Wednesday, August 19, 2015

“Bring a bigger house.” BSC #84: Dawn and the School Spirit War (1995)

Hey y’all. I sat down to read this one last night, but wound up drinking and watching Dr. Who instead. Maybe I’ll have better luck tonight? We’ll see!
SMS is having a whole school spirit month to support the baseball team in their ‘big game.’ Dawn is so anti-competitive and feels that the spirit element is out of control. The whole school divides in half, for and against the spirit month. Some kids take it way too far, doing things such as gluing lockers shut and ruining school spirit murals. Dawn, Mary Anne and Mallory are anti-spirit, while Kristy, Claudia and Jessi are pro-spirit. It’s as exciting as it sounds.
The B plot is too stupid for words. I’ll let you know if I come across a bit of it worth mentioning.
Interesting Tidbits
I love Dawn’s face on this cover. That used to be me during spirit events.

Speaking of, did anyone have a school spirit month in school? We used to have spirit week, but only maybe a third of the school actually participated in any one theme day. No one shamed you if you didn’t take part, either.
That said, I’m not surprised that Dawn is all about athletic activity but not about competition. I know a lot of families who won’t let their kids play competitive sports—they can’t join a football or volleyball team—but instead encourage cooperative or individual sports and activities, such as ballet, rock climbing or yoga.
They’re discussing Stacey leaving the club, as they do in every book when she’s gone. It’s interesting, because I have #84 and #85 right in front of me. #85 has the original cover style, where they listed the BSC members on the back. It says that Dawn is the treasurer and Shannon is the alternate officer. That book came out when it wasn’t sure if Stacey would rejoin the club or not. This one has the redone cover with the faces along the side, which didn’t originate until after Stacey had rejoined the club…so it still has Stacey’s face in the margin. It would have been better and less of a spoiler if they’d taken her out, whether or not they put Shannon in.
I love it when they describe Mallory and put in subtle digs to her looks. Like Dawn says that since Mal is so nice, when you see her you see a nice person so she looks good to you. Um, thanks? I’d be insulted if someone said that about me.
I love that the most horrible event in spirit day is pajama day. We used to LOVE pajama day back in elementary and middle school. It was a good excuse to wear those cute matching jammies and be comfy all day. Wait until these girls get to college when every day is pajama day.
This is what actually got to me about it. Dawn says she doesn’t wear pjs—she wears sweats or night shirts…which is what she should wear if she wants to get into the spirit. They don’t have to be an actual set of pajamas. (Some of the teachers would come in robes and curlers.) Mary Anne, meanwhile, says that you have to wear your real pajamas when Claudia says she wants to silk screen stuff on a pair of pajamas. Does that make Claud’s silk screened pjs fake?
I agree with Dawn: mandatory attendance at pep rallies is stupid. I don’t agree that cheerleading is stupid, though. If girls just had cheerleading for a choice and didn’t have their own sports teams, I’d be with her. But cheerleading is hard work and as much an athletic activity as a baseball game.
Mal and Jessi are cleaning the second story windows during clean your school day, but the fact that they’re talking to Dawn, who is outside, made me think that they were also outside. Which made me picture them manning one of those skyscraper window cleaning rigs, which is hilarious.
Claudia spelling! Tru, Barett, choyse, hous, forsed, togither, cud. She also says the Barretts and DeWitts ‘half groan close.’ Ha!
The eighth grade color for color day is yellow. Look down below to see what everyone was wearing. (Back in my day, a lot of kids would have done a yellow scrunchie or earrings and called it good.)
So the B plot is that the DeWitt-Barretts moved into too small of a house…something we already knew. The title quote is Claudia’s suggestion to Mary Anne on how to deal with a sitting job for them.
After Dawn and MA start a petition to end spirit month, someone writes Go back to California you weirdo on Dawn’s locker. Think that’s maybe why she goes back in four books? I mean, that’s all it took for Mal to decide to leave Stoneybrook….
Ha! Alan, who’s mad at Dawn for her anti-spirit-month petition, dumps spaghetti and meat sauce in her lap. Claudia (who’s pro-spirit but still a loyal friend) is the only one sitting with Dawn for reasons too stupid to explain. She actually throws a pudding at Alan (which is a waste of a perfectly good pudding, dammit!)…which starts a food fight.
What I do like about this story is that it’s typical of what happens when people have very strong opinions. It reminded me so much of when there was a debate in my college over whether or not student health should hand out condoms. Both sides were adamant they were right, there was a lot of campaigning, and there was even some mild violence. Of course, that’s actually an issue that some people think is actually important, as opposed to whether or not the school should force frivolity.
Lindsey DeWitt is prone to my style of exaggeration: “She was just mad because Buddy stayed in the shower for five years.”
Double ha! Buddy suggests picketing because it worked for the Pikes when Mallory wrote that play about them.
Triple ha! The anti-spirit kids put together a protest in the cafeteria during the spirit activity. The principal looks in, rolls his eyes and looks away. Honestly, it’s hilarious, and probably pretty accurate to what he’s feeling at this point.
Also, Dawn calls it an anti-pep pep rally.
So a whole meeting is called with parents, students and teachers involved, and it quickly devolves into a shouting match. Sharon suggests that the reason is that some people believe that they’re entitled to control their own destinies while others feel that that leads to the fall of civilization and that people should just follow the rules. This is both kinda deep for her and surprisingly accurate.
Richard wasn’t able to make the meeting, but he has this to say to Sharon (who stood up for Mary Anne and Dawn during the meeting): “You nearly set off a riot. I’m impressed.” This is interesting; you’d think Richard would be closer to the side of following the rules than setting your own path. (He’s actually kidding.)
Interestingly, the mother of one of the girls’ classmates (who shouts about them at the meeting) is an old frenemy of Sharon’s from school. She was apparently Cindy Sherwood in high school and still is Cindy Sherwood, and her daughter has that last name. Either she was married in high school or she’s a single mother…hmmm….
The Barrett-DeWitts solve their own problem by deciding to add an addition onto their house. (If they can afford that, why couldn’t they afford a bigger house in the first place?!?) Suzi suggests they need to include a ‘bazillion’ bathrooms in the addition so that everyone can go at the same time.
Mary Anne sums up the spirit month debacle: “Logan, I care about anything that concerns you. I just didn’t think I should have to wear pajamas to school if I didn’t want to. That’s how it started, and somehow the whole thing blew up in to something bigger than it should have been.” She then says that everyone should be allowed to express their school spirit as they see fit.
Claudia: purple rain hat and slicker covered in designs, with a matching umbrella
Mrs. DeWitt: sweatshirt and jeans, with her hair unbrushed; black velvet pantsuit
Dawn: jeans, blue workshirt, yellow socks
Mary Anne: yellow sweatshirt dress (WANT), yellow leggings, black flats
Grace: yellow slicker, yellow pants, yellow high tops, daisy earrings
Alan: yellow balloons, yellow plaid pants; Batman pajamas
Bruce: yellow football jersey
Kristy: bunny pajamas and bunny slipper

Next (aka tomorrow; the BF is out of town, so I have more time to read and write): #85


  1. I always found this to be one of the dumbest books. My school would have a spirit week. Some would participate and really get into it, some didn't and no one cared. Sometimes I would get into it, sometimes I didn't. Again, no one cared.

    It really felt more like they were trying to set up Dawn's permanent departure.