Time for another collection of random babbling about a specific sitter!
West coast Beginnings: Dawn is a baby and a bratty little kid.
The New Girl on the Block: Dawn hates Sunny when she first meets her and thinks she’s a weirdo, but of course they become friends.
The Golden Anniversary: Granny and Pop-pop are having their 50th wedding anniversary in San Francisco. Jack and Sharon keep pointing out how old they are, so they keep trying to give them rest breaks and take it easy, but the grandparents would rather do interesting stuff, the kinds of things Dawn and Jeff were suggesting. Dawn also worries about them because they aren’t glued together the way her parents are, holding hands and doing everything together.
Fire!: Dawn becomes obsessed with fire safety and then a fire starts and she has to come to the rescue.
A New Life on the East Coast: Dawn babysits for a little girl in Stoneybrook and accidentally tells her a secret. The mom’s so upset she stops using the BSC; Dawn never tells anyone what happened.
You know Dawn’s from California because there are seashells and the beach and San Francisco on the cover. Or, because, you know, she reminds you on page one, in the second line.
Apparently Jeff’s idea of showing Dawn he’s glad she’s back is to scare her with a Halloween mask.
Conveniently, Dawn’s school is also making all the eighth graders write autobiographies. I’d make fun of this, but two cousins and I all had to write autobiographies when we were in eighth grade…in three different states. (I also wrote one in fourth grade.)
Interesting. Dawn says Jill reminds her of Mary Anne, because they’re both serious and quiet. What’s intriguing about this is that Dawn, Sunny and Maggie outgrow Jill, leaving her behind in the California Diaries. What does that say about what will happen between Dawn and Mary Anne as they grow older?
Heh. Dawn was a week overdue. That’s pretty typical of first babies, though. She was born first thing in the morning, at dawn. I wonder if they named her that because of her birth time or if she just conveniently arrived at the same time as the name they’d chosen. (A friend of mine decided to name her firstborn August. He obliged by arriving two weeks early…on the last day of August.)
Chapter two makes me want to roll my eyes because Dawn took her first steps at the beach…and walked until she reached the water (rather than taking two or three steps and plopping down like normal babies do). Oh, and her first words included water and beach.
Dawn muses that Jeff learned at a very early age how to gain and keep adults’ attention. I think that’s a) a very ‘big sister’ thing to say—I say the same thing about my younger sister—and b) it’s probably very true, for both Jeff and my younger sister.
Little Dawn was a bit bratty though—between throwing playdoh in the chili and calling it sour cream and throwing things at baby Jeff—but she reaches the apex when she and her friend glue the blocks together at preschool because they’re tired of their tower getting knocked over.
Dawn says Jill and Maggie were her first friends at Vista, but I’m pretty sure she says she didn’t know them well before they joined the We Heart Kids Club.
Continuity: I know Dawn mentioned her parakeet before, though I can’t remember what book that was in. Was it the petsitting one?
It’s kind of funny that one of the things Dawn finds so weird about the Winslows when she first meets them is that they eat kelp soup for lunch. Sounds like something that would be right up her alley.
Sunny has a tie-dyed bedspread, and seven-year-old Dawn contemplates the fact that it doesn’t look as if it were made of dead ties.
Honestly, all the stuff that makes Sunny so ‘odd’ to Dawn when they first meet is the sort of thing that makes Dawn an individual when she’s older. The Winslows won’t give Sunny toys made of synthetic materials because it’s bad for the environment, and Sunny doesn’t like the fact that Jeff and his friend are playing with toy weapons.
Ooh, look. Neglectful parenting! Sharon and Betsy (Sunny’s mom) leave their seven-year-olds alone in the toy department and go to the other floor of the store.
When her mother gets stuck in an elevator, Dawn calls her dad and starts giving him instructions, such as the fact that he should call Mr. Winslow and the family Jeff is staying with. He tells her he’s proud of her for such good thinking, but it sounds so out of place. Sometimes these stories make the younger versions of the BSC members sound like miniature adults.
Math time! Like the last book, it involves Sharon’s age. She says her parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary and are ‘almost eighty.’ Depending on what book timeline you go with, Sharon would be somewhere in the vicinity of forty at this point. (In the early books, she’s described as being 42 when Dawn is 12; Dawn is 10 at this point.) So Granny and Pop-pop married when they were approaching 30 and had Sharon when they were closer to 40. My father’s parents were married in the late 40s when she was in her mid-20s and he was three years older; she was considered to be an ‘old maid’ by the time of her wedding. Honestly, though, if Granny and Pop-pop spent years trying for a baby before Sharon was born, it would explain why they were so overly involved in her love life in her teens.
Granny and Pop-pop spend their whole vacation weekend sniping at each other. He calls her old lady and she makes fun of his interest in model boats.
Pop-pop’s name is Charlie, and Granny’s is Rita. Jeff’s middle name is also Charles.
Dawn creates evacuation routes for every room in the house. Sharon asks her how she’d escape from the hallway. I can’t tell if she’s doing it to help her calm down about it and relax, or because she’s just kind of egging her on. (That’s what Jack seems to believe.)
Sharon makes the title quote as a joke. Even though she doesn’t find it funny, Dawn ends up laughing because Jeff proceeds to explain in detail why he does find the comment funny. Which should be even less funny than the joke itself.
When Dawn’s able to get Daffodil and Clover Austin to agree on one activity, their mother calls her a good negotiator and suggests she run for office. That’s not the only skill she’d need; I don’t think Dawn’s any good at being crooked and taking bribes, for example.
Part of the reason for Dawn’s obsession with fire is that it’s an easier, less painful fear than worrying about her parents’ marriage. That’s actually pretty realistic.
Mr. and Mrs. Austin are Ted and Jenny.
Dawn’s picture was in the paper along with another ‘community hero’—a woman who was the foster parent to 20 children, all of whom grew up to be successful college grads. The photo’s in the book, and the woman (Mrs. Hughes) looks just like Rue McClanahan from Golden Girls. Plus, Dawn’s smelling smoke and exiting the building with two little girls is nothing compared to a lifetime of foster kids.
Kristy goes over the basics of sitting with the club, and one of them is to make sure you have all necessary emergency numbers. Stacey suggests that one of them is the number of the nearest pizza place. Kristy doesn’t find that funny, but I do. Kristy knows the other sitters know these things; she’s just taking herself far too seriously. (A few minute later, Claudia jokes about knowing about the kids’ séance preferences.)
The reason for this ‘review’ is that they discuss not snooping at the clients’ houses. Dawn breaks this rule almost right away when sitting for a new client, the Lazans. She reads a paper from the school that says that Sandra is getting held back a grade. Not knowing this information was not common knowledge, Dawn mentions it to Sandra…whose parents hadn’t told her she was being held back yet. Whoops.
You know I love seeing the BSC make mistakes, but this one is pretty horrible. I can’t imagine any circumstances when talking to a kid about something so massive would be appropriate…unless the parents had mentioned how bummed the kid was about it and then the kid brought it up.
Dawn gets an A- for content and a B for presentation.
Seven-year-old Sunny: ankle length hippie dress, no shoes
Sandra Lazan (7)—27