Monday, 28 April 2008

Claudia and the Great Search (BSC #33)

heather What I am about to say might make you feel violated, but I have to tell you. You have a right to know. Whew. Okay. Here it is: The first 35 Baby-Sitters Club books were written by Ann M. Martin, just as the covers suggest. But the rest of the BSC books—at least the next 40—were written... BY A MAN. I found out about Scholastic's ghostwriting policy deceit a year or so ago, and I have tried really hard to come to grips with it, to, you know, just live with the fact that I thought I was taking my fun aunt Ann M. Martin along to my friends' houses, but really I was bringing along a creepy, grown ass man to slumber parties. It's gross, of course it is. And I feel betrayed, yes. But I want to forgive Scholastic for the lies, to move on. They gave me Harry Potter, didn't they? But before Harry Potter, they gave me Claudia and the Great Search. I recently reread BSC #33 for Collective review, and unlike Dawn and the Older Boy (BSC #37, the second title penned, funnily enough, by a Creepy Older Boy) Claudia and the Great Search (BSC #33) was written by fun Aunt Ann. OR SO THEY SAY.

Claudia Kishi (who—in college—surely moved to NYC with her poet/guitarist boyfriend) is a charter member of Stonybrook, Connecticut's very own Baby-Sitter's Club, along with her best friend Stacy McGill (who I'm positive grew up to be the editor of a successful fashion magazine); and her two long-time pals Mary Ann Spier (who undoubtedly had a pregnancy scare in high school), and Kristy Thomas (who—when was not touring with the LPGA—certainly became a practicing lawyer. And also, obviously, a lesbian). Early in the series the fabulous four are joined by Dwan Schaffer, a California transplant (who grew up, I'll bet, to found Trader Joe's); as well as two junior members, Jessie Ramsey (dancer) and Mallory Pike (ginger-head).

And there you have the first three chapters of Claudia and the Great Search.

For the rest of the story we follow Claudia as she determines that she is adopted, that her "parents" don't love her, and that she needs to find her real parents. Why does Claudia think she is adopted, you ask? Well, Claudia's sleuthing early in the book brings about these clues. a) Claudia's sister Janine is a certifiable genius, while Claudia can barely spell. b) Janine wears plain outfits like this: "a long pleated plaid skirt, a white shirt with a round collar, stockings, and blue heels." (Which, incidentally, was my middle school chorus uniform.) While Claudia wears funky outfits like this: "a very short black skirt, and oversized white shirt with bright pink and turquoise poodles printed on it, flat turquoise shoes with ankle straps, and a ton of jewelry, including dangly poodle earrings... hair swept to one side in a high ponytail held in place with a huge pink barrette." (Which, incidentally, is something Carrie Bradshaw would wear to the post office.) c) Claudia (the second child) finds more pictures of Janine (the first child) in old family photo albums. And d) There is a locked box on her father's desk. (She is sure it contains her birth certificate from her actual parents.)

As is the way with all BSC books, it turns out Claudia's family really does love her. Plus—surprise!—she's not adopted: her grandma was a funky dresser, too! And along Claudia's quest to (momentary) self-acceptance, she helps a babysitting charge get into preschool! And she learns that, no matter what, her friends are always going to stand beside her. (Even when Scholastic starts pooping out BSC Super Mysteries.) Also in this book, Claudia uses a microfiche machine at the library, which really isn't significant, just proof that it was written in 1989.

Oh, and one more thing: that locked box on top of Claudia Kishi's dad's desk, it was full of cash!

I never had much in common with the BSC, and certainly my parents didn't have a box of money in their bedroom. If they did, I would have probably stolen it—twenty dollars at a time—for delivery pizza. When mom and dad found out, they would have definitely felt violated. But hey, guess what, that's life. Just another friendly lesson from Stonybrook, Connecticut.

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