Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#56 Keep Out, Claudia!


It's new client time once again for the BSC; the Lowells have three kids (Caitlin, 8; Mackenzie or Mackie, 6: and Celeste, 3), and Mary Anne is the first club member to sit for them. The kids are polite, and even though Mrs, Lowell gives her the once-over in a way that makes Mary Anne uncomfortable, she's bascially all right as well. Mary Anne has no real problems with the Lowells, so when Claudia is given the next chance to sit for them, she looks forward to an easy time of it. Wrong; the kids are rude and won't listen to anything Claudia says, and Mrs. Lowell doesn't seem to like her at all.

Claud is glad to be done with that sitting job, but as it turns out, things aren't quite finished between her and the Lowells. At the next club meeting, Mrs. Lowell calls for another sitter, and requests anyone BUT Claudia. Claud can't figure it out; the sitting job was definitely NOT one of her best experiences, but nothing really horrible happened. She thinks it could be the wild outfit she was wearing, or the amount of snacks the kids had, or the fact that Claudia took them out of their own yard to attend a rehearsal of the band the BSC is helping their charges form. Still, the BSC is awfully confused.

Jessi is the lucky one who gets the job that Mrs. Lowell specifically asked Claudia NOT to take. She revamps her Kid Kit to make sure that there are toys in there that the Lowell kids will like to play with, and even takes time put together an office kit, as per Becca's advice (she and Charlotte like to play office, so she thinks that Caitlin might like that game, too). Too bad her effort goes unappreciated; when she gets to the Lowells, Mrs. Lowell won't even let her in the house. She tells Jessi that she doesn't need a sitter after all, and she just "forgot" to cancel. Jessi is really upset by the whole experience, but can't quite figure out what's so disturbing about it.

Kristy wants to get to the bottom of the Lowell's weird behavior, so she takes the next job at their place. She wears a skirt, just in case Claud's wild outfit DID have something to do with the Lowells not liking her, and arrives early (but not too early). Kristy doesn't get much out of Mrs. Lowell when she questions her, so she questions the kids instead. They call Claudia the "funny looking one," and when she describes Jessi to them, mentioning that she's black, Caitlin says that that little fact is why her mother didn't like Jessi. Kristy finally puts two and two together, and realizes that Mrs. Lowell just might be racist. She has a talk with her mom, Watson, and Nannie that night, hoping that they'll tell her that her suspicions are all in her head. Not quite; they think there's a good chance that Kristy's right.

At the next BSC meeting, Kristy shares her thoughts about Mrs. Lowell with the other club members. Claudia doesn't get why Mrs. Lowell wouldn't like her just because she's Asian. She's angry and ashamed and confused. Jessi (who's been through racism before) isn't any happier, but she understands a little bit better than Claudia how stupid and irrational racism is. In the middle of their discussion, who should call for a sitter but Mrs. Lowell herself! Claudia is amazed that Kristy didn't just tell her off, but Mrs. Lowell's request threw her off so much that she didn't know what else to do. The woman had the nerve to call and ask for the blond haired, blue eyed baby-sitter she'd heard about. Kristy calls her back, and tells her that no one is available to sit except Logan (*gasp* a BOY sitter) or Kristy herself (who has an adopted sister from Vietnam). Suddenly, Mrs. Lowell doesn't need a sitter after all, and the girls decide that no one in the club (not even the blond haired, blue eyed members) will take another job with them.

The last anyone sees or hears from the Lowells is at a rehearsal for All the Children, which is the previously mentioned band of BSC clients. Mrs. Lowell brings the kids over, wanting to check out what her kids are into. After seeing the "assortment of children" present, and finding out that they're learning the music from Fiddler on the Roof, she hightails it out of there. Good riddance!

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things
  • It was a good call giving the racsim book to Claudia instead of Jessi.
  • This book is all about how silly prejudice and stereotypes are, yet the racist kids are pale with blond hair and blue eyes. That in and of itself is a stereotype; racists come in all shapes and sizes and colors!
  • This book, like pretty much any of the ones that center around the Delaneys, makes me want Oreos.
  • I can really identify with Claudia's feelings of hurt and confusion when she realizes what's going on with the Lowells. I was treated badly at my last job because I was the lowly receptionist, and not particularly wealthy. Some of my bosses as well as some of the wealthier clients didn't seem to think I was worth fair treatment because of it. My experience is nowhere near as bad a racism, but it feels pretty rotten to be treated like you're nothing for ANY reason.
  • I can't help but wonder if the Fiddler on the Roof songs sounded anything like they were supposed to, considering that most of the kids were playing oatmeal container drums and kazoos and things. There were only like three kids who were playing actual instruments, plus the singers.


  1. I always thought it was weird how into Fiddler the kids were. I mean, it's a great musical, don't get me wrong...but for 8 year olds? I can see them listening to stuff like Annie, sure, but not Fiddler. And I don't know where the Shirley Temple love comes from--oh wait, the baby fetish, of course.

  2. I did agree it was a good call to give the racism book to Claud instead of Jessi.

  3. Agreed about Claudia over Jessi. I was a lot more invested in Claudia so this book always held my interest...

  4. it always bugged at me how jessi always seemed to get teased but ben didn't. i guess this is just kind of random, but it mentions that someone ( i 4got who) says that ben didn't really get teased because of their 'maturity level'. so jessi did...why?

    also, i totally agree giving claud the racist book, exept that she is kind of getting the...well, unsettling books. claudia and the terrible truth= the clients are being abused! i think that around here, things reach a new maturity (also refrencing Jessi and the awful secret).

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  5. I can't wait to read this. (Missed it in my youth.) I love when the BSC deals with real life issues, e.g Claudia & the First Thanksgiving. I also like how Kristy took the bull by the horns so to speak. I feel like she needs to earn her presidential title once in a while, beyond her "great ideas" which mostly amount to identifying an existing event and roping in the club to take part. Not to bag on Kristy, but this was a good moment for her.

  6. Poking my head in this one. I agree with Sadako's comment about them being fascinated with Fiddler. I love the musical now, but when I was eight or so my dad took me to see the musical at the local community theatre, and I was bored out of my skull. Some of the songs could be fun to sing (matchmaker) but ... yeah. I can't really see many kids actually enjoying it. It's definitely not a sunshine and rainbows and happy ending! type musical