Claudia has a sitting job for Jimmy Cook, a new client. Claud is especially excited about this because Jimmy's great grandmother was a folk artist known as Grandmother Madden, and Claud has recently become interested in her work. Unfortunately, Grandmother Madden was supposed to have destroyed all her work after a bad review at a show in New York, and the only paintings of hers that are supposed to be left are the ones she gave to family. Claudia doesn't believe this; she doesn't think an artist would ever destroy his or her work just because of a bad review. She hopes that being in the house during her job sitting for Jimmy will give her a chance to look around for the missing paintings.
When Claudia arrives at the Madden house, she meets Jimmy and his mother, Rebecca Madden. Rebecca is actually going to be IN the house the whole time Claudia is there; she's getting the house and its contents ready to be sold, and she figured she'd get more done if Jimmy were occupied. Claudia asks Jimmy to give her a tour of the house, but doesn't find any of the missing Madden paintings. She DOES find a bunch that were done by Grandmother Madden's students, including one of a Japanese woman that particularly catches her eye. Later that day, a man shows up at the front door of the house, claiming he works with the company that's managing the sale of the house. Claudia was told not to let anyone in, so she sends Jimmy upstairs to get his mother. Before he can, the man leaves. Claudia asks Rebecca about him, and Rebecca thinks it was probably Mr. Ogura, who really DOES work for the company that's managing the estate sale.
Rebecca needs a lots of help to get the house ready and organized for the sale, so she asks Claud to bring some more of her BSC friends along to help. Kristy, Stacey, and Mary Anne are the lucky ones that gets to help next, and Mr. Ogura shows up again. The weird part? He shows up when Rebecca isn't at home (Claud has a key and permission to be there alone). Later that afternoon, a woman who looks and awful lot like Rebecca knocks on the door, but doesn't wait around to talk the the REAL Rebecca. Next time around, it's Mal (along with Nicky) and Jessi who join Claudia, and they get to meet Jimmy's dad, James. He's not around much, which Jimmy is having issues with, and the none of the girls can see WHY he'd be so upset. Mr. Cook is so grumpy, and Jimmy claims that he doesn't like the fact that he and his mom both like to paint. He also doesn't seem to trust the BSC members...
Claudia decides to take a look at the one Grandmother Madden painting that's hanging in the Stoneybrook Museum. When she gets there, she's surprised to find Mr. Ogura checking it out, along with the woman who resembles Rebecca Madden. Later, she finds out that Mr. Ogura was also at the Madden house, acting like he owned the place. No sign of the Rebecca doppleganger at the house, though. She decides to check Mr. Ogura out, so she heads to Estates Unlimited, the company he supposedly works for. She gets a surprise when she asks the receptionist if she can see Mr. Ogura; there are actually two of them. The young one is the one that the BSC members have been seeing around the Madden house, and the older one is his father.
Claud is still pretty determined to find the missing Madden paintings, and one evening, she comes up with a possible theory. A lot of the student paintings she found are roughly the same size canvas that Grandmother Madden used to use, or the same size as two to four of them put together. The next morning (the day of the sale), she heads to the Madden house as early as possible. She goes to look at the student paintings again, just to check on the size, but before she can go tell Rebecca what she thinks, she's surprised by Mr. Ogura the younger, and the woman resembling Rebecca. She's actually Rebecca's cousin, Suzanne, and both of them had the same idea that Claudia did. Actually, it's more than an idea; Mr. Ogura's father had been good friends with Grandmother Madden, and he knew that she let her students paint over her work. Ogura the son found out, and he and Suzanne had been working together to try and get the paintings. They push Claudia into a storage closet and take off with the paintings. Jimmy and his dad eventually come along and let her out, and she fills everyone in on what's been going on. The culprits are caught at the airport, ready to leave for Japan, and all the paintings are recovered.
Meanwhile, the Stoneybrook Museum is getting ready to open an art room for kids. Mrs. O'Neal, the woman who's in charge, has very different ideas as to what the room should be like than the kids do. She wants them to be quiet and clean, and to ONLY do the projects that she sets out for them. The BSC members eventually help convince her that it would work better to let the kids be a little more creative.
Thoughts and Things
- There are multiple references to Mrs. O'Neal clutching her pearls. This may sound like an ignorant question, but doesn't that mean something dirty?
- Another repeating plot device in this one: a painting that had been painted over another painting. Plus, there was a cat supposedly belonging to a dead person.
- I don't have much else to say about this one....