Jul 28, 2008

The Saddle Club weird peripheral book: Just For Girls: Happy Horse Day!

Just For Girls: Happy Horse Day!
Bonnie Bryant
Published: June 1990

I'm jumping straight to the most hilarious and shameful Saddle-Club-related thing that Bonnie Bryant ever penned. It's a short story that was printed with a Fabulous Five short story (another book series for girls, attributed to Betsy Haynes) that was apparently supposed to encourage girls ages 6-11 to buy Jean Naté's children's cosmetic collection, Petite Naté, which is "just for girls" (get it?). It gets better:

Holidays are for good times and parties. But the best times are spent with best friends. The best times are

The Saddle Club
"Happy Horse Day"

Carole, Stevie and Lisa are throwing their own party on New Year's Day--with horses on the guest list! As the horses get groomed for the big event, the girls will be busy getting ready--the JUST FOR GIRLS way!
HAHAHA. I enjoyed the summary so much that I included the following quote about it on the Saddle Club Wikipedia page: "In the story, which is only 20 pages long, the girls plan to have a sleepover and use Jean Naté products, which strains credibility for anyone familiar with Stevie and Carole's personalities."

The actual story is only slightly less hilarious. It's late December, and Stevie's cousin's birthday is coming up. Stevie had a lot of fun buying her cousin a birthday present, because she found some bubble bath she liked so much she bought herself some, too. Oh, squee! Apparently all the horses at Pine Hollow have morphed into registered Thoroughbred racehorses, because Carole says they all have the same birthday: January first. Stevie decides they should have a birthday party for the horses.

That night, the girls have a sleepover at Stevie's house and Carole offers to take the first bath. This sounds like the start of a seedy fanfic. Stevie tells her to try some of her new bubble bath, because "It smells wonderful. It's sort of a light smell, not like a heavy perfume. And look at those neat beads floating in the bottle." I think one of BB's other personalities must have taken over and written this. Carole puts bubble bath in the water, "creating clouds of big, fragrant bubbles. It was warm and relaxing--just what she needed after their vigorous ride. Soon she was clean and sweet-smelling." Seriously, do we even need a recap? I could just stop right here.

When sweet-smelling Carole gets out of the bath, Lisa and Stevie are talking about Pepper, the horse Lisa normally rides. Lisa says he was cranky today; Stevie the Wise and Carole the Fragrant realize he's actually got colic. They run back to Pine Hollow, thereby undoing the effects of Carole's pungent bath. The vet, Judy Barker, says that someone has to watch him all the time, to make sure nothing happens and he doesn't have a bubble-bath-induced seizure.

Naturally, the girls volunteer. Judy thinks Pepper might be about to kick it. Lisa is agonized. Then he gets better by New Year's Day, just in time for the birthday party. Lisa is thrilled. Who'd have guessed?

The girls gussy themselves up for the horse birthday party, because of course before you go to a stable, you should "do something nice for yourself." Lisa shows off her Christmas gift from her aunt: "Shampoo, hair detangler, talc, bubble bath, after-bath splash--the works. Are we ready?" Stevie says they can "all wash our hair and then try new hairdos!" Carole tries the skin lotion, Lisa tries the talc, and Stevie tries the cologne spray. Carole loves having "soft smooth skin--better than horse hair!" This really isn't supposed to be funny at all.

We only hear about the birthday party after it's over and the girls are congratulating themselves over ice cream sundaes. Turns out it was a "smashing success." Pepper was well enough to participate. He had more fun than any of the other horses. He just dived into the water when it was time to bob for apples. He also did well at Musical Water Buckets and got first place in Pin-the-Rider on the Saddle. In Spin the Feedbag, some horse got to nuzzle Garnet, Veronica diAngelo's Arabian mare. Garnet got a horrified look on her face when she had to nuzzle poor old Patch. HUH? Is this all some kind of shared delusion on the part of the Saddle Club? Do Petite Naté products turn your brain into Swiss cheese? These horses make Whirlwind look like a Borg.

And, that's pretty much it. The girls eat some ice cream and reaffirm that the Saddle Club is the best club there is. And apparently, in this book, the most vapid.

Points of Interest:
  • The cover art is the art from the first edition of #1 Horse Crazy, with a purple background instead of a pink one. I admit that on the front and back covers, the title is just "Happy Horse Day" with no exclamation mark. But the exclamation mark makes it so much funnier.
  • By June 1990, the first ten books of The Saddle Club had been published. My guess, though, is that even though these stories were written in the spring, the book and the bath products may not have come out until the holiday season of 1990, which would fit with the New Year's theme.
  • For some reason Stevie's birthday has magically migrated to August (rather than June, as established by book #6 Dude Ranch), and Carole's has migrated away from December. All it says is that her birthday and Lisa's are "months away," which doesn't make sense unless BB means she's already had her birthday for the year. Then again, Carole's birthday isn't established in canon until book #31 Hayride, long after this one.
  • Lisa's Lhasa Apso, Dolly, makes an appearance, although not by name and has turned into a "he."
  • Whichever of BB's personalities wrote this, it must have skimmed through #4 Horse Power, because the story references the time Stevie tried a new hairdo on Lisa and she ended up with "little springy curls." Except Lisa actually ended up with huge boingy curls.
  • Stevie orders orange sherbert with all-natural strawberry topping, marshmallow topping, whipped topping, and a cherry. Mmm. Maybe she'll get colic next.
And that's about it. Savor this one, because there's no other Saddle Club book that is quite so unintentionally hilarious.


Anonymous said...

The 'Just for Girls' line combined with pink and purple and the fact that it promotes cosmetics hurts my feminist side deeply!

There was also some kind of mail-order book service called 'Just for Girls' which borrowed titles from series like Sweet Valley High, repackaged them in 'pretty' covers and put a big 'Just for Girls' label on the endpapers.

Mara said...

...oh my God. It's like Bonnie Bryant invited everyone to a party and forgot to mention she was going to push cosmetics and fake plastic jewelry on the guests.

molly said...

Whaaaat the heck? This is just...weird. Bewildering, really. Spin the Feedbag? Wha?

Elizabeth said...

@caballos_muchacha: What, do you mean all little girls who love horses don't secretly want to smell clean and sweet? You must be wrong.

@mara: Seriously. This is bigtime bait & switch.

@molly: I'm pretty sure I skipped over the part where the horses had the actual party all these years, because on this reread, I kept thinking, "What? WHAT? That makes NO sense!"