The Stevenson family is more or less settled in Stoneybrook. Mrs. Stevenson is busy with work, Anna is busy with orchestra, and Abby is busy with the BSC. Everything is going well until one afternoon when Abby's at the Papadakises. All the mold from the falling leaves is aggravating her allergies, and the kids think she's having some sort of attack. Hannie runs right into the street in her quest to get help for Abby, which turns Abby's simple allergy problems into a full scale asthma attack. She even has to be taken to the emergency room, leaving the kids with Kristy.
Abby is cleared to go to school the next day. On the bus, she gets the third degree from Kristy about her asthma attacks (how often they happen, severity, what would happen if she were sitting for kids that couldn't get help). Kristy eventually drops the subject, but Abby knows she's worried and might even be reconsidering Abby's membership status. At the next club meeting, a job comes up that only Mary Anne or Abby could take, and Kristy insists that Mary Anne take it. She tells Abby that she doesn't want the club to tire her out so soon after her asthma attack, and won't listen when Abby insists that she feels fine. Abby's feeling so good, in fact, that she mobilizes her whole family into running a booth at the upcoming carnival to raise money for the public schools' art and music programs. The only problem is that her mom and Anna aren't nearly as into the idea.
The twins are unpacking some of their boxes one afternoon when they come upon a bunch of kitchen stuff. Some fancy cake pans give Abby the idea for her family's carnival booth: they'll make fancy cakes in the shape of musical and art-related things and sell pieces, as well as sell plain cupcakes for kids to decorate. Abby's ready and raring to go on the project, but Anna wants to finish unpacking. They find a box that neither of them recognizes, and find it contains some of their father's stuff (for anyone who left the BSC readership before the Abby years, Mr. Stevenson died in a car wreck when the twins were 9). Both girls decide their mother must have forgotten about the stuff, and are pretty mad at her for doing so. They put the box up in the attic for the time being.
Day number one of the carnival arrives, and it's a big success. Day number two doesn't start out quite as well for Abby; no one seems to want to buy cake at breakfast time. Then, she happens to hear a radio report about a derailed train coming from New York City....a train her mother was supposed to be on. Abby panics, and Kristy's mom drives her to the train station to see if they can find out anything there. When they don't get the information they need, they all head back to the fair and wait. Finally, Mrs. Stevenson shows up, safe and sound. The family starts feeling pretty close after the near miss, so the twins bring out the box of their dad's stuff to show their mom. She gets emotional, and tells the girls that she put everything away because it just hurt too much to look at it. Mrs. Stevenson puts some of the things around the house, so there are always reminders of Mr. Stevenson there, and gives his harmonica to Anna, and his watch to Abby.
At the next meeting, another job call comes in that Abby is available to take. To her surprise, Kristy confidently tells her to take it, and Abby knows that her place in club is safe.
Thoughts and Things
- This book, along with #89, represent the beginning of the end of the BSC for me, even though there are still lots of books to go. I think it was the combination of the advent of Abby and the new covers.
- I like the interactions with the Stevenson family as a trio, but I find myself bored when it's just Abby and Anna. I'm also glad that Mrs. Stevenson didn't just jump right into another relationship like so many Stoneybrook parents do when they find themselves single. Sometimes, it actually takes people awhile to get over things.
- Oh, Sari...what did you ever do to Hodges to make him draw you like that? The hair...eesh.
- The fact that Hannie is almost always pictured with her trademark pigtails is a nice bit of consistency.