Keep Out, Claudia!

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Keep Out, Claudia!
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Author Ann M Martin
Series Regular
Tagline Who wouldn't want Claudia for a baby-sitter?
Date Published August 1992
Number in Series 56

Keep Out, Claudia! is the 56th book in the Baby-sitters Club series.

Contents

Plot synopsis

Main plot

A new family called the Lowells calls the BSC for a sitter after seeing one of their fliers, and Mary Anne takes the job. When she arrives, she feels like Mrs. Lowell is inspecting her, but after that the job goes well. The kids (eight-year-old Caitlin, six-year-old Mackenzie, and three-year-old Celeste) are well-behaved, but do some odd things, like commenting that Mallory must be Catholic because of her large family, and laughing at Asian kids on television for no apparent reason.

A short while later, Claudia comes to sit for the Lowells, and finds both the kids and their mother to be much colder than they were towards Mary Anne. Caitlin and Mackie are very disobedient and rude. They do have fun when Claudia takes them to a band practice with the other BSC charges (see secondary plot below). When Mrs. Lowell calls the BSC again, she asks specifically for a sitter other than Claudia, but won't say why. Nobody can figure out what Claudia did wrong, although she guesses her outfit might have been too wild for Mrs. Lowell's tastes.

Jessi takes the job, and spends a lot of time preparing fun books and activities so things will go well. When she arrives, though, Mrs. Lowell just stares at her from the door and then says she doesn't need a sitter after all.

Since the whole club is still confused about why Mrs. Lowell didn't like Claudia or Jessi, Kristy takes the next Lowell job and even wears a skirt to win Mrs. Lowell's approval. Mrs. Lowell acts as warmly to Kristy as she did toward Mary Anne, but dodges her questions about Claudia and Jessi. When Kristy asks Caitlin and Mackie why they don't come to more band rehearsals, they say their mother wants to know who the other children are first. They say Claudia was "funny-looking"; when Kristy mentions Jessi and that she is African-American, Caitlin says either "I guess Mommy didn't like her" or "I guess that's why Mommy didn't like her." That night, Kristy talks to her mother, Watson and Nannie about her suspicion that the Lowells are racists, and they regretfully tell her her suspicions may be correct.

At the next BSC meeting, Kristy tells the other members that she thinks the Lowells are prejudiced. Jessi is resigned, but Claudia is angry. The girls talk about racism in the past and present day. Mrs. Lowell calls and asks Kristy for the "blonde-haired, blue-eyed" baby-sitter she's heard about. Kristy calls back and says that they're out of such sitters, and everyone else is busy except Logan, but Mrs. Lowell says boys can't baby-sit. Kristy says she might be free if she's not sitting for her Vietnamese adopted sister, Emily Michelle, and Mrs. Lowell says she doesn't need a sitter after all. After hanging up, Kristy comments that Stacey and Dawn probably wouldn't pass muster with Mrs. Lowell, either, since their parents are divorced.

After the meeting, Claudia talks to her dad and Janine about Mrs. Lowell's prejudice, and they tell her about the Japanese internment camps in America during World War II.

Later, Mrs. Lowell brings her kids to a band practice, but is disturbed by the "assortment" of children there. When she finds out the band is learning Fiddler on the Roof, she makes Caitlin and Mackie leave immediately despite their protests. The club decides that if Mrs. Lowell does call again, they'll just tell her no sitters are available. The next day at the band concert, they see Caitlin and Mackie watching from the gate, apparently without their mother's knowledge, and express hope that as they get older the Lowell kids will learn not to inherit their mother's prejudices.

Secondary plot

Claudia is sitting for the Rodowskys while Shea Rodowsky practices playing piano. Jackie says that he wishes he could play an instrument, while Archie says he wants to perform and entertain people. Claudia has the idea for the BSC to help all their charges form a band, and the BSC agrees. Soon afterward, several of the BSC members end up bringing their charges over to the Newtons' house on a sunny afternoon, and Claudia decides to ask the kids if they're interested in the band idea; the kids are very excited.

At the first band practice (attended by the Lowells), the kids vote to learn the song "Tomorrow" from Annie. Later, Jackie decides that the band needs a name, and he suggests "All the Children," short for "All the Children of the World", because of the many cultures and ethnicities the band's members represent. The other children agree on the name. Since they don't have a big drum to paint the band's name on (as Karen Brewer desires), they decide to make a banner, and since they're making a banner they decide to learn more songs and put on a show. But they can't agree on what songs they should learn, until Jackie suggests the songs from Fiddler on the Roof. Everyone agrees.

Karen and her friends decide that the band should have "uniforms," which turn out to be red t-shirts with blue jeans, and that they should try to raise money at the first concert for real uniforms. Despite a lot of stress, accidents and obstacles, the band holds a dress rehearsal and then performs their concert, which is a huge success.

Other plot information

Clients in this book

Other characters

  • Mr. Selznick

Places in this book

Things in this book

Notable fashion

  • When Claudia goes to sit for the Lowells (and thinks that her outfit is the reason Mrs. Lowell doesn't like her), she's wearing "black leggings and high-topped sneakers, [a] fringed blue-jean vest and beaded Indian belt, [and] six silver rings."

Trivia/continuity

  • This book was translated in French by Héritages jeunesse under the title of "On Ne veut plus de toi, Claudia."

Back Cover

The Baby-sitters love getting new clients. So when the Lowells contact the club everyone is thrilled. For Mary Anne, sitting for the Lowells turns out to be a snap. The kids are adorable and obedient. But when Claudia meets the family, Mrs. Lowell will barely look her in the eye. And the kids are downright rude!

The next time Mrs. Lowell calls the BSC, she requests another sitter - anyone but Claudia. Claudia has no idea what she did wrong. But the BSC won't rest until they find out!

The Baby-sitters Club
Preceded by
Jessi's Gold Medal

Keep Out, Claudia! Followed by
Dawn Saves the Planet
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