Claudia, I blame you for my obsession with getting a phone in my bedroom as a kid, along with my own private phone number. You’re also responsible for me making sure there’s always some junk food hidden in my bedroom, in case of emergency.
Claudia’s fashion choices also started my love of all things quirky, something that’s followed me into my adult life. I still buy weird and wonderful earrings because of Claudia, coming up with combinations that make other people look at me like I’m weird but not always wonderful. My current favourite pairing is a shark in one ear and a human skeleton in the other (the shark won).
This is the first BSC mystery and, given Claudia’s love of all things Nancy Drew, it’s only fitting that she’s the one to tell it. A jewel thief, known as the Phantom Caller, has been getting closer and closer to Stoneybrook. This book seems so tame as an adult but I remember it scared me as a kid.
It’s time for some emergency BSC meetings. Our favourite babysitters, who are always prepared, come up with codes to use if they find themselves at a babysitting job when the house is being robbed. Now, if only they can remember what words they’re supposed to say.
“Have you found my b- I mean, did you see my – Have you found my … my …”
In between all of the phone calls where the caller doesn’t speak (what is it with creepy phone calls and babysitters?), we’re also watching boys make food sculptures from their cafeteria food and preparing for the first school dance of the year, the Halloween Hop. Claudia is pining over Trevor Sandbourne, resident poet and cute shy guy, but is sitting back hoping and waiting because a girl can’t possibly ask a boy to a dance. The world as we know it would end!
We also tag along for babysitting jobs with Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton (along with his cousins Rob, Brenda and Rosie Feldman), Nina and Eleanor Marshall, Karen and Andrew Brewer, Charlotte Johanssen, David Michael Thomas, and Claire and Margo Pike (although we only hear that this job has been scheduled; we don’t actually get to hang out with the Pike girls).
Watson has bought Karen a book called The Witch Next Door. This kid does not need this sort of encouragement. She already believes
Morbidda Destiny Mrs Porter next door is a witch. In this book the curse Karen is obsessed with is the multiplication of her freckles.
Kristy reminds up she’s a professional babysitter:
“One false move and I’ll punch your lights out.”
Mary Anne sets prowler traps, Home Alone style. She also reads The Secret Garden. BSC books informed a lot of my own choices growing up. I read The Secret Garden for the first time because Mary Anne did and it ended up becoming one of my favourite books.
Stacey uses a TV remote control when she’s babysitting Charlotte. When this book was published, remote controls were a revolutionary idea for me. If we wanted to change the channel we had to get up off the lounge, walk across the room and turn the dial on the TV. I’d also never heard of cable TV before I read this book. Then, when Stacey turned on Channel 47, my mind was blown. We had 5 TV stations in Australia at the time.
Claudia has an actual conversation with Janine, who doesn’t annoy me anymore. She also spends time with her grandmother, Mimi, one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. I adored Mimi. Even now, she melts my heart every time she says, “my Claudia” and her wisdom stands the test of time.
“You know, my Claudia, that in order for things to change, you must change them. You will grow to be an old woman like me, if you wait for others to change things that do not please you.”
My biggest revelation, rereading this book after so many years, was discovering that “no problem” was considered slang in 1986. Go figure!
Once Upon a Blurb
Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey try to be prepared for anything when they babysit. So when they hear about the Phantom Caller, a jewel thief who’s been breaking into nearby homes, they come up with a plan to keep their kids safe.
But when Claudia and the other girls start receiving creepy phone calls while they’re out on jobs, they start to get really spooked. Will the mystery caller scare off the BSC?