After going to a dance with Alan Gray in her last book, Claudia has decided to go out on an actual date with him. But she’s too embarrassed to tell her friends about it, so she’s nervous about being seen with him the whole time. Also, when Kristy and Alan run into each other they argue and make Claudia more uncomfortable about things. But she finally tells the BSC about it. Alan also realizes that Claudia’s awkward because of her friends, and suggests they go on a group date…the BSC (including Dawn who’s in town) along with Pete Black and Cary Retlin. But Alan spends the whole time on his best behavior and even lets Kristy win at miniature golf. Claudia finally tells him she wants him to be himself, and says they will figure out what will happen together. And the book ends with the two of them hanging out with the BSC and Alan’s friends.
Since it’s summer, Claudia and her friend Erica are working in the children’s room at the library. Claudia says they got the job fair and square and it has nothing to do with her mom. I’m sure. Anyway, Claudia had told her mom she wanted to update the mural in the children’s room, but her mom said she wanted Claudia to just do the job she was hired for. Claudia’s really excited about it though, and tells Ms. Feld (the children’s librarian/her boss) the idea. Ms. Feld gets really excited too, and tells Mrs. Kishi she wants Claudia to do it. So, Mrs. Kishi’s annoyed that Claudia went to Ms. Feld behind her back and Claudia doesn’t understand why her mom’s mad. It gets worse when Ms. Feld tries to get the kids at the library to help with the mural and they make a huge mess of it.
Meanwhile, Erica’s also dealing with stuff, because she really wants to find her birth parents. Her parents want to wait a few years before they tell her about them. So Erica gets Claudia’s help to open the safe in her parents’ office and find her birth certificate. But Erica can’t really handle the information and starts to cry. Claudia tells her she needs to tell her parents she found their names, which Erica does. This inspires Claudia to apologize to her mom. They make up, and Claudia figures out a way to update the mural and let the kids be part of it (without making a mess).
- I totally don’t get the thing where Alan puts yellow M&M’s in his eyes and pretends to be Little Orphan Annie. He doesn’t do it in this book, Claudia just references him doing it back at Mary Anne’s surprise birthday party.
- BTW, why is there an apostrophe in “M&M’s”? It’s not possessive, like that’s the name of the people who make it, is it? Because each individual candy is called an “M.” It’s not a typo in the book though, it’s that way on the candy packaging and appears to be part of the trademark.
- Alan and Claudia go to see The Tsunami Monster’s Revenge. That sounds like a fun bad movie.
- I find it weird that Claudia’s only just now going on a date with Alan, when the dance was 4 books ago.
- There are lots of references to past books in this. When Claudia says she’s working at the library, Mary Anne mentions the mystery that took place there.
- Claudia describes the children’s room at the library, but honestly, whenever I picture it I’m really picturing the children’s room in the library in my town as a kid. I do the same thing with picturing my middle school for SMS.
- Claudia tells Alan that she thinks Janine just uses big words just to mess with other people. She used to think Janine couldn’t help it. I like the new theory, it makes Janine seem more fun. I would totally do the same thing if I was a genius.
- I kind of like how they portray Dawn in this book. She’s actually pretty laid back (as opposed to only being called laid back in other books). She keeps laughing and making sarcastic comments about how Kristy’s handling the Claudia/Alan thing.
- Claudia tells Erica to read the book, Find a Stranger, SayGoodbye. Which I sort of think I read, but can’t actually remember anything about it. Maybe I just remember them talking about it in the BSC? I read a ton of Lois Lowry’s other books though.
- When Kristy’s ranting about Claudia going out with Alan, Claudia reminds her that she went to a dance with Alan. Kristy claims she only did that once and learned never to go out with him again. But that first dance was in the phantom phonecaller book, and I think she also went to a dance with him later on. It was briefly mentioned in either in the book with her mom’s wedding or the one where Logan first shows up. And she definitely invited him as her date to Mary Anne’s surprise party in book 10. That’s why he was there and putting M&M’s in his eyes.
- Claudia’s kind of in an awkward spot with the mural. Her mom’s mad about the kids all being involved, but that was really Ms. Feld’s doing. And I can see why she wouldn’t want to badmouth her boss to her boss’s boss.
- One of the things Claudia wants to change about the library mural is make the kids look more diverse. These girls were always so politically correct.
- Claudia outfit: “Beige linen shorts, an enormous red, blue, and purple tie-dyed T-shirt that [she] had made earlier in the summer, a pair of earrings [she’d] made from bottle caps and glitter, and purple high-tops with blue socks folder over the top.”
- Alan’s dad jokes about how they are driving in a minivan to go to miniature golf and Alan rolls his eyes. It surprised Claudia since that seems like Alan’s type of humor. But it actually makes sense. That could be where Alan got his sense of humor, but it also doesn’t mean he’s not embarrassed by his parents.
- When Claudia’s talking to her mom about being an artist, she says she likes art because she can just create what she sees. And Mrs. Kishi says how she always wanted to be a writer for similar reasons, but wasn’t good at it. So, she likes to find books that are saying things she’d like to say herself. That’s kind of sad.
- Claudia’s all impressed that Erica thought to look in her parents’ safe to find her birth certificate/parents’ names. She claims she wouldn’t have thought of something like that. Except she DID think of something like that back when she thought she was adopted. She wanted to get into her parents’ lockbox to find her adoption papers. She just didn’t have a key, whereas Erica knew the combination. Claudia may be dumb in school, but she was always pretty smart with mystery stuff. She needs to give herself more credit.