This wasn’t one of my favorites as a kid. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know I didn’t read it over and over as the way I did with some of the others. I definitely read it more than once, but certainly not dozens of times. I don’t think it’s because I disliked the plot, I just didn’t like it as much as others.
Even so, I do have two pretty vivid memories of it. The first is that at one point, Mary Anne’s mopping the floor for this woman she’s helping out. A couple of kids the club sits for show up, and they end up slipping around having fun on the wet floor. I don’t think I’m only remembering this because it’s on the cover….it’s more likely because I also thought playing on a wet floor was fun as a kid.
The second memory’s how Mary Anne drags Logan over to help her clean or do something for this woman, and even though he helps her, he complains about it. It was one of the few times we see him act like a normal teenage boy would.
Mary Anne has gotten really into sewing and meets Mrs. Towne, a neighbor who’s a very experienced with quilting, smocking, and embroidery. Mrs. Towne agrees to give her lessons. The day of her first lesson, Mrs. Towne doesn’t answer the door when Mary Anne arrives. Mary Anne thinks this is weird, so she tries opening the door, only to hear Mrs. Towne calling for help….it turns out she slipped and broke her ankle. Mary Anne calls 911 and helps gets Mrs. Towne to the hospital.
A few days later Mary Anne goes back for her lesson, and ends up helping Mrs. Towne with some household chores (she’s a widow with grown children living out-of-state, so she has no one to help her out). They decide that instead of paying for lessons, Mary Anne should help her out around the house while the ankle heals. At first this goes well, but then Mary Anne ends up doing more and more things. Mrs. Towne’s constantly calling asking for help with minor chores. Mary Anne has it in her head that she’s a selfish person, so she feels like she needs to jump whenever Mrs. Towne calls her. This starts to interfere with her baby-sitting and her time with her friends and Logan. But she actually decides to talk to Mrs. Towne about it, which is pretty rare for the BSC. Mrs. Towne’s very understanding, and the two agree that Mary Anne will just pay for the lessons with money, and Mrs. Towne will get a housekeeper to help out. Because things always go great when you decide to talk out problems like this.
Meanwhile, Mary Anne started a sewing class for kids in town, because it’s not possible for her to do something and not bring in baby-sitting. Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett are the only two boys in the class, but then they start getting made fun of for doing something as “sissy” as sewing. So, they drop out run around with tool belts trying to be all manly. But they realize the kid making fun of them will just find something else to pick on them about. So they re-join the class, just in time to get their work into a quilt the class is making for Mrs. Towne.
- There’s a scene where Stacey’s baby-sitting the Barrett and she watches Suzi playing with Pow (the dog). Supposedly, Suzi’s holding Pow’s ear up to her cheek, while he licks her other cheek…..which sounds like the most disgusting thing ever. But I’ve never had pets so maybe it’s normal?
- Nicky and Buddy both call to drop out of the sewing class the same night. Nicky also tells Mary Anne that he knew Buddy was quitting. And Mary Anne and Dawn can’t think of any explanation for why they would quit. But I don’t think it’s that hard to come to the conclusion that they thought it was too girly. The boys had already complained about not wanting to embroider flowers.
- Mrs. Towne sure is nice about having kids always stopping by. I don’t think it’s a big deal that Mary Anne calls her neighbor and asks for sewing lessons, but it seems a bit rude to keep dropping by with little kids that various BSC members are sitting for.
- Speaking of dropping by with little kids, the girls are always doing this with Mrs. Stone, that woman with a farm that appeared in Stoneybrook half-way through the series.
- Do we hear of Mrs. Towne again? I don’t think so. It’s nice of Mary Anne to keep up with agreeing to see her.
- The kids in the sewing class decide to make a garden-theme quilt for Mrs. Towne, so Buddy decides do a square with a spider on it for his section….as soon as I started reading about the class I remembered that he did that.
- At a sitting job for the Pikes, Mallory and Jessi start baking a bunch of cookies with the kids. They end up using all sorts of ingredients to make different flavors. They use various combinations of chocolate chips, peanut butter, M&Ms, oatmeal, raisins, nuts, and coconut. I’m trying to figure out how much flour and sugar and other ingredients the Pikes would have needed to make that many batches of cookies.
- Actually, later Mary Anne says they made about six dozen cookies, which is really hardly any, so they must have only made a few of each. Later Mallory brings cookies to a BSC meeting to get rid of all the extras. But how many extras could there be if they if they were splitting them between all the Pikes, Jessi, Becca, and Buddy were involved?
- The quilt the kids make is a “friendship quilt,” which means everyone does one or two squares that eventually get sewn together. The only time I ever did this was when I was in high school and my geometry teacher had us make quilt patches to show practical application of angles and shapes or something.
- There’s all sorts of foreshadowing to Dawn leaving for California. She talks about it in every scene, as opposed to other books where she only talks about it in every other scene.
- Almost nothing happens in this book. Seriously. I know it’s not a mystery so it’s not quite as convoluted as some books, but it’s still really lacking in plot.
- I’m honestly surprised Nicky and Buddy took the sewing lessons to begin with. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with boys sewing, but Nicky and Buddy aren’t really as open-minded as me. Isn’t Nicky always complaining about not even wanting to be in the same room as his sisters?
- The Arnold twins are the kids who come over and play on the wet floor. They look nothing alike on the cover, but I guess that’s expected.
- Mary Anne and Logan are going on a picnic and they pack up a ton of food for just the two of them….cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, avocado and cheese sandwiches, pimento cheese, salsa and chips, grapes, and Oreo cookies. I think they do this in a lot of books…but who needs that much food for one afternoon?
- I like that Logan gets all annoyed at having to go over to Mrs. Towne’s to catch a wasp instead going on a picnic. Then he gets annoyed again when Mrs. Towne starts talking to them when he’s about to kiss Mary Anne (she was talking through the door).
- Mary Anne actually leaves in the middle of a BSC meeting to go help Mrs. Towne. Now, I get that she wants to be helpful, but I’m not sure why she couldn’t tell Mrs. Towne’s she’d be over in a half hour.
- The whole plot about Mary Anne wanting to be less selfish was based on a conversation with Dawn, I guess “off-screen” of the book. Mary Anne was nervous about giving a speech in school, and Dawn told her that all the kids she’s giving it to will be thinking about other things, so Mary Anne should think about that instead of how she’ll do. Which isn’t horrible advice, and Mary Anne’s probably the only person who would take that and think she’s being called selfish. Which pretty much proves she’s NOT selfish.
- Of course at the end, Dawn tells Mary Anne she never thought she was selfish, and that it’s okay for people to think of themselves….then turns it into a conversation about how she needs to think about California because her feelings about missing it are important. Then Mary Anne apologizes for not paying enough attention when Dawn said she missed California.