Sunday, August 23, 2009

#19 Claudia and the Bad Joke

Claudia's broken,
Thanks to Betsy Sobak. Let
The joke war begin!
The BSC gets a call from the Sobaks, who they've never sat for. There's only one kid, 8-year-old Betsy, and Claudia is the lucky one who gets the job. She's nervous about it; other kids who used to sit for Betsy don't anymore, thanks to her penchant for playing practical jokes on them. Claud plays it cool and pretends she's not scared, but she is, and (as it turns out) with good reason. From the start of the job, Betsy does nothing but play jokes on Claud. First, she gives Claudia a drink in a fake glass that dribbles apple juice all over her hand-sequined white shirt. There's also a fake ice cube with a fly inside. Later, Betsy pulls the old trick gum gag (I don't think I would have taken anything edible from Betsy at this point, but whatever). The final trick comes when Claudia decides to take Betsy outside to keep her away from her stock of tricks and jokes. Betsy wants to swing, but what Claud doesn't know is that the swing that's assigned to her is broken. Betsy thinks that as soon as Claudia sits on it, it'll break, sending her onto the grass. That doesn't happen, so Betsy suggests a swinging contest. That's when the swing finally breaks, and sends Claudia flying through the air and onto the Sobak's driveway. The fall breaks her leg; Claud sends Betsy inside to call 911 as well as her parents, plus the Rodowskys. Mallory and Dawn are sitting for a group of kids there, and Claud wants to make sure Betsy is looked after. Dawn and Mallory end up beating the ambulance to the Sobaks, and Dawn gets to ride to the hospital with Claud while Mallory stays with the kids.
At the hospital, the doctors put Claudia to sleep while they set her leg. When she wakes up, her parents are there, and they have news. Her break was bad, so she'll be in the hospital for a week, and out of school even longer. It's not such an awful deal, other than the whole broken leg aspect of it; Claud gets plenty of visitors and presents, and even phone calls from Stacey in New York. She also has plenty of time to think about the accident, and Claud wonders what would have happened if she'd hurt her hands and couldn't draw or paint anymore. She starts to think that maybe sitting is too dangerous, and she should drop out of the club.
Meanwhile, there's sort of a joke-playing epidemic in Stoneybrook. The sitters are dealing with plenty of pranks, courtesy of their charges, including Betsy Sobak. Since Betsy doesn't seem to have learned her lesson after what happened to Claudia, the other sitters decide to teach her a lesson: they're going to turn the tables on her. The little jokes don't have much of an effect on Betsy; she just thinks they're funny. Kristy is the one that finally gets through to her, when she humiliates Betsy in front of some of her classmates at a movie theater.
After her successful prank on Betsy, Kristy asks Claud for her decision about the club. It's then that Claudia fully realizes that she'd miss kids too much if she gave up sitting, and decides to remain a member.
Thoughts and Things
  • This has to be one of the Claudia's most unattractive covers in the whole series. Her broken leg is freakishly long, and it looks like she's missing her second leg. Also, who are the other two on the cover? Are they supposed to be Mary Anne and Logan? If They actually look borderline age-appropriate, if not a little too young. That's a switch!
  • I'm not normally an advocate of stooping down to a kid's level, but I'm really glad the sitters "got" Betsy. She deserved it.
  • I can't quite believe that the Sobaks seemed to care so little about what their daughter did to Claudia, and that they had the audacity to call the club again. If I had a daughter and she'd pulled something like that, not only would I be mortified, but you better believe I'd be offering to contribute to Claudia's medical expenses. Then, when the kid was old enough, she'd be reimbursing me.
  • One of the movies that's playing at Stoneybrook's movie theater is Mary Poppins. AMM must love that movie or something, because it was also playing during book #6. Actually, I don't blame AMM; I like Mary Poppins, too. :)
  • The doctor that takes Claudia's cast off was a man. I didn't think they allowed male doctors in Stoneybrook, judging by the rest of the series!
  • Claudia gets an 81 on a math quiz and has to convince her family that 81 is a good score. For someone who isn't good at math, that is a good score! I know the Kishis want Claud to live up to her potential and all, but they really need to lay off sometimes.


  1. Yeah, I thought the whole, "Aw, we were too hard on Betsy" was BS. I would be more than mortified if my kid did that. Giving them a trick glass or a weird ice cube? Okay that's sort of annoying, but loosening the swing just seems like it's in the Bad Seed territory.

  2. Lol! About having to convince parents that an 81 is a good score, I've been there (my mother once went into a rage because I had an A- in geometry just a month into the class). Perhaps it's an Asian thing...?
    I kind of liked this book for all the less harmful practical jokes, but I agree with you about what I would've done if I was Betsy's parent. I would definitely have been too mortified to contact the club again without endless groveling and apologizing!

  3. I think Besty is a huge brat who has a mental illness. Boy i would never do that to my baby sitter. then again all my babysitters were my relatives

  4. I just got this book about to read it

  5. I always picture this book as having the cover of 'Claudia and the little liar'. Betsy Bugged soooo much but every time I read it it makes me wonder where I can get that stuff and do my own practical jokes ;) he he he

  6. I know this is a super late reply but on the cover, the girl on the side is Betsy and the boy standing next to her is Nicky, Buddy, or some other kid that is older than Betsy since he is taller and looks older than her. I thought it was Betsy and one of those boys since I first read the book (I was 8 at that time)

  7. I think they are Suzi and Buddy on the cover.

    1. No, it's Betsy and maybe Buddy.

  8. Claudia's expression is, like, horrified so it must be Betsy!

  9. I wonder if Betsy sobak was the inspiration for Luann Loud of the loud I just got through watching a April fool's day episode of the loud house and Luann Loud's antics of that episode reminded me of Betsy sobak's antics in this book