Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: "Mallory & The Mystery Diary: The Baby-Sitters Club #29"

Mallory & The Mystery Diary: The Baby-Sitters Club #29 by Ann M Martin
4 out of 5 stars

Mindy was my BFF in 4th-6th grades...I wonder what #32 has to do with her? Hmm...This book starts out with Mallory lamenting the fact that she's never going to turn 13. If only I were thirteen instead of eleven. Life would be a picnic. I feel as if I'm going to be eleven forever. Sorry Mal, but it's true.

Stacey has moved into her new home, behind Mallory's, and as a welcome home Mal takes over a tuna casserole (side note: I've never had tuna casserole, but it sounds disgusting!). While she's there, she helps Stacey take some boxes up to the attic and they discover all this old junk up there that has been left behind by different families over the years. Mallory finds this awesome old trunk and Stacey's mom says she can have it, so she bribes the triplets into carrying it home for her and dragging it upstairs to her and Vanessa's room...but the stupid thing is locked. Vanessa immediately gets inspired by what might be inside and starts cranking out all this poetry about it. (trunk, lunk, thunk, monk, chipmunk, steampunk, who'da thunk...) This book might have been the reason I wanted a trunk so bad when I was younger, I'm not sure. I did end up getting one, a big black footlocker-type trunk. I used to lock my little sister in it (in my defense, she asked me to most of the time!) and I still have it. It has all my high school stuff in it and tons of books on top.

Anyway, while Mal is trying to figure out how to get that thing unlocked, let's do a What Claudia Was Wearing. :) Mallory starts us off with this insane statement: She [Claudia] would never, ever get arrested by the Fashion Police. Was she high??? Did she accidentally eat some of Dawn's weird mushrooms?? Claud was wearing jeans, a plain white blouse, a pink sweater, white socks, and loafers. She said she'd gone back to the fifties for the day. There's also a bit where Mal is totally amazed and shocked because Dawn is wearing a straw hat. Like ZOMG!!! 

Okay, so Mallory finally gets the trunk open and she and Vanessa are pretty excited about what's inside: a bunch of old clothes, shoes, dresses, hats, pins and best of all, a diary written by 12 year old Sophie, who lived in Stacey's house in 1894. Mal immediately starts reading the diary and it turns out there's a mystery surrounding Stacey's house. Oooh...another mystery! This one ties up the other 2 mysteries we had about Jared Mullray and Old Man Hickory a while back and brings them all together. Sophie is Jared's daughter and Hickory's granddaughter. Her mom died soon after a second child was born in Sophie's 12th year and Old Man Hickory blamed Jared and even accused him of stealing a painting of his (Hickory's) dead daughter. Sophie says there's no way her dad could have done that and she won't rest until she proves it. And that's where the diary ends. Jeez Sophie, leave us on a cliff-hanger why don't ya?
Mallory and the rest of the BSCers of course get totally consumed with the mystery, even having a séance. Kristy comes dressed as a gypsy which is totally offensive, but pretty funny because she's wearing an actual skirt and makeup.

The baby-sitting plot is pretty interesting too this time...Mallory agrees to tutor Buddy Barrett in reading because he's having some problems and his super-busy, scatterbrained mom doesn't have time/energy to help him. Baby-Sitters Club to the rescue! Yet again! Okay, well Mallory starts off with the assigned reading and those horrible flashcards so of course Buddy hates it and refuses to cooperate. Then Mal gets the bright idea to have him start off with something fun and interesting, like comic books. Because at this point, it doesn't matter what the kid is reading, as long as he is. And I agree. My stepsister is in the 6th grade this year and her reading class assignment is to read 30 books for the school year. That seems like a huge amount to me for a kid. Well, at Christmas time she got hooked on the Harry Potter books which is great, but she was getting behind since they are such big books. She said all her other classmates were reading the Magic Treehouse books, which were waaaay younger. How is that fair? That teacher needs to get her priorities straight!

Anyway! Mallory gets Buddy reading and writing his own comics and he's suddenly completely excited about reading. He even reads Sophie's journal and helps solve the mystery of the lost painting. While exploring the trunk, his hand gets stuck in a pocket and he finds a written confession by Old Man Hickory. Turns out he took the picture down himself and had it painted over with a new scene, but then when the townsfolk started asking about it, he blamed Jared! How rude! Mal & Buddy race over to Stacey's to see if the painting might still be in the attic and guess what?? It was! I know, you never would have guessed it. ;) They find it under a painting of some sailboats or something, Stacey's mom has it restored, and they hang it in their living room. Once again, the City of Townsville mystery is solved...thanks to the Powerpuff Girls Baby-Sitters Club. 

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