A while ago on Tumblr, I came across this.
Girls Gangs Doing Shit Together. I love that genre. One of the series they left out, however, was The Treehouse Times.
Good lord, there were nine of these written. NINE. Surprising, because this one (the first in the series) isn’t very good. Even by 80s/90s girl book standards.
Amy Evans is eleven years old and a real go-getter. She’s always looking for projects and things to do. After their class takes a field trip to the St. Louis Dispatch offices, she decides to start a neighborhood newspaper, called The Treehouse Times, because their office is in her treehouse.
Joining her are her friends Erin Valdez, a super athlete, Leah Fox, artiste extraordinaire, and Robin Ryan, the spunky redhead. They get their first big break when that creepy Roddy Casper is accused of shoplifting a ballpoint pen at Korn’s Drugstore.
There’s no evidence Roddy stole the pen, but Mr. Korn who is old and grumpy doesn’t care. He puts a sign in the window that kids under 12 aren’t allowed in the store unless they are accompanied by an adult. Amy & Co., decide to make this their cause for the first edition of The Treehouse Times.
They write the article and Roddy gets pissed because he doesn’t want to be in their paper. Also, Mr. Korn sends them a letter with his opinion (which is basically, ‘Kids wreck shit.’) and he refuses to take the sign out of the window.
Meanwhile, Robin is pressured by her older sisters to become a cheerleader because they were cheerleaders. Between homework and cheer tryouts, Robin doesn’t have a lot of time for The Treehouse Times. Plus, she has a couple bad days and doesn’t do proper research for some articles for Amy. So they fight and Robin quits the paper right after she makes the cheerleading squad.
Amy stages a protest in front of Korn’s Drugstore about the Under 12 rule, but that creepy Roddy Casper ruins it by enticing all the kids she’d gathered away. But while there, she overhears a conversation between Mr. Korn and his candy distributor, who tells the old man that he needs to up the amount of candy he orders in order to get a discount.
Later at the pizza place, Amy and Robin make up, and Robin says she quit cheerleading and was only doing it to make her sisters happy. Amy sees the candy man tell the Pizza Place guy that he needs to order more boxes (but a different amount than he’d told Mr. Korn) to get a discount. She and Robin follow him to the candy store down the street and sure enough, he tells the guy at the candy store the same thing, but with an even different amount of boxes.
They do their proper research, calling the distributor and asking about discounts and discover this guy is lying to increase his sales. They go to Mr. Korn, the Pizza Place guy and the Candy store guy, and let them know. Then they include it in their next edition of The Treehouse Times. They also decide to give Mr. Korn his due, and print his letter about kids wrecking shit.
Amy decides she’s never going to change Mr. Korn’s mind about kids. But lo and behold a few weeks later and she notices the sign is out of his window. And he volunteers (in a very grumpy way) to hand out copies of their paper at his store.
- So. The Girl Gangs Doing Shit Together genre. There are some general stereotypes that must be followed. They must have one artistic girl. (Leah) One athletic girl. (Erin) One fashionista. (Also Leah) One bossy leader type. (Amy) One shy girl. (Leah again). One flighty girl (Robin) And one non-white girl (in this case, Erin. She’s from Mexico. Because Erin is a super-common name in Mexico.)
- This drives me up the fucking wall. Robin is a little chubby. So in EVERY SINGLE SCENE, she’s eating candy or drinking soda. And at the pizza party at the end, she eats four slices of pizza plus a banana split. Because fat.
- Even beyond Robin, food is mentioned constantly in this book. I think Sleepover Friends was the same way. Amy’s snack of choice is potato chips and mayonnaise. Potato chips and mayonnaise. Just had to say it twice to let the horror sink in.
- Sometimes, you’ll read a sentence, and you have to read it over and over again because it doesn’t make sense and you keep reading it because you’re just sure you’re missing something. But no matter how many times you read it, you just don’t get it.
Amy’s mother was an office manager in a realtor’s office and worked most weekends, so she liked to pay attention to the weather report.
Ummmmm……can someone explain to me how being an office manager relates in ANY WAY to wanting to know the weather? I just…I read it so many times trying to make heads or tails of it, and I decided I was just having a Lewis Black moment.
Like, they never said Erin’s dad was a high school biology teacher, so he likes to take cold showers. Because those two sentences make an equal amount of sense.
- One of the reporters they met on their tour of the St. Louis Dispatch lives in their suburban neighborhood. She befriends Amy and becomes the adviser for The Treehouse Times. Which was super nice of her because I can’t imagine many adults getting that chuffed over a neighborhood newspaper written by eleven year olds.
- I guess I didn’t like this very much even as a kid, because I only had this one.
- So in the back is an form for teachers to fill out to win an IBM PC computer and printer for their classroom. This is what that looked like in 1989.