Friday, May 30, 2014

BSC #40: Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Ellen Miles. Published January 1991.

Claudia is studying for a killer math test with Janine. She wants to concentrate, but the problem is about measuring out chocolate, and Claud’s like, Bitch, just pour it all in! But she gets the answer right, anyway. Then she daydreams about her art and clothes, but is still able to get the next problem right, too. Janine is all proud, and so am I.

Claudia is a little nervous at the beginning of the test, but calms down, and works her way through it. At the end, she’s feeling pretty damn good about herself. She cracks open the Oreos at the BSC meeting later that day to celebrate, and the girls are proud of her. But Mary Anne has to be a downer and point put she really should wait to celebrate until she gets the test back.

In class the next day, Mr. Zorzi finally hands the tests back. Claudia is thrilled to see she got an A-. Yay, Claud! But Mr. Zorzi asks Claudia and Shawna Riverson to stay after class, and put their tests down side by side. They have the same three problems wrong, and in the same way. And because Shawna is typically a good student, and Claudia is Claudia, he just assumes that Claudia is the one that cheated. It is totes unfair. He says he’ll have to tell the principal, who will tell her parents.

Stacey sits at the Pikes’, and while she’s inside with Claire, the triplets break a window playing baseball. Stacey asks them who did it, but they just shrug and say they’re like the Three Musketeers, and they’ll never turn one of them in. When Mrs. Pike gets home she tells them that since this is the fourth window in three months, they’re grounded until she knows who the culprit is, and they get no allowance until the window is paid off. They won’t budge, though.

That night, Claudia’s parents get the phone call. They don’t blowup like I would imagine my parents doing, at least, but they don’t quite believe Claudia, either. Janine says she does, though, she knows for a fact Claudia knew the material. Her parents offer to go talk to the principal, but Claudia doesn’t want them to. These are the girls who like to do things without any parental involvement, after all. But they tell Claudia Mr. Zorzi will have to give her an F for the test. Janine tries to help her figure out what to do, but they don’t really get anywhere. Claudia just goes to bed feeling like shit because her parents don’t believe her 100%.

Claudia tells her tale at the next BSC meeting, and the girls are fully supportive of her. Except Mary Anne, who tells her if she did do it, it wouldn’t matter to them, and she should confess. She thinks this is being supportive. Mary Anne, you’re being a hell of a buzzkill here lately. Kristy calls her on it, and Mary Anne cries, of course. That always gets her out of shit.

Dawn says Shawna and her friends are in her homeroom, and have been acting strange lately, passing a lot of notes. Then she suggests one of those notes might be incriminating, and she just so happens to know how to get into Shawna’s locker. It was Dawn’s for a few weeks at the beginning of the year. Kristy says they’ll think about it.

Jessi and Mal sit for the Pikes, and triplets are still in trouble, and being super annoying. They speak to each other in Pig Latin, but Jessi teaches them “op-talk”, which just sounds annoying, it’s annoying trying to read. And she can’t get any of them to confess.

Claudia spies on Shawna and her friends in the bathroom one day, cause she’s a creeper like that. But she felt the spirit of Nancy Drew with her. Shawna confesses to the whole thing. She was just too busy with other stuff going on to study, and she heard Claudia telling Mary Anne that her genius sister was helping her study. So she planned the whole thing out. Claudia hurries to tell the others, and they’re livid. They agree to break into Shawna’s locker. Everyone but Mary Anne. What the hell is with her? She just tells them not to get caught.

They decide Dawn and Claudia will do the actual searching, and Stacey will be their lookout. They get in, and eventually do end up finding a note congratulating Shawna on her grade, and amazement that “C.K.’s” test would have so many right answers. They take it, but then Claudia realizes it’s no good. They’d have to explain how they got it, and why would anyone believe it was Shawna’s friend who wrote it anyway? Claudia slips the note back in the locker.

Claudia tries to lure Shawna into a trap. First she tries using incriminating words, like “cheat” and “steal” hoping Shawna will just break down and confess. That doesn’t work. Then she writes in her notebook “If you can read this, you’re a cheater and you might as well admit it”, and she tries to get Shawna to look at it. She doesn’t, though. Then she tries to prove Shawna could see her paper by reading what Shawna’s writing, and gets caught by Mr. Zorzi doing so. Yeah. All pretty pathetic attempts there, Claud.

Claudia and Mal sit for the Pikes’, where the triplets are still grounded, and in pissy moods. Mallory comes up with an idea, and gets them to re-enact the crime. When she sees it, she decides everybody and nobody is at fault. Their mother agrees when she sees it. I don’t. Everyone made a mistake, but it was Byron who actually hit the damn ball. But whatever. They’re ungrounded.

Claudia thinks a re-enactment might work for her, and tells Janine about it. Janine points out that Shawna could just pretend not to cheat, though. But she tells Claudia, with a smile on her face, that it will all work out.

Claudia exhausts herself the next day trying to act like it doesn’t matter and she doesn’t care. And then at the end of the day, Janine shows up at school. She’s says she always had a good relationship with the principal when she went there, and she’s going to talk to him. I guess it works, because he ends up calling Claudia and Mr. Zorzi into the office. He says he and Mr. Zorzi will figure out a way to give everyone a fair trial. Umm, isn’t that maybe what you should have done in the FIRST place?

During class the next day, Mr. Zorzi lets Claudia take the test again, with different questions this time. She only gets two questions wrong. He apologizes to her. No shit, dumbass. Then he calls Shawna up, and tells her she’ll have to take the test the next morning. Claudia doesn’t think that’s fair; she’ll have time to study. Really, he should have made them both take it, separated, at the same time. But before Claud can say anything, Shawna breaks down, says she can’t take the test, and confesses. She gets suspended for two days and gets an F. Yay!

At the meeting that afternoon, the girls, plus Janine, surprise Claudia by bringing snacks on their own for once. Claudia gives Janine the collage she’s been working on as a thank you. And that night at dinner, her parents surprise her with a congratulations cake, the kind usually reserved for Janine.

o   I know it’s remedial math, but fractions and decimals in eighth grade?

o   I’ve always wondered when Claudia actually buys all her junk food. You never hear about her actually getting it. It’s always just there. Do you think there’s a convenience store or something on her way home from school, where she’s considered a regular?

o   Seriously, could this have been handled worse by the administration? They just accuse Claudia, without even talking to her, all based on an assumption? Terrible.

o   What a vague fucking title. How many other books in the series could also be called Whoever and the Middle School Mystery?


  1. I forgot, was Janine still considered "mean" at this point? Because she really goes out of her way to help Claudia here!

    1. She really does! And Claudia never says anything mean about her, and actually appreciates her. It's a nice change. But I guess it's realistic, going through periods of liking your siblings, and then them driving you crazy.