Friday, September 24, 2010

“I know what I’m doing when it comes to detective work”……….BSC Mystery # 17: Dawn and the Halloween Mystery

Memory Reaction

The main thing I remember about this one was that at this point, it was really obvious Dawn had been in California more than the initial six-months. She had left in September/October, experienced a winter AND a summer, and was now experiencing Halloween. The not aging thing didn’t bother me too much, except when they made references to the timeline like this. Interestingly enough, I can’t remember if I wanted Dawn to come back to Stoneybrook or not.

The other thing I remember is how all the kids were not going to be allowed to go trick-or-treating because of a robbery in town. I didn’t understand how something like that could be enforced. It’s not like they made a law stopping trick-or-treating. If some parents weren’t letting their kids go out, it would be one thing. But talking about it like it was some town-wide ordinance (which is how I remember it) annoyed me.

Revisited Reaction

As the title would suggest, it’s almost Halloween (again). Dawn’s living in California and a store in town gets robbed at gunpoint by someone wearing a clown mask. Dawn witnesses the culprit running out of the store and getting into a car, so she has to give her statement to the police. This also means she knows enough details about the crime to play detective. When the parents in town hear about the robbery, they decide to establish a curfew preventing kids from being out after 7:00 pm, unless they are with an adult. The parents also decide that if the robber isn’t caught by Halloween, there will be no trick-or-treating. Obviously, the kids in town are upset by this, so Dawn and the We Love Kids Club decide to save the day. First, by trying to catch the thief on their own, and second, by planning a Halloween party for the kids.

Their investigation involves going to stores in town trying to find out who bought clown masks, staking out the restaurant that the thief had a bumper sticker for, etc. They really get nowhere with the investigation, and after awhile, there’s a second robbery. Then, by pure luck, Dawn sees the car that the robber used in the garage of a neighbor’s house. This particular neighbor lives across the street from the DeWitts, one of her babysitting clients. She has actually been watching Timmy, the little boy who lives there, on most of her sitting jobs for the DeWitts.

Anyway, after she sees the car, she runs and tells Mrs. DeWitt. They call the cops, who come and arrest Timmy’s father. Word spreads around town that trick-or-treating’s back on, and Dawn takes the DeWitt boys, as well as Timmy (who’s not told about his dad, at least at this point). Towards the end of the evening, Dawn sees a person dressed in black and wearing a clown mask digging in Timmy’s backyard. She makes the kids go back to the DeWitt’s house, where Mrs. DeWitt tells her Timmy’s dad has an alibi for the robbery and couldn’t have been the thief. So, they call the police again, and the real robber (who’s digging in the yard) is arrested. We find out that it’s Timmy’s mother (the parents are separated), and she had to steal because “she was poor.” Anyway, after this, everyone goes back out to the party Dawn and her friends planned.

We only get a few chapters about events occurring back in Stoneybrook…..Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé are looking for a new house where they can fit their seven children. They find one in a town about a half-hour from Stoneybrook. The kids don’t want to move, so they pout about it and make their parents retract their offer on the house. They go house hunting again, but the place in Stoneybrook that they can afford is a tiny one by the elementary school. The kids swear they don’t care about the size, and so Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé buy it. They will regret this decision later on, but somehow will have all the money they need to build an extensive edition to the house.

  • I understand the concern about keeping kids safe, but I have an issue with the curfew, mainly that both robberies happened in the middle of the afternoon. Keeping the kids in at night’s not necessarily going to be any safer.
  • Jeff says he has trouble remembering what it was like when his parents were still married. But wasn’t that less than two years ago? He’s ten. He should remember something about it.
  • Dawn and her friends are staking out a hot dog place because the robber had one of their bumper stickers on her car. The food doesn’t exactly appeal to them, so her friend Jill’s all, “we should have brought sandwiches.” Because restaurants LOVE when customers bring their own food.
  • I’m actually shocked that a hot dog place exists in California. Aren’t all Californians healthy eaters like Dawn?
  • I’m surprised that it doesn’t even occur to Dawn that the robber could be a woman. Usually, at least one of the BSC members will give the feminist point of view. Plus the robber was around 5’8,” one of the people who purchased the clown mask was a tall blond woman, and a tall blonde woman worked at the hotdog place. And if Dawn checked, she would have seen that this woman was wearing a pair of the sneakers like the robber did.
  • At the hot dog restaurant, Dawn wonders why the cashier was staring at them. She decides it’s because they stayed for ages and only bought soda. Sunny thinks the woman’s an undercover cop. But it’s most likely because they told her they were looking for a person driving a car that looks just like hers and wearing shoes like hers.
  • Dawn said that she used to dislike Carol (her dad’s fiancé) for driving a red convertible, because “adults” shouldn’t own them. I’m not sure what age she’s using as a cut off for “adult,” but someone should tell her that usually “kids” can’t afford fancy new cars.
  • Dawn says that Carol has a “cool hair cut.” I’m not exactly sure what that means. How’s that a description?
  • The reason the robber was digging in the yard where her soon-to-be-ex-husband and son live, was that she had hidden her gun there. Or something. I can’t imagine why she would have done this. Or why she would have gone to dig it up on a night when all the neighborhood kids are running around outside.
  • Dawn’s friend Maggie talks about a guacamole recipe that she got from Winona Ryder. Now…I’ll believe that her father’s a producer and she gets to meet celebrities. But getting recipes from them?
  • After Dawn witnesses the robber’s getaway, the cops question her when she is by herself. (Carol was down the hall). Now, I realize they weren’t accusing her of anything, but shouldn’t there still have been a parent present?
  • Dawn and Sunny go to a Halloween store to find out if any people bought the mask the robber used (they don’t say the real reason they’re asking). And the clerk says they sold three, then goes on to describe the people who bought them. What are the chances that this guy would have been present for the sale of all three masks, and that he’d remember what they all looked like?
  • After she talks to the police, Dawn remembers seeing a logo on the clown mask that the robber was wearing. This logo ends up revealing there was only one store in town that was selling it. And she decides she and Sunny should go around questioning sales clerks first, and THEN she’ll tell the police. It is not like it is important information that could have helped their investigation.
  • This is the second time Dawn has “solved” a mystery simple by being in the right place at the right time, not because of her actual “detective work.”
  • Apparently all of Mal’s siblings are young enough to be captivated by Halloween. So the triplets love it, but Mallory’s too old to get into it? I know it’s been said before but that 11th birthday must be magical in Stoneybrook.
  • It’s kind of annoying that the Barrett kids get to stay in Stoneybrook. Not because I dislike them, just because it’s unrealistic. Sometimes kids have to move away. If Mrs. Barrett and her fiancé can’t afford something in Stoneybrook, then they should tell the kids to deal with it.
  • Dawn finds out about all the Barrett drama via letters that BSC members send her. But after each letter, Dawn calls one of her friends to get rest of the story. That seems to defeat the purpose of writing letters (assuming one reason for the letters is to keep the cost of phone calls down).
  • No one can figure out the problem when the Barrett kids react negatively to moving to the house in another town. Why was it so hard to figure out? I would expect most little kids to be upset about moving.
  • Mrs. DeWitt (the California client) has decided that Dawn should start calling her Cynthia. I guess this is because when Mrs. Barrett gets married, she’ll become Mrs. DeWitt as well, which could cause confusion.
  • Mrs. Barrett gets frustrated while house hunting and says, “We’ll never find a house, and then we’ll never be able to get married.” It just made me laugh for some reason.
  • The parents association that helps the We Love Kids set up the Halloween party want to help decorate the school gym (where the party’s happening), but Dawn and her friends insist on doing it themselves. It seems a little unbelievable that a bunch of teenagers could have that much control over it.
  • The haunted house Dawn and Sunny set up at the party consists only of stations where kids are blindfolded and told to feel cold brains (spaghetti), eyeballs (peeled grapes), etc. While I can certainly see kids enjoying that, it doesn’t really seem like a haunted house.
  • While trick-or-treating, Stephie Roberts starts to eat some candy, but Dawn stops her by saying that her dad didn’t want her to eat too much along the way. Now, when I was in elementary school, I remember teachers telling us not to eat candy until we got home for “safety” reasons. We were always supposed to have our parents look at it to make sure no one poisoned it or stuck in needles or something. Why isn’t that an issue here?
  • The We Love Kids Club decides to dress up in costume for the party. For those interested: Maggie goes as the Pink Panther, Jill goes as Marge Simpson, and Sunny goes as Mrs. Claus. Dawn recycles a costume from her childhood, and goes as Pippi Longstocking.


maria said...

Oh, Dawn. Can you be any more annoying? I finally found a few books from the California Diaries (the only BSC collection that I didn't own any books from) and am reluctant to read them because Dawn annoy's me that much.

I can't believe the robber is a woman, worse yet, a mom! And that she used a gun. Such a break from the norm in BSC world. In fact, I can only remember a gun being used/mentioned in the Super Mystery, Babysitter's Beware--one of my favorite BSC books.

SJSiff said...

While it's true that a nighttime curfew makes no sense as a reaction to a daytime crime, it's what people would do. Parents want to do something and as long as they feel like they're doing anything at all, they'll be able to say they tried. Logic and rationality have nothing to do with it.

I was also surprised that Dawn or someone didn't suggest the robber might be a she. Especially Dawn.

Lorrs said...

It's weird I remember more about the Barrett's house hunting than the actual plot, I didn't even remember that the robber was female.

Emily said...

The clown mask would have been enough for weapon needed to be scary!

booboobrewer said...

In keeping with their boring haunted house, they had really boring panther? Mrs. Claus? No scare factor there at all.

winstonegbert said...

I loved Dawn and Winona Ryder, and I remember being sooo psyched about that guacamole recipe!

caradi said...

right on Emily

Devika said...

Do they actually put the Winona recipe in the book? I would totally make that guac!

Alycia said...

I like that Ann M. and the ghosties left out the "check your candy first" attitude. That was just an urban legend from the 80s that people took way too seriously.
And I believe the Winona guac recipe. This was written when Winona Ryder was young and hip and she would have been cool to her producer's teenaged daughter.

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

No, unfortunately, they don't give the recipe. It would have been fun to make though.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite BSC Mysteries growing up. I loved reading your pov on it. I religiously follow your blog and can't wait to see what's next!

coulrophobic agnostic said...

I love a Simpsons reference in the BSC - one of these days I'm going to be Lisa for Halloween - but man, that Marge beehive must have been difficult to hold up all night!

It's ridiculous that the Barrett/DeWitt kids had so much power in saying where they wanted to live. Hell, if I'd moved into that tiny house and my kids had whined nonstop about not having enough space, my reaction would've been "tough shit, you said you didn't care, now pick what stuff you want to get rid of." Or, you know, moved somewhere else because there weren't enough bedrooms for everyone (though I don't know why the toddler who slept reliably through the night couldn't have been moved into one of the older kids' rooms instead of stashed in a hallway, but whatever...)

Unknown said...

coulrophobic agnostic I was Marge Simpson for Halloween while I was in my freshman years at high school and boy did I became famous fast. I guess you could say it was my shot to popularity. It was worth it too.

I remember that this was the book that Dawn decided to dress up as Pippi Longstockings despite being too old for Halloween according to her.

I felt sorry for the woman who had to rob a store in order for her son to have a much better Halloween. Some people would go to great lengths just to please their loved ones.

by the way that clown mask was fucking scary. This proves my point that clowns are scary. Period.

Alyssa said...

I seriously love all of your posts on the BSC, it definitely brings back memories for me. Each post reminds me of my childhood when I thought the BSC did not wrong.

An interesting fact: Halloween was actually "cancelled" in my town one year because prisoners had escaped from a nearby prison the day before. No kids were allowed to Trick or Treat that year and I remember just going to the 5 houses on my street and that was it. Believe it or not, that actually happens!

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