Monday, June 30, 2014

BSC Mystery #2: Beware, Dawn!

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Ellen Miles. Published November 1991.

Dawn is sitting at the Hobarts’, and she and little Johnny are chilling, looking at Highlights, while James and Mathew (yes, one ‘t’) are playing with those assholes Mel and Zak. And they are continuing to be assholes, calling the boys “Crocs” still. Even after Dawn yells at them. Dawn actually tells Mrs. Hobart about it. She says she’ll call their mothers.

And where is big brother Ben? Oh, you know, at the library with Mallory. Be careful, you two! It’s not time for your infamous card catalog fight yet. Anyway, the other girls get totally fangirly over this latest development. They ship the two gingers hard.

Dawn sits for the Thomas-Brewers (Kristy is going shopping for new jeans and a turtleneck), and David Michael takes a picture of her. He tells her it will look good in the paper, if she wins Sitter of the Month. What the what? Mrs. Newton is helping run this contest, where the kids will vote on which sitter is the nicest and most fun. What makes anyone think this is a good idea? And shouldn’t you maybe inform the actual sitters?

Anyway, Dawn thinks she’s on her way to winning, because she made Karen be the bellhop for once during “Let’s All Come In”, and David Michael actually had fun for once.

Of course, the news about the contest spreads fast, and it’s the topic of conversation at the next meeting. Everyone admits they would like to win. But they mainly agree that things tend to go badly when they get competitive with each other, bringing up the science fair and Little MissStoneybrook Pageant. Kristy, being Kristy, points out that she likes to win, though. And Dawn starts thinking about the best way to impress the Rodowsky boys.

Dawn is sitting at the Prezziosos’, and I guess she’s pandering for votes from us, because she keeps insisting she’s being just oh so patient with Jenny. She’s really not, though. She’s getting irritated pretty easily with Jenny telling her how to take care of Andrea. She finally has enough, and sends Jenny downstairs while she puts Andrea down. She hears the phone ring, and she yells at Jenny to get it. Dawn…she’s four. When she finally gets downstairs, Dawn asks who it was. Jenny replies “Mr. Nobody”. Well, ok then.

And then Jenny is AWESOME. She gives Dawn some of her own bitch medicine and totally ignores Dawn, and won’t even share her crayons. Boo-yah! That’s some four-year-old hate right there.

After she gets Jenny in bed and started on her own homework, the doorbell rings. Nobody’s there, except an envelope. Inside is a letter, with cutout letters that says: You’d better watch out, you’d better not shout! I’m going to get you. Mr. X. Oooh, creepy. I don’t know why Dawn automatically assumes it’s for her. There was no name on it. It’s not her house. Anyway, she’s not going to tell anyone, not even the other girls. Because the Sitter of the Month needs to be somebody who is “in control”. Oh, Dawn. Priorities. Getcha’ some.

Dawn has her job at the Rodowskys’, and gets a couple of hang up calls. She decides it must be Alan Gray, because of how he fucked withKristy back in the day. Then there’s a letter left on the doorstep again. Jackie and Shea see it, so she opens it in front of them. This one says I’m watching you. Dawn tells them it’s just a boy teasing her, but Shea suggests she call the police. Because Shea is not a dumbass. But she ignores him. Later, she does call Alan, to shut this shit down. But he’s in Stamford for the night, so he couldn’t be the one doing it.

Jessi sits for her brother and sister, and Becca talks her into letting them watch a scary movie, by telling Jessi she doesn’t know who she’s voting for yet. So they watch it, and get freaked out, of course. Becca goes to bed. Jessi gets a hang up phone call, and then the doorbell rings. There’s a bunch of empty stems with the flower heads cut off, and a note saying Best wishes from your secret admirer. Mr. X. So now she’s doubly freaked out. And of course, she decides to keep it to herself.

Mary Anne and Mallory are siting at the Pikes’, and get a letter saying Do you like your hamster? If you do, you’d better keep an eye on him. Mr. X. The dumbasses let the kids see it, so they spend all night “protecting” Frodo. And Mary Anne and Mal decide not to say anything.

But that night, Dawn hears noises in the secret passage, and runs into Mary Anne’s room. Mary Anne starts freaking out that Mr. X is in their house. So she and Dawn have to tell each other their stories. And…they decide to keep it secret.

Kristy sits for the Kormans on Friday the thirteenth. There’s a storm. The lights go out for a little while. That’s all that happens.

At the next meeting, Dawn accidentally lets something slip about Mr. X. So she has to explain. And it turns out everyone but Kristy has had an experience with Mr. X. They all admit that their keeping it a secret has to do with wanting to be Sitter of the Month. Then Dawn starts to get suspicious about Kristy. She knows Kristy really wants to win.

Claudia sits for Charlotte, and gets one phone call. Then she hears something outside. She throws the door open, and there’s no envelope. But there is baked beans spread all over the porch. That’s just really fucking random.

Dawn sits for the Newtons, and Jamie wants to only play in the front yard. And he doesn’t want to take a walk, and he lets it slip that it’s because Mel will be coming by for a baby-sitter check, for the contest. And so Dawn just knows, because she is SO smart, that Mel is Mr. X. He still gets one by her, though, leaving one of Lucy’s dolls on the front porch, decapitated. Well, that’s kind of sick.

Dawn reports back to Kristy, and she declares the next meeting an emergency meeting.

So they come up with a “genius” plan. Dawn spreads the word that she’ll be sitting for her cousin, all alone at her house. They figure Mel will try to scare her using the secret passage, since every kid in the neighborhood knows about it. That’s…safe. And they still haven’t gotten a lock for it? You’d think Richard would be all over that.

Anyway, all the girls sneak over to Dawn’s early that evening, and talk until they hear footsteps in the passage. Half the girls go to the barn, and half up to Dawn’s room. Dawn throws open the door, and there’s Mel. He runs away, but the others trap him at the other end.

Mel breaks down in tears, and they realize he’s just a kid, so they go easy on him. He confesses everything as Dawn and Kristy walk him home. He was upset with the sitters because he got in trouble over calling the Hobarts names. He got grounded for two months, and if he gets in any more trouble, he has to go to a psychiatrist. Well, guess what, Mel? You’re in more trouble. Kristy tells him it won’t be bad, though.

The girls are so damn proud of themselves, they think it deserves a pizza toast.

At their next meeting, it gets crashed by a bunch of the kids. They’re there to announce the winner of the Sitter of the Month contest. And guess what? It’s a tie! Between all seven of them!

Gag me. I am so done with this book.

o   Y’all, Highlights magazine is still in print. That just makes me really happy.

o   So I’m wondering, is Croc offensive? Is it just the way they’re using it? I know I have Australian readers, let me know. I’m just curious. And then, what is more offensive: the way they’re using it, or the way it would be used today, in the form of a really ugly shoe?

o   Sigh. 34 more mysteries to go.


  1. I'm Australian, I wouldn't be bothered by being called croc if it was a reference to the animal. If someone called me Croc as in the shoes, I'd be out for blood. Those things are fugly!

  2. My city newspaper (a Seattle suburb) had a Best Babysitter Contest. And there really was a seven-way tie. My older brother and I were two of the seven. (My younger brother was too young to sit) My mom still has the clipping on her desk!