The Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine – Ann M. Martin

“Time is change”

When I finished reading Kristy’s Big Day, I knew I needed some time to prepare myself for the beginning of Mimi’s story. That was over a year and a half ago. It turns out that no amount of time can prepare me for the my Mimi heartache.

So, this is me jumping in and protecting my heart as best I can. What? No, you didn’t see me getting misty eyed when I visited Mimi in the hospital.

Moving on. Reading this book for the first time in maybe five or six years generated a bunch of random thoughts.

The Wednesday we begin this book, Claudia has a busy day. She has art class in the morning. After lunch, she babysits for Jamie Newton for a couple of hours, shops with Stacey and then there’s the usual Wednesday BSC meeting. When Stacey rocks up to BSC Central that afternoon at 5:15pm, Claudia is surprised by Stacey’s new haircut and perm. So, what we need to know is this: is Stacey a time traveller? How did she have time to get her hair done between shopping till she dropped and 5:15pm?

We find out how impossibly far away Watson’s mansion is from Kristy’s old house. Three miles. That’s 4.8 km. Huh. My high school was further away from my home than that. It felt like Kristy was being shipped off to another planet when I was growing up.

We learn that Kristy and Mary Anne get Janine’s hand me downs because Claudia’s too cool for them. I kinda think we’re all too cool for them though.

This book got me thinking about how much money Claudia must fork out on junk food and pretzels. She hands out a variety of goodies to her fellow BSC members three times a week, more if there’s an emergency meeting, which there almost always is. Although not in this book which involves an actual emergency! I don’t remember having ever seen a single friend either chip in with some funds to pay for their share or take a turn supplying the snacks. It’s almost enough for me to forgive Claudia for being so mean to Janine. Almost.

Claudia almost hits Janine in this book. Claudia almost hits Janine in this book? How had I forgotten about this?!

Did we know before this book that Buddy’s name is Hamilton Barrett, Junior?

Jenny (“our angel”) Prezzioso declares that Louie Brewer is a “messy-face”. We learn Jenny has a phobia of dogs. The BSC members, professionals that they are, work hard to give Jenny a new fear: of monstrous boys. Okay, they maybe had a little help from Karen but Karen doesn’t charge for her services.

Related to this, Karen Brewer temporarily trades her witch stories for monsters, sort of. Morbidda Destiny cast a spell that’s going to turn someone into a monster, because that witch is all powerful.

Louie gets a makeover (poor Louie) and the Thomases move across town to Watson’s. The Perkins family moves into Kristy’s old house from somewhere that was probably more than three miles away.

Kristy comes up with the idea of running a play group a few mornings a week. Kristy says that Mallory can come and help out as a babysitter-in-training but, nope, we’re not paying her for the privilege. Reader and writer Mallory probably should have noticed the foreshadowing; things aren’t going to get any easier for her when she tries to join the BSC after being invited to do so.

I found Janine annoying when I was a kid but, looking back, I think it was only because the BSC members told me she was. Now, I think she’s somewhat of a kindred spirit. She’s a socially awkward nerd who doesn’t know how to belong in the world outside of her books and computer. And, I’ve got to admit, this broke me a little.

“You’re always pushing me into my world and out of yours.”

In this book, we babysit for Jamie (“hi-hi”) and Lucy Newton, Charlotte Johanssen (can you imagine only needing a babysitter for two hours if you were attending a cocktail party?) and Nina and Eleanor Marshall. We even arrange a time to babysit Myriah and Gabbie Perkins, Stoneybrook’s newest newbies.

With all of the drama surrounding Mimi, we don’t get to tag along to many babysitting gigs but we are invited to the Newton’s a couple of times to babysit and attend Lucy’s christening. Her big brother is forced to get all dressed up for the occasion.

He looked like a real boy.

As opposed to…

The kids who attend the play group are David Michael Thomas, Charlotte Johanssen, Jamie (“hi-hi”) Newton, Nicky, Claire, Margo and Vanessa Pike, Suzi and Buddy Barrett, Jenny (“our angel”) Prezzioso (how much therapy is this kid going to need when she grows up?!), Andrew and Karen Brewer, and Nina and Eleanor Marshall. Mallory begins her unpaid BSC internship and Louie is chased around the yard by pretty much everyone.

Fun fact: Most of my childhood books didn’t come with me into adulthood so adult me repurchased a bunch of them. The edition of this book that I bought has a section at the end called Notebook Pages where the reader can fill in the blanks. The reader before me filled in most of the answers. I absolutely love two of their responses.

I have 0 sisters and 1 brothers.

If I could have any number of brothers and sisters that I wanted, I would want to have 2 sisters and 0 brothers.

Thanks for the smile, Lisa.

Stoneybrook Central Time: it’s July and school’s out for summer. Kristy’s mother married Watson last week. Stacey has lived in Stoneybrook for about a year. Lucy Newton is about seven months old. By the end of the book, July is over.

Up next: Sea City, here we come!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Claudia’s sister is mean! She’s too busy being smart to be nice. Even Claudia’s grandmother, Mimi, can’t get close to Janine. Plus, Mean Janine puts down the Baby-Sitters Club. And that makes Claudia MAD!

This summer the members of the Baby-Sitters Club are starting a play group in the neighbourhood. Claudia can’t wait for it to begin. But then Mimi has a stroke … and the whole summer changes.

Now Claudia has to spend her time “Mimi-sitting” instead of baby-sitting. And things with Janine are going from bad to worse. One of the Kishi sisters has to start being nicer. And it’s sure not going to be Claudia!

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