Thursday, March 21, 2019

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #7 - Claudia and Mean Janine

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Firstly, the response to this series has been so great, so thank you! It's nice to know that the BSC hold a special place with loads of us of a certain vintage. In that vein, Aoife has done a great post about where she thinks the main club members would be now:

This week, I'm up to Book 7 and my favourite sitter, Claudia Kishi.

It's July, so there's no school, but the Kishis are all still busy. Claudia is taking art classes, her older sister Janine takes advanced summer courses at the University, and their parents are off to work (her mother is a librarian and her father is a partner in an investment business). Claudia thinks that Janine is blah, and Janine thinks Claudia is immature. Their mother thinks they're both jealous of each other.

The way Janine speaks is reminiscent of the time Joey Tribbiani discovered a thesaurus - "I was simply trying to uphold my end of a meaningful conversation with my sibling". This drives Claudia up the walls, as she already feels like she lets her family down by not being as smart or interested in schoolwork. Unbeknownst to her, Janine wishes that she had Claudia's circle of friends and feels that her only role in the family is to become a physicist. 

In this book, we learn that Claudia's family are Japanese immigrants, and arrived to the U.S when her Grandmother Mimi was in her thirties. Mimi is a calming influence, always supportive of Claudia and doesn't seem to be as obsessed with success as Claudia's parents are. Unfortunately, also in this book, Mimi has a stroke and this serves as one of those classic BSC "life isn't fair" storylines. Honestly, I feel like at times these books prepared me for adulthood better than anything I ever learned at school. When Mimi gets ill, the sisters have to figure out how to work together. Janine isn't actually "mean" (Claudia's kind of mean, tbh), she's just devoid of personality and doesn't have anything in common with Claudia. 

We get another reminder of the infamous BSC phone number, KL5 - 3231. In a previous recap, I linked a really good article about the use of Klondike in TV shows and books - here's another great one if you fancy a trip down a Pop Culture wormhole: This is Why the Fake Phone Numbers in Movies Start With 555

The rest of the story involves a Summer Play Camp that the club set up, which is the usual Karen Brewer/Morbidda Destiny nonsense, Jenny Prezzioso (the original Toddlers & Tiaras kid) swanning about in party frocks, and the washing of a dog that ends up with Mallory Pike painting his nails and the ever-problematic Kristy saying "You don't think Louie looks too much like a girl, do you? If anybody asks tomorrow, I'll just say his name is Louella"

My moment of the week is a shoutout to Auntie Nora, whoever she is. There's a christening party happening at the Newtons, and Nora is clearly planning to get lit to the tit on cocktails because she has her very own bespoke jar labelled "Auntie Nora's Swizzle Sticks". You go, Auntie Nora. 

Notable outfits this week include:

Claudia: Black jeans, a bright blue t-shirt and a snake bracelet above her elbow
Stacey: Knee-length lime green shorts, matching green high-top sneakers, long white t-shirt with a yellow Taxi Cab on the front.
Dawn: Striped pants with suspenders over a red shirt.
Claudia: A big, loose white shirt with black splotches all over it, white pants that come to just below her knees, with dainty gold sandals that laced partway up her legs. She wore pink flamingo earrings and beaded bracelets. 

Cupcakes in her desk drawer
Licorice in her pencil case
M&Ms in her jewelery box
Gumdrops "somewhere"

Snacks, books and clothes must have been really cheap in Connecticut in the 1980s, because I have no idea how Claudia is able to maintain this level of materialism on a 13 year old babysitters wage. 

This week, I'm adding a new section that I hope to go back and include on the other installments - a Pop Culture watch. The series mentions so many TV shows, books and movies from the mid 80s right up to the late 1990s, and I think it'd be a shame to ignore them. 

Claudia is addicted to Nancy Drew books, and mentions a number of titles that she owns: 

The Clue of the Tapping Heels
The Message in the Hollow Oak
The Clue in the Crossword Cipher
The Phantom of Pine Hill

I remember seeing Nancy Drew books in the library as a child but don't recall reading many of them. All of the ones mentioned above are real titles. She also mentions that she has a copy of  The Guinness Book of World Records in her room. 

Bohren's Movers get a shout out via an old t-shirt worn by Kristy, they're a family owned moving business based in New Jersey. 

For the kids, Candy Land crops up in this installment. It's the board game that presumably served as a source of inspiration for Candy Crush, given that the main screen looks exactly like the traditional board. To date it's still popular, selling over a million copies a year.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn Jackson was mentioned as one of the younger kids favourite books. We had a Great-Aunt who regularly sent us little Golden books from the U.S  - they're still being published, and are available on Book Depository.

Next week is the one in which a thirteen year old girl develops a crush on an adult man, who completely encourages it. Brace yourselves. 

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