I don't understand kids and I certainly don't understand babysitting. There. I said it. I read these books, but I could never babysit now, so babysitting when I was twelve is especially out of the question. (I thought wearing all black on Valentine's Day was a clear message to the Hallmark Corporation what I thought about their fake holiday. Take that, Corporate America! Clearly, I was no condition to take care of another human life.)
Even with my disdain for children, I wouldn't belittle someone who wanted to do it, especially if it was their job. Somebody has to take care of all the Stoneybrook kids while the parents are off at their ritual sacrifices or wherever the parents go. (It's a ritual sacrifice, or a coven, or an orgy. Or Stoneybrook has an extensive nightlife culture for forty-somethings.) In Claudia and the New Girl, the titular girl has some impressive artistic credentials . . . and not much else.
SPOILERS AFTER THE COVER!!!
Claudia is bored in class, but the day changes quickly when a new girl enters her classroom. She is dressed "like a hippie.
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 realized 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 and was dirty blonde, was pulled into a flat braid (which, I might add, was not held in place with 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.
Just like a hippie. Needless to say, this girl captures Claudia's attention immediately. Her name is Ashley Wyeth and Claudia asks the girl if she is related to famous artist Andrew Wyeth. The girl replies that she isn't, but she wishes she was. She calls herself a "sculptress" and the two bond over art.
After the obligatory "here are all the members of the BSC" chapter, Kristy shows up first to their usual meeting and Claudia as some shitty things to say about her.
Kristy is really cute, but she never bothers to make herself look special. All fall she's been wearing the same kind of outfit – jeans, a turtleneck, a sweater, and sneakers. And she hasn't been doing a thing with her long (well, longish) brown hair except brushing it. Here's an example of one of the big differences between Kristy and me. I was wearing a very short pink cotton dress, white tights, and black ballet slippers. I had swept all of my hair way over to one side, where it was held in place with a piece of pink cloth that matched the dress. Only one ear showed, and in it I had put my big palm tree earring. (Kristy was not wearing any jewelry.)
Geez, way to put your friend down, Claudia. Kristy's outfit is timeless and certainly still an acceptable outfit today, whereas your outfit looks like a tacky neon dance club from 1984 threw up on a casino palm tree in Vegas. I want to like you, Claudia, but maybe if you didn't spend all your time on your clothes and cracked open a book, you wouldn't have so much trouble in school. Just a thought while we're spilling tea and being jerks to one another.
The next day, Claudia sees Ashley at her after school art class. Ashley, who is wearing what I would call a "modified Canadian tuxedo" – "puffy white blouse, a blue-jean jacket, a long blue-jean skirt, and those hiking boots again" complete with a "strip of faded denim" tied around her head like "an Indian headband," (cool words and outfit there, Martin and Ashley) and they discuss Ashley's educational past, Claudia's portfolio, and Stoneybrook's art class.. Before she moved to Stoneybrook, Ashley attended the Keyes Art School in Chicago (which is not a real school, don't bother Googling it, like someone I know), and she likes Claudia's work. The art teacher, Ms. Baehr, announces an art gallery opening is featuring a sculpting contest. Ashley is instantly excited and encourages Claudia to enter as well, but Claudia wonders if she'll have enough time.