It's another ordinary BSC meeting when Mrs. Newton calls in needing a sitter for Lucy and Jamie. Kristy takes the job and instantly starts gushing about how she can give Lucy a bottle. This was back in the days when Mrs. Newton only occasionally let the girls sit for Lucy. The other girls get annoyed because Kristy didn't share the job around. They call each other job hogs (Claudia), bossy know-it-alls (Kristy), stuck-up city girls (Stacey), and shy little babies (MA). Mary Anne gets so upset that she tells them all off and storms home.
She thinks that she can make up with Kristy after they all cool down, but Kristy won't even look out the window and actually shuts her shade. Mary Anne feels so bad that she writes each girl a letter, which is actually pretty snarky. The only nice letter is one she writes to Claudia because they didn't get mad at each other.
The next day at school, Kristy sits with the twins, and they spread their lunches out so there's no room for Mary Anne. She takes a seat by herself, but a new girl (Dawn) sits down next to her. She tells her that all of her friends are out sick and uses lunch as an excuse to get back at Kristy by putting her head near Dawn's and acting like her best friend.
This is also the first time that anyone in the BSC sits for Jenny P. Mary Anne notes how they seem a little stiff around each other and she thinks it's weird that they keep calling Jenny a little angel. During her sitting job, Jenny spills paint on her dress, and Mary Anne makes her paint in her underwear for most of the job.
Kristy doesn't show up for the next BSC meeting, so she misses out on a bunch of jobs. She decides that they should take turns running the meeting, take all of the jobs that they can, and pass the rest along. Mary Anne and Claudia make up, but then Claudia hears Mimi call her "my Mary Anne" and flips out, so they stop talking.
All the while, Mary Anne and Dawn become good friends. They discover that their parents went to high school together and go through Richard's old yearbooks. They find a note he wrote to Sharon, and they realize that they actually dated. They later find a prom picture and learn that Sharon saved her corsage.
Kristy brags about getting to stay out later to sit, so Mary Anne asks her dad. He tells her no and won't listen when she points out that she's more responsible. She also gets a lot closer to Dawn, hanging out at her house and being all chummy. While at Mary Anne's house, she puts her arm around Dawn and sticks her tongue out at Kristy who is watching from her window. Dawn sees it, goes ballistic, and storms out because Mary Anne used her. She feels so bad that she writes her a note of apology and also writes one to Kristy and slips it in her locker. Dawn forgives her, but Kristy keeps ignoring her.
Mary Anne gets another sitting job with Jenny, and she notices that she's being really quiet. While reading her a book, Jenny falls asleep and she realizes that she's running a fever, which is actually 104. She calls Dawn to come over and help, and Dawn suggests she call 911 when neither of their parents and none of the neighbors are home. Mary Anne also calls to notify her parents, leaves a message for the doctor, etc.
Mr. P is so happy that he gives both girls $10 for helping out and drops them off at home. Mrs. P calls later that night, and Richard has no idea what she is talking about. Mary Anne tells him the whole story, and he realizes that his little girl is growing up. He agrees to let her sit later and to take down some of her baby-ish decorations. She even gets to wear her hair out of braids!
Mrs. Newton asks the girls to help out at Jamie's birthday party, and it doesn't go well. Mary Anne deliberately pours punch in Kristy's lap, Claudia throws a wet napkin at Stacey, and Stacey rubs a wet napkin in Claudia's face. When it comes time to feed Lucy, they all get into a fight, and Mrs. Newton yells at them. At the end of the party, Mary Anne calls an emergency meeting. She says they either need to make up or breakup, and they realize that they can't even remember why they were mad at each other.
Mary Anne also talks to her dad about Sharon and he gets a dazed look, but warns her not to get her hopes up. Dawn talks to Sharon, who gets the same look in her eyes, and they learn that her parents didn't approve of Richard because his dad was *gasp* a mailman. She throws a party for the BSC at her house, and Sharon and Richard get to chat when she drops Dawn off, and they make a date.
The other girls get the chance to meet Dawn. She tells them about all the sitting that she did in California, and they all do the subtle nod to each other. Mary Anne asks her to officially join the BSC. She also gets to bond a little with Stacey and Kristy about moving and divorces.
*It's funny how young Kristy comes across in this book compared to the later ones. When they have to sit for the Pikes, she won't even look at Mary Anne let alone talk to her, and all of the kids pick up on it.
*Check out how young Mary Anne is on this cover! Yeah, there's no way I would let some kid who looks like that sit ALONE for my child.
*Jenny literally has no play clothes, just a drawer full of new and clean "slacks" and blouses. I would hate to see how she would react to the Pike house!
*Mrs. P poses with her husband and asks Mary Anne how they look. She says they look like they just stepped out of a magazine, which seems to confuse her. That seems odd considering it seems like the look she's going for.
*When Jenny gets sick, they're going to a college basketball game, and Mrs. P mentions that they'll go to the game, grab dinner, and be home by 7. Um, my local college (and alma matter) doesn't start games until 6 or 7 at night, and this game is a championship game.
*BTW, Mrs. P wears a black cocktail dress and heels to the game. Am I the only one who wants someone to trip and drop nachos on her?
*Dawn says that she started sitting when she was 9, which makes me feel really bad for poor Mallory. Then again, Jeff (who is 9 in the early books), gets to stay home by himself sometimes.
*When Dawn asks her mom about Richard, Sharon calls him Ritchie, which was his high school nickname. I so wish she called him that in other books.
*Mary Anne frequently makes dinner for her dad when he gets home from work. For some reason, the image of a 12 year old girl making herself look all prim and proper and cooking dinner for her dad skeeves me out.
*In this book, Mary Anne makes Stacey a hamburger for the party because she can't eat the processed cheese on pizza. It's funny how she could in the early books when they had pizza parties, couldn't when they went to Sea City, and then suddenly could again.
*Richard says a prayer before every meal and asks God to watch over Abigail. Mary Anne thinks that praying before bed is enough. It's just odd that this doesn't get mentioned again.
*I somehow ended up with a copy of the original and then one with the new cover. In the original book, it clearly says that her mother's name is Abigail. It's only in the redesigned book that they use Alma.
*This is also one of those infamous books with Stacey and the New Kids on the Block listed on the order form.