"You certainly are ambitious, girls…" Or BSC #7, Claudia and Mean Janine


Anyone know what’s wrong with Dibblyfresh.com? I can’t get it to come up, so thanks to Goodreads for this image!

First of all, this book is titled completely wrong. Janine is not mean in this book (or ever, really). The book should be titled Claudia is a Stupid Jealous Cow. Also, the book is just as much, or more, about Mimi’s stroke as it is the Claudia/Janine relationship. And can we talk about the cover? Janine is wearing awful man-glasses. Claudia’s outfit is not quite funky enough. And it’s July and both girls are wearing sweaters. I get it that Connecticut is cooler than the toasty mid-Atlantic Julys that I’m used to, but really? Sweaters? Also, Jamie Newton looks way older than four. And the tagline, “Claudia’s sister makes everything impossible-even babysitting!” is completely ridic. And not true, and has nothing to do with the book. I’m way too pro-Janine to fairly review this book, I think. Heinous glasses notwithstanding.

The book starts off with a typical summer day in the Kishi household. Claud is off to art class, then babysitting, then a BSC meeting, Janine is off to her summer college courses (because, I don’t know if you’ve heard…but Janine is a certified 16 year old genius!), and mom and dad are off to work. Only Mimi will stay home. Claud bitches about Janine being too smart and using words that are too big. As though that’s Janine’s problem and not hers. Christ–and Janine was actually showing an interest in Claudia’s work with the BSC.

At the BSC meeting, Kristy has the Great Idea of running a playgroup for the month of July. Of course, all the babysitters are way on board, so they decide to hold it in Stacey’s backyard. They invite all the kids, and they all bitch about having to invite Jenny Prezzioso. But they do anyway. A couple nights later, Claudia is home with Janine and Mimi while Ma and Pa Kishi are at Chez Maurice. They play The Trivia Game, Janine wins (naturally) and Claudia acts like a stupid jealous cow about it and Janine stomps off. Mimi tells Claudia she wasn’t being nice. When Claudia goes to apologize to Janine, they hear a thud and Mimi has collapsed.

She had a stroke. She’s in the hospital for a while, then she can come home but she needs lots of therapy. Claudia immediately volunteers to “Mimi-sit” in the mornings before the therapy appointments and Ma and Pa Kishi are super grateful to not have to ask Janine to miss classes. Claudia eventually feels put-upon because she’s missing the playgroup, and when she tries to confront Janine about it, turns out that Janine is pissed because no one even asked her to help out with Mimi. So Claudia and Janine realize that they weren’t effectively communicating. Those wacky sisters and their differences. I smell sitcom!!!!!

  • I fucking hate how being smart somehow translates to wearing boring skirts and blouses and to being a boring person. How does Claudia manage to forgive Stacey “Mathlete” McGill for the horrendous crime of being good at math?
  • So, Mrs. Kishi is a librarian. We learn in this book that Mr. Kishi is a partner in an investment firm. That’s right, I said Partner. A fucking partner in a fucking investment firm can’t afford a home health aide? He has to make his thirteen year old daughter assist his ailing mother-in-law?
  • Also, Claudia is all on about how her parents are determined to get a physicist out of the family. Really? It seems like an odd thing for a librarian and a partner in an investment firm to be shooting for. If she’s good at science, wouldn’t they be like “Oh, you should be a doctor, Janine!” But a physicist?
  • Heh. Charlie says $2 a day is too much to drive K-ron to and from the BSC meetings. He does it for $1! And Charlie/Janine shippers everywhere take the bait immediately.
  • Fun fact: Stoneybrook Public Library doesn’t carry Nancy Drew books.
  • I really hate how these girls are so mean about Jenny Prezzioso. So she’s prissy and likes to wear pretty dresses and she has problems sharing. OMG, Fuck her! She’s a four year old ONLY child, of course she doesn’t know how to share! But Karen fucking Brewer can be the biggest wench in the world and all is forgiven.
  • OK, I will admit it was a tiny bit mean of Janine to ask to play the Trivia Game in the first place. She had to know what would happen. But then again, Janine deserves to feel a little smug with an idiot for a sister like she has!
  • At the playgroup, snack is canned juice and Saltines. Is this playgroup or prison? Seriously, if that’s all I tried to give my son for his morning snack, he’d be all over the kitchen a half hour later looking for real sustenance.
  • So when Claudia and her mom need to throw dinner together real quick before visiting Mimi in the hospital, they make burgers, frozen fries and a “lettuce salad.” Then Claudia calls it a “makeshift dinner.” Um…how is that makeshift? That’s like a real fucking meal in our two working parent household.
  • It is pretty sad that when Claudia is allowed in to see Mimi, she’s really spooked and can’t stay in the room.
  • Foreshadowing to a future BSC book! Buddy Barrett’s card to Mimi says: “Der Claudys granmohter plese fell better verry soon and com back becase we want you to fell better verry soon.” It took Buddy twenty minutes to write that. Many many books later, Buddy was diagnosed with dyslexia! A rare example of continuity in the world of BSC.
  • Claudia uses memory tricks with Mimi to help her remember words, and says that’s how her third grade teacher her helped with Claudia’s spelling. That is one epic fail, Claudia’s third grade teacher.
  • Jamie Newton is having jealousy issues with his baby sister. Claudia compares them to her and Janine. Yes, Claudia, you are acting like a four year old!
  • Why does Mary Anne need to write in the BSC noteboook for her Mimi sitting job?
  • Here’s what Claudia wears to Lucy Newton’s christening: A big loose white shirt with black splotches, white pants that came to just below the knees, and dainty gold sandals that lace halfway up her legs, pink flamingo earrings and a pink beaded bracelet that spelled CLAUDIA. I guess Claud didn’t make the bracelet herself, or it would have said CLAWDEA.
  • At the party after Lucy’s christening, the parents and guests were fawning over Lucy and pretty much ignoring Jamie, no matter what he did. Which I find weird, because babies are boring and toddlers/school age kids are way more fun. And I say that honestly as a parent. Babies are BORING.
  • I totally want Claud’s earrings shaped like Coca Cola bottles.
  • At the end, Stacey and Mary Anne are booked up for their job with the Pikes at Sea City!
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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22 Responses to "You certainly are ambitious, girls…" Or BSC #7, Claudia and Mean Janine

  1. Sadako says:

    "Babies are BORING." Yeah but this is Ann M. "Baby Fetish" Martin. She adores the babies. I'm not sure why. Every time a pregnancy or birth is announced in BSC, Kristy and co come a little bit.And I agree. Janine was so much more awesome than Claud. In general I liked Claudia but when she dealt with Janine I hated her.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is a bizarre baby fetish, and I don't know what to make of it. Dawn and MA are so psyched for their parents to get it on and have a baby..who does that?And I don't remember the book, but one time they all took a caring for infants course and Kristy was the only one who scored perfect on the final…and this was a class that included many people who were already actively parents."Foreshadowing to a future BSC book! [….]Many many books later, Buddy was diagnosed with dyslexia! A rare example of continuity in the world of BSC."-was there a book where Buddy got diagnosed? Cause in Claudia's Freind Friend, it was Shea Rodowsky. Fun post! I hadn't heard of the Charlie/Janine ship before, but that would explain so much and make me actually respect Charlie. (Sam's still a loser though, macking on twelve year old girls).

  3. Oh yeah, Charlie/Janine. After strangely shipping Mary Anne/Cary Retlin and now thinking about this, I am thisclose to writing my own fanfic!Maybe it's because I am the older of two sisters in my own family, but I never really sided with Claudia on this stuff. And Janine does just get awesomer as I get older. And her clothes stand up a lot better than the rest of them, even Mary Anne's conservative look.

  4. Amy says:

    Sea City, here we come!

  5. Katie Fries says:

    This books is included in what I consider my favorite "run" of BSC books–6-10–so I'm glad to see it reviewed. As a kid I always kind of rolled my eyes at Janine but as an adult I identify with her more than any other character in the series (not that I'm a certified genius or anything), save for Mary Anne. I really think it's kind of odd that all the girls in the club just automatically rolled their eyes whenever Janine was mentioned–I think she would have gotten along particularly well with Mary Anne and Mallory, and she and Stacey could have talked about math.Also, I think one of the greatest things EVER to come out of the BSC fandom is the Janine/Charlie ship.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great review.I remember my copy of book BSC 07 having no tagline on the cover (1st edtion, way back when). Strangely blank.

  7. Lorelai says:

    New to your blog, but love it!And for the record, I do believe every single BSC book should be called Claudia Is A Stupid Jealous Cow…in stirrup pants.

  8. Kathryn says:

    So, Nikki, can you grace us with a Janine/Charlie fic? Pretty please 🙂 ??

  9. Beth says:

    Two things:1. I think you should write a book called Claudia is a Stupid Jealous Cow. With a name like that, how could it NOT succeed?2. Andy is totally getting canned juice and sardines for snack tomorrow. We'll see how thay plays out.

  10. You make SO many salient points about this book. And yet it's still one I remember liking a lot. Probably because of the description of the outfit Claudia wore to the christening, which I coveted deeply. Much as Claudia's my favourite BSC member, I'm definitely on Janine's side – she got so much undeserved hate when she seems so cool!

  11. Emily says:

    I want the Coke bottle earrings, too. Maybe we should pull a Claudia and just make some?

  12. nikki says:

    Anon1-I'm pretty sure Buddy was diagnosed with dyslexia at some point. I think one of the BSC was helping him…? Anyone know?Caroline – Yes, write some BSC fanfic! Lorelai – Glad you came, thanks for reading!Beth-It's saltines, not sardines. At least sardines would be interesting, and an actual snack if Andy liked them. Grady actually might…he's surprisingly not picky!Laura-I also love the book. I have very fond memories of all these books and I find it hard to be too snarky about the early ones. Emily – if I had any artistic talent, I'd make myself a famous cities skirt before coke bottle earrings. Alas, I have none.All -OK. Maybe I will work on a Charlie/Janine fic. Gimme some time. I need to think up a good idea.

  13. OMG, a famous cities skirt with coke bottle earrings would be the most awesome outfit ever, but only if you wore it while you had a perm and a necklace that says 'I'm Awesome' and some ballet flats for shoes. And, uh, some glasses and a baseball cap. Did I forget anyone?

  14. Sadako says:

    A fake Tuxedo shirt up top!

  15. I always adore your bullet points, they make me laugh. I took these books as gospel back in the day, but looking at them now they're so full of ridiculous stereotypes.

  16. Laura says:

    Wasn't Mallory helping Buddy Barrett in the one about the diary with the girl who pines?

  17. kahran042 says:

    How does Claudia manage to forgive Stacey "Mathlete" McGill for the horrendous crime of being good at math?Because Stacey actually has a personality and isn't an obnoxious condescending nerd like Janine the FanonSue.

  18. i agree with some that janine doesnt deserve this kind of hatred and i wished mary anne and mallory would at least be nice to janine.i doubt stacey would be interested in janine though, since stacey is supposed to be claudia's friend and a total bitch in the series( i dont hate stacey though.)i definitely would love to see charlie and janine hook up. they seem perfect for each other plus theyre close to the same age.i actually felt sorry for mimi in this book. and claudia really was awful in this book.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is random, but I would like to point out that Mallory tutored Buddy, yes in the book about the girl who pines(that's normally all I remember about the book too!), but I don't know if he got diagnosed with dyslexia. I know Shea did, but I'm not sure about Buddy.

  20. Lynn says:

    When I re-read this book as an adult, I did notice Janine wasn’t being particularly heinous. A little stuck up, but when she called Claudia on how she was always pushing her away and treating her like a walking computer I couldn’t help but agree…not that I hated Claudia or thought SHE had no grounds for her own feelings. She was being way too “my evil big sister is evil because she’s smart” but she’s also a teenager who’s kinda the outsider among her super-intellectual family and they’re kind of pushy about her improving herself when she wants to move at her own pace.

    tl;dr Janine wasn’t mean but I do understand Claudia’s feelings even if her PoV was pretty inaccurate.

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