Monday, May 24, 2010

“It’s not that Danielle did a terrible thing”….BSC # 82: Jessi and the Troublemaker

Memory Reaction

I know that I liked this book, or at least the idea of this book, because they brought back Danielle Roberts. I had been a fan of Danielle when she had her first appearance, and wasn’t happy that it ended with Danielle back in the hospital. So, it was nice to see her show up healthy in this one.

However, I remember thinking that everyone overreacted to the things that happened. First, to Danielle “acting out,” because most of what she did was no big deal. But my main memory’s of the reaction to the car accident that happens at the end (somehow Danielle ends up driving a car). It’s not that I thought that it was totally acceptable for a kid to try driving, it’s that I was annoyed with how people treated Jessi afterwards. I think her mom brings her home and puts her to bed, and to my younger self, it just seemed like a weird response.

Revisited Reaction

Danielle Roberts’s cancer’s in remission, so she’s back at school, hanging out with friends, and doing all the stuff normal nine-year-olds do. This includes having members of the BSC sit for her, of course. Everyone’s happy about this, but then Jessi and the other BSC members notice that Danielle’s acting “wild.” In BSC-land wild consists of wearing roller-blades in the house, using an old mattress to go “sledding” down a flight of stairs, and trying to turn a shower stall into a swimming pool. At first, the girls don’t tell Danielle’s parents, because they don’t think she meant any harm. But then they start to feel guilty about this, and Kristy calls Mrs. Roberts to tell her everything Danielle did. Mrs. Roberts doesn’t really take it seriously, because she thinks Danielle’s a creative spirit who’s making up for lost time. I imagine it’s also because she has a hard time yelling at a kid who almost died.

Then, when Jessi’s sitting for the Robertses, some of Danielle’s friends (Charlotte, Becca, Haley, and Vanessa) come over to play. Danielle decides it would be fun to try driving, so they all pile in the car and she drives down the street (and back). Jessi notices this as Danielle’s pulling into the driveway, and freaks out a little. Danielle sees her, gets distracted, and the car rolls backwards and smashes into a parked car. It’s all very “dramatic,” the girls are screaming, a crowd gathers, Vanessa has to go to the hospital (but is fine), and Jessi gets to show how responsible she is. Afterwards, the Roberts’ actually apologize to Jessi for not taking the BSC’s warning about Danielle seriously. Because the BSC’s always right, I guess. Meanwhile, Danielle’s friends are pissed at her because they got in trouble when their parents found out about the car trip. Fortunately, Stacey helps them make up, because the BSC can also do everything.

The sub plot’s something out of Three’s Company. Seriously. Jessi and Becca hear Aunt Cecelia and Mr. Majors (some guy friend of hers) talking about a wedding. Jessi assumes they are getting married and planning a secret wedding. She and Becca buy a gift and get all dressed up the day they think it’s happening….only to find out Aunt Cecelia and Mr. Majors are just in someone else’s wedding. So, their parents and Aunt Cecelia laugh at them. Jessi’s too embarrassed to tell the BSC that she was wrong about the wedding, so she and Becca try to create a romantic dinner to get Cecelia and Mr. Majors to really fall in love. Then Aunt Cecelia and Mr. Majors laugh at them some more.


  • Jessi tells us she has an office themed kid-kit. I kind of remember a book where she first added the office stuff. Maybe the one with the family that was racist? I think she tried to enhance the kid-kit to impress them.
  • Do kids normally know authors of books? Becca’s telling Jessi about a book and she says how “Amy Schwartz wrote it and drew the pictures.” I guess AMM was trying to give real writers some shout outs?
  • Speaking of shout outs to real books, they also talk about Freckle Juice. I remember that book vividly; I think I read it multiple times (although I’m not sure why).
  • Stacey outfit: “An over-sized black sweater and a metallic gold T-shirt underneath. With her huge blue eyes and naturally dark lashes, and the shoulder length blonde hair that she keeps perfectly cut, she looked just like a model.” How do they always know what the other girls have on UNDER their outer layer of clothes? If it was a button down or something, they’d probably say so.
  • Claudia outfit: “She doesn’t often wear jeans, but she was wearing them today – only she’d cut patterns in the legs…and was wearing leopard tights underneath so that they showed through. She was wearing her black Doc Martens with yellow shoelaces…and she was wearing a black and yellow striped flannel shirt.” I wonder if Claudia ever got in trouble at school for some of her outfits. Don’t they have a dress code? It’s not that I think the clothes are offensive/revealing (just ugly), but I would think a middle school would have limits.
  • There’s some nice foreshadowing in this book. Several times, Stacey calls someone to cover her sitting jobs at the last minute, and she doesn’t show up to a meeting. We don’t find out why, but we will in the next book.
  • How exactly do you sled down stairs with a mattress? Especially a crib mattress, which is what Danielle and her friends were using.
  • When the BSC thinks Aunt Cecelia’s getting married, they talk about getting her a gift. How many teenagers are that generous? They barely know Aunt Cecelia. I think they just like the idea of getting someone a wedding gift, because it sounds romantic.
  • Jessi and Becca actually look in a store for a tux for Squirt. Because, if Aunt Cecelia were really getting married, they would be responsible for how the child dresses?
  • When Jessi’s telling the BSC what happened with Danielle, Claudia’s surprised to hear that Mrs. Roberts owns roller blades. So, Kristy’s all, “I thought you said you read the club notebook!” Then, of course, Claudia said she must have missed that part. It cracked me up. I think that Claudia skimming the notebook, or not even reading it, is a lot more realistic than all the girls reading it just because Kristy says to.
  • I feel old, because when I was a kid, I agreed with Claudia that it’s cool that Mrs. Roberts has roller blades. However, now, I’m almost insulted at the suggestion that it’s surprising for a mother to own a pair.
  • I really am glad the second Danielle book was still a Jessi-themed one. I hated when they gave a character a special relationship with a kid, then changed it to a different narrator in a follow up book. Derek Masters is the best example of this.
  • I’m trying to decide if it’s in character for Charlotte, Becca, Haley, and Vanessa to jump in a car with Danielle. I’m not sure why, but I can see Vanessa and Haley doing something “wild.” Charlotte and Becca seem like goody-goodies though (and I don’t mean that in a bad way).
  • After Kristy calls Mrs. Roberts, she tells the other girls that Mrs. Roberts dismissed their fears and said Danielle just has to let her high spirits die down. And Jessi’s all, “no, it’s more than that! Maybe I should call her back!” Because there’s no chance that a child’s parents actually know their kid best.
  • After the car accident, people keep telling Jessi how “responsible” she was. But, she didn’t really do anything. The neighbor calls 911 and Danielle’s parents. Then he calls the other girls’ parents (though Jessi does give them the phone numbers). All she really does is ride with Vanessa in the ambulance, but Mrs. Pike gets to the hospital right after they do, so Jessi doesn’t need to do anything. Granted, in real life, I’m not sure what an eleven-year-old would be expected to do, but this isn’t real life, it’s the BSC.
  • Haley calls Danielle a kangaroo, because great ideas just pop out of her head (like a kangaroo jumps, I guess). I’m not sure Danielle’s ideas were actually “great” but I’m now picturing her as the next Kristy.
  • I’m wondering if there’s hidden meaning in Stacey smoothing out the friendship mess, when her next book centers on a falling out with her friends.
  • Do you think these girls have all their clients numbers memorized?
  • So, we end on one last “idea” of Danielle’s, and that is to go trick-or-treating with her friends. This is an original idea, because it’s the middle of winter. It’s a cute idea, but do they really expect to get candy from anyone other than Claudia?

Monday, May 17, 2010

“I have a lot of memories of growing up here on Bradford Court,”…..BSC Portrait Collection: Claudia’s Book

Memory Reaction

I was more excited about this book than Stacey’s autobiography, mainly because Claudia’s book had characters we know in it, mostly Kristy and Mary Anne, but also their classmates, families, etc. I found it more interesting to read about the three girls interacting as kids, than to hear about what Stacey did long before she’d ever heard of Stoneybrook.

However, I did have one major problem with the book. I remember that there’s a section where we find out where Claudia went to some special school for awhile in elementary school – something that was supposed to help her learn. Now, she comes back to the regular school at the end. But it annoyed me, because it seemed like something that would be a big deal, and would have at least been mentioned somewhere in the 100 + books that existed at the time (including mysteries). Now, I understand that they had to include things we hadn’t heard about to be interesting, but it still felt a little bit forced.

Revisited Reaction

So, this is Claudia’s turn at her autobiography, the second in this little special edition mini-series. Like Stacey’s, the book’s divided into a few key events from Claudia’s childhood.

On her 6th birthday, Claudia has a circus theme birthday party. Her birthday’s in July, so she actually gives out her invitations on the last day of school. It turns out that kindergartens don’t always give stuff to their parents, because the only people who show up are Mary Anne and Kristy. So, Claudia’s upset and cries, but then Kristy and Mary Anne (and probably Mr. and Mrs. Kishi) get Mr. Spier and Kristy’s family together to give Claudia a real celebration.

When Claudia’s in second grade, she and a couple classmates are afraid of the tooth fairy. So, when Claud finally loses her first tooth, she freaks out about putting it under her pillow. She ends up stuffing clothes under her blanket, and hiding in the closet to “trap” the tooth fairy. Instead, she just sees her mom come into her room. Mrs. Kishi doesn’t notice that Claudia’s not in bed, but Claudia sees her, and figures out that there’s no tooth fairy. She decides not to tell her friends about this, which is nice of her. She doesn’t mention whether she let them know they shouldn’t fear the tooth fairy, or let them keep worrying about it.

When Claudia’s in fourth-grade, she does poorly in school and gets a horrible report card (shocker!). She hadn’t done well prior to that, but I guess it becomes more obvious. The school does some testing for learning disabilities, have parent-teacher conferences, etc. Ultimately, they decide Claudia should attend the Stamford Alternate Academy, which is a private school where kids can “work at their own pace.” Claudia’s horrified at the idea, and decides to deliberately flunk what she thinks are entrance exams. Of course, they are just placement tests. Claud starts going to the school, and does well academically, but is miserable. She doesn’t talk to the other kids, stops seeing Kristy/Mary Anne when she’s home, and even stops working on her art. Her parents end up letting her transfer back to Stoneybrook Elementary because they think her happiness is more important than getting good grades. I wonder if they’ll say the same thing when she’s twenty-years old and still in high school.

When Claudia’s eleven, she goes on trip with Kristy’s family. It’s just a long weekend at the beach, because Mrs. Thomas hasn’t married Watson yet, and can’t afford cruises to the Bahamas. The trip’s actually for Sam and Charlie’s baseball team, so they are off playing, Mrs. Thomas is watching them, and Claudia and Kristy get stuck watching David Michael. They end up losing him temporarily, but find him playing with some kids on the beach. Claudia decides that Kristy’s life isn’t as easy as it looks, and is impressed with her responsibilities.

And that’s pretty much it for Claud’s life so far, or at least her pre-BSC life. She gets a B- on the project (A+ for content and design, but points off for problems like spelling her life-long friends’ name wrong).


  • Claudia briefly mentions the time she was in kindergarten and drew a butterfly as her self-portrait. That would be nice continuity, if it weren’t for the fact that she did that in first-grade.
  • It did make me laugh that Claudia mentions which paper her birth announcement was in, since that was such a big issue in that book where she thought she was adopted.
  • When Claudia asks Janine about when she was born, Janine mentions how she remembers eating alphabet soup for lunch that day, and had found all the letters except y and z. I just think that’s amusing.
  • Claudia invited her kindergarten teacher to her birthday party? Really?
  • Claudia’s outfit for her 6th Birthday: “Black tights and [her] tall black rainboots and [her] red jacket with the brass buttons. [She] had a T-shirt with a lion’s head painted on the front, and [she] wore that under the jacket.” I’m trying to decide if her fashion sense improved or got worse since then?
  • Mary Anne and Kristy’s clothing hasn’t changed much. On the day of Claudia’s party, Mary Anne wears a flowered dress and Kristy wears shorts, a T-shirt and “her best” sneakers.
  • What kind of parents let their almost-six-year-old just pass out invitations at school?
  • If no one RSVPs to a party, do you still go all out with food and decorating? You’d think Mrs. Kishi knew at least one other parent she could call about it.
  • In the flashbacks, everyone we know has the same personality as they do in the “present.” For example, when Claudia tells Kristy that they’ll be a face painter at her birthday party, Kristy’s all, “oh, make sure to have smocks to cover people’s clothes.” When she's SIX!
  • Claudia talks about having lunch in her kindergarten class. But isn’t kindergarten traditionally a half-day class?
  • Claudia says one of her earliest memories involves Mary Anne and Kristy. They’re playing in her backyard when workmen are putting a cement path in the yard. The three of them go over and start running their hands through it and drawing in it (while it’s still wet). So, Mimi has to call the workmen back, but then she lets the girls each leave one handprint in the corner.
  • Kristy tells Claudia that their fourth grade teacher’s “cool” (she heard from Charlie), and specifically mentions her having a southern accent. These girls are really big on accents, aren’t they?
  • Claudia first goes to visit the “alternate” school and take her tests on the last day of November. So, it’s pretty amazing that she finds out she got in (after taking the tests) the week BEFORE Thanksgiving.
  • If Claudia was smart, when she found out the placement tests weren’t entrance exams, she should have admitted failing them on purpose, and said she really didn’t need the extra help. But if Claudia was smart, I guess she wouldn’t have been there to begin with.
  • Kristy and Mary Anne’s classes are putting on plays based on books, and Kristy wants to do Harriet the Spy. AMM really loves that book, huh? I wonder if she pretended to be a spy as a kid?
  • Claud thinks they should do Nancy Drew, which shows her taste in reading hasn’t progressed much since she was nine. Of course, I’m still reading BSC books, so I probably can’t judge. But I read a lot of other things too.
  • Claudia and David Michael convince Kristy to not tell her mom about him getting lost. She agrees, and says they should all take a vow to never tell anyone, not even Mary Anne. So, it’s nice of Claudia to put it in her autobiography.

Monday, May 10, 2010

“How do you THINK I feel”……BSC Super Special # 4: Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure

Memory Reaction

I am ashamed to admit this, but I really liked this one. I was totally jealous of Dawn and Claudia, because the book made it seem like getting stranded on an island was the coolest thing in the world. Not that I wanted to be stuck on an island, I didn’t even want to go camping. But my life just seemed so boring compared to these girls.

My most vivid memory of the book is that there are all the scenes with reporters being all over the place asking questions. And when one of them asked Sharon how it felt to know her children were missing, and she snaps back, “how do you THINK I feel.” I think Mary Anne says the same thing later, which seems a little out of character, but I still thought it was a cool moment.

Revisited Reaction

This is probably one of the more ridiculous Super Specials. I mean, vacations are one thing. But getting shipwrecked on an island? Seriously? Anyway, here’s the set up:

Claudia and Dawn have been taking sailing lessons at the local community center, because apparently, Stoneybrook’s right on the ocean, even though this has never been mentioned before. After awhile, the girls decide to have a race. However, they end up in a tie and schedule a rematch. All that is relatively believable. But then they decide to bring some of their sitting charges with them. Because I know I wouldn’t have a problem sending my (hypothetical) child off on a sailboat with some 13-year-old who just learned how to sail. After all, these girls in the BSC are “responsible.”

Dawn brings Haley Braddock and her brother Jeff, while Claudia brings Jamie Newton and Becca Ramsey. The plan’s to race to Greenpoint Island, this little island off the coast that people use for recreation-type activities. Because they want to make things nice for the kids, they decide to race to the island and have a picnic/outing/whatever instead of racing there and back. However, during the race, they get caught in a really bad rainstorm. The boats drift off course, and the one Dawn’s in actually gets ripped apart – Dawn, Jeff, and Haley need to abandon ship and hold on to Claud’s boat. They make it to an island, but not Greenpoint, and they have no idea where they are. And, no one knows what happened to them.

They end up stranded for two days. They have a survival kit from the boats and some food they had brought for a picnic, so they have some supplies. They find a cave to stay in, Jeff manages to catch some fish, and Claudia sets up a tarp to gather rainwater. So, they are managing relatively well. But after the first day, the kids are all getting tired of being there and Jamie gets sick, with a high fever. Finally, Claudia finds a piece of mirror in the woods, uses it to signal a search plane and they all get rescued.

Meanwhile, everyone back in Stoneybrook’s all freaked out:

  • Stacey’s in NY for the weekend, and gets in a fight with her father because she wants to go home to “help search” and he wants to enjoy his weekend with her. She ends up leaving and then talks to both her parents about putting her in the middle, blah, blah, blah.
  • Jessi was watching Squirt and Becca while her parents were away (for the entire weekend! Are we supposed to believe that people who won’t let their 11-year-old baby-sit at night, let her stay alone with her siblings for a whole weekend?) But anyway, Jessi ends up calling her Aunt Cecilia, who comes over and “takes over.”
  • Mary Anne’s all freaked out because she and Dawn had a fight, and the last thing Mary Anne said to her was “I hope I never see you again.” The fight was because Dawn forgot to give Mary Anne a phone message from Logan. So when Mary Anne accuses Logan of standing her up, he gets mad at her, and Mary Anne blames Dawn. After Claud and Dawn disappear, Logan calls Mary Anne to say he’s sorry about them being missing, but he’s still pissed at her. Of course, they make up later.
  • Kristy cancels a Krusher’s practice to help look for “the missing.” Bart acts like an asshole, and accuses her of doing it because she’s afraid her team will lose. But, he sort of apologizes and they make up.
  • Mallory doesn’t really have a plot in this one. I think she had one chapter. Basically she’s just there and her family helps search for Claudia, Dawn, et al.

The “theme” of the book, follows the standard super special, in that the girls are recording everything that happens for someone’s journal/book/etc. In this case, Dawn’s making a record of what happened because it was such a traumatic experience. Only, most of it’s told “looking back” because, obviously, they didn’t know to bring journals with them to the island. However, there’s a big difference from most super specials, in that it’s not evenly split between the girls. Most of it focuses on Dawn and Claudia because that’s where the excitement is. I think Dawn has ten chapters.


  • Claudia’s outfit almost makes her loose the first race: “She’d put on a tank top and baggy drawstring pants. Over the top, she was wearing a button-down shirt of her fathers. The sleeves were rolled up, but none of the buttons were buttoned. She was also wearing big earrings that she had made herself.”
  • The sailing instructor tells Dawn and Claudia that they don’t need counselors with them, they just can’t sail alone. I guess that makes it okay to bring children as young as four with them? I mean, someone that age would certainly be just as helpful as a certified instructor.
  • The cover art in this book’s terrible. I’m assuming that the four non-BSC members on the cover are Jeff, Jamie, Becca, and Haley. And yet….I can’t tell which one’s supposed to be Haley and which one’s supposed to be Jeff. I guess Dawn has her hand on Jeff’s shoulder? But I’m not totally sure. And Kristy and Jessi both look….not good.
  • Okay, so, here’s one of my main complaints. The storm Dawn and Claudia get stuck in doesn’t just happen on the water, it hits Stoneybrook too. And there are thunderstorms all weekend. So, shouldn’t all this have been in the weather report? I know meteorologists aren’t always accurate, but I have a hard time believing that so much rain wouldn’t have been in the forecast. I’m not saying that Dawn and Claudia wouldn’t have sailed with that forecast, but you would think there would at least be a mention of it. Or that the community center would tell them not to sail that day.
  • In this case it ended up helping them, but I’ve always thought these girls bring too much food when talking about picnics. They brought multiple kinds of sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, salad, granola bars, and candy bars.
  • They save the apples, bananas, and candy bars. Their second day there, everyone but Dawn and Jeff eat candy bars for breakfast. Dawn was planning on eating a banana, but when Jeff catches fish, she changes her mind. So the fruit should still be available, but they stop talking about it entirely.
  • They ate most of the stuff the first night there because they didn’t know if it would go bad or not. I can understand thinking the yogurt and salad would go bad, but they eat the peanut butter sandwiches. I would think those would last at least a day or two.
  • There’s a point where Becca has an idea to write “help” with shells on the sand, so that overhead plans can see them. It totally reminds me of the episode of Lost where Bernard tries to get everyone to write SOS with rocks. Or maybe the Lost episode reminded me of the BSC.
  • Apparently Stacey has to write up a sitting job she takes in NY in the club notebook. I can’t figure out why. If the point of the notebook’s to keep track of what their clients are doing, it’s pointless to write up an out-of-town job. No one else is going to be sitting for the kids in NYC.
  • The people back in Stoneybrook keep talking about reporters covering the story. As a kid, I thought that might be a little unrealistic. But, now I actually think it makes sense. Six missing children would definitely make the news these days. However, I think most reporters could come up with better questions than, “how does it feel?”
  • Just to say again for the record….What kind of people let their four-year-old go on a sailing trip with a couple 13-year-olds who only recently learned to sail? Back in the early books, Mrs. Newton didn’t want to leave her newborn with 12-year-olds. But now that they are 13, they get to bring Jamie sailing?
  • Claudia and Dawn say that with their “crew members,” their teams are pretty equal. Now, let’s think about this. Jeff’s been sailing before. So, how can anyone say that Jeff and Haley, are an equivalent “crew” as Becca and Jamie. I mean, let’s call the girls equal. That’s Jeff vs. a four-year-old.
  • There’s a part where Jeff mentions that maybe they drifted very far and ended up in Nova Scotia. I remember how when I first read this, I had never heard of Nova Scotia and thought it was some exotic far-a-way place.
  • Haley refers to the book Baby Island. I totally read that book as a kid. I can’t remember how it ended though…and the cover I remember was much less grim than this one.
  • They name the island “9:00 Island” because the first two times they wonder what time it is, it’s 9:00. Once the night they get there, and once the next morning. They make a point of asking, because Dawn’s watch wasn’t waterproof, and she gets anxious about not knowing what time it is. Luckily, Jeff’s watch was waterproof.
  • Claudia originally asks Mal to be her crew member, but Mal can’t because her family has “plans for the long weekend.” But, when everyone turns up missing, they cancel plans and help search. It seems like a pretty convenient plot point. I think they just wanted to find a reason there would be kids with them.
  • Claudia and Dawn guess that Jamie has a temperature of 103. Isn’t that really, really high?
  • Claudia references that she likes sailing because she likes feeling the wind against her, and says that must be why she likes skiing too. I’ve said this before, but I like seeing continuity like that.
  • Interesting that the only time they mention the bathroom, is when they say Jamie got up several times in the middle of the night to go. (Because they were making him drink so much water). For some reason, I thought there was a scene where one of the younger girls was upset about the lack of a real bathroom.
  • I really would like to know how the mirror ended up on this island.
  • Bart’s really a jackass in this one. Kristy’s friends and members of her team are literally missing and he wants them to play softball like nothing’s wrong? Later, he apologizes, but says Kristy exaggerates sometimes. So then SHE apologizes for “crying wolf.”
  • Jessi has the operator interrupt Kristy’s call (that it’s an emergency call), to tell her they found everyone. Can you really do that?
  • One detail I really like, is that in all the image of them on the island, they are always wearing the same clothes.
  • Why would Aunt Cecelia think it was Jessi’s fault that Becca got stranded? Even if she thought Jessi was the one who let Becca go sailing, wouldn’t Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey have cleared that up? Because they did give her permission to go. Also, if Aunt Cecelia lives so close to Stoneybrook, why wouldn’t they have asked her to watch the kids that weekend?
  • I always knew this book is the one that introduces Aunt Cecelia, but I don’t think I realized until know that this book must have come out right before Jessi's Baby-sitter (where that happens).
  • Since when do the girls take notes at a meeting? Mary Anne freaks because she’s too upset to take notes, so Kristy does it.
  • Claudia has a bit of a hero arc in this one. She’s the one who figures out how to gather rainwater, and she’s the one who finds the mirror/gets them rescued. Dawn ends up “falling apart” (in her words). This really just means she sits in the cave with a sick Jamie feeling sad while Claudia finds the mirror. Dawn’s the one who says this – I actually think she and Claud acted pretty impressively, considering the situation.

Monday, May 3, 2010

“California is calling you”…..BSC # 88: Farewell, Dawn

Memory Reaction

I’ll admit, that I remember being sad at the end of this one. I’m not really a big fan of change, and the idea of Dawn leaving permanently seemed like the end of an era or something. I probably would have doubted that she was really leaving for good, if it weren’t for the fact that they had advertised a “name the new baby-sitter” contest for a couple months beforehand. And I admit, I submitted multiple entries for that contest. I think it was actually a contest to name the new sitter and her twin….but I’m not sure if I thought they would both be in the club or not.

I was also somewhat cynical, because I was very aware that they were having Dawn leave, in the book immediately following the one where Stacey rejoins the club. It almost seemed like they only brought Stacey back so she would fill the hole when Dawn left.

Revisited Reaction

So, Dawn’s missing California. Which is pretty much the equivalent of Dawn breathing. But it’s worse than usual, partially because her friend Sunny’s mother has cancer, and Dawn wants to be there for Sunny. Whatever the reason, she decides she wants to go back to California permanently. And she’s going to do it soon, so that she can get there before the school year starts.

Dawn wants to tell Mary Anne about the decision herself, but she’s having trouble figuring out how to do it. She does tell Kristy, because she’s BSC President and that’s what a responsible baby-sitter does. Kristy agrees not to tell anyone, but tells Claudia anyway, who tells Stacey, who tells Robert, who tells Logan…who tells Mary Anne. So, Mary Anne’s pissed that Dawn didn’t tell her, and she’s upset that Dawn’s leaving. Mary Anne’s upset, not just because Dawn’s leaving, but because she heard about it from Logan. She ends up acting really cold around Dawn – not angry, just cold. Dawn thinks Mary Anne’s just waiting for her good-bye party to make a big gesture. But, it turns out Mary Anne barely helps plan it. Finally, right before Dawn leaves, Mary Anne cries and tells Dawn how much she’ll miss her. They bond, cry, and make a promise to think of each other when brushing their teeth. The usual stuff.

Meanwhile, James Hobart breaks his leg while playing with his brothers and some of the Pike kids. It sucks for him, because it’s the middle of summer, and for an eight-year-old that means spending time outside running around or swimming. So, the BSC and some of their clients arrange a “Christmas in the Summer” party to cheer him up. They have to do this, because Dawn’s good-bye party’s NOT for little kids. So, they can’t have the sub-plot chapters be about kids planning that, they needed another reason.

The last chapter’s letters between Dawn and the rest of the BSC revealing that she gets there, they all miss her, etc.


  • The cover of this book's hysterical, because you have Dawn and Mary Anne looking like they are about to start crying, and Kristy looking like she can't wait for Dawn to leave. I thought they got over that jealousy plot ages ago?
  • What exactly do you think Janine does on her computer all the time? Shannon says she looked at the screen and couldn’t understand the program Janine was writing. I always pictured Janine typing stuff, reading, searching for porn, or something. But I guess she was programming?
  • I like that Dawn’s decision got out to Mary Anne via a gossip train, it’s very realistic for 13-year-olds.
  • However, are Logan and Robert supposed to be friends? They seem to run in different circles.
  • Dawn’s excuse for not telling Mary Anne’s sort of weak…she claims she wanted to find the right way to tell her, but she really was just afraid to have the confrontation.
  • It’s amazing but the going away party they have for Dawn, does NOT include kids. Stacey actually says that she doesn’t want to end up baby-sitting during the party. Which is realistic (for a change), but kind of bold of Stacey, since she’s still on “probation.”
  • Dawn says that her mother feels at home in Stoneybrook because she grew up there. But Dawn grew up in California, so that feels like home to her. Way to send a positive message to all the girls reading who’ve moved somewhere and are trying to adjust.
  • The whole “Christmas in the Summer” plot’s a bit contrived. The BSC recruits all their charges to help plan it, make food, decorate, and pick out “gifts” (cheap stuff). But, I don’t think all those people are his friends. I mean, the group includes Jenny Prezzioso. Just because they live in the same neighborhood doesn’t mean they’re friends.
  • Dawn cooks dinner for Mary Anne to try and mend fences a bit. So, she tells us that she’s making a dish called “eggplant roll-ups.” Then a half page later, she tells Mary Anne that she made “eggplant rollitini.” I guess both names could apply to that dish, but it seems weird.
  • Watson drives the entire BSC to the airport to say good-bye to Dawn. He’s really very nice, isn’t he? He invites those girls on vacations, he drives them places….The only other description I could come up with is creepy, but thinking about that just seems wrong.
  • It’s so self-centered of Dawn to assume Mary Anne’s planning something special for her going away party. I think she was the same way the other time she moved back to California. But just because Mary Anne says she wants to say good-bye “her own way,” doesn’t mean she’s planning a big gesture.
  • When they surprise James, he gets all confused and thinks it really is Christmas. Or something. Because in Australia, Christmas happens when it’s warm out. That’s the cultural awareness message in this book.
  • Dawn’s father MAILS her plane ticket to her. I guess that’s how people did things before e-tickets. But, what really surprised me was that he sends it to arrive on Friday, for a Saturday flight. Wouldn’t it be better to have a bit more time? Some things get lost in the mail.
  • It struck me that Jessi’s a really good letter writer. I remember her being good about it in other books, and in this one, she mails a letter out to Dawn before she even leaves, so it will be there waiting for her.
  • There’s a nice bonding moment, where Dawn and Stacey talk about the various changes in their lives. It’s too short to actually say anything meaningful, but I appreciate the effort.
  • In the photo slide show, we hear about a few past events like the Mini-Olympics and the Snow White/Captain Planet video. I always like the shout outs to other books….I still do actually. It’s like a pay off for all the hours I once spent reading these books.
  • The photo slide show also has pictures of the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant. Everyone remembers that one, right? The one where Jeff moves back to California and Dawn calls him a brat for hurting their mom? And swears that even though she misses California she would never do something as selfish as moving back?