold.

Anonymous said...

For whatever reason, when I read story lines with Mimi in them, I always pronounced it "Mim-my" in my head. Now that I am much older and wiser, I can recognize that it is probably "Meemee". OR IS IT?

PoBaL said...

McGeek (and other interested parties): this is what happens to Claudia

Lucy said...

I think Kirsten fang-lady Dunst is reading a lot of BSC books lately...and copying Claudia's look.

Just sayin'.

Love the site, btw.

Adri said...

They weren't insame for having the play group. They were just insane for chargin practically nothing for it.

Adri said...

God, I can't type all of a sudden. Well, I *do* have a mostly-healed sprained wrist.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I am in procrastination heaven. i am from Melbourne, Australia and thought there was no one else in the world who was devoted to BSC in thier misguided childhood/teen years! My friend put me onto this blog and it's FANTASTIC, esp for me, Year 12 student with midyear exams coming up...i can see those marks slipping away. But hey, at least I'll be refreshed in all my BSC trivia!

p.s- I wanted to be Claudia, too...

Anne said...

Oh my god. Oh. My. God.

I was just linked to your site which is, by the way, brlliant and I have *loved* reliving my youth. And this is the post that broke me. Because Holy Moly, the part where Claudia describes her outfit? With the blotches and the flamingos and the whole thing. I forshadowed reading the ehitre paragraph. I *knew* what cool outfit was coming next. The sandles, the bracelet, the braids.

Sorry, for babbling but that was nuts. I really am loving reading this. It is hysterical. And occasionally, as evidenced above, really unnerving. =)

veronica said...

The thing that bothered me most about this book? When Mary Anne is "Mimi-sitting," Mimi has trouble with the words "sheet" and "sheep"...yet laughs at Mary Anne's suggestion of playing hooky. Maybe I'm being nit-picky, but it bothered me how she had trouble with simple words yet totally understood what playing "hooky" meant. Would she really understand a slang word like that? Gahhh. I'm just petty, I guess...
...but anyway, hooray for archives to keep me entertained! I heart you & your blog.

Kat said...

I admit that I totally did my hair just like Claudia here throughout most of fourth grade. Not only did I think everything in the BSC books was automatically "cool" or "stylish", but I failed to realize that the things that where "cool" (if they ever where)in the late 80's when the earlier books where written was very different than what was "cool" in the mid 90's when I read them. Y

stephanie-austin.com said...

“Hi, I’m Ann M. Martin, and this is one of the last few books I wrote in this series that acknowledged the passage of time in any sort of realistic or logical way.”

Even when I was 11 and reading these I was like, wtf is up with the time? I remember them getting into the 8th grade and never leaving.

kiwimusume said...

Oh God. I read this book prior to studying Japanese for ten years, and ANM's "Japanese" makes me SERIOUSLY ragey.

First of all, the note Mimi wrote in the hospital. "HAPPY SE TO KODOMO". No. Just no. Japanese people DO NOT write their own language in English letters. Especially Japanese stroke victims whose language skills are fucked up. Mimi would have written 子供 or quite possibly こども (what kids write before they learn the Chinese characters for it) but "KODOMO"? No. Trust me on this.

I also spent the first couple years of high school Japanese wondering why "white" was "shiro" or "shiroi" when ANM had said it was "shiroku". Turns out the silly moo lifted it from somewhere it was being used in its adverbial form. Please, ANM, if you're going to use foreign languages in your books, for the love of God learn something about them!!

And oh wow, I never noticed what a bitch Claudia is to Janine. When I was little I saw everything from the main character's point of view, but now I'm re-reading it I just want to smack Claudia. Shut up, Claudia.

mary said...

claudia kishi is to blame for all my horrible fashion statements in middle school. i read these book and actually went to school having done shit like that to my hair.

Anonymous said...

WOW. I recall that hair sounding wack to me 15 years ago... now, there are no words. And the next time I see an aging Asian crack whore walking around the city, I will know exactly who she is.

zosogirl said...

your blog is a hoot! i love it. dawn was always my fave, claud a close second... mallory, whinging whining brat she is, my least fave. all the times i wanted to strangle her... shut up Mallory!

ps. ANM if I wanted to know what people were wearing I'd obtain a target catalogue.

pps. please keep going with your blog. bringws back memories.

metamorphstorm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
metamorphstorm said...

This book was almost sad - my grandmother died from a stroke, too. Fortunately, I guess, she didn't last over a year and struggle with everything; it just happened, she was in the hospital for a month trying to get better, but just couldn't.

What I still don't get is why, when the Kishi family is going through a difficult personal time, the parents still let Claudia do the play group instead of helping Mimi, as she insisted, and keeping up with her homework, or picking one or the other (Mimi or kids).

Claudia's books are stupid - her parents threaten to take her out of the BSC/its many activities, and never, ever do. I wish they would!