the best friends you’ll never have

Mallory and the Trouble With Twins was my favorite BSC book as a kid. I loved the Bellairs shopping trip, and the idea of the twins’ clothes expressing their personalities, and the presents they got for their birthdays. Rereading it now, though, there is one passage that just really bothers me:

Mrs. Arnold showed me into the living room, where an assembly line had been set up on the floor – fifteen paper bags with clown faces on them, fifteen packages of neat-looking barrettes (apparently, all the guests were going to be girls), fifteen sets of Magic Markers, fifteen tiny clip-on koala bears, fifteen candy bars, and fifteen beaded necklaces.

Boy, goody bags had certainly improved since I last got one. When we were little, didn’t goody bags just have, oh, peanuts and a pencil and maybe a plastic ring in them?

Let’s do a little Chapter Two here. Mallory is eleven years old in this book. The twins are having their eighth birthday party. That means that three years ago, Mallory was busy also being eight and attending eight-year-old birthday parties. I don’t think that society would change so drastically in three years that peanuts, a pencil, and a plastic ring being the goody bag standard to suddenly the standard being barrettes, koala bears, candy, markers, and necklaces. I mean, unless the society had a revolution/the ruling government collapsed in those three years, which Ann had never mentioned so I’m going to go out and a limb and say that a revolution had not happened in Stoneybrook.

Now, if Mallory was a baby-sitter in college, I would say that yes, this passage makes sense. I know of some fans who pretend the sitters are older when they read the books, because things just make more sense if you age the sitters by three years. I have a hard time believing that say, Haley Braddock, being only two years older than Mal and Jessi, would really respect them as much as she does (not counting the Haley of Claudia’s Little Liar, who respects no one). What is it about eleven that makes it the “adult” age in Stoneybrook? Are Mallory and Jessi just an exception? But then how does that explain things like chin-tipping?

This is making my brain hurt.

6 Responses To This Post

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cpennylane said, October 30th, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Maybe they goody bag standard hadn’t changed, but Mallory was always invited to lame parties?

As for 11 being the age of wisdom and miraculous responsibility and cusp of adulthood, I do not know. Maybe because in the majority of schools in the U.S., 6th graders are in Jr. High, instead of elementary school? It’s the new building, it turns them into mini adults. When Dawn got skipped into high school, she went from being a 13 going on 32 year old to an angst ridden ageless teen. (I think. I’ve read like 2 of them). ;-)

WickedWonder said, October 31st, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Mallory and the Trouble with Twins was my first BSC book. So I guess it’s my favorite by default. Since I bought it new (through the Scholastic book club!) I always *felt* that the girls were older than me, even after I passed eleven and thirteen. As for the goody bag thing, ours used to be tight, so I have no idea what Mallory is going on about, as usual.

Lou said, October 31st, 2007 at 11:43 pm

Goodybags were always awesome. I think Mal just had lame parties.
Plus I think she is like, 42 inside.

It always drove me NUTS that Mal and Jessi were only 11. In New Zealand, where I live, you’re not even legally allowed to baby-sit til you’re 14. As a series this would have made way more sense if Mal and Jessi were 13 and the others were 15.

wanderingfrog said, November 5th, 2007 at 3:50 pm

I actually mentioned that passage on the boards a couple of months ago. I agree with you totally! Even the first time I read this book, when I was eight, I was still thinking, Um, Mallory, you *are* little. You’re eleven. Admittedly, at the time I think I would have thought nothing of it if one of the thirteen-year-old sitters said something like that, but not Mallory.

Virjo said, March 15th, 2008 at 9:10 am

that was my fabe book too! it was totally its fault that i got my ears pierced!

Eowyn said, July 19th, 2012 at 2:29 am

Thanks, I needed the laugh.

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