{Rereading the Baby-Sitters Club: Books 91-95, Mystery 23, Super Mystery 2, & Portrait Collection: Mary Anne’s Book}

In my rereading of the BSC books, I am almost positive we are now in territory I didn’t read as a kid. However, I know there is at least one book I definitely did read in this cluster, leading me to believe that I just got more selective about the BSC books I did read. All the books in this section were published from 1995-1996 which means that I was a freshman in high school.

So… yeah. Maybe I don’t want to admit that I was still reading some BSC books as a 14-15 year old, but I apparently was! Even so, some of these plot lines felt brand new to me.

For example, book ninety-one, Claudia and the First Thanksgiving. I definitely don’t remember reading this one. In this book, Claudia details another one of the BSC’s short takes classes. Her group is assigned to produce a play for the third graders at Stoneybrook Elementary School. They choose to put on a play detailing the real details of the first Thanksgiving, rather than the saccharine version most people know today. The result is that the parents of Stoneybrook lose their minds, and accuse the class of being un-American. Eventually they group has to censor their show but they don’t go down without a fight.

Episode-ability: 8. Assuming they’re in the mood to do special holiday episodes, this would be an interesting one. It seems like I was a bit ahead of it’s time and that it would more likely be written today, and would make interesting episode content. It would however be reminiscent of the Welcome to Camp Moosehead episodes.

I also don’t remember reading Mallory’s Christmas Wish, book ninety-three. In this book, the Pike family finds themselves the subject of a reality-show of sorts that wants to feature their old-fashioned Christmas celebration (an idea of Mallory’s). At first they welcome the attention, but soon learn that the camera crew is extremely disruptive and taking away from their enjoyment of the holiday. Mallory starts to spend more time out of the house, working on the BSC project for the book: helping out at a nursing home.

Episode-ability: 5. This book was good, but not amazing. I don’t think the show needs to go in the direction of a show within a show, but some of the Christmas details might be nice to incorporate into another episode’s plot line.

I’m not sure I ever even owned any of the Super Mysteries. The second of them, Baby-Sitters Beware, is seriously concerning. After Kristy and Abby witness a burglar running out of the house next to the Rodowsky’s, the baby-sitters all start getting strange phone calls and notes. Things get even stranger when the older members of the club head up to Shadow Lake for a ski weeked (apparently, it’s tradition so far in the super mysteries to leave Mallory and Jessi behind). It calls back to Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs, with the same culprit back on the scene. However, not to make it too easy, there is a little twist to that detail.

Episode-ability: 7. This would admittedly make a really suspenseful two part episode, but without a lot of context and set up, it just wouldn’t work unless it was highly modified. This is one of those books that kind of makes you say “this is for kids?!” The sitters are legit stalked.

In book ninety-three, Mary Anne and the Memory Garden, we get heavy again. The BSC becomes heavily involved in SADD after one of their classmates is killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver. Although all the members of the BSC are dealing with the consequences of the traumatic event, Mary Anne is particularly stricken by Amelia’s death as she was working on a project with her and saw here mere hours before her accident. She decides to create a memory garden in honor of her classmate.

Episode-ability: 10. This was a good, well-told story. It would be a insanely sad episode, but honestly that’s probably what would make it a good episode. Even if Amelia is not a main character (they can’t kill off the main girls anyway), it’s still a poignant episode as the students of SMS and the BSC deal with an unexpected death of a peer.

Book ninety-four, Stacey McGill, Super Sitter, is more light-hearted, for the most part. Stacey finds out that Robert doesn’t love the idea of one day moving to New York, so she vows to change his mind. She plans to get him tickets to a Broadway show for this birthday, but needs money. When the opportunity to have a daily sitting job comes her way, she jumps on it. She immediately sees that this job is likely to be more trouble than it’s worth. Mrs. Cheplin expects Stacey to be both a baby-sitter and a housekeeper and gets really impatient with her when she can’t accomplish these things, even if Stacey did all the right things otherwise.

Episode-ability: 6. It was a fine episode but also calls back to plots we’ve seen before. Stacey is getting taken advantage of by a new client, much like Mary Anne was about twenty books back in Maid Mary Anne. In both books, the girls have to learn to sort out their priorities and decide what’s really important for them to focus all their time on (at least in this one Stacey was getting paid for her time).

There was only one regular mystery in this cluster of books, and it was Abby and the Secret Society (Mystery # 23). The BSC takes on a new job helping out at the new country club, which is reopening with new owners and a new name. It has a dark past however, to the point that Mr. Spier is even reluctant to let Mary Anne help out with the job. However, it is Abby who narrates this one, and thus the story revolves more around her experiences. She quickly suspects something strange is going on, and gets her fellow BSC members to help investigate an old murder that Sergeant Johnson thinks is tied to the place.

Episode-ability: 5. This was’t my favorite mystery. I found myself getting pretty bored with it until the very end, but I want a mystery to be engaging from the beginning. Also, what’s up with Sergeant Johnson still letting a bunch of middle school girls solve his cases for him? I like the mysteries most of the time, but they are starting to remind me more and more of Scooby-Doo! And man, there is an INSANE crime ring in this small Connecticut town since these mysteries started.

Book ninety-five, Kristy + Bart = ? is the one I definitely remember reading. I remember liking it because it was a little bit more risqué than the previous books. In this one, Kristy is increasingly more and more confused by her relationship with Bart. For dozens of books, she has been referring to him as her sort-of boyfriend, but this is the first book in which Bart tries to really define it… and Kristy has no idea what to do. They go to the movies, where she would rather watch the movie than kiss, however later on in the book she is more than happy to kiss Bart, resulting in her getting caught home alone with him and grounded. She ultimately decides she isn’t ready for a boyfriend.

Episode-ability: 8. I think this would actually be a really great episode, because the truth is, some thirteen year old girls just aren’t ready for boyfriends. I know it wasn’t something on my radar when I was that age (I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was seventeen). I think it’s an important thing to establish that boyfriends aren’t everything, no matter how old you are and sometimes you have other priorities. Either way, I really hope they include Bart in the show.

The final book in this installment is the Portrait Collection: Mary Anne’s Book. It was another fun insight into the background of one of the BSC members. Mary Anne discusses the time she invited both her father AND Mimi to a Mother’s Day tea party, when she panicked at a ballet recital and when she visited her long lost grandmother. It was interesting to see a little more of that story – her visit was discussed briefly in Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic, but this showed more of what happened on her visit. Much like the other Portrait Collection books, it was a cute little sidebar.

Thus that brings us to the end of this installment. Since my last post, Netflix finally announced that they are making a second season! I very, very much doubt that a single one of these plot lines will make season two, but I absolutely can’t wait to see what does!

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