4 out of 5 stars
This was book 100 for the year for me woot woot! :) And I actually really liked this one, even though Dawn is usually pretty boring and whiny. Also, I didn't remember much about it so that was a nice surprise. But let's talk about this cover for a minute. First, those boys pillow fighting? Kristy would put the kabash on that immediately. And I'm pretty sure the boy in red is wearing one-piece pj's...possibly footies. The girl (?) in the pink is seriously scary, I think she might be an alien. And then there's Dawn's left hand. I'm pretty sure she's just got it sticking out weird, because her fingers are bent funny, but...maybe she needs to take that "places baby-sitters don't touch" class down at the Y.
The book starts out with Dawn & Mallory watching the younger Pike kids. They're all excited because they've just gotten letters from their school pen pal project. They're writing kids in New Mexico who are all part of a Native American tribe called Zunis. Adam is upset because his pen pal isn't wearing a headdress and named Chief Rocking Horse. Luckily, Mal calls him out on his stereotyping crap. Which is honestly surprising, since they stereotype all the time with California girls and New York chic and Asians are smart etc... Anyway, the Pike's learn all about the Zuni people, who are a contradiction with their Pueblos and multi-family living and then their Nintendos and Ninja Turtles. Dawn is kind of jealous that she doesn't get to have a non-white friend but then she remembers Jessi and it's all good. (Just kidding)
We get two Claudia outfits in this book so let's start with one that I think actually turned out pretty cute and I can totally seeing a model or famous person wearing now. "...even the way she dresses is artistic. For instance, she walked into school today wearing a bright yellow, oversize man's jacket with rolled-up sleeves; a wide paisley tie right out of the nineteen-sixties; orange stirrup pants; [do you know how hard it is to find stirrup pants now???] ankle boots; and huge hoop earrings -- and you know what? On her, it looked totally cool.
At the BSC meeting a few days later, Kristy is a little put-out when Mallory arrives late, until she finds out why. The Zunis' school burned down and was destroyed along with several homes nearby. The girls are all horrified, but only Dawn thinks beyond that and starts coming up with a plan to help the kids. (Rivaling Kristy's Great Ideas in this book!) She decides that the kids of Stoneybrook Elementary should have a fund-raiser and food/clothing drive for the Zuni kids. Mary Anne is pretty practical about it at first, warning her that it's a big project and she'll have to get the elementary teachers involved and such. But Dawn isn't put off. She decides to call Jeff's old teacher, at home, and talk to her about it. Mrs. Besser is happy to hear from her, even asks how Jeff is, and is super excited about Dawn's plan.
The BSC is all on board to help out (of course) and Charlotte comes up with the bright idea to have an assembly to tell all the kids. The day of the assembly, the BSCers get to leave school early to go over to the elementary and there's an amusing moment in Dawn's math class when the principal comes over the intercom and announces that all the BSCers will be leaving early and advising the teachers. One of the boys in Dawn's class, Ray Something, (class clown? Isn't that Alan Gray?) says "Well, excuuuuuse me! If I join the Baby-Sitters Club, will I get a day off, too?" Heh. I'd be annoyed too, those girls are always doing cool things and getting away with crap. Anyway!! Dawn's plan is three-fold and to make this shorter, we will talk about the main events in each of those points:
1. Have a door-to-door food & clothing drive: it's not really door-to-door, because the kids just bring junk from their own homes. They dump stuff off in Dawn's barn (I'm sure her mom and Richard are getting sick of loaning out their barn for free).
- The kids start asking for receipts for their donations, to make sure they get credit. A lot of the clothing is junk, like a polyester pale blue leisure suit. I'm sorry, I think Claudia would totally have stolen that. And then there are silk nightgowns, designer dresses, and running shoes that look like they've never been worn. Also imported chocolates and three jars of caviar. (That must have been the Delaney's.) See where this is going?
- One boy, Rob Hines, comes by with donations at least 4 times in a week. When Dawn finds a men's suit with a tailor's receipt still hanging on it, she starts to realize that they may have a problem. Turns out some of the kids are grabbing whatever they can and to sort it out, Dawn starts requiring permission slips from the parents before she accepts a donation.
2. Have a fundraiser to earn cash money for the school. Each kid is in charge of their own fundraising, which seems really smart. (Where's my sarcasm font?)
- The Pike kids, along with Mar-Car & David Michael & Linny Papadakis (who doesn't even go to SES??) organize a big backyard carnival. Jessi's cousin Keisha visits to help, but doesn't get any lines (because she's black). Jessi also manages to get this high school dude named Goober (Claire thinks it's Boober the Fraggle) who does a dinosaur show for parties, to come. Not sure if he got paid for this or not. The Perkins girls bring their own dinosaur of a dog, Chewy, who gets scared by Goober and causes a minor skirmish that Mal & Jessi throw way out of proportion.
- The Rodowsky boys decide to have a yard sale, Claudia draws the short straw (literally) to help them. They have all the kids bring stuff to them to sell and halfway thru the sale, Claudia realizes that it is just like the clothing drive. David Michael brings Watson's collection of expensive old books and Mrs Delaney finds one of her super fancy lamps (again, the Delaney's don't even go to SES and they're so snobby, no way they'd donate stuff). Mr Rodowsky apologizes and clears everything up and the parents are all understanding and offer to buy back their own belongings "for the kids".
- Haley Braddock dresses up as Madame Leveaux and tells fortunes outside her house for 25 cents. Alan Gray (who apparently has a crush on Kristy in this one) and a couple of other guys from school come by and get bamboozled by Madame for $2.00 lol.
3. Have a giant sleepover in the school (elementary? not real clear) gym for all the kids who participate.
- Dawn gets the local pizza place and toy story to donate food and prizes, as long as they get publicity for it. She also has teachers and cafeteria workers donating their time to help out and a grocery store gives pancake stuff for breakfast. The day of the sleepover, the pizza guy tries to back out because his "special order of flour" hasn't arrived. What, the cheap stuff? Dawn is upset and says she'll just have to go to another pizza place and tada, he can just go to the grocery store and get flour!
- The kids all arrive and start having fun. Only two kids go home early. Pizza is a hit, toy prizes are a hit. Haley gets most creative, Rob Hines gets most clothes donated. They play games, read books, and get ready for bed. Kids wake up all night having to pee, they all get sticky at breakfast, and finally the parents show up to pick up kids.
- And here's where I cried at a stupid Baby-Sitters Club book...a 2nd grade boy, no name, asks Dawn "Is Johnny going to have dinners, too, now? He told me he wasn't having dinners 'cause his house burned up, and he hast to stay in a hotel." Dawn tells him yes and he says "You're the nicest girl I ever met." Gah! Stupid books, shut up, I'm not crying! This is as bad as that awful Christmas song about the kid buying shoes for his mama, which I am NOT going to link to because I refuse!!
So, Dawn's plan was a huge success and they pack everything up to send off to New Mexico, which I'm sure cost a bundle. They send the remaining money in a check to the school principal who sends a letter back and again, I cry at a BSC book!! What's the deal?? I haven't cried at any of the others...oh, no wait, Mimi's book I did :(( But none of the others! Anyway, he thanks them profusely and says that the kids have started their own fundraising efforts and the government is even going to help them out now. Which seemed odd, that they weren't already, but whatev.
And let's end with Claudia's other outfit (which was actually at the beginning of the book, oops). "Claudia greeted us at the door to her room with her hair in a ponytail on top of her head, held up by a huge barrette in the shape of a bone, like Pebbles in The Flintstones. It made her hair bounce when she moved. She was even wearing a Pebbles-type outfit -- a pink, off-the-shoulder blouse with huge polka dots and a ragged bottom over black tights. On anyone else, it would have looked dumb or babyish, but on Claudia it looked cool."