Thursday, May 6, 2021

Book Review: Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #1: Baby-Sitters On Board!

  It's been many a silvery moon since I delved into a Baby-Sitters Club Super Special. Let's take a moment to reflect on the beauty that was Child Endangerment: The Novel, aka #4: Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure. Or Angry Claudia Eats A Sad Pretzel, aka #6: New York, New York!. And what about Mallory Needs Manners, aka #7: Snowbound? And never forget Get Over Yourself, Stacey! aka #10: Sea City, Here We Come! 

We've watched the baby-sitters go on epic vacations and crazy adventures, make themselves right at home in new cities, and deal with disasters, armed with nothing but their wits and their Kid-Kits. 

But now... the time has finally come to take a look at the Super Special that started them all!

So join me... and the baby-sitters... and the Pikes... and Kristy's extended family... on the adventure of a lifetime...

Excuse me, the baby-sitting adventure of a lifetime.


Now, you may be thinking... if this is the first Super Special, will it have all the Super Special tropes we've come to expect and, dare I say, love?

🗹Will someone make an unusual friend who is then never heard from again?

🗹Will one of the baby-sitters fall in LUV?

🗹Will at least one baby-sitter who is supposed to be on vacation/sans children be put in a position where they must care for children anyway?

🗹Will someone have a near-death experience?

🗹Will someone act like a major jerk, even though they're normally pretty pleasant?

🗹Will the airplane seats have two seats, then five seats, then two more? Please and thank you.

Okay, one more thing before we begin. I've only been to Disney World once, and I realize that things at the ol' Kingdom of Magic were probably one way in 1988 (when this book was published), another way in 1999 (when I visited), and much different now, so I'm not going to worry too much about any of the details about the park.

I also don't know what it was like to cruise in 1988, but I do know a little about cruising now. So if something on the baby-sitters' cruise seems strange, I might mention it, but I'll also recognize that maybe that's just how they did things on cruise ships in the 80s. 

Baby-Sitters On Board begins with Kristy Thomas writing a Thank-You note to her mom, stepdad Watson, and the Pike parents, for an incredible vacation. The following book is apparently dedicated to them, and the letter is signed by Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Dawn, Stacey, Sam, Charlie, David Michael, Karen, Andrew, Mallory, Byron, Jordan, Adam, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo, and Claire. 

Again, I don't know how they did things in the 80s, but nowadays you'd run into a real problem if you were one of four adults trying to bring eighteen (18!!) minors on a cruise ship. But we'll let it slide.

Then we're at the airport. Kristy is SUPER excited to be going on a plane, and Dawn is all, "Yawn. Airports. Planes. Over it."

Kristy then tells us about this insane load of 22 people who are about to embark on this trip. How did it all happen?! It all began with the Pikes (doesn't it always?). Mr. Pike won a contest at his workplace, and the prize? An all-expenses-paid trip for his entire family! (And you wonder why Mr. Pike's company went under 30-odd BSC books later.) Anyway, the Pikes somehow have enough money to tack on 2 extra tickets, which they offer to Stacey and Mary Anne so that the girls can come along as parental helpers. Why those two? Why, because just recently they had done such a wonderful job helping the Pikes in Sea City, in BSC #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey! Because that's fair. 

Naturally Mary-Anne and Stacey jump at the chance, but then Kristy's stepdad Watson hears about the trip, and is like, "Let's tag along!" So he books the same trip for his entire family. But oh -- now Kristy, Mary Anne, and Stacey are all going -- what about Claudia and Dawn? "Bring them along!" says Watson, the world's most generous millionaire. (Although I suspect he's really trying to get on Kristy's good side, it seems a little strange that he doesn't invite along any of Sam, Charlie, or David Michael's pals.

Anyway, that's how we suddenly have 22 Stoneybrookites all going to the same place. Kudos, AMM.

As Kristy gets ready to board the plane, she mentions that she has a new camera, which Watson just bought for her. Her friends, she notes, all have cameras, too. They don't want to forget anything on this trip. 

Once on the plane, a flight attendant offers Kristy's little siblings a chance to explore the cockpit and meet the pilot later. I was about to remark about "simpler times," until I remembered that in 1988, on flights of more than 2 hours (as a flight from Connecticut to Orlando would've been), smoking was still allowed on most airlines. Don't breathe too deeply, kids!

Lunch is served, and Karen goes crazy over all the freebies. Salt packets! Sugar packets! Salad dressing! She urges her little brother, Andrew, to save everything. "You never know when we might need it.Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, Sam, and Charlie then give Karen all their packets.

Spoiler alert: Karen will never need any of these things, ever again.

While Karen, Andrew, David Michael, and some of the Pikes are visiting the cockpit a while later, Kristy calls over Mary Anne and Stacey and tells them, "We should hold club meetings every day. Just short ones. You know, so we can keep track of what the kids are up to." Kristy, the vacation ruiner.

Then Kristy suggests that they all try to think of some kind of gift to present to the Pikes, Watson, and Kristy's mom, for taking them on this trip. But what KIND of gift? No one knows. Well, no matter, they have a week to think of something...

Spoiler alert: It will take them an entire week to think of something.

Finally, the plane lands... IN FLORIDA!

In chapter two, the perspective changes to Dawn's, and she tells us that she's flown back and forth across the United States eleven times, but she's never been on a cruise ship. In fact, I'd never seen one, unless you counted The Love Boat, or the ship the Ricardos and Mertzes went to Europe on in an I Love Lucy show I once saw. (It's at this moment the reader realizes Dawn is Ann M. Martin, except for the nagging suspicion AMM probably did take a cruise before writing this book and, if she was smart, wrote it off for tax purposes.)

Dawn is impressed by the size of the ship, and Mary Anne is holding a pamphlet that talks about the amenities: multiple pools, a beauty parlor, a cafe, a disco! Wow! We also learn that Dawn, Kristy, and Claudia will be sharing a room on board. And that this might be a problem, because Kristy is a slob? Has this... ever been a thing in the BSC books before? I guess we needed a conflict, so... um, yes! Kristy is a slob now! 

The girls' stateroom turns out to be tiny, with two sets of bunk beds, two dressers, a desk, and four chairs, all bolted to the floor. I can't help feeling like they've been put in steerage. At least there are freebies -- soap, shampoo, and Ocean Princess playing cards! Kristy immediately opens a pack and drops the cellophane on the floor. Dawn picks it up and throws it away. This is going to be a long week.

The ship's whistle (horn?) blows, and off they go. No lifeboat drill? Okay, I guess it wasn't mandatory before departures back in 1988, so we'll let this slide too. The girls run out on deck, where people are waving to folks on the dock, and some people are throwing streamers and confetti.

As the dock becomes a distant memory, the girls go back inside and start peeking in doorways to find people they know. Kristy's brothers are in one room, and Mom, Watson, Karen & Andrew in another. The Pikes, Mary Anne, and Stacey occupy four more rooms. 

Then Dawn decides to explore the ship. Two minutes later, she literally crashes into a boy, a gorgeous boy. Dawn and The Boy stare deeply into one another's eyes. Then they wander over to the ship's railing and make small talk. Dawn asks the boy who he's travelling with, and he immediately gets antsy and takes off. Oh no! But it's okay. Dawn's not going to fret. She'll see him again, and tell us: I'm not going to let him get away. At least, not this easily. This is a dream vacation, and I've just found my dream boy!

Next up we have Mary Anne's first chapter. She agrees to take Nicky and Vanessa exploring around the ship. (The other Pikes want to go swimming, buy candy, etc. Byron Pike wants to eat. This book makes it sound like that's a thing unique to Byron, but goshdarnit, that is a thing you simply DO on cruise ships! Anyway, Mary Anne and the kids go to the lowest deck and work their way up, exploring. They pass a beauty salon, and Vanessa exclaims that you can get your nails painted!

It is at the beauty salon that Mary Anne begins crushing on a beautiful, mysterious girl named Alexandra Carmody, who is there to get her hair done. Mary Anne notes that this girl has long, dark hair and a skimpy bikini that is filled on the top. The girl offhandedly tells Mary Anne that she's traveling alone (it's "such a bore") and that her parents were "ki-". Hmm. Was she about to say... "killed?" She doesn't get to finish the sentence, and Mary Anne is left wondering about this mysterious stranger, Alexandra. Mary Anne goes on to decide that Alexandra is MORE sophisticated than Claudia or Stacey. Mary Anne has got it BAD.

Mary Anne and the kids explore the rest of the ship, but then, on the top deck -- excitement! They spot a boy hiding behind a tarp. He leaps out, and they chase him down the stairs, but lose his trail. They then decide -- gasp -- there's a stowaway on the Ocean Princess!

Mallory takes the next chapter. She's not part of the BSC yet, but we're close. It turns out Mallory recently read Harriet The Spy, and now she wants to take a leaf from Harriet's, uh, notebook, and watch people around the ship. And take notes. 

One of the first people she observes is a young woman who has a tiny bikini and long dark hair! Alexandra, could it be you?! It is, in fact, Alexandra, and Mallory overhears her telling a cute boy that she's a part-time actress. After Alexandra and the boy walk off, Mallory encounters a sad-looking old man. Hmmm, what's his story? Then Kristy and Claudia pass by, and the man asks them what time it is. Next Mallory goes to another deck, where there are "luxury cabins." Here she spots a boy in a wheelchair, who is accompanied by his parents and two stewards carrying oxygen tanks. Finally, Mallory almost faints when she passes a young man with red hair and a missing tooth -- she's positive he's Spider from The Insects, my favorite group. Too embarrassed to ask this guy for his autograph, she walks out to a deck and sees -- a boy hiding in a coil of rope. The boy then pops out and runs away. A STOWAWAY!? (Honestly, no one considers this kid might just be playing hide-and-seek?)

The next chapter belongs to Karen. KAREN!? Well, yes... and why? Well, BSC trivia nerds, this book came out in July, 1988, and the first book in the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series came out in August, 1988, so I guess this was supposed to whet our appetites for more Karen nonsense. Well -- love her or hate her -- here she is. It's still the first day of the cruise, and she, Kristy, David Michael, and Andrew all get ready to go swimming. But when they reach the pool area, Karen announces she's forgotten her earplugs, and insists she knows the way back to the cabin. Against her better judgement, Kristy lets Karen return to the cabin herself. 

Thus begins Karen's adventure. First she pops into the beauty parlor and asks to have her nails done. Having seen Watson charge things at hotels, she simply says, "Just charge it to my cabin." The lady at the salon is skeptical, and asks Karen if her parents said that she had permission to charge. Karen tells the lady her parents are divorced, which elicits such sympathy that the salon lady's like, "Poor little child of divorce... our finest manicure you shall have!" While Karen's nails are drying, she watches as Alexandra Carmody stand up, hand her stylist a $100 bill, and tell her it's no big deal because "My aunt is a countess. I have tons of money." Karen finally retrieves her ear plugs, but on her way back to the pool, stops at a cafe for a Coke. She charges that too. When she finally returns to the pool, Kristy is super worried. But when she learns where Karen was, she's amused, and snaps a photo of Karen's nails.

Is that the last we'll see of Karen? If only.

As the ship prepares to dock at Nassau on the second day, Claudia finally gets a chapter, and behold -- she's got an outfit. I put on my new blue-and-white bikini, and over that, a pink sundress with spaghetti straps at the shoulders and big blue buttons down the front. Then I accessorized. I tied a pink-and-blue scarf around my waist, knotting it in the middle, added my snake bracelet and feather earrings, wound my hair up on top of my head, and finally put on these white sandals with long laces that you crisscross up your legs and tie in a bow.

We learn that Kristy and Dawn are still sniping at each other over Kristy's slovenly ways. Then they all go off to breakfast, where Claudia receives a note on a napkin from... a secret admirer! Also, Dawn's apparently staring off at the cute guy she met the day before.

The ship docks at Nassau, and Claudia, Dawn, and Kristy are given permission to go off on their own. (From what I know about Nassau, this is a little unnerving. Then again, AMM seems to treat thirteen-year-olds like adults, so whatever.) Dawn wanders off in search of the cute guy (maybe?) and Kristy sticks with her family, so Claudia proceeds to go off on her own. She takes some photographs, but while doing so, feels like every time she turns around, someone is jumping out of the way. Hmmm! She then does some shopping. While examining her purchases a while later, she discovers a note in her bag -- from the secret admirer! She then visits the aquarium, but when she goes to pay for her ticket the lady says "the young gentleman paid your way." Whaaaat? After the aquarium, more shopping. She finds a pair of pearl earrings she really likes, but they're too expensive. She then goes to a cafe and orders a Coke. When it arrives, it's on a plate with a little box next to it. Inside the box are the pearl earrings. 

I know this is supposed to be super romantic and everything, but if it were me, I'd be freaked out. This thirteen-year-old girl is on this island by herself, and she's being followed by persons unknown, persons who somehow manage to drop a note into her bag without her knowing it. And now they've bought her an expensive gift and... we know they're also on the ship... and... it's just slightly creepy.

It's Stacey time, y'all! Back on the ship after Nassau, the Pike parents have generously (?) given Mary Anne and Stacey a two-hour break. How do they get to spend it? At a BSC meeting in Kristy-Claudia-and-Dawn's cabin. Lovely. 

We learn about the girls' day. First Mary Anne says she spent the whole day with Vanessa and Nicky.  Then Stacey says, "spent practically the whole day in the water with Vanessa and Margo. They are tireless."

Yes, Vanessa has the ability to either be in two places at once AND/OR Claire has the ability to morph into the shape of Vanessa, because apparently both baby-sitters spent the day with somebody posing as Vanessa!

Okay, it's probably just a typo/mistake.

After the club meeting, Stacey heads up on deck to see the night sky. There she meets a young boy in a wheelchair (the one Mallory saw the previous day). The boy's parents are having a coffee in the cafe nearby, and he just wanted a few minutes alone. He and Stacey begin to talk. We learn his name is Marc, and he has a heart problem. Stacey decides to tell Marc about her diabetes. After Marc's parents return, they all chat for a few minutes, and then Stacey returns to the stateroom. It turns out there's a storm brewin'. The ship is pitching and swaying. It gets so bad that a box of kleenex flew over my head, and Claire's bathing suit sailed by. Margo gets motion sick, and is sent off to her parents' cabin for the night. Then Stacey and Claire watch as things (including a banana, for some reason) fly through the air for a good portion of the evening. 

The storm blows over, and the next day, Kristy antagonizes Dawn by throwing some of Claudia's shoes onto the stateroom floor. After breakfast, Kristy goes up to the pool deck, sits down on a lounge chair, and begins to read. Someone sits down beside her -- it's the old man from the other day. Today he seems really grouchy, though. When he drops his book, Kristy picks it up for him, recognizes the title, and exclaims that this is her Nannie's favorite book! The two then begin to chat. We learn that this guy, Mr. Staples, was recently widowed, and that he regrets having come on this trip. Kristy invites him to the arcade to play Centipede, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. Later, they play Shuffleboard. 

When Kristy returns to the stateroom, she finds out that Dawn has cleaned the entire place, and Kristy is pissed. For pete's sake, Kristy, would the stateroom hosts refilling the toilet paper tick you off, too?

Then we get a chapter from Byron Pike. Long story short: he, his brothers, and David Michael go see a pirate movie on the ship and become obsessed with pirates. When the ship docks at Treasure Cay, the kids find a piece of paper and are convinced it's a treasure map. That's about it, though this plotline will come back to haunt us later.

Dawn again. She spent the previous day with her new boyfriend, the cute guy she met on that first day. She finally learns his name (Parker Harris). They walk around together while on Treasure Cay. The next day (sea day!) they play together in a ping-pong tournament, and win! Later, they chat, and Dawn learns Parker is not happy about his dad's recent remarriage. He thinks his new stepbrothers must be brats, on the basis of them being children. Dawn, however, won't let such an anti-child attitude stand! They visit the arcade and take pictures in a photo booth. Dawn ends the day by asking herself, Was this love? Was Parker my first true boyfriend? Then she decides, yes... to both. 

Mary Anne returns, and poor, poor Mary Anne. She gets roped into watching the triplets, Nicky, and David Michael. It really annoys me that Mary Anne and Stacey are expected to not only watch the Pike kids overnight, but throughout the days, too, with only two hours off each day. Meanwhile, Dawn and Claudia just get to tag along on the trip, unencumbered? Maybe this is why Claudia and Dawn are the ones who get stranded on a deserted island three Super Specials from now. Just the universe dishin' out some justice.

Mary Anne watches as the boys explore the ship, looking for either the treasure or the stowaway (or both!) She snaps a few pictures, then sighs with boredom. Her sigh is overheard by none other than... Alexandra Carmody. They strike up a conversation. Mary Anne comments on Alexandra's recent haircut, and Alexandra remarks that her brother saw it and didn't like it. Brother? If her brother saw her haircut, he must be on the ship, which means Alexandra lied about traveling alone! Oh my, what intrigue! Alexandra then confesses that her parents were recently killed in a terrible car accident. Mary Anne (who lost her mom when she was a baby) sympathizes. But could Alexandra be lying about that, too?

In the next chapter, Stacey is in charge of the Pike girls. She ships Vanessa off with Mallory to read on the sun deck, and takes Claire and Margo to do some last-day activities. On their way to the video arcade they run into Marc Kubacki, the kid Stacey met a few nights ago. Marc really wants to go to the arcade, but his dad hates the noisy, confounded place, so Stacey invites Marc to accompany them. Claire, Margo and Marc quickly become friends. After the arcade visit, they all to the ice cream parlor. While waiting in the line to pay, Stacey overhears a boy tell the cashier: "And I'll pay for her sundae, too." Stacey looks around, and is pretty sure he's pointing to Claudia? Or is he? An older woman was at the table in front of ours, and a girl my age was at the table in back of ours. But neither of them looked like she deserved a Secret Admirer. (Is that Stacey's way of saying they're unattractive? So rude.) Stacey tries to get Claudia's attention, but fails, and then the boy disappears. She runs back to the table to tell Claudia and...

Claudia runs out of the ice cream parlor in search of her stalker, er, admirer, and runs into a boy named Timothy who is cute and nice and couldn't possibly be her secret admirer, of course not. The two of them bond, and agree to spend some time together at Disney World later.

Back to Kristy. The ship docks in Port Canaveral, and everyone moves to a hotel. The hotel rooms are a lot bigger than the ship's staterooms. Kristy and Dawn call a truce. Then they all go off to explore the hotel. Kristy sees Mr. Staples at the front desk, trying to check out! He's going home early!? This whole trip was a "darn-fool idea" says he, but Kristy convinces him to stay.

Karen's back, and she's pumped to be spending a day at the Magic Kingdom with her dad, stepmom, and brother. They get Minnie Mouse's autograph, buy some ice cream, and then head for the Haunted Mansion. Watson and Elizabeth aren't the brightest bulbs, because they see nothing wrong with this plan! Predictably, Karen has an absurd reaction to the hitchhiking ghosts at the end of the ride, and decides that one particular ghost is still with her long after the ride, following her around the park. I could feel my skin creeping all afternoon, she tells us.

Meanwhile, Dawn is spending the day with her new beau Parker, and has borrowed an outfit from Claudia to wear for this special day: A white tank top under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high-top sneakers, and a beaded Indian belt, which we looped droopily twice around my middle. In my hair we put lavender-and-white clips that looked like birds. I thought they were just any kind of bird, but Claudia swore up and down that they were birds of paradise.

Parker, meanwhile, is wearing a blue-and-white polo shirt, white tennis shorts, and loafers with no socks. What, no sweater tied around his shoulders?

Dawn is used to visiting Disneyland, and has a hard time mustering up a lot of excitement for Disney World. But then Dawn and Parker ride Space Mountain, which is much more intense than Dawn is expecting. Whoa! She nearly gets sick. Then they go shopping, and Dawn buys a unicorn charm. 

She attaches it to an antique bracelet she's been wearing, that we've never heard about before and will never hear about again in a future book (at least, I think not.) They run into Parker's family, and Parker's dad asks him and Dawn to watch Ricky and Roddy (Parker's stepbrothers) for a little while. Ricky, Roddy, Parker, and Dawn ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and then visit Tom Sawyer's Island. Dawn's bracelet falls off somewhere, and she's devastated. Parker buys her another unicorn charm, though, at least.

The return of Mallory. It's hard being a spy. She hasn't learned anything more about half her subjects. She does note that the most exciting part of the trip, so far, was the night of the storm. A big wave rocked the ship, and Vanessa's shoes flew through the air and hit Mary Anne on the head. Mallory spends the morning at DW with her family, but in the afternoon begs to go off by herself. She wants to spy. At first, she only sees lame things, but then she spots none other than Alexandra Carmody! She gets in a line for Peter Pan's flight behind Alexandra and -- gasp -- Alexandra's family!? It's true. Listening to their conversation, Mallory realizes that Alexandra's parents are very much alive. Then she learns that the parents are semi-famous singers! Best spying day EVER!

The Pikes are still working poor Mary Anne and Stacey to the bone. After an exhausting day, Mary Anne and Stacey have to go to a BSC meeting in Kristy's room, where Kristy hounds everyone about thinking of the perfect gift to give the four parents. (Stacey and Mary Anne? You don't owe the Pikes or the Brewers ANYTHING!) No one has any ideas. Then Mary Anne returns to her room, where Mallory is eager to tell her the truth about Alexandra Carmody. Mary Anne is furious at Alexandra, now, and when she sees Alexandra the next day, she confronts her. Then it's off to the Magic Kingdom, where Mary Anne is taking care of Claire and Margo that morning. Alexandra then starts following Mary Anne around Disney World, trying to talk to her. Totally creepy. Finally, she stalks them outside the exit to Space Mountain. Margo throws up on Alexandra's shoes, and they get rid of her at last.

Byron and his posse are put in Stacey's charge today. They ride Pirates Of The Caribbean and all buy pirate gear at the gift shop. Later, they visit Tom Sawyer's Island in search of treasure (using their "map") -- and Byron actually finds some treasure! Well, he thinks so, anyway. Turns out he's found Dawn's missing bracelet! Stacey recognizes it. The day is saved!

Karen gets a chapter -- again? I'm now convinced they were trying to prime us for the Little Sister series. We just saw her four chapters ago. Anyway, this time around, she, Watson, Elizabeth, Andrew, and David Michael start their last day at Disney World by enjoying a character breakfast aboard the Empress Lilly. Karen spoils the morning by responding "Me!" when the emcee asks if anyone is having a birthday. It is, of course, not her birthday, she just wants everyone to sing to her. The whole room sings. Afterward, Watson quietly but firmly reprimands Karen for lying, and she responds, "My ghost made me do it. My hitchhiking ghost." But Karma strikes back a little while later, when Karen stops to straighten her socks, and pop! -- her family disappears on her. I'm sure it was accidental. Luckily, her ghost helps her feel better, and a castmember/popcorn vendor helps reunite her with her folks.

Then Stacey goes to Epcot. Out of the 22 people on the trip, only Claire and Margo want to go there, and Stacey decides to take them. They no sooner arrive when Claire spots Marc Kubacki and his parents. They all agree to hang out together. During the day, Stacey is impressed by how the castmembers at Epcot handle a kid with a wheelchair. As they're eating lunch, Stacey is sitting with Marc's parents, and they tell her that Marc is going to have heart surgery in a couple of weeks. It's risky, they say, and Stacey realizes Marc might not make it through. She finishes the day feeling very sad. I lay in the darkness wondering why it was that some people are given health, and others are given trials or tests. And why such a little boy as Marc had to be given such a big test. SOBS!

Claudia returns just in time for the third day at Disney World, and the Stoneybrookites are all watching the Main Street parade. Timothy, the boy Claudia met on the ship, is standing beside her, holding her hand. Claudia thinks: The only person who could have made the group more complete was my Secret Admirer. Then, all of a sudden, Alexandra Carmody shows up, and it turns out she's Timothy's sister! Not only that, but Alexandra spills the beans: Timothy is Claudia's Secret Admirer! Annnd, guess what else? He likes to hide in coiled-up rope which meeeeeans Timothy is also the "stowaway" everyone saw on the first day! 

All I can think is that Timothy must be seriously generic-looking, because he's standing in a group with:

A. Mallory Pike, who saw him in line for Peter Pan with his family, and saw "the stowaway" on the first day on board the ship.

B. Stacey, who saw him at the ice cream parlor on board (though, granted, she didn't get a good look.)


C. Mary Anne, Nicky, and Vanessa, who saw "the stowaway" that first day as well.

But no one recognizes him when they see him with Claudia.

Later, the fireworks show happens, and Timothy kisses Claudia.  Afterwards, back at the hotel, the five baby-sitters gather. They still need ideas for a thank-you gift for the Adults. Then Claudia has the perfect idea: Photo albums, with snapshots from this very trip! "Now that's meaningful," says Kristy. It only took seven days, but they've at least shut her up.

Wait, I spoke too soon. The last chapter goes to Kristy, who helps tie up some loose ends. At the airport,she says her goodbyes to Mr. Staples, and promises to write. On the plane, she's sitting near the Pike boys and David Michael, who are still obsessing over their "treasure map." A fellow passenger happens to walk by and see the piece of paper. He asks the boys if they speak Dutch, because the paper has words written in that language. He then tells them that the paper is actually a diagram of the inside of a copy machine.

Waw, waw, wawwwww....

Kristy also tells us that, a few months after the trip, Stacey received a letter from the Kubackis. Marc survived his surgery, but had a long recovery. Still, it looks like he will be a-okay.

So that's it!

Now, let's take a look at our checklist from earlier....

☑Will someone make an unusual friend who is then never heard from again? (Yes! Stacey & Marc, Kristy & Mr. Staples, and Mary Anne & Alexandra.)

☑Will one of the baby-sitters fall in LUV? (Yes! Claudia & Timothy and Dawn & Parker.)

☑Will at least one baby-sitter who is supposed to be on vacation/sans children be put in a position where they must care for children anyway? (Yes... Dawn helps Parker take care of his stepbrothers and Kristy watches her younger siblings at least once.)

🗹Will someone have a near-death experience? (Alas, no.)

☑Will someone act like a major jerk, even though they're normally pretty pleasant? (Kind of... Kristy and Dawn's room-cleaning feud. At least it's only in the first half of the story.)

☑Will the airplane seats have two seats, then five seats, then two more? (ALWAYS!)

So that concludes Super Special #1!

Oh, but let's analyze the cover really quick...

Ah, another one of those "who's who?" mysteries. I'm assuming pink stripes is Stacey, which means all-white is likely Dawn, and side-ponytail is Claudia. The two brunettes could be either Kristy or Mary Anne. The one who is shorter (and therefore should be Kristy) is wearing a dress, though since Claudia seems to be smaller than everyone, size seems to have no meaning here. The kids in front appear to be Karen, Andrew, and a random Pike.


On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a rousing Baby-Sitters Club adventure, and 1 being a book I'd send straight to Good Will, I give Baby-Sitters On Board a 9.7. It's probably the Super Special I've reread the most. There are a few believability issues, sure, but I can ignore them in favor of all the fun cruising & Disney World stuff. The sad thing is that the events in this book aren't really referenced again in future books, as far as I recall. As if it were all a dream...