this book opens with janine the genius helping claudia study for her upcoming remedial math test. claudia wants to do well on this test because her parents require her to keep her grades up if she wants to remain in the babysitters club. zorzi, the teacher, makes the students review some new material in the next class before he hands back the tests. claudia figures no teacher would accept her word over shawna's when it comes to academics. zorzi says he'll have to tell the principal, who will be calling claudia's parents. her parents gently tell her that they would like to believe that she diesn't cheat on the test. but janine sticks up for her & says she KNOWS claudia didn't cheat. janine offers to tutor claudia in math for the rest of the year so she can maintain a passing grade even with an F in this test. but claudia tells her parents to stay out of it, that she wants to handle it herself...even though she doesn't know how. mary anne tells claudia that the rest of the club will stick with her even if she did cheat on the test. she basically tells claudia that she doesn't believe she didn't cheat, & when she gets called on not supporting her friend, SHE cries. anyway, the rest of the girls realize that if claudia didn't cheat, shawna must have. in school the next day, claudia slips into a bathroom stall while shawna & her friends are in the bathroom, & she overhears them bragging about how shawna got away with cheating. in order to explain the situation to the myriad BSC readers who can't begin to fathom why anyone would ever cheat off of claudia kishi, shawna explains that she heard that janine was helping claudia study, & she knows janine is a genius, & that claudia would probably do well on the test as a result. but as they leave, claudia realizes she can't show anyone the note without explaining how she got it, & then she'd get into trouble for breaking into shawna's locker. the next day in math class, claudia decides to try to trick shawna into confessing by using loaded words around her. zorzi will see shawna cheat. someone has to explain to claudia that shawna probably would not cheat again under carefully controlled re-enactment conditions. zorzi agree to allow claudia to re-take the test. zorzi tells her that she'll have to re-take the test the next morning. the school thought claudia had cheated, & she was given an F for the test...but why wasn't she suspended? why didn't the school make both claudia & shawna re-take the test right away?
the girl in question is shawna, sms's darling/straight-a student/pep squad member/all around good girl, so the teacher naturally thinks claudia is the one who cheated. a mostly eventless book follows, complete with inane plans about how to prove shawna is a liar and a pointless and idiotic subplot involving the pike triplets breaking a window while playing baseball. lowlights/nitpicks: -while everyone else is being sympathetic towards what claudia is going through, mary anne tells her that if she did cheat, the members of the bsc would still support her. to go into a little more detail...the triplets are playing baseball and a window gets broken. two claudia outfits: -"Since I had the big test, I thought I'd start with my lucky earrings -- the ones that look like Princess Di's.
Janine helps Claudia study extra hard for a math test, and Claudias thrilled when she earns an A-. Claudia is distraught; it seems so unfair that she should work so hard just to be accused, and she doesnt know how to tell her parents shes been branded a cheat. The BSC rallies round and spies on Shawna and her friends; and while they do hear Shawna bragging that she overheard Claudia explaining her extra study efforts and decided that cheating on her would be the perfect crime, they realize that this knowledge is unprovable and therefore useless to them. I liked that the predicament made sense, and that it arose even though all of the players acted logically (the weakest link is Shawna, who certainly took a gamble by cheating off a bad a student--it seems unlikely that she would happen to hear about Janines assistance and foresee that it would actually help this time, since Im sure Janine has unsuccessfully helped Claudia in the past. I liked that in this book, Claudia and Janine are such great allies.
Claudia is accused of cheating on a math test, but she knows immediately who the culprit is. Alright, time for Claudia's big math test. (Not that I ever cheated, nope not me, never.) Alright, time for Claudia's big math test. They're not going to be able to answer the phone with a mouth full of dry crackers. They're not going to be able to answer the phone with a mouth full of dry crackers.
I enjoyed seeing Claudia as someone who needs to work hard to get good grades, rather than someone who is genuinely stupid. The girls do silly things like spying on Shawna (who they think cheated off Claudia's test) and breaking into her locker to find evidence--before realising that neither of those things are going to help Claud.
However, the mysteries involved--who broke the window at the Pikes' house, and how Claudia got blamed for cheating when she didn't cheat--are extremely contrived.
And why don't any of Claudia's friends believe that she didn't cheat on the test?
In The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the Middle School Mystery, her substitute math teacher is having a math test the next day, so the vice president of The Baby-Sitters Club is doing a hard time reviewing for tomorrow with the help of her genius big sister, Janine instead of hiding and eating junk food, doing art projects or reading Nancy Drew books. The next day, Claudia is taking a math test until she passes it to her math teacher, and when he checks the papers, she has the same A- score with Shawna Riverson. (Spoilers) The principal and the math teacher decided to let Claudia Kishi take the math exams again as an evidence to show that she didn't cheat. As she gives her paper to her math teacher (who is also a coach for the boys' basketball team), he said: "Taking a test is like playing a game.
Instead of letting her parents talk things out with the school, and do something reasonable like suggest she take the test again, Claudia and the BSC decide to solve this mystery themselves. I owned this book as a kid (I read it when I was nine or ten) and while I liked it there were things about it that bothered me. The first thing she does when she hears Claudia's story is to say "Well, if you did it, you should confess." And then she cries when the other baby sitters are angry at her for not believing that her close friend of thirteen years would cheat. I don't understand why Mr Zorzi passed out the tests to the entire class, went over the tests with both Claudia and Shawna listening (and presumably not calling on either of them to explain their answers) and then accuses both girls of cheating. What makes me nuts is that the first thing Mr Zorzi does is point out a problem both girls got wrong, and Claudia immediately sees what she did wrong. Maybe Claudia didn't cheat." Instead he brushes over this, and tells the girls that one of them must have cheated. And then, since Shawna speaks up first he believes her over Claudia, and dismisses her, instead of asking BOTH girls more questions. Why would you tell Claudia that she must have been the one to cheat because she always has such bad grades, and then act like the whole thing is over? As a kid I was horrified that Shawna was suspended for cheating, but knowing what I know now about cheating policies at universities and colleges, and taking into account the fact that she planned the whole thing, and set Claudia up to take the fall, I wonder if Shawna got off easy. I sympathized with Claudia, when she was exhausted at the end of her day of pretending she didn't care about being accused of cheating.
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.