||[Feb. 12th, 2013|05:45 pm]
Baby-sitters Club Snark-fest!
A long, long time ago – shortly after the first BSC novels were published – I read my first Ann M. Martin work – Stage Fright. It came in a box set that also included Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade, the best of the four in that set – and Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You which I categorize as a guilty pleasure, as I'd like to club the main character with a frying pan. There was a fourth book that I don't even remember the title of, I just remember that it was about these two girls trying to meet some celebrity guy and the main character was a girl who needed a good smack with a frying pan too.
Stage Fright when I read this book in third grade, I thought it was good. Because I was nine and didn't know any better. I read it again some time ago, and found it rather... meh. I read it three days ago and found that it's... a bag of mixed nuts. It's got it's good parts, but other parts are rather aggravating. In short, Ann used to know how to write kids and somehow forgot. But I still like it better than A Corner of the Universe, which makes me want to gouge my eyes out.
Meet Sara. She's a nine-year old girl who is an only child, loves cats, crafts and hates parties, being the center of attention and gym. Much her to her dismay, her mom wants her to love parties, be social because she wants her daughter to be happy. Never seeing that trying to do that is something she hates and it won't make her happy. It will make her miserable.
We open at Sara's cousin's birthday party where all the invitees, save Sara, are trying to get the magician to be the assistant. There's no shame in this. I don't see how not doing this is a big deal. Sara's best friend, Wendy gets chosen and that's just fine.
In fact, all is going pretty well until Carol (Sara's cousin) suggests they all read their fortunes out loud. Sara is promptly mortified as she HATES that sort of thing. Given that her fortune reads You won't be lonely for long! A handsome stranger will sweep you off your feet by the end of the month! I really can't blame her. When you're in the age of cooties, this is horrifying.
Wendy, however, saves the day for Sara by stating she accidentally ate her fortune.
The party ends and Sara's dreading returning home because her mother, Liz, thinks her daughter should be a social butterfly.
Her mom can't understand why Sara won't be enthusiastic in telling about the party – and you know what? Given that the things that happened aren't interesting to her, I really don't blame Sara at all. It's like a book club – if you hate the book and you only read it because you want to see if maybe, just maybe, the book will redeem yourself – usually the best thing you can do is say 'at least I finished it' however, if you find the book is interesting, is on a subject you care about, you can't shut up about it.
Odds are, if the party had involved painting pottery, seeing how clay is made or the like, since Sara is so craft-minded, she would not shut up about it.
But it was Carol's party, so it meant games.
I don't get Sara and the games thing – just play, Sara. No one said you had to win.
But as Ann and her self-insert character of Liz hates shy people, we really can't win either.
The upshot is that Liz tells Sara that it's not normal to hang out in her room all the time.
...this was in the days before the internet. Liz has no idea what's coming, does she?
Sara and her parents go to Burger King in their Volkswagen named Hugh. I don't know why it's called that and it's never explained, so why is it included?
I don't know. I'm listening to disaster documentaries on You Tube - how's that for random?
A few days later, Sara is hot and bored in her classroom. It's 91 degrees outside – and yes, Sara, it is very hard to care about anything when it's that hot and you're stuck in a classroom. So I'll agree – and fractions are rather dull. Oh and surprise! We're in Riverside, New Jersey. For those of you who care to know, it's a suburb of Philadelphia and the city is never mentioned once. Apparently Philadelphia doesn't get the cool factor NYC will in later series and all that...
Moving right along, Wendy passes Sara a note that informs her that their teacher's (Mrs Fischer) bra strap is showing. Mature girls, real mature. And how cute, they're acting like proper almost ten year olds, not babies, like many girls their age will revert to in the BSC world.
Sara mentions how good the school year has been and how she and Wendy made a replica of a stained glass window from a church in Paris (again, we're not told, but when I hear 'church in Paris' there's one that immediately comes to mind.) now, if they made an EXACT COPY of the window I'm thinking it is, Liz should get off her daughter's ass about being shy. MOVING ON... sorry, keep getting side tracked there...
Mrs. Fischer, instead of giving the usual homework assignments, has three kids hand out three separate booklets – all of which turn out to be plays. She wants the class to perform at a festival that takes place at the end of the school year, and she wants them all to have the chance to perform, so she chose three plays that have enough parts for everyone.
Assignment for class: read three plays and pick the one you want to perform.
Sara goes into mental meltdown. She doesn't like to talk in class and has no idea how she's going to get up on stage and do it in front of a ton of people.
Unfortunately, her problems are going to multiply.
The next day, Sara heads off for school with her I Heart Cats book bag and her Garfield Lunch Box and is actually in a decent mood – only to have it crushed when Wendy announces that she's moving. At first, our plucky protagonist thinks her friend is kidding to make her feel better about the play, but nope – it's true and this is the worst thing ever.
I'd be pissed too.
So after a lunch of pizzaburger – I'm sure that tastes better than it sounds – and fueled by the hope that the move isn't definite, Sara, Carol and Wendy head out into the sunshine to work on their Barbie poem.
They're trying to get into the Guinness Book – this is typical kid stuff and I am annoyed that everyone refers to the late Sir Alec Guinness as a movie star. Call him an actor, please. The girls are under the impression that he's the author of the World Records Book – which I can sort of see, I mean, I used to think that the Joseph with the coat of many colors was the same Joseph who was married to Mary in the Bible. I was a kid. I didn't know any better.
The girls also don't know about law suits, which is what Mattel would smack them with for their poem – which, from what we see, is the exact same sort of thing you can find on fanfiction.net. Only theirs is a little more coherent than some of the ramblings there.
Since Carol isn't in their classroom and thus, free of the play, they head back into class and Mrs. Fischer has the class put their heads down so they can vote on which play they're going to perform.
Sara's voting for Uncle Elmer's Fabulous Idea because she'll have the best chance of getting a tiny part.
Apparently nine other people must be thinking the same thing, because with 10 votes, Uncle Elmer's wins.
Assignment for tonight: reread the play and pick a part to try out for.
Yeah, Sara's not down with that at all.
Sara, sorry honey, it's time to make a little effort. You don't need a lead role, you just need to give it a try.
But this is Ann writing and Ann hates shy people. Almost as much as she hates gingers.