Rereading My Childhood – The Baby-Sitters Club #25: Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger

Mary Anne and a random girl hold our their hands while a boy stands around and Logan puts up a sign on a telephone post.

Logan Bruno and I have been off to a rocky start. He started out okay, but then he compared Mary Anne to other girls and generally disappoints me with his ambivalence toward Mary Anne. On top of all that, he’s barely a driving factor in her life. And that’s when he’s around, which is never. If every book didn’t start with a long description of each member, adding that Mary Anne’s boyfriend is named Logan, then I wouldn’t have any idea that Mary Anne is in a relationship. However, maybe it’s better if Logan isn’t an integral part of the series, considering his track record.

And it’s strange. I don’t remember having any disdain for Logan when I was a kid. He wasn’t my favorite of the BSC boyfriends, but I didn’t hate him. Maybe when I was a kid, the bar for men was so low that Satan himself could use it for pull-ups. Since then, the bar has been raised. Now it’s on the ground, but it’s still impossible for some men to hop the inch it takes to clear it.

Logan plays a significant role in The Baby-Sitters Club #25: Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger. That means he has another chance to justify himself to adult me and be the boy I remember from my childhood. Let’s hope Logan can climb his way out of hell and use that southern charm to get himself one inch into the air to get over that bar. 

Mary Anne starts the novel at the pet store with Dawn. She is buying presents for her cat, Tigger. See, Tigger keeps losing toys behind the refrigerator, so the logical thing to do is buy the cat more toys. You know. To replace the ones behind the refrigerator? I think?

But it’s almost time for a BSC meeting, so the girls pay for their purchases and rush back to Mary Anne’s house before heading to Claudia’s house, where Mary Anne can tell us a little about the young artist.

Claud mixes and matches the weirdest stuff and comes up with the coolest outfits. Like a loose blouse with a fake coat of arms on it worn over a very short black skirt. Around her waist, a scarf. On her feet, short black boots. Dangling from her ears, dinosaurs. And her hair might be piled on top of her head and held in place with hairpins that look like seahorses. She combines all this stuff – and she looks fantastic.

Then Mary Anne calls Claudia’s room “a rat hole.” That’s needlessly harsh, Mary Anne. Maybe that “rat hole” has all the accessories she looks “fantastic” in. 

Mary Anne doesn’t say it out loud, so this isn’t one of the books wherein the girls fight. That’s a firm check in the “plus” column. Instead, Logan calls! He needs a babysitter. See, he has engineered clones in his free time and they need a sitter while he’s speaking at the United Nations on the ethics of cloning. I’m kidding. He needs a sitter for his siblings, Hunter and Kerry because he joined the baseball team and can’t watch them. Mary Anne takes the job.

The next day, Logan and Mary Anne are outside of her house playing with Tigger and going over what Mary Anne needs to know about Logan’s siblings. Hunter is allergic to everything, which would make him a terrible hunter. Kerry is trying to prove she’s independent, which Logan thinks would end if she had more friends. Suddenly, Jamie appears to play with the cat. And then Myriah and Gabbie. And finally, we have Charlotte. And they all play with the cat, and Mary Anne tells us that Logan is good with kids and gorgeous.

You know what I still can’t figure out, though? I can’t figure out why Logan likes me. Why would any boy like shy me better than sophisticated, outgoing Claudia? Or self-assured Dawn?

Boys don’t like sophistication, otherwise, there wouldn’t be thirty-five-year-old men dating nineteen-year-olds. Boys also don’t like confidence, otherwise, again, there wouldn’t be thirty-five-year-old men dating nineteen-year-olds. And Logan shouldn’t make Mary Anne feel that way. What is he telling her? A boyfriend should give you the confidence to fight God and time like a JRPG character. They shouldn’t make you question your worthiness.

Before leaving for another BSC meeting, Mary Anne lets Tigger stay outside since he’s having so much fun. However, later that night, Tigger doesn’t appear for dinner – not even when Mary Anne calls for him, and he usually shows up when she calls him. Her father tells her that sometimes cats just disappear or take long naps outside and Tigger will be back the next day. Unfortunately, Mr. Spier is wrong. But there’s still hope and Mary Anne has to get to her baby-sitting job at the Brunos’.

Hunter is full of allergies and his room is an exercise in dander control. His room is so barren that his toys are kept in another room. The Brunos have made a rule that no one is to open Logan’s room because it’s so messy and could contaminate Hunter’s room. The Brunos doomed their kid when they named him “Hunter.” The only thing this kid is hunting for is an EpiPen.

Mary Anne plays “Vet’s Office” with the kids and later Kerry prepares a snack for all of them since she knows all of Hunter’s various allergies. When Mary Anne goes home, she hopes to see Tigger, safe and sound. But he’s not. It’s official – Tigger is missing.

Kristy calls for a patented BSC Emergency Meeting because Kristy won’t help unless she can do it with a gavel and Claudia’s room. The club is going to distribute posters around Stoneybrook. Kristy suggests they offer a reward. The girls pool their money together and, with the added funds from the club treasury, they can offer a thirty-dollar reward. That translates to $66 in today’s money. That’s a lot for a cat, especially when every person I know who has a cat says they just started feeding it one day when it snuck into the yard and they said to their roommate, “Hey, guess what? We have a cat now. His name is Quesalupa!” 

Claudia designs the posters, including a life-like drawing of Tigger. The drawing is so good because Claudia asks Mary Anne to get every photo of Tigger she can find. Why they didn’t just use the photos, I have no idea. Claudia wants to draw something, so Claudia gets to draw something.

Meanwhile, Jessi is babysitting for her siblings, Becca and Squirt. They play some games and talk about how much Charlotte, Becca’s best friend, likes Tigger. Then they read that weird Baby Island book. Apparently, it’s the hottest book in Stoneybrook. Move over, Stephen King – this one-hundred-year-old book that doesn’t have a movie adaptation is coming for you! 

The next day, Kristy has made copies of the posters and the entire BSC, including Logan, is ready to help Mary Anne.

“Now,” she began, “the idea is to paper the neighborhood. By tonight, there shouldn’t be a single person in this area who doesn’t know that Tigger is missing. I’ve got boxes of thumbtacks, and I want you to make sure you put a poster on every phone pole. Maybe two posters – front and back. Then stuff mailboxes. There are plenty of streets around here.”

I know how to litter, Kristy. 

The girls split up. Logan says that Mary Anne is being dramatic and while a lost kitten is sad, she’s overreacting. Mary Anne doesn’t say anything back. Dump him, Mary Anne, and we’ll go get Baskin-Robbins. They have 31 flavors and Logan’s flavor is the insensitive Disney Channel antagonist. 

As they’re putting up the posters, a ten-year-old boy walks up to Mary Anne.

“Is there really a reward?”

“Yup.”

“Well then, okay. Yester- um, no, let’s see. The day before yesterday I saw a – a gray kitten with tiger stripes.”

“That’s just like Tigger!” I cried.

Hey, Mary Anne, tell this boy to go back to the treehouse with the misspelled “No Girls Allowed” sign and get back to work.

“And he had short hair – I’m sure it was a he, not a she – and he was, oh, about fifteen inches long – I mean, including his tail. And, um, he answered to the name of Tigger.”

I wouldn’t know a female cat from a male cat, but Alfalfa here checked that cat’s genitals.

I looked suspiciously at the poster I’d just put up. “How did you know to call him Tigger?” I asked the boy.

“Because his name was on his collar?” he suggested.

I shook my head. “Sorry. He doesn’t wear a collar.”

The boy didn’t look a bit uncomfortable about having told a whopping lie. “What’s the reward for?” he wanted to know. “For information leading to finding this cat or something?”

“No,” I said crossly. “For finding him. For putting him in my hands.”

Now stop talking to wandering children and get to breaking up with Logan, er, looking for Tigger.

The next day, Mary Anne rushes to her mailbox and it contains a letter for her! But there’s no return address. People keep sending her troubling things in the mail. You’d think she would stop checking. Anyway, the letter contains a handwritten note. 

If you want to see your cat alive again, leave $100 in an envelope on the big rock in Brenner Field at 4:00 tomorrow afternoon.

She takes the letter to the BSC, which springs into action with a plan. Only Claudia and Mallory entertain the idea that it’s fake. Logan says that Mary Anne is acting like “a girl” and Mary Anne finally says that it’s okay to be sensitive and she is a girl. Claudia lives on the second floor, Mary Anne should defenestrate Logan. (Let me just check that word off my “Words To Use” list.)

But we can’t throw him out yet – he comes up with a brilliant plan! What is this plan? They’re going to put Monopoly money in an envelope, leave it on the “big rock,” and then watch the rock to see who retrieves the money. Huh. It took seven of you to come up with this plan? 

Before the BSC can enact their plan, Dawn has a baby-sitting job at the Barretts’. Buddy is worried about their basset hound and vows to protect the dog from would-be thieves. Eventually, the kids need to go to sleep. Buddy stays up watching a show called Dragon Warriors, which is not real. There is a real show called Dragon Warrior: Legend of the Hero Abel, but unless Buddy is exceptionally worldly, there’s no way he watches a Japanese show wherein only thirteen out of forty-three episodes were dubbed and released in America. Eventually, he goes to sleep and there is no more television talk.

It’s finally time for that great caper that Logan concocted. Everything goes according to plan. Soon, a figure arrives, takes the envelope, and books it. The BSC chases the figure down. It’s a kid. In fact, it’s that Alfalfa punk who thinks about animal genitals from before. And, to no one’s surprise, he doesn’t have Tigger – he just wanted money. Logan makes up some stuff about felonies and that the kid could go to jail for twenty-five to fifty years. Sure, but if the kid is white, he’ll get probation and a swimming scholarship. Anyway, the kid runs away but Mary Anne is still missing one cat.

Claudia babysits for the Perkins girls, and they are going to look for Tigger themselves. But first, they have to sing Christmas carols and “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis. There are some great late ‘80s songs, but these kids are going to sing Elvis – a man who died in 1977. Then the girls play “Hawaiian detective” and Tom Selleck all over the neighborhood while Claudia contemplates death. 

Once again, Mary Anne is baby-sitting the Brunos. She makes a shocking discovery in Kerry’s room. In Kerry’s closet, in a box, is none other than Tigger! What is going on?

“I – I just found him,” replied Kerry. “And I didn’t know he was Tigger then. Honest. I was riding my bike home last Friday and it was getting dark. Remember? The weather wasn’t very nice that day. And I was a few houses away from Mary Anne’s and I thought I saw something shiny on the side of the road. So I stopped. And it was this kitten. Its eyes were shining. I thought, Poor kitty, no one’s taking care of you. So I just put him in my bike basket and rode him home. I wanted to have a friend. And I wanted to show you and Daddy that I could care for a pet. I really am responsible enough to do that. Look how well I cared for Tigger.” 

And then she kept it to prove that she can have a pet if it stays in her room, away from Hunter and his allergies. Mary Anne takes her cat and goes home.

Logan and Mary Anne have a chat later. He’s been testy because he’s about to be kicked off the baseball team. His coach doesn’t like him and Logan is trying to improve, but it’s failing and Logan isn’t getting any better. Mary Anne gives him snacks and stays with him, which is annoying.

If Logan can’t step over a bar on the ground, then it’s no wonder he’s a terrible baseball player. He demeans Mary Anne’s anguish over losing her cat. He says that acting like a girl is a bad thing. When it turns out his little sister has stolen his girlfriend’s cat, he’s pretty damn nonchalant, and he doesn’t give Mary Anne the confidence she clearly needs. 

I have only watched the first season of the excellent Netflix show at the time of writing this, so I hope the showrunners redeem this boy, because I’m losing my patience for Logan. He’s a terrible boyfriend and Mary Anne should dump him. She should go out with Kristy. At least Kristy can play baseball. 

For a list of every Baby-Sitters Club, Goosebumps, and Fear Street book review I have written, go to RereadingMyChildhood.com or follow RereadMyChildhd on Twitter. For more information about me, Amy A. Cowan, visit my website AmyACowan.com or follow my Twitter: amyacowan.

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Rereading My Childhood – The Baby-Sitters Club #22: Jessi Ramsey, Pet-Sitter

I like dogs. I’ve always liked dogs. They’re sweet and caring and I take them as proof that if God exists, she’s a benevolent goddess and wants us to be happy because she put dogs on this earth. However, we do not deserve them. We do stupid shit, like elect leaders the same way we choose our favorite football team. It’s not who has the best ideas that will help the most people – it’s which side they are on. They would rather stick it to the liberals even though the liberals have better policies to help their families and themselves. Also, liberals are open to using they/them pronouns, and apparently, that’s a problem for some inconceivable reason.

Dogs and elections collide in The Baby-Sitters Club #22: Jessi Ramsey, Pet-Sitter. While our favorite ballerina is tackling a sitting job more akin to the National Zoo than the office daycare center, the BSC is engaging in the democratic process. Because they’re fighting. Again. Oh boy, here we go.

The Mancusis call the BSC hoping to book a sitter for a full week. The catch is that they don’t need a sitter for children – they need a sitter for a house full of animals! They reject the job because Kristy had a bad experience with animals in the first BSC book and the book is over! 

I’m kidding, of course. Jessi takes the job, just like the title says. The Braddocks, her usual baby-sitting charges, are on vacation and Jessi doesn’t have ballet practice all this week, so she’s free and needs a job. However, Kristy almost rejects the job because of her bad experience, leading the club to question if Kristy’s bossiness is a detriment to the club.

The next day, Jessi arrives at the Mancusis’ house to meet all the animals. She does not describe the smell, but I imagine it is powerful. The Mancusis have three dogs (Cheryl, Pooh Bear, and Jacques), five cats (Crosby, Powder, Ling-Ling, Tom, and Rosie), a bunch of birds that are usually allowed to just fly around the house (but they won’t for that week, much to Jessi’s relief), a parrot named Frank who repeats commercials, hamsters, two guinea pigs (Lucy and Ricky), some fish and rabbits, and the pièce de résistance – Barney the snake. No shenanigans will happen with the snake, I’m sure. Not surprisingly, Jessi takes on the challenge with aplomb and her signature grace.

The next day, as Jessi starts her new job, Claudia brings Jamie Newton and Nina Marshall over to gawk at the animals in the world’s cheapest zoo. I know the National Zoo is free, but they charge you five dollars for a map whereas the Zoo Mancusi has an eleven-year-old. This does not stop Jamie Newton from freaking out when he sees the guinea pigs, claiming they are from space. Jessi suggests they all walk the dogs together to distract Jamie from the space creatures from Quizno’s.

While walking the dogs, they encounter Chewy, the Perkinses’ dog. He had gotten loose while the Perkinses were gone, so he joins the walk and they chase squirrels. Luckily, by the time they circle around back to the Perkins residence, the Perkinses are home and relieved to see Chewy.

When they get back to the Mancusi residence, Jessi sees that one of the hamsters is curled up in the corner, refusing to move.  I’m sure this will have no effect on the plot.

During the next BSC meeting, Kristy barks orders at everyone, and everyone is arguing yet again. This time, it’s about Kristy being very Kristy and how complicated everyone’s individual job is. Kristy thinks this is a great time to roll out her new idea:

“To make sure that each of you is reading the notebook once a week, I’m going to draw up a checklist. Every Monday, in order to show me you’ve been keeping up with the notebook, you’ll initial a box on the chart.”

And then they argue about the checklist. The arguing changes a bit when Claudia complains about taking calls during non-BSC meeting hours. Mary Anne is tired of scheduling and Dawn doesn’t like collecting dues. Jessi and Mallory refuse to take sides and later they worry about the future of the club. Since there are one hundred more books in the mainline series, I don’t think you’ll have to worry, girls, but now I’m meta-reading.

During Mary Anne’s baby-sitting job at the Perkinses, they go over to Zoo Mancusi, because why not? Finally, Chekov’s gun has gone off – Barney is missing from his cage! Myriah took the top of his cage off while the others pondered the fat, immobile hamster. They figure that he went outside since he’s cold-blooded. They trap him in an extra aquarium, slip some cardboard under, and plop him back into his home. Crisis averted, metals all around.

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for another BSC meeting! And I can finally announce the long-awaited comeback of “What’s Claudia Wearing???”

Claudia was wearing another of her great outfits. This one consisted of an oversized, short-sleeved cotton shirt with gigantic leaves painted all over it, green leggings – the same green as the leaves on her shirt  – bright yellow push-down socks, her purple high-tops, and in her hair a headband with a gigantic purple bow attached to one side.

I’m not a big fan of the green/purple color combination (mostly because of its internet meme connection), but an oversized shirt, leggings, and high-tops is still a good look. 

When Kristy arrives at the meeting, she puts her checklist over Claudia’s pictures of Stacey. Claudia snatches the checklist off, Kristy snatches it back and puts it up again. This goes on until the checklist rips in half. Kristy reminds everyone that she’s the president which prompts Claudia to call for an election.

Jessi and Mallory try to stay quiet, and after the meeting, they once again express their concerns about the stability of the club.

The next day at the Mancusi’s, Becca and Mallory come with Jessi. Becca wants to play with the animals and Mallory wants to discuss the elections. They feed the animals, walk the dogs, and Mallory says that the election makes her uncomfortable. There are no problems and we are moving on.

Meanwhile, Kristy sits for Jackie Radowsky. Since everyone in Stoneybrook is psychically linked, Jackie’s class is holding elections for various classroom duties, including “blackboard-washer, messenger, roll-taker.” The most coveted role is taking care of the class pet Snowball, which is what Jackie is running for. However, he doesn’t think he’s going to win because he’s up against Adrienne Garvey.

“Well, she never erased holes into her workbook pages, and she never gets dirty, even in art class. And she always finishes her work on time. And she never forgets her lunch or trips or spills or anything!”

Oh, Jackie, if competency was a requirement for winning an election, we wouldn’t have had a crime-family run carte blanche with our sacred institutions. What you need is a cult that will believe everything you say with some propaganda help from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

Anyway, Kristy instructs him to prove his responsibility and campaign for the role. She tells him to put on a nice shirt and write speeches. Later, while he is trying to prove that responsibility, he spills some dog food and wants to clean it up, but Kristy doesn’t let him. He tells Kristy that she’s a “bossy baby-sitter.” 

“You buttoned my shirt when I wanted to do it myself, you wouldn’t let me vacuum up the mess I made, and now you’re going to plan my campaign for-”

Jackie is distracted and forgets what he was talking about, but it sticks with Kristy. She wonders if she’s really as bossy as everyone insists. Well, yeah, Kristy. It’s your whole personality. Bossy and sporty. It’s like you don’t even read the beginning.

The next meeting is grim. The club goes over the rules for the upcoming election with the level of precision usually reserved for fighter pilot safety checks. Mary Anne cries. Jessi and Mallory worry about the club again.

On the day of the elections, one of the hamsters is acting weird. Jessi calls her mom and they take it to the vet. While waiting for the vet, Jessi realizes that she won’t be able to make the elections. Luckily, this issue is no big deal because Kristy offers to move the elections to the next day. We almost had a conflict there! See, it really didn’t have any effect on the plot.

Turns out the hamster is pregnant. Jessi is quite excited about the new little hamsters. The book conveniently glosses over the fact that the hamster will probably eat most of them later in the dead of the night, so Jessi shouldn’t be quick to pick out her favorite one. Maybe give it a few days.

Before the BSC conducts elections, they talk about the hamsters. But it’s no time for frivolity – we have an election to hold! Who will be the new president? Will Claudia, the worst at math, be the treasurer in honor of Stacey? 

None of that. Nothing changes. Everyone votes for the same people to have the same position as before. The club thinks this is hilarious. I am ambivalent because I am more focused on the pregnant hamsters and problematic cat names.

Everything goes back to normal, but Becca gets to keep one of the surviving hamsters – her first pet! The Mancusis were quite pleased with Jessi’s baby-sitting performance, which is no surprise given that Jessi is one of the most competent characters in this series.

I still have a problem with the books that revolve around the BSC’s infighting – it’s a tired trope perpetuated by terrible men who want to see us women tear each other apart. That being said, I can’t hate this one. It has a lot going for it: 1) it has cute animals, 2) Jessi and Mallory don’t argue, and 3) it’s about Jessi. And let’s face it: Jessi is the most pleasant one.

For a list of every Baby-Sitters Club, Goosebumps, and Fear Street book review I have written, go to RereadingMyChildhood.com or follow RereadMyChildhd on Twitter. For more information about me, Amy A. Cowan, visit my website AmyACowan.com or follow my Twitter: amyacowan.