Monday, June 9, 2014

BSC #44: Dawn and the Big Sleepover

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Peter Lerangis. Published May 1991.

We’ve got our first Lerangis book! What what?

Dawn is at the Pikes’ with Mallory, and the kids are super excited. No, not to see Dawn. They’ve all gotten their letters from their pen pals in the Pens Across America program. Well, everyone except Claire. She’s too young. Poor Claire. Anyway, their pen pals are all from the Zuni reservation in New Mexico. Their pals have all sent their school pictures, and most of the kids are thrilled with this, except for Adam, who gets slightly racist, and is disappointed he looks like a “normal” kid, and there are no headdresses or anything, and his pal has a “normal” name, nothing like Chief Rocking Horse. It’s a little bothersome. Mallory suggest they send something back, but they don’t have their pictures yet. They suggest things like Stoneybrook pennants; Mallory pretty much says that sucks.

Mallory is late to the meeting a few days later. Oh, shit! Kristy’s gonna kill you. But her reason is that she had to help calm her brothers and sisters down. Vanessa got a letter from her pen pal, telling her there was an explosion at a gas station, and it destroyed the elementary school and some homes. No one was seriously hurt, though.

Dawn really wants to do something to help. I guess this is where her whole “saving the world” mentality kicks in. She sits down to think that night, and comes up with a few ideas. She thinks if it would be great to have a food drive, a clothing drive, and some sort of fundraiser, she’s not sure what yet. She realizes she needs the teachers at SES on her side, so she calls up Ms. Besser, Jeff’s old teacher. She seems down with the idea, and says she’ll speak to the other teachers on Monday. Then Dawn calls Kristy, realizing the BSC should be in on this as well, of course. Kristy’s all about it. At school on Monday, one of the assistant principals finds Dawn, and tells her Ms. Besser called, and the plan is on. Kristy calls an emergency meeting prior to their normal meeting that day.

First things first, let’s make a flier! So they get down the five W’s. They decide people can drop things off at Mary Anne and Dawn’s barn. And they decide the kids can come up with whatever they want for the fundraiser. Mal says they should have prizes or awards to get the kids really excited. Dawn comes up with the super huge slumber party in the gym. They get the flier done, but they realize they need a better way to get the word out, they just don’t know how.

Fortunately, Charlotte does. She’s all bummed for her pen pal, so Stacey lets her in on the plan. Charlotte asks her if they’re going to have an assembly, and Stacey all, Oh. Well, no shit. So they go tell Dawn, and everyone thinks it’s a great idea.

From there, things go quickly. They get the assembly set up for a few days later, and for some inexplicable reason, the entire BSC is let out of school for the morning to head over to SES, even though Dawn will be the only one speaking. She’s super nervous on the ride over; they’re being driven by the SMS secretary, btw. So, facing the second- through fifth-graders, Dawn gives her big speech. And she’s boring them. So she decides to just talk, and that goes better. And when she gets to the sleepover, they really get into it. So all in all, a great success. Now get back to school, you slackers.

The next weekend, the Pike kids decide to have a carnival for their fundraiser, along with some other random kids. Jessi also signed up some entertainment, this high school guy called Goober Mansfield, who does a dinosaur show. His first show goes really well. But during the second show, the Perkins girls show up, along with Chewy, without a leash. WHY would anyone think it’s a good idea to bring a dog, off-leash, to something like this? Anyway, Goober reaches down to pet Chewy, scares him, and Chewy takes off, wrecking pretty much everything. Jessi and Mal are all mad at Goober for a long time afterward, and I’m not exactly sure why. It was the Perkins’ fault. But they’re perfect, so we musn’t blame them.

Mrs. Rodowsky calls and asks for one of the girls to supervise a yard sale the boys want to have to raise money. Because, god forbid she do it herself. Claudia, literally, draws the short straw and gets the job. The boys get a lot of their friends to donate stuff. The actual sale turns into a disaster, but it’s actually not Jackie’s fault, for once. A lot of parents are there, and they start recognizing stuff of theirs, that they did not authorize to be sold. They start getting mad, and kids start getting in trouble. But then they calm down, see the funny side of it, and while a few just take their stuff back, a lot of them buy it back, since it’s for a good cause.

Dawn and Mary Anne are in charge of all the drop-offs at their barn. First, the kids start wanting receipts to get credit for what they’ve donated. Then Dawn starts to notice the same kids coming in over and over again, and some of the stuff is really nice. One of the kids comes in with his parents, and his dad recognizes stuff that he didn’t donate. So, same story as the yard sale. From then on, kids can only donate with permission forms filled out. What a fucking headache.

Mary Anne sits for the Braddocks, and Haley sets up a fortune teller stand in the front yard, and is Madame Leveaux. It’s ridiculous, but it makes some money.

Oh yeah, remember that sleepover? Well, Dawn’s been working on it. She got a pizza place to donate pizzas, a grocery store to donate stuff for breakfast, and a toy store to donate prizes. She was interviewed for the paper, and they’ll be there that night, too. Four teachers will be on hand, and a few cafeteria workers will make breakfast. Dawn and Mary Anne make up a schedule of games and things, so nobody gets bored. There are almost a hundred kids coming.

 It’s pandemonium before the kids appear, getting things set up. And then also while the kids are arriving. And then when parents leave, kids start crying. They only have to send two home, though. And then when the pizzas arrive, it’s like they’ve never eaten before. But the girls and teachers get them settled and the food passed out. And then the BSC has to clean up after the kids. I’d make them do it their own damn selves.

Then they get to hand out the prizes. The toy store sent about a dozen big prizes, and bunch of little toys, so everyone gets something. Of course. Then they break up to play different games. When it gets later, each of the BSC girls reads to different groups. Then Dawn announces the fundraising total. They don’t tell us how much it is, but apparently it’s “phenomenal”. The kids are really pleased. And then the girls have to get a hundred kids ready for bed. Better you than me.

They get everyone in their sleeping bags, and begin a long, not very restful night. There are fights, sleeping bag wetting accidents, nightmares, and a sleepwalker. Good times. The breakfast food delivery comes early in the morning, and the cafeteria workers, too. They get pancakes going, and that gets the kids up. Breakfast is a madhouse, kids arguing, and a pancake somehow ending up in Vanessa’s head. But finally the parents start arriving, and they all leave, with Buddy being the last one to go. Always got to get a jab in there at Mrs. Barrett’s parenting skills.

They get everything packed up and sent to New Mexico. They’ve been able to keep it surprise until now. They get back a very sweet letter from the principal of the elementary school there, thanking them, and telling them the food and clothes were distributed, and they were able to use to money to get financing to rebuild the school. Yay.

o   Ms. Besser asks Dawn to stay exactly the same age for a few years, until she has kids for her to baby-sit. Lol, silly Ms. Besser. Of course she will. She’ll be thirteen for about nine more years.

o   Now being older, and actually having planned things, I have a really hard time believing adults would let a bunch of middle schoolers be in charge of something this large. But, that’s just BSC-land, I guess.

o   I do appreciate how we get some follow-up, albeit much later, to this story in SS# 14 BSC in the USA.

1 comment:

  1. If I remember correctly, this book mentions having to pay to ship the clothing and stuff over. If it doesn't, it should have. In most cases, the best way to help with a natural disaster or some other devastation like this is to send money to an approved organization that will then buy things locally, bringing the cost of shipping down to a stamp and an envelope plus helping the local economy.

    I knit and sew, and the above points are often discussed when people want to do something to help. And I totally get the urge: I can make something beautiful, useful, and from the heart and send it to people in need! But if everyone does that, then the people who need help end up with a bunch of knitted scarves and blankets but no underwear or clean water.

    Recently there was that terrible mudslide north of Seattle. There was a drive for physical things like clothing, blankets, and food at first, and some groups also auctioned off handmade things like quilts to raise money. But pretty soon it was "If you are inclined to donate, money is the most useful thing."

    Actual in-kind donations certainly have their place (last Christmas our playgroup "adopted" a family of six and gave them things they were wanting and needing), but often cold hard cash is best.