So, I didn’t read this as a kid, but I do remember when I read the following book as an adult and was a little annoyed/surprised that we didn’t get the full story on Mal moving in that book.
At the start of this book, Mallory’s waiting to hear back from the boarding school she applied to. Mary Anne refers to Mal visiting the school, so I guess that happened in yet another previous book. They really let this storyline play out for a while, didn’t they? Anyway, Mal keeps saying she’s not sure if she’ll go, but Mary Anne can tell she’s pretty much made up her mind. Mallory keeps talking to Mary Anne about it because Jessi doesn’t have an open mind about Mal leaving, and she gets mad whenever Mal brings it up. Also, Mary Anne’s narrating the book, so she has to know what’s going on.
Anyway, Mallory obviously gets in, and gets a full scholarship. When Jessi hears this, she gets mad at Mallory for wanting to leave. She keeps saying Mal’s running away from her problems. So, when Mallory decides to go, she tells Mary Anne first. At a BSC meeting, Jessi demands Mallory tell the club her decision. When Mal does, Jessi gets mad because she can tell Mary Anne already knew. They bicker back and forth and both keep venting to Mary Anne. This goes on for a while – Mary Anne tries to send them on a joint sitting job so they’ll have to talk, but that ends up making things worse. Then, at a slumber party Jessi has, Mary Anne insists Mallory still come, but that doesn’t end well either. Eventually, Mary Anne invites them both over and forces them to talk things out. They do, and Mal tries to explain why she feels the need to go. They basically make up, but we don’t really get to hear the bulk of the conversation, because it’s apparently not important enough to show.
Meanwhile, Mal’s siblings have decided they don’t want her to leave and are mad at her as well. They act like annoying brats for a while, but Mary Anne convinces them that they should want Mallory to be happy and that she’ll still be part of the family. And the BSC and Mal’s family put together some “We Love Mallory Day” to show her how much she means to them. These girls are no where near as bitchy as people I went to middle school with.
The subplot is that Kristy wanted to put together a special holiday project (this takes place in December). They decide they’re going to make holiday decorations that they’ll donate to the senior citizen home in town. Apparently, the place has really old crappy decorations. They end up having a bit of a party for the people there too. These girls are WAY to goody-goody to be believable. My high school had a community service club that did less volunteer work.
- Mrs. Pike has a temporary job working at Bellair’s for the holidays. Mary Anne and Mal are sitting for the rest of the Pikes a lot, which is the explanation for Mary Anne ending up in the middle of the whole Jessi/Mal stuff.
- Mary Anne says you can tell Claudia isn't a “student” by looking at her spelling. But I have to say, I was always a good student and can’t spell very well either. I’m nowhere near as bad as Claud, but seriously, if not fore spel cheeck I’d bee screwed.
- Mary Anne and Mal are almost late for a BSC meeting, because Mrs. Pike got stuck in traffic on her way home from work. But isn’t Belliar’s in downtown Stoneybrook? The girls bike to it sometimes. How much traffic can there be?
- Claire asks why Mrs. Pike needed to get a job, and she wonders why they need money when Santa’s the one who brings all the presents. Mal just says they need money for other things. Mary Anne’s thinking how Mallory must be thinking about the cost of her school, but I think Mallory was probably just saying what you say to kids who still believe in Santa Claus. If they had actually given us a Mallory book when she’s making a life altering decision, I would know for sure. But whatever. I’m not upset about that or anything.
- Claudia’s on a kick where she makes clay beads and incorporates them into her clothes. For instance: “The shirt she was wearing that day was one she had tie-dyed and then cut into fringe around the bottom. At the end of each fringe was a polymer clay bead she’d made.” I think I had a shirt with beaded fringe when I was little, but it wasn’t something I made. I want to say it had pictures of Cabbage Patch Kids on it. But that sounds like a really weird shirt, so maybe I’m mixing up my memories.
- Maybe I missed something, but why are 2 people needed for the Pikes again? What happened to that whole thing about the Pikes not needing two sitters? Did they undo that in another book? Or are they just hoping we forget for plot purposes?
- So, Jessi’s having a party because her friends from Dance NY are visiting. Kristy’s all worried about sitting jobs that night, and the others are like, “we’ll make sure Logan and Shannon are free that night.” But isn’t it kind of mean to call them and say, “Hey, can you cover for us while we all have a party without you.” I know Logan wouldn’t go to a slumber party, but it still seems rude.
- When they first mentioned the sleepover, I was thinking, how it’s so convenient that there are never baby-sitting jobs when big events/celebrations occur. But then Kristy brought it up, so I guess I can’t really complain about that.
- Nicky gets Ranger Rick magazine in the mail. I remember my aunt used to give me and all my cousins subscriptions to this for Christmas. My brother and I got one we were supposed to share, but I didn’t read it that much. Then she finally asked if people cared about it and stopped giving it out.
- Claire gets something called Ladybug Magazine, does anyone know if that’s a real one too? I got a couple kid magazines when I was younger, but don’t remember one called Lady Bug. But the Ranger Rick reference was real, so maybe this one was too.
- There’s an awkward moment when Jessi overhears one of her dance friends telling Mal that Jessi will get over her moving.
- Mallory seems surprised that her siblings are upset with the idea of her leaving home. Which is kind of sad if you think about it.
- When Jessi and Mal are fighting, I wanted Jessi to tell Mallory how she turned down a chance to leave home with the Dance NY thing. I’m not saying Mallory should have based her decision on what Jessi did, but it would have been interesting to see it come out.
- Mary Anne and Mallory keep leaving school and walking to the elementary school to pick up the younger Pikes and walk home with them. But I don’t get this….don’t the kids normally walk home on their own?
- When they make holiday decorations, of course they are all politically correct and make decorations for Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice. I was expecting the first three, but the Winter Solstice? Seriously?
- I get diversity, but it seems kind of weird to show up for a sitting job at someone’s house, and tell the kids they have to make decorations for a holiday they don’t celebrate. There’s got to be a better way to do it.
- When Mal and Jessi went on their joint job, who did they think they were going to be sitting with? I know Mary Anne could easily just have said it was going to be her, but I wish they had just told us the lie that was used. Especially since Mary Anne’s such a crappy liar.
- If you care, Mallory’s reasons for wanting to go to school are partially because of the Spaz Girl thing, but also because it’s a chance to be herself and not just “one of the Pike kids.” She thinks she’ll find out who she is. It’s also a good writing school.
- One part of We Love Mallory Day’s a stop to see Henrietta Hayes, that writer Mal sort of worked for. Henrietta gives Ma some kind of young author award, but I think it’s something she just made up. But I don’t get why they brought her back. It’s not like we’ve seen Henrietta’s the past 40+ books.
- Ben Hobart does pop up in this one. I guess he and Mallory hadn't talked a lot recently, but they do see each other in this one, and he gets to be a supportive friend. Which is nice, because he's a character that was around for a while and deserves some closure. Unlike the random writer person.
- When talking about who to replace Mallory with, someone suggests Erica Blumberg, but the other girls shoot this down. Claudia says she acts like she knows everything. But isn’t Erica the one who called Claudia when she realized something was happening with the child abuse guy? You think Claud would give her some credit.
- For the record, the BSC decides they just won’t replace Mallory at all, which has to kind of sting for her.
- This is kind of random, but after a BSC meeting, Mary Anne mentions that Mallory leaves Claud’s room, then stops to get her coat out of the front hall closet. So do these girls really hang their coats up there for every meeting? I always pictured them piled in a corner of Claudia’s room.