February 21, 2011
Summary: Dawn and Sunny are taking surfing lessons and working at an after-school program on the beach. (We’re reminded a dozen times that California is awesome and you can surf in the middle of the winter, blah blah blah, shut up, Dawn.) They meet a surfer named Thrash who’s one of the best in the area and is preparing for a big competition. He’s hoping to win the grand prize, which should be enough money to get him to Australia to…well, surf more. Sunny thinks Dawn has a crush on Thrash, who’s about 20, and keeps teasing her. Dawn denies it, but she’s kind of obsessed. The next day, Thrash disappears and his board washes up on shore. Everyone thinks the board was tampered with and Thrash is dead.
Since the police think what happened was an accident, they don’t put much effort into looking for a body (or even a live Thrash). Dawn, having been a charter member of the BSC Mystery-Solvers Society, decides to find out what happened on her own. The police think she’s ridiculous and just ignore her, as they should.
Dawn finds a can of Thrash’s custom surfboard wax and thinks it’s a message or a clue or something, though nothing really ever comes from that. People start having accidents on the beach, and Dawn thinks their boards are being tampered with. Twice she spots a guy surfing at night and thinks it’s Thrash’s ghost; he’s hanging around the beach until his killer is brought to justice. Sunny’s really the only person who entertains Dawn’s weird way of thinking, but then she almost drowns, so maybe Thrash’s ghost is a little too vindictive for its own good?
Of course, there’s no ghost. Dawn realizes that the new guy working at the snack bar is actually Thrash, with shorter, dyed hair and no piercings. He tells her he knows who tried to kill him, and he’s biding his time until he can get revenge. The beach accidents were just that, accidents, and he’s the one who’s been surfing at night, waiting until the beach is empty so no one will see him. Thrash wants to tamper with the board belonging to the guy who tampered with his, but Dawn convinces him to go to the police instead. He does, they set up a really lame sting involving Thrash coming back from the “dead” at the competition, and Thrash wins, which means he can head down to Australia.
Back in Stoneybrook, Carolyn Arnold hurt her ankle while doing gymnastics with her sister Marilyn. Marilyn blames herself for the accident since she wasn’t paying attention or helping, so she decides to be Carolyn’s shadow and make sure nothing ever happens again. It gets really annoying until Stacey solves everything by having two different friends invite the twins over at the same time, making them realize they don’t always want to do everything together. Which they actually realized back in Mallory and the Trouble with Twins, but whatever.
Thoughts: “[Carol's] cool, in other words. Which is fine for a regular person, but not really so fine for a woman my father might be serious about.” Only lame people can date Mr. Schafer!
Sunny thinks Thrash likes Dawn. Well, Sunny, that would make Thrash a pedophile.
Stacey to Dawn: “Your mystery sounds so cool!” Yes, Stacey, murder is awesome.
If you’re leaving your kids with a sitter three times in one week and it’s not a regular thing, you have a problem. And presumably a lot of money.
Mary Anne thinks it’s unhealthy for Marilyn and Carolyn to be together all the time. Yet no one ever comments on the triplets being joined at the hip(s). Also, Kristy thinks Mr. and Mrs. Arnold would appreciate the BSC girls coming up with a solution to the twin’s problem. Actually, Kristy, they’d probably like to parent their children themselves. Or maybe not, considering the hiring-sitters-three-times-a-week thing.
January 25, 2011
Summary: Dawn decides that she wants to move back to California and spend six months on each coast. Everyone makes it happen, because they’re totally sick of her and want her to leave Stoneybrook. (Okay, I may be projecting.) At the last minute, she changes her mind and decides to stay in Connecticut, but then realizes she really does want to go to California. So she does. Yay!
The B plot is about a big athletic competition called Run for Your Money, which apparently is raising money for something, though it’s not clear how. Some of the BSC girls and their families compete, and then the girls compete as a team. Their sitting charges are way too into it.
Thoughts: She’s gone! For now. The big excitement will come in #88, when she leaves for good.
Why do Sharon and Richard ring the doorbell of their own house?
Kristy complains that Dawn leaving will hurt the club. Kristy, can’t you just be glad that she’s about to be out of your life for six months?
Why would you hire the Papadakises hire Kristy to babysit at a family party? Why do you have family except to watch your kids? (Speaking as a non-parent with six nieces and nephews.)
Kristy doesn’t think of throwing Dawn a going-away party until Karen suggests it. Wow, she really doesn’t care about Dawn.
Dawn’s comments about meat are at an all-time high in this book. Maybe the ghostwriter wants to make sure we don’t miss Dawn too much.
Trivia: Janine is a surprise foosball enthusiast.
January 16, 2011
Summary: Mary Anne wants to learn more about sewing, so she asks a woman named Mrs. Towne for lessons. Mrs. Towne is old and widowed, so when she falls and breaks her ankle, Mary Anne decides to help her out around the house. (For some reason, Mary Anne thinks she’s been selfish lately, and this is a way to make herself feel better.) Mary Anne’s help is supposed to be in exchange for lessons, but soon Mrs. Towne is calling her to help out with all sorts of things. Mary Anne decides it would be selfish to not help, or even to delay help, so she keeps dropping everything to rush to the rescue. Somehow, Kristy doesn’t excommunicate her for skipping out on a BSC meeting.
Mrs. Towne is obviously just lonely, but she’s also passive-aggressive, and since Mary Anne is a sucker for someone who needs help, this continues for a while until Mary Anne finally realizes that, you know, she can say no. (Mary Anne is going to be soooooo screwed up in high school.) She finally uses her big-girl voice and tells Mrs. Towne to knock it off already. Fortunately, Mrs. Towne doesn’t pull any manipulative crap, because people in Stoneybrook always realize the error of their ways and resolve to be better people.
In the B plot, Mary Anne and Claudia start a sewing class for some kids. Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett are the only boys involved, until some punk kid at school starts making fun of them for doing girl stuff. They briefly declare war on girl stuff, only to get sucked right back into making a quilt.
In the C plot, Dawn is homesick for California and will NOT shut UP about it. But it’s okay because it’s all going to work out for us in the end. (Stay tuned.)
Thoughts: There is so much talk about sewing in this book, I can’t even tell you. It’s like a freaking instruction book/catalogue. I never want to hear about sewing again.
Can we stop hearing about the freaking goat already?
Mary Anne may be new to sewing, but she’s been shopping at a sewing store long enough to know who the owner is. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
“Logan, who is from the South, drinks iced tea all the time, and Dawn drinks hot herb tea in the winter, but I’d never really thought about it. &*#$(*%@# ghostwriter. Go read the early books. Mary Anne has tea with Mimi, you moron.
April 18, 2010
Summary: Dawn falls in luv with Kristy’s brothers’ friend Travis, who’s 16 and from California. Travis buys her presents and takes her out to eat and shop, suggesting that she cut her hair and wear it a certain way. Dawn thinks he’s in luv with her as well, even though he’s 16 and she’s 13, because really, I can’t say that enough. HE’S 16. SHE’S 13. IT’S GROSS. Then Dawn learns that Travis is seeing someone else, so she stalks them, then confronts them. Travis doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong by making Dawn think he’s interested in her while he’s dating someone else. Of course, he also doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with being a 13-year-old girl’s sugar daddy.
Dawn’s mom, Richard, and Mary Anne all think Travis is bad news, and Mary Anne thinks the situation sounds very Pygmalion/My Fair Lady-ish. She figures out how much Travis is controlling Dawn after seeing the way one of the Hobart boys is being controlled by a friend. She lets Dawn know, and eventually Dawn calls Travis to tell him he’s a controlling jerk and she’s done with him. I think he was really done with her first, but whatever.
The B plot involves the Hobart and Perkins kids putting on a cute little play about a dog lost in the mall. They use Chewy, the Perkinses’ hyperactive dog, as the play’s star, with predictably disastrous results.
Thoughts: I think this was an attempt to address issues like dating violence and bad relationships, but in a series aimed at kids who are in middle school and younger, it doesn’t quite work. It also doesn’t really make sense that Travis has basically two conversations with Dawn in which he tries to be controlling, and Dawn makes it seem like he does it all the time. What also doesn’t make sense is that Dawn would let herself be controlled – doesn’t she pride herself on being individual and independent?
What kind of creepy 16-year-old guy wants to hang out with a 13-year-old girl? Also, how did Travis find out where Dawn lived? And who buys presents for a girl he’s only met once? Then tells her to cut her hair so it’ll have more lift? (That last one gives me some completely different ideas about Travis….)
I call total bull on Kristy having a “fluffy pink quilt.” Do your research, ghostwriter.
Dawn thinks about telling Travis that she doesn’t eat meat, but she loses her nerve. When has Dawn ever not told someone she’s a vegetarian? Like I said, I can’t see Dawn letting herself be controlled.
Travis’ secret girlfriend wears a white cotton flight suit. What the–?
January 7, 2010
Summary: Dawn goes to California to visit her father and brother for two weeks, and won’t shut up about how awesome it is. It’s so awesome, in fact, that she considers leaving Connecticut for good and living with her father full-time. Unfortunately for us, she decides to go back to Connecticut, because the pull of the BSC is just too strong.
Thoughts: Shut up, Dawn.
Apparently I blocked out the minor plots involving sitting jobs because I didn’t remember them at all. Weird.
Dawn claims she’s “not a strict vegetarian.” Do your lies taste good, Dawn?
The We ♥ Kids Club is the lame hippie version of the BSC. Their phone rings, like, twice during a meeting, and they have no officers. No wonder Kristy blows a fuse when she visits in a later book.
Sam tries to scare Karen with a note seemingly written in blood that says, “Death to all who enter here.” Dude, she’s only six!
Jeff takes a jackknife to the airport. Wow. He’s lucky that was 1989. Today, he’d be in an undisclosed location.
October 21, 2009
Summary: Dawn starts baby-sitting for the Barrett kids, whose mom is going through a tough divorce and is having a difficult time taking care of her children while looking for a job. Dawn gets annoyed by Mrs. Barrett’s tendency to seemingly ignore her kids, let housework pile up, and not give her the information she needs about the kids. It all comes to a head when the oldest child, Buddy, disappears, having been basically kidnapped by his father as revenge for Mrs. Barrett forgetting that it was his turn to have custody. This gets Dawn to sit down with Mrs. Barrett and come up with some guidelines and rules they will follow to keep things running smoothly. Dawn is also trying to become friends with Kristy, who’s jealous that Mary Anne suddenly has a second best friend.
Thoughts: Dawn starts to show her true colors in this book. She complains about the weather in Connecticut (because it’s not as warm as it was in California), she tells Buddy he can’t play with toy guns while she’s baby-sitting, and she gets bent out of shape when Mrs. Barrett doesn’t pay her extra for doing housework. Oh, Dawn. Her books are going to get the most comments out of me.
First of all, California must be some magical place where the temperature never drops below 80 degrees, because Dawn finds 70-degree weather “chilly.” She thinks it’s too cold for May. Girl, 70 degrees in May is a dream. She thinks people will wear down jackets to her mom’s picnic. She makes a show of wearing warm clothes. If she were my child, I would give her the evil eye until she shut up. Has she never experienced 70-degree weather before? Really?
Second of all, I get not wanting kids to play with toy guns – I’m a Sunday School teacher, and I don’t let the kids play with pretend weapons in class. But that’s because it’s Sunday School. If I baby-sat for a kid with a toy gun, I wouldn’t forbid him or her to play with it, because that’s not my kid. The parents say it’s okay, so it’s okay. It’s their house, not mine.
Third of all, no one asked Dawn to do housework. She thinks the Barretts’ house is a mess, so she takes it upon herself to get the kids to clean it. Well, good for you, Ms. Schafer, but you’re the baby-sitter, not the housekeeper. Let Mrs. Barrett clean her own house. You watch the kids. Also, as for her not paying extra for the cleaning, Mrs. Barrett is a newly single mom with no job. She doesn’t care about what’s in Dawn’s piggy bank. She has three kids to keep fed.
Though she does go shopping an awful lot for a woman with money issues. Just sayin’.
This is the first book where Mallory Pike really makes an appearance. She briefly showed up in Mary Anne Saves the Day, but this book is where someone mentions how good she is with kids. There’s even foreshadowing about her joining the BSC someday.
Speaking of Mallory, she unknowingly highlights a big mistake in this book. She tells Dawn that Marnie, the youngest Barrett kid, is allergic to chocolate and will get sick if she eats any. But earlier in the book, Dawn mentions Marnie eating some M&Ms, and nothing comes of it. Oops! Also oops – Dawn the anti-sugar queen eats saltwater taffy in this book. Shut up, hypocrite.
And while Dawn is by far more annoying, Karen Brewer’s dreadfulness starts to rear its ugly head in this book. While she, Kristy, Andrew, and the lovely Hannie Papadakis are playing “Let’s All Come In,” she starts ordering people around. Why doesn’t anyone tell her to cut it out? Everyone always mentions that Karen’s bossy, but no one does anything about it. To me, that’s worse than kids playing with toy guns.
Also worse than kids playing with toy guns: Mr. Barrett basically kidnapping Buddy, then not getting arrested for it. Nowadays, he’d be in jail. Things really were different in the ’80s.