Both of those things sometimes made life difficult for me, just as they did for Mallory in this book.
(By the way, I've been quietly told by gossipy friends in the industry that dozens of these books were actually ghostwritten by other authors, with Martin simply slapping her name on them at the end for brand consistency, although I have no way of actually verifying that; for those who don't know, this is one of the types of employment I'm seeking within the YA industry, to be the ghost-author of such formula-driven, interchangeable chapter books, which is why I'm reading so many of them these days.) And as you can expect, the BSC books follow a familiar formula down to a T (or at least the three I read -- #81's Mallory Pike, #1 Fan, #115's Jessi's Big Break, and #131's The Fire at Mary Anne's House), staring with just a massive amount of exposition, not even cleverly handled but literally as if you were reading an encyclopedia entry; in fact, each and every title in the series starts first with an entire chapter of that book's particular hero reading aloud her own Wikipedia entry, then a second chapter of them reciting the entry concerning the club itself (essentially a group of junior-high female friends who gather around a central phone every late afternoon, so that parents can call that "hotline" and have the most appropriate babysitter sent to their house later that night), a total of eight thousand words devoted to nothing but reminding people of all the various things that have happened in the hundreds of books that came before it. I mean, you can't argue with success, but the BSC books are definitely the ones helping to write the "rules" for chapter books to begin with, which is why they barely ever break the well-known rules we now think of when thinking about this type of literature (you know -- make sentences short and punchy, introduce lots of peril but very little legitimate danger, be sure to repeat important information several times, concentrate on the way that girls this age interact with each other, set many of the scenes in a school environment, try to get the parents out of the way as much as possible, always have a happy ending, etc etc etc).
she decides to write a play for the kids can do anything club (from Jessi's Wish). her teacher determines that isn't good enough, so mal concocts an overly-complicated project instead: interview her new favorite author, henrietta hayes, about writing for children, while simultaneously writing and directing the play for the kids can do anything club. when mal learns that henrietta hayes's perfect family stories are inaccurate (in short, she has a depressing family history) she thinks henrietta is full of crap for writing things she hasn't experienced. basically, the plot of this book can be summed up in four words: mallory is a jerk. -at the end of the book, jessi explains what mal experienced really effectively: it was like a science experiment. -mal writes henrietta three letters, one directly to her home, and when she doesn't get an adequate response she goes to her house. -the play mal writes is a bummer too. On her head she wore a thin red scarf, tied in the back, with a slouchy red corduroy hat over it." the "spike" family names (mal's names for each of her siblings in the play): -valery (mallory) -ranessa, later changed to jill (vanessa) -myron (byron) -gordon (jordan) -atlas (adam) -ricky (nicky) -margarita (margo) -delaware (claire) no snacks in claudia's room.
Since she wants to be a writer, she writes to her favorite author for the purpose of this book, Henrietta Hayes, a fictional writer of loving, gentle family stories. Miraculously, this half-baked plan doesnt end in a restraining order, but instead Henrietta apologizes for not having the time to answer letters personally and offers Mallory a part-time job as her assistant. Mallory is thrilled to take the job, and more thrilled when Henrietta bounces ideas off her for the new book and seems to take her thoughts into serious consideration. Instead of offering her sympathy, or feeling compassion for this woman, Mallorys first instinct is to feel betrayed: how can Henrietta write stories about family if she doesnt even have one? Mallory writes a new version of her play which is also autobiographical but not insulting, which, to me, seems just like the first but more boring and pandering, but whatever. Shes angry at Henrietta when she finds out her stories are NOT thinly veiled autobiographies, because, in her eyes, they are now "lies." This seems like the opposite of a problem that a young wannabe fiction writer would have. But even kids who dont care about The Craft of Writing or whatever understand from an early age that fiction is made-up. I dont understand why, for this book, Mallory is a space alien.
but i'd smack the freckles right off mallory's questionable mug if i was henrietta hayes. all the kids in mallory's class have to write up a report on what they want to be when they grow up, & augment with some kind of presentation or performance or something that indicates they researched their career goals & are looking at them creatively. mallory thinks this will be no sweat because she's always known she wants to be a children's book author. she is also in the middle of reading henrietta hayes's series of books about the anderson family (all of which is made up for the world of BSC canon). hayes about her life & work as a children's book author & get the inside scoop on her chosen career. hayes has also written a few plays, so both elements of the project feed into each other nicely. hayes, explaining her project & asking some biographical questions. hayes is a public figure because of her books, but that doesn't mean she is obligated to drop everything & structure her life around the stupid school projects of sixth graders. hayes suggests that mallory works as her personal assistant for a little while to get a picture of what it's like to be a working author. out of nowhere, mallory gets this idea that "all good writing has to be autobiographical". hayes--mallory loves the andreson family & wanted a real life piece of it in her own life. hayes's books. hayes is really alice, the books' protagonist, or if she is mrs. in keeping with her "good writing is autobiographical" concept, she begins writing her play for the kids can do anything club. her main character is the eldest daughter, valery, who wants to be a great writer but is constantly interrupted by her seven siblings & parents in search of free babysitting. some of the kids mallory has cast are good friends with mallory's siblings & they are worried that the play will hurt their friends' feelings. hayes's books but can't enjoy them because they are based on "lies," as far as mallory is concerned. hayes gets pissed & kicks mallory out. but mallory's experience with the play makes her realize that sometimes good writing is lifted from elements of real life, but even that is dramatized & embroidered with imagination in order to become a fictional story. she realizes that her new, non-insulting play is better because she thought more about writing a good story & being funny than in trying to be "true" to her own personal experience. hayes must have done the same thing, to write such joyful books even though she has not had a joyful life. hayes attends the play performance & gives mallory a bouquet of roses.
Anyway, I never really liked Mallory as a kid, and I sure didn't like her much in this book.
Why on earth would Mallory, who at one point was thinking up a story about two mice visiting New York City, assume that all writers write about their lives?
In this one she meets her new favorite author who JUST SO HAPPENS to live in Stoneybrook.
Mallory acts incredibly dense and callous to the point where I take back what I said earlier - I almost think she deserves what happens to her later on. I wonder if this is the author's (a ghost writer at this point, I think) response to people asking him, 'So, which character are you?' As someone whose life has not always been super amazing, I definitely encourage writing your way out of it.
After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer. Sometimes Ann names her characters after people she knows, and other times she simply chooses names that she likes. Some of her favorite authors at that time were Lewis Carroll, P.