{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Books 46-50, Super Special 7 & Mysteries 1-2}

Here’s a doozy of a BSC post, chockfull of more books than usual. I kept to the five book format, but in between those books was a new super special as well as two of the mysteries. I’ve been waiting for the mysteries to start, not because I remember them being particularly good, but because I wanted to see if they fit into the timeline I’ve been tracking or if they took place in a kind of “alternate mystery BSC universe.” The verdict? I’m not sure. For the most part they don’t really reference any specific moments in time.

In Mary Anne Misses Logan, book forty-six, my calculations suggest that the BSC is entering their fourth year of eighth grade. They are back in school for sure, as much of the book’s plot revolves around a big 8th grade author study project that they’re doing. As luck would have it, Mary Anne ends up in a group with ex-boyfriend Logan Bruno. She spends much of the book pining for him, and in the end they get back together – on her own terms. However, this is only after she discovers that Logan is going out with Cokie Mason.

Speaking of Cokie Mason, she is every group project’s worst nightmare. She literally does no work whatsoever. She manages to get her group switched so she can work with Logan, and then spends all her time flirting with him and not doing anything. I know as an adult I should not root for the thirteen year old to get publicly shamed at the end of the book for not doing her work, but it was kind of awesome.

In between books 46 and 47, readers are introduced to the mystery series with Stacey and the Missing Ring. A new client hires the club and, while Stacey is taking care of their daughter, an expensive ring goes missing. The mother immediately blames Stacey and vows to tell all of the BSC’s other clients about this travesty. The problem? Stacey never even SAW the ring in question, let alone stole it.

The BSC members are immediately on her side, but then weird cancellations begin happening with all of their jobs. I’ll be honest, I spent a lot of this book really mad at the other BSC clients, who are always so quick to blame the club for something going wrong. Apparently the fact that these girls do good work is completely cancelled out because of one incident. In the end, the cancellations are just a strange coincidence and the one client that DOES get told about the incident doesn’t believe that Stacey stole the ring, so the clients won their way back into my heart in the end.

However, you’ll have to read the book to find out who stole the ring, cause we all know going in that it wasn’t Stacey!

In book forty-seven, Mallory on Strike, we have your classic “the main character is not communicating with the people around her and causing unnecessary conflict” situation. Mallory wants to write a story for a young writer’s contest, but is having trouble finding any time to herself to get her work done. She has baby-sitting but, worse, her parents constantly ask her to help around the house. Honestly, if you ask me, her parents don’t seem to care much about her schoolwork, as part of what Mallory is trying to get done is her homework. It’s not like she’s trying to be irresponsible and not help around the house. She’s actually trying to get her schoolwork done and honor her commitments. But because she doesn’t communicate any of this, she just comes off as really selfish and bratty when she goes on strike.

Every couple of books, Ann M. Martin approaches a heavier topic and book forty-eight, Jessi’s Wish, is that book. Jessi helps out with her sister’s school club and meets Danielle Roberts, a young girl with leukemia. In the book, Danielle seems to be doing well and it looks like things are on the mend for her, but the book does not end with her being cancer-free. Much of the story is about Jessi campaigning for her to get her wish to go to Disney World and contacting the fictional BSC world equivalent of the Make a Wish Foundation. She also gets the BSC on a volunteer kick, where each girl chooses a cause they believe in and volunteers their time. It’s actually a nice way to teach kids this concept.

Although the book does not end in tragedy, it’s kind of nice that it doesn’t end super cleanly and happily either. It’s definitely more realistic and when you’re dealing with a complex topic like childhood cancer, it may be the better way to go.

In Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street, Claudia has to deal with a new baby-sitting charge, Rosie Wilder, who is a genius in every way possible. She’s very bright, she’s talented, she’s in commercials, she dances, she sings, she’s in math club, she wins crossword competitions… and she hates it all! Well, this is what Claudia comes to discover after a time. The two end up connecting through art, which it turns out is something Rosie really enjoys doing and is very good at.

Rosie is the quintessential overly-scheduled child, and she’s suffering for it. She’s unhappy that her parents are pushing her to be in all these commercials and to be highly competitive when it comes to her various talents. In the end, Claudia helps her figure out how to talk to them about the things she wants to do vs. the things she feels like she’s being forced to do, and she’s even able to show her art with Claudia in a garage art show!

Connection to the BSC Netflix show: this is the book where Claudia’s candy art gets introduced. In the series it appears in the first season, so I’m super curious to see where they take the show and how they continue to incorporate little things… because even I know it would be highly unrealistic to make each individual book an episode!

Here we have another mystery interlude, this one involving super creepy notes, phone calls and ring and runs (that’s what it’s called when someone rings the doorbells and runs away right?). In Beware, Dawn, the kids of Stoneybrook are having a favorite baby-sitter contest and the BSC suddenly finds themselves receiving threatening notes during all of their jobs.

Okay. This situation, if it happened in real life, is seriously creepy as all hell. And yet not a single one of the BSC members tells an adult that when they’re baby-sitting, someone rings the doorbell and leaves threatening notes on the doorstep. If nothing else, shouldn’t they be concerned for the welfare of the children they’re baby-sitting?!

In the end – spoiler alert – the culprit is a little jerk kid who’s mad because the BSC members got him in trouble with his parents for being a little jerk and bullying other children.

The seventh Super Special, Snowbound, is one of those BSC books that I have vague memories of reading, in that I remembered small little plot details as I was going along. In the book, the BSC is in Stoneybrook when a HUGE snowstorm hits. And I mean huge: after being teased with snow for weeks, the town finally gets over two feet of snow dumped on them in a huge blizzard. Of course, this causes all manner of problems. Dawn and her mother are stuck at the airport while picking up Jeff, Mary Anne and Mallory baby-sit for the Pikes overnight when Mr. and Mrs. Pike get stuck in New York, Claudia must stay with the Perkins girls overnight as their parents also get stuck away, Stacey and her mom get stranded on the side of the road and then are taken in by a couple who lets them stay the night (super sketchy situation but works out for them). Jessi is stuck in Stamford at her ballet school where she was rehearsing for The Nutcracker. Kristy fares the best, as the worst thing that happens to her is Bart gets stuck at her house overnight.

In the midst of this, the BSC is all worried about whether or not they will have their Winter dance. They’re all going and they all have dates – Kristy is even bringing Bart! And this is a detail I remember with so much clarity, I actually think of it often. Kristy asks Bart what color suit he’s going to wear to the dance and he answers “puce” (as a joke) and Kristy has no idea how she’s going to coordinate with him.

For the most part, this was a relatively realistic storyline for a crazier one. Everyone comes out of it just fine in the end, and no one has a completely unbelievable problem (although I find it a TAD hard to believe that Richard Spier wouldn’t stay at the Pikes or that Claudia’s mom takes her word for it and goes back home leaving Claudia to watch the three little girls overnight by herself).

Also sidebar: Jessi confirms in this book that the BSC spent two weeks of their last summer vacation in New York, so I got the timeline right there. Thank you, native New Yorker knowledge of Shakespeare in the Park!

In book fifty, Dawn’s Big Date, Logan’s cousin Lewis is coming to town. He and Dawn have been set up by Mary Anne and Logan and have been pen pals for quite some time. However, Dawn panics when the reality of meeting him looms closer, and she wants to change her entire look to impress him. Dawn really has a problem when it comes to being herself around boys. This is the second Dawn book focused on a crush of hers in which she tries to completely change her personality.

It’s so funny how I remember some of this books in minute detail instantly while others I don’t remember at all. This one, for example, is a don’t remember at all (which is weird cause I thought I knew all the Dawn books really well). I didn’t recall the baby-sitting sidebar of Norman Hill, the overweight child who thinks his family doesn’t love him because of his weight. And being as I was a chubby kid, I have no idea why I didn’t remember this storyline… perhaps because, while weight was more of an an issue in my teen years, I guess it didn’t come up a ton as a kid so I didn’t really relate to Norman.

Book fifty also has a consistency error. In the Super Special, it’s nearly Christmas and Dawn says she and Jeff are going to California for New Year’s Eve. Yet, when this book opens, the Schafers/Spiers are throwing a New Year’s Eve Party for the BSC and some members of the Pike family. I’m going to argue that the giant storm made traveling out of Stoneybrook difficult.

And there we have it: moving right along, and apparently I’ve been reading and watching too much BSC. The other day my sister said something to me about Stoneybrook hospital (on Long Island), and I was like “Stoneybrook isn’t a real place.” But, whatever… weird times call for weird obsessions and I’ve been enjoying this little piece of my simpler childhood while the world is going nuts.

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