Malice’s Adventures in Underland #1: Malice in Underland – Jenni Jennings

Illustrations – Hannah Peck

Malice Malign and her family live in Malignant House, which has a skeleton in nearly every closet. The Maligns are Topunders, magical people who can live in Topside amongst the living or in Underland with the ghosts, but they don’t truly fit anywhere.

They’re a bit too alive for Underlanders and a bit too mischievous for the Topsiders.

Malice’s parents love being representatives of Underland, a “land of sorcery, spooks and skulduggery”. They run the Malign Haunting Agency, which takes some of Underland’s most troublesome ghosts and uses them to haunt houses Topside.

Malice was originally concerned about telling her best (only) friend, Seth, about her family but Seth loves talking to Malice’s ghost Grandad and thinks ordinary is overrated.

“I really enjoy your family’s weirdness.”

When ghosts begin to disappear, Uncle Vex, a private investigator in Underland, asks for Malice’s help. Now that her own Grandad has also disappeared, Malice is on the case.

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Malice can talk to nighttime creatures, but has a special affinity with moths. Ma and Pa don’t understand Malice who, like Grandad, was born without the menacing-mischief gene. They disapprove of the things Malice likes, including reading and bathing regularly. Thankfully she has Grandad, who I absolutely adored. His brand of mischief is harmless fun.

Seth’s enthusiasm about all things weird was contagious. I hope he has a bigger role in the next book. I think he’s going to be my favourite character in this series.

This was a fun book. I enjoyed exploring both the Topside and Underland. All of the locations were easy to imagine and even the minor characters were interesting. I’ll definitely be continuing this series.

“And there’s nothing whatever the matter with being unusual!”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Meet Malice Morbid Malign.

She’s from Underland, land of sorcery, spooks and skulduggery.

But, she and her family live in Topside and mischief is their business … And the business of mischief is a very serious matter!

The Malign family hate books, they hate bathing, and they especially HATE helping.

But when grandad ghosts mysteriously start disappearing, including her own beloved grandad, Malice has no choice but to help. She partners up with her Uncle Vexatious, to solve the case of the missing grandad-ghosts.

Hot Dog! #10: Beach Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

It’s been raining for weeks and Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie have already exhausted all of the usual rainy day activities. They’ve even read a good book! 

Finally the sun comes out so the friends decide to go to the beach, but everything seems to be going wrong. Kev has a toothache, Hotdog has an earache and Lizzie has a sore finger. Still, they’re determined to find a way to get to the beach to have some fun.

Poor Kev just wants to eat something, Hotdog is focused on catching a wave and Lizzie learns a new, very useful skill. Along the way we meet some new characters, including a Molar Bear. 

This is a real feel good series. No matter what goes wrong, Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie remain positive and figure out solutions together. I definitely would have loved these books as a kid.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

After weeks of wet weather, the sun is out!

Hotdog and his friends are busting to get to the beach for some hot fun in the sand and surf!

But will a toothache, an earache and an epic splinter RAIN on their plans!

WeirDo #16: Tasty Weird! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jules Faber

Spoilers Ahead! (in purple)

There’s a new student in Weir’s class, Sue, who may give him some competition as the funniest kid. There’s also another competition that the entire class are preparing for: a cooking competition.

Competing in teams of two, the winners will represent their class at the District Finals. The ultimate winner gets to go to Queen Bubblegum’s Lolly Factory.

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I couldn’t help but think of Willy Wonka when I met Queen Bubblegum. Both sugar barons have similar ideas for making candy even sweeter by designing rooms in their factories that would delight children and adults alike.

Mr Wonka has his chocolate river; Queen Bubblegum has her chocolate slide. Mr Wonka has his not quite ready chewing gum meals; Queen Bubblegum’s bubblegum also seems to taste great but doesn’t appear to turn anyone violet.

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Even the ultimate prize was eerily similar. Oh, who am I kidding?! It was exactly the same!

I was pretty convinced that Queen Bubblegum reminded me of Lady Gaga until I came across another illustration that made me wonder if she was also channelling someone else.

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Change that bouncy ball with handles* into a wrecking ball and that rope into chain and you’ve almost got yourself a Miley Cyrus music video.

You know how you’re supposed to be less likely to buy a whole bunch of junk food when you go grocery shopping if you’re not hungry when you enter the store? I’m going to borrow that advice and adapt it only slightly: You may not want to read this book on an empty stomach or imagining so many sugary goodies may well have you searching your cupboards for some goodies of your own to quell your cravings.

Like all WeirDo books, there were plenty of Dad jokes and puns to be found and Jules Faber continues to bring them to life. This series might be written with kids who are 7 to 10 years old in mind but I’m going to continue to order them as soon as my library purchases them. I might roll my eyes at some of the jokes but I always do it with a smile. I wish this series had been around when I was a kid.

*If Wikipedia is to be believed, a bouncy ball with handles is called so many things, including [take a deep breath …] space hopper, moon hopper, skippyball, kangaroo ball, bouncer, hippity hop, hoppity hop, sit and bounce, and hop ball. Don’t say I don’t teach you really useful useless things.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The Cook-Off is on! 

Weir and his friends have their eyes on the prize – a trip to Queen Bubblegum’s LOLLY FACTORY! Will the battle be a piece of cake?! 

It won’t be easy … but it will be funny!

Ninja Kid #7: Ninja Toys! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

It’s time for the Duck Creek Science Fair. Kenny has been working so hard at not eating his invention that he ate Nelson’s instead. It’s lucky that Grandma is the world’s best inventor and it’s not like she specifically said not to take her brand new invention to school without her permission.

The Glove of Life has the ability to give life to toys, although like all of Grandma’s inventions there are still a few kinks that need to be figured out. Naturally the evil Dr Kane finds a way to use this invention for evil.

It’s up to Ninja Kid and H-Dude to save the day. It’s a good thing too because it was their actions that allowed Dr Kane to get his hands on this invention-turned-weapon in the first place.

I had a couple of favourite things in this book: Kenny’s stuffed sloth, Speedy, was my favourite newly alive toy and Billy Bob’s ice cream maker was my favourite invention.

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There were some cameos from other Anh Do series in this book. Usually I like this sort of thing when it’s subtle, e.g., a character pictured reading another book the author has written. There was nothing subtle about the cameos in this book, though. They felt more like advertisements to me and I wasn’t a fan.

Besides my personal distaste, they also raised questions for me of whether the kids reading this book would even understand the references. The series whose characters found their way onto these pages seem to be targeted at an older audience than the Ninja Kid series so, while it could be used as an introduction to those characters, I expect many Ninja Kid readers wouldn’t have read any of the Wolf Girl, Rise of the Mythix or E-Boy series yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Grandma has invented the COOLEST thing ever – a GLOVE that can bring toys to life! But when the glove is stolen, Nelson and Kenny have to find a way to get it back … before a CRAZY TOY ARMY takes over the WHOLE TOWN!

Ninja Kid #6: Ninja Giants! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

It’s time for Duck Creek’s Halloween Fair and Nelson and Kenny have been eating all their vegetables and working out to prepare for it. Last year they weren’t tall enough to go on the scariest rides but they’re determined to be able enjoy them this year.

It’s a good thing Grandma has a brand new invention, a size converter, which she cautions the boys not to use because it still has some kinks.

Like accidentally making you smaller when you wanted to be taller. This comes with a unique set of problems.

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It wouldn’t be a Ninja Kid book if evil Dr Kane didn’t show up in his helicopter, ready to implement his latest dastardly plan to run everyone out of Duck Creek.

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This looks like a job for Ninja Kid and H-Dude!

‘Ah, maybe they’ve got other problems to deal with’

Ninja Kid and H-Dude may look more adorable than they ever have before …

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but they’re still ready to take on Dr Kane and save Duck Creek again.

Grandma, as usual, was the highlight of the book for me. Readers who have been following this series from the beginning are being rewarded for their patience; we’re closer than ever to finding out exactly what happened to Nelson’s father.

Anton Emdin’s illustrations are staying true to the style Jeremy Ley introduced in the early books. The details are fun, the Halloween costumes are imaginative and the fair definitely looks like somewhere I would want to spend Halloween.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The fair is in town! Nelson and Kenny want to go on ALL the rides! But after testing Grandma’s new invention, they’re suddenly TOO SMALL to go anywhere! Luckily, Nelson and Kenny have a plan to get TALLER again … way, WAAAAY TALLER!

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three – Gale Galligan

Text – Ann M. Martin

Colour – Braden Lamb

It’s the BSC adventure where Dawn gets away with being super judgy about how a BSC client lives her life. Single parent, Mrs Barrett, is desperately trying to keep her family afloat – caring for three kids under 10, job hunting, managing a messy divorce. So what if the house is kinda messy? Okay, so it’s very messy but the poor woman is dealing with a lot. Let’s cut her some slack.

Usually I try to read the graphic novel as soon as I’ve finished the book. I was unable to jump the library queue so the people who actually reserved this graphic novel before me got to read it first (shock horror!) so it’s been several weeks since I read the book. I still remember the basics fairly well but the differences I would usually point out between book and graphic novel have faded from my mind. So I’ll just focus on the two big ones.

Book: Mallory is more than capable of helping out but she’s still counted as one of the kids the BSC babysit.
Graphic Novel: The beginning of the graphic novel marks the first day that Mallory is a BSC Junior Member. The BSC meeting that afternoon is when the great interrogation of Mallory’s knowledge of anything even remotely related to babysitting takes place.

My currently unresolved question: How is book #14, Hello, Mallory, going to be adapted to a graphic novel if the main plot point has already happened?

Book: Mimi is all good.
Graphic Novel: Janine is helping Mimi with her flash cards.

I’m guessing this is different because book #7, Claudia and Mean Janine, was graphic novel #4. Why has this series been adapted out of order?

I’ve actually been avoiding reading #7 because I’m not ready to face the rest of Mimi’s story yet. I’ll try to summon some brave in the near future.

On a happier note, I finally got to see the bizzer sign, which the Pike kids invented, in action. It was worth the wait, although (just between you and I) it doesn’t look quite as trauma inducing as I’d hoped.

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-Sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her first big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any babysitter. The house is always a mess, the kids are out of control, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. On top of all that, Dawn wants to fit in with the other members of the BSC, but she can’t figure out how to get along with Kristy. Was joining The Baby-Sitters Club a mistake?

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #6: Kristy’s Big Day – Gale Galligan

Text – Ann M. Martin

Colour – Braden Lamb

This is my first Gale Galligan BSC graphic novel adaptation. I’ve already read three of Raina Telgemeier’s adaptations so it was almost impossible not to compare the two. I love Raina’s style and had wanted her to continue adapting the entire series.

I like Gale’s style as well so it was more a matter of me getting used to seeing the babysitters looking different. Gale dyes a section of Claudia’s hair, just like Raina did. However, Gale has also given Stacey a haircut, which didn’t sit with me as a BSC purist that well, even though it looks cute.

While the plot remains the same, I noticed many more minor differences between the book and this graphic novel than I have with Raina’s adaptations. I’m not mentioning all of the differences here as there are too many, but here are some of them.

Book: Watson’s mansion has three floors and an attic.
Graphic novel: The illustration of Watson’s mansion shows two floors and an attic.

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Book: Mallory isn’t a member of the BSC yet.
Graphic novel: Mallory is mentioned as the sixth member of the BSC.

Book: Watson’s parents being religious is not mentioned.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s mother talks about Watson’s parents being religious as one of the reasons why she and Watson need to get married before the Thomas’ move to the Brewer mansion.

Book: Kristy mentions having two windows in her childhood bedroom.
Graphic novel: I can only see one window in Kristy’s childhood bedroom in the illustrations.

Kristy arrives late to a BSC meeting and asks if there are any calls.
Book: Sam’s prank call was, ‘Hello, this is Marmee March. I need a sitter for Amy tonight, someone who has experience with little women.’
Graphic novel: Sam asks for a sitter with ‘experience with lots of smelly farts.’
The book version was better.

Book: Claudia searches for junk food under her bed.
Graphic novel: Claudia finds some junk food on a shelf in her closet.

Book: Claudia says Trevor is probably dating his poetry by now.
Graphic novel: Claudia says Trevor is probably dating his guitar by now.

Book: Sam and Kristy have their talk about David Michael’s Citizenship Award on the back porch.
Graphic novel: Sam and Kristy have their talk about David Michael’s Citizenship Award in the kitchen.

Book: Mallory isn’t a member of the BSC yet so she’s not babysitting with them.
Graphic novel: Mallory gets put in Kristy’s babysitting group.

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Book: Nannie’s Pink Clinker has a pink plastic flower attached to the antenna and a stuffed koala hanging from the rearview mirror.
Graphic novel: The pink plastic flower and the antenna are missing and stuffed koala is now some fuzzy dice. There’s a heart on the bonnet that I liked. The Pink Clinker looks closer to red than pink to me.

Book: When they’re cleaning the house, Charlie has the floor cleaner, Sam has the vacuum cleaner, Kristy has paper towels and Windex, and David Michael has rags and furniture polish.
Graphic novel: When they’re cleaning the house, Charlie is vacuuming, Sam is cleaning the windows, Kristy is tidying, and David Michael is dusting.

Book: Stacey calls Mary Anne from the movies using a pay phone.
Graphic novel: Stacey calls Mary Anne from the movies using her own phone.

Book: David Michael gets his hair cut by Mr Pratt.
Graphic novel: David Michael gets his hair cut by Mr Gates, the one who’s previously made him look like an owl.

Book: In the practice wedding performed by the kids, ‘holy matrimony’ becomes ‘holy moly’.
Graphic novel: In the practice wedding performed by the kids, ‘holy matrimony’ becomes ‘holy guacamole’.

Book: When Karen explains why having white flowers at the wedding are a disaster, it’s because white magic will mix with Morbidda Destiny’s black magic.
Graphic novel: When Karen explains why having white flowers at the wedding are a disaster, it’s because evil witches use white flowers in their magic and Morbidda Destiny will be able to sense them from next door.

Book: Kristy’s rehearsal dinner dress is white with woven silver designs.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s rehearsal dinner dress is green and blue.

Book: Kristy’s bridesmaid shoes are yellow.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s bridesmaid shoes are white.

Also, the clothes the kids wear in their practice wedding are different and the kids are positioned differently in the photo that’s taken of them on the couch. Karen freaks out at the wedding a little later than she did in the book and it’s Karen who accepts Mrs Porter’s present, not Watson. I can’t imagine Karen touching anything Morbidda Destiny has touched for fear of her magic.

I liked Claudia’s drawing lesson, where she explains how to draw simple roses, although I haven’t attempted them myself because I’m extremely artistically challenged. My stick men don’t even consistently look like stick men.

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My favourite illustration shows some of the wedding scenes.

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kristy’s mum is getting married, and Kristy is going to be a bridesmaid! The only problem? Fourteen kids are coming to town for the wedding. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn and Mallory think they can handle it, but that’s before they spend a week changing diapers, stopping arguments, solving mix-ups, and planning activities. It’s the biggest job the BSC has ever had, but they’ll work together to make sure Kristy’s big day is a success!

The Baby-Sitters Club #6: Kristy’s Big Day – Ann M. Martin

It’s the first second BSC book! Okay, that sounds really awkward. What I’m trying to say is that each of the five current members of the BSC have told their story in one book and Kristy is the first member to tell the second part of her story. It’s also one of Ann M. Martin’s favourite books of the series.

While this wasn’t one of my absolute favourites growing up, I did love it, mostly because it introduced me to Nannie. I love the grandmothers in this series. Nannie is Kristy’s maternal grandmother and she’s so much fun.

We meet her when she shows up in her car, the Pink Clinker. I’d never heard of anyone naming their car before and thought it was brilliant. Nannie is the reason I name my own cars and one of Ann M. Martin’s other books, Ten Kids, No Pets, is the reason my first car’s name started with an A, my second car’s name started with a B and my current car’s name starts with a C. Wow, this author has shaped my life in so many ways …

This is a happy-sad book. It’s a joyous occasion because Kristy’s mother and Watson are getting married. In the process, Kristy gets a new stepsister (Karen) and stepbrother (Andrew). She adores them. Watson is a good guy, he’s a millionaire and he makes Mrs Brewer happy.

It’s sad as well because the new blended family will be living in Watson’s mansion. Don’t get me wrong; the mansion itself is not a bad thing, unless you think living next door to a rumoured witch is a problem.

No, the reason it’s sad is that for her entire life Kristy has lived next door to her best friend, Mary Anne, on Bradford Court, and Claudia has always lived across the street. Kristy and Mary Anne’s bedrooms even have windows that face each other so they can communicate by torchlight at night and pull faces at one another when they’re in a fight. Understandably, Kristy doesn’t want to leave her childhood home.

It’s also bad news because in order for Kristy to attend BSC meetings once she’s living at Watson’s, she’ll need to pay her brother, Charlie, to drive her. Charlie’s a great guy and we assume he will be a safe driver so he’s not the problem. It does mean that the BSC members will need to pay more club dues each week. So far, so good. No one is whinging about having to pay them yet but if memory serves me, the obligatory groaning whenever Stacey collects the dues is coming fairly soon.

I’m liking Kristy more as an adult so far than I ever did as a kid. In this book she does do a few decidedly un-Kristy-like things, though.

  • She arrives at a BSC meeting at 5:36pm. That’s almost as bad as not attending at all, like she did in book #4. She did have a good excuse for being late so we’ll forgive her this time.
  • She gets excited at the thought of wearing a bridesmaid dress. Kristy, excited about a dress? I never thought I’d see the day.
  • She’s also happy about wearing heels. Okay, that’s just wrong. You can’t play baseball in heels, Kristy.

We babysit for Jenny (our angel) Prezzioso, Claire and Margo Pike and David Michael Thomas.

Then, in the lead up to the wedding, we babysit for 14 kids at once: Karen and Andrew Brewer, David Michael Thomas, Ashley, Berk, Grace and Peter (Aunt Colleen and Uncle Wallace’s kids), Emma, Beth and Luke (Aunt Theo and Uncle Neal’s kids), and Katherine, Patrick, Maura and Tony Fielding (their father, Tom, is Watson’s best friend). Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton also drops by one day but, hey, what’s one more at this point.

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 14 kids. 5 babysitters. I could easily imagine a room in hell looking just like this. It must be time for an emergency BSC meeting. We haven’t had one of those in a while.

In 1987 I couldn’t fathom the Thomas’ living in a house that had three bathrooms, and that was before they all go across town to live in a mansion with nine bedrooms!

In the kids’ practice wedding, “holy matrimony” accidentally becomes “holy moly”. I loved that as a kid and it still got a chuckle out of me during my reread.

This book’s school dance: the Final Fling, the last school dance of the year.

Movie in a book: Mary Poppins, which I decided I liked even more as a kid when I learned it was sophisticated, former New Yorker Stacey’s favourite movie. Actually, I seem to remember finding parts of it fairly boring before Stacey convinced me to fall in love with the entire movie, not just the dancing penguins, chalk paintings and catchy tunes. (I was so proud when I learned how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It’s one of those really useful things that’s burned into my brain.)

Stoneybrook Central Time: It’s June when we join Kristy on this adventure. Kristy’s mother and Watson are getting married in two and a half weeks. The Thomas’ need to have moved into Watson’s mansion before 15 July because the people who bought their house need to move in by then. We began this entire adventure on the first Tuesday of seventh grade. Google tells me that this is probably in August or early September.

About the cover: The shoes Kristy and Karen will be wearing to the wedding are special because you can dye them to match your dress. On the original cover, Karen’s shoes are black, not yellow.

Up next: Claudia and Janine came to an understanding during the whole Phantom Phone Call jump scare. Something tells me it’s not going to last.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kristy’s mum is getting married, and Kristy’s a bridesmaid. The only trouble is, fourteen little kids are coming to the wedding, and they all need babysitters. Here comes the Baby-Sitters Club!

Stacey, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, and Kristy think they can handle fourteen kids. But that’s before they spend five days changing diapers, stopping fights, solving mix-ups, righting wrongs … and getting sick and tried of babysitting!

One thing’s for sure: This is a crazy way to have a wedding. But it’s a great way to have a lot of fun!

The Baby-Sitters Club #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three – Ann M. Martin

It’s our California girl’s first BSC book! Dawn, whose hair I wanted when I was growing up and whose potentially haunted 1795 farmhouse I still want to live in, or at least have a chance to explore, is the BSC’s Alternate Officer.

So, what’s an Alternate Officer? Well, basically Dawn’s the understudy for all of the other roles and she’s ready to jump right in there and fill in if any of the other members can’t perform her duty for whatever reason. Or you could say that Dawn’s mother moved her and her brother to Stoneybrook a few months too late for her to get a real job title and now Kristy’s struggling to come up with a name that sounds super important but on most days means diddly-squat.

I connected with Dawn when I was growing up because I spent a great deal of my childhood soaking up the sun at the beach as well. Come to think of it, though, that’s about all we have in common. She’s neat; I’m messy. She loves tofu; I’m more interested in raiding Claudia’s junk food stash. Dawn and I do both enjoy ghost stories but we don’t know that about Dawn yet.

When I was a kid I truly believed the Barrett kids were impossible. Why? Because the title and blurb told me they were. Now that I am an adult and can actually think for myself, they seem like pretty ordinary kids. Sure, they’re upset about their parents’ divorce (Dawn bonds with them over that) but that’s to be expected. If there’s anything a little odd about them, it’s that Dawn could so easily convince them that cleaning the house is a fun game. It is not!

In this book, we babysit for all eight of the Pike kids, Jenny (our angel) Prezzioso, Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton, Karen and Andrew Brewer, Buddy, Suzi and Marnie (who makes the ham face when she’s happy) Barrett, David Michael Thomas, Charlotte Johansenn and Jeff Schafer (Dawn’s younger brother).

We meet and babysit the Barrett kids and Jeff Schafer for the first time, and we play ‘Let’s All Come In’ with Hannie Papadakis, one of Karen Brewer’s friends. Dawn’s California best friend, Sunny Winslow, is also mentioned.

The green eyed monster is hanging out with Kristy who, until book #4, was Mary Anne’s only best friend. Now Mary Anne has two best friends and Kristy isn’t keen on sharing.

We get to explore the Dawn’s new-old home’s barn but we don’t find out anything more exciting about the house. Yet. Creepy, quirky stuff is coming soon. Please be as creepy and quirky as I remember …

Dawn misses a BSC meeting but, unlike Kristy’s dummy spit related no-show in book #4, Dawn can’t get away from a babysitting job because Mrs Barrett is late. Again.

We’re introduced to the Pike kids’ Bizzer Sign. I can’t believe I’d forgotten all about this.

Bzzz.

Dawn predicts Mallory’s BSC membership.

Random thoughts:

The Pike family have eight kids. At one point the triplets are at ice hockey practice and Vanessa is at a violin lesson. Another time Jordan, one of the triplets, is at a piano lesson. How can these parents afford to feed and clothe eight kids plus pay for them to do activities? Is everyone in Stoneybrook millionaires?

I called Dawn’s home her ‘new-old’ one in my review of book #4, forgetting that that’s what Mallory Pike calls it in book #5. Did this series become part of my DNA or something? Also, what really important information has my brain discarded to hold onto BSC trivia?

The Pike family have Band-Aids with dinosaurs on them! Is this why I am incapable of buying a Band-Aid that doesn’t have a fun design on it?

Dating Dawn’s mother really agrees with Mary Anne’s father. She’s allowed to wear jeans now, for the first time in her twelve years. I’m hoping this means Mr Spier’s rule that says Mary Anne isn’t allowed to wear pants to school might not be set in stone anymore. Mary Anne also gets to redecorate her pink room.

When I read this book as a kid I had no idea what Doritos were. I also had never heard of tofu, granola, Pop Tarts, saltwater taffy or Ho-Hos. There were so many BSC foods I didn’t encounter in Australia as a kid. I’ll never forget the day I first saw a Hershey’s bar in real life (actually, I haven’t tried one yet). I still don’t know what Ho-Hos are but if junk food addict Claudia likes them, there’s a pretty good chance I will too.

When I was a kid I read lots of words I’d never heard of before. I thought Connecticut was pronounced ‘connect-e-cut’. Why am I telling you embarrassing childhood memories?

Watson’s mansion has nine bedrooms! I would not want to clean that house! Maybe the Barrett kids would do it for me …

As a kid I thought the babysitters were really mature at twelve years old. Perhaps, overall, they are. But these girls you’re trusting your kids with are the same girls who have been convinced (by a six year old, no less) that Watson’s next door neighbour is a scary witch.

Stoneybrook Central Time: Dawn and her family moved to Stoneybrook in book #4. Mary Anne met her the day after the big BSC barney; that was Dawn’s second day at school and fourth day living in Stoneybrook. In the beginning of this book Dawn has lived in Stoneybrook for a few months.

Best insult: Dawn calls the weatherman on the radio a “cheesebrain”. I’m going to try to find a good time to use that one.

Up next: Do you hear wedding bells?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Dawn’s the newest member of the Baby-sitters Club and everybody’s glad – except Kristy. Kristy thinks things were better without Dawn around. That’s why Dawn’s eager to take on a big babysitting job: It’s her chance to show Kristy what she’s made of.

What a mistake! Taking care of the three Barrett kids is too much for any babysitter. The house is in chaos, the kids are impossible, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. Dawn’s got more trouble than she bargained for. But she’s not going to give up until all four Barretts are under control and she’s friends with Kristy.

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #3: Mary Anne Saves the Day – Raina Telgemeier

Text – Ann M. Martin

This is the first of Raina’s BSC graphic novel adaptations that I’ve seen in their full technicolor glory. I’m so in love with it, not that I didn’t enjoy the black and white illustrations in the versions I read of the first two graphic novels in the series.

Raina has once again captured the original story so well. Her illustrations are always amazing, with giggle-worthy exaggerated expressions.

I have so many favourites in this graphic novel, but check out Kristy’s face when she realises she’s broken one of her own BSC rules! Priceless!

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The differences in the story, which were all only minor, that stood out to me as I was reading were:

Book: Mary Anne’s mother’s name is not mentioned.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne’s mother’s name is Alma. I don’t remember ever knowing this before.

Book: Mary Anne wishes Humpty Dumpty and two Alice in Wonderland pictures weren’t on her bedroom wall.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne wishes Humpty Dumpty and Mother Goose pictures weren’t on her bedroom wall.

Book: When Mary Anne looks around the cafeteria the day after the BSC’s fight, the fourth chair at her usual table has been removed.
Graphic novel: When Mary Anne looks around the cafeteria the day after the BSC’s fight, the fourth chair at her usual table has Kristy’s backpack and hoodie on it.

Book: Dawn temporarily has the family’s VCR in her room. Her mother taped The Parent Trap.
Graphic novel: Dawn temporarily has the family’s DVD player in her room. Her mother bought The Parent Trap.

Book: Mary Anne babysits for Jenny Prezzioso both times.
Graphic novel: Stacey babysits for Jenny Prezzioso the first time.

Book: Mary Anne gives her note to Mimi to pass along to Claudia later in the story.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne gives Claudia her note at the end of the first BSC meeting after the fight.

Book: We attend the first Prezzioso job with Mary Anne but we don’t read about it in the BSC notebook.
Graphic novel: Stacey writes up the first Prezzioso job in the BSC notebook. We also attend the job with her.

Book: Claudia blasts music on her tape deck when it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the BSC calls.
Graphic novel: Claudia blasts music on her CD player when it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the BSC calls.

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Book: When Mary Anne and Kristy babysit together, the eight Pike kids put on two plays.
Graphic novel: When Mary Anne and Kristy babysit together, Mary Anne only reads to the younger Pike kids upstairs before bedtime. There are no plays.

Book: The second time the BSC babysit for Jenny, she’s wearing a pale blue dress with a white collar and cuffs, and white tights, shoes and hair ribbon.
Graphic novel: The second time the BSC babysit for Jenny, she’s wearing a white dress, a short sleeve black cardigan, white socks, black and white shoes and a red hair ribbon.

Book: Mary Anne has Blueberries For Sal, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and Caps For Sale in her Kid-Kit.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne has Princess Gwynn and Hats for Bats in her Kid-Kit.

Book: Mr Prezzioso gives Mary Anne and Dawn $10 each after they take care of Jenny when she’s sick.
Graphic novel: Mr Prezzioso gives Mary Anne and Dawn $50 each after they take care of Jenny when she’s sick.

Book: Mary Anne doesn’t visit her mother’s grave.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne visits her mother’s grave after her fight with Dawn. I thought this was a really good addition, especially given how lonely and upset Mary Anne is at this point in the story.

Book: At Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton’s birthday party, Kristy is the one that suggests the kids sit around the couch and gloats when Mrs Newton agrees with her.
Graphic novel: At Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton’s birthday party, we don’t see which babysitter suggests the kids sit around the couch but Claudia is the one who gloats, so I guess it was her.

Book: At the end, Dawn says, “To me!” I prefer this version; it made me smile when I read it.
Graphic novel: At the end, Dawn says, “To us!!

Random thoughts:

Mary Anne’s room is just as pink as I imagined it would be. Humpty Dumpty is even on the wall.

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Mary Anne’s dad is kinda cute, in a dad way, of course. When I’ve I imagined him previously, he’s been exclusively dour until the very end of the story and sort of bland looking.

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Mimi looks more adorable that I’d even hoped. I love Mimi! I know she’s not a BSC member but I’d love to read her memoirs.

Also, Claudia’s response to the “my Mary Anne” incident is brilliant!

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I love that we get to see Mary Anne give her father the scarf she’s been working on with Mimi’s help for a couple of books. That was my favourite illustration.

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About the cover: Love it! Love the colours. Love the expressions. My only nitpicks are that Mary Anne’s skirt is clearly above her knees and I’m certain that her dad, Richie, would never have allowed Mary Anne to leave the house looking like that. Why, that would almost be as scandalous as giving her permission to wear pants to school! Also, is it just me or at a quick glance, does it look as though Claudia doesn’t have pupils, giving her a bit of a zombie vibe?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When The Baby-sitters Club gets into a huge fight, Mary Anne is left to her own devices. She has to eat by herself in the school cafeteria, figure out how to make new friends and deal with her overprotective father. But the worst happens when she finds herself in a babysitting emergency and can’t turn to her friends for help. Will Mary Anne solve her problems and save The Baby-sitters Club from falling apart?