Anyway! I now have the 2010 rerelease of The Truth About Stacey in my hot little hands. As far as I understand, not a whole lot about the story has changed at all, so we won’t have to worry about that. And now that I’m home, bed-ridden and sick, I figured it was the perfect time to get my snark on.
Let’s start with this newly revamped cover, shall we?
So these were designed to make kids want to read them, right? I don’t know about you, but if I was a nine-year-old who’d never heard of the Baby-Sitters Club, a cartoon drawing of a cupcake probably wouldn’t be enough to lure me in. And those fonts are hideous, but I wasn’t into fonts at age nine, so maybe I wouldn’t have judged those so harshly. But I really love that it’s a book about diabetes, and all they could think of to put on the cover is a cupcake. Way to be creative, Scholastic!
That’s enough of that.
”As president of the Baby-sitters Club,” said Kristy Thomas, “I hereby move that we figure out what to do when Mrs. Newton goes to the hospital to have her baby.”
Ah, what a thrilling opening. May I ask, Kristy, why is that your club’s business? I’m pretty sure Mr. Newton is the one in charge of worrying about that. I mean, I get that the BSC manages to nose their way into everything involving children in Stoneybrook, but isn’t this a little much? We’re told that Mary Anne agrees that this is a good idea, because Mary Anne and Kristy are best friends and best friends always agree. Tell that to my ninth grade BFF who started hanging out with the popular kids and dumped me via note in math class.
Right away, we’re treated to some mini introductions about the club and its four members. Ah, a time when there were only four members and they hadn’t yet developed their standard Chapter 2 format! I’m trying to read it to see if they’ve changed anything with the new rerelease, but my eyes start glazing over almost immediately so I’m thinking they probably haven’t.
I do like, though, how Stacey tells us, ”New York City is a big place. Stoneybrook is not.” Thanks for that one, Miss Sophisticated.
Blah blah blah, Kristy and Mary Anne are babyish, blah blah blah. Back to Mrs. Newton. Kristy suggests that they make sure one of the club members are always free every afternoon until the baby is born. What about the other, like, 20 hours a day, Kristy? No plan for those? Claudia tells Kristy that it sounds like kind of a waste, considering that babies can be born at night or can be born late, and I remember why I always liked Claudia. Girl can’t spell, but she’s at least got a modicum of rationale.
They talk about when they were born – all were nighttime babies – which gives Stacey a chance to tell us that Mary Anne doesn’t have a mom and therefore doesn’t know what time she was born. Come on, Richard, you can’t even suck it up and talk to your only child about that?
Then Janine bursts into Claudia’s room, waving a flyer frantically. On it is an ad for The Baby-Sitters Agency, and everyone promptly goes into shock. Competition! Oh noes! And some of their babysitters are in high school! And they’re available until midnight on weekends! Le gasp. What do the BSC think, that they’re literally the only four sitters in all of Stoneybrook? They angst because they can’t stay out as late as these new baby-sitters. Was their ten o’clock curfew really not a problem before now? Did no parents seriously ever stay out til midnight on a weekend?
Kristy moves to change their meeting from a regular one to an emergency one, which makes no sense. You’re all already there and you’re all going to talk about the Agency. Why bother wasting time to declare an emergency meeting? We get four brief outfit descriptions then, but they’re all very minimal and boring. Stacey calls herself trendy, though, and I think that’s a little arrogant. Come on, Stacey, there’s a crisis going on here!
Turns out the people running the club are Liz Lewis and Michelle Patterson, who are eighth graders at Stoneybrook Middle School. Claudia tells us that they’re bad news because they have smart mouths, sass the teachers, and hang out at the mall. Sounds like every thirteen-year-old I’ve ever met. The girls decide that Kristy will call the agency and pretend she needs a baby-sitter for her little brother, so they can find out how the club works.
Kristy speaks to Liz on the phone and tells her that she has a date, so she needs a sitter for her brother. Her date, by the way, is with a high school boy named Winston Churchill – and Liz doesn’t even recognize the name. I know Liz is supposed to be dumb, but really? An eighth grader doesn’t recognize Winston Churchill’s name? Their school system sucks. Turns out that Liz and Michelle have a whole network of older sitters, and when people call the agency, they turn around and find the sitters for them. Smart kids, I have to say. At least they don’t have to go to meetings run by a twelve-year-old dictator in a baseball cap.
Everybody reassures each other that they’ll be fine and the club will survive, and they all head home. Once Stacey gets back to her place, we’re treated to a long description about her diabetes! And you know, I’m glad they’ve updated the diabetes information in these books. I used to think that one piece of candy would cause Stacey to promptly fall over and die. But now they take a few paragraphs to go into her history with diabetes, how insulin works, and what steps Stacey has to take to make sure her blood sugar levels are stable. I have a cousin with diabetes, and all the stuff in this book seems far closer to what he has to do to keep his blood sugar level. So that’s nice to see, anyway.
Okay, this history about Stacey and her diabetes is really long. Overprotective parents, bff Laine, wetting the bed, you know the drill. So we’re skipping that.
Then Stacey’s brain switches from diabetes to boys, which makes sense because I’m pretty sure that those two things (plus New York) are her only personality traits. She tells us she has a crush on two boys: Sam, Kristy’s brother (whose jaw apparently almost fell off his face when he saw Stacey. He should get that looked at.), and Pete Black, who took her to the Halloween Hop. He sits at her lunch table and sometimes phones her in the evenings just to talk. Hm. No boys ever phoned me in the evenings just to talk when I was in seventh grade. Then again, I had braces and bangs and glasses. I was a brunette Mallory Pike. So I can’t blame them.
Stacey’s mom comes in to chat, and when she sees Stacey’s being quiet, she worries that Stacey was snacking at Claudia’s. Here Stacey tells us she can have sweet stuff every day, so long as she regulates her insulin. Seriously, this would have been so good to know when I was nine and did a project on diabetes for school. Why I got an A on that, I’ll never know. Mrs. McGill wants to call the doctor because Stacey lost three pounds. Seriously, Mama McGill, chill out. Three pounds, even for a diabetic, is not the end of the world.
Mama McGill tells Stacey that she’s made an appointment for her to go to New York and be tested by some new doctor, who’s supposedly working miracles on people with diabetes. Stacey is not impressed and doesn’t want to go. I can’t blame her – I wouldn’t want to go see a doctor that my Uncle Eric heard about on a television program, either. (Her words, not mine.) Papa McGill shows up and tries his hand at convincing Stacey to go see the new doctor, and I forgot this book was set before the McGills’ divorce. Crazy.
Before Stacey goes to sleep, Kristy calls her and tells her that they’re all meeting at the BSC Headquarters at eleven the next morning. And yet she doesn’t call this one an emergency meeting. Come on, K. Ron, get your shit together.
At their non-emergency eleven-am meeting, Kristy wears a visor and takes over Claudia’s desk, apparently for the first time. There’s the Kristy we know and love to hate. Kristy has drawn up a list of five things they can do to improve their services and beat out the competition. The list is:
1. Do housework at no extra charge
2. Offer special deals to their best customers
3. Make Kid-Kits
4. Lower rates
5. Give some jobs to older kids.
Everything but number 3 is stupid. Kid-Kits, while a little enthusiastic, are a pretty decent idea. But doing housework? Giving jobs to older kids, like Janine and Sam and Charlie? I’m sure they’ll love being volunteered against their will. And lower rates? Don’t they make something like two dollars a job? How can you possibly ask for less than that? If you do, it’ll take forever to save up for that Walkman, Kristy. Don’t be silly. The others, to their credit, think most of these ideas are pretty stupid, too. Claudia uses the word “degrading”, after Mary Anne helps her with it. They decide to go ahead with the special deals and the Kid-Kits, and save the other three for last resorts.
And now we’re on to our first baby-sitting chapter! Stacey, armed with her new Kid-Kit, heads over to Charlotte Johanssen’s house. I always liked Charlotte. And her parents seemed relatively normal. I also always thought the Johanssen’s were black, for some reason. That is, until we met Jessi and learned how AMM and the ghosties would deal with a black character. Charlotte thinks the Kid Kit is pretty ballin’, but they decide they want to go for a walk downtown instead.
Charlotte babbles about squirrels and her dog Carrot (what an awful name for a dog. Then again, I can’t talk – I had pet rats as a kid that I named “Nibbles” and “Scamper” and “Climber”, and a calico cat that I named “Cally”. So I’m no pet name expert). Stacey insults her by asking if she has any human friends. Way to be nice to the seven-year-old, Stace. Then Charlotte says no, she doesn’t, and that makes me sad. Anyway, the two eventually end up at the playground, where some kids tease her about being a teacher’s pet. She and Stacey sort of bond over being teased. (Because Stacey got teased for her diabetes, in case you forgot.)
On the way home, Stacey and Charlotte run into the evil Liz Lewis, president of the ~competition~. She’s handing out balloons with the Baby-sitters Agency’s phone number. Liz is smart for a thirteen-year-old. Balloons beat flyers, every time.
Oh god, and we’re treated to our first hand-written entry of the book. I forgot how much I hated these. I’m trying to figure out who’s writing the entry, because it’s not handwriting that I’m familiar with. It’s Stacey’s book, but none of the i’s are dotted with hearts. Then next section of the book is about Kristy, though, so… maybe this is Kristy’s journal entry? Puzzling. We learn that they’ve gotten less jobs this week than they normally do, and they’re worried.
Kristy invites Stacey over after school – but doesn’t invite Mary Anne and Claudia. Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird? Since when do Kristy and Stacey hang out? Anyway, Stacey agrees because she’s hoping to see Sam. Atta girl, Stacey. Priorities. They get inside and find Jamie Newton hanging out with Mama Thomas – turns out Mrs. Newton is at the hospital having her baby. Kristy is devastated that the BSC were still in school and unable to baby-sit Jamie right away. So much for that afternoon plan, eh Kristy? You win some, you lose some. Kristy seems offended that Jamie got dropped off this morning and Mrs. Newton still hadn’t had her baby. Apparently Kristy’s punctuality issues extend to unborn fetuses.
The girls host an impromptu Big Brother Party for Jamie, who’s bummed about having a little sibling. That’s pretty nice of them, I must admit. During the party, they get the call from Mr. Newton – Jamie has a baby sister! Jamie promptly hides in the laundry room and cries. Poor kid. He’ll feel better when he’s twenty-three and his sister is nineteen and he can threaten all her potential boyfriends with a shotgun or something. That’s what older brothers do, right? I don’t have one. I’m just guessing here.
That’s when Stacey finds out that Mrs. Newton called the Baby-Sitters Agency to get an older sitter for the newborn. Stacey is insulted and Jamie is beside himself at the thought of being sat for someone without a Kid-Kit. Stacey immediately declares war on the Baby-Sitters Agency. She narrows her eyes and everything. Damn.
The BSC gets to school the next day to find Liz and Michelle recruiting new sitters for their Agency. Mary Anne gets ahold of a flyer, which promises fast jobs and easy money. Turns out Liz and Michelle keep some of the money that their clients earn, which must mean that they’re charging more than the BSC are. So why is the BSC so worried? The parents in Stoneybrook are lazy cheapskates – why pay a fifteen-year-old decent money when you can pay a twelve-year-old next to nothing? Seriously, the BSC is going to be fine.
The girls decide that the best way to deal with their competition is to hire older sitters. Just eighth-graders, though, so I have to wonder if it’s worth it. How much more responsible are thirteen-year-olds compared to twelve-year-olds? But that thought is put on hold because Stacey has to go to the mall.
At the mall, Stacey buys herself a dinosaur pin to attach onto her beret. Even in the late 80s, I’m not sure that said “sophisticated New Yorker” so much as “middle-aged kindergarten teacher”. Anyway, Mama and Papa McGill tell Stacey that they’re going to New York to be tested by that special diabetes doctor (raise your hand if you almost forgot this plotline existed). It’ll be five days instead of three, and Stacey is devastated. Her parents bribe her with tickets to a musical, though, so that helps cushion the blow. A+ parenting skills, I must say. That’s probably what I would do.
There’s a brief moment where Stacey chats with Dr. Johanssen and finds out that this fancy New York doctor isn’t all that special. But it’s boring and I don’t care, so we’re moving on because the next part is better.
Kristy makes the club wear sandwich boards. Sandwich boards. What is she doing, advertising for a kissing booth at a local fair? The club is mortified. Their classmates laugh at them. I laugh at them. It’s a good time all around, really. And despite the sandwich board, Pete Black still asks Stacey to the Snowflake Dance. And they manage to get two new recruits – eighth graders named Janet and Leslie, who hate Liz. So they ended up having a pretty decent day, all things considered. At least, I think so. I’ve never worn a sandwich board.
Mary Anne thinks hiring Janet and Leslie is risky, because they don’t know anything about the two girls. They have no idea if they’re good baby-sitters or not. Kristy pretty much ignores her, because K. Ron’s Ideas are all Great. It’s okay, Mary Anne. You’ll get to say “I told you so” in like forty pages.
The girls all have presents for baby Lucy, so they decide to bring them over to the Newton’s after school. Stacey bluntly thinks that Mrs. Newton still looks fat, even though she’s already had her baby. It’s like she thinks that the second the baby pops out, you go back to looking exactly as you did pre-baby. Man, adulthood is going to be a real shocker for Stacey McGill. They meet the newborn and they ask why Mrs. Newton doesn’t want them sitting for the baby. She explains why she wants an older sitter, but really, what mom leaves her new baby alone with anyone mere days after she’s been born? I don’t have any kids and even I think that’s crazy.
It’s Janet and Leslie’s first BSC meeting! They’re both snapping their gum, which tells us that they are BAD NEWS. As are all humans who snap their gum. Obviously. Leslie has no weekend curfew, and the BSC is highly impressed, despite the gum-snapping warning signs. They assign weekend jobs to Janet and Leslie and everyone is excited. This is not going to end well at all.
Another journal entry! This one is from Claudia and I almost fell out of my chair because Claudia’s entry is written in cursive writing. And there is NOT ONE SPELLING MISTAKE. NOT A ONE. What kind of parallel universe have we entered?! What are you doing to me, rereleased book?! I am appalled.
Anyway, Leslie and Janet don’t show up to the Monday BSC meeting. And the BSCers are so busy taking calls that they don’t even notice until 5:50. You’re slipping, K. Ron. They’re pretty insulted and are about the call them when Mr. Kelly – the new family Leslie was supposed to sit for – calls. Turns out Leslie didn’t show for her job and he’s pissed. I AM SHOCKED. And then – dear god - the family Janet was supposed to sit for calls, and she didn’t show up either! GOOD LORD, THIS NEWS HAS BLINDSIDED ME.
The BSC track Janet and Leslie down at school the next day, and they’re fuming. Turns out Janet and Leslie are members of the Baby-Sitters Agency, friends with Liz, and were sent to ruin the Baby-Sitters Club’s reputation. Damn, I bet Liz is going to grow up to be a total shark in the business world. She’d do great on The Apprentice. The BSC is furious. And then Kristy actually starts crying, right there in school. Maybe I am in a parallel universe.
The girls decide that, instead of trying to get back at the Baby-Sitters Agency, they’re going to go out of their way to prove what responsible, reliable sitters they are. This is a good plan, actually, and it probably won’t blow up in their faces the way most revenge plots would. Kudos to them.
The next few jobs the BSC has, they start finding out what truly crap sitters the Baby-Sitters Agency hires. The sitters who looked after Jamie made a cigarette burn on the couch and invited their boyfriends over, and the sitters who looked after Charlotte ignored her and wouldn’t help her with her homework. The kids are miserable. Stacey encourages Jamie and Charlotte to tell their parents, and really, every single problem would be solved if they did that. Seriously, just whine and complain to your parents about how much you hate your new baby-sitters, kids. That’s what I used to do. They’ll never be back again.
Another journal entry, this time by Mary Anne, whose writing is lovely and pretty close to what I remember. Turns out Stacey has called an emergency lunchtime BSC meeting. Stacey clearly understands the term “emergency meeting” better than Kristy does. They talk about what Jamie and Charlotte told Stacey. There’s also this gem:
”We also agreed that agency sitters were inferior to club sitters. We were quality, and they were… well, they were not.”
Quality narration, Stacey, thank you.
On the way home, the BSCers run into Jamie, who’s playing by a busy road with no hat or mittens. Well done, Baby-Sitters Agency. That evening, Stacey has a heart-to-heart with her mom about what the BSCers should do about the Baby-Sitters Agency, and it’s boring and I start to skim. She gets a phone call from Kristy – seriously, why are Kristy and Stacey so tight in this book? – and both Mama McGill and Mama Thomas tell them tell the parents. Ah, sound logic. I forgot the BSC books used to have that.
The girls go over to Mrs. Newton’s and tell her how the Baby-Sitters Agency has been treating Jamie. Seriously, Jamie should have just told her ages ago. It would have saved us all this trouble! And I wouldn’t be getting so bored. Mrs. Newton is rightfully shocked and thanks the girls for telling her. Kristy asks her not to call and yell at Liz and Michelle – Kristy wants the chance to do that herself.
There’s some showdown at SMS the next day, where the BSC essentially schools the Baby-Sitters Agency. The BSC knows way more about the kids than the Baby-Sitters Agency does, because they find nothing more entertaining than hanging out with the 3-5 set. They walk away feeling triumphant. Well, hey, it’s the small victories, girls.
And now Stacey is off to New York! At first, Stacey is stoked about being able to stay in a hotel – for a sophisticated Manhattan girl, she’s practically wetting herself over the idea of staying in a hotel. But alas – they’re going to be staying with Laine Cummings, Stacey’s former BFF and the girl who made her life miserable when she became diabetic. Stacey’s devastated. Why are her parents doing this to her? If you can’t afford a hotel, stay with family. When a girl’s best friend treats her like crap, you can’t just stick them together again as if nothing ever happened. Mama McGill says that their fight was months ago, so surely everything will be fine. Uh, old wounds still hurt, Mama. I wouldn’t want to go stay with my ex-BFF from ninth grade, and it’s been nine years since our falling out. Show a little sympathy, Mrs. McGill.
Laine is super wary of Stacey the entire evening, and she keeps staring at her. What does she expect, that Stacey has two extra heads and will start peeing everywhere? Grow up, Laine. You’re supposed to be New York sophisticated. You really can’t handle a little diabetes?
Anyways, Stacey ends up going to the doctor and she hates it. This miracle doctor kind of sucks, it turns out. She sees a second doctor on Dr. Johanssen’s referral, who essentially tells her and her parents that she’s normal, everything’s fine, and they shouldn’t uproot her or change her life. Turns out there’s no miracle cure for diabetes! Who knew. Problem solved!
Before heading back to Stoneybrook, the McGills and the Cummings’ go to a movie. Stacey tries to buy popcorn, but comes up seventy-five cents short because it’s New York and she forgot how expensive New York was. If I recall correctly, in the original printing, Stacey tried to pay for her popcorn and soda with $1.50 and was seventy-five cents short. And that sounds absolutely ridiculous, because there’s no way popcorn and a soda would cost $1.50 back in the 1980s. Especially not in New York. And the publishers have obviously realized this, because they took out the $1.50 altogether in this copy. Now we just know that Stacey was short by seventy-five cents. Smart editing move.
Anyway, Laine shows up and spots Stacey the seventy-five cents. Aw, how sweet of you, Laine. A whole seventy-five cents! She and Stacey essentially kiss and make up. Really, Stace? Seventy-five cents makes up for all the times that she teased you and spread rumours about you? Damn, girl, where’s your backbone?
Back the McGills go to Stoneybrook. Stacey calls Claudia at once to find out what happened with the BSC/Baby-Sitters Agency feud. Apparently the kids all told their parents what crap their new sitters were, and the Agency essentially disbands. The BSC feels very, very proud of themselves. I know the Agency were crap sitters, but really – Stoneybrook easily has a couple of schools with young kids. I refuse to believe that the town couldn’t handle two baby-sitting services.
And then things start looking up for the BSC! Mrs. Newton calls and asks Stacey to sit for Lucy! Sam sees Stacey on the street and waves at her! Other families call the BSC for last minute jobs! They even come up with a celebratory cheer.
”Rah, rah, rah! Sis, boom, bah! Something… something… The Baby-Sitters Club! Hooray!”
The book ends with a phone call between Laine and Stacey, allowing Stacey to wrap up all the loose ends with some exposition. Liz and Michelle have started a new business – a makeover business! Stacey thinks it’s perfect. Sitting for Lucy Newton went well, and Charlotte’s getting moved into third grade so that she won’t get teased for being so smart anymore. Instead she’ll just get teased for being so smart she has to skip grades. Poor girl.
Anyway. The Snowflake Dance was wonderful, Pete Black is dreamy, and Stacey even got a new dress! Aww. All’s well that end’s well. And Laine and Stacey even finish their phone conversation with a stupid little “You hang up!” / “No, you hang up!” / “I miss you.” / “I miss you too.” exchange. Nauseating.
So to sum up: never trust girls who snap their gum, diabetics can eat M&Ms without dying after all, and Stacey + Laine = Tru Luv 4Eva.