Kristy and co apparently don't have enough kid related stuff going on in their lives. At the beginning of this book, Kristy reads about an event in Stoneybrook called a baby parade. Yes, a baby parade. With themed floats with babies in costumes or, alternatively, babies in strollers or in go-karts. Kristy thinks this is a wonderful idea for her adopted sister, Emily Michelle. At the same time, Mrs. Prezzioso (mother of infant Andrea and four year old Jenny) hires Kristy for a regular twice weekly sitting job for four weeks, but only after Kristy (and all the sitters) take a class in infant care.
Then the girls decide to have their own float in the baby parade, using The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe as their theme. They borrow nine babies from clients and use two of the girls' siblings (Emily Michelle and Jessi's brother, Squirt). For once, everything goes terribly wrong: the float looks awful, the babies all cry, and the girls get into a big fight. But they patch things up and they also get a few new clients from the baby class. There is a bright side (sort of). Mrs. Prezzioso, who entered Andrea in the parade, wins first prize in the stroller division.
- Kristy's sitting for her brother David Michael as well as Emily Michelle when she reads about the baby parade and thinks that it would be a great idea to enter her sister:
But after I'd read that ad, my glance kept resting on Emily Michelle...I looked at her glossy, straight black hair cut like a Dutch girl's. I looked at her sparkling brown almond-shaped eyes. I looked at her plump, pink cheeks and at her sturdy little hands...and at her round little tummy.
- Can we rename this book Kristy and the Baby Fetish? Or could we at least end the above passage with "and then I broke free from my humanoid suit and devoured the fleshling" because that would make more sense and be slightly less frightening.
- So, the baby parade actually has divisions. Division A is for kids in fancy, decorated strollers and so forth, Division B is for kids in comically decorated strollers, and then there are divisions for the floats. I'm supposed to think that a thirteen year old who has friends would voluntarily enter this? We've entered the realm of barren, lonely middle aged women who go into chatrooms to bond over their shared love of Anne Geddes pictures, voluntarily wear snuggies, and watch Jon and Kate Plus Eight to fill the void in their lives. Kristy, get out while you still can. You're only thirteen--it's NOT too late for you!
- The cover of this book makes it look like the baby parade was a big success but in actuality the shoe looked like a big orange blob. Also, the cover of this edition says you can enter to win a BSC party with Ann M. Martin. Considering that Ann M. Martin admits that her favorite ice cream flavor is "plain old vanilla" and that based on reading BSC books, her idea of fun sleepover movies are "The Parent Trap" and "To Kill a Mockingbird," I'm not sure that's much of a prize. (Of course, the little eight year old who resides inside of me would be breaking out the bubbly and screeching excitedly if I ever got the chance to really party with Ann M.)
- When Kristy and Mary Anne arrive at the baby course, Mary Anne looks a little frightened and overwhelmed to be surrounded by pregnant women. Kristy scolds her, telling her she's seen pregnant women before, but MA points out that usually that was only one at a time, and this is a whole room full of them. I was kind of hoping the pregnant ladies would break out into screams of, "ONE OF US, ONE OF US, GOOBLE GOBBLE" but no luck!
- There's a really odd part where Kristy mentions having a crush on one of the men running the baby course. It's only odd because it goes nowhere (Kristy thinks he's pretty cute and then her crush disappears a few pages later because she sees him as a family man with a wife and kids). My theory is that they put that in to dispel any inappropriate rumors of Ms. Thomas's budding sexuality. Yep, she may be a tomboy who loves sports, but she still likes men. Yup, absolutely. No sexual ambiguity there.
- In one scene, Jessi sits for her little brother, Squirt. He loves watching Sesame Street, especially his favorite character, Elmo, who isn't featured very often. And that's how you can tell this is a very old book. Oh, for the days when it wasn't the Elmo Show and when Cookie Monster got to eat cookies whenever he damn well pleased!
- I really love the scene where the girls argue about the float theme. Kristy wants to do a baseball theme, Dawn wants to do a surfing one, and Mary Anne wants to do a Three Little Kittens one. Stacey tells Mary Anne that her idea is too immature and that they need to do something more glamorous. She then proposes to dress the babies up in little tuxedos and evening gowns for a New York City theme. I don't know whose idea is stupider, and I'm not even sure I care. It's like LARPers vs. Furries: Which Are Slightly Less Maladjusted?
- This is definitely the book where I started to think that maybe Ann M. had a warped view of babies and children. When you add it all up, it starts to look odd. References to characters winning cutest baby contests when they were little (Dawn and one of Stacey's "cool" friends, Andie). Little girls in beauty pageants (Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn). Rosie Wilder, Stoneybrook's wunderkind. Derek Masters, the TV star. All the little kids who love to perform on cue (Gabbie and Myriah, I'm looking at you). On the plus side, maybe Ann M. Martin was on the cutting edge of the "Exploit your child for fun and profit trend." You just know that Patsy Ramsey was reading stuff like this when she was pregnant with JonBenet.
- Mrs. P. really, really wants Andrea to win the stroller division. She has the baby dressed up as Queen Andrea. She then takes a page from "Pimp My Stroller" and has Kristy decorate the baby carriage to look like a little horse drawn carriage. Jenny's too old for the competition, so apparently all her hopes are pinned on baby Andrea. Later on in the book Mary Anne and Miss Priss, Mrs. P. also has Andrea star in some baby commercials. Jenny also wants to act, but apparently doesn't quite have the same sparkle. I saw Gypsy, so I know where this is going. Mrs. P., after Andrea gets tired of this and runs off in about sixteen years, you'd better get used to whoring out your eldest.
- Mallory is assigned to make the costumes and like everything else associated with this awful, awful float, they are chock full o' fail! The costumes look like clown outfits and they clash with the float, so Dawn (who is sitting for one of the babies, Eleanor Marshall) tells Mrs. Marshall to put Eleanor in a blue party dress instead, without telling anyone else. Let's file this under Dawn is a passive aggressive bitch, okay?
- Apparently, there really are baby parades out there. Or so Google tells me. So Ann M. didn't just come up with this all on her own, which is a relief. But it also disturbs me that there really are people who think dressing up babies in cute outfits and putting them on wagons is a good time. I have to find these people and introduce them to a little thing called Wikipedia. You can waste hours of time and never have to humiliate your baby.
Cat Fashion Shows. Cuddle Parties. Everybody Loves Raymond. System of a Down. Liking the aforementioned things makes you bizarre and possibly not worth knowing. But all of these things have some redeeming social value. Unlike a baby parade. If you are reading this and you know me in real life, you have permission to slaughter me the minute I propose having a baby parade. (Stuffed animal parades, however, are still in play.)