So...it's been awhile since Claudia and Alan Gray went to that dance together, and apparently, they're just now getting around to hanging out again. Claudia isn't really sure what to expect from him; he seems to have changed, but Claud keeps expecting him to get up to his old tricks. That, and the fact that she would really rather not be seen with him makes it hard for Claudia to enjoy spending time with him at all.
In other news, Claudia also has a summer job (along with Erica Blumberg) in the children's room at the library. Right away, Claud notices that the mural outside the room could use a little updating. She mentions it to her mom, who makes it clear to her that her job is in the children's room, not in painting hallways. On day two of work, Alan shows up. He tries to be helpful, but he ends up creating more work for Claudia in the end. She manages to get rid of him in time to have a little talk with Ms. Feld, the children's librarian, about redoing the mural. Ms. Feld is thrilled with the idea, and agrees to look at some samples of Claudia's work. Mrs. Kishi, though, isn't as happy. She doesn't like that Claudia went to Ms. Feld about the mural after she herself said no. Things are frosty between them which doesn't make for a good start to the workday. Neither does the fact that Kristy and Alan both show up at the library at the same time. Kristy doesn't let up on the Alan insults, and Claudia finally confesses at that day's club meeting that she's been seeing him. Kristy has major issues with that; she just doesn't like Alan and can't accept that one of her friends is essentially dating him.
Things are going a little better for Claud at the library. Ms. Feld likes Claudia's ideas for the mural, and plans are in place to start working on it. Then, Alan shows up to walk Claud to her BSC meeting so they can talk. She tries to put him off, but he isn't having it. He calls her out on being embarrassed to have her friends see them together, and asks that they give him a chance. They make plans for the BSC to go out for mini golf with Alan, Cary Retlin, and Pete Black. The big day finally arrives, but first, Claudia has to get through her day of work. She gets to the library to find everything in place for work on the mural, and Ms. Feld eager to have the kids help, too. Claudia isn't so sure about that part of it, and she was right to be apprehensive. The kids make a huge mess, and the mural looks terrible. Mrs. Kishi is furious, and she has to step in and make sure everything gets cleaned up. Once again, she tells Claudia that her job is to help in the children's room, not to paint murals.
The group date that night goes okay. Everyone plays in pairs, and Cary orchestrates it so that Alan and Kristy are a team. She does her best to insult and berate him, but Alan doesn't rise to the challenge. He's polite and calm....not like the normal Alan at all. Claudia doesn't like this super well-mannered Alan any more than she liked the goofy, joke-playing Alan. She knows there's a side of him that's both, and she encourages him to let that side show. To celebrate their new understanding, Claudia has a backyard BBQ for all of her friends, and some of Alan's. That's where they officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. Awwww, isn't that cute? :)
(By the way....Claudia ends up redoing the main part of the mural on her own, and the kids get to be involved by putting a handprint border around it).
Thoughts and Things
- So....explain something to me. It's July in this book, yet in the next one, we're back in June and it's graduation time. Did another 8th grade happen between the two books, or did SMS go back in time?
- I still don't get the whole Claudia/Alan thing, but Abby and Alan might not make a bad pair....
- I like that Claudia's friendship with Erica didn't go by the wayside when she and Stacey made up.
- Speaking of Erica, she finds out the names of her birth parents in this one. It's actually kind of intense....
- I really think the FF series could have lasted longer if all of the books had been as good as Kristy's Big News.