Claudia has apparently been playing the lottery for awhile now and when it hits $28 million, the rest of the BSC decides to play too. The deal is that if they win anything, they split it evenly and get Sharon to buy their tickets. Dawn hits all but one number and they end up winning just over $10,000, giving each member a little over $1,400. They decide to take their money and spend a few weeks in California with Dawn’s dad.
Mallory gets a kind of big story because she decides that she wants to completely change her looks. She spends almost all of her money on makeup and hair dye, to dye her hair blonde. She spends the whole trip borrowing money from Jessi and trying to figure out why no one pays attention to her. She isn’t picked for demonstrations at Universal Studios or as an extra. Eventually she whines and pouts, until Kristy points out that she liked her better the other way. Stacey and Claudia buy her makeup and she pays Jessi back. Jessi also buys her a bottle of dye and they dye her hair back to red.
Claudia meets a cute guy named Terry at the beach, but when they go out, she discovers that he is just like Janine. She tries changing herself and acting smarter, just so he’ll like her. She even orders escargots at a fancy restaurant. Janine finally points out that she needs to be herself and she invites him to go to Hollywood. They have a great time and decide to keep writing to each other after she goes back.
Kristy attends a meeting of the We Love Kids Club and gets annoyed at how laidback they act. She takes a sitting job for two rowdy boys that the other girls don’t like. They think she’s crazy when she decides to take them to Universal Studios for the day. The boys act out and go all wild, until they see the earthquake ride. They get scared, she comforts them and decides that maybe she doesn’t know everything about sitting.
Jessi spends time with Derek Masters on the set of his show and gets picked as an extra. She has so much fun that she lets Derek convince her she should be an actress. She spends most of the book talking about getting an agent and booking jobs. She’s also fairly annoying because after one day on the set, she acts like she knows everything there is about acting. At the end, she decides that her heart is really in dancing.
Stacey discovers that she loves surfing and Dawn introduces her to some older kids that surf all the time. She spends most of her vacation with them, even though they’re kind of wild and crazy. They get into a car accident and she has to call Carol to pick her up. Carol makes her tell Dawn’s dad what happened, who makes her tell her parents. She feels kind of bad and sticks with the group for the rest of the trip.
Mary Anne sits for this little girl Stephie that lost her mom when she was a kid. The little girl has asthma and even though everyone tells her that she has emotional triggers, MA still freaks out constantly about what might happen. Stephie survives a ton of experiences without an attack, but finally has one when they say their goodbyes. MA survives the event and they write to each other.
Dawn acts like a spoiled brat for most of the book because she hates Carol being around all the time. When Carol finally acts like an adult and comes clean about Stacey’s accident, Dawn realizes she was too hard on her. She writes her a long letter and they make up at the end of the book.
*I know Richard is more laidback now, but I can’t see him letting Mary Anne have all that money to go crazy. Plus, wouldn’t the Pikes want Mallory to put some money back for college? And aren’t Claudia’s parents super uptight about stuff like that?
*There is no way a temporary hair color would turn Mal’s hair from bright red to blonde. Plus, would a 11-year old really know how to dye her own hair?
*There’s a mention at the end of the book that Terry gave Claudia a “large gift” that she won’t tell them about, but they all suspect it’s a stuffed animal. It kind of annoys me that we don’t find out what it is!
*Elaine Stritch is a guest star on Jessi’s show and none of the kids know who she is. It seems like such a random, obscure reference because I know who she is now, but had no clue when I was a kid.
*Dawn makes a ton of comments about how she would never leave her mom behind and move back to California. Yeah, give it a few more books.
*Carol is mentioned at being around 32. Sharon turned 42 or 43 in Mary Anne and the Great Romance. Given that Dawn’s dad is older than her mom, he kind of is robbing the cradle. What is Carol thinking though? She marries a recently divorced guy with two kids that’s way older than her!