badgerbag: (lesbiaaaans!)
[personal profile] badgerbag posting in [community profile] girlycon
I don't have a copy of Ginnie and Geneva, the first in the series, but last night I read Ginnie and the Mystery House, Ginnie and the New Girl, and Ginnie's Babysitting Service. As I recall it, the first book is about Ginnie, who is very femmy fourth grader, making friends with Genevra who is butch and wears "dungarees". Dungarees loom large in this book. You have to don them before you rake leaves, or crawl through a secret passageway in an attic, or go sleigh riding, and if you don't have your damn dungarees then you just have to stand there helplessly in your school dress as you watch the nice neighbor boy, Peter Ladd, do exciting things and get dirty. Meanwhile your Mother is probably in the kitchen, where she always is if she isn't running the vacuum; making a light, fluffy, angel food cake from a box with lemon jello.

In the Ginnie and the New Girl it's all about jealousy! OMG! That new girl Marcia keeps talking about her rich uncle and her pearl ring! She pretended to twist her ankle just to lure the awesome tomboy Geneva, Ginnie's BEST FRIEND, into coming to her house. Do you think that she might just be really lonely, but nice underneath? Suspense! There is a good bit about a party that struck me even in 1979 or so as *completely alien*. At this party, there are place cards at the dinner table. There is dinner. There is some kind of guessing game called Coffee Pot. Then some girls against boys crap happens and the girls are locked in the hayloft or something. I notice there was no hi fi; how come? Ginnie and her friends also get to go on a bus to New York and go to museums by themselves although they're in 6th grade. Free range kids, yeah!

Ginnie and the Mystery House features a slightly batty frail old lady in a big house two blocks away where the houses are shabby. Mysterious lights, bells, fear, a dark house! Do you think maybe Ginnie and her friends will save the crazy old lady from herself? And find her lost money? Arrrrrgh! And the New Girl's family from the last book might move into her house, instead of the dreary apartment they lived in that kept her so cruelly isolated from other children? I DUNNO!

Ginnie's Babysitting Service is the best one aside from the first. It was very vivid in my mind all through my childhood. Ginnie begins to angst about not having any artistic talent like Geneva or her friend Lucy the artist. She also wants money to spend at the five and dime, and to go to New York where god knows she'll probably have egg creams or go ice skating... She and Geneva decide to babysit after several failed money making schemes. Geneva sucks at babysitting. She's too rough and butch for it! She scowls a lot! In her dungarees! Ginnie loves the children and sets up all her old toys in the attic to make a nursery. She offers to the head of the Ladies' Democratic Club that there should be a mothers' discussion group after school, for moms of babies and young children, and pay her a cut rate for babysitting in her attic nursery! Since Geneva is full of babysitting fail, Ginnie's friend Anna, who is shy, gentle, and poor, becomes her business partner. What I liked about this book, I think, was the entrepreneurial spirit of Ginnie, the way she arranged everything nicely in the attic, and how she really liked learning the specific things that worked to take care of young children. Though otherwise I identified with Geneva the tomboy, I too enjoyed babysitting and figuring out child psychology!

In this weird magic world there is no history and everyone is white. Young mothers all stay at home with their babies, cooking things from boxes and mixes and vacuuming daily with aprons on!

Ginnie enjoys life to the fullest, often falling into reveries of sensuality as she bites into a crisp perfect apple or rakes leaves while smelling woodsmoke with her jolly father or hikes up a hill with her friends or savors several delicious hamburgers in a roadside diner when the bus from New York City stalls in the snow. Everything she experiences is pretty much perfect so you get to share her raptures as she goes to department store with her father who buys The Perfect Powder Blue Angora Sweater for her mother and then gets it gift wrapped with Perfect crisp wrapping paper in a dreamy shade of spring green with a bow that makes Ginnie proud to hold the package.

It gushes on like that, and other than the lesbian subtext between Ginnie and Geneva, those descriptions are the best part!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-13 10:27 pm (UTC)
hobbitbabe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hobbitbabe
I only read a couple of these, and l read them out of order, but I loved them. Probably around 1969-70. And yeah, I identified with Geneva's tomboyness but enjoyed Ginnie as a viewpoint character. Wasn't there something about her being really shy to talk to strangers, but succeeding in getting a bus driver to wait for her father or something?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-14 05:30 pm (UTC)
jonquil: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jonquil
Thank you for the trip down memory lane.


girlycon: A white girl in a school uniform with her horse, from the cover of Leader of the Lower School by Angela Brazil. (Default)

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