Mallory is going to her first BSC meeting, and she's excited. Excited enough, in fact, to wear a jumper with her name on it and heart tights to school. The whole outift seems a little juvenile for a 6th grader who wants to seem mature enough to hang out with 8th graders, but whatever. Mallory tries to run into the girls before school that day so she can ever so casually talk to them, but it doesn't happen and she's almost late to class. When she gets there, surprise! There's a new girl in her homeroom. It's Jessi Ramsey, and Mallory is already hoping that they'll be besties forever. Not everyone is so excited to see Jessi, though. At lunch, Jessi is stuck eating by herself while other girls make fun of her. That would have been a really good time for Mal to go over and introduce herself, instead of just sitting there and listening to the gossip, especially if she wanted to be Jessi's best friend!
Later, it's time for meeting. Kristy lets Mal know in a notebook entry that she doesn't need to dress up, since no one else does. Mallory tries to impress the girls by telling them how she sat for 6 of her brothers and sisters by herself not long ago, when her parents were with Nicky in the emergency room. The sitters aren't impressed; they think Mal wasn't careful enough and that she should have prevented the accident. They're worried about hiring another irresponsible sitter, so they tell her that they'll only let her in the club if she takes a baby-sitting test, and goes on a trial sitting job with Claudia.
On the day of the test, Mal is so nervous that she leaves far earlier than she has to. Since she's got so much time, she decides to stop by Stacey's old house. Mary Anne told everyone at the last BSC meeting that a black family had moved in, and Mal wants to see if it's Jessi's. Sure enough, it is; Mal introduces herself to Jessi, Becca and Squirt, and she and Jessi bond over their shared love of horse stories until it's time for Mal to leave for the test. She finds all four girls in club headquarters, which makes her nervous all over again. The test is ridiculous; the questions are way beyond what a teenage (or almost teenage) baby-sitter would ever need to know, and Mallory ends up flunking.
Next up is Mallory's and Claudia's job with the Perkinses, and it doesn't go any better than the test did. Mallory manages to spill milk, drop a glass, offer the girls food to eat that they don't even have in the house, let Chewy inside even though she'd been told not to, and make Gabbie Perkins cry. It's not completely her fault, though; Claudia watches her like a hawk the whole time and makes her feel nervous and stupid. At the next club meeting, Claudia rates the sitting job three out of ten, and Kristy tells Mal that she can't join the club unless she passes another test. Mallory is having none of it, and stomps out, announcing that she's quitting. Too bad she wasn't officially a member yet...
The next day, Mallory is moping on the playground when she stumbles on Jessi, also moping. She tells Jessi about her problems with the BSC, and Jessi talks about the problems that she and her family are having with their neighbors. They decide to start their own baby sitting club, and go to Mal's after school for a planning session. They name the club Kids Incorporated (isn't that copywrighted or something?) and make up some fliers. They're a little concerned that no one will hire them because of their age (at least someone was), so they decide to sit together on every job. Their two for the price of one policy didn't exactly help them any; the only two jobs they get are for their own families. Meanwhile, the BSC still has more work than they know what to do with. They realize that they were unfair to Mallory, and they offer her another chance. Mallory won't go without Jessi, so the BSC agrees to give her a trial, too. Things go well, and the BSC now has 6 members. :)
Thoughts and Things
- I'm pretty sure that I couldn't draw a picture of the digestive system from memory, and I've taken biology. I don't blame Mal for being thrown by that one!
- I think I had heart tights when I was little....
- Would it really have been that common in the late 80's for public school kids to be so against someone of another race? I find it hard to believe that kids would seriously have made fun of Jessi just because she's black.
- The Pikes all have chestnut brown hair in this book...yet Mallory's hair is its familiar red on the cover.
- This is the second cover in a row where Claudia looks really good. I can't help but wonder how old the models were, though.
- In a departure from the BSC's typical pizza toasts, we get a Gummy Worm toast. Yum.