Episode 2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

This is another one of the “early books,” set before Mallory joins the club, before Jessi and Dawn are invented, and before everyone has settled into their own stereotypes characteristics. I really like it, probably because I was a weird kid who actually liked reading old fashioned things like The Happy Hollisters and Trixie Belden. There’s also the added benefit of this book actually being written by Ann M. Martin, or AMM if you so desire

In the first chapter, we start off with some obvious discussion of the weather. I know from reading Harry Potter that weather often symbolizes the “tone” of the book. Increasingly bad or dangerous weather will symbolize danger or something. I am not someone who paid a lot of attention in Literature Class, unless someone male and cute was talking. And even then, I still prefer to just read for the story and not worry so much about what every could mean. Isn’t the point of fiction to tell an entertaining story? It’s double fun if it works on several levels, but I’m not going to go out of my way to make it super complex. Just saying.

Anyway, so the title is “Phantom Phone Calls” (oooh, spooky!) and we start off with “The evening was gloomy and windy…” which does not sound like Claudia, especially later in the series. She wants to work on her still life, dream about Trevor Sandbourne, and read her new Nancy Drew. Sounds like a nice night to me. Much better than sitting here writing about a book that I read when I was 9. Oh, but I love you Baby-Sitters Club. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be rereading you extensively.

Here’s something weird. The first thing that the four BSC members do in Chapter 2 is read The Stoneybrook News. Because that is exactly what 13 year old girls do in their free time. Let me tell you, I can still remember eighth grade, and reading was not one of our hobbies. Of course, I had a friend who actually convinced me to:

1.) Meet her 21 year old “boyfriend”

2.) Ride in his car, even though he drove 80 miles an hour, at least. I couldn’t tell, his spedometer was broken. It was a black Camero

3.) Go into his studio apartment. It was creepy.

And the mystery is set up very nicely in this chapter. We are introduced to the PPP through the newspaper. (It could have been a less obvious plot device. But I suppose that since this is the 2nd book in the series, we don’t KNOW for sure that Claudia probably won’t be reading a newspaper anytime soon). We are also introduced to Alan Gray through the girls idle chatter about what to do and the upcoming dance. We are also told that Alan sits by Trevor Sandbourne. So it’s all laid out for you right in Chapter 2. Way to go Ann. It was so obvious!

And it’s the first EMERGENCY MEETING of the BSC. Claudia eats a candy bar to break the tension. And this is where these girls come up with their BRILLIANT phone conversation about ribbons. Never mind calling the police, let’s call each other and talk in code. To be a 13 year old girl again. Well, a Stoneybrook teenager would be much more fun than my 13 year old life of Cheerleading camps, nearly getting abducted and raped by my friend’s Way To Old boyfriend, and having to ask your parents to drive you on a “date” to see “Forrest Gump” at the dollar theatre.

Chapter Four is back to the boys and school life. Claudia runs into Trevor, then she has a daydream about their life together which sounds super romantic. I’m sure I had a few like this dream, only in mine I’m tall, like 5’9, and I drive a red sports car and my date is always a live version of a Ken Doll. If only my 13 year old daydreaming self could see what kind of guy I ended up dating.

I don’t particularly want to read any more. Just know that this is the book where Mary Anne booby traps the Thomas house, Alan Gray likes Kristy, Trevor DOES know that Claudia exists, and Stacey likes Sam (AWWWW). They go to a Halloween Hop at the school, and Stacey goes with Pete Black because Sam is dating a high school girl.

Lesson of the Day

Thank you Janine, for this Gem: “I find it fascinating that in our society we attempt to regulate the temperature of our environment rather than our bodies. It’s so much more difficult and it’s highly inefficient. Primitive people and people in various other societies existing today tend toward the mere addition or removal of clothing, while we invite the use of heating units and air conditioners.”

Vocabulary Lesson

There aren’t too many that jump out at me, beyond the use of the word “peoples” and Claudia’s subsequent comment about whether or not it is actually a word.

Random Moment of Feminism

“You know Kristy, the burglar could be a woman. It doesn’t have to be a man.”

Classic Literature Mentioned

Lots and Lots of Nancy Drew. I hope Carolyn Keene paid some sort of advertising fee for all the free tie ins that Ann sent her way. I know I read a few because Claudia liked them. I couldn’t get into them quite like Claudia could, no matter how hard I tried to like ND.

We also get some commentary on The Pond, which I have never read.


3 Responses

  1. Great review! Just one little nitpicky thing. The girls are 12 in this book…

    only one of the few books that they ARENT thirteen.. heheh

  2. I still remember Mary Anne’s burglar alarm that Kristy’s family stumbles upon. Classic. 🙂

  3. This is my favorite BSC book of all time. I think it is because it the one that got me obsessed. I loved your review, it brought back fond memories of curling up in my room with my own stash of candy, and reading it on a stormy night (we have a lot of those here).

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