Ugh. Hi, Mallory. You’re eleven and you have red hair, but welcome to the party, I guess. She starts the book by talking about her glasses, so how much of a thrill can she be? Things I forgot about the Pikes: Mrs. Pike is a SAHM, Mr. Pike is a corporate lawyer, and they all have dark brown hair. Mallory is one of three who wears glasses and the only freckle-face of the bunch. Her mom won’t let her get contacts or get her ears pierced yet.
“Being eleven is a real trial.”
Tell me about it, Mal. I’m the one who has to listen to you whine about it. Mal is excited about one thing – she’s been invited to join the Baby-sitters Club, taking Stacey’s place. (Yeah, right. As if anyone could replace Queen Stacey.) She’s nervous about her first BSC meeting and labors over what to wear. She finally decides on a jumper that says Mallory across the front of it. Read that sentence again. Do you hate her yet?
At school that day Mallory meets a new girl. She is stunned at the girl’s gracefulness, and at the fact that the girl is black. Y’all know Stoneybrook is white as shit. It’s in Connecticut, after all. The new girl’s name is Jessica Ramsey, and Mal’s classmates don’t seem too interested in her, and the teacher doesn’t ask her to introduce herself, but Mal sees BEST FRIEND POTENTIAL in the new girl. At lunch Mallory sits with some other girls in her grade who, as it turns out, are racist assholes. They’re like “have you seen the new girl? SHE’S BLACK and she doesn’t belong here”. They hypothesize that she’s from Africa and her real name is Mobobwee. Mal’s like “uhhhhh” but she doesn’t really stick up for the new girl or leave the table.
Mallory arrives – overdressed, which Kristy calls her on – to her BSC meeting and her observations of the club members are actually pretty funny. “Kristy is really nice…but sometimes she’s a little bossy… bossy in an adult way” (page 21). “Claudia is really something… I’d give anything to be as pretty as she is… Claudia is a fun baby-sitter, too” (page 22). “Mary Anne is petite and neat and precise… Mary Anne may not be the most fun of all the baby-sitters, but I think she’s the nicest… she’s sensitive and she’s patient” (page 23). “Dawn is the treasurer of the club… I’m not sure what Dawn’s job used to be… nothing too important, I guess” (page 25). At the meeting, Mallory finds out she has to take a test before she’s accepted into the BSC. She also finds out that a black family moved into Stacey’s old house – could it be Jessica Ramsey’s family?
Mallory walks by the old McGill house on her way to the baby-sitting test and, sure enough, Jessica Ramsey is sitting on the front steps. She and Mal chat – “Call me Jessi”, she says – and Mal meets Jessi’s younger sister Becca and her baby brother Squirt (full name: John Philip Ramsey). Mallory learns that Jessi is a ballet dancer, and that they both like reading horse books (excuse me, just have go gag…). Jessi tells a lot of terrible jokes, so she might be an undercover dad, but she seems nice enough. She also likes kids and baby-sitting. Mallory is Jessi’s first Stoneybrook friend and she’s hoping to be her best friend.
The BSC gives Mallory a totally unreasonable baby-sitting test, including asking her about tourniquets and asking her to draw the human digestive system – what? It’s pretty bad when I’m sticking up for Mallory, but come on, Kristy. You were straight up rude. Mallory leaves defeated, and she still has to go on a practice baby-sitting job with Claudia at the Perkins’ (Mrs. Perkins has just given birth to a third daughter, Laura Elizabeth). Claudia makes Mallory really nervous, so Mal keeps fucking up and Claudia keeps looking down her nose at her. It’s not what Mallory wanted her first BSC job to be. Damn, these BSC girls are harsh. You’d think they’re recruiting for the FBI or something.
At the BSC meeting, Kristy bluntly informs Mallory that she flunked their tests. Mallory is like “duh, they weren’t fair!” Mallory also proves that she knows more than the baby-sitters about some things, like colic and soy formula, but they disregard her and tell her she needs to take another test. She’s like “SCREW THIS, I’M OUT!” and Kristy’s like, “YOU WERE NEVER IN” and it’s just not a good look for anybody.
“There are a lot of things I do well, and one of them is mope.”
At school, Mallory and Jessi mope together at lunch: Mallory because she didn’t fit in with the BSC, and Jessi because the people in Stoneybrook have been completely unwelcoming to their family – because they’re black. (Uh, Mal… Jessi’s is way heavier than yours.) Mal and Jessi also decide that they’re both pretty good baby-sitters and they’re going to start their own baby-sitting club. That just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen (like, you know Kristy will literally murder you, right?) but let’s see how it goes! The girls decide to name their club Kids, Incorporated and they quickly get their first client – Mrs. Pike. Seems obv, but they still shriek and crap themselves.
At their official Kids Incorporated meeting (which they hold at the exact same times as the Baby-sitters Club), they get a job… from Jessi’s mom, to sit for Becca and Squirt. But hey, a job’s a job, right? They also get a call from one Kristin Amanda Thomas, who inquires about Kids Incorporated and calls them copycats. Mallory’s like “duh, but you wouldn’t let me join the BSC sooo…” and Kristy’s like “YER LITTLE CLUB ISN’T GONNA WORK” and Mal and Jessi are like “yikes bikes”. (Not direct quotes.)
Mal and Jessi are baby-sitting Becca and Squirt and Mallory is thinking about how mean it is that no one has come by to welcome the Ramseys and Jessi feels really bad that Becca doesn’t have any friends. But just then, Charlotte Johanssen appears with banana bread from her parents, and she starts playing with Becca. I LOVE THE PROGRESSIVE JOHANSSENS!
At the next BSC meeting, the girls are swamped. They have too many jobs and not enough sitters. They slowly, collectively realize that they were completely unfair to Mallory – she’s a good sitter and they need her help. They decide to give her a shot, and they call to invite her to join as a junior officer. She’s excited but she tells Kristy they have to take her and Jessi or they don’t get either of them.
Mal and Jessi show up at the next BSC meeting and Kristy says they both need to go on one more job with a current sitter, just to make sure. But if nothing goes wrong, they’re in the club. Mal and Jessi agree. Jessi also brings up the hypothetical situation of a client not wanting her to baby-sit because she’s black. The other baby-sitters are caught off guard and say they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it, but that none of them would baby-sit for a client who’d turn Jessi away based on her skin color. ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL. Mallory also knows that she and Jessi are officially best friends. D’awww.
Then the greatest thing happens… STACEY CALLS! When Claudia tells her about Mal and Jessi, Stacey says, “You mean I was so good it took two people to replace me?!” Classic Stacey. She’s the best. #NeverForget Oh yeah, and Mallory and Jessi get into the BSC. But I still miss Stacey.
Side note: when I looked up Hello, Mallory on GoodReads, I got this kind of funny surprise: