3 out of 5 stars
Mallory's books are very up and down for me. This was a down, unfortunately. Mal gets the chance to do one of her dreams, ride a horse, and of course, it doesn't go well. But in the beginning it's all good. Mallory & Jessi are at Mal's house, with ALL the Pike kids running around like loons of course. They try to talk about horses but get interrupted by the Pike Circus (literally, Nicky wrestles Frodo, the hamster alligator). When Mal heads out to the mailbox later that afternoon, she sees a flyer for riding lessons at a stable that just happens to be a bike ride away. I'm pretty sure Stoneybrook is bigger than that but okay. Before she can talk to her parents, we have a BSC meeting and a What Claudia Could Be Wearing.
In baby-sitting news, Nina Marshall is the "child of the week" with a problem. She just started preschool and insists on carrying her "Blankie" with her everywhere. I don't remember a Blankie in their other books. (Can't remember which books those might be at the moment.) Of course, that doesn't go over well at school and the other kids make fun of her. All the sitters try to help her, psycho-analyzing her, until Dawn destroys Blankie in the dryer. Okay, it wasn't really Dawn, Mrs Marshall insisted on washing it, but Nina blames Dawn. Blankie is torn into lots of tiny bits, but it's cool, because now Nina can tuck Blankie into her pocket, her socks, her shoe, etc and no one will have to know. BSC to the rescue, once again!
Now back to Mallory and her dream come true. She convinces her parents to let her sign up for the horse riding lessons, by agreeing to pay for half of it with her baby-sitting money. She is over the moon but let down a little when she finds out Jessi can't take the lessons with her, due to her ballet classes. Mal doesn't let it get her down too much though. And she just gets a little embarrassed when she starts her classes and realizes she's the only one not in a proper English riding habit. Poor, poor Mallory. Literally, she can't help it if she's poor. Her parents keep having kids. (I'm surprised there was never a "surprise" Pike kid in any of the books.)
She tries to move past it though and just enjoy the lessons. The horses are great and she thinks she's making new friends. (Spoiler: she's not.) After each lesson, she rushes home to tell Jessi all about it, thinking her best friend will be super excited for her. (Spoiler: she's not.) Then things start to go south. Mal falls off of a horse (named Gremlin, seriously?) and freaks. She's not injured, just the wind knocked out of her, but it's enough to make her fear getting back on the horses and kills any enjoyment she was having. And of course, she can't tell her parents because money. Then, she gets invited to one of the girl's birthday party and she wears the completely wrong outfit and doesn't fit in at all.
I decided that since I didn't know the kids well I really should dress more conservatively. I was wearing a gold-and-brown kilt, a matching gold cotton sweater, and penny loafers. The second I stepped through Amber's front door I realized I had made a big mistake. First of all, most of the girls were wearing wacky bright clothes with spiked hair and tons of fun jewelry. The guys looked just as cool. I felt as if I were dressed for Sunday school.
(I'm getting a major Don't Tell Mom The Baby-Sitter's Dead vibe from the pink outfit lol.)
Mallory is pretty much over these lessons but she has to keep going and even has to participate in a show that her entire family and friends will be at. She's terrified of course but gets through the show with minimal mistakes. Her parents are super proud of her and offer to pay for more lessons but she tells them no way. Mal & Jessi make up, Jessi was jealous, blah blah. To end things, the Pike kids host a talent show, Stars of Tomorrow, in their backyard and just generally make their mother's life a living hell.