Thursday, December 19, 2013

BSC #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

By Ann M. Martin. Published October 1986.

Claudia would rather be working on her painting or reading Nancy Drew, but she has to work on her homework with Mimi. She’s in trouble at school, surprise surprise. She has done almost none of her homework since school started. That one’s solely on you, Claud.

The club decides to just hang out without having a meeting, but there’s nothing to do. Mary Anne is reading the newspaper, and suddenly freaks the hell out. She reads a story on the Phantom Caller, who repeatedly calls a house without saying anything to see if anybody’s home before he robs them. The last place he hit was one town away from Stoneybrook. Claudia remembers that at her last sitting job, she had two hang-ups. Kristy calls for an emergency meeting right now. Ha, and y’all thought you’d get out of a meeting.

The girls discuss what they would do if they ever had to deal with any break-in. They come up with a convoluted series of code words involving red ribbons. They also decide to take the record book to school everyday, so everyone will know where the others are sitting. They agree not to tell their parents about anything, so they won’t worry.

Claudia learns two things at school. No, not academically. First, her friend Dorianne’s grandparents got robbed the night before, possibly by the Phantom Caller. Secondly, everyone knows about her crush on Trevor Sandbourne, including the annoying Alan Gray.

Claudia sits for Jamie Newton, and Kristy shows up and scares the crap out of her.

Claudia hears on the radio that the police are on the trail of the Phantom Caller, heading towards New Jersey! Yay! Oh wait, nope, not him. Boo. Claudia hears the latest news sitting at the Marshall’s. Then the phone rings, and nobody’s there.

Kristy sits for Karen and Andrew. Karen thinks Morbidda Destiny put a spell on her, giving her freckles. Why would Watson think it’s a good idea to give her a book called The Witch Next Door? Dumbass. Kristy reads Karen Ramona instead, because Kristy can be awesome sometimes.  After the kids are in bed, Kristy gets one of the silent phone calls herself. She gets a little freaked out. And then she has to deal with Morbidda Destiny, who brings Boo-Boo back over, as well as a bag containing the remains of the mouse Boo-Boo killed. Charming.

Stacey sits for Charlotte Johanssen, and they get scared by a storm and a scary movie, but there are no phone calls.

Mary Anne has a job sitting for David Michael. Good God there are a lot of sitting chapters in this book. She’s scared of course, and rigs up a few different “burglar alarms” around the house. But nothing bad happens.
Claudia’s neighbors, the Goldmans, have been robbed, and it appears to be the work of the Phantom Caller. Claudia spreads the news to the other girls. Mary Anne mistakenly tells her father, and he forbids her to sit again until the Phantom is caught.

The next day at school, Claudia’s getting desperate for Trevor to ask her to the Halloween dance. She decides to walk by his table at lunch to attract his attention. As she goes past him, someone knocks into her, and she spills Jello in Trevor’s lap. Way to get his attention, Claud.

Claudia and Kristy both go to the Newtons’ to sit, because Jamie’s hellion cousins are there again. They start to act up, then Kristy gives an ear-splitting whistle and threatens to punch their lights out. I’m pretty sure the Kristy of later books would be totally against this. But it works in calming them down, so go Kristy, I guess? They each get a silent phone call, but other than that, things go well until dinner. Then they start hearing noises outside, and then see a shadow go across the window. Claudia decides this is enough, and calls the police.

When the police show up, they have Alan Gray with them. They caught him outside. Turns out he was pretty much stalking Kristy. It was he making the phone calls to her sitting jobs. He knew all the information from the record book she brought to school everyday. Alan wanted to ask Kristy to the dance, so he does, and she surprisingly says yes.

Claudia is happy for Kristy, but realizes that night, that if Alan was calling Kristy, he wasn’t calling her, too. So who was?

Claudia gets her answer the next sitting at the Marshalls’. She gets a phone call, and of course there’s nothing but silence. But she begs the caller to speak. He finally does, and it’s Trevor Sandbourne! He asked Alan to get all of Claudia’s sitting information for him, so he could ask her to the dance, but he was too shy. But now he and Claudia have a date for the dance. It goes well.

Oh, and the real Phantom Caller is arrested, and Mary Anne’s allowed to sit again. Yay.

o   Some other headlines in The Stoneybrook News: Angry Pig Goes Hog Wild and Depressed Trucker Drives Self Crazy. What a bastion of journalism this is.

o   Watson’s house is only “practically” a mansion in this book.

o   Kristy reads The Witch of Blackbird Pond for school. I freaking love that book.

o   Claudia is still working on memorizing the times tables.

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