This is one of those early books where Mallory is still fairly new to the BSC, so that explains why she's never heard of the Arnold twins before. Kristy takes the call and explains that Mrs. Arnold is doing a big project with the school and needs someone to watch the twins every Tuesday and Thursday. Isn't it convenient how no one ever needs a sitter during club hours? Since Mallory is the only one free, she gets the job.
On her first sitting job, things go pretty well. Marilyn and Carolyn are super excited to see her kid kit and want to check out all the books. As soon as they grab books and sit down on their beds, Mallory coos about how cute they look. This sets off a firestorm. The twins, who wear identical bracelets with their names on them, ditch their bracelets and make it clear that while she likes sitting, she won't like sitting for them.
Things go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. The next time she sits, the twins play hide and seek. She finds one, who asks for a snack. When she goes back to the kitchen, the twin is gone. Mallory then finds another twin and sets her up with a snack only to later discover that the same twin got both. In a rare case of her growing a pair, she decides to stick with the two girls two snacks rule.
Claudia then gets the job of sitting for the twins. Marilyn has a piano lesson, and Carolyn needs to work on her science project. A neighbor picks up Marilyn for her lesson, but the teacher then calls and reveals that the wrong twin showed up. Mrs. Arnold totally gives her a lecture about how she understands that it's hard to tell them apart without their bracelets but that she did leave Claudia in charge. When Claudia offers to never sit again and suggests that the Arnolds might need to look elsewhere for sitters, Mrs. Arnold quickly backpedals.
The whole gang sits down and talks it out. Kristy decides that they can either pawn the twins off on their associate members in the future or just tell the Arnolds that they have no openings. Given the way she acts about jobs in the future, I think the pod people got her at some point. That, or her tenth time going through the eighth grade finally made her snap.
Jessi talks with Mallory about how she and Becca often pretended they were twins as kids and how they eventually got sick of it. Kristy then sits for David Michael, Andrew, and Karen. Hannie comes over in the same matching sisters dresses that they have, and Karen dresses up just like her. Kristy then puts on her own dress and surprises them. Karen and Hannie share one of those looks and decide that they're tired of being twins. When she writes about it in the notebook, Kristy says that kids get sick of playing twins.
Mallory finally figures out a way to get back at the twins. They keep talking in this made up twin language and ignoring her, so she talks to them in Pig Latin. The girls calm down when she teaches it to them. They even show her how to tell the difference between them, which is just a mole they both have on opposite cheeks.
During their birthday party, the girls really flip out. Not only does their mom make them dress alike, but all the guests get them the same things. Only Mallory does something different. She gives Marilyn a pin shaped like a piano and gives Carolyn a book of science experiments. Their mother then makes them pose identically in a bunch of pictures.
As the girls piss and moan, Mallory talks with them about how they want to look different and how she'll talk to their mom with them. Though they don't get it at first, they finally do talk to their mom. Mrs. Arnold feels bad that she never let them develop their own identities but agrees to let them stop dressing alike. She even agrees to let Mallory take them shopping.
The twins look at clothing at the department store before checking out accessories at the Merry Go Round. Marilyn winds up buying an oh so adult pink jeans skirt and a ruffled white blouse, while Carolyn gets a white sweater with a moon and stars on the front, her first ever pair of jeans, and push down socks. The girls change clothes and surprise their mom with their new looks. She cries, but Mal thinks that she's proud too.
Mallory spends the whole book moping about how she looks like a baby and finally decides to approach her parents. In the hopes of haggling, she asks for a new wardrobe, a haircut, contacts, and to get her ears pierced. Her parents freak out but then agree to let her pierce her ears and get her hair cut, if she pays for part of it herself. Jessi gets permission too, and Claudia wants another hole, so the club plans a trip to the mall.
Claudia is super cool, but Jessi is a little scared. Mallory goes first and then Jessi. Jessi handles it way better than everyone thought. Cool Claudia gets up, has her ear pierced, and then almost passes out. Dawn decides at the last minute to get her ears pierced, calls home, and Sharon somehow agrees to let her get two holes in each ear right away.
The girls have a meeting later on where Mallory keep talking about her earrings and her new “fluffy” hair. Kristy and Mary Anne treat the girls to new earrings. Claudia gets a pair shaped like artist palettes, Jessi gets toe shoes, Mallory gets horses, and Dawn gets a pair of hoops with oranges on them and a pair shaped like California. Claudia then gives them earrings made from miniatures that she created herself with matching clip ons for Mary Anne and Kristy. Mallory also gives Jessi a pair shaped like open books to match a pair she bought for herself. They laugh about looking like twins before walking home.
*Mallory thinks that Mrs. Arnold just looks too fussy. The first time she sits, the woman wears two necklaces, earrings, a pin, an ankle bracelet and rings. She also wears bows on her shoes, in her hair, on her shirt, and on her belt plus lacy stockings. One of her necklaces spells out her name – Linda – too.
*Her pin is shaped like a mouse, and she wears earrings that look like ladybugs.
*Claudia wears earrings shaped like red high top sneakers and then wears a pair she made herself with miniature fruits inside baskets.
*Lots of clothing descriptions! Kristy wears a pink and blue sweater, new running shoes, a white turtleneck, and jeans.
*Claudia wears blue capri pants, push down socks, and a painted tee shirt. She also pulls her hair back in a bunch of braids with puffy hair ties, which is a look that I sadly remember.
*Mary Anne goes funky in a short plum-colored skirt, a body suit that reaches down to her ankles with plum and white stripes, and white suspenders.
*Dawn does “California cool” in an oversize blue shirt that she rolls up to display the green at the collar and wrists, a green skirt, and clogs.
*Marilyn is tired of dressing like a baby and can't wait to wear skirts without straps, but Mallory thinks Mary Anne's suspenders are oh so cool. How are suspenders cool but straps are for babies?
*Mrs. Arnold getting upset at Claudia is way out of line. She has two identical terrors who switch bracelets or take their bracelets off and expect some teenager who never sat for them before to tell them apart automatically.
*Um, Hannie and Karen clearly did not get sick of playing twins. They obviously didn't like that she honed in on their fun. I'm surprised no one called Kristy out on it!
*Mallory buys her first pair of push down socks because they are so cool and mature, but then Carolyn, who is way younger, totally buys a pair too. Those socks were never mature. Everyone I knew had like 90 pairs.
*Marilyn buys knee socks with red hearts on the front and tells Mallory that she's tired of wearing tights all the time. BUT, there were at least two instances in the book of her wearing knee socks, which annoys me.
*Mallory is supposedly a great haggler because she once offered $1 for a jewelry box that the seller wanted $7.50 for at a flea market. She says he priced it too high but got a fair price at $4.50. As someone who grew up setting up at flea markets with her father, I probably would have punched her in the face for offering so little. Also, if $4.50 was only a “fair” price, it's pretty clear that it was actually worth the price he wanted.
*She also moans about how her hair is so out of control and how she wants it cut really short, which she eventually does. As someone who has naturally curly hair and had short hair as a kid, she's insane. I was 13 and looked like a middle aged woman when I could have looked like Keri Russell!
*Could you really just walk into a shop and get your ears pierced at 11 or 13? When I had my first holes done, my mom had to take me.
*I have two holes in each ear and had my eyebrows pierced at different times. I almost wish I didn't have my ears done though. I eventually took out my earrings last year because I realized that I never wore them.
*My ear piercing story is kind of a disaster. My first time, both swelled up so bad by the end of the week that I had to take them out. Second time, one swelled up so bad that I ended up at the doctor, where he literally had to cut the earring out of my ear. Turned out that I was allergic to one of the metals used in some earrings.
*Claudia brings an earring from home, and the woman just totally sterilizes it and lets her use it. That sounds..not right to me?
*They also get to take their earrings out after three weeks to change them, I seem to remember wearing mine for much longer.
*Mallory says that all the other girls were checking out the cute guys working in the food court including Kristy. Between her checking out cute guys and getting excited over earrings in this book, I seriously wonder what happened to her later.
*Two continuity errors between the book and cover. Mallory used pink icing on their cake, but the cover shows blue icing. She also says they wore white dresses with pink lace, but these dresses are pink with white lace.
*At the beginning, the Pikes go shoe shopping at the mall. Mallory wants these hot pink and green shoes, but her mom makes her buy loafers because they are more practical. As someone who grew up in icy Ohio, loafers are never practical. Also, does anyone else remember wearing those Eastlake loafer type shoes with the laces curled?