Monday, April 21, 2014

BSC #35: Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Ellen Miles. Published June 1990.

Stacey is on her way home from New York. It sounds like she has a great time with her dad on her weekends. He actually took Saturday off, and they went shopping and out to eat. And she got some time in with Laine as well.

Back in Stoneybrook, it’s back to usual. Stacey snarks about the other girls getting excited about an old house being torn down, that’s exhilarating news in Stoneybrook.

They get a call from Dr. Johanssen, who has something special to ask. Her father-in-law is having surgery, and they want to be with him, but don’t want Charlotte to miss school. She’s wondering if she could stay with the McGills or the Ramseys. The Ramseys are going to New Jersey that weekend, but Stacey’s mom is down with having her there.

Stacey is all sorts of excited, and fixes up the guest room especially for Charlotte. But when she gets dropped off, Charlotte gets all nervous and shy, like she used to be. Stacey tries to distract her.

The next day after school, Stacey suggests they go see the house that’s being torn down. They walk all around it, and experience a few things. Stacey sees a face in a window, they see a huge swarm of flies, they hear clanking, and an “Oooooh” noise. They’re pretty freaked out.

Stacey takes Charlotte to the BSC meeting, and Charlotte gets to answer the phone. She feels pretty cool.

Kristy sits for her brothers and sisters. There’s a storm, and of course Karen scares everyone, including herself, with her stories. After Kristy gets them all to bed, she goes to the library and goes through a box of old books Watson got at an estate sale. She’s hoping to find something on the old house. She doesn’t find anything in the books, but she comes across an old hand-drawn map of the town. And somehow from this, she determines that the entire town was built on ancient burial grounds, with the old house on the most sacred spot. Dun-dun-dun! Then Charlie and Sam scare the shit out of her. Ha.

Charlotte wakes up sick and with a fever on Saturday. They take her to the doctor, and she’s got tonsillitis. She gets a prescription for penicillin. She gets really whiney about taking it, but Stacey totally guilt trips her, showing her what all she has to do for her diabetes. It works, and Charlotte takes her medicine.

Charlotte is feeling better the next day, but she still has to rest. She and Stacey are getting bored, though. So Stacey calls Kristy, and she brings over the box of books and the map. They don’t find anything new about the house, but Charlotte was distracted for the day.

Claudia sits for the Perkins girls, and decides to take them to Story Hour at the library. The girls, of course, sing the entire way. I wouldn’t expect anything less. When they’re settled to listen to the stories, Claudia decides to do some research on the old house. She is able to confirm the burial ground story, and she also finds the name of the owner of the house, Ronald Hennessey. She looks him up, he lives at Stoneybrook Manor, the retirement home.

Stacey and Charlotte go to look at the house, and something weird happens again. They see flames coming out a window, and while Stacey rushes over with a wheelbarrow of water, they suddenly stop. There’s no trace of a fire. That night, both Stacey and Charlotte have nightmares about the house.

Stacey tells the other girls about her experiences the next day, and Kristy calls for an emergency meeting. Any excuse for a meeting. Claudia tells everyone that she went by that afternoon, and felt someone touch her arm. Mallory tells how she picked flowers from the garden a long time ago (last year), and then had a nightmare. Kristy decides it’s imperative they find out what’s going on, so a few of them will go visit Mr. Hennessey.

They go to visit him, and he’s very, very old, and is all, “who the hell are you?” But when they tell him why they’re there, he gets into it, and tells them a couple of ghost stories about the house, including one about “Old Rubbernose”. Apparently this guy got his nose bitten off by a horse and the doctor gave him a rubber nose. The house was built over his grave. Mr. Hennessey tells them they’ll know if the neighborhood is haunted when they tear the house down, and to be careful.

The next day is the big day, the house is coming down. God and everybody show up to watch. It’s pretty boring actually, until Stacey sees the flames again, but it appears no one else does. She feels like Mr. Hennessey is calling for her, so she leaves Charlotte with Claudia, and runs to the retirement home. When she gets there, she learns Mr. Hennessey died the night before, but left a note for her. Oh my, how convenient.

The note says he enjoyed meeting them, but the stories were just that, stories. There’s no mystery to the house at all.

As she’s leaving, a car honks at her, and it’s Kristy, Charlie, and Sam, there to give her a ride home. Stacey tells them about the note, and Charlie tells her about the conversation he had with some of the workers. Everything is easily explained away. The moaning and clanking sounds were the pipes. There was a worker that stayed late using an acetylene torch, that was the flames and probably the face in the window. The flies were actually bees the workers stirred up. Stacey and Kristy decide not to tell anyone else what they’ve learned, why ruin the fun for everyone? What the fuck? They spend all this time trying to solve the mystery, and when they find out the truth, the keep it a secret? Whatever, girls.

And what about the flames that only Stacey saw? She decides it was just her imagination, and decides to forget about it. Ok, then.

Charlotte’s parents return that afternoon, and she’s happy to see them, proud of having survived a week apart. That night, Stacey and Charlotte miss each other, but Charlotte calls, and they call each other sisters.

o   Stacey is reading Summer of My German Soldier. I adore that book.

o   Stacey thinks Gallant from Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine is a goody-goody. I’m totes with you there, Stace. He always annoyed the shit out of me.

o   I totally remember this book originally being called Stacey and the New Kids on the Block. It must have been promoted in another book. I was SO excited about it, thinking it had to do with the band, and I was SO disappointed at the change. And then I left accidentally left it at the airport, and I didn’t even care that much.


  1. This was one of the BSC books I never read as a kid. I went to read it during my BSC nostalgia re-read and I was excited to think that it would be a Stacey version of "The Ghost at Dawn's House".

    Then I read it and my reaction was similar to yours. Everything was explained away, except it wasn't, and the whole matter is just never spoken of again. WTF? If I saw flames in a reportedly haunted house I would be telling that story all the time.

    The closest I have to something like that was smoking weed in the suburbs late at night and someone's sprinkler system coming on and scaring the shit out of me, because I could not readily recognize the sound a sprinkler system makes and thought it was a ghost or something rushing towards me.

  2. Aww, Charlotte. I think of her every time I hear Scarlett Johansson's name.