Cover: Yes, let's start with the cover. Suzi's yellow romper looks impossible cute. Marnie looks adorable. But otherwise, this is just a mess. Dawn looks like the human equivalent of a "waaahh-WONHHH" horn. And denim on denim does not scream California casual, but I'll give them a pass because it's so early in the series. And the shirt does seem like something Dawn would wear, with all its earthiness and everything. But aside from that, okay...I know that we're supposed to feel for her and everything, but what are the kids really doing? Making faces? Leaving a block on the floor? Playing quietly by themselves? Maybe Dawn could deal with it if she turned away from the camera, unfolded her arms, stood up straight, and gother act together. At least in the new cover the kids look a bit more...impossible. But I'm distracted by the lamp that's glowing super hard in the background. What an odd detail.
Plot!: In Dawn's first book narration of the series, we join her as she's adjusting to life in Stoneybrook and with the BSC. But she and Kristy are passively-aggressively fighting over Mary Anne. Her mom, who is dating Mary Anne's dad, is driving her crazy with all of the disorganization. And she's sitting for the Barretts - who she calls the impossible three! Luckily, she and Kristy patch things up while swinging in a hayloft, Dawn learns to live with her mom, and after a child abduction, Dawn confronts Mrs. Barrett about her parenting skills and all is okay. Until next time...
Continuity Fairy: Mrs. Barrett is pretty consistent to how she is later. It doesn't make sense to me that Stacey would be Mrs. Barrett's bridesmaid at her wedding to Franklin DeWitt, but I'm getting way ahead of myself. The ground for Dawn and Kristy's sometime animosity is pretty well laid, too. And Dawn has a lot of annoying pro-health food rants.
Points of Interest:
- The club is the most important thing in my life. I think we heard Stacey say this too, at some point. Maybe even Jessi, and probably even Mallory. This was why I could never really identify with the books, even though I loved them: I was never this dependent on other people. Not that I remember, anyway.
- Dawn calls Connecticut cold and sloppy. But she also says that California has one season (summer), so I'm not sure she's a reliable narrator.
- Okay. I was going to leave this until I got to a Mallory book (whenever that was), but since Dawn sits for the Pikes, I might as well bring it up now. WTF is up with the Pikes? At this point, they're all a year younger than the rest of the series - i.e. Mallory is ten. Okay. This book is published in 1987. So let's say:
Mallory was born in 1977, the triplets 1978, Vanessa 1979, Nicky 1980, Margo 1981, and Claire 1983. The triplets and Mallory I understand, but who has FOUR KIDS under TWO and then has another kid? and then ANOTHER? AND ANOTHER? AND NOW WE'RE ONLY AT MARGO. By the time Claire is born, that's eight kids under six.
- Accoding to Dawn, Claudia is Japanese and beautiful.
- Ugh. Dawn's going on about her house and its old-ness. Boring.
- Aside from the whole "we're rich and he's poor" thing, why is Dawn's grandparents (Granny and Pop-Pop) richness never brought up? Like, do they ever take them on a big trip, or anything? Maybe in the later books or mysteries...weird stuff comes out in the mysteries. Random stuff.
- Suzi and Buddy are introduced...and Suzi has a skinned knee. What a monster!
- Mary Anne has contact lenses? That seems...unlikely. Is that a regularly mentioned detail? You would think she would sympathize with Mallory when she's going on about braces and glasses.
- Janine tells Dawn that "continue on" is redundant. I think of that pretty much think of that every time I hear someone way 'continue on.' Thanks, Ann M. Martin
- I find it kind of strange that the family member have to call and ask for a baby-sitter.
- Dawn sympathizes with the Barretts because their parents just got divorced and their mom is disorganized.
- Jeff suggest that they have 'all-natural frozen meatless pizza' for dinner. If that's what they always eat, why not just call it pizza?
- Dawn says that their house in California was bigger than their Connecticut house, and they have lots of extra stuff. Okay. Why cart this stuff cross-country if they don't have room? Also, I thought their house in California was one level. This is still bigger than a rambling old farmhouse? And wouldn't half of the stuff still be with their father? It just doesn't make sense.
- Dawn is 'deciding' whether or not she likes boys.
- Shillaber twins shoutout!
- Oh, my Lord. Dawn and Mary Anne - who get squeally when their parents are in the same room together - haven't even thought of the fact that if their parents got married, they'd be stepsisters. Like, hadn't even crossed their minds. Not realistic.
- "I turned and saw an absolutely gorgeous young woman rushing toward us. She looked like a model. Honest. She was wearing a silk blouse, a sleek linen suit, and gold jewelry - not too much, but enough so you noticed it. Her hair fell away from her face in chestnut curls and she smelled of a heavenly perfume." I think Dawn has a crush on Mrs. Barrett.
- I actually don't mind Karen that much. I think because I read the Little Sister books first and then the BSC books, so I was used to her. I have a harder time with the character of Kristy in the LS books, I think.
- Kristy says that Watson isn't a cook, so he wouldn't have fennel and corriander. Why do I think that Watson is a really good cook? Maybe after his heart attack, when he and Nannie butt heads.
- Dawn has a barn with hay but no animals. How long has that hay been there? Wouldn't it be like, moldy or something? It just seems unsafe.
- Dawn wears blue jean shorts and a white T-shirt that says GENIUS INSIDE. Of course.
- Heh. Mallory, who is usually quite well behaved, gave Byron the Bizzer Sign and he began to cry. This sentence is all awesome.
- Mallory steals Marnie's brownie, because Marnie is allergic to chocolate. Dawn speaks crossly at Mallory and accuses her of stealing a baby's brownie. Poor Mallory!
- Claudia's journal entry has spelling errors (shocking!) but is still readable. One thing I hate is how unbeliveably ridiculous Claudia's spelling becomes in the later books.
- Mrs. Barrett is thirty-three? How does Dawn know this? Did Mallory tell her? Strange.
- Dawn eats taffy?! But what about the sugar?
- Bradford Court and Watson's house are three and a half miles away. I'm not up on my miles, but that doesn't sound like a lot of distance...?
- Sometimes Kristy makes me laugh: "How would you say my grandfather looks?" I asked them. "Well, he looks very nice," replied Kristy. "This is the first time I've ever met him, of course, but I'd say he looks good, although his shirt doesn't exactly match his pants."
- Mr. Barrett shows up and abducts Buddy. It's kind of scary. Mystery #4, when Jake Kuhn goes missing, is also sort of scary.
- Jordan Pike bursts into tears when questioned by the police about Buddy's disappearance. Do all of the Pikes cry in this book?
- Also, Jordan takes piano lessons (what?) and Vanessa takes violin lessons. I'm pretty sure these aren't mentioned later on. Where are the Pikes getting this money?
- And then Dawn confronts Mrs. Barrett and tells her off. It's so Dawn-like.
- Foreshadowing! The club discusses Mallory as a future member. It's like it was all planned ahead of time!
Final Thought: If Dawn loves California so much, why doesn't she marry it?