Wednesday, September 20, 2006

People hadn’t worn buckles that size on their shoes since…the eighteen hundreds?; or, BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House.

Ah, more missing children. And thirteen-year-olds more gullible than really dumb children. Yep, it’s about Dawn. (With a little Karen thrown in for torture, I mean to use “extreme interrogation techniques.”)

So, in this installment, one of the last books to maintain any sense of real time, our baby-sitting heroines have just a few weeks until school starts again. So, they’re all about the end of summer activities: slumber parties, hanging out in the hayloft,* baby-sitting. Oh, and searching for secret passages. Which I’ve done. And Dawn literally falls into hers, and she’s convinced someone died there. Which I’ve not done. She’s been hearing noises, and she finds some old stuff, and she’s just positive that someone was shut in there to die two hundred years ago. And that this person is now a ghost. And that this ghost is haunting her secret passageway. LAAAAAAMMMMMEEEEEEEE!

Turns out the noises are the house settling and Nicky Pike.

The plot’s pretty simple, but there’s plenty to say about this one, starting with the cover. Dawn’s outfit on the cover really could be called California casual. SHOCKING!



Not so shocking? I had about five shirts like that that I wore with my jeans pegged. (Though I think they’re going the wrong way on the cover…I’m pretty sure the passage goes down, not up.)

This book was also written back when Ms. Martin threw in real pop culture references, like the movies European Vacation [which has “A Town Called Malice” in it!], Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Sixteen Candles, along with the perennial faves Mary Poppins and The Parent Trap. Is it wrong of me to love that Claudia wants to watch Star Wars?

I’m also pretty sure it’s the first mention of Cam Geary, foreshadowing Mr. Logan [I seriously had a crush on the boy in the cover art. I was lame-o] Bruno.

There’s all this stuff about how missing kids freak Dawn out, and how Buddy Barrett went missing that one time, and how kids really do get kidnapped. (Someone’s been watching too much “To Catch a Predator!”)

The two biggies, though: 1. Now, I know 13-year-old girls like to scare themselves, but they don’t actually believe in ghosts.

2. Will no one shut Karen up? The baby-sitters just let her tell stories to scare other kids! I find it ridiculous that no one ever really disciplines the little bitch.

My favorite example of “health food” in the book: “a salad with cottage cheese, pineapple, peaches, and coconut topping.” Nothing wrong with this in theory, but for as much as Dawn goes on about how her health food thing is soooo different, this is not that exotic or whatever…

Also, before marrying Richard, Sharon got around. “But Mom had been going out with several different men. One of them was the son of friends of my grandparents, two were from her office [BAD IDEA!!!!!], and a couple more were men she’d met at some party.” And that’s in addition to Mr. Spier.

I’m constantly baffled by 13-year-old girls looking at small children as friends. You can feel affection or whatever, but they act like they’re close friends…It borders on creepy.

I can’t think of any good Claudia outfits, but there was on hilarious thing:

”So just put his p.j.’s on him. He’s had a long day and should go to bed—“ (she glanced at Jamie, who was listening intently) “—s-o-o-n,” she spelled out.
.

Yep, Mrs. Newton was spelling words to Claudia, who CAN’T SPELL LIKE! And I’m pretty sure she’s spelled “soon” as “son” in the notebook a few times.

*Um, sorry to rant here, but they live in suburban Connecticut, and they MAGICALLY have bales of hay in the barn? ‘Cause, unless you have a working farm and bale it yourself, you have to buy bales of hay! And I can’t see Dawn’s scatterbrain of a mother driving way out in the middle of nowhere just to buy some bales…and how would they get it back? Would they really be able to get multiple bales of hay in their car? And, there’s not much farmin’ country in Connecticut, so where would they even get it? Not many farms, not many feed stores…

26 comments:

Erin said...

You were *so* not a lame-o for liking Logan based on the cover...or if you were, so was I. In fact, I had not thought about the BSC in literally years, and this evening someone mentioned the name Logan and I immediately thought of Logan Bruno and swooned. Crazy how that stuff comes up out of nowhere.

Sara said...

Ugh, Dawn! Dawn sucks. Almost as much as Mallory. And isn't it just like these baby-sitters to go looking for trouble??? Argh.

And I bet that was a great interlude between Nicky Pike and his parents when he gets home. "Where have you been?!" "Oh, just scaring the shit out of that wuss Dawn Schafer." "Oh, that's nice dear....it's dinnertime."

Sad that there were no good Claudia outfits. :-(

Lnidsey said...

Why are you the coolest person ever? My friend and I, 25 year old professionals, are buying up lots of BSC books on ebay like crazy! Awesome blog!

Jenny Han said...

I heart this blog like Janine Kishi hearts algorithms!
You are totally not lame for crushing on Logan, but I have to say, I was a Bart girl myself. (rich, and he could bust Kristy's balls? figuratively and literally) I also found Sam Thomas kind of cute in that stoic older brother kind of way.

Erin said...

The Ghost at Dawn's House is my favorite BSC book. I really need to get on ebay and start buying these. Why oh why did I give all of my books away?!

Anyway, I love your posts. They make me feel nostalgic for scholastic book orders and being 10 years old.

Dawn said...

The ghost at Dawn's house was my favorite book, too! I read it every August! Thanks so much for doing this book, it flooded so many memories for me. Didnt the babysitters club tv shoew hace a title "the ghost at Dawn's house" or something like that?

Anonymous said...

I laughed for 10 minutes about this:

Will no one shut Karen up? The baby-sitters just let her tell stories to scare other kids! I find it ridiculous that no one ever really disciplines the little bitch.

I've pretty much always hated Karen most of all. I even tried to read a Babysitters Little sister but fuck that.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Dawn thinking that is had to be a ghost because she found a waffle cone in there?

Joanna said...

I also love how on the cover, Dawn's got one arm protectively over Jeff...

...'Cause you can TOTALLY beat those ghosts off you...

Clare said...

This was my favorite BSC book for a long time (until the one where Stacey has a crush on her teacher--you must do that one soon!). I was always looking for secret passages in houses, even my own, which was built in like the 1950s. Yeah. All that pushing on walls never got me anywhere.

Awesome site, by the way. You have totally inspired me to write new posts on my Saved by the Bell Blog. Yay for sarcastic deconstructions of pre-teen nostalgia!

Francesca said...

clare (who just wrote above) tipped me off on this site. Very very exciting. i don't want to say that i read each of these books many, many times over...so i'll just stop talking.
seriously, i am so glad this is here. It's been too long, friends, it's been too long.

Rach said...

This book was my favourite.

I also liked how the passage came back into play when Dawn was trying to freak Mary-Anne out when they were sharing a room in the the wicked stepsister book.

I always wanted to find a secret passage after reading it... all i found were pipes.

PoBaL said...

Isn't that "health food" the businesswomen's lunch special?
And don't lie: you weren't looking for secret passageways so much as an entry into Narnia.
***
I totally forgot about the waffle cone! Her logic was that it was "old fashioned", as opposed to a cake cone, or something. Dumbass.

Library Lady said...

Oh Pobal. You make me laugh!

(*snort*) "looking for Narnia..."

Bhahahahaha!

Good one.

andrea said...

i always thought the barn just "came with" the hay when they moved in the house. but what do i know? i originally pictured it as some little shack, and then they made a whole new HOUSE out of it after the fire ...

Steffi said...

okay, if during my childhood years i had told stories with the intent of scaring other kids, yeah, i wouldn't have been allowed to get away with it. karen seriously got away with shit i would have gotten slapped on my butt for just thinking about.

ANM seemed to have a real obsession with secret passages and what have you - in 10 Kids, No Pets, there was a secret room in the house. yup, those things are just so common.

Anonymous said...

SPEAKING OF 10 KIDS NO PETS!!!

I'm just wondering how many mothers would actually name their children thusly. Did the mom have the system figured out before Abby was born?

And where the hell did ANM get that baby book!? If I did that whole 1st A name, 2nd B name, etc thing, I'd end up with:

A (girl) - Aaliyah (not Abigail)
B (boy) - Ba'al (not Bainbridge)
C (girl) - Cadi (not Candace)
D (boy) - Daedalus (not Dagwood)
E (boy) - Eamon (not Eberhard)
F (girl) - Fadia (not Fern)
G (girl) - Gadar (not Gardenia)
H (girl) - Hadiya (not Hannah)
I (boy) - Ianto (not Ira)
J (girl) - Jacki (not Janthina)
K (boy) - Kailash (not Keegan)

......

I have no life. Bah.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! Do Boy-Crazy Stacey! Boy-Crazy Stacey!

Anonymous said...

This one was one of my favourites actually. I don't know why. I think just because I love the idea of secret tunnels. I was so jealous.
I loved her 'evidence' that someone died down there too. the cone and the buckle and something else ridiculous. And, how scary it would have been for the wall to just open up and her to step out, when they decided to show everyone else the secret passage!
I also had a crush on the cover art Logan. *sigh*. Though, I was never sure who Cam Geary was, as I didn't have the internet at that stage to check.
Karen's not too old for a smacked bum.
heh. men she'd met at some party. I wonder what sort of party it was if she managed to meet 'men' at the same party, rather than 'man'.
I never thought of the hay thing. Maybe they just got hay so it'd look pretty?

Emily Eileen said...

I think this is the book where someone used the word "looksie". I've never head anyone say it before or since. Is it maybe restricted to being used by 5-yr old girls?

Wanderlusting said...

I always ALWAYS wondered about that cover too because the passage DID go down.

I just thought maybe it was from the beginning when they were investigating the attic.

I'm also suprised Dawn's hair is actually LOOOONG in the pic too. Stupid covers.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favourite books when I read the series as well. I was always quite disappointed that my house didn't have a secret passage when I was a kid.
I liked Dawn in the earlier books but later she became a bit of a caricature of herself and became a bit annoying.
I'd forgotten about Cam Geary - I wonder if he was a real celebrity, I have only heard of him in BSC novels.

Ella said...

I bet that shoe buckle belongs to Claudia. How sophisticated and wild!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old but as soon as I found this site I was hoping to find a post on this book. Dawn secret passage always bothered me. For some reason I could never wrap my head around how the passage was situated. I remember drawing out a picture of her house and trying to figure out the placement of the passage. Maybe I'm confusing this with a different book but wasn't the passage on the side of her room? I don't know. It bothered me for years. I may have to pick it up and see if it makes any more sense now.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old but as soon as I found this site I was hoping to find a post on this book. Dawn secret passage always bothered me. For some reason I could never wrap my head around how the passage was situated. I remember drawing out a picture of her house and trying to figure out the placement of the passage. Maybe I'm confusing this with a different book but wasn't the passage on the side of her room? I don't know. It bothered me for years. I may have to pick it up and see if it makes any more sense now.

Holly Tsukino said...

I always really liked this Dawn book. I wish they had used Dawn's personality trait.. errr, hobby of ghost-hunting more, instead of endlessly repeating "Healthy food! California! Individual!"