This is the first Dawn book. As she pedals to her next job, Dawn informs us that she’s the newest member of the BSC, and that the club is the most important thing in her life. Not school, or family, but the club. Dawn is from California. California is awesome. Connecticut sucks, because it’s too cold. Dawn talks to the meteorologists every day. Sounds like she’s a bit crazy.
Speaking of crazy, Dawn’s job today is at the Pikes, the family with the metric ton of children. However, only half of the clan will be home. Mrs. Pike is heading to a trustee meeting – how does she have time to do anything with all of these kids? Dawn tells us that Mrs. Pike is super-organized, “a baby-sitter’s dream.” A bite-sized version of Foreshadowing skates across the hall tiles.
Dawn tells Mrs. Pike she has a BSC meeting at 5:30, which gives her leave to recap the club members and what they’re like. She leaves Mary Anne for last because she’s Dawn’s new best friend. And their parents, who were high school sweethearts, are dating again.
Mrs. Pike tells Dawn that one of the kids is playing at the Barretts, a family Dawn doesn’t know. Mrs. Pike tells her that Mrs. Barrett is “very relaxed,” and the kids go back and forth between the Barretts all the time.
Baby-sitting happens. Dawn is asked about her “new-old” house, which is from 1795, and it’s dark, and narrow, and you have to duck if you’re tall, but gee golly wow, so much history! Mallory, the older Pike, is all ears about Dawn’s mom and her dating escapades. Dawn doesn’t know the whole story about why they broke up, but she does known that her parents were unhappy together and got divorced. Mrs. Schafer is crazy – not “nasty crazy,” more ditzy, seems like. But, Dawn, what is nasty crazy? Is that a Cali thing, like “hella?”
Anyway, the musing is interrupted by the Barretts making their first appearance, Suzi with a skinned knee. Dawn takes care of it and the kids stay and hang out.
As Dawn is in her driveway, Mary Anne runs up and says she has “great news.” Ooh, what? Kristy came out? Claudia can spell?
Nope. Mrs. Schafer and Mr. Spier are going on another date! And it was an impulsive decision, something that Mr. S NEVER does! Dawn reminds us that Mary Anne’s dad used to be really strict, and he was loosening up before he started dating again, but now . . . Mary Anne has contacts instead of glasses (really? at her age? and in the 80s?) and she can buy her own clothes. At this moment, Mary Anne has on a sweatshirt and jeans, for the first time ever. She’s in seventh grade and never owned jeans until now?
Mary Anne can redo her room, too. Well, for now just switching what’s on her walls, but it’s a start.
They encounter Jeanine, Claudia’s genius sister, and Dawn tries to be all smart and throw around big words wit her, until she says, “continue on,” which Jeanine calls after her is “redundant.” For some reason, that always stuck with me.
BSC stuff happens – treasury, dues, Kid-Kits, phone calls. Mrs. P. (the lady with the fussily-dressed kid) and Watson, Kristy’s soon-to-be-stepfather, need sitters. And then Mrs. Barrett calls, and as contrivance would have it, Dawn is the only one free. Mrs. B reveals that she is recently divorced and “not terribly organized.”
Speaking of not terribly organized, Dawn has to assist her mother before her date – she’s missing an earring and still wearing a price tag. There is a ladle and a bicycle pump in the living room, just chilling. What in the what?
Leftover Stew is what’s for dinner. Dawn says ew. They have frozen pizza instead. Given the state of the house, Leftover Stew seems like it might have an old boot simmering in it.
Mary Anne calls and asks for help redecorating her room. Dawn is sure they have some stuff hanging about that can be of use (like the bicycle pump). They make plans for Saturday.
As they go through the things, Kristy sees them from her window and Mary Anne invites her over. Kristy is upset that Mary Anne didn’t ask HER about stuff for her room. Um, because you don’t seem to care about that shit?
Anyway, now Kristy is jelis and butthurt, but tries not to show it. And Dawn keeps heaping it on her own head, by ignoring Kristy by discussing topics that first, don’t involve her, and second, the ones that Kristy doesn’t want to think about (like moving across town to Watson’s mansion). Kristy is a douche.
Dawn sits for the Barretts. Mrs. B has no trouble looking chic and groomed, but her house is a mess, and frankly, disgusting. Her children are also unkempt. She leaves no emergency numbers. Dawn tricks the kids into helping her clean up. Suzi calls her a liar about their dad not coming back, then needs help when she wets her pants.
Next, Kristy sits for her future stepsiblings, and I love how it never really bothered me when I was a kid that somehow, the girl whose book it was became omniscient and knew every detail of events that did not include her. The kids play “Let’s All Come In,” which I thought was kind of fun when I read this the first time – different characters arriving in the hotel lobby, which is the mansion’s living room. There’s an incident where “Morbidda Destiny” comes to ask for fennel and coriander. This just makes me think of:
Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Supposedly, the attic is haunted, too.
Dawn invites Kristy to her house to try to make nice. They go to the old barn and play in the hayloft, then they talk about Stuff, and Kristy makes her an alternate officer. That is a magical afternoon!
At the Barretts again. House is a mess, Kids are a bigger mess, and they’re going to a picnic at the Pikes. Stacey and Claudia are sitting there, as all are at home. Stacey is wearing a baggy jumpsuit with a pink tee, but apparently, this makes Dawn feel ordinary. I think this time that should be a good thing, because when I hear baggy jumpsuit, I think of prison. The Pike children when all together are the impossible ones, as they have been giving each other the “bizzer sign,” which is supposedly the ultimate insult.
With the promise of brownies, the kids get calmer. Dawn gives a piece to the littlest Barrett, but Mallory Pike grabs it out of her hand, which appalls Dawn, until she realizes that Mallory was stopping the kidlet from having an allergic reaction. No one told Dawn about any allergies. Here is where I would be done with this family; the kid could have wound up in the hospital. But this is the BSC, you guys, and you have to have fortitude and keep going, so Dawn says nothing. This time.
At this point, Dawn has nearly been living at the Barretts. She even missed a club meeting – wow, and Kristy didn’t kill you? She finally asks about the allergy, and Mrs. Barrett can’t believe she didn’t tell Dawn about it. The only other important thing is that the children are not allowed to speak to their father. Um, if he has joint custody, I don’t think you can do that . . .
After Dawn helps curb a crisis while Mrs. B is there, she tells Dawn that she’s the glue holding them together. Hell to the no.
More shit happens. Mrs. B forgets visitation times. She leaves incorrect telephone numbers. Dawn helps with homework. Meanwhile, Kristy worries about how to get to BSC meetings when she’s living across town. Oh, you’re not going to close up.
Dawn’s mom throws a party, where the girls spy on Mrs. Schafer and Mr. Spier, and Dawn’s grandparents interacting with Mr. Spier, who they haven’t seen in years. I guess they approve of him now that he has his own law firm.
Mary Anne sits for the Barretts and she can’t believe how crazy they are. How impossible! She takes them on a puddle walk – ah, for a simpler time! What kid would want to do this today? Or even then, for that matter?
Mr. Barrett calls and is rude. Mrs. Barrett loses her shit.
Then, Dawn sits again and sends Buddy outside while she gets the girls ready to go outside. But . . . Buddy’s gone. Cue the search party. And the police. The Pike kids saw Buddy get into a car, but he didn’t look scared. Buddy calls from a payphone. He’s with his father.
Apparently, it’s Mr. Barrett’s day for the kids, but Mrs. Barrett forgot, so . . . he decided to just take Buddy to teach his ex-wife a lesson. Wow. That’s some great parenting! Somehow, he doesn’t get arrested.
Dawn tries to quit the Barretts, but Mrs. B acts all desperate and promises to change. Dawn relents for three more babysitting sessions.
Kristy raises club dues so that she can pay her older brother to drive her to meetings. And Mary Anne finally gets what she wants – a framed photo of the BSC.