Saturday, July 28, 2007

#21: Mallory and the Trouble with Twins

In this book, Mallory spends most of her time complaining about how dorky she is (not without good reason, I'm sure you all remember) . . . which, naturally, includes much discussion of how bomb Claud is. This entry features some serious BSC style, so be prepared!

"Now, let me get back to Claudia Kishi. She's the one who already has pierced ears, remember? Claud is the vice-president of the Babysitters Club and probably the trendiest, coolest kid in all of Stoneybrook Middle School. She's into art and makes some of her own clothes and jewelry - wild things, like socks on which she paints palm trees and coconuts; or gigantic, bright papier-mache pins and bracelets. Whether she makes her clothes or buys them, they are totally cool, and you can count on Claudia to add her own personal touches. "

Mallory is also dying to have her ears pierced, so part of her hero-worshipping includes checking out Claud's ears. "Hanging from them were little pairs of red sneakers. Cool!" She mentions that Dawn is also wearing earrings - clip-on turquoise triangles. "They were cool, too, I guess," she adds doubtfully.

"Claudia was lying on her bed with one leg propped up on a pillow. She'd broken that leg a few months earlier and every now and then, especially if rain was on the way, her leg would give her some trouble. [Betsy's legacy.] She looked absolutely great, though, pillow or no pillow. Her long hair was fixed in about a million braids which were pulled back and held in place behind her head with a column of puffy ponytail holders. She was wearing a t-shirt she'd painted herself, tight blue pants that ended just past her knees, push-down socks, and no shoes. From her ears dangled small baskets of fruit. She'd made those, I knew. She'd found the baskets and the fruits at a store that sells miniatures and dollhouse furniture. Claudia amazes me."

For whatever reason, in this book Dawn and Mary Anne are little fashion plates as well. But they are salad fashion plates - inferior to Claudia, who is both our dinner plate AND desert bowl of fashion. Mary Anne "was wearing a short plum-colored skirt over a plum-and-white-striped body suit. The legs of the body suit stopped just above her ankles, and she'd tucked the bottoms into her socks. I don't know where her shoes were. She'd taken them off. The neat thing about her outfit was that she was wearing white suspenders with her skirt. I immediately decided to use some of my hard-earned Arnold money to buy suspenders. And maybe a pair of push-down socks like Claud's. Or, if I became rich, to copy Dawn Schafer's entire outfit.

Dawn was wearing this cool oversized (really oversized) blue shirt. One of the coolest things about it was that it was green inside, so that when she turned the collar down and rolled the sleeves up, you could see these nice touches of green at her neck and wrists. She was wearing a green skirt - and clogs. I'd never seen a person actually wearing clogs, just photos of people in Sweden. Dawn was the only kid in school who could get away with wearing them. She is so self-possessed."

Deere Dairy: Why is Don so self-posessed? And why wo'nt she shut up about my twinkies? Luv, Claudia.

"Claud, Dawn, Jessi, and I began opening our presents. We opened the ones from Kristy and Mary Anne first.

'These are the things we kept buying at the mall that day,' Kristy informed us. Her eyes were shining. [Creepy!]

Well, you've never heard such squealing. The earring had been chosen very carefully, and we were all thrilled. Dawn has been given two pairs, studs in the shape of California (her home state [O RLY?]) and others that were gold loops with oranges hanging from them. California oranges, I guess. Claud's earrings looked like artists' palettes, Jessi's were ballet shoes, and mine were horses, since I like to read about them.

'Thank you, thank you!' we kept saying.

Then we opened Claud's earrings. 'I made them myself,' she announced.

Even if she hadn't said so, we all would have known. And we began laughing nonstop. Claud had collected little charms and strung together these wild bunches of minature Coke cans, eyeglasses, forks, animals, you name it, and added feathers and beads."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Valuable Lesson was about being yourself. Or standing up to your parents. Or getting your ears pierced, maybe. To be perfectly honest, I was more than a little distracted by all the mall visits in this one, so I'm not sure I even have a Valuable Lesson to share with you. For all the Valuable Lessons Ann M. Martin was so keen on cramming in, I'm surprised there wasn't a book in which Claudia has to go the dentist and it turns out that her teeth are rotting right out of her head.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

#19: Claudia and the Bad Joke

Boy, Betsy Sobak sure was a brat, wasn't she.

"She always wears the same kind of outfit - blue jeans, running shoes, a turtleneck, and a sweater. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are other things to wear. I mean, she could try a floppy bow in her hair or some interesting ponytail holders, or some big earrings. That's what I would do. But then, I'm not Kristy."

And thank the lord for that, Claud. Maybe my hatred of sneakers originates with Kristy Thomas. I sure wasn't put off by the turtleneck-sweater combo, because there is some horrific photographic evidence of me rocking that particular fashion statement. 'Nuff said.

"Also, I love to mess around with clothes and jewelry. I might as well just come out and say it [yes, please do] - I'm one of the coolest-looking kids in Stoneybrook Middle School. I know that sounds conceited, but everyone agrees it's true. [We never doubted you, Claud.] I wear wild clothes, such as baggy pants and sweaters, high top sneakers, and jewelry I make myself. For instance, at the film festival, I was wearing earrings made of wooden beads that I'd painted. My hair is long and jet-black, and I'm always experimenting with different ways to fix it or decorate it."

And onward to the plot, in which the aforementioned brat plays a lot of stupid tricks on her baby-sitters but is taught a Valuable Lesson by Kristy when the tables are turned and Betsy is embarrassed in front of school chums. Turns out nobody likes her, most likely because she's constantly giving them trick gum or something.

"When she got control of herself, she managed to gasp out, 'Gotcha! The fly is fake. It's in a fake ice cube! And I gave you a dribble glass!'

'Well, that's just great, Betsy,' I said. I knew that, as a baby-sitter, I wasn't supposed to get sarcastic, but sheesh. 'Now I've got apple juice all over my white shirt.'

Betsy couldn't have known it, but the shirt was one I'd made myself. I'd taken a shirt of my dad's, painted it, and sewn sequins all over it. It had taken ages to do, and the shirt was very special to me."

This is the kind of thing I marveled at. The painted sequined shirt. Oh, Claudia! So innovative. So cutting edge.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Super Special #1: Babysitters on Board!

The original . . . and still the best. (Notable runners-up include Babysitters' Island Adventure, Snowbound!, and Starring the Babysitters Club! I just won a bunch of Super Specials off of ebay and I am really looking forward to spending some serious time with them.)

"'It's - it's just like a hotel, isn't it?' I said brightly.

'A sort of minuscule hotel,' added Kristy.

'Yeah, I hope there's room for all my stuff,' said Claudia. Claudia had brought along more suitcases than anyone else on the trip. She dumped them on a bed, opened them, and began hanging things up in the closet.

'Leave some room for us!', I exclaimed."

. . . and so begins a longstanding tradition of Ann M. Martin gleefully describing just how much luggage Claudia brings on the BSC's crazy travel adventures. For a bunch of middle-class girls in Connecticut, they sure do get around a lot.

"Then the three of us got dressed quickly, but silently. Well, I got dressed quickly. This was because while I'd been lying in my bunk the night before I'd planned exactly what I was going to wear. I put on my new blue-and-white bikini and over that, a pink sundress with spaghetti straps at the shoulders and big blue buttons down the front. Then I accessorized. I tied a pink-and-blue scarf around my waist, knotting it in the middle, added my snake bracelet [YES!] and feather earrings, wound my hair up on top of my head, and finally put on these white sandals with long laces that you crisscross up your legs and tie in a bow. [DOUBLE YES!]"

I don't think I could possibly explain to you how enthusiastic I was about this outfit when I was younger. Oh, Claudia.

"'Never mind!' said Dawn. 'I'm awake.' She sat up quickly and hit her head on the springs of the top bunk. A pair of Claudia's shoes fell to the floor. Dawn frowned. 'This room is a dump,' she said.

'I don't think so,' I retorted. And just to make her madder than she already was, I got up (without hitting my head) and swept two more pairs of Claudia's shoes off the bunk."

So it turns out that Claudia has SO MUCH STUFF that they ended up devoting an entire bed to the overflow. And, as you can see, her poor shoe collection is forced to become ammunition in the continuing war of Neat (Dawn) versus Messy and Generally Antagonistic (Kristy).

"Claudia had helped me get dressed. [Apparently, California Casual is not good enough for a Magic Kingdom date.] She was in a great mood because her Secret Admirer had left her a stuffed animal at the door to our room during the night. Since she had brought along nearly every article of clothing that she owns, and I'd only brought along about one thirty-second of my wardrobe, I borrowed a few of her things. In fact, I borrowed the entire outfit. (We're just about the same size.) Parker would never know. I mean, he'd never know the outfit was borrowed, not that Claudia and I are the same size.

This is the outfit Claudia helped me to choose: a white tank top under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high-top sneakers, and a beaded Indian belt, which we looped droopily twice around my middle. In my hair we put lavender-and-white clips that looked like birds. I thought they were just any kind of bird, but Claudia swore up and down that they were birds of paradise. Who knows? (I think she was making that up.)"

Don't doubt the master, Dawn.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

#104: Abby's Twin

Remember Abby? She moved into Kristy's ritzy neighborhood (which, every narrator always painstakingly reminds us, is full of straight up MANSIONS, bitches) one book after Dawn finally decided she'd had enough of this small-town hamburger eating crowd and jetted back to California to start her own diary series that was incredibly whiny and emo yet fascinating and I am STILL bitter about the fact that it ended after fifteen books*, similar to my wrath over the rapid decline in quality of the Unicorn Club series (and if you don't remember that particular offshoot of the Sweet Valley universe, then you really missed out). Anyway, rambling aside, Abby made a convenient fill-in for Dawn. Where Dawn was annoying with her nu-hippie schtick, Abby is annoying with her, uh, punny attempts at entertaining those around her. And her asthma attacks. And her allergies to just about everything. But anyway, Abby's great. Really. And according to Abby, Claudia ranks a ten on the "Cool-Meter" for creativity:

"She's very artistic and very original. The wild outfits she wears are her own creations. That day she had on multicolored, tie-dyed painter's overalls she'd dyed herself over a blue, hand-beaded, long-sleeved shirt. Five colorful, bead-studded papier-mache bracelets clattered softly on her wrist whenever she moved her arm."

A+, Claud. A+.

* didn't you think Sunny was going to end up a heroin addict turning tricks on the streets of Palo City? I sure did. And did Ducky ever figure out what exactly his sexual orientation was?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

#100: Kristy's Worst Idea

"Between Abby and Claudia, our BSC meetings sometimes become half-hour-long laff riots. Their senses of humor are different, though. Claudia's not really a comedian, like Abby. She just has the world's oddest way of looking at life. To her, the most ordinary thing is an object of art. For instance, at that Labor Day meeting she was wearing a bracelet of dyed, braided shoelaces, along with a blousy ruffled shirt that looked as if it once belonged to Captain Hook; mismatched high-top Converse sneakers; and baggy, pinstriped men's suit pants, gathered at the waist with a bungee cord. On me, something like that would look like a Halloween costume. On Claudia it looked way cool."

I know you think I might be making this one up, like maybe I felt I owed you something after some of the more recent lackluster fashion statements. (Too many vests, for one thing.) But I assure you that isn't so. These are the actual words on the page, right down to the spelling of the word laugh. Ann M. Martin apparently told the ghostwriters to kick it up a notch (. . perhaps she had been watching a lot of Emeril). "It's book 100!" she may have said. "Claudia Kishi! Bam!"

. . . On further thought, I actually think that may be the only possible explanation for this outfit.