{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Books 71-75 & Mysteries 13-14}

Two BSC rereads posts in a row! I try to space these out a little more, but I’m in between sewing projects right now and it was either a BSC reread post or nothing for today, so here we go.

I believe at this point in my rereading the BSC journey I am more than halfway finished with the regular series. However, I also believe there are at least five more super specials, a number of mysteries, a few super-mysteries, the California Diaries and the Friends Forever series to get through, so all in all it’s probably about a third? Maybe? Feels like a lot more to go, and I’m wondering how quickly I can get through them. I’m still quickly running out of episodes of The Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast and I want to keep listening so I’ve been reading even more furiously than usual. Even with skipping ahead to the mystery and super special episodes, I’m going through them FAST!

For this post, we make our way through books seventy-one through seventy-five, and there are two mysteries in there as well.

In book seventy-one, Claudia and the Perfect Boy, Claudia wants to find a boyfriend. She makes a list of criteria for herself and is ultimately directed to a personals ad, and eventually creates a personals section for the school newspaper (which initially goes really well, but with some snafus towards the end of the book as the column grows in popularity). As the book continues, she goes on a few disastrous dates with boys who seem perfect on paper, but in person aren’t particularly compatible with her.

Episode-ability: 7. This could be a fun episode to explore, with Claudia learning that it’s better to wait for the “perfect” boy to come along and be compatible with her rather than looking for someone who meets her list of criteria (probably something I should learn, too…). However, am I the only person who thinks it’s weird that a middle school newspaper would run dating ads?

As it turns out, we didn’t have to miss Dawn for long, because she is narrating from California in book seventy-two, Dawn and the We ❤️ Kids Club. As it also turns out, I don’t love the We Love Kids Club and Dawn’s adventures in California. I miss her interactions with the BSC. However, the plot line was not bad. The We Love Kids Club gets their fifteen minutes of fame after an article is written about them, and then they end up in a human interest story on the news. However, this causes trouble for them, as they have traditionally been pretty laid back attitude about how their club runs, and it turns out they can’t keep up with the demand and stick to their normal regime. Dawn ends up having to enact some stricter rules. Meanwhile in Stoneybrook, Kristy hears about the We Love Kids Club’s brush with fame, and tries to get the same thing going, unsuccessfully, for the BSC.

Episode-ability: 3. As with the previous Dawn in California books, I don’t think the show should bother with sending Dawn back there. The plot line is interesting though. Maybe they can have it happen to the BSC? Although Kristy Thomas would never let her club fall apart, fame or no fame!

Then it’s time for little mystery interlude with Mary Anne and the Library Mystery (mystery thirteen). Mary Anne is feeling bored and melancholy, and like she needs a new challenge in her life. She lucks out when Mrs. Kishi asks the BSC if anyone is available to volunteer at the library children’s room, as the children of Stoneybrook are going to be participating in a Read-a-thon. Mary Anne jumps on the chance, and soon finds herself wrapped up in a strange mystery of books being burned. While the club initially assumes it is the work of protesters outside the library wanting to ban books, the culprit ends up being a little close to home: Sean Addison, one of their sitting charges.

Episode-ability: 5. This one was kind of take it or leave it for me. It doesn’t advance the over plot of the entire series, or add in any new information, but it’s an interesting story and could be fun to watch.

We stick with Mary Anne as the narrator in book seventy-three, Mary Anne and Miss. Priss. Longtime readers and fans of the BSC might be able to guess that Miss. Priss is none other than Jenny Prezzioso. She appears to be relapsing into her “little angel” ways from earlier in the series, refusing to get dirty and always dressed in her very best. Her little sister Andrea is becoming a star, and Jenny is jealous. She actually runs the gamut between being hyper-clean and sweet (she refuses to play with the neighborhood kids as it will soil her clothes, but she also won’t put on her play clothes) to get her mom’s attention but then switches to hyper-messy when that doesn’t seem to work. In the end, the balance is finally struck but it takes the entire book to get there.

Episode-ability: 2. Being as they changed Jenny Prezzioso to Bailey Delvecchio in the series, I’m not sure how this book would translate, unless they just introduce the Prezziosos. Even so, this book was more about Jenny than it was about Mary Anne, and therefore this doesn’t make it good episode fodder. Sure, there’s character growth, but it’s Jenny’s and not a main series character’s. Outside of that, the rest of the storyline wasn’t all that interesting.

Kristy and the Copycat is a strange name for book seventy-four as it seems to be referring to a minor detail of the book rather than the main plot. The copycat in question is Karen, but her copying Kristy and the other members of the BSC is a very minor B-plot in comparison to what Kristy is doing throughout the rest of the book. Because what Kristy is doing in the rest of the book is a BIG DEAL.

In this book, Kristy joins the girls’ softball team and soon discovers that the existing members of the team “initiate” the new members (aka hazing). Kristy and the other four new members of the team are told they need to spray paint an old shed on the school grounds. At first Kristy doesn’t want to go along with it, but ultimately she does – and tragedy strikes. On the same night they spray paint the shed, it burns down, injuring a man who tries to put it out. Kristy, although she ultimately learns that she was not responsible and it was a coincidental second incident unrelated to the spray paint, is wracked with guilt and vows to not be involved in this type of peer pressure ever again,

Sidebar: Karen is copying Kristy. This is why I think the title needs to be adjusted!

Episode-ability: 10. A big ten on this one for an episode. There’s peer pressure, there’s growth, there’s learning a lesson, there’s taking responsibility for your actions… everything a good episode needs! The sidebar plot can go though. It’s funny, as Karen is trying to copy all the older girls and be a thirteen year old, but it’s also completely unnecessary to anything else happening in this story.

In Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall, the fourteenth mystery, it’s time for the BSC to solve another crime! This time, they are all working at the mall for a school project and they learn about a recent increase in shoplifting. However, the items being stolen don’t make a ton of sense, as they range from toothpaste from the drugstore to treadmills. The BSC soon figures out that there are actually three separate shoplifting rings at the mall, all ranging from fairly innocent (three kids trying to survive, basically, while their mother is in the hospital) to fairly corrupt (the mall manager himself is responsible for the bigger thefts).

Episode-ability: 5. Much like the previous mystery in this post, I could take or leave this one as a t.v. episode. It was fun to read, and I enjoyed the idea of the work study program the girls are doing, but in the grand scheme of available plots in the BSC cannon, this one doesn’t make the top for a heartfelt episode of the show!

Book seventy-five, Jessi’s Horrible Prank, made me so angry. As a teacher, I was appalled by just about everyone in this story, the students and the teacher alike. There’s a new teacher at Stoneybrook Middle School – Mr Trout – and he is responsible for Jessi’s current Short Takes class on computer programming. The problem? He is an abysmal teacher and the kids are constantly disrespectful and rude to him. He, in turn, just lets them get away with this nonsense, just looking the other way while they are blatantly making fun of the way he speaks and dresses. At one point, they band together to see if he has a toupee (he does), and this leads to Jessi playing him in the 6th grade follies, a performance by the SMS 6th graders in which they mostly play satirical versions of their teachers.

The follies didn’t really make me angry; for the most part, it was all in good fun and most of the SMS teachers enjoyed their child counterparts. Not to mention, they didn’t really hit where it hurt. However, this makes Mr. Trout ultimately leave the school. Jessi feels horrible and tries to fix the situation, learning that some professions aren’t just for some people (and it turned out that Mr. Trout was extremely off putting to everyone in the school, staff included). I agree, but the student behavior still infuriated me.

Sidebar plot was cute: the baby-sitting charges do their own show about the BSC.

Episode-ability: 9. Even though this book made me really angry as a teacher, I can see it being a good episode of the show. Jessi gets caught up in the kids making fun of the weird teacher, but in the end she shows real remorse for her actions and takes responsibility for them by apologizing.

This was a pretty tame installment compared to some. The next edition of this series is going to be a doozy with a whopping fourteen books in the bunch, including a Reader’s Request, two Super Specials and the introduction of the Portrait Collection! Stay tuned!

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