As you can tell from the title of this post, there was A LOT going on in the world of the BSC for this installment of my rereads. Not only did I read the five requisite books, but there were two mysteries, a super special and a special edition reader’s request all about Logan! I can remember not really enjoying the special reader’s request, but I made a commitment to read all the BSC books in order, and it’s happening!
Laine Cummings returns for book fifty-one, Stacey’s Ex-Bestfriend, and she is just a delight… not. She’s exactly what you fear happening to your best friend as a kid: growing up too fast and becoming completely unbearable and obnoxious. Laine is that person that makes you think everyone in New York is a complete snob. Granted, she’s also a thirteen year old girl who thinks she older than she is, so that contributes to that snotty air as well.
In any case, I found myself glad that Stacey decided it was better for her and Laine to part as friends. It happens, and it’s something important to touch on in the books. Friends grow apart. It happens.
In the third installment of the mystery series, Mallory and the Ghost Cat, Mallory investigates the strange cat at a new client’s house. Not much to say about this one, truth be told. There was not a ton going on in regards to this ghost cat and I felt like the story didn’t have a solid resolution in the end. It also seemed like the cat was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the mystery and that the real meat of the story started when they “resolved” the whole thing.
Moving on quickly from this one.
Book fifty-two, Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies (which really annoys me as a title… couldn’t we have written the words out properly?), showcases the BSC in their family living class. Each 8th grade member has to “get married” and take care of a egg for an extended period of time. They surprise each other by learning more about the people they are paired with (for example, Logan shows he doesn’t really trust Mary Anne with their egg baby) and that none of them are ready for too much adult responsibility beyond baby-sitting.
This was one of those books that I thought was prepping me for something in middle school, but I never had a class even remotely close to family living. The closest thing I come to this is teaching sewing now, but all my sewing skills are largely self-taught with the exception of a few isolated sewing classes I took over the years. But technically I have had no formal study of sewing.
Kristy tackles too much in book fifty-three, Kristy for President. Of all the members of the BSC (other than Jessi, maybe), Kristy seems the most in danger of overextending herself. This definitely happens in this book. She tackles a campaign and baby-sitting and her schoolwork starts to suffer. In the end, she realizes that she has taken on too much and she quits the campaign so her classmates can have a president who can better serve them. This is the second book in a row dealing with taking on too much, and how to gracefully bow out of things.
I haven’t mentioned timeline in a while, but so far the girls have been in school throughout this installment. I am still paying attention to just how many years they spent in 8th grade!
Book fifty-four, Mallory and the Dream Horse, is our second Mallory book in this installment and the second one that deals with animals. This time it’s not a cat, but a horse that claims Mallory’s attention at her new riding lessons. However, after she falls off a horse (she’s fine) at the lessons, she becomes wary of the animals. Ultimately she has to deal with the fact that riding isn’t what she wanted it to be and she needs to have a heart-to-heart with her parents about quitting.
For the most part, this one was a solid reminder that I still don’t love Mallory books. Of all the members of the BSC she is the one I connect with the least, which is surprising since she’s basically me at eleven: loved writing novels and reading.
Having said that, I will give a shoutout to the new Netflix show’s Mallory as, though we have only briefly seen her so far, she seems a lot cooler than a lot of the Mallorys we’ve been given in other versions of the show.
Mystery number four brings us back to Kristy with Kristy and the Missing Child. This was an insanely heavy plot line for a BSC book. Martin (or really a ghostwriter at this point) doesn’t shy away from heavier plot lines but this one was intense… and yet not. It wasn’t intense enough for what it was about, which was the complete disappearance of one of the Kuhn kids.
Jake Kuhn doesn’t return home after a practice session with Kristy’s Krushers and is missing for almost two days before Kristy, of all people, finds him. His mother, while worried, is also convinced that his father took him (they are getting divorced; also, he didn’t take him), and no one can find Mr. Kuhn to figure anything out. From listening to the Stuck in Stoneybrook podcast, I recently learned that the fear of abductions was a big thing at the time these were written (think The Face on the Milk Carton), so while they did take it seriously, it also seemed odd that all the parents would let their kids go off wandering on their own to look for Jake without any adult supervision.
Again, it wasn’t a bad book, it just seemed really heavy for BSC book.
And less heavy sidebar: Mary Anne is doing poorly in her home ec class (which is interesting as she seems like she’d be the best one at it) and the teacher’s name is Mrs. Ploof which really makes me laugh.
In book fifty-five, Jessi’s Gold Medal, Jessi discovers that her ballet skills carry over to synchronized swimming. She ends up joining the team and working towards the Stoneybrook Middle School Sports Festival. Most of the members of the BSC are involved in some way or another, except for Mary Anne and Mallory, who deem themselves not particularly sports-inclined. In a sidebar plot, Kristy makes a bet with Alan Gray that she can win a race, and the BSC also tries to put together a kids Olympics for their baby-sitting charges.
I’ve kind of started judging the books based on which ones I think would be good episodes for the t.v. show, and this one falls in the not a good episode category. I think they can use the sports festival subplot at some point (much like they did with Claudia’s candy art), but I don’t think focusing on Jessi switching from ballet to synchronized swimming is a good half hour show plot point.
Finally we reached a book in the series that I just couldn’t read. I mean, I read it. It was just so boring. In Reader’s Request: Logan’s Story, Martin takes the readers on little sidebar journey and gives us some insight into the one and only male member of the club, Logan. Unfortunately, the plot line revolved a lot around Logan’s interest in sports, which is not an interest of mine and so I grew quickly bored with the stories of the teammates, particularly because they were constantly hassling Logan about being a baby-sitter. I mean, come on: baby-sitting is GOOD money (at least it was for me when I was a baby-sitter through middle and high school). You would think more boys would want to cash in on that.
I didn’t remember a ton about Super Special 8, Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake, but it turns out it’s one of my favorite super specials. I really enjoyed the adventures at the lake house, even though – as usual – nothing super crazy happened. However, once again I have to say that I think my obsession with lake houses stems from the BSC. (Also lake houses are AWESOME.)
One thing that can be hit or miss with the super specials is the introduction of other narrators outside of the BSC. In this one we also got to hear from Karen, David Michael and poor Sam, who is torturing Stacey in an effort to spend more time with her but is failing miserably at making her see that she likes him. The addition of Sam was interesting, but Karen and David Michael have a much younger voice than the BSC and it can be a little (even more) juvenile to read. I found myself struggling to stay interested in their chapters, but I did enjoy seeing Sam’s side of the Stacey crush.
One thing that I have never understood about Dawn’s characterization is how freaked out she gets about certain things. She’s terrified of New York City, and in this book she won’t get in the water because she believes that there’s a Loch Ness monster of sorts in the lake. She’s super into the mystery of a family who disappeared decades earlier, but she’s afraid to spend the night on the island where their house was. (I mean, I don’t blame her for that one, it sounds super creepy, but it also seems inconsistent with the girl who loves mysteries and ghost stories… and actively seeks them out on vacations. Dawn has shown in other books that she clearly likes to be scared, so while I can get her New York fear, I can’t really understand her unwillingness to sleep on the island when she actively goes hunting for a secret passageway in her house in one of her earlier books.)
Oh, and timeline check: it’s summer vacation again which means we’re about to go into another year of 8th grade! By my count, this is now year five of 8th grade. In real time, the BSC members would be seniors in high school at this point.
As I move further and further along in the series, I am trying to decide how many of the sub-series I should read. The smaller reader’s requests are an east feat – I think there are only two or three of them. However, there’s a whole bunch of California Diaries books that focus on Dawn and her friends back in California (yes, spoiler alert, Dawn will be leaving Stoneybrook for California). I’m very curious about the Friends Forever series since I had moved on from these books by the time they came out. I don’t even think I knew about them at the time. So those are a definite, but I’m not entirely sold on the California series yet. I guess time will tell.