SWEET DREAMS #106 Mission: Love – Kathryn Makris

Sweet Dreams #106 Mission Love - Kathryn Makris

Title – Mission : Love
Alternate title – Harriet the Spy is my Hero
page count – 170 pages of utter madness
The Agenda – Get this Allie, Marion, Nicky, Sara – four teenage girls – teenage mind you – decide that in order to understand boys – i.e. discover whether Marion’s recent boyfriend is a cheat – they will spy on them. Yup, you read that right. Spy.
Plot – The plot is a bit flaky, a bit fun, a bit unbelievable. Four teenage girls who do okay in the date department ( accept for Sara ) have decided it would be cool?! To spy on their boyfriends or prospective boyfriends cause they used to have a spy club when they were eleven. I don’t know about you but I when I was 11 I had a rip-off Unicorn club and I wouldn’t resurrect that sucker for all the money in the world. Who in the world thinks that something they did at eleven is a guideline for behavior at sixteen? But Allie our Mc is all set, she even has a folder titled Mission: Love ( lol ) all ready to go. She just has to convince her, more levelheaded ( for the most part ) friends. Marion, despite being the whiner who sparked the idea in the first place, doesn’t want to do it and is only willing to find out if her boyfriend Burke is a cheat. Nicky is just up for the Hell of it. Sara has nothing better to do. Although Allie is all set to make a fool of herself, she won’t let anyone know which boy she has her eye on. Ohho! Afraid your dear will bolt if he gets your scope in his view. She’s not so dumb after all – well, I won’t speak too soon. Burke works at a grocery store and the second I heard that I was okay here comes the crash of pyramid produce. Oranges, pork n’bean cans or toilet paper – as a metaphor for this crappy idea. Burke is doing his thing as cashier, while Nicky and Allie hide behind a H stack of cereal boxes. Ah cereal boxes – light weight. Two gorgeous girls come in and flirt with Burke the girls hold their breath – he doesn’t flirt back – sigh of relief because like that would be what, a dead give away? Nicky in her excitement topples the cereal boxes. I laughed slightly after all they kind of have it coming. But even if the writer wants to teach her character not to be a jack-ass why make her one in the first place. Allie finally gets to know her dream guy Greg because ….her and Sara start to follow him. Frankly, I’m thinking these girls haven’t mentally left fifth grade. Especially when they wind up in an arcade playing vintage video games – vintage for 1986. No mention of The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros nope – Pac Man? Please. Anyhow, Greg seems like a nice guy, too nice for Allie. She asks him out but spoils their night spying on another boy. And then the twist comes the moment the game will backfire. She overhears Burke bragging about going to a party – when Marion is out of town. She breaks a date to sneak over to the party. And is caught by Greg peaking into windows. He followed her and she has the gall for about a page to be offended that he followed her. And then the dawn comes. Doh. Nobody likes to be followed. She explains her childish behavior, he laughs and doesn’t dump her. Nice guy.
Unintentionally funny – Most is set up in a kind of farce style – the cereal boxes, you just know they’ll wind up on the floor under the landslide, and her second daffy attempt to spy by hiding under a table in the library will wind up with someone sitting at her table – trapping her and her scaring the blazes out of someone. It’s nice though that they had a boy scream like a girl for once.
Funny – The idea that the girls were all for this without one of them suggesting how would you feel if you were spied on.
That’s whacked – They made such a deal about the Mission : Love folder I thought – oh this would be so cool if this was a preteen novel. It tries to be grown up and stand tall and have a moral, but it’s ripe for the trashy antics of Jessica Wakefield and her Unicorn sisters. To have the tables turned on them for boys to nab the folder, see how they rate, what their interests are etc. and then start to misbehave accordingly. Or maybe make a folder of there own. Plus with all this spying and listening in – there wasn’t any information that would’ve made the girls cringe. Like Hey dude, I got this mysterious crotch itch. Or that Sara’s got bad breath or yowers, that Allie’s got a nice pair of…But this is after all the world of Sweet Dreams.
Best Comment – If only I could’ve heard more. – Allie after listening in and not understanding what it meant.
Bullwer Little would be proud or fun cheesy moments – A boy screaming when a girl he didn’t know was under his table at the library, the ‘locker room’ talk cleaned up for Sweet Dreams. The author intrusion moment in which two girls moan and groan over sundae’s about the awfulness of their dateness Friday night only to back peddle and agree that they don’t need boys and they have nothing to complain about and …ohwait a boy! thank God our Friday is saved. Lol.
Cover Art – Imagine being the model picked to represent a snoopy girl. Is it me do I have a snoopy face, is it the slight nose wrinkle, the sly smile. Sigh. The look is oddly matronly – pale pink sweater set. I wonder if the girls show up in their own clothes or if there’s a rack. Here’s wear the pale pink it makes you look demure.
Summary / Opinion – The idea is so goony it’s hard to like. And it’s a reminder that though these books are about high school girls the recommended reading age starts at 11. Because to me this would be my thoughts on how to behave as a high school at 11. Spy on your boyfriend, just like Harriet the Spy.
80’s comparison – Not much though there is an arcade setting which I like but Sweet Dreams moves so swiftly writers barely have time to build atmosphere. No bloops and bleeps, no greasy junk food. Here’s an old arcade video haven’t watched it because my player’s messed up, but it looks cool.

P.s. If you can find the first episode of the Babysitter’s club series – Mary Anne and the Brunettes – the girls spy on Logan and virtually the same things happen!
Recommendation – Okay if this is the kind of story that floats your boat, go for it. Order the book and enjoy. I can only recommend it on the laugh factor which it can be kinda funny but it’s not my fave Sweet Dreams – out of five stars sorry but ** 1/2 is the best I can give it.

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Camp Girl Meets Boy by Caroline B Cooney 80’s Summer Camp Counselors

Camp Girl meets Boy - Caroline B Cooney

Title – Camp Girl-Meets-Boy by Caroline B Cooney

Publishing Date – 1988

Alternate title ( my idea )- Camp Men

page count  – 181

The Agenda – Okay, this is a hard one as in earlier Cooney books there is no real agenda no hammering plot to drive home. Mainly they’re just brilliant characters orbiting an event or idea. The event here is camp, Camp Menunkechogue otherwise known – thank goodness – as Camp Men.

Plot – There’s no real plot to Camp Girl-Meets-Boy. As a reader you just have to go with the flow. Cooney sets herself apart from the usual Camp books from the get-go. This doesn’t start as some plan – wouldn’t I like to be a counselor or wouldn’t I love to go to camp or yikes I’m being shipped off to camp.  The world is already set. Camp Men is already in session, and the counselors already have impressions of each other. Violet is the pretty, saucy and beloved counselor who has to deal with the cribbies ( major anti-swimmers ), a bed wetter, and Janey who gets up early every morning to beat the Camp director Charles to play reveille ( or rather try to ) on her trumpet. Then there is Marissa, strong, down-to-earth, hoping for a great romance though worried about Vi’s competition. There’s also nurse Alicia whose dainty and doll-like to look at but underneath solid and sensible. As for the boys there’s suave, golden boy Sin, the teddy bearish, woodsy  Jamie, and Dark the mysterious hunk. There is also the camp director Charles battling frequently with Violet whom he thinks is a ditzy flake and dubs her a ding-a-ling mascara tube. No matter, Violet is a hit with her cabin, scaring the girls with continuous episodes of The Green-Eyed Maniac. Just as Marissa is debating her boy options and Charles is leading an overnight trip with Violet and her cabin, a new girl arrives to become the catalyst disturbing an otherwise peaceful summer. She’s Cathy described as a centerfold with a pulse and has most of the guys panting after her. She takes great delight in calling Marissa – Melissa and being condescending and downright mean to the campers. Only she knows Dark’s secret and holds it over him. But now that Cathy has come, Vi doesn’t look so threatening or silly and suddenly Marissa and her become friends. Though will they ever find love at Camp-Boy-Meets-Girl? 

Unintentionally funny – Nothing – Caroline B. Cooney is too clever a writer. If it’s funny it’s intentional.

Funny – Ah, too many to count. But the overnight trip with camp director Charles is hilarious. I won’t spoil it for anyone who decides to order the book.  But I will note a scene in which the counselors are made to imitate horses in a field day event and Cathy refuses to join in stomping her foot and declaring, “I won’t make an ass of myself.” To which Alicia says very softly, “Of course, if anybody here does make a good horse’s ass, it is Cathy.” – lol.
That’s whacked – the amount of detail, words, thoughts, all strung together. This feels like the real camp deal. It’s crazy good!

Best Comment – Omigosh, too many to count. Here’s one of Vi’s zingers –
    “Violet likes eye shadow,” explained Sin to a wondering Cathy, “And mascara, and rouge and perfume.”
    Cathy smiled sweetly at Violet. “Some girls do need a lot,” she said kindly. Then she cooed.
    “I’m beginning to think in terms of human sacrifice.” Violet said to Marissa.
    “Join the club.” Marissa muttered.

Bullwer Little would be proud or Sentences worth noting – ‘And that night the sun set fiercely, as if raging against the end of summer. Hot orange and purple streaks savaged the sky, and torn clouds chased themselves. Wind ruffled the waters of the lake. There was no mirrorlike reflection of that vivid sky: just volcanic colors on the waves.’ – pg 162. I love this!

Cover Art – It’s a nice cover. And because it’s Bantam Starfire it’s drawn. I’m not sure it’s quite captured Violet and her cribbies considering none of them liked going near the water perhaps the opening scene of them all piling into a hammock might’ve been more appropriate but it’s nice. The girls however look too young. Violet actually had twelve year old campers – most noteworthy is Claudia whose battling the hate she feels at her parents for divorcing and both remarrying other people with upcoming weddings.

Summary / Opinion  – I’m gonna get gushy. Caroline B Cooney is one of my favorite authors hands down. Her style is patchwork. It reminds me of those 80’s denim jackets in which the buttons were rhinestones, the yokes had tassel trim, there were embroidered all over with rainbows and sequins, and studs. Everything glitters. It makes a statement. And her writing is like that it takes a chance. It tells, it shows, there are short abrupt sentences, and kooky metaphors, and incisive thoughts. A girl doesn’t just drive slow she puddles along ( love it! ) I can’t properly describe her stories hoping you’ll understand the author.  Take Camp Girl-Meets-Boy really, I’ve read dozens of Camp stories and not many stand out, in fact quite a few dip into the cliche bucket, not Cooney. Her stories are all about the characters and how she presents them. And best of all there’s something upbeat and breezy about them.

80’s comparison – There’s nothing specifically 80’s about this – I could rattle off 80’s Camp movies in which most of the characters wind up sliced and diced or mention the 1990 t.v. movie hit Camp Cucamonga but I think I’ll save that one for some series books in which they match cliche for cliche.

But if you’re in the mood to watch some 80’s counselors romance – check out Poison Ivy – Nancy McKeon and Michael J. Fox

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