Nostalgic Bookshelf

Snarky recaps of nostalgic media, including Making Out, Baywatch, Blyton and Baby-Sitter's Club
3
Oct 2018
The Baby-Sitters Club #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House by Ann M. Martin

Title: The Baby-Sitters Club #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House by Ann M. Martin

Summary: Dawn has always thought there was a secret passage hidden in her house. But she never thought there was a ghost… until now. All kinds of creepy things go on whenever Dawn’s at home. There are even spooky noises behind her bedroom wall!

Dawn is sure there’s a ghost in her house. And so are the other baby-sitters. But they’re so busy with their baby-sitting jobs that they hardly have time for a ghost hunt. Will Dawn and her friends ever solve the mystery, or will Dawn have to share her house… with a ghost?

Tagline: Creaky stairs, spooky noises, secret passages — it must be a ghost!

Initial Thoughts

That tagline sure did escalate quickly! I’m thrilled to be recapping this one. I love Dawn, I love ghost stories and secret passages and spooky noises. It’s September, which means my Halloween horror season has already begun, because I believe in long celebrations. [Necromommycon: Me too, me too! I’m already into my ancient-horror-movie binge, which starts up in late summer with monster beach movies and continues on through Halloween. And we’ve got costumes and some interior decorations happening, too. I hold off on the outdoor stuff until the end of the month because the neighbours have enough to put up with, I think.] [Wing: Some of my neighbours have put up their decorations and I am so thrilled I’m actually considering sending them a thank you card.] [Dove: *sigh* Being English sucks.]

We’re going to have a good, good time.

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20
Sep 2018
Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Summary: Spook trains in the dead of night! And they seem to vanish into thin air – but where do they go? The Famous Five are on to it! But discovery of an unusual underground tunnel system, and a secret train-service, has them puzzled. If they follow the tracks, will they solve the mystery?

Initial Thoughts

Spook trains, secret, underground tunnels, and a mystery? Sounds like a typical Blyton holiday. And also like an A++ story for me to recap. Halloween season starts 1 September and so we are well into it. SPOOK TRAINS AND GO.

[Dove: I always wished that we could have a supernatural Famous Five – like the way Sweet Valley would leap off into the supernatural and then do an Etch-A-Sketch reset.]

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6
Aug 2018
The Baby-Sitters Club #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey by Ann M Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey by Ann M Martin

Title: Boy-Crazy Stacey

Summary: Stacey and Mary Anne are mother’s helpers for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There’s a gorgeous old house, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

Mary Anne knows that Scott the lifeguard is way too old for Stacey, but Stacey’s in love. She fixes Scott’s lunch, fetches his sodas, and spends all her time with him… instead of with the Pike kids.

Suddenly, Mary Anne’s doing the work of two baby-sitters, and she doesn’t like it one bit. But how can she tell Stacey that Scott just isn’t interested—without breaking Stacey’s heart?

Tagline: Who needs baby-sitting when there are boys around!

Initial Thoughts:

I unabashedly love Sea City and wish it were real and I could vacation there, so this is going to be difficult to recap just because I love it all so much.

That said, I do have some issues with the title.

On the one hand, yes: I vividly remember that age when my friends’ group were getting interested in boys, only we were all doing that on wildly different schedules, so there were frequently times when one of us was visibly making a fool of herself and the others saw it and discussed it. I’m not sure “boy-crazy” was ever a term we used, but it fits the perspective and attitude I remember having.

But on the other hand: I kind of hate that we do this at all. It’s easy, looking back on this as an adult, to see that Stacey isn’t trying to be selfish (and definitely isn’t trying to look foolish!); she’s just grappling awkwardly with new feelings and experiences.

And I wish that, as a culture, we gave girls a little more guidance not just on the crushing/dating stuff, but on the “being an honest but also kind friend to the person currently wrestling with hormones and emotions.” Because really, I don’t remember anyone ever giving me clear instructions about not falling into the “not like the other girls” mindset, and I could have used them.

Besides, she’s not “boy crazy.” She’s making an ass of herself over one particular guy. It’s not, like, a generalized thing she does with every guy she meets.

My only memories of this book aside from Sea City itself were being mad at Stacey for not doing her share, but even more mad at Scott the lifeguard for taking advantage of her (and his other fans).

[Wing: So word to all of this and thank you for saying it so well. Unlearning the drive to reject “feminine” things so as to be “not like other girls” is a terribly hard thing to do, but important. It took me forever, and I rage at all the time I lost to it.]

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25
Jul 2018

Famous Five 5: Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

[Famous Five 5: Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

Title: Five Go Off in a Caravan

Summary: The Famous Five are having a wonderful caravanning holiday. And when they discover a circus is camping nearby, they hope there’ll be plenty of entertainment.

But two of the circus performers are strangely sinister. The children soon realise that they’re not clowning around — but can they get help in time?

Initial Thoughts

That title is a lie. They go off in two caravans. [Wing: I appreciate your attention to this detail, a la my annoyance over that whole Smuggler’s thing last time.]

Which brings me to perhaps the most disturbing news of the entire series to date: I THINK JULIAN KNOWS WHAT SEX IS. I mean, at least vaguely. He knows it exists. I think. (He may also be having it with a series of farmers’ wives and daughters.) [Wing: Wait, is this not what we’re supposed to assume with him popping off to talk to the wives and daughters as they travel?]

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Initially, when I asked to recap this book, I only remembered the caravan part (not the significance of there being two caravans, just that they went off without adults in a caravan, which I was enormously envious of). The amount of freedom these kids have is mind-boggling to me. I mean, I am old enough to remember when it was normal for children to leave home in the morning in summer and only go back home for meals and when it got to be dusk, so we were basically away from adults for hours and hours at a time in the summer, but that was with the understanding that we were somewhere nearby. Like, in town, and preferably in the neighbourhood. Not off up the highway to some other town, or parked out in the country somewhere in a horse-drawn vehicle.

I really do love this series. It achieves a strange mix of cozy, meal-driven comfort and outrageous, I-would-never-have-been-allowed-to-do-that adventure.

[Dove: This is one of my favourite stories in this series. This is exactly the kind of thing I’d have loved to do as a kid. I didn’t go camping until I was in my late twenties, and when I did, I loved it. Tiny and I were incredibly resourceful in how to make tea without a kettle.]

[Wing: I was taking a drink when I saw the “Anne should just poison them all” tag and nearly choked to death.]

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18
Apr 2018
Famous Five 3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Famous Five 3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Summary: Who’s been on George’s island? And what is locked in the mysterious trunk hidden on Kirrin Island? The Famous Five think they’re on the trail of smugglers – until they hear a child scream…

Initial Thoughts

This is the book I’ve been waiting for, and I was really happy it landed with me. It made sense for Wing to try the first book, and it was a happy accident that Necromommycon was happy to take the second. I love this book. The entire series, really, but for some reason, this got re-read by baby!Dove more than most. Possibly because I’ve got issues and it again – just like The Secret Island – tapped into them.

[Wing: I know I keep saying this, but I did not expect to love this book so damn much. Blyton books in general, and this series in particular, just get more and more charming and entertaining. I am delighted by this book and can’t wait to reread.]

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21
Feb 2018

Famous Five 1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Summary: The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! There’s a shipwreck off Kirrin Island! But where is the treasure? The Famous Five are on the trail – looking for clues – but they’re not alone! Someone else has got the same idea. Time is running out for the Famous Five, who will follow the clues and get to the treasure first?

Initial Thoughts

This will be my second Blyton ever, and I only read the first last month. I know she’s an author deeply embedded in British childhood (if not other places, too), but here in the USA, I didn’t hear about her except sometimes in other books that referenced Blyton’s work as a part of the characters’ childhoods.

I really enjoyed the last book I read (Secret Island), and I hope to like this one just as much. I love stories about characters on islands, I love stories about characters searching for treasure, I loved Treasure Island when I was a kid — surely nothing can go wrong now.

Onwards to adventure!

[Dove: I really loved this series back in the day. And sure, I obviously reached a point in life where I found it a bit too earnest, but most Brits will fondly recall reading Blyton. And I honestly can’t wait to see what Wing thinks of it. Because on the one hand, it’s so joyful (and the endless food – lettuce for everyone!) and on the other… it was written by a comfortably wealthy white woman on the back end of two world wars, so there’s a bit of distrust for anyone who is not a white Brit. Also, I fear Wing’s reaction to the gender roles – George and Anne in particular, so… here goes.]

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