3 out of 5 stars
Ugh, Claudia is starting this one. That means an extra dose of bad spelling and hard to read handwriting. :P So the girls have yet another 2 weeks off school. Do they ever actually go to school for more than 3 books in a row with no holidays? I'll have to keep an eye on that. Claudia talks her parents into letting her go to New York City and take an important art class for that time and stay with Stacey & her dad. Then Stacey's dad says any of their other friends can come too, because he's trying to be a good dad or something. Somehow, all the other girls' parents agree to this far-fetched plan and ridiculously, Laine Cummings' parents agree to let some of the girls stay with them in their amazingly huge and fancy apartment. Claudia decides to keep a diary of their trip and illustrate it, because she's a super awesome artist. Side note: this book was actually illustrated by Ann M Martin's dad, which I think is pretty cool. I can't remember if he did the others or not, I'll have to go check.
Claudia starts out her diary by freaking out about her new art teacher, McKenzie Clarke (who I couldn't find in my Googling, so he's made up?), and thinking about what each girl will be packing for their trip to the Big Apple. Stacey is going to investigate each wardrobe before they go, to make sure they all look totally chilly (which is way better than dibbly). There aren't any specific What Claudia is Wearing in this book, so I thought it'd be fun to show what each girl is probably wearing to NYC. Let's start with Stacey and Claudia, who are both totally sophisticated.
Stacey would be packing black leggings (some with stirrups on the feet, some without) and baggy black and white and red tops. She would probably pack or wear her black cowboy boots. Stacey and I both look good in black and white. Stacey wears very chilly jewelry..., and she loves to do things that make herself look a little unusual. She might sprinkle glitter in her hair, or paint her nails silver. And what was left in my [Claudia's] suitcase after I'd removed that three years' worth of clothing? Outfits like Stacey's, only wilder, if you can believe it. I would say that, like Stacey, I'm pretty sophisticated, but I may be the chillest dresser in the BSC. That's because I LIKE to look different from other people.
The girls are excited to get to NYC, but first they have to make it onto the train and away from their parents. Every member of every family came to see the girls off...even Shannon the dog and Tigger. Ridiculous. Once they get settled on the train, Claudia pulls out the junk food, Mary Anne pulls out the guidebooks, and they're off. Of course each girl has a "special" storyline, it wouldn't be a Super Special if they didn't, right? All the girls basically go off and do their own thing for the whole 2 weeks, which seems really odd to me. Again, these 11-13 year old girls are allowed to wander around a strange place with no adult supervision. But whatev. Let's go down the list, shall we?
Claudia and Mallory are taking the special art class at FALNY...Claudia because she is obviously the best art student ever and wants to be "professional" and Mallory because she wants to learn how to draw ponies and cute hedgehogs for the stories she writes. Both girls are a little surprised by the class. They have to draw a lot of boxes and other boring stuff like that, but they also get to go on field-trips, like to The Cloisters. Mac, as the best students call him, disses Claudia nearly the entire time and encourages Mallory like crazy. Obviously, he is using reverse psychology on one of them to encourage growth in their talent. I'll let you decide which. Hint: It's not Mal and her country mice, Ryan and Meaghan.
Kristy's story isn't super big...she finds a dog in the park and smuggles him into the Cummings' apartment. Jessi does a great bit confusing the doorman so Kristy can get him inside, but turns out dogs ARE allowed in their apartment building. It's just Laine's parents who don't want a dog. Kristy seems to think she can just take the dog home with her and it'll be okay, but Watson & her mom veto that quickly. She puts out signs around the neighborhood to try to either find the owner or find a new one. A little boy calls her and says he wants the dog and Kristy agrees to go over to his apartment without even speaking to the parents at all. Way to be a Super Sitter, Kristy. At least Laine walks over with her and meets the family before leaving Kristy all alone. Laine is actually much more of a parental figure in this book than most of the parents. The little boy ends up taking Sonny the dog and everything turns out good.
Even though Kristy lives in a mansion with her mom and her millionaire stepfather, she was probably just tossing jeans and turtleneck shirts or T-shirts into a duffel bag. Kristy has never been one to dress up...Mary Anne, who looks something like Kristy...will be packing her very different wardrobe. Mary Anne used to have to wear clothes her father picked out for her. She looked like a first-grader. Now she wears much chillier clothes. Dawn, who's individualistic and pretty self-confident, would be packing her own personal style of clothes, which the rest of think of as "California Casual".
Stacey & Mary Anne have the baby-sitting gig in this special. Which leads me to ask: what are all the parents back in Stoneybrook doing for this 2 weeks? All the baby-sitters are gone, who are they calling? Logan & Shannon? Psshh...nobody wants those alternates. Anyway, Stace & MA agree to watch these kids of British dignitaries or something who are conveniently visiting for the 2 weeks. Basically, they're getting paid to take the kids all around NYC, which is perfect for MA the tour guide. The kids are suitably adorable, with their sailor suits and perfect manners and accents but their trips are marred by a strange man (or men) wearing a rain hat and sunglasses who seems to be following them everywhere they go. The girls, of course, jump to all sorts of conclusions and don't talk to the parents till nearly the last day, when they learn that the guy is actually the bodyguard. Um, okay. Who are these people?? They hire a professional bodyguard to follow the kids around, but not an older, professional nanny? Weird.
And what does Dawn do for her 2 weeks? The same thing she does every time she goes to NYC...hides in the apartment and freaks out over every car backfiring, cockroach, and homeless person. Seriously, Dawn. You're supposed to be so laid-back and California chill. Eat some special brownies and relax already. She takes to cleaning up and organizing Mr McGill's apartment. You know, she has a real problem trying to organize people's lives: first her mom, then Mrs Barrett, now Mr McGill. She may want to seek counselling for that. A few days into their vacation, Mr McGill's downstairs neighbor, a boy Dawn's age of course, knocks on his door. Seems he has a broken leg and visits with Mr McGill sometimes, which I find very hard to believe since Mr McGill is a well-known workaholic. He doesn't have time to be hanging around with some 13 year old boy and if he does, maybe the authorities should be notified. (Kidding kidding) After Dawn finally decides the boy isn't there to kill her and stuff her body down the trash chute, the two become friends and he gets her to venture outside the apartment. He takes her all around NYC as a tourist would (which she could have done with Stacey & Mary Anne) and they eat a lot. That's about it.
At the Pikes', Mallory was probably tripping over her seven younger brothers and sisters and packing the trendiest stuff she could find. [Jessi] would probably pack a leotard and her toe shoes. Otherwise, she would pack stuff pretty similar to Mallory's.
Finally, we have Jessi, who gets the love interest this time around. I know, I was pretty shocked it wasn't Claudia too. Jessi goes to the ballet, alone, and ends up sitting next to a boy. But not just any boy: Quint, the amazingly handsome, conveniently aged, racially harmonious, uber-talented ballet dancer. They start talking about the ballet, which