Book 6: Kristy, WHAT?

Kristy's Big DayKristy’s Big Day, book 6 in the Baby-Sitters Club, chronicles the week (or thereabouts) leading up to the wedding of Elizabeth Thomas, Kristy’s mum, to the millionaire, Watson Brewer.

My memories of this book are thus; Kristy is told she’s in the bridal party, as is the rest of her family; she begrudgingly lets herself be put into a long yellow dress while all the time wishing that she was out doing sports or whatever, fuming because she’s still not 100% “okay” with Watson; is told she’s beautiful a couple of times but still, while walking down the aisle, feels like she’s going to be sick; Karen loves all the attention; end book.

I was expecting bitchiness. Door-slammings. Mary Anne trying to reason with a stubborn Kristy while Elizabeth Thomas rolls her eyes and tells her daughter to get over it and Sam and Charlie mercilessly make fun of their little sister being forced to act like a girl.

I was totally wrong.

Kristy’s Big Day features an alternate-universe version of Kristy Thomas, president of the Baby-Sitters Club and suddenly giggling bridesmaid:

“Your bridesmaid?” I whispered. “Really? Like in a long, fancy dress with flowers in my hair?” I was awed.

Sam Thomas immediately asks what the gaping-32-year-old-me wanted to:

“Since when do you like long, fancy dresses and flowers?” asked Sam.
“Since right now,” I replied. “Oh Mom!”
“Is that a yes? You’ll be my bridesmaid?”
“It’s a YES-YES-YES!” I jumped up and ran around the table to hug my mother.

Kristy Thomas, WTF

The BSC naturally want to know everything about the wedding, once they are told it’s happening (in two weeks, no less). I had expected a sullen Kristy, rolling her eyes as the other girls excitedly discussed dresses and shoes…but…

“Bridesmaid gown,” said Stacey the second Dawn had taken her hand off the receiver.
“Okay,” I said with a smile. Mom and I had finally decided on exactly what we’d all be wearing. “It’s going to be a long gown-”
“Oooh.”
“-with short sleeves and a ribbon sash above my waist. Mom says that’ll make me look taller – and older.”

The most disturbing part of Kristy Thomas’ transformation is that none of her friends find that she’s excited about fashion odd. We’ve gone from Mary Anne describing Kristy’s sense of fashion two books ago as –

Kristy doesn’t care much about her appearance. Her brown hair is usually sort of messy, and she wears clothes only because it’s against the law to go to school naked.

– to everyone blithely accepting –

“Hey!” I said. “Get this. Mom said I can wear heels-”
“Oooh.”
“-and we’re going to buy these special shoes that you can dye to match your dress.”

Ok, look, I know I’m harping on a lot about this, but this book, within the opening chapters, questioned every childhood memory I had of Kristy Thomas. It made me question myself – have I created a warped picture of Kristy as this bossy, tomboy, sporty kid who doesn’t care about her appearance? Why would I do such a thing? What does it mean – am I projecting something here? What would a psychiatrist make of all of this?

Kristy Thomas is a Disney Princess. Nope.

*steps aside from existential crisis*

After they discuss the wedding, the BSC turn their attention to the more pressingly important topic of the Final Fling – this dance being held at Stoneybrook Middle School, to mark the end of the school year.
That’s right, school’s nearly out, and our BSC girls are nearly in eighth grade. Not only do they discuss the Final Fling for the rest of Chapter 3, but Kristy willingly joins in discussing it and becomes excited while they talk about what they’re going to wear. She even says, somewhat knowingly as though they’re an item and she now has total control of the situation, that she’ll probably go with Alan Gray.

Kristy, stahp it! You should be bossily telling the rest of the BSC to focus on what’s important and insisting everyone discuss the contents of their Kid Kits in between calls!

Still – after the lead-up to the big dance, I actually wanted to know about what went on at the Final Fling, but it’s gone in the first page of Chapter 4. Seriously – the opening lines of Chapter 4 are “The Final Fling came and went.” I don’t even know why it was mentioned, other than to mess with my headcanon Kristy, or perhaps to let us know that Claudia’s affair with Trevor Sandborne is officially over.

Trevor Sandbourne was the love of Claudia’s life last fall.
Claudia looked at me as if I’d asked if she was going to the dance with Winnie-the-Pooh.
Trevor? No. Trevor’s probably dating his own poetry at this point. That’s all he cares about.”

Tragic, isn’t it?

Anyway, the majority of the book revolves around the day care that the girl’s run during the week leading up to the wedding. Being off school means that they are available practically 24/7, and when Kristy hears that there’s a ton of relatives (who all have hoards of children) arriving in Stoneybrook a week before the wedding, to help Elizabeth and Watson get ready, she comes up with A Cunning Plan. Instead of having fourteen-odd children (including several babies) underfoot for a whole week, why don’t all the visiting relatives drop their kids off at the Thomas’ house each day, so they can get on with wedding preparations unhindered over at Watson’s mansion on Millionaire Lane? She then offers the entire BSC to look after these kids, for the whole week.

Ah, there’s the Kristy I remember.

Kristy’s mum is relieved at this suggestion, and offers to pay the girls $200 each for the entire week’s worth of work. The BSC juggles the few jobs that they have for the first week of vacation, and voila; the Bradford Court Day Care is born.

Aside: $200/8hours a day per week = $5/hr. Minimum wage in Australia is $16.37/hr, and in the US, it’s $7.25/hr. Yes, sure, these are 12-year-olds, and you don’t have to worry about tax or insurance or anything else, but honestly? The girls get seriously ripped off for the sheer amount of work they have to do.

The BSC go into planning mode, and break the fourteen kids they’ll be looking after for the week into groups, assigning team leaders and colours to try keep them in order.
Stacey looks after the oldest group – a ten-, nine- and eight-year-old (the red star group). Dawn gets the six- and seven-year-olds (the blue birds), Kristy gets the four- and five-year-olds (the yellow suns), Claudia ends up with the two- and three-year-olds (green dinosaurs), and Mary Anne ends up with – no, asks for – the babies – a one year old, and an 8-month old (pink hearts).

with-your-powers-combined

We’re treated to chapter after chapter of frankly boring day-care antics. The only part even worth mentioning involves Kristy’s soon-to-be little step-sister, Karen Brewer.

Karen, as one of the fourteen children the Baby-Sitters Club is looking after at Bradford Court, manages to stress out not only the yellow suns (the group Dawn is in charge of, consisting of David Michael, one of Kristy’s cousins called Berk (HA!) and Karen herself), but also an entire playground full of children with a story an eight-grader in her street told her.

“Yesterday when I got home, this big kid on my street said that at seven o’clock tonight, an army of Martians is going to attack the earth.”

Karen’s imagination continues, after discovering that the flower shop can’t provide her with yellow rose petals to scatter during her flower-girl duties at the wedding. She’s going to have to use white rose petals instead! Shock-horror!

White petals,” moaned Karen. “They mean white magic. Morbidda Destiny will be right next door with her black magic. The two magics will crash into each other – BA-ROOM – and then…” Karen made a slashing motion across her throat.
David Michael screamed.

Despite Karen’s prophesies of witchy-poo doom, the wedding goes forth, ending spectacularly with a cape-flapping Morbidda Destiny Mrs Porter cameo –

Morbidda Destiny

– who decides to gatecrash and give Watson a gift, immediately after he and Elizabeth have become man and wife.

Just as the minister was saying, “You may kiss the bride,” I noticed Stacey signaling frantically. She was pointing to me…no, not to me, to Karen. I looked down. Karen had turned around and was staring at something behind us. From the look on her face, I thought for sure Dracula was back there.
Then Karen let out an ear-piercing shriek…I dared to turn around.
Morbidda Destiny was standing behind me in full black dress, with her snapping eyes and her frazzly, witchy hair.
“The magics!” Karen wailed. “The magics are going to crash!”

Kristy has a lot of relatives show up in this book – a few aunts, uncles, a ton of cousins – and Nannie. Nannie is Kristy’s grandma, who drives this ridiculous old pink car everyone calls “the Pink Clinker”, and is the lady who hand-sews Kristy and Karen’s yellow gowns for the wedding. She has a bunch of other wedding-related tasks during the book that aren’t worth mentioning. From the moment Nannie is introduced, you get the feeling that Ann M Martin wanted us to have as special a relationship with her as we do with Claudia’s lovely grandmother Mimi…but…it just doesn’t happen. Yes, Nannie is this quirky, energetic presence in the book every so often, but part of you knows this’ll probably be the last we ever hear of her.

Kristy Thomas Nannie Pink Clinker

Speaking of the obscure – this book heralds the return of the description of Claudia’s outfits – or at least, one of them!

cheering

She was wearing one of her usual outrageous outfits: a black leotard and skintight red pants under a white shirt that was so big it looked like a lab coat. Claudia’s a wonderful artist and she had decorated the shirt herself, covering it with designs painted in acrylic. She had pinned her long black hair back at the sides with red clips.

Claudia Kishi wearing black leotard, skintight red pants, white shirt lab coat decorated with designs painted in acrylic, red hair clips.

Sam Thomas has a bit of a WTF moment, who for some reason, over eight months since the Baby-Sitters Club started, is still prank calling them now and then.

“Sorry I’m late,” I said, settling myself in Claudia’s director’s chair. “Any calls yet?”
“One,” Stacey answered. “I have a feeling it was Sam. The person said, ‘Hello, this is Marmee March. I need a sitter for Amy tonight, someone who has experience with little women.'”
I scowled. “Sam, all right. He never takes this club seriously.”

Sam, are you feeling okay? I mean…seriously? Despite the fact that any ordinary 15-year-old (yeah, Sam’s fifteen now, apparently) would have gotten bored with prank calling the BSC by now, Sam has not only read Little Women, but is also making prank calls about it? WHUUUUT?

the-ugly-duckling-syndromeAlmost everything about this book felt wrong. It felt like Ann M Martin was writing Kristy’s Big Day because she knew she’d have to write about Watson and Elizabeth’s wedding eventually and just wanted to rip it off like a band-aid. KBD reads like one of those “ugly-duckling” girl films, about the dorky, awkward, outcast girl who, once given the opportunity to wear a silky dress transforms into this stunning, fashion-conscious homecoming queen contender who’s excited about being pretty.

You betrayed me, Kristy Thomas. Please revert to your regular, bossy, sloppy, bitchy self so I can continue to make fun of you properly in book seven, Claudia and Mean Janine.


Feel like having your entire childhood memories of a character challenged too? I got Kristy’s Big Day off Amazon in Kindle format for about $4!

5 Responses

  1. Fifi says:

    …WHUT.

    This is a novel-length version of the Nailpolish Moment in book #1! Was ANM still getting a grip on characters who settled into their stereotypes later, or is the characterisation actually this inconsistent all the way through the series? :S

    The fact that Sam was referencing ‘Little Women’ in an attempt to harass his little sister just…makes my day. Sam, Sam, you have hidden depths.

    As always, loved the review and can’t wait for the next one!

    • Min says:

      Was ANM still getting a grip on characters who settled into their stereotypes later, or is the characterisation actually this inconsistent all the way through the series?

      That’s what I’m wondering! Do the stereotypes we know and love actually exist in the books, or are they the result of a pre-teen misinterpretation/memory loss over time? Bah! More (reading) time will tell.

      I burst out laughing at the Sam prank phone call. The background characters like Sam, Janine and Mimi are quickly turning into my favourites. They have the most wonderfully random moments when they do show up.

  2. Fifi says:

    BSC: read it for the protagonists when you’re a kid and the background characters when you’re an adult. Oh, and for Claudia’s outfits *always*.

    I’m looking forward to finding out, too! I’m curious about whether things actually became more stable when ANM stopped being the sole author–perhaps the ghost writers kept to the stereotypes more because they were consciously following guidelines? It makes a strange sort of sense that consistency might come with multiple writers.

  3. Amity L says:

    Loving the site! I haven’t stopped laughing yet. Your snark is absolutely fabulous. Please tell me the last photo, featuring movie Mary Anne, was an intentional choice!

    Working my way down the book list. Cheers!

  4. Jessi says:

    Minimum wage in 1990 was under $4 an hour. Five bucks an hour was decent for baby sitting.

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