Kristy and the Walking Disaster

Hey all!  I’m still a bit busy with a new baby and a very jealous and suddenly defiant four-year old.  Sigh.  While I’m tearing my hair out, please enjoy this guest post by The Unprofessional Critic.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do so.  It’s so rare to find any sort of smart pop-culture writings.   For my blog, she takes on the BSC in the form of Kristy and the Walking Disaster.  A book that most in the fandom seem to hate, but I honestly never minded.

Image courtesy of 90's flashback.

As a young BSC fanatic, I was never all that into Kristy.  Sure, she had the rich stepfather (I love how everyone mentioned Watson was a millionaire in every single book, right up there with “by the way, Jessi’s black”), but mainly she was just controlling.  Not to mention her outfit descriptions were never interesting.  If I wanted to look at jeans, turtlenecks and sweaters I would have glanced at my own nine-year-old closet.  And finally, I hated sports because a) I wasn’t good at them, b) I didn’t see the point of getting all torqued up about a game, and c) the redneck boys in my class were all over that shiz.  Needless to say, I couldn’t relate.

However, after discovering this hilarious Tumblr and stumbling upon Kristy and the Walking Disaster at my local library after finding out they didn’t have any Norma Klein books, I decided to revisit the ol’ Madame President.

As the book is fairly early in the series, it’s not yet totally ridiculous for the girls to be stuck in a time warp of eighth grade-dom.  Kristy’s still getting used to her new neighborhood and blended family, and things aren’t 100% perfect between her and stepdad Watson.  When playing ball with her brother David Michael, her stepsibs Karen and Andrew, and some neighborhood kids, all of whom love the game but are too scared/young/unskilled for Little League, Kristy has a Great Idea (TM, and no one else in the BSC is allowed to have them!) to form a softball team, Kristy’s Krushers (or Kristy’s Crushers if you believe Karen’s team T-shirt).

Of course, a bunch of children sign on, and after Kristy basically forces the rest of the club to help out, they’re all infected with the ragtag spirit of underdog-dom.  But what’s a team with the average age of 5.8 and almost no skeelz to do when faced with a slick, rich-kid posse of seven- to nine-year-old hotshots known as Bart’s Bashers?  And can Kristy fight the throes of puberty when she—gasp!—develops a crush on Bart himself?

Though I’ve been known to pick up a BSC book when it’s just been too long a day at the office, I don’t think I’ve read Kristy and the Walking Disaster since I was a kid.  As a grown-up, here’s some stuff I noticed:

  • I get it’s natural for a kid to resent her stepfather, especially since he uprooted her family in a very short period of time.  That said, damn if Kristy isn’t a bitch to Watson.  I mean, the guy takes a break from doing whatever millionaires do, to sit down and help her plan out the mechanics of running a team.  He offers words of encouragement on the eve of the big game that everyone, including Kristy, knows the Krushers will lose.  Says Watson, “You’ve already changed these kids . . . Tomorrow hardly matters—I mean in the greater scheme of things.”  Thinks Kristy, “I knew what Watson meant, even if he did sound a little jerky right then.”  Again, I get she’s thirteen and they have a tenuous relationship, but seriously?  What is “jerky” about that?
  • Kristy on the ubiquitous club notebook: “The notebook was my idea (because we all know you’ve cornered the market on Ideas) and I know it was a good one.  I also know that most of the other club members think writing in it is a big bore.  Well, too bad.  Writing in the book is one of our few club rules.”  Wow.  Just…wow.
  • If I ever form a band, I will call it Jessi is Black.
  • The youngest member of the Krushers, Gabbie Perkins, is two and a half years old. Two and a mo-fo-ing half, yo.  Now, I don’t have children, but there is no way in HELL any self-respecting parent would put their toddler on a field with fourth-graders. I don’t care that Gabbie gets a Wiffle ball.  What about when she’s on base?  That’s not a Wiffle ball being thrown around.  Plus, big heavy bats.  Mrs. Perkins, I get you may have “mommy brain” and crazy hormones because you recently gave birth and your eldest is the second coming of Shirley Temple, but COME ON, that is flat-out neglect.
  • I have mixed feelings about how the baby-sitters treat Jackie Rodowsky, the ginger-with-a-soul “Walking Disaster” of the book’s title.  On the one hand, no one ever wants to sit for the poor child.  Really?  He’s seven years old.  Still honing his motor skills (I say that with no background whatsoever in child development).  Give the little dude a break.  On the other hand, he screws up powdered lemonade.  At seven years old.  Not sure three dollars an hour would be worth it to me, either.
  • I love how the Rodowsky boys give Bo the dog a birthday party.  Too cute.
  • Why is it so important that Miss Bookworm Charlotte “I Skipped a Grade” Johansson get involved with the Krushers?  It’s probably the thing about Kristy that bothers me most, both me the nine-year-old who preferred dance class to P.E. and me the 30-year-old who still takes dance and now does yoga and is way more in shape than most of the now-fat asshole athletes I went to high school with (Facebook: schadenfreude on a screen!).  Get over yourself, Kristy.  Not everyone has to hop aboard the sports train.  It’s nice of Charlotte to write the cheers, so just leave it at that.
  • That said, Kristy IS the coach, and if she says the team is Kristy’s Krushers, it is Kristy’s Krushers, KAREN. Of course the precocious little brat has to wear a T-shirt saying Kristy’s Crushers because that’s the correct spelling.  And other than mere observation, no one calls her on it.  I’m sure she’ll have no problems with authority at all as she gets older.
  • I will say this: I like how (spoiler alert) the Krushers don’t turn it around with some wacky ninth-inning strategy (a la Wet Hot American Summer) and win the game after all.  The kids are young and inexperienced, going up against older kids who have been playing as a team much longer.  This is back when BSC was still kinda-sorta realistic, as long as you suspended your disbelief and went with the fact that no one in Stoneybrook needed a sitter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between five-thirty and six.

So that’s my take on Kristy and the Walking Disaster.  If you like what you read, check out my pop culture blog.  If you like dating blogs, my two friends are like Will and Grace but way less annoying.  Click away!

Have you revisited any old-skool BSC’s in adulthood?  What did you think?

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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in Ann M. Martin, BSC, guest blog. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Kristy and the Walking Disaster

  1. Amber says:

    LOL at second coming of Shirley Temple. I work with two and three year olds. No amount of mommy crazy brain (sorry Nikki) would excuse “sure, sure, you’re old enough to play baseball with 8 year olds.” At least the kids are going with the “we’re having fun” instead of a super competitive team.
    “Incredulous Kristy” was created by the amazing Kim H of the blog “What Claudia Wore.” I forgot about it, and wow. Fantastic.

  2. Michelle says:

    I don’t remember reading this one, but I never did like the sports ones. It sounds somewhat decent in the sense that it came before the time warp became really noticeable. Great review, I laughed, I cried, I… well, no, I didn’t cry, but I did like it!

  3. April says:

    Hunh, I never disliked that book. It wasn’t among my *favorites*, but it was good. Anyway, that whole review made me LOL.

    I have always liked Kristy, though in more recent years I’ve actually come to be a bigger fan of hers. Mallory has always been my favorite–and Dawn, Claudia, and Abby were and remain near the top too.

    Sure, any of the girls could have her annoying moments, and the nice thing is that they’re all realistically imperfect–but mostly I liked all of them and I identify with different aspects of each. ESPECIALLY Mal (practically my fictional twin) and–well, other the others I just mentioned. Being able to relate to a character usually helps make it one of my favorites.

    And oh, that “incredulous Kristy” collection is completely hysterical. I may not agree with all of them, but they’re hilarious, regardless. It’s still kind of amazing to me that other people are still as crazy over the BSC and other 90s books as I am. :3

  4. Alida says:

    I honestly remember completely loving this book when I was younger. I read it dozens and dozens of times. Also, the way that kids are described in these books, they always acted at least a year or two older than they are, something I didn’t notice until I was an adult. My nephew is nearly two and a half and I couldn’t imagine him playing any organized sport, no matter how many concessions they made for his age.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting!

    Nikki, I realized the “mommy crazy brain” thing AFTER I sent you the recap. Please know I’m not ripping on you or any moms (because then I’d be ripping on 75% of my friends). It’s all in good fun!

    April, I always liked Mallory too, because I loved reading and writing (still do!). I thought the bullying storyline later in the series was actually pretty realistic, and I was glad she got out–sometimes that is what’s best for a kid. I know a lot of fans think Jessi had no real personality, but I’ve taken dance classes my whole life and I loved her. All in all, I think BSC was as popular as it was (and is so revisited now) because of what you said: we could identify with the characters. Also, they were girls who cared about more than boys and clothes.

    Alida: I KNOW RIGHT? Several of my friends’ kids are around Gabbie’s age, and there’s no way any of my friends would put their children on a field with eight- and nine-year-olds. I think even for T-ball the minimum age is like four or five, and there’s a reason for that: physical coordination!

  6. April says:

    It’s true; the characters always did seem to act older than they were and often had (or were treated as though they had) a maturity beyond their years! That might have been something else I loved about the series when I was little.

    But yes, I think you’re quite right. ^^ The characters all felt like real friends. And what a shame that the most popular series for young girls right now ARE all about superficiality, popularity, boys, fashion, money, elitism, and all of that garbage. D=

    I definitely like Jessi; she doesn’t stand out to me as a particular favorite, but I also love dancing and swimming and such–just as fun and athletic as other physical activities and sports. I always liked playing sports and games recreationally or with my own friends, but I sometimes felt just Mallory when it came to gym class and being forced to play against my will with people I didn’t like to play with when I just simply didn’t want to do it. (I was a very stubborn kid…) But yeah, I had, and still have, -so- many things in common with Mal; physically and personality-wise, and interest-wise, and just as far as life situations. Almost always liked the way she wrote and handled things. 🙂

  7. Michelle says:

    Agreed with all the above comments about characters acting older than their ages. Really, you could just add two/three years to every character and have a slightly more realistic series!

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