Monday, January 25, 2010

“You’re ALL our favorite sitters”……BSC Mystery # 2: Beware, Dawn!

Memory Reaction

Well, I remember how this one ends, and that it connects to the book where Kristy sits for Susan, the girl with autism. I was still really into the mysteries at this point, so I definitely liked it. It’s a relatively realistic mystery, the kind that made me jealous of the BSC for having such exciting lives. (As opposed to when they caught bank robbers and counterfeiters, and made me roll my eyes in disbelief).

Now, I WAS old enough to notice the blatant continuity issues with this book. They introduce a “Sitter of the Month” contest, which is never mentioned again. I hated when stuff like that happened. In fact, I still hate it when I see stuff like that happen in books or on television shows. How hard would it have been to say it was a favorite sitter contest, without doing the “of the month part?” They must have known they were not going to continue it.

Revisited Reaction

The kids of Stoneybrook have decided to have a “sitter-of-the-month” contest. This isn’t really explained in detail, so I’m not sure how big a contest it’s supposed to be. But, it seems like a bunch of neighborhood kids have just decided to have it on their own, and it’s just for the members of the BSC. Which is really kind of lame. Not to mention unbelievable – these kids are different ages and don’t all live near each other. So, how do they just get together and run this contest? How do they all even know each other? Mrs. Newton is supposedly helping run the elections, but I still don’t buy it.

But, either way, there IS a contest. The girls all agree not to “campaign” or get competitive about it. But, they all do anyway, although not in a totally obnoxious way. Then, at a sitting job, Dawn gets an anonymous phone call and hears someone creeping around outside. She also gets a “threatening” letter signed “Mr. X,” which just says, “watch out, I’m coming to get you.” At first Dawn thinks it’s Alan Gray, and actually calls his house to see if he is home. However, his mother tells her that Alan’s at a basketball game in Stamford with his father, so Dawn figures he’s innocent. She isn’t totally sure what to think, but decided to keep it a secret from the BSC, so it doesn’t make her look like a bad sitter. Meanwhile, the other girls all have similar experiences, but don’t tell each other. Then Dawn lets the name “Mr. X” slip to Mary Anne. They still aren’t sure if they want to tell the rest of the BSC, but then Dawn slips again (she is the worst secret keeper) at a BSC meeting. It turns out everyone has had a similar experience, except Kristy.

Then when Dawn’s sitting for the Newtons, Jamie lets it slip that Mel Tucker, this neighborhood kid, is planning to come by and do a “secret check” as part of the baby-sitter contest. For those of you who don’t remember, Mel is the jackass who turned an autistic girl into a circus act. We see him again at the start of this book, and he’s making fun of James Horbart for being Australian.

Dawn figures out this probably means that he is probably Mr. X. So, she and the other girls come up with a plan to catch him in the act. She spreads a story that she’s sitting for a cousin at her house. The assumption is that when Mel hears, he’ll try to scare her with the secret passage. She and the rest of the BSC wait until he gets there, and then surround both entrances to the passage and catch him in the act. Then of course, they talk to him and find out why he did it. It turns out he was mad because Dawn told Mrs. Hobart that Mel was teasing James, and she told Mel’s mother. Kristy and Dawn bring Mel home, and they tell his parents what he did. Then the parents tell us how Mel is all sad and that’s why he bullies people. Oh, and the reason Kristy never had any experience with him is that all her jobs had been in her neighborhood – too far away for Mel.

Then, all the girls tie as best sitter in the contest. Which never happens again, so it is really badly named.


  • Dawn’s sitting for the Hobarts and Jamie Newton’s playing with James and Mathew (the eight- and six-year-old), while Johnny (the four-year-old) is reading the magazine. But isn’t Jamie four too? Why is he old enough to play with the other boys, but not Johnny?
  • Dawn says she sympathizes with Mallory, because she also wanted to be 13 when she was 11. She also says how she hated waiting to get her ears pierced. But, I don’t remember it like that. When Mal and Jessi got their ears pierced, Dawn just called her mom and got permission to do it as well. It didn’t seem like she had to wait or beg her mom for permission.
  • Apparently Ben Hobart called Mallory a “bonzer Sheila.” Which, we’re told is a compliment in Australia. Are their any Australians reading this that can confirm if people actually say this?
  • Kristy agrees to bring back presents for her little siblings when she goes to the mall. She says they’ll be little gifts (like a hair ribbon). She apparently does this all the time, which seems like a bad idea. Things like that are why Karen’s such a spoiled brat.
  • I remembered this part as soon as I started reading it: When Dawn hears about the sitter-of-the-month contest, she’s sitting for Kristy’s siblings. She comes up with the idea of playing that stupid “Let’s All Come In” game of Karen’s, with David Michael playing all the “cool parts,” aka guests named Bruce Stringbean and Daryl Blueberry.
  • Dawn makes a point of saying how fast Stacey counts the money when they all pay dues. But how impressive is that? Stacey presumable counted the money last week, and she knows if they spent any money. So, all she has to do as add seven. That’s not exactly challenging math.
  • Jessi lets Becca watch a scary movie while she is sitting for her, because she wants to get her vote for “sitter of the month.” Then Becca has a nightmare, and Jessi actually gets in trouble for it. I kind of like that, these girls are always shown to be such perfect sitters who never do anything wrong.
  • Mal apparently called one of her teachers “Mom.” In class.
  • Dawn actually suspects Kristy is Mr. X, because she doesn’t get any letters from him. She figures that Kristy is doing it to win the sitter of the month contest. It’s nice that she has such a high opinion of her friends.
  • Dawn even tells Kristy she suspected her….and Kristy doesn’t care. She figures everyone else suspected her too. Um, does she really think her friends have such a low opinion of her?
  • Charlotte Johansson is reading Muggie Maggie. I remember reading that. This book is full of nostalgia.
  • Claud tries “campaigning” for Charlotte’s vote. Like there is a chance Charlotte won’t vote for Stacey?
  • It’s kind of mean to trick a kid like Mel by trapping him in the secret passage. I know he’s a jerk who was messing with them, but the girls are older and (theoretically) more responsible.
  • Dawn tells us that all the kids in town know about the secret passage, and they think it’s cool. And judging by Mel’s entering it, they also know how to get into it. Why would Dawn’s family not find some way to lock it? Theoretically, one of these “kids” could break in and do actual damage to the house.
  • Dawn starts a letter to Jeff like this: “Dearest Little Bro, What’s up? What’s fresh? Everything’s cool back here in Stoneybrook. What’s happening out there in sunny Cal?” Seriously? Who talks like that?
  • The end with Mel is sort of lame. Mel’s all in tears and says he was mad at the BSC for telling Mrs. Horbart he was still making fun of James. Apparently his parents told him he’d have to see a shrink if he kept bullying other kids. But Kristy and Dawn explain to him how that’s not bad thing, and I guess it is supposed to be a little PSA or something.
  • I don’t remember…did Mel get in trouble when he was taking money for Susan? Cause I don’t remember if Kristy ever told his parents in that one, and it seems like a worse crime than calling James a “Croc.”
  • The kids all just show up in Claud’s hallway to announce the contest winners. There are like, over a dozen of them just hanging out the doorway to her room during a meeting. Are we supposed to think the Kishi’s just let all these little kids in and wander upstairs?


Anonymous said...

I'm Australian. I've never heard anyone referred to as a "Bonzer Shelia". I've heard bogans refer to girls as shelias, but never a bonzer.

Anonymous said...

I'm Australian too. "Bonza" is a real (very out of date) adjective, but nobody actually talks like that.

rosie said...

On the bonza sheila front- that is the sort of slang my grandfather's generation did use. And it still lingers a lot more in the rural areas of Australia. I grew up in a small country town, and sheila was used a lot. Bonza, less so.

dragonzflame said...

Aha, so proof these people do really live in the 50s! It stands to reason that watching all those 50s TV shows would give them outdated stereotypical slang.

I'm from New Zealand, so not quite Australia, but close. I was just going to say I was sure nobody ever sayes 'bonzer sheila' or any of those silly things that Northern Hemisphere people think Aussies do. Like 'Down Under'.

HelenB said...

Mal apparently called one of her teachers “Mom.” In class.

I totally did that when I was a kid. It wasn't really that embarrassing, but it totally would be for someone like Mal who doesn't have a whole lot of self-assurance or self-esteem.

Ashlee said...

Didn't Dawn ring Sharon to get her second or third piercing done at that point? It's been many many years since I read that book, so I could be totally wrong.

Jerzey Katsopolis said...

I don't see what's so bad about bringing someone a little present once in a while. I mean, we're talking about a hair ribbon. Besides, Andrew, David Michael, and Emily aren't all that spoiled and I'm sure Kristy brings them little things, too.

Anonymous said...

Who deserved to win the Favorite Sitter contest?



I guess you know who my favorite is

booboobrewer said...

Haha, I remember when I called my teacher Mom. I was in 2nd grade though, not 6th. I remember other kids doing it too...

Mary Ann said...

Apparently everyone in Stoneybrook is very trusting... Dawn's mom doesn't care who hangs out in the secret passage, and the Kishis let everyone wander into their house! It was already weird enough that they let the BSC have meetings in Claudia's room when she wasn't there, but now all the neighborhood kids can just come right in. Very strange.

Lindsey Sparks said...

At first I thought Ashlee was right on the ear piercing, but I think Dawn got her first and second set of piercings at the same time, when Mal and Jesse did. So the comment in this book wouldn't make sense. I think that's right because I remember feeling like Dawn had to show off and ruin the moment. Stupid Dawn.

Anonymous said...

Um i'm from Tasmania, Australia and I have not heard the phrase "Bonzer Shelia", maybe once or twice some adult used the word "Shelia" but never Bonzer, especially in my generation. It offends me when reading the potrayal of Australians in this book :\

Anonymous said...

So the charges planned the sitter of the month contest? I actually like imagining the meeting, where they figure out their sitters are cutthroat, insecure girls and for the chance at validation they'll let them do whatever they want (i.e. watch scary movies). In my head, I'm deciding that this is canon.

Okay, so Aussies don't say "down under".... But you guys, on average, are really involved in the outdoors, right?

jennifer said...

I ALWAYS wondered about the word being out around town on the secret passage! wouldn't it be the source of a million pranks and dares in the middle of the night?
"Mystery #99 The condoms and beer cans of the Secret Passage."

Unknown said...

I'd say Claudia too.

Dolly said...

So perfect!

Anonymous said...

geek queen said...

I'd say Claudia too.

thank you

Sexy Sadie said...

I think Mel should have been a regular character, just so the BSC would have an annoying little brat to deal with.

Bec said...

I hate how Australians are depicted through the Hobart family in this series.

I've lived in Sydney almost all my life and have NEVER used the terms "bonzer" or "sheila." I've heard that word used more often in BSC books than in real life.

Oh, and we don't have kangaroos and koalas running around in the streets, either. If you want to see them, you'd have to go to a wildlife reserve or the zoo!

The Kitten Temp said...

Yeah, 'bonzer sheila' is pretty much a caricature of how Australians talk. You might hear the words used separately from each other, but putting them together is just too trying-hard-to-sound-Australian. The only thing I can remember the BSC books really getting right with the Hobarts was that they called breakfast 'brekkie.'

Anonymous said...

Im dying to know. Is there any Australians out there that can tell me any crazy things they hear Americans say all the time? Like American versions of sheila.

Anonymous said...

Using outmoded phrases like 'bonza sheila' is only pretty similar to the ridiculous things the girls say in the books. Kirsten, you made the point of how Dawn started her letter to Jeff and said that no-one talks like that... Bonza Sheila is just the same. I always thought that 'dibble' was the most unbelievable and annoying term ever to try to introduce too!

Anonymous said...

I'm Australian, and the word "bonza" is definitely never used. Erin Sheila is super rare, mostly people say thy as a joke or pay out in a bogan Australian way. AMM depicts Australians so stereotypically that its almost borderline offensive.