Thursday, February 28, 2013

"I'm Old Bad John. And this is my co-pirate, Andrew the Awful." BSC # 15 Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn (1988)

What's with the ... in the title? Are we supposed to be surprised it's a Dawn book? Stacey had gone back to NYC, and there's a blond on the cover. Hence, Dawn.

So the plot of this one is pretty simple but silly. Stacey has just left, and Mallory and Jessi have just joined the club. (For some reason, I almost wrote clove there. Sometimes, my brain makes NO sense.) Dawn's all jealous and insecure for a variety of reasons, so when Mrs. Pike asks her to help coach Margo and Claire for the titular pageant, she jumps at the chance to show everyone she's a good sitter. Claudia, Mary Anne and Kristy also find girls to coach and make the whole thing into a contest. Problem is, most of the girls they're coaching really have no shot at winning--they're not particularly polished or talented.
Meanwhile, Jeff's been acting like a little butthead for several books now, and he begs Sharon to be allowed to move back to California with his dad. Eventually she agrees, and Dawn sulks and acts like a butthead herself for a while before he leaves.

Interesting Tidbits
Is that supposed to be the girls from the book on the cover? They seem awfully tall for five, six and seven year olds.

I love how, in most of the books, they're all like, "Claudia's the vice president but mostly just because she has her own phone, not because she has any talents or anything."
Heh. This is pre-Bart, and Dawn says Kristy thinks boys were put on the planet to annoy her.

Dr. Johanssen calls and specifically asks for Claudia to sit for Charlotte, which leads to Kristy, Dawn and MA getting all jealous and listing all the "awesome" sitting things they have done in the past.
Kristy makes up an oath Jessi and Mallory take to be inducted into the club. Claudia and Dawn roll their eyes but Mary Anne bursts into tears because it's so beautiful. Yeah...

Jeff's teacher called because Jeff gave another kid a black eye for the second time. If Jeff were in school these days, he'd probably spend more time suspended than in class.
Claudia likes to read the crime watch in the newspaper. She tells Dawn that last Halloween, 42 pumpkins were smashed. I don't even think a pumpkin smashing would show up in my local paper.

Here's what cracks me up about the whole pageant thing. Usually, it's Dawn going around talking about how stuff is sexist; instead, it's Claudia making that point about the pageant.
At one point, Jessi is spelled as Jessie.

Mrs. Pike says she doesn't see any good reason why Claire and Margo can't enter the contest. Well, what about the cost? My sister wanted to enter a teen pageant and the cost just to enter was $500. That didn't include any of the attire, shoes or other accessories she would have had to buy.
Dawn describes Karen as "funny, daring, imaginative [and] outspoken." How about "hammy, irritating, annoying and loud-mouthed"?

Kristy tells Karen about the pageant because she knows it's right up her alley, and then Kristy will have someone to prepare like Dawn does.
Claire, Margo and Karen's "talents" are truly awful. They all stubbornly insist on particular ideas. Margo peels bananas with her feet. (Dawn has her saying a recitation while doing it during the pageant.) Both Claire and Karen sing, but their choice of songs are silly. Claire does the Popeye song while Karen sings thirty billion verses of the Wheels on the Bus and bores the judges.

At this stage in the series, the rule is "two sitters for more than five kids" and it applies only to the Pike household.
Anytime AMM describes the Perkins girls, I roll my eyes. Ever since I learned they really exist and are the daughters of her friend, I get annoyed by how perfect she makes them in the book. It's hardly surprising when MA talks Myriah into joining the pageant, because she actually has real talent. But what is she doing suggesting a pageant to a little girl who definitely would want to get involved, without asking the parents first?

Mrs. Perkins agrees to let Myriah be in the pageant, but she gives her and MA the speech that all of the girls needed to hear: that there are more losers than winners, and she'll probably lose, but her parents will be proud of her either way. Of course, Myriah actually comes in second, and all the girls agree she should have won.
Claudia spelling! dosnt, babysiting, becuase, shold, begining, Johanssin, gues, hapened, whith, abot, pagent, realy, whants, Piks, Maria (instead of Myriah). She also uses taked for talked, your for you're, and well for we'll. The kickers? She spells Charlotte as both Charlitte and Charlite and then spells Stacey wrong!

Dawn says Claudia's not a slob, because Kristy's a slob. It's one aspect of Kristy's personality they drop after the early books, probably mostly because Claudia really is kind a slob.
Claudia really bullies Charlotte into agreeing to enter the pageant. Of all the parents, hers are the ones I'm most surprised agreed to let her be involved at all. They know she's shy and they could probably guess how the whole thing was going to end. (I knew when I read it when I was ten.)

If Claire can't tell time, why does she wear a watch?
During their dress rehearsal, Dawn asks Margo what her greatest hope is, and she says "global peace." Next, she asks Claire what three things she would rescue if her house caught on fire, and she answers, "My family, global peace, and the fire extinguisher." Later, when asked how she would make the world a better place, Claire says she'd make everyone be friends and give them all free McDonald's French fries.

Jeff likes playing with the "plasticizing machine." I honestly don't remember those at all. I'm completely blanking on what they look like.
Margo picks out Sabrina Bouvier just by her name. I'm convinced that AMM must have known a Sabrina Bouvier in real life, because there's two of them in the series and neither one is a very pleasant character. (This Sabrina is a JonBenet Ramsey clone; the other's a bitch at the middle school.) This one made me want to turn on some Toddlers and Tiaras...

The head judge is named Mrs. Peabody and she used to own a charm school. There's almost no other career someone named Mrs. Peabody could have.
Poor Charlotte memorizes as recitation for her talent, but forgets the words and runs offstage crying. Claudia has to find her parents.

During the pageant, Claire gets asked what she hopes for most, and she says that she hopes Santa is real. Karen gets the fire question and tries to rescue five things, including all her toys. Margo gets a question where she can use her "global peace" answer--at least she could if Sabrina hadn't use it as her answer right before Margo. (BTW, Margo gets asked what she hopes will happen by 2010. It's very weird reading that now. It's like the episode of the Simpsons where we see Lisa's wedding, also in 2010.)
Cheese-tastic ending: Claire calls Dawn (how does she know her number anyway?) and wants her to help her enter a Beautiful Child contest. (One of the prizes is a supply of Turtle Wax. Why does any child need that?)

Next month: Happy Birthday, Shannon!

"How'd a little thing like you end up surviving until the twentieth century?" BSC #44 Dawn and the Big Sleepover (1991) --British Edition

Somehow, despite the fact that I read one Dawn book a week, I ended up a week off in delivering them. So, you luckies, you get two, two, two Dawns for the price of one this week! Are you excited? I know I am! (Plus, go back to January and read the review of SS #15, which I apparently never published until last week.)

This is another one of these BSC books in which the club takes on a ridiculously large project and, of course, it goes well. The students at SES have gotten pen pals from a Zuni reservation in New Mexico. A giant fire burns down the school and several of the children's houses. Dawn can't stop thinking about those poor kids, so she organizes a fundraiser and food and clothing drive. The kids really get into it and it's a great success. To reward the kids, they have a giant sleepover with all the kids who got involved. Dawn winds up exhausted but happy when the principal of the school in New Mexico writes a letter thanking them for their donation.
No subplot in this one. Just a lot of "cuteness" as various kids use different schemes to raise money.

Interesting tidbits
I'm so excited to try to catch all the Brit-isms thrown into this book. It does not disappoint. On the first page, Mallory refers to her siblings as "you lot" instead of "you guys" or something American.

Even in England, Dawn still has a case of the italics. I'm barely one page in and she's italicized two, might, long, every, and her. All of that but the first is in one paragraph, where she's describing herself. (This continues throughout the whole book.)
Britishness for Chapter 1 (actually, it's called 1st Chapter): Mum for Mom; they describe Claire as being in nursery instead of in kindergarten; junior school instead of elementary school (although they still refer to SES and SMS); "a brace" instead of braces.

British spellings: storey, programme, jewellery, favourites, favour, pyjamas, theatre, armour, practise, honour, cheque.
Jordan's pen pal asks if they have the new Star Wars film. It's 1991; there hadn't been a Star Wars film in 7 years or so. I want to say the American version mentions Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it's been 20 years since I read it. (BTW, they're called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the U.K.)

The triplets think Pig Latin is their secret language. Yet all the Pike kids know it. Great secret.
Chapter 2: Richard tells Dawn and MA they can "lay the table;" Kristy wears a "polo neck shirt, jeans and trainers;" British candy in Claudia's room, such as Hula Hoops.

Heh. This is during the MA-Logan break up, and Dawn mentions Logan in the past tense, then feels the need to point out that he's not dead.

Dawn's surprised Jessi doesn't get stage fright. She's been performing since she was itty bitty. If she got stage fright, she would have quit dancing ages ago.
One interesting difference it took me until chapter 3 to notice: In the U.S., they always say Baby-Sitters Club. In the UK, it's Babysitters Club, which is, you'll notice, how I always spell it. I've always thought that hyphen was pretty unnecessary.

Chapter 3: Kristy is club chairman, and Claudia is vice-chairman; every Monday, Stacey collects club subs instead of dues (I assume it's short for subscription); the group "quietened" down at one point; Mallory says "you lot" again; a petrol station caught fire.
Dawn and Mary Anne find Claudia talking with her mouth full hilarious. You'd think they'd be used to it by now.

Chapter 4: Richard picks up some Mexican takeaway; a senior teacher from SMS talks to Dawn about her idea.
Dawn gets MA's attention away from a book by giving her spoilers. Nice...
When Dawn tells Kristy her plan, Kristy says they'll need to have an emergency meeting as soon as the school decides to go with it. Since the school meeting would be on a weekday, the longest they'd have to wait for a regular meeting after hearing the news would be one day. (They end up starting their meeting half an hour early. That makes a lot more sense.)
Chapter 5: Nicky once had a paper round (instead of route).

I remember this from when I read the book as a child. They're making a flier about the fundraiser and drive, and Kristy does a Who What When Where Why. They're going through the Ws and Kristy says, "Where's where?" It leads to this:

"What?" Claudia said.
"Where," Kristy repeated.
"Where's what?" Mary Anne said.
I thought it was a lot longer than that, though.

Chapter 6: Dr. Johanssen had to do a casualty shift (I assume this means ER).
Stacey tells Charlotte she can only have some low sodium crackers; later, she's described as eating pretzels.

Chapter 7: Dawn calls her homeroom teacher her registration teacher; the head teacher (principal) at SES approves the assembly; Mallory and Jessi sit in the boot seats in the car on the way to SES (I assume these are the rear-facing seats in a station wagon); they park in the car park.
The school secretary drives the BSC over to the elementary school. Unless she's a registered bus driver and her car is a licensed school vehicle, this is illegal.

Dawn takes questions from the audience and conveniently knows all the kids who have questions. Then one of the triplets plays a trick on Mallory...ending the assembly.
The notebook entries are the same as the U.S. version, with a few slight changes--mostly the spelling.

Chapter 8: Margo and Claire make a fish pond in paddling pool; Marilyn and Carolyn arrange a "hoopla" involving plastic skittles (bowling pins).
Dawn asks the triplets why they call it a "free throw" when it costs a quarter, and they just roll their eyes. You can't tell me she never played basketball in school. I'd have rolled my eyes too.

Linny is helping at the Pikes'  carnival, even though he doesn't go to SES and therefore, doesn't have a penpal. It happens again later, when the Kilbournes and Delaneys, who also go to private school, are involved in the yard sale. I guess the kids could still go to the slumber party and everything, but I imagine the liability would be different for that.
Claire references Fraggle Rock.

Spelling error: The book mentions Gabbic Perkins.
How does the carnival make money? They charge money for the games, but I can't imagine a quarter per game even covers the price of the prizes, and I assume they have to pay the young man (Goober) doing the dinosaur show. Are they charging admission?

Claudia spelling: yestirday, Rudowskis, carnavel, remeber, assined, supervize, Jacky, Rudowsky, disastr, mest. She also uses sail for sale.
Chapter 9: the Rodowskys have a garden sale instead of a yard or garage sale.

None of the girls wants to work the Rodowsky yard sale, so they actually draw straws to decide who has to take the job. It ends up being a borderline disaster, as none of the kids were asking for permission for the wares they donated. Some of the parents decided to let their items go, while others paid some money to buy them back.

Dawn and MA realize the downside to having a contest for the donations. While some of the items donated are pretty junky, others are really nice...too nice almost. Dawn discovers that many of the items, like those at the yard sale, were donated without the parents' permission.
Haley puts on a gypsy costume and reads fortunes. Alan, Pete and their friend Justin come by, and Alan decides to have his fortune read. First Haley mentions a handsome young man and Pete makes a gay joke. Then, Haley, sensing a sucker, only gives Alan half his fortune and insists on another quarter to finish.

Dawn shames the pizza man into getting flour from the grocery store when his flour shipment doesn't arrive in time. Later, she says all the pizza went really quickly, except for the slices with anchovies. Who thought anchovy pizza was a good idea with kids?
Chapter 12: the BSC clears up the mess left by the pizzas. (there were no good Britisms in 10 and 11.)

Real book: One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey.
We don't get to hear how much money was raised, just that Dawn couldn't believe the amount.

Chapter 14: Various kids keep saying they have to go to the toilet, rather than the bathroom (which in Britain would have a bath or shower in it.) I was rather hoping they would want to use the loo or WC (water closet).
Dawn says the Barretts were the last parents to arrive. Was that Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Barrett together? I can't imagine.

By the way, why do they call her Mrs. Barrett, while Stacey's mom (also divorced) is Ms. McGill?
Very cheesy ending: Haley mentioned she had written a letter to her pen pal from her psychic alter-ego saying that a mysterious package would come from the East. The pen pal replies, saying that everything came true. She wanted to know how "Madame Levoux" knew all of this, how she got her (the pen pal's) address, and so on...then ends the letter, "Next time, Haley, disguise your handwriting better!"

Claudia: oversized yellow man's jacket, orange ski pants (instead of stirrup pants, which I *know* it was in the U.S. version), and a hideous, wide paisley tie, ankle boots, hoop earrings; more damn Pebbles hair, with a bone "hair slide," pink, off the shoulder shirt with polka dots, tights (no pants, apparently)

Next week: #15 Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“Remember when I tried to flush Pudgy down the toilet?” BSC Mystery #26 Dawn Shafer, Undercover Babysitter (1996)

I quit reading BSC books after #73. I was 13 or 14 at the time and, in my head, far too old for them. There were other, bigger books I wanted to read, and it was easier to ask my mom to buy them for me if I wasn't also asking for new BSC books.

But that doesn't mean I quit checking up on the BSC. Every time we went to the bookstore (and these were the days when "going to the bookstore" meant going to the mall, which meant a half-hour car trip) I would head over to the right shelf and nonchalantly check to see what new BSC titles had been released. I left off while Dawn was on her "six months" in California, so I was annoyed when she came back, only to leave again a few books later. Why not just have her stay gone all together? And I was even more irritated that, despite moving away, she still showed up as the main character in the occasional BSC book. Including this one, which I think is the last Dawn book.
This mystery's a doozy, and a little hard to explain. Arthur Livingston passed away and left his estate to his daughters--well, to whichever one solves the puzzle. His daughters fight all the time, and all three are living in the house together for the time being. Each one is given a clue and has to find the treasure in order to inherit.

The three daughters each try to solve the mystery on their own but can't do it. With a little help from the BSC, and the kids, they put their clues together and learn that he wanted them to come together to solve the mystery. They discover the code on some artwork, and also learn that their dead younger brother is still alive. They all agree to have yearly family reunions. Whee!
In the subplot, Dawn is heading back to California in a couple of weeks, and various people want a piece of her time before she goes. She takes a page out of Sharon's book and keeps double booking herself, causing problems. Mary Anne is especially hurt, but eventually she helps Dawn plan Friends Day, so she can see everyone all in one day and have some spare time for family.

Interesting Tidbits
The cover makes Dawn look like a very poor snoop. The kids are all sitting on the floor and she's looking all shifty, right behind them! She's not even trying to hide it! (Sorry, the cover's really blurry.)

Jeff has already gone back to California by the time the book starts, and Dawn's heading back in a few weeks. That makes no sense...most custody arrangements I'm familiar with involve all the kids having the same schedule. Wouldn't it be very inconvenient for Sharon and Jack (Mr. Shafer) to have to go to the airport multiple times across the summer?
I never realized it before, but just in order to tell her backstory, Dawn has to summarize the events of a large number of BSC books, probably more so than any other sitter. In this one, she talks about #4 (where she meets MA and the BSC), #15 (Jeff moves back to Cali), #30 (Sharon and Richard's wedding), #67 (she moves back to Cali) and #88 (permanently moves back to Cali). Compare that to Kristy (who really just has to explain #6, her mom marrying Watson, and maybe #24, when Emily is adopted) or Stacey (#13, moving back to NYC and #28, her parents’ divorce).

"Fun" fact: Dawn says that, until her mother married Richard, she always wore pink underwear, because her mom would inadvertently dye her white undies in the wash. No mention is made of Sharon's panties, but my guess is she probably went commando most of the time.
Dawn's usual case of the italics has been replaced by a case of the quotation marks. In chapter two, she refers to "real" pictures, "real" baseball, "real" dad, "mind camera," and "Livingston House."  (Yes, I realize I just did that in the last tidbit, but I did it before I read it in the book. Feel free to slap me if I keep it up.)

Kristy and Dawn are both given babysitting jobs, for a different number of kids, at the same time, at the Livingston House. When they get there, it's huge and impressive (Dawn compares it to the White House) and has literally every stereotype of wealthy people's furniture. There's also a really awful portrait of the late Arthur Livingston. Even the butler points out how ugly it is.
When Dawn comes out of her sitting job, Richard is talking (gossiping, really) with a neighbor of the Livingston/Keats/Cornell brood, who also happens to be their lawyer. I'm pretty sure that she shouldn't be talking about her clients that way. Isn't it kind of a breach of the lawyer-client confidentiality?

Heh heh heh. The lawyer is talking about Arthur Livingston's will, and she uses finger quotes when describing how her client put the will together. She must have caught the sickness from Dawn. (She's also the one who suggests Dawn snoop, and calls her an undercover babysitter.)
Dawn double booked plans for the evening, and one of her plans was to watch Roman Holiday on the VCR with Mary Anne. She says MA rented it, but because she watches it all the time, I would have thought she'd own that one.

Claudia spelling: offishially, writting, mysterry notbook, solveing, Livegstone, mistery. She also uses hear for here and their for there. (In the beginning of the chapter, Dawn says, "That was Claudia (as if that weren't obvious from the creative spelling.)")
I write these tidbits as I'm reading, so I don't know the solution to the mystery yet. But I bet it has something to do with the butler. Dawn, Claudia and Kristy all comment on how young and cute he is. How many butlers do they know? They're going off a stereotype from the movies that make all butlers look like Lurch from the Addams family. But the second time they mentioned how cute and young the butler (John) was, I started paying attention. Foreshadowing in these books is NOT subtle.

Dawn eats a bowl of Healthios.
We learn the clue of youngest sister Amy (who has no children) first: "The first is the most important." Amy wonders whether it means a first edition book, or if it refers to her oldest sister. Dawn invites Amy to join her, Mallory and the kids for the day, and they dig around in the attic. Dawn notices that while most of it is extremely dusty, there are a few areas that are pretty dust-free, including a wardrobe containing freshly laundered men's clothes.

Dawn says that Mary Anne can sleep through anything. I don't know why, but that seems to not mesh with her character. Maybe it's more to do with her sleeping in late every morning...
Why would Dawn be taking Matt and Haley to the pool? She says it's "one last time" which to me indicates that she's done it several times over the summer. And it's not a sitting job; they're just going for fun.

Dawn likes an imaginary tv show called Great Disasters. She says it's about planes crashing into the Empire State Building and mine collapses and stuff. I can't imagine a show like that, with planes crashing into buildings, airing any more.
Abby learns the second clue from Eliza. She drives Dawn crazy because she has to drag out the whole story before telling her the clue, which is, "The signature tells all." Because of this, Abby and Dawn take the kids on a treasure hunt through the house and copy down all the signatures on anything--even the designer's name on an umbrella.

Dawn is pretty stupid sometimes. She finds a recent check signed A. Livingston and assumes Arthur Livingston is still alive...despite the fact that his youngest daughter is Amy Livingston.
During that same sitting job, she gets a couple more "clues." (Okay, smack me, but seriously. The quotes are necessary.) She comes across Amy arguing with John the butler, which they cover up awkwardly. Then she finds the gossiping lawyer in the main hall, staring at the paintings of Arthur Livingston that are all over the house. She says she wants to drop some papers off, but she'll come back. Dawn notices she didn't have any papers with her.

The kids all discover the "contest" and want to work together on it, so between them and Amy, they convince the two moms to get together. The third clue is, "I didn't do it, I was ___."
Dawn thinks her dream about the creepy Arthur Livingston pictures solves the mystery. I think she should take fewer hallucinogens before bed. Although, she does turn out to be right. The ____ is framed. Each of the pictures is signed and dated, so the earliest one--the awful one from earlier--is the correct answer. I told you the foreshadowing in these books is so not subtle. There's a code on the back of it to be decoded by the lawyer.

Ahhh! The butler turns out to be the not-so-dead youngest Livingston brother, Patrick. He'd fought with the dad, who told everyone Patrick was dead, but he'd stayed in touch with Amy, who brought him to the house as the butler. (He was the one using the clothes in the attic.)
Dawn spelling mistake: she spells feud as fued.

Claire calls Dawn her favorite silly-billy-goo-goo. Compliment or insult?
Another mistake? Dawn says Jamie ate three cupcakes and then asked her to marry him (which is both cute and disturbing.) Later, all the BSC and Dawn's middle school friends get together to continue Friends Day, and Claudia also eats three cupcakes. Dawn says Claudia matched Nicky. But no mention is made of Nicky eating three cupcakes.

Continuity: this story takes place in the same summer as the Hawaii trip, which Kristy didn't go on, because her family is going later in the summer. Kristy's family visit's Dawn's family in Cali on the way back, right after Dawn returns home. The Hawaii trip takes place between books #98 (in which they're fundraising for it) and #99 (in which Stacey and Robert break up). This one takes place before #100 (which starts with Kristy coming back from her Hawaii trip; she leaves just before Friends Day in this one). I can't tell if it's before or after #99; I've never read that one, so I don't know if Dawn and/or Kristy is in it, and no mention is made of Robert, one way or the other, in this one.
Why do all of Dawn's friends give her going away presents? They've probably all given her presents several times at this point. You'd think a party and a hug would be enough. She'll probably be back at Christmas.

Adding to the creepiness of the gift giving: Mary Anne whispers that she'll give Dawn her present later, when they're alone. Sounds dirty. Watch out, Logan.
MA and Dawn spend the day together shopping. It cracks me up when they go into stores in these books, because most aren't real stores and many have bad puns for names: Sew Fine, the sewing store, for example. But the BSC always shops at Merry Go Round, which is/was a real store chain. I don't think it exists anymore, but back when I was reading BSC books, there was one in our mall.

Okay, Dawn did get one present I really liked. In fact, I may have to make one of these for myself. The Livingston family gives her a t-shirt with a replica of the awful picture of Arthur Livingston and the words "I helped solve the mystery."
Kristy: shorts, tshirt
Stacey: tailored khaki shorts, white shirt, brown moccasins (described as "Very Banana Republic," which seems to match late-90's Stacey very well.)
Claudia: yellow overall shorts, multi-colored tie-dyed baby tee, purple jellies, green scrunchie making a "Pebbles 'do" (which is way worse than a side ponytail, agreed?)

New Characters
Eliza, Hallie, and Jeremy Keats (9, 7, 5)--26, 24, 22

Katharine and Tilly Cornell (9, 6)--26, 23
Next week: I think I’ll do #44 Dawn’s Big Sleepover. It’s the British version!

Monday, February 11, 2013

“This is the kitchen and this is the refrigerator.” BSC #23 Dawn on the Coast (1989)

I think I've read this twice before. It wasn't one I owned as a child, and it also wasn't one I read a couple years ago when I rediscovered the series. So, it's like reading it for the first time. Until I reread #31 a couple months ago, I thought this is where we met Carol for the first time. I guess Dawn meets her for the first time during SS #5 (which I also didn't own as a kid.)

Dawn heads back to California for spring break. While hanging out with Sunny, the We <3 Kids Club, Jeff, Disneyland Daddy and so on, she gets the idea that it might be good to move back to California permanently. Eventually she decides she could never leave her mother--we all know how long that lasts.
There's not really a subplot--just a few chapters where we get to hear about Stoneybrook sitting jobs.

Interesting tidbits
The cover is kinda hilarious. First, the tagline says, "Dawn's a California girl!" As if fans of the series didn't know that anyway. Dawn looks like she's sixteen, and Jeff like he's thirteen. I used to have a swimsuit that looked almost exactly like Dawn's, circa 1990, so the fashion's pretty accurate.

Dawn is picking through her clothes, deciding what to bring. Clothing she considers: white cotton skirt, bikini, jeans, sneakers, yellow cotton overalls.
At this point, they're still saying Jeff went back to California "for six months" instead of permanently.

Dawn says that things between Richard and Sharon have "cooled" since they started dating again.
Dawn's got a case of the italics again. Apparently, being an eighth grade makes you a very experienced babysitter, emphasis hers.

Dawn says she needs to bring suntan lotion to California with her, because, I guess, her dad won't have any.
Why in hell are they having a goodbye party for Dawn? She's only going to be gone for two weeks! (Of course, they do the same thing in the California Diaries when Dawn goes to Stoneybrook for the summer...) Speaking of, why do the kids of Stoneybrook get a two week spring break? I know that East Coast kiddoes tend to get a week off in February (which we never got in the Midwest) but it's kinda silly.

Oh gawd. Shannon the puppy gets loose, and Jessi makes a grand jete, surprises her and catches her collar. They couldn't just make her graceful and quick and have her sneak up on the dog, could they?
They decide to order pizza (surprise, right?) Dawn wants broccoli pizza, because she can't be normal or anything; the only other thing everyone agrees on is no anchovies, though in at least one other book (#95), Kristy likes anchovies.

The BSC watches Fright Night at Spook Lake (which sounds as if it would be dreadful) and they let Karen watch with them. Set aside, for a moment, the idea of letting a six year old watch a horror movie; imagine letting Karen, with her ghosts and witches and ridiculous imagination, watch garbage like that.
Reading about Dawn at the airport was a flashback: Remember when getting to the airport an hour before your flight was being "early?" Remember when people not going on the flight could go to the gate? Remember when you called flight attendants stewardesses? Dawn says the "stewardess" looks like a Kewpie doll because she has caked on makeup, attempts to redefine the shape of her lips with lipstick, and has drawn in eyelashes. (I wonder if she also shaves her eyebrows and then draws them back in with eyeliner...way above where they're supposed to be.)

The ditzy flight attendant gives Dawn's vegetarian meal away. She bitches that she can only eat the salad and cornbread. Honestly, that's about all you get with vegetarian meals on flights these days anyway. Besides, there was cole slaw that she should have been able to eat if she wasn't so picky.
Dawn's family still lives in Anaheim at this point.

There's a waaaaay too detailed description of Disneyland. It literally goes on for pages, with very little plot in between. And they're only there for about eight hours!
Dawn says Sunny lives down the block. By California Diaries, they're next door neighbors.

Clover Austin, one of Dawn's babysitting charges, has an even crazier imagination than Karen does. It's a good thing they never got together in a room...
A little pedantry...At the party before Dawn leaves Stoneybrook, Karen and Andrew are spending the weekend at "the big house." They go to their dad's every other weekend. Dawn is gone for two weeks. Why are Karen and Andrew back at Watson's during that time?

Dawn calls Kristy the babysitting police because she follows her mom and Jessi around, pre-sitting job; she asks Jessi why she didn't ask where the first aid kit is.
Foreshadowing: When the Brewer/Thomas kids are acting like monsters (Sam booby-trapped the third floor to scare Karen, who's all keyed up, etc.), Elizabeth asks how another child would fit into all of it. Of course, she and Watson adopt another child in the very next book.

Mistake! Sam is referred to as Sam Brewer. Maybe Watson adopted him when no one was looking?
The next few chapters consist of Dawn being pensive and boring...even the one about Mallory and Kristy babysitting the Pikes.

Dawn wonders whether her hot seatmate from the flight to California will be on her same flight back. Instead, she finds the same Kewpie flight attendant she hated on her previous flight. She actually changes seats to avoid her.
Real movie: On the flight back, Dawn watches Adventures in Babysitting.

Oh Lordy. Not only does the whole BSC come to the airport to pick Dawn up, they make a banner for her. She's only been gone for two weeks, people!
Yet again, the entire BSC crams into a small car without seatbelts.

My copy of the book is a "first edition"--it was actually printed in 1989. I had forgotten that, in the early books, there's actually a paragraph long description of each book at the end of the books. By this point, there's actually eight pages just listing the other BSC books.

Kristy: jeans, sneakers, turtleneck
New characters

Sunny Winslow, Maggie Blume, and Jill Henderson, 13 (38)
Daffodil and Clover Austin, 9 and 6 (33 and 30)

Next week: Probably Mystery # 26 Dawn Shafer, Undercover Babysitter

February: Happy Birthday, Dawn

So....I sucked at Logan. Partly because it was hard to get ahold of his books, and partly because I fell off a ladder at work and was laid up for a while. But February is definitely going to go easier. There are a lot more Dawn books, and some of them are sitting on the bookshelf waiting.
It always bugged me that when the books took place in the spring, Dawn and Stacey would still be 13. I guess it would be harder when they cycled back to the fall to explain why she'd gone back in age...but then why even bother giving them birthdays at all? It's like reading the early books. Other than Mary Anne, the girls didn't really have birthdays in the series, so they never mention their ages. In book five, Dawn never mentions her age, even though she and Stacey should be 13, and the other three, 12.
I'm going over to the bookshelf to pick out some Dawn books to read. Let's hope I have enough to avoid the "book that must not be named." (Think Voldemort.)

"It was the same way a person might say liver." BSC Forever Friends # 3: Mary Anne's Big Breakup (1999)

I know a lot of people don't consider the Forever Friends books to be a "real" part of the series. I look at it this way: They exist. There's not many of them, and they're pretty stupid over all. But they are part of the canon. It's almost like the authors tried to pretend that books 5-131 (not to mention all the mysteries, super specials and super mysteries) never happened. Almost.

So, without ruining the plot of #131 too much, Mary Anne's house has burned down. She feels like Logan is always taking charge and being too bossy. So she dumps him (on page 24!) again. She spends a lot of time crying and second guessing herself. Eventually, after talking to Dawn and Claudia, she realizes she needs to be more confident in her choices and makes a decision to stop being so agreeable just to make others happy.
"Interesting" Tidbits

The FF book covers use real girls to portray the BSC members, and they look pretty much the way you'd expect. Mary Anne's hair is long again (probably because her shorter hair style went out of style), she's got long bangs and she wears conservative clothes. The inside of the book describes the characters--it's sort of a third person chapter two of the earlier books. The descriptors are extremely cheesy: "Even though she's the shortest person in the eighth grade, she lives large." "Claudia knows the regular rules don't apply when you have art in your heart!" They also describe Stacey as confident, smart and thoughtful. Huh.
Logan made photocopies of all the letters and cards MA sent him and gave the copies back to her. Who does that? Even if she did lose all his letters to her in the fire.

Awww. MA says she feels like she's lost her mother entirely, now that all her pictures and mementos of her are gone.
Mistake! Sharon says she's "overdo" for a haircut.

Claudia and Stacey are fighting over a boy. I haven't read that one, so I'm not sure the actual details. The guy's name is Jeremy and he's new in school.
Mary Anne keeps the club record book under Claudia's bed. How does it not get eaten by the dust bunnies and scuzz?

When MA tells the other girls at the meeting that she's thinking of breaking up with Logan, they're all, "But I thought you'd be together forever!" Which is realistic for thirteen year olds. I remember that one couple that dated for more than a year in my middle school that we'd felt that way about. (He's married with kids now; she's a lesbian.)
Hallelujah! Mary Anne makes a decision without consulting Logan and her friends. She does have a spine! (Of course, that only lasts about 15 pages before she starts doubting herself.)

Logan cries when MA breaks up with him. He sarcastically asks if she wants to break up, and is totally shocked when she says yes.
Janine comes in while Mary Anne is crying in Claudia's bedroom, and she's really sweet. She asks MA if she's okay, and then gives her encouragement.

Mary Anne is surprised when her dad notices something is wrong with her, and even more so when he says he's noticed her "lack of enthusiasm" for Logan recently.
Do we really have to be told that Stoneybrook Middle School is called SMS for short? That's pretty standard.

Ahh consistency. MA says that she has to go past where her house burned down to get to Logan's house "on Burnt Hill Road." It's established that both of those houses are on that street.
Mary Anne babysits Kerry and Hunter post-breakup. In order to explain things to them, MA tells them she still likes Logan and them, but she isn't dating Logan any more. Logan comes home and Kerry tells him MA still likes him. Mary Anne ends up running out and I could only think two things. 1. It was pretty mature of Mary Anne to take the job and deal with the angry little sibs. 2. She ran off without getting paid.

Mary Anne freaks out when one of Logan's friends asks her to the fall dance...mostly because Logan's other friends are all pretending she doesn't exist.
My favorite BSC boy, Pete, has a thing for Mary Anne; he asks if she's dating anyone else, and tells Emily that MA won't be single for long because she's pretty and nice. This makes me laugh because he's been on dates with Stacey, Claudia and Dawn in the past. Who's next, Kristy?

Kristy and Logan are hanging out and laughing. When Kristy puts her hand on Logan's arm, MA worries they'll start dating...and that she'll lose Kristy as a friend over it.
Dave, Logan's friend who asked MA out, tells her a joke about a frog trying to get a bank loan. Is it sad that I want to know what the joke was?

Richard, Sharon and Mary Anne go with the contractors to check out the plans for the new house they're building. One of the contractors is called Ellice. At first I was reading that as Ellis, until I realized she was a woman. I guess it's pronounced like Elise?
Ellice gives MA some good advice: she tells her not to limit herself and box in her thinking.

Heh heh heh. Mary Anne goes apple picking with the Brewer/Thomas crew. Karen mentions that Kristy told them MA and Logan broke up, and Andrew adds, "Yeah, she says you're crazy." Leave it to a four-year-old to repeat exactly what you don't want them to repeat.
Karen gets stuck in a tree. They should have left her there.

Instead of going to the dance, Mary Anne stays home alone and watches movies. She rejects a bunch of movies because of romance or Logan memories. These include: Fly Away Home, Sleepless in Seattle, and Paulie. Logan calls and, instead of mentioning a specific movie, he says he rented "the Robin Williams movie" that just came out on video.

Despite the fact that Logan usually hasn't been allowed into the Spier house when no adults are home, MA says her parents won't mind that Logan came over to watch the movie.

Dawn tells Mary Anne that she's always defined herself by her relationships: Daddy's little girl, BSC member, Logan's girlfriend. While this is true, and Mary Anne needs to hear it, it's totally ruined by MA telling Dawn, "I may not be as much as an individual as you are..." (Speaking of that, that's one thing I liked about the California Diaries--I've now read 14 out of the 15--is that Dawn actually is the individual they keep calling her. She thinks for herself instead of being all insecure and doing what everyone else expects of her.*) On the plus side, she tells Claudia that she's the only person she knows who's more of an individual that Dawn is. Which is actually more true.

Back to what Dawn says to MA. She tells her that she needs to figure out who she is without her friends or anyone--just Mary Anne. She tells her she's busting out and becoming herself, and that it's a good thing. If I hadn't read the California Diaries, I'd find her smug and annoying saying this. But really, she's telling the truth.
Stacey: fuzzy aqua sweater
Claudia: white painter's overalls covered in daisies

*If anyone was wondering, I've read all the Ducky books, and although they never say he's gay, he's totally gay! Sunny kisses him and he panics and runs off. He says it's like kissing his sister and he's not "into her." Dawn tells him she's not surprised that he's not into Sunny. Made me laugh. Dawn apparently has good gaydar.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I have my final Logan/January as well as two Dawn/Februarys written and ready to go.

At home.

On my other thumb drive.

Let's see if my brain ever gets it together so you can actually read them. Sorry!