It's the end of the school year and three weeks until summer camp starts, so you know what that means. Everyone and his mother is going to be calling the BSC for help. Mary Anne and Mallory think about this while sitting for the Pikes, and they decide to bring it up during the next meeting.
The BSC decides that they should hold a big camp for the kids in Stoneybrook, and they use Mary Anne and Dawn's house. They get a few nearby parents to agree to be “on call” in case of an emergency, and they call all their regular clients. They also decide to do a circus theme, but agree not to tell the kids until the first day.
Mrs. Gianelli brings Bobby and Alicia to camp, but Alicia doesn't do so well. She starts crying every time her mom leaves and refuses to go on any field trips because she thinks her mom will come back early and not find her. Instead of making her go, they let her stay with Mary Anne at the house while everyone else goes to the park and Mrs. Stone's farm.
Karen and some of her friends (Ricky, Hannie, etc.) went to a real circus camp (whatever the heck that is), and they start bitching and complaining about the BSC camp. Karen rolls her eyes a lot and moans about how lame everything is. I have to agree with her though. The kids create a bunch of tricks and stunts and dress up as animals to hold their own circus event on the last day.
Karen creates a trick that lets her saw someone in half, but it uses a pair of fake legs made from old pantyhose. When practicing her trick, one of the legs fall off. The BSC and the charges have a big fight over the circus act, but the leg makes everyone start laughing. Karen winds up doing the trick in the show and everyone loves it.
While all of this is going on, Richard announces that he needs to fly to Ohio for some business merger he needs to oversee. Sharon can't wait because it will give the girls a chance to have two weeks of freedom. Mary Anne thinks it sounds like fun at first, but she gets tired of it pretty quickly. Neither Dawn nor Sharon clean up. They just let all the trash sit in the living room and keep the dishes piled up in the sink. Mary Anne also gets sick of eating take out every night of the week, and at one point, she makes dinner for herself while they eat pizza.
She also starts missing her dad a lot, even suggesting that he come home early. While riding bikes with Logan and Dawn, she hits something in the middle of the road and hits the road pretty hard. She winds up going to the hospital with a bunch of scrapes and bruises and a sprained ankle. Richard calls the hospital to check on her, and she once again asks him to come home and he just puts her off.
This pretty much sets Mary Anne off so she starts acting like a huge crab. Sharon lets her order anything she wants and tries to convince her to go to the movies with them, but she refuses. At camp the next day, Alicia decides to go on the next field trip and leave Mary Anne alone. That makes her realize that she needs to be more independent. She has a long talk with Richard when he gets back, and then they sit down to watch the video of the circus performance.
*Major continuity error: Richard says that he needs to take a business trip to Cincinnati. Right before he leaves, he mentions flying to Cleveland. Two cities on the opposite end of the state!
*Dawn “invented” three-cheese macaroni. That's funny because I also “invented” three-cheese macaroni when I realized that I didn't have enough of one kind.
*Dawn doesn't seem like the type of person who would leave dishes and trash in the sink for over a week. Wasn't she always cleaning up after her mom?
*Richard says that he will need to make a few more trips back to Ohio over the summer. Do lawyers really need to do that much traveling? What the heck kind of lawyer is he anyway?
*I love how Dawn whines so much about the evils of red meat, but she has no problem eating loads of cheese and eggs all the time. It also doesn't seem realistic that she would be okay eating take out every night for two weeks.
*It's really bitchy for Sharon to suggest that Mary Anne go to the movies with them. Granted it's the drive in, but it's still a little bitchy. How comfortable could she really be sitting in the backseat?
*Were drive ins really rare/scarce in 1995 when this book came out? We only have one or two left within driving distance now, but we went to them all the time when I was younger. I hit 16 in 1996, and my group of friends still went to the drive in movies pretty often.