Sunday, October 18, 2009

#40 Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

It's math test time for Claudia, and for once, she's really prepared. She knows the material, and even though she's nervous on test day, she feels good about how she did once it's over. The next day, Claud is thrilled to find out that she got an 94% on the test, but her excitement doesn't last long. At the end of class, Mr. Zorzi calls both Claudia and Shawna Riverson up to his desk and asks them to compare tests. They do, and they see that they each got the same score. Claud doesn't understand what Mr. Zorzi is getting at, until he points out that they didn't just get the same score; they also got the exact same problems wrong in the exact same way. Since the chance of that happening randomly is pretty slim, Mr. Zorzi suspects cheating. Right away, Shawna speaks up and defends herself, and Mr. Zorzi lets her go. Claud knows she's in hot water, even though she didn't actually cheat. She's well-known for her less than stellar grades, and Mr. Zorzi isn't buying the fact that she earned her 94%. He assumes that she's guilty (Claud doesn't exactly do much to convince him otherwise), and tells Claudia that the principal and her parents would be informed.

When the Kishi parents get the call from the principal, they're a little suspicious. They give Claudia a chance to explain, but it isn't until Janine speaks up and defends her sister that they're fully on Claudia's side (go, Janine!). The Kishis want to go to the principal, but Claudia doesn't want them involved; she's determined to take care of the problem herself. It means she might have to take an F on that test in place of the A- she earned, but she's bound and determined to fly solo on this one.

Later that week, Claudia follows Shawna and two of her friends into the bathroom at school, hoping to hear something incriminating. Does she ever! Shawna admits to cheating, since she has so much else to do that she didn't have time to study for the test. Claudia tells the rest of the BSC members what she overheard, and they decide to check Shawna's locker after school that day for written evidence. They find a note, but Claudia ends up putting it back in the locker. After all, she couldn't exactly take it to the principal and tell him where she found it, could she? Poor Claud is feeling pretty defeated at that point, and decides that she just doesn't care. In honor of her newfound attitude, she wears an ocean-themed outfit to school the next day, mimicking Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books. I guess sand dollar barrettes and jelly shoes are the traditional 13 year old way of indicating apathy or something. :) After school, Claud is surprised to see Janine walking into the building; she's there to talk to Claudia's principal about the situation. Claud waits nervously outside the office, until she's called in to join the meeting (Mr. Zorzi is there, too). Janine has convinced them that Claudia at least deserves a fair shot at proving her innocence, but they haven't decided what that will be yet.

The next day, Mr. Zorzi tells Claudia that she'll be taking another test that covers the same material that the first test did. Claud does even better on that test than she did on the first one, and Mr. Zorzi apologizes for accusing her of cheating. He calls Shawna up to his desk, and tells her that she will also be given the chance to take another test. That's when Shawna confesses to cheating, and Claudia is completely in the clear.

Meanwhile, the Pike triplets are grounded. They were playing baseball and broke a window, but because they have this new Three Musketeers thing going on, they won't tell which one of them is responsible. They end up reenacting the crime at Mallory's suggestion (kind of like Claud reenacting her test), and it becomes pretty clear that they were all at fault. No more grounding!

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things

  • If I were Claudia, there's no way I would have rolled over and accepted a fate that I didn't deserve. You better believe I would have had my parents at school, talking to the principal. That is, if they actually believed my innocence. I kind of think that my mom would have assumed I was a cheater....

  • Isn't a 94% an A rather than an A-?

  • Mr. Zorzi should have retested both girls after school on the day of the first test. Claudia had more than enough time to study (even though she didn't know for most of that time that she'd be taking a second test), so doing so well the second time around didn't prove much of anything.
  • The Pike triplets didn't really get punished for breaking that window, in spite of the fact that it wasn't the first window they'd broken in the recent past. Heck, once their grounding was over, their parents took them out to celebrate, and gave them their allowances back even though the window wasn't paid for. They should have stuck with that plan, no matter how small the Pikes' allowances are and no matter how long it took them to pay it off. Just working off the cost of the window wouldn't have been enough for me if I were their mother.

  • They must have used one of the Stacey models to pose for Shawna on this cover....

  • I always thought there was way too much math in this one when I was growing up, but I like it better now. It's the nostalgia factor, I think; this was one of the first BSC books I ever owned. :)


  1. I always hated how in books where ppl are accused, they basically just kind of freak out and the teacher assumes that the protagonist is the one in the wrong. They did it on Arthur, too. Er, not that I watched that...:D

  2. This was/is one of my favorites. I remember reading it and thinking "But how will Claudia clear her name?" Janine's idea, though obvious in retrospect, seemd so brilliant.

    Sadako: Arthur? What is this Arthur? Of course, I wouldn't know, because I never used the fact that my brother is seven years younger that I am as a reason to watch it...

    1. I love Arthur.
      PS It was shown on Arthur and the true Francine. Muffy cheated but said she didn't . No justice.

  3. Isn't a 94% an A rather than an A-?
    no, in my school (i'm in intermediate school) we have a sort of weighted scale. 100-94 is a, 93-86 is a b, and i don't know what the other ones are exept that an F is a 64 or lower.

  4. I also loveed Janine in this book. i didn't like her much before this one but i loved the "Aren't you glad that i made theese cookies?"

  5. I remember this book fairly well... but I'm not sure if it's the one where Claudia's parents make tacos for dinner, and she says that she loves tacos, but that night, they felt like eating sawdust to her. One of those minor details that I'll never forget.

    Wow. I learned that stuff in fifth grade...