the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in worst

Per my last post, I like the FF series as a whole. If I had to choose a least favorite, however, I think I’d go with Graduation Day. While this was an event that we had been waiting for ever since Logan Likes Mary Anne! was published, I’m not sure if I liked how it was handled in Graduation Day, or if it could ever really live up to any expectation we could have had.

I’m glad they went with this direction in ending the series, and having a real “conclusion” book to the whole thing, instead of just ending with Claudia and the Disaster Date or something. But still, it’s not really a book I reach for often. Let’s see, Stacey freaks out about returning a Beverly Cleary book (what? THAT is how you end the story of our Most Sophisticated Sitter?!), Claudia almost fails (no surprise), Mary Anne… I don’t even remember, Kristy is sad about the end of eighth grade/the BSC (ok, this plot makes sense, and is a perfect segue for ninth grade BSC fanfic), and the kids do a time capsule thing. Yawn. I guess you couldn’t conclude the series without a stupid kid project, though.

Anyway, I think it accomplishes what it’s supposed to… but it’s just not a book I find terribly interesting. And yeah, I recognize that this is a series that includes a book where the central plot revolves around every single ex-boyfriend of a THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD coming into town at once, but I’m sticking with my choice.

Is this even a contest? Can you actually have an answer other than “Patrick Thomas” and not catch flack for it? He left and doesn’t send child support, does that weird thing where he secretly visits Kristy and won’t let her tell anyone, and doesn’t invite his youngest son to his wedding to Zoey, leading to fandom speculation that David Michael is not Patrick’s biological son.

And then he talks about having kids with Zoey! Nooo! Why did Zoey marry him? She seemed like a cool lady. Big mistake, Zoey.

An interesting thing that I have been noticing lately is that a lot of people seem to dislike Watson now, if you read BSC Snark. I haven’t read that many LS books, but he certainly seems to come off worse in those, especially in Karen’s Stepmother.

Poor Kristy, I guess. Although I have to say that I enjoy the development of Kristy and Watson’s relationship over the course of the series.

Again, this one presents a sort of challenge. What does “least favorite” mean in this case? Is it the character you least like to read about, who bores you? Or is it the person you find most repulsive, whom you’d surely dislike if you knew them in real life?

One of the jerkiest characters in the series is, of course, Clarence King. Clarence is someone who looks for people weaker than he is–Mallory, Tess, Logan-when-he-is-a-sitter–and attacks them, most likely out of his own low self-esteem. Clarence is truly needlessly cruel. Cokie was a girl with a crush. Clarence is just a jerk.

I also don’t like Mark Jaffe, Claud’s boyfriend for a brief spell, very much. I don’t think he was a bad guy, necessarily, but if Claudia were your friend, you’d definitely ask her, “Why are you dating him?” Mark was all style and ego, no substance, and Claudia deserved better. Which she eventualy got… with…. Alan Gray?!

Play along in the original post, on your own blog, or in the comments.

One thing about me is that there is nothing that fills me with more trepidation and fear than the idea of “roughing it.” I want a bed. I want a toilet. I want a bathtub. My stepmom was my sister’s girl scout troop leader for a while, and when asked if she was going to take the girls camping, her response was “Only if by ‘camping’ you mean waiting in line for a really great sale at Neiman’s to open,” and that is my philosophy as well.

So obviously, my least favorite Super Special is Island Adventure. I don’t want to read about them having to ration granola bars and eating (ew! yuck!) freshly-caught fish. That is just entirely unappealing to me. It is not my idea of an ADVENTURE. It is my idea of TORTURE. I like being in the middle of the a big city with lots of good shopping options, not marooned on an island off the coast of Connecticut. Isn’t living in Connecticut torture enough?

The second reason I dislike this book is because it displays probably the worst examples of parenting in the entire series. Seriously, there is some “call Child Protective Services IMMEDIATELY”-level awfulness going on here. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey are normally level-headed, responsible parents, at least for Stoneybrook. And yet they let Jessi baby-sit for Becca and Squirt for an entire weekend. Despite the weirdness of the Stoneybrook/BSC time warp, where by the time you’re 13, you may as well just be labeled an adult, anybody who reads this book has to stop and go, “Wait. BITCH IS ELEVEN YEARS OLD.” My sister just turned twelve, and there is no WAY she’d be allowed to stay home alone overnight, let alone take care of an eight-year-old and a toddler as well.

Then, also, of course, Becca was on the boat. I wouldn’t let my kid go sailing with a bunch of 13-year-olds who just passed Beginner’s Sailing, or whatever. Just… no. Sailing is DANGEROUS. They are on the OPEN OCEAN. Then Aunt Cecelia comes, and goes, “What kind of fuckery is THIS?!” and makes some seriously valid points, yet we are supposed to go, “Oh, that silly Aunt Cecelia/Dictator, always overreacting!” NO. AUNT CECELIA IS THE ONLY SANE ADULT LEFT IN STONEYBROOK. And at this point in the series, Aunt Cecelia is still living in Bridgeport, which means that there aren’t ANY SANE STONEYBROOK RESIDENTS. The lunatics are running the asylum! And then asking thirteen-year-olds for parenting advice.

No points to the Braddocks or the Newtons, either. You guys also suck at parenting. Stop listening to thirteen-year-old girls. Youtube commentators would be more helpful in terms of improving your parenting skills than the BSC.

Also, Dawn and Mary Anne’s fight just makes me hate Logan even more.

Lastly, it bugs me that the events of this book are barely ever mentioned afterward. You’d think that being stranded on a deserted island for three days or so would be a life-changing experience. But… no. Haley is even a super bitch to Claudia in Claudia and the Little Liar, and you’d think that this MAJOR TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE THEY WENT THROUGH TOGETHER would have led to some bonding or something.

So yeah, I hate this book. Everything about it is terrible, from the parenting decisions to the lack of food/fashion/boys to the fact that it could have never been written and the series wouldn’t have been affected because this seemingly major event didn’t really register on anyone involved’s psyches.

Play along here, or in the comments, or in your own blog (leave me a link!).

This one is easy. Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer. GOD. This book is boring AND a bummer. You get that girl Deb, who never comes up again, I don’t think, and she is just so angry about getting glaucoma. And I bet everyone who has ever read this book periodically freaks out about getting glaucoma now (OH MY GOD AM I SEEING HALOS AROUND LIGHTS?), the way we all also think that we are developing Diabetes I if we are excessively thirsty.

Then the primary plot is also kind of a bummer, because we know that they will eventually have to give Scout UP and the kids will be sad about it. And isn’t it this book where Andrew Brewer is kind of just really pathetic and sad and you feel bad for this kid because he has had so much upheaval in his short life, and now his family is all, “Oh look, a puppy, BUT YOU CAN’T KEEP IT, HA HA.”

The Brewers, to poor little Andrew

There is something that is just so heartbreaking that whole thing about Andrew thinking that maybe, just maybe, if he proves that he is a good dog owner, they’ll let him keep Scout for his very own pet. That may be in Mary Anne in the Middle, not this one, though. (That book is another clunker. Jessi is TERRIBLE in that book, and I generally like Jessi.) The whole Scout storyline is just a bummer. Basically, I firmly believe that there should be some kind of blog that tells you whether or not a dog dies at the end of a book or movie, so I know not to read or watch it. No, I have never seen Old Yeller, AND I NEVER PLAN TO. I know that Scout doesn’t die, and she goes on to really help a blind person lead a better life, but still. They have to say good-bye to the dog! Sad! Someone Andrew or Emily Michelle’s age isn’t really going to understand what’s going on. Another example of great parenting by the Thomas-Brewers, like surprising your kids with a new sibling without dealing with how it’s going to affect the family dynamic.

Anyway, my general opinion on Kristy books is that they are most interesting when Kristy is attempting to deal with a world she is not quite ready for. (Kristy + Bart = ?, Mind Your Own Business, Kristy!.) They are most boring when they deal with things Kristy IS ready for, like Doing Good and Baseball (Kristy at Bat is nice for the Watson-and-Kristy relationship stuff, but still, BASEBALL, and Kristy and the Walking Disaster, blecch except for the Bart storyline). Dog Trainer does not deal with things that interest me, mainly fashion and boys.

Honorable mention for suckage, however, goes to Kristy For President because OH GOD, JAMIE NEWTON AND THE BIKE SUBPLOT. Is there a more BORING subplot in the entire series? No. No, there is not. But props to the writer, for making us really feel the TORTURE that Jamie puts the sitters through. Reading the damn subplot is torture. So meta.

Thanks Ashley for scanning the cover of the Mystery Game for me! Now after, er, three and a half years of blogging, I finally have a banner that has the BSC in it.


Take a gander at this blog post. I have no idea who this guy is; I was just doing a google search for “highest IQ ever” (who gets sucked into 4am wikipedia spirals? This bitch), and this site came up. Look at the list this guy has written. How many people, according to this list, have an IQ higher than Janine Kishi’s 196? One, a physicist. Janine’s IQ is higher than the estimated IQs of Da Vinci, and Wittgenstein, and Newton.

The series is known to have gotten a lot of things wrong–diabetes, autism, etc. But there is perhaps no mistake more egregious than Janine Kishi and the Unbelievably High IQ. Are we supposed to believe that Janine is one of the smartest people who has ever lived, and yet her parents can’t let her take courses more challenging than those found at the local university, and she amuses herself by correcting people’s grammar and not by making earth-shattering discoveries or writing important academic papers? Or, hell, even just becoming a chess grand master would make her IQ more believable. Yes, sometimes geniuses and prodigies don’t live up to their potential. But we were never given the impression that Janine wasn’t. We were supposed to be impressed by her part-time matriculation at Stoneybrook University.

Let’s think back to Claudia’s Portrait, where she was sent to an alternative academy more suited for her learning style. I find it hard to believe that, given the evidence that the Kishis did not have a problem sending one of their children to private school if they were shown that it was necessary to the child’s academic success, that they would not do the same for someone as extraordinarily gifted as Janine. They could’ve sent her to a special school for the gifted, or allowed her to enroll in an Ivy League school early. I have a university in my hometown that seems similar to Stoneybrook University, given what we know about it, and I would say that the courses I took at my prep school were probably more challenging and had higher academic expectations than the ones at said local university. I just can’t see how Stoneybrook University courses would be challenging enough for a sixteen-year-old with a 196 IQ.

I am just not sure why such a number was chosen for Janine. Isn’t it enough to simply say that Janine is a genius, and be done with it? Or perhaps give her an IQ that is genius level, and make her a member of MENSA or something. But by going with 196, Janine’s character stretches the limit of credibility, given that the only “genius” thing she does is like school a lot and take college courses and talk using a lot of words Claudia doesn’t understand. (Nowadays, however, college courses seem to be nothing all that unusual in American public high schools. And it’s not all that hard to use words that Claud wouldn’t know.) It just seems silly to me to give her something so amazing, and then make it unbelievable by making Janine basically just an ordinary gifted student. At least say, “Claudia has a sister who works at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, even though she is only 16″–not, “Claudia has a sister who takes classes at Local Crap State University, even though she is only 16.”

EDIT: I just came across this:

There are, however, close contendors [sic]. An example of an ultra-elite group of intellectuals would be the Giga society, which accepts people only with an IQ of 196 or higher. This would mean a 1 in 1 billion probability. Currently, there are 6 members, which would technically mean these are the 6 smartest people in the world.


I have a confession to make. Despite the fact that it is universally mocked for being a terrible, terrible book, I really like Mallory Pike, #1 Fan. Yes, it is quite strange how someone who writes stories about sneaker-wearing field mice would suddenly believe that only real-life experience begets good fiction, but still, I like this book a lot.

I like reading about Mallory’s internship with Henrietta Hayes, even though she messes it up. There was a thread on the BSC livejournal recently which posed the question whether #1 Fan was a response to all of the BSC fans’ questions. I.e., why do I keep on receiving form letters, how much of your own life is in the BSC, etc. Which is an interesting proposition, although it kind of promotes the idea that if you’re a fan of the BSC, you can just show up at Ann’s house and she’ll hire you for a job as a personal assistant, even if you’re, um, eleven years old. I do believe that Ann was still living in New York City at the time, and it’d be a bit more difficult in a doorman building to actually reach Ann’s apartment door than just simply riding your bike up to the front door, like Mallory does.

One thing I find slightly annoying is the Kids Can Do Anything Club. I don’t like do-gooding children all that much. The play is hilarious though, especially how Mallory was just so… thick when she was writing it. Ranessa? Delaware? Um, ok Mallory.

I also like how the BSC formula–Kids make anything better!–is not bought by Mallory’s teacher. Although I’m not sure that Mallory’s teacher is reasonable in his rejection of her proposal; it seemed at least as legit, if not more, as Jessi’s plan to type up the plots of some ballets and interview Mme Noelle. Oh well, plot device!

Do you think this book sucks, or do you actually enjoy it, like I do?

I received Best Friends today, so that’s what I’m reading now and what my next blog post will be about. But if you want to read along with my Stoneybrookite Book Club, the next BSC book I will write about is Logan Likes Mary Anne!.

While I always enjoy reading BSC books, alas, not all BSC books were written equally. Some of it is bad ghostwriting, some just have plain old boring plots. Here are a selection of the BSC books that just don’t do it for me:

“After-School Specials” involving clients.

Jessi’s Wish, Dawn and the Big Sleepover

While there are other books that are very… charitable and issue-raising, it is these two really, really, really bore me. That is because they don’t balance their boring main plot with a fun, kicky subplot. Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever may be both boring and depressing, but it has the fun auction subplot where Stacey wants to get items from Sweet Jane and the Sleazebuckets.

Jessi’s Wish is perhaps the worst BSC book ever. Plot: Danielle has cancer. Subplot: Although she has cancer, she is still really involved in charity work, which Jessi gets involved in as well. This book cannot live up to say, Stacey vs. the BSC. Plot: Stacey’s a bitch. Subplot: Stacey’s such a bitch that she can’t make it meetings and lets down Charlotte Johansson. Kids Can Do Anything except make an interesting story.

Dawn and the Big Sleepover is so boring I couldn’t remember the subplot so I had to look it up. According to the BSC Companion, there isn’t one, but the orange color of the cover is not reused again in the entire series. I say good: better to not be reminded of this book while you are happily reading something less boring and do-gooding, like Claudia and the Perfect Boy. In this book the BSC are insane and decide to hold a gigantic sleepover in honor of the Zuni penpals because the Zuni school burned down. I remember being very upset and grossed-out when I was little at the thought of “whole-wheat pizza pies.” This was the thing that made the deepest impression on me about this book, which I think says something.

Kristy Mysteries can be dull.

Kristy and the Missing Child, Kristy and the Haunted Mansion, Kristy and the Missing Fortune.

I know that these are rather popular books, but I have always disliked them. Kristy and the Missing Child can kind of be disliked on the same grounds as the “issue” books I mentioned above, although Mary Anne being bad at home ec is pretty funny. As for Haunted Mansion, I think I just don’t like the tale of being in the mansion because they only have apples and bread. Also, Kristy and Bart should have made out or something. But they don’t. It’s just Kristy, Bart, and Charlie being really responsible. Kristy and the Missing Fortune raises the question of Cokie and Kristy being related, which is funny, except that Thomas is a really common last name and there’s a good chance that Christina Thomas is not related to Kristin Thomas at all. In this book the kids clean up the Arboretum. What kid would want to clean up an Arboretum? Plus I’m sure the Arboretum staff appreciated having professional help like Jackie Rodowsky while they were trying to get financial funding and needed a nice-looking arboretum to get it.

Worst Super Special

Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure

In this book everyone acts like an asshole. Logan, Mary Anne, Stacey’s dad, Bart, Jessi’s parents–everyone! This book is full of bad decisions. I don’t understand why Mrs. Newton, who is normally a very reasonable lady, decided it would be a good idea for Jamie to go on a boat without an adult or even a professional. Or why no one called Child Protective Services when the Ramsey parents decided it would be a good idea for Jessi to take care of Becca and Squirt for an entire weekend. Or why Logan, Stacey’s dad, and Bart were just jerks. More mysteriously, this book was never really mentioned again in the rest of the series. Everyone seemed to forget about the time that Dawn, Claudia, and several clients were stuck on a deserted island. Claudia even says in some book that she’d never been on a deserted island before. I thought about this for a while, and decided that it was so that no one would remember this shitty book.

There are lots of books that I like–Mallory Pike, #1 Fan, to name one–that most BSC fans hate. For instance, I am a fan of later BSC over early BSC, despite the lessening of quality, but that is another blog post to itself. So tell me–what books do you consider to be real stinkers?