Reading Diary: BSC #12 Claudia and the New Girl by Ann M. Martin
It's a new year, so how about a post on new girls and old friends? =) It took me a long while to find today's BSC book for my reading project, but now I see what perfect timing it has turned out to be!
I always think new kids, especially the ones who transfer in the middle of the school year--the middle of the day, for heaven's sake--are pretty interesting.
But this one . . . was more interesting than most. It was her clothes . . . She was wearing a very pretty pink flowered skirt that was full and so long it touched the tops of her shoes--which I soon realised were not shoes, but sort of hiking boots. Her blouse, loose and lacy, was embroidered with pink flowers, and both her wrists were loaded with silver bangle bracelets. Her hair, which was almost as long as my friend Dawn's, was dirty blonde and pulled into a fat braid (which, I might add, was not held in place by a rubber band or anything; it just sort of trailed to an end). But the amazing thing was that because her hair was pulled back, you could see her ears. And she had three pierced earrings in each ear. They were all silver and all dangly, but none matched.
What is the first thing you notice about a person whom you're meeting for the first time? For the artistic and funky Claudia Kishi, it's clothes. (Please pay no attention to the atrocious cover art.) For the new girl Ashley Wyeth, it's talent. And since Ashley has fashion sense unlike anyone else Claudia has ever seen, while Claudia is the best student in the art class Ashley has joined, it makes sense that they would end up hanging out.
Ashley certainly isn't the first "new girl" in the Baby-sitters Club series. One of the BSC's founding members, Stacey McGill, has hardly met anyone when Book 1 starts, and Dawn Schafer arrives from California and joins the club in Book 4. Then there's new boy Logan Bruno, who is introduced in Book 10. Let's even count Kristy's move to a new neighbourhood, where she gets to be the new girl for a change, in Book 11. I guess Ann M. Martin really likes the "Stranger rides into town" plot. =P And of course, the strangers who are the most interesting are those who directly affect the BSC.
. . . "Look at the time! . . . I'm going to be late for another [Baby-sitters Club] meeting. I'm sorry, but I've got to leave."
"But Claudia, we haven't made any definite decisions. We have to go back and look at the fire hydrant and the stoplight again."
"I have to go to the meeting. The club is important to me. We started that club. We made it work. It's a business. And besides, the other club members are my friends."
Ashley blinked. "But I'm your friend, too . . . am I not?"
The BSC isn't just a business; it's also a visible sign of the friendship among five girls who have little in common except a love of baby-sitting and a commitment to keep the club going. Which is quite an objective for twelve year olds! You'd know, if you've ever created something with your own friends and learned what it takes to make something bigger than yourselves last. The BSC isn't one of Claudia's works of art, but it is occasionally a thing of beauty. And this is why the other members are right to be worried--and justified in feeling hurt--when she starts neglecting her duty as Vice President in order to spend time with a new friend.
Ashley Wyeth also wants Claudia to create something with her--and it has to be Claudia because no other girl (or boy) in Stoneybrook Middle School quite meets Ashley's artistic standards. Yet as happy as Claudia is to have found a friend who is also her peer in the arts, she can't help noticing that something is a little off. Why, for instance, doesn't she feel the usual joy of creating and the give-and-take of friendship when she is working on something with Ashley?
I had never looked forward to a BSC book narrated by Claudia, but Claudia and the New Girl has changed that! I laughed out loud at the ways the other BSC members let her know they aren't amused, and really liked the way she makes it up to them in the end, after learning a thing or two about friendship. And of course I fully support the story's resolution, which shows that even baby-sitting can bring something to art. =)
Image Source: Claudia and the New Girl by Ann M. Martin