Back Cover Summary
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 sitters — anyone but Claudia. Claudia has no idea what she did wrong. But the BSC won't rest until they find out!
It's new client time once again for the BSC; the Lowells have three kids (Caitlin, 8; Mackenzie or Mackie, 6: and Celeste, 3), and Mary Anne is the first club member to sit for them. The kids are polite, and even though Mrs, Lowell gives her the once-over in a way that makes Mary Anne uncomfortable, she's basically all right as well. Mary Anne has no real problems with the Lowells, so when Claudia is given the next chance to sit for them, she looks forward to an easy time of it. Wrong; the kids are rude and won't listen to anything Claudia says, and Mrs. Lowell doesn't seem to like her at all.
Claud is glad to be done with that sitting job, but as it turns out, things aren't quite finished between her and the Lowells. At the next club meeting, Mrs. Lowell calls for another sitter, and requests anyone BUT Claudia. Claud can't figure it out; the sitting job was definitely NOT one of her best experiences, but nothing really horrible happened. She thinks it could be the wild outfit she was wearing, or the amount of snacks the kids had, or the fact that Claudia took them out of their own yard to attend a rehearsal of the band the BSC is helping their charges form. Still, the BSC is awfully confused.
Jessi is the lucky one who gets the job that Mrs. Lowell specifically asked Claudia NOT to take. She revamps her Kid Kit to make sure that there are toys in there that the Lowell kids will like to play with, and even takes time put together an office kit, as per Becca's advice (she and Charlotte like to play office, so she thinks that Caitlin might like that game, too). Too bad her effort goes unappreciated; when she gets to the Lowells, Mrs. Lowell won't even let her in the house. She tells Jessi that she doesn't need a sitter after all, and she just "forgot" to cancel. Jessi is really upset by the whole experience, but can't quite figure out what's so disturbing about it.
Kristy wants to get to the bottom of the Lowell's weird behavior, so she takes the next job at their place. She wears a skirt, just in case Claud's wild outfit DID have something to do with the Lowells not liking her, and arrives early (but not too early). Kristy doesn't get much out of Mrs. Lowell when she questions her, so she questions the kids instead. They call Claudia the "funny looking one," and when she describes Jessi to them, mentioning that she's black, Caitlin says that that little fact is why her mother didn't like Jessi. Kristy finally puts two and two together, and realizes that Mrs. Lowell just might be racist. She has a talk with her mom, Watson, and Nannie that night, hoping that they'll tell her that her suspicions are all in her head. Not quite; they think there's a good chance that Kristy's right.
At the next BSC meeting, Kristy shares her thoughts about Mrs. Lowell with the other club members. Claudia doesn't get why Mrs. Lowell wouldn't like her just because she's Asian. She's angry and ashamed and confused. Jessi (who's been through racism before) isn't any happier, but she understands a little bit better than Claudia how stupid and irrational racism is. In the middle of their discussion, who should call for a sitter but Mrs. Lowell herself! Claudia is amazed that Kristy didn't just tell her off, but Mrs. Lowell's request threw her off so much that she didn't know what else to do. The woman had the nerve to call and ask for the blond haired, blue eyed baby-sitter she'd heard about. Kristy calls her back, and tells her that no one is available to sit except Logan (a BOY sitter) or Kristy herself (who has an adopted sister from Vietnam). Suddenly, Mrs. Lowell doesn't need a sitter after all, and the girls decide that no one in the club (not even the blond haired, blue eyed members) will take another job with them.
The last anyone sees or hears from the Lowells is at a rehearsal for All the Children, which is the previously mentioned band of BSC clients. Mrs. Lowell brings the kids over, wanting to check out what her kids are into. After seeing the "assortment of children" present, and finding out that they're learning the music from Fiddler on the Roof, she hightails it out of there. Good riddance!
Ann M. Martin's Dear Reader Letter
The idea for Keep Out, Claudia! was suggested to me by Olivia Ford, the daughter of a publishing colleague. Olivia’s idea was for a book about prejudice and racism that centered around Claudia and the Kishis. Racism had been a topic in a number of Jessi’s books, and Olivia felt that it would be realistic if one of the other characters in the series faced this problem, too.
The members of the Baby-sitters Club are a diverse group of kids. They come from different kinds of families, and from a variety of backgrounds. Each has her own interests and problems, yet the girls get along well as a group, and appreciate each other’s differences. The kids they sit for are diverse, too. Their families come from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, and like the members of the BSC, the kids come from many different family situations. In addition, the baby-sitters take care of Rosie Wilder, who is highly gifted; Shea Rodowsky, who has learning disabilities; Matt Braddock, who is profoundly hearing impaired; and Susan Felder, who has autism.
As you can see, a recurring theme in the Baby-sitters Club books is that of tolerance and acceptance, rather than exclusion. It’s something the characters feel strongly about, and so do I.
- Claudia likes Bach and listens to his music when doing art projects.
- Mary Anne goes to the Presbyterian Church.
- Sam can play the kazoo.
- This is the second the BSC refuses to sit for someone, the first being the Gardella Family.