July 10, 2013

BSC #120, Mary Anne and the Playground Fight: Counselors in Need of Counseling

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:36 pm by Jenn

This didn't happen, but whatever, I don't care anymore

This didn’t happen, but whatever, I don’t care anymore

Summary: It’s almost summer (yes, again), and SMS is offering another big trip like the one they organized to Hawaii. This time, however, Mary Anne isn’t sure she wants to go since Dawn will be spending the summer in Stoneybrook, and Mary Anne wants to hang out with her. There’s also a big playground day camp being held all summer, and the BSC girls all want to get jobs there. The trip, which turns out to be to Paris and London, will take place at the same time as the camp, so the girls are worried that the people who go on the trip will be disqualified from the job, since they’ll have to miss a few days of work.

Mary Anne and Dawn decide not to go to Europe, but the other girls find non-babysitting ways to raise half their plane fare, like gardening and holding a stuffed animal sale. Everyone goes out for the playground camp jobs except Mallory and Jessi, who are cut from the process for being too young. Things get super-competitive, especially with Kristy, who turns into a big ol’ bossypants, so much so that people finally start calling her on it. There are only a few open slots at the camp, and the BSC girls want them so badly that some even lie a little on their job applications and in their interviews to try to get an advantage.

Things get so bad that while at a going-away party for Victoria Kent (see the B-plot), some of the girls start acting like they did at Jamie’s birthday party way back in book 4. They realize they’re being dumb and work things out, with Kristy genuinely apologizing and possibly learning a lesson. Ha ha! Probably not. Mary Anne, Dawn, Claudia, and Logan end up getting jobs at the camp.

In the B-plot, Victoria’s going back to England, as I said, and she really doesn’t want to leave America. She becomes a huge brat and whines a lot about moving. There’s no real turning point; she just kind of deals with having to leave America, while taking in as much American culture as she can while still in the States. She also invites the girls going on the Europe trip to come visit her while they’re in London.

Thoughts: I think this is the first book to mention that Dawn’s father and stepmother now have a baby.

This is also probably the first BSC book to use the word “sucks.” And an eight-year-old says it!

“If all your friends are going to Europe, you have to want to go.” Y’all, now Kristy is trying to control Mary Anne’s thoughts.

The idea of Mr. Spier having a van is really weird.

Logan’s welcome-home present for Dawn is a bottle of juice. Way to break a five, Logan.

Someone named a stuffed poodle Demitasse. Weird.

“‘But I believe for a true barbecue, you need a grill of some sort, don’t you?’ Lady Kent asked. ‘You need a barbecue,’ Mal said helpfully.” That cracked me up.

March 6, 2013

BSC #114, The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier: Me, My Elf, and I

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:18 pm by Jenn

Wouldn't that head freak out the kids?

Wouldn’t that head freak out the kids?

Summary: It’s Christmas! Again! Mary Anne spends a ton of money on presents, which she can only do because her father lets her use his credit card, on the promise that she’ll pay back whatever she spends. She goes way overboard. I mean, I wouldn’t spend this amount of money, and I have an actual job, one that doesn’t require changing diapers for $4 an hour. Anyway, Mary Anne knows she won’t be able to make the money she needs by babysitting. She also only has two weeks to make it since that’s when Richard will be paying his bill, and he plans to charge interest.

Mary Anne learns that Winter World at the mall is hiring, so she goes to apply for a job. Yes, I know she’s only 13. Yes, I know Stoneybrook has a lax view of child labor. But before anyone can call BS, Mary Anne chats with another girl (Angela) who’s applying for a job, and is advised to say she’s 16. Mary Anne decides she doesn’t want to lie, but Angela turns in her application anyway. Both of them get hired to be Santa’s elves and wear hideous costumes. Mary Anne decides not to tell anyone about her job, since a) she lied to get it and b) it’s embarrassing.

Of course, Mary Anne is awesome at her job, and the kids love her, blah blah blah, but she keeps getting paranoid that someone will recognize her. Even though she’s wearing a giant elf head. Yeah. She also becomes friends with Angela, who it turns out was kicked out by her parents (because of her “lifestyle” – she never gives details on that, but she probably, like, kissed a boy and her parents thought she was “a fast girl”). Angela’s trying to make money to go out to California and live with some friends. Also, her parents are monsters, because at one point she tries to call them collect and they won’t accept the charges.

Basically the book goes on and on with Mary Anne working at the mall and trying to keep her secret. One day Logan and Dawn (oh, yeah, Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for Christmas) show up with Logan’s brother and sister, and Mary Anne practically has a heart attack. Dawn and Logan remain oblivious, but somehow, Logan’s brother Hunter figures out Mary Anne’s an elf. I really have no idea how.

Ultimately the truth comes out because Mary Anne and Dawn have a fight. Dawn has been distant and a little snobby since her arrival in Stoneybrook; her school in California is 8th-12th grades, so she feels all special that she gets to go to school with high schoolers. She suddenly thinks middle schoolers are babies and that she’s all sophisticated and stuff. She’s not. It’s annoying. Mary Anne calls her on it, and Dawn blasts her for being gone all the time and keeping secrets. Mary Anne confesses that she took a job at the mall, and Dawn convinces her to come clean to everyone, including Richard. He wants to punish her, but Sharon points out that it’s Christmas, so he lets it go.

The B-plot is so dumb that at one point it only gets a five-page chapter. The local hospital can’t afford to give toys to the kids hospitalized over Christmas, so Kristy organizes a big Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa extravaganza. People bring toys to a fair, and the BSC girls donate those toys, plus use the proceeds from the fair to buy more.

Thoughts: In this book, Hanukkah comes after Christmas. I don’t think that’s possible.

Richard charging Mary Anne interest seems mean to me. She’s basically just borrowing his money and will pay him back later – why should she have to pay extra? He’s not losing anything.

Kristy wants to use canned-food donations to make refreshments for “Santa-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa Town.” First of all, why Santa and not Christmas? Second of all, that sounds like a Top Chef challenge. Enjoy your tuna and lima bean casserole, everyone!

I guess Winter World doesn’t run background checks on employees, or they would find out Mary Anne’s real age. It’s good to know a program using people around kids is so concerned with their safety.

April 23, 2012

BSC Mystery #26, Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-sitter: Like The Westing Game, But Without the Good Parts

Posted in books tagged , , at 10:01 pm by Jenn

Awww, redheaded kids are so cute

Summary: Now that the BSC girls are back from Hawaii, there’s a lot of sitting to be done. The girls get two calls for the same house and are told that two sitters will be needed for two separate sets of kids. It’s Dawn’s book, so of course she’s one of the sitters. The story is that there are two estranged sisters staying at the house, which belonged to their late father. They’re staying with their kids in separate wings and don’t want the kids to spend time together.

More of the story comes out as the sitting job goes on: There’s a younger sister, Amy, who’s also staying at the house, and there was a younger brother named Patrick who died as a teenager. The sisters’ father, Arthur Livingston, made sure each daughter received a clue when he died. Whoever solves some stupid puzzle gets his estate. The guy was clearly a jerk and enjoyed making his children compete with each other, which is why the older sisters hate each other. Amy wants everyone to work things out, and she especially wants to get to know her nieces and nephew.

Since it’s a Dawn book, there’s also some spooky stuff going on in the house. Dawn thinks Mr. Livingston isn’t really dead, since she sees a recent check with the signature A. Livingston on it. She also keeps feeling like she’s being watched and thinks the butler, John, is a bit suspicious. Dawn hears him and Amy fighting about revealing information and can tell there’s something strange going on there.

Anyway, the kids are pretty nice but don’t understand why they’re not allowed to hang out together. The sisters eventually agree to let the BSC girls get them together, and the kids all get along well. One of them reveals that she knows her mother’s clue, which gets the kids thinking about the mystery. Amy also shares her clue with Dawn, so the kids and the BSC girls have two of the three clues. The kids convince the other mother to share hers, and after some thinking (more than should be necessary, since the clues are incredibly easy), Dawn figures out that they need to find a portrait in the house.

The sisters find the right portrait, but before they check the code on the back to see if it matches what they need to get the inheritance, John reveals that he’s actually Patrick. Mr. Livingston was mad at him for something or another and told his sisters (but not Amy) that he was dead. What a lovely man. Suddenly the sisters want to work things out and split the inheritance four ways. They’ve found the right portrait, so they get the inheritance, and everyone is happy. Mr. Livingston is presumably burning in Hell. Oh, and the A. Livingston signature was Amy’s, not that anyone cares.

The B-plot is also Dawn’s: She’s so popular and busy that she doesn’t have much time to spend with Mary Anne. Apparently three months in Stoneybrook aren’t enough. First Dawn holds a Friends Day to hang out with the BSC girls, some other Stoneybrook friends, and a bunch of sitting charges. Then she has a Family Day with Mary Anne and their parents. Then she goes back to California and we get to celebrate because this is the last Dawn book. Yay!

Thoughts: Clearly someone read The Westing Game before writing this book. Both stories are about a will that includes a puzzle, and both puzzles end up requiring the participants to share clues to solve it. But The Westing Game is ten million times better than this book. The clues in this one are really lame. Cary’s were much better. When a 13-year-old comes up with better clues than an old man, you know there’s a problem.

Patrick’s alias is John Irving. I wonder if the ghostwriter meant that as a reference to the writer or if it was just a coincidence.

I’m surprised Dawn doesn’t say anything about using candy as a prize when she and Abby organize a treasure hunt for their sitting charges.

Seriously, now all I want to do is reread The Westing Game. And imagine Turtle kicking Dawn in the shins.

Kristy takes her family trip to Hawaii, but the BSC girls barely mention it. They don’t even give her a going-away party or anything. Weird.

April 7, 2012

BSC #98, Dawn and Too Many Sitters: Why Did Anyone Think This Was a Good Idea?

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 12:45 pm by Jenn

I highly doubt Claudia's room is that neat

Summary: Dawn and Jeff are back in Stoneybrook for the summer, but as soon as they get there, Dawn wants to leave again. SMS has a special offer on a trip to Hawaii, and Dawn has a chance to go even though she doesn’t go to SMS anymoroe. All of the other BSC girls (except Kristy, who’s going later in the summer with her family, and Mallory, who is poor and unloved) want to go, too. Their parents agree, but the girls have to pay half their way themselves. That means they need to earn $250 each. (Cheapest trip to Hawaii ever, I believe.)

The girls start taking on as many jobs as they can, but it’s hard to keep up with them all. Enter Jeff and the Pike triplets, who have decided that, at the seasoned age of ten, that they’re old enough to babysit. Kristy agrees to let them into the club as babysitters-in-training because she believes they’ll get bored soon enough and lose interest. She is exactly right. The guys tag along on the girls’ sitting jobs, and though they’re good with the kids, they don’t want to do anything that would constitute actual work. They also skip meetings and eat all of Claudia’s junk food, which is only okay when the BSC girls do it.

Eventually the girls decide they have to kick the guys out, and Dawn and Mallory are given the task of breaking the news to them. They keep stalling since they don’t want to hurt their brothers’ feelings. But then the guys announce that they’re not enjoying sitting as much as they’d expected, and they don’t like the meetings, so they want to quit. (No comment is made about the fact that I’m sure plenty of parents objected to having their children looked after by ten-year-olds who still play on Little League teams.) The guys part ways with the club with no hard feelings, and the Pikes agree to let the triplets be the “second sitter” whenever the family needs one.

The rest of the book is about the girls trying to earn money for the trip. Eventually they provide entertainment (face-painting, magic tricks, etc.) at a town Fourth of July happening and make all the money.

Thoughts: Claudia screams when she reunites with Dawn, and Abby tells her, “That is an outdoor voice, Claudia.” Hee, awesome.

I can’t believe Watson planned a family trip and didn’t tell Kristy she could invite all her friends. I also can’t believe Kristy’s willing to leave the club without a president for more than one day.

“Byron found he had a taste for baby formula.” Something is not right with that boy.

Mallory: “You’re not supposed to be down here unsupervised.” Nicky: “So, supervise me.” Heh.

With all their sitting, yard sales, car washes, etc., I would think each girl would easily be able to make $250. It’s a large amount of money to a 13-year-old, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much.

The girls realize they’ll also want money for souvenirs, though, and Mallory asks if they’ll really have to buy them. Mal, you’re the only regular member not going – you’re the one getting the souvenirs. Keep your mouth shut and hope for something more than a puka-shell necklace.

Kristy suggests “a special event. Like the haunted house we ran, or the sleepover to raise money for the kids in New Mexico, or Claudia’s art show–.” Abby: “A sleepover in a haunted art gallery!” I love Abby.

October 27, 2011

BSC #88, Farewell, Dawn: West Coast Represent

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:44 pm by Jenn

"This time it's for good." Promise?

Summary: After hearing in the last book that Sunny’s mom has cancer, Dawn decides she really wants to move back to California – for good. School is about to start up, so she has to go quickly, which means she only has a couple of weeks left in Stoneybrook. While she’s trying to figure out how to break the news to Mary Anne, Dawn tells Kristy, in case she needs to get a move on replacing her in the BSC. Kristy tells Claudia, Claudia tells Stacey, Stacey tells Robert, Robert tells Logan, and Logan tells Mary Anne, who’s understandably ticked about not hearing the news straight from Dawn.

Mary Anne turns into a big baby, acting like a jerk to Dawn and refusing to help the other BSC girls plan her goodbye party. Of course, it’s just because she’s so upset, but talk about handling it badly. Though, to be fair, everyone else handles the news of Dawn moving across the country a little too well. Maybe they’re as sick of her as I am. Anyway, long story short, Dawn goes back to California, rarely to be heard from again.

In the B plot, James Hobart breaks his leg, so the BSC girls and a bunch of kids decide to put on Christmas in the summer to make him feel better. It’s sweet but boring.

Thoughts: There are actually some nice moments in this book, and Dawn is much less annoying than usual. Jessi writes her a nice letter saying how much she looks up to Dawn and admires her for standing up for what she believes in. There’s also a scene where Dawn and Stacey talk about changes and how it can be hard to make people understand what you want when they’re not ready for a change. And while I’m not a Dawn fan, I did feel a little bad for her, feeling torn between her two homes, and her friends who want her to stay but also want her to be happy.

Interesting that, despite being on probation, Stacey has been reinstated as treasurer. Maybe Shannon just really sucks with money.

Jessi tells the kids not to buy James a gun that shoots sparks because Dawn doesn’t like guns. Who gives a crap what Dawn doesn’t like if the present isn’t for her? If I were the kids wanting to buy it, I’d say, “Dawn’s moving across the country. I can buy whatever the heck I want.”

Why does Dawn write Sunny a letter when she’s going to see her in two days?

August 15, 2011

BSC #84, Dawn and the School Spirit War: Smells Like Teen Spirit

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:50 pm by Jenn

I bet those socks are made from hemp

Summary: It’s School Spirit Month at SMS, which means lots of theme days, like Pajama Day and Clean Up Your School Day. The month is supposed to drum up support for the undefeated baseball team. At most schools, students would have fun with this, other would roll their eyes and decline to participate, and no one would really care much either way. But since Dawn is involved, School Spirit Month has to become A Thing.

It starts when Mary Anne admits that she doesn’t want to participate. She really, really doesn’t want to wear her pajamas to school. Instead of telling her to either suck up and do it or shut up and not do it, Dawn lets her keep whining. On the day when the students are supposed to wear yellow, Dawn forgets, only putting on yellow socks at the last minute. A local reporter comes to the school to cover the event (uh, as if) and makes Dawn look foolish.

Mary Anne realizes that she’ll have to wear pajamas on Pajama Day or risk being a social pariah, or some nonsense like that. Instead of, again, either sucking it up and going along or shutting up and not participating, Dawn and Mary Anne decide to circulate a petition to get Spirit Month canceled. This turns the event into an all-out war that divides the school, as well as the club. (Kristy, Claudia, and Jessi are pro-Spirit Month; Dawn, Mary Anne, and Mallory are anti-. Stacey’s not in the club but is anti- as well.)

Things get out of control, with lockers getting glued shut, parents screaming at each other at meetings about Spirit Month, and Dawn getting phone calls telling her to go back to California. (All in due time, my dears. All in due time.) The school decides to cancel Spirit Month, which is probably a good idea if the students aren’t mature enough to handle it without attacking each other. Dawn, however, has realized that things have gotten way out of control. She decides that she didn’t want to get the event canceled after all, so she and Mary Anne write up a proposal to get it reinstated, with the stipulation that participation be voluntary. Which…it…was in the first place. Shut up, Dawn.

In the B-plot, the Barretts and DeWitts are having trouble surviving in their crowded house. They decide to put an addition on the house to make more room, but the kids just want two big rooms to share. Yeah, that’s realistic.

Thoughts: I love how Dawn is all, “We have to stand up for what we believe in!” but when she actually gets Spirit Month canceled, she’s all, “Uh, just kidding.” I mean, I get her and Mary Anne wanting to stand up for their beliefs, but they’re really overreacting here. Save the protests for something political, not yellow socks. They act like they’re the Rosa Parks of SMS.

Shawna Riverson also forgets to wear yellow on Color Day. Probably because the girl has brain damage.

The girls get 300 signatures on their anti-Spirit Month petition. How big is SMS? Are we really supposed to think that’s half the school? Because that means SMS has 600 students, and I just don’t think there are that many people in Stoneybrook.

Someone calls Sharon an unfit mother because she supports Dawn and Mary Anne, and I’m kind of surprise Sharon doesn’t take her out. Sharon strikes me as the sort of person who would cut you if you looked at one of her children funny.

June 3, 2011

BSC Mystery #17, Dawn and the Halloween Mystery: How Dawn Saved Halloween

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 11:25 pm by Jenn

I used the British cover because it is HILARIOUS

Summary: Halloween is coming, so everyone’s getting costumes and decorations. Out with Carol one day, Dawn hears a scream and sees someone in a clown mask running out of a convenience store. Someone yells that the clown robbed the store, but no one’s able to stop the criminal. Dawn is able to provide some details to the police: The getaway car was a black Chevy, the robber was wearing shoes called Fly Highs, and the car had a bumper sticker from a hot dog place. The adults in the area decide it’s not safe for kids to be out at night, so they cancel trick-or-treating.

Dawn and her friends (but mostly Sunny) decide to take matters into their own hands and find the robber so they can save Halloween. (They also plan a party for the kids, and there’s way too much time spent talking about it.) They first look for places where the mask can be bought and learn that only one store in the area sells it. Then they go looking for the people who bought it. Those people don’t strike Dawn as suspicious, since only mean people commit crimes, so they move on. They also stake out the hot dog place, but they only succeed at raising the suspicions of a woman who works there.

While all this has been going on, Dawn has been sitting for the DeWitt boys (the ones who bugged Kristy in California Girls!) a lot, as well as their new neighbor, a boy named Timmy. Timmy lives with a single father who works a lot, and Mrs. DeWitt has agreed to look after Timmy. One day Dawn notices footprints in Timmy’s yard that match the ones left by Sky Highs, then sees the getaway car in the garage. She tells Mrs. DeWitt, who calls the police, who arrest Timmy’s father. Halloween’s back on, and the kids get to go trick-or-treating.

But! While Dawn’s taking some kids around the neighborhood, she sees someone digging in Timmy’s yard. The person’s wearing dark clothes and a clown mask. When she goes to Mrs. DeWitt to tell her there’s something strange going on, Mrs. DeWitt reveals that Timmy’s dad had an alibi for the robbery and has been released. The police come back and arrest the person in the yard…who turns out to be Timmy’s mother, and the woman from the hot dog place. She was digging up the money from the robbery. So Timmy’s mom is a criminal, but at least his dad is a good guy.

Back in Stoneybrook, the Barretts and DeWitts (no relation) are looking for a house that will hold two adults and seven kids. Franklin and Mrs. Barrett find one outside of Stoneybrook, and at first the kids act like they’re fine with moving, but then admit that they don’t want to leave Stoneybrook. The parents agree to try to find a house in town, but the only houses that will hold their family are out of their price range. The kids find them a great house that’s seemingly too small, and agree to share rooms so they can live there.

Thoughts: Even though this book and Mary Anne Breaks the Rules take place at the same time, neither book mentions the events of the other. So…that’s weird.

This book has an actual twist ending! And one I didn’t remember. I was all ready to complain about how Timmy’s dad was obviously the robber. Nicely done, ghostwriter.

Dawn, re: Jeff and junk food: “I don’t mind if he eats it once in a while. That’s his business.” But Dawn, I thought everything was your business.

Hey, guess when you don’t want to read about a robber who dresses like a clown? When you’re also reading It.

Trivia: Richard drives a red Chevy Cavalier.

If Mrs. Barrett and Franklin keep hiring sitters for their family outings, they’re never going to learn how to take care of their kids on their own.

Jessi calls the decorating scheme of Buddy’s room “early American Ninja Turtle.” Hee.

Dawon doesn’t tell the police about the distinct tag on the robber’s mask, which leads her to the store where it was sold. Guess what, Dawn? That’s obstruction of justice. Good job with the aiding and abetting, We ♥ Kids Club.

Owning a store that only sells Halloween items and is only open in October seems like a poor business model.

May 3, 2011

BSC #77, Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever: In Which Dawn is a Little Bit Awesome

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 11:33 pm by Jenn

That doll with the really long legs is FREAKING ME OUT

Summary: Dawn takes a job sitting for a girl named Whitney, who’s 12 and has Down syndrome. It’s not a typical sitting job, since Whitney’s almost a teenager and feels like she’s fairly grown-up, so her parents and Dawn pretend Dawn is just coming over to hang out with Whitney every afternoon. Dawn is actually really good with Whitney, though she finds it tough to be in charge without actually acting like she’s in charge. She also finds it difficult to deal with how other people look at and treat Whitney.

Everything is fine with Dawn and Whitney’s friendship until Dawn accidentally lets it slip that she’s been hired to spend time with Whitney. Whitney is furious and refuses to talk to Dawn. One day Dawn’s sitting for a couple of girls who disappear. She finds them at a fair and learns that Whitney told them she was babysitting and took them there. Even though she kinda, sorta broke the law, Whitney was good with the girls and shows that she’s fairly mature. Dawn and the We ♥ Kids Club make Whitney an honorary member and tell her she can help out with special sitting jobs, which I guess means things like group activities.

Back in Stoneybrook, Mrs. Barrett and Mr. DeWitt get engaged, which their kids aren’t happy about. Then they all go house-hunting (with babysitters tagging along, of course, because parents in Stoneybrook don’t know how to parent without the BSC) and the kids suddenly work things out. I don’t know.

In the other B-plot, Dawn’s father is dating a lot of women and for some reason keeps taking Dawn and Jeff along on what he calls “family dates.” I guess it’s to make sure whoever he’s with gets along with his kids. He dates a long string of losers, including one who meets Whitney and acts like she has the plague. Another is the mother of a snobby girl from Dawn’s school, and she brings the daughter, Alana, along on the date. Dawn and Alana taunt each other the entire time, acting less mature than Whitney.

Dawn and Jeff realize they really miss Carol (who was unceremoniously dumped in Dawn and the We ♥ Kids Club), and this is driven home when Carol comes across the scene at the fair and treats Whitney like a normal person. Dawn mentions to her father that she saw Carol, and they start dating again. Then all of a sudden, they’re engaged. That seems awfully fast, especially when they didn’t work out their issues from previous books, but I guess we’re supposed to find it romantic.

Thoughts: Dawn, do a TV commercial for California and move on to another subject already.

Dawn’s father is also named Richard? What’s up with Sharon and guys named Richard?

Isn’t eight a little old for a flower girl?

“Alana. That was an unusual name.” Says the girl whose best friend’s name is Sunshine Daydream.

Wait, Alana calls Dawn’s father Jack. Is his name Richard or Jack? Why is this so hard, ghostwriter??

I can’t believe the writer didn’t have Kristy and Shannon mastermind some reconciliation for the Barrett and DeWitt kids during the house-hunting expedition. The plot just…ends.

March 4, 2011

BSC #72, Dawn and the We ♥ Kids Club: Dear Dawn, You Belong in Jail

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 10:56 pm by Jenn

Yeah, yeah, California is awesome. Whatever

Summary: The We ♥ Kids Club is featured in a newspaper article and a TV news broadcast, and suddenly they’re famous. Business is booming, but too much for the four girls to handle, especially since they’re not as organized as the BSC. They don’t even have regular meetings! Quel horreur! The girls keep double-booking jobs and taking on more than they can handle. Instead of hiring more members, which would be reasonable and smart, they get more organized. But still not as organized as the BSC, since Kristy isn’t there to crack the whip.

But that’s not the main plot of the book. Oh, no. The main plot of the book is that Dawn is a horrible, horrible person.

Carol has been hanging out at the Schafers’ house a ton, and we all know Dawn doesn’t like Carol. So when Mr. Schafer announces that they’re engaged, she kind of snaps. She decides that her dad must not want to spend time with her anymore, and she should go back to Stoneybrook. So she takes her dad’s credit card number, books herself a flight to Connecticut, leaves a goodbye note, and jets for the East Coast. When she arrives, her mother is understandably furious and tells her she can’t stay – she’s going back to California the next day.

Dawn thinks no one understands her feelings on the situation, but she’s the one who doesn’t get how much her parents had to do to arrange for her to move back to California, and how difficult the situation is for the rest of her family. When she gets back to California, she finally has an actual conversation with her father about how she feels neglected, or whatever. The poor little princess just wants her way. And then she gets it, because Mr. Schafer and Carol start fighting and decide to break up. At least Dawn has the good sense to feel bad about it.

Dawn’s so special that she gets her own B-plot: She spends a lot of time with Stephie, the girl Mary Anne sat for in the California Super Special, who wants a mom. Dawn worries that Stephie wants her for a mom, but she doesn’t. I don’t think. The plot just kind of ended.

In the C-plot, Kristy’s jealous of the We ♥ Kids Club’s sudden fame and tries to get the BSC some notice. It doesn’t work. She’s the only one who cares.

Thoughts: I know I read this book when I was younger, and again a few years ago, but I didn’t remember anything about it. Maybe I found Dawn so ridiculous that I blocked it all out? It’s entirely possible.

Kristy was able to get immediate interest in everyone’s blizzard stories, but not in the BSC itself. Wouldn’t she get the hint that if the media didn’t contact the club after the blizzard, they weren’t going to? Oh, right, Kristy doesn’t take hints.

Stacey compares Kristy going to the press without talking to the other girls to Mary Anne getting her hair cut without telling anyone. Um, what? I didn’t realize the group had to put it to a vote before someone went to the salon. I joke about the BSC being like a cult, but sometimes it’s a little too scary to be funny.

Mary Anne realizes she’s been sitting on Reese’s Pieces (hidden in Claudia’s bed) and says she thought the bed felt lumpy. Jessi calls her “the Princess and the Pieces.” Okay, that was funny.

Dawn writes down her dad’s credit card number and rationalizes that she’s not stealing his money because he would have to pay for her to fly back to Stoneybrook eventually. Leave her there, Mr. Schafer!

Another rationalization: the flight would cost more later because “prices tend to go up over time.” I…I just…MORON.

“Snow! I’d almost forgotten what that was like.” You were only in California for five books, drama queen.

Dawn says she didn’t want to tell her dad how she felt about Carol because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Yes, hurting someone’s feelings is much worse than STEALING HIS CREDIT CARD AND FLYING ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SHUT UP, DAWN.

Carol’s kind of immature, too, though. Dawn’s father tries to send her home while he’s dealing with the Dawn situation, and she complains that he thinks of Dawn as more important than her. Then she throws her engagement ring on the floor. Yeah, another drama queen. It makes me think of that Office episode where Kelly tells Darryl (who she’s been dating for, like, six days) he has to choose between her and his daughter, and he immediately picks his daughter. What does Carol expect, that Mr. Schafer is just going to pretend nothing’s happening? Actually, if Dawn were my daughter, I’d tell her to stay in Connecticut for good.

Dawn has to pay her father back for the plane tickets, but I think that’s it as far as punishment goes. If she were my daughter, she’d a) go to therapy and b) be grounded for the rest of the school year.

By the way, the post title is from Notting Hill. Hugh Grant’s character catches a guy shoplifting in his bookstore, and the shoplifter gets Julia Roberts’ character to sign an autograph for him. She writes, “Dear Rufus, you belong in jail.”

February 21, 2011

BSC Mystery #12, Dawn and the Surfer Ghost: Totally Radical, Dude

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by Jenn

A surfer? In California? Well, I never!

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.

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