I decided that instead of recapping this the normal way, I'd pretend I was sitting in on a meeting between this book's ghostwriter, Peter Lerangis, and BSC creator Ann M. Martin. Also present, Ellen Miles, whom I like to think is Ann M's favorite ghostwriter and second in command (she loves writing about sewing, adorable babies, and old women almost as much as Ann).
Ann M.: "Peter. Come on in. Ellen and I were just watching Bob Ross doing a needlepoint segment on PBS."
Peter: "I brought over the first draft of Kristy + Bart = ? I thought we could all go over it."
Ellen: "Have a seat. Would you like a bowl of plain old vanilla?"
Peter: "Ice cream?"
Ann M.: "Peter, it's not the weekend yet. No, it's just vanilla."
Peter: "Well, anyway, the story starts out with Kristy coming home from school one day. No one's home so Kristy walks Shannon out in the woods near her house. On her walk, she notices her older brother Charlie's car. He's in there. And his face is attached. To a girl's."
Ann M.: "Attached?"
Peter: "...because he's giving her mouth to mouth! Er, I'll revise. Anyway. On to Kristy and Bart. They're going to see a movie one Saturday. Kristy says that it's a suspenseful thriller that Stacey and Robert saw last week and loved. Bart wants to sit way in the back. He puts his arm around Kristy. When she glances over at him, she notices him right up in her grill and they start kissing."
Ann M.: "Oh...my...whockety."
Ellen: "Peter, we gave you the list of acceptable films. A...thriller? How about That Darn Cat?"
Peter: "Um, well, this is the 90s and they're teenagers..."
Ann M.: "Well, then how about the movie with that nice Anna Paquin and the geese?"
Peter: "Fine, fine. It doesn't really matter. The kisses are...well, kisses sweeter than Ho-Ho's, they're not. But Bart does ask Kristy to go to a school dance with him and she agrees. One Friday afternoon, they go out for a meal with Mary Anne and Logan. Kristy notices how smoothly things go for Logan and MA--they hold hands without any awkwardness. Mary Anne orders fries when Logan forgets. They know each other really well, whereas Kristy doesn't have this rapport with Bart. She starts to feel a little jealous of her best friend."
Ellen: "I felt that way, too, after I read Maid Mary Anne. Those quilting squares that Mary Anne made were exquisite!"
Ann M.: "Oh, to die for."
Peter: "Well. Later that night, Kristy's sitting for her siblings. After they go to bed, Bart drops by and he and Kristy watch the game on TV. But Bart has more on his mind than just sports. They start to kiss and Kristy finds herself enjoying it this time. But Kristy's mom and Watson come home and Kristy's in trouble."
Ann M.: "Goodnight! Kissing on a babysitting job?"
Ellen: "And I thought we were being permissive letting Stacey talk on the phone to her boyfriend in Stacey vs. the BSC."
Peter: "It's not really a traditional sitting job. It's just her own brothers and sisters. And they're asleep anyway. And it just sort of happened."
Ann M.: "But I don't think Kristy would even be thinking about kissing on a sitting job. Even if Bart is cute."
Ellen: "Oh, I know what you mean, Ann. I feel the same way. When I was writing the Pugsley book of the Puppy Place Series, I couldn't even go on a date without bringing all my sketches and my stuffed pug."
Ann M.: "Peter, couldn't you write that the whole thing was a misunderstanding? Like, Kristy and Bart were really planning a Krusher/Basher Jamboree and Watson thought it was a boyfriend/girlfriend thing?"
Peter: "That's what you made me do in Mary Anne Breaks the Rules! Come on! I sat through your kitty kat slideshow for four hours last month! Can't you give me this one book?"
Ann M.: "On the condition that Kristy has to know what she did was absolutely a hundred percent wrong."
Ellen: "And I get to write the final book of the series."
Peter: "Done. So Kristy's grounded that weekend."
Ann M.: "Confined to her room."
Ellen: "Allowed out only to use the bathroom. It's the only way she'll learn."
Peter: "Okay, in her room. So she calls up Abby because the two of them were supposed to host a tournament for a bunch of the kids in Kristy's yard. Kristy decides to still run it, only she'll do it from her window. When her mom intervenes, she starts to pantomime instructions instead of speaking them. When her mom puts the kibosh on that, she throws down a paper airplane with instructions."
Ann M.: "That seems disrespectful. Aren't most thirteen year old girls more obedient?"
Peter: "No, no. It's because she loves the kids so much and she wanted to honor her commitment. Being there for the children was worth more to her than getting in trouble again."
Peter: "Kristy's really mad at Bart for getting her grounded. She's confused, too. What's going on with them: are they friends? More than friends? Boyfriend and girlfriend like Logan and Mary Anne, or a guy and girl who happen to be friends?"
Ann M.: "Mmmhmm."
Peter: "Right. So Kristy asks Mary Anne who tells her that people do things when they're ready. So she tells Bart she's not ready to be boyfriend and girlfriend. But they should still be friends. Later, there's some event with the kid record tournament and then Kristy sees Bart. She tells him she's looking forward to the dance but he tells her he doesn't just want to go with someone who's a friend. So she's steamed. She vents to her friends who tell her it's OK to feel bad, but that Bart's right to invite another date. She ends saying that she and Bart are friends but not as close as they once were, and that sometimes she feels a little sad and strange when she sees Charlie with his girlfriend, but that's it."
Ann M.: "But what about the younger kids, Peter?"
Ellen: "That's why people read these books, after all. Though we love what you've done with the cute outfits and the dating, those are just extras. The clients are the backbone of the BSC!"
Peter: "Oh. Um...I think they do kind of a world record thing. Guinness book for kids. Kid stuff, like most times hopping while holding a dog or hurling potatoes."
Ann M.: "How darling."
Peter: "And in one scene, Kristy's siblings stay up late singing verses of the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Kristy has to finally put the kibosh on record setting when Andrew and David Michael try to set one flinging boogers at each other--Ann? Ann?"
Ellen: "Be a dear and fetch the smelling salts, Peter. They're in the smiling elephant shaped tin in the cupboard."
Actually, it's always been my theory that the higher ranking ghostwriters (like Peter and Ellen) had their own ghostwriters. You know that sometimes Peter got a bit fed up with writing the little kid plotlines and delegated to a young up and coming ghostie so he could spend his time mapping Stacey's lovelife. And that time Ellen had a longterm BSC super special assignment and she still had to come up with the perfect name for her golden retriever Puppy Place character. (In case you're wondering--Goldie.)
This is also a book that features a Claudia outfit that borders on the ridiculous. Claudia wears, "a bowling shirt with the name Ralph sewn over the front pocket, and matching loose rayon pants, gathered at the waist with a leather strap." She also sports a barrette shaped like two bowling pins. Mrs. Prezzioso asks her if she's in a league while staring at her as if she's wearing, "a cheese jumpsuit." Gotta say--I liked the bowling outfit. In fact, I'm jealous--it's awesome enough to be included in my BSC Raiding Sadako's Closet blog post from a couple months back.