By Ann M. Martin. Published 1987.
The book pretty much starts out with a huge fight. Mary Anne gets called a shy little baby, Stacey a conceited snob, Claudia a stuck-up job hog, and Kristy the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world. Way to throw down, ladies.
The next day at school, Mary Anne’s feeling like quite the loser, because she has no one to sit with at lunch. But appearing like a California angel, is Dawn, a new girl at school. Mary Anne tells Dawn that all her friends are absent, because Mary Anne is a little bit stupid. But Dawn’s the one who keeps believing that for the next month, so who’s the real idiot here?
Mary Anne goes over to Dawn’s house, and they have a totes amazing time. They’re on their way to being besties already. Which is good, because the first meeting after the fight is kind of a disaster. Kristy doesn’t even freaking show up. Mary Anne and Claudia do end up making up with each other, and decide to talk to others to try and figure out what to do about the club. Mary Anne screws up the courage to talk to Kristy, and they decide one person will take a day to answer the phone, will take as many jobs as she can, and call around to the other girls to offer jobs she can’t take.
Mary Anne sits for Jenny Prezzioso, and she’s not nearly the brat everyone claims she is. More like a normal three-year-old. God forbid.
Mary Anne has been becoming frustrated with her father’s rules, especially not being allowed to sit as late as the other girls. So she tries to talk to him about it, but ends up just kind of whining, which does not go over well. She decides to talk it over with Mimi, over tea. But Mimi calls her “my Mary Anne” and Claudia overhears, and gets all upset because Mimi is only supposed to call her “my Claudia”. So now Mary Anne and Claudia aren’t speaking again.
Mary Anne and Kristy have to sit together for the Pikes, and they get through the entire job without speaking to each other. They get around it by speaking through the kids, who think it’s great fun.
Dawn and Mary Anne wonder if Dawn’s mom and Mary Anne’s dad knew each other in high school. They go through Richard’s yearbook, and it turns out they did, and it looks like they were more than just friends. Dawn and Mary Anne completely freak out over this.
The next time Mary Anne sits for Jenny, Jenny ends up getting sick. She has a 104 degree fever. Mary Anne tries calling all sorts of people, with no answers, and winds up calling Dawn, who comes over and tells Mary Anne to call 911. They’ll at least be able to tell her what she should do. They suggest taking her to the emergency room, and send an ambulance. Finally, at the ER, the Prezziosos show up. Turns out Jenny has strep throat, but she’ll be fine.
Throughout the whole ordeal, Mary Anne is able to stay calm and collected. Mr. Prezzioso rewards both her and Dawn with a whole whopping ten bucks each. Good to know your daughter’s welfare is worth twenty dollars there, Mr. P.!
The girls go back to Mary Anne’s house to try and look for a prom picture of their parents together. Mary Anne spots Kristy watching them from her house (a little creepy there, Kristy), and, to make her jealous, Mary Anne puts her arm around Dawn, and sticks her tongue out at Kristy. Well, at least they’re acting like twelve-year-olds. Unfortunately, Dawn sees this, and rightfully gets all weirded out and pissed off, and leaves.
That evening, Mrs. Prezzioso calls to give Mary Anne an update on Jenny, and tells Richard about what a good job Mary Anne did. Richard finally sees how mature and responsible Mary Anne is becoming, and relents to letting her sit later. He also agrees to let her wear her hair down, out of the braids.
Mary Anne writes Dawn a note, apologizing, and they make up.
Mrs. Newton has asked all four of the girls to help out at Jamie’s fourth birthday party. Unfortunately, they’re still all being complete bitches to each other. They fight over gets to check on the baby. And then, to show just how freaking mature she is, Mary Anne pours juice all in Kristy’s lap. Then Claudia and Stacey push wet napkins in each other’s faces. Mrs. Newton is shocked at their behavior, but seems to forget about it by the end of the party, after no further incidents.
Mary Anne calls for an immediate meeting. She says they need to either make up or break up. They decide to make up, because no one can remember what they were mad about anyway. Good going, girls.
Richard lets Mary Anne have a BSC plus Dawn party. When Dawn’s mother drops her off, she and Richard meet, and just kind of stare at each other. But then they end up setting up a date. Yay.
At the party, the girls quiz Dawn on her prior baby-sitting experience. They decide to ask her to become the fifth member of the club, and she accepts. They celebrate by having a pizza toast.
o Mary Anne and her father pray before every meal. One of the very few references to religion in the BSC. Richard asks God to watch over her mother (who’s called Abigail in this book). Mary Anne thinks this is a bit much. Damn, Mary Anne, let your dad have this small comfort.
o Room Porn: Mary Anne’s “baby” room. White walls with pink baseboards. Pink flowered curtains and bedspread, and a pink shag rug. Pink framed pictures of Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland.
o Mary Anne on Dawn: “She wasn’t exactly pretty, I decided, but she was pleasant, which was more important.” A little bit of the bitchy Mary Anne coming out already.
o Dawn says she started sitting when she was nine. Really, Dawn?