I didn’t get to this one as a kid, so no memory applies.
Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for the summer and is taking some sitting jobs. At one meeting, the BSC gets two calls from different women, with different last names, and a different number of kids, at the same address. The girls are a little confused, but Kristy and Dawn both show up for the sitting jobs. It turns out that the two women are sisters from out-of-town, who are staying in their (somewhat) recently deceased father’s mansion while his estate’s settled. His house is called the “Livingston House,” because rich people name their houses, I guess. And I’m going to refer to the whole family as “the Livingstons,” because it’s not worth learning anyone’s real last name.
The sisters don’t get along and have divided the house in two so they don’t have to interact. Also living in the house is a third sister with no kids and a young man calling himself their butler. Richard picks Dawn up after the job and recognizes a colleague out running (she’s a neighbor of the Livingstons). The neighbor fills Dawn in on the sisters’ backstory----The father was a bit of an ass, and his will calls for his three daughters to each get a “clue” upon his death. Whoever uses the clue to find a specific code first will “win” and inherit the entire fortune. The neighbor’s the executor of the estate, and thinks the sisters should just share the clues, solve the puzzle together, then share the fortune. But the two older sisters resent each other too much. Apparently, their father encouraged them to be competitive as kids, which caused them to fight a lot until they were old enough to leave town. The younger daughter was spared from this because she was much younger, and she has been living in the house on her own. We’re also told that the sisters had a younger brother, but he died tragically when he was young.
Anyway, after the first sitting job the sisters decide that their kids should be able to see each other. They still hire two sitters, but tell the BSC to keep all the kids together. While doing this, Dawn gets the kids to talk some about the clues their mothers are looking for. They search the house themselves, but don’t find anything. When the mothers get home, the kids ask them to share the clues. And just like that, years of resentment goes away and the three sisters share their clues. However, they still can’t figure out what code they’re supposed to be finding. Lucky for the sisters, Dawn has the case on the brain. She figures out how the clues go together and the sisters all find the code, it’s written on the back of one of the many portraits of the father hanging in the house. We also find out that the “butler” is actually the thought to-be-dead-brother. So, the whole Livingston family gets a happy ending.
Meanwhile, Dawn also has a very busy social life because everyone in town’s trying to spend time with her before she goes back to California. She ends up having to cancel plans with Mary Anne multiple times because she accidentally made plans with someone else at the same time. So, she ends up organizing “friend day.” In the morning she hangs out with a bunch of kids/charges and in the afternoon she hangs out with the BSC and some other old classmates. Then she has “family day” to spend a lot of time with her family, especially Mary Anne.
- Does Dawn really need to have going away parties every time she leaves Stoneybrook? Not to mention getting presents.
- This book takes place right after the Hawaii super special, so most of the girls have just returned from that trip. Apparently, Kristy didn’t go, but leaves with her family for a trip there during this book. Dawn gets a letter from her that Mr. Schafer and Watson arranged for the Thomas-Brewer clan to stop and spend the night at Dawn’s house on their way back. However, in “Kristy’s Worst Idea,” Kristy tells us about her trip home from Hawaii, and a stop at Dawn’s house isn’t included.
- I hate when people complain about having too many people that want to spend time with them.
- Dawn makes plans with Emily Bernstein and Erica Blumberg, two eighth graders at SMS we hear of every once in a while. But how often did Dawn hang out with them when she lived in town? Now, I like seeing these girls hang out with people outside the BSC-clique, but at the same time, Dawn doesn’t live in Stoneybrook any more. So, it actually makes sense that she would only stay in touch with her closest friends.
- Claudia outfit: “A bright yellow pair of overall shorts over a tie-dyed baby-T in all the colors of the rainbow. She wore purple jellies, and her toenails, which showed through the plastic, were painted scarlet. A green scrunchie, holding her hair into a cool-looking Pebbles ‘do, topped off the look.” I actually don’t think this is so bad, considering it was the nineties. However, how do you combine “cool-looking” and “Pebbles ‘do” in one sentence?
- How come everyone in BSC-land has attics filled with all sorts of cool old stuff? I was always so jealous of not being able to go attic-exploring as a kid. At least in this book, they don’t find an old journal/letters in the attic to read. I was even more jealous of that.
- This book isn’t really a mystery. I know I’ve complained that some mysteries are way too unrealistic, but there’s something in between catching counterfeiters and a brainteaser.
- Is it weird that Dawn made plans to go to the local community pool with Haley and Matt Braddock? Not as a sitting job, just for fun?
- Why would you play “Marco Polo” when at a pool with a deaf child?
- While searching the mansion, Dawn and Abby find a signature of an “A Livingston” from two months ago, which is after Mr. (Arthur) Livingston died. And they’re all, “OMG, he’s really alive!” They totally ignore the obvious explanation that the third daughter’s named Amy Livingston, and is the owner of the signature.
- The kids were playing pogs. Remember those?
- They make a point of saying how it is weird that the “butler” is really young, so you know he’ll be someone significant.
- Arthur Livingston died a year ago, and there was no funeral because Amy (the younger daughter) and the executor of the estate were both out of the country. Which seems really weird. Wouldn’t she make a point of coming home when her father died? This is the daughter living in Stoneybrook.
- After the first job, Kristy and Dawn talk about only sending one sitter to try and force the Livingston’s to make up. But they decide not to. Not because it’s meddling, but because it wouldn’t be safe to only send one sitter for five kids.
- The Livingstons ask Dawn to be a “regular sitter.” And the BSC’s totally okay with it, like it hasn’t been against club policy for over a hundred books.
- It’s so weird that the executor of the estate says she can’t do anything about the “contest” part of the will, but then she just helps them share the clues at the end.
- When we first heard that the Livingstons had a younger brother that died, I thought they meant as a baby. But the father just started telling people his seventeen-year-old son died while mountain climbing, because he was mad at him. That’s a pretty crappy thing to lie about, at least in my opinion.
- The idea that the BSC managed to resolve a feud that has been going on with these two women since they were children in a matter of weeks is just….beyond words ridiculous.
- The executor says how the father would have liked seeing the daughters be competitive about the clues. But really, it would have been pretty hard for them to figure out on their own. The three clues were: The first is the most important; The signature tells all; and I didn’t do it, I was blank. (The blank is supposed to be framed, which points to the (signed) portrait and the “first” is because it is the oldest portrait).