We'll start with the cover. Abby (I presume it's Abby, not Anna, with the BSC you never know) is attending a wonderland party and shaking hands with her grandmother. As far as covers go for the BSC, it's actually not that bad. I've seen a lot worse. Though it is just me, or do Abby's arms seem really long?
Chapter One. Abby wakes up after a long night of talking on the phone with Kristy (apparently about what they'll do when Kristy comes to visit, I think we know what they were really talking about). She realizes she procrastinated in packing her suitcase to the last limit and dumps all her clothes in, only for Anna to walk in and freak out about omgwrinkles. Abby really doesn't care, and I dunno... if Abby doesn't give a shit, I think Anna should just let it go. Instead she insists on folding all of Abby's clothes herself... okay.
Their time of leaving gets delayed, which - amazingly enough - gives Abby just enough time to go to a meeting. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
Chapter two: Standard "let me introduce the BSC" chapter that warped my writing for years by making me think you had to tell not show, TYVM ANN. Some highlights:
"When I first met Kristy, that bossiness really got on my nerves. Who did this little squirt (she’s the shortest girl in our class) think she was, telling me what to do?" except she then goes on to say that she "admires people who can roll with the punches", and Abby honey, Kristy doesn't roll with things. She micro-manages until everything goes her way.
"And I think she has a cute face, even though Mal doesn’t think so. She has curly reddish-brown hair, and wears glasses and braces." At least someone thinks so. Possibly the first time ever Mal was genuinely complimented in a book, and it only took 121 of them to get it.
"Mostly white Stoneybrook was a bit of a shock for an African-American family like the Ramseys, who were used to integrated neighborhoods like the one in which they’d lived in New Jersey." That's... actually not bad. I like Abby.
Claudia outfit: "Today she had on orange leggings and a long yellow tunic on which she’d sown wild zigzag patterns of tiny beads. Her dangle earrings were also homemade, from a combination of clay beads and the same small sparkly beads she’d used on her tunic. Her shoes were a deep aqua. She looked like a human sunset." Yeah ok, Abby. Never mind, I don't like you because there's no way that looks good. I'm pretty sure they just stopped trying at this point.
We get introduced to the sub-plot; the Pikes can't go on their Sea City vacation and the kids are bitching about it. There is also a mention of how the Pikes need two sitters because the ten-year-old triplets are missing that magical year that turns you into an adult. And Mary Anne passively aggressively volunteers Dawn for the job, how sweet of her.
Chapter Three. A reminder of how old these books are when Abby complains about a book on tape her mom has and instead puts in a cassette with music. Ah, cassettes. How I do NOT miss thee. She bitches a little bit about how her mom had to bring some contracts with her to do, and as annoying as it is I think that's a very natural 13-year-old reaction. She says that she "didn't bring the BSC notebook with her" and Abby, the BSC is not the same as a full-time job. Period. No matter how life-or-death Kristy tries to make it!
This is a pretty short chapter, Abby and Anna and their mom go visit their old house. It looks different and Abby thinks to herself about how Long Island isn't her home anymore, Stoneybrook is. Nothing really snarkworthy.
Chapter Four. Lord, a sideplot and with the Pikes... I think I know the real reason this book has never been snarked. Dawn and Mary Anne arrive, letting Mal and Dee escape. This kids are all moping around about their lost vacation and want to be left alone. If I were their baby-sitter, I'd tip my hat to a pretty easy job. But this is BSC-land, where no kid can ever be unhappy. So Dawn and MA decide to bring Sea City to Stoneybrook, and the kids get all excited about it. Of course they do.
Chapter Five. Abby's grandparents are planning an anniversary party, this year the theme is Alice in Wonderland. When they head to the beach, Gram makes a big deal out of Abby putting sunblock because of the possibility of skin cancer. It's actually a subtle bit of foreshadowing, because I'm sure a lot of (Grand)parents harp on that. And also, Grandpa makes a comment about how he wishes people would make more of an effort to come because of how hard Gram is working. Foreshadowing!
Apparently one of Gram's sisters, Leah, isn't coming because there was a fall out. This is the second time this plot has been used for Abby, the first time being with her aunt Miriam. Weird. There's some boring detail about Abby's family and how Gram wants to make a family tree... and that's about it. I amused myself by thinking about how annoyed Kristy "my family is super confusing" Thomas would get if she knew Abby had two mysteries in hers.