3 out of 5 stars
This is the one where Mary Anne finally becomes a teenage statistic and Logan is super excited. Oh, no wait, that's not right. She just becomes obsessed with babies and it's kind of weird. Dawn and Mary Anne start the book out by having a snack (healthy of course, for Dawn) and talking about those twin girls at their school that are like Mar-Car teens and their new baby brother. This gets them thinking that their parents could have another baby and Dawn's mom is totally young enough still. Then they discuss a new class they have to take, Modern Living, which is kind of like Life Skills. "it's important that we explore and experience the realities of being an adult in today's changing society." So, they get married and have to carry around an egg baby and create a budget and such.
Before we go into all the ways that is wrong, let's head over to the BSC meeting and get What Claudia is Wearing. A typical Claudia outfit might include a sequined shirt, stirrup pants (maybe black), low black boots, dangly turquoise earrings, and ribbons woven through tiny braids in her hair. And she wouldn't forget sparkly nail polish.
(click here for details & links)
Okay, back to baby-ville. Mary Anne gets a job sitting for twins Ricky & Rose from when they took that infant-care class a while back. (Trying to remember which one that was so I can link it...ah, it was The Baby Parade one, blegh.) She has tons of fun the first time, dressing them in cute frilly outfits and showing them off to the neighbors like they're her kids. Later, she & Dawn get caught by their parents talking about baby names and get shut down real quick. No babies here.
And over in Modern Living, Mary Anne & Logan get married in class and she's totally embarrassed by it. This book is actually kind of refreshing, almost a "Very Special Episode" book. The teacher explains their assignments: "Despite how old or young you may feel, the truth is that you are now biologically capable of becoming parents." Wow, I wonder how many complaints this one got back in the day? Probably not as much as it would now. Although they kind of ruined it when the four remaining boys had to be paired up together and freaked out, not wanting to be the "wife". They have to discuss money & finances, decide if they could be financially independent (at thirteen years), and take care of egg babies just like they're real children. (I feel like they've done this already too? Can't remember. *Checked: guess not.) They get a rude awakening when they find out a 2 bedroom apartment is $2000 a month (which I find really hard to believe, back then). And when they find out how hard it is to watch an egg baby 24/7.
Mary Anne takes their baby (Sammie) with her to sit for the twins because "how much harder could three babies be than two?" Famous last words. The twins cry a ton and she gets pretty frazzled juggling 3 kids. That doesn't stop her from marking up the baby section in the Kumbel (Sears?) catalog later that night with Dawn. And they get caught again by their parents. Things start to go sour (not literally) for Mary Anne, Logan, and Sammie. They argue over who takes her and when they try to have a normal date night at the movie, they end up nearly squishing and losing Sammie, and get in an argument. Their whole class is falling apart really: divorce, lost egg babies, unable to finish the project. Good life lessons here, people. Mary Anne gets a double lesson when she has to care for the twins again, who are teething, drooling monsters.
In other sitter news, Kristy gets paired with the reprehensible Alan Gray but is pleasantly surprised when he takes the assignment seriously and even names their egg son, Izzy. I think Alan is actually really smart but hides it behind the pranks and sarcastic remarks. Maybe his parents put too much pressure on him and this is why he acts out. Okay, anyway, they create an "environment" for Izzy, giving him a mini piano and science charts and stuff. Alan calls Kristy on her sitting job with the Papadakises' to check up on him and they discuss his social development for so long that the real kids take off with Izzy and she doesn't even realize it. Stacey, on the other hand, is totally meh about her assignment and thinks it's a waste of time. But at least she realizes she doesn't want a kid any time soon, so I guess she learned her lesson. Mallory and Dawn have to deal with the Pike kids wanting in on the egg experience, which ends with half a dozen broken eggs for poor Mrs Pike.
In the end, everyone learns their lessons, no one wants to have kids, and they're all excited about the next course-Health. (They even mention Sex Ed...whoa, slow down there ghost writers!) Mary Anne & Logan go way overboard and write a 32 page, single spaced, paper on their project. And then Mary Anne & Dawn's parents almost give the girls a heart attack by having a sit-down talk with them about babies...but they were just telling the girls they could get another pet. Crisis averted.