Monday, June 23, 2014

BSC# 47: Mallory on Strike

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner. Published September 1991.

Mallory is ten kinds of excited. Her teacher in her special creative writing class announced Young Author Day, where the kids can enter their writing in a bunch of different categories. And a famous author is going to speak. Mal hopes to win Best Overall Fiction for the Sixth Grade. She can’t wait to get home, get her homework out of the way, and start working on her story.

It is not to be, however. When she gets home, her mother has disappeared. She ends up having been in the basement getting some cans of tomatoes for over half an hour? I don’t know, that’s how it reads. Anyway, Mal gets all caught up in having to take care of her siblings all afternoon.

At the BSC meeting, Mal is the only one available to sit for the Hobarts for the next four Saturdays. She thinks about it. Young Authors Day is in four weeks. If she took the job, that would mean only Sundays for her story, homework, and chores. So she decides to turn the job down. She’s really embarrassed about doing so.

Mal gets up early on Saturday morning, and gets her homework finished before breakfast. Then she pays Vanessa a quarter to stay out of their room all day so she can work on her story. But. Every time she sits down to work, one of her parents ask her to do something for or with her siblings. It’s like she’s a sister-mom, à la the Duggars. She gets one sentence written in six hours. And only three paragraphs for the entire weekend.

Her writing teacher, Mr. Dougherty, meets with each of the kids individually. He likes Mal’s plot, but is deeply disappointed in her for only getting three paragraphs written. He tells the whole class about how important it is to be a disciplined writer. So when Mal gets home, she makes up a schedule for herself. But she can’t follow it that day, because she has to tell Claire about dinosaurs and make cookies for dessert.

Finally, on Friday afternoon, Mal gets some writing time, and she accomplishes quite a bit. But when she looks up, it’s 5:30. Oh shit. She’s already late for the meeting. She considers blowing off the meeting altogether, she’s on such a roll with her writing, but knows she made a commitment to the club. So she goes, and Kristy is predictably pissed. And then Mal makes it worse for herself by turning down two jobs. Kristy’s all, what the fuck? Mal tries to explain about needing time to write, but nobody seems very sympathetic. This irritates me. If it were Jessi with her dancing, or Claudia with her art, I feel like they’d be more forgiving. Well, maybe not Kristy, but everyone else.

Mal has a disastrous (previously scheduled) job at the Barrett’s. Buddy and/or Suzi knock a whole bag of flour on the floor, which Marnie slips in. While Mal comforts her, Buddy and Suzi start to clean up, by pouring an entire bucket of water on the floor, which of course just turns it into a big pasty mess. Mal sends Buddy outside to ride his bike while she cleans up. Later, Buddy comes in crying, having gotten his foot caught in the spokes, because he was riding barefoot. Mal was too busy to notice that. Mrs. Barrett comes in to see the whole bloody mess. Good going, Mal.

Jessi sits for Claire and Margo, and they are pissed at Mallory, for being grumpy and bossing them around lately. This leads the girls to make up a ballet called Mean, Old Mallory. Margo does such a good Mal impression that Jessi can’t help but laugh. But when everyone else gets home, Claire just has to tell them all about it. Mal gets pissed, yells at Claire to shut up, and runs to her room.

At the next meeting, Mal asks to be demoted. And if they won’t do that, then she’ll quit. Everyone freaks out. Mary Anne starts crying. Kristy suggests she take two weeks off from the club and sitting. Which is really all she needs anyway. I don’t know why Mal seems to feel like this needs to be a permanent situation.

Kristy has a pretty bad day sitting for her brothers and sisters. It’s an emergency, and she has to cancel plans with Mary Anne. And then the kids are just generally kind of bitchy. But then the best thing happens. A friend of David Michael’s comes over, and his parents want to know where David Michael’s parents are. They say he can’t stay without them there. Kristy gets all kinds of offended, and it’s awesome. Anyway, in all the chaos, Kristy realizes this must be how it is for Mal all the time, and feels bad for her.

Mal gets up on Saturday, prepared to be all overly dramatic. She makes a sandwich board that says “Mallory on Strike” and wears it to breakfast. She explains that she’s striking from child minding, preparing food, etc. for the day to write. Her parents are just like, That’s cool. So Mal gets her writing on. Sometime that afternoon, the elder Pikes have to go to an emergency board meeting at the library. I swear, there are a shit load of emergency meetings always happening in Stoneybrook. Anyway, they call Mary Anne and Dawn to come sit, and explain about Mallory.

Mary Anne decides to be brave, and checks in on Mal. She gets snapped at at first, but when Mal realizes who it is, she’s nicer. Mary Anne tells her it’s great she finally talked to her parents, and Mal admits she didn’t exactly talk to them. Mary Anne says she should. So when they get home, Mal explains to them how she’s been feeling lately, and her parents admit that they do sometimes take advantage of her. Well, what do you freaking know? Actually talking to the adults turns out to be a good thing! And yet it never occurs to them. Were we all that stupid at that age? Anyway, her parents decide she needs a day all to herself, and declare the next day Mallory Pike Day.

So, for Mallory Pike Day, her parents take Mal and Jessi to the mall. They shop, have lunch, see a movie, and have ice cream. Mall enjoys the day, but keeps seeing things she knows her siblings would like. When she gets home, she gathers them all up and tells them she missed them, and she’s going to have a surprise for them.

It’s finally Young Authors Day. It’s on a Saturday, and it’s a whole day event. Everyone’s entire families come. First the famous author speaks. Then there’s a puppet show. And finally, it’s time for the awards. And what do you know? Mallory does indeed win Best Overall Fiction for the Sixth Grade. What a surprise. Well, she’s surprised, at any rate. Then there’s a couple of writing workshops. I wonder what the families did during this time. After that, the famous author signs her books.

At the very end of the day, Mal gathers her brothers and sisters up again, and tells them the next Saturday is all about them. She tells them to dress like explorers.

Jessi comes to help Mal out. Honestly, I find this pretty boring. They make explorer hats, make puppets, and have a scavenger hunt at the park. The only interesting part is that they watch a “circus” at the Braddocks’ house put on by neighborhood kids. I mean, what the hell is this? Kids doing something without BSC involvement? Does Kristy know about this? I have a hard time believing she does and doesn’t butt in and try to make it bigger and better.

The kids have a hell of a good time. And as they all sit on the front steps together at the end of the day, Mal thinks about her next writing assignment: a special, unforgettable event. She knows just what it’s going to be about.

o   Mal is back to having chestnut brown hair. Make up your damn minds.

o   They’re always going on about how big Boo-Boo is. He’s only fourteen pounds. I’ve had bigger. (That sounded dirty.)

o   When Jessi and Mal meet the Pikes for lunch, Mal’s dad says it looks like they bought out the mall. They each bought two things.


  1. Ah, yes. The "bought out the mall" comment. Just like the "struggling with our shopping bags" when the bought two things -- and one was a pair of earrings. I must say, I love this blog. It has inspired me to hunt down replacements for my BSC books that were destroyed in a fire in '95.

    1. Oh, sad. I lost all my books from childhood, too. Goodwills are my best friend.

      I'm glad you like it!

  2. What really strikes me, reading these as an adult, is how so many of Mallory's stories aren't that interesting. Maybe realistic for an eleven-year-old to write, but doesn't it seem like an author writing these books could have come up with some more engaging stories?

    1. I totally agree. Poor Mallory. I guess it's part of the whole "Ann hates Mal" conspiracy theory.

    2. Haha, you're probably right! Poor Mallory.