Even though Dawn spent something like six Halloween seasons in Stoneybrook before moving to California for "six" months, she's in California for Halloween. While out shopping with Carol, she stops to buy some mousse and arrives back at the car before Carol. Dawn also swings by Ellie's Variety Shop to get paint for Jeff's monster costume. Ellie chides her about now dressing up for Halloween, but Dawn says she's too old for that kind of thing.
She hears someone scream and sees a guy in High-Fly sneakers and a clown mask go running by. Turns out he just robbed the convenience store, so she has to go to the police station as a witness. Even though there was just robbery, the town imposes a curfew for all kids and decides that if anything else happens, the town will cancel Halloween. The We Luv Kids Club decides to plan a backup Halloween party for the kids.
Dawn also goes to sit for Ryan and Erick. I swear that I do not remember the writer spelling his name this way in other books. Their mom, Cynthia, asks Dawn if she would mind sitting for their new neighbor Timmy too. His parents are going through a divorce and he's having a hard time. She offers to pay her extra too. Dawn thinks that he's a little shy and withdrawn too.
Dawn and Sunny decide to investigate and find out where the mask the robber wore came from. Ellie doesn't sell clown masks, but the Halloween Store in town does. The clerk tells them they only sold a few of those masks and helpfully gives them a list of people. They weed everyone out except for the last suspect. All they know is that it's a teenage guy who plays soccer. They do find one guy they suspect, but he winds up being a good Samaritan named Tom who helps old ladies across the street and picks up trash.
While sitting for Ryan and Erick again, Timmy seems really down and admits that he isn't looking forward to Halloween. He only has $3 to buy/make a costume and he misses his mom who always helped him before. Dawn takes the boys to Ellie's, and Ellie herself helps him make up an alien costume. The other two go as Elvis and a roll of Life Savers. Timmy's dad loves his new costume, but Dawn isn't sure what to think of him because he acts mean to a dog.
The other girls come up with their costumes, including Sunny dressing up as Santa, but Dawn still doesn't have a costume. Since she saw a bumper sticker for a hot dog place on the robber's car, the girls all head to the hot dog stand. They find no proof, learn that the bumper stickers are free for everyone, and see some woman they suspect is an undercover cop.
While getting things ready for the party, the girls hear over the radio about another robbery. That means Halloween really is canceled and the kids can't go trick or treating. Dawn heads over to the boys' house for a sitting job and notices something strange at Timmy's house. She sees the same car she saw during the robbery in his garage and Fly High sneaker prints in the yard.
Dawn rushes to tell Cynthia, who then calls the cops. Luckily, Timmy is out of town and doesn't know what's going on. They don't really have enough evidence to investigate and pretty much just ignore the whole thing. That all changes when Dawn sees a woman with blond hair dressed in black in Timmy's yard on a later date. Cynthia calls the cops again and this time, they actually do something.
Turns out that it was Evelyn, Timmy's mom. She is the same woman from the hot dog stand they thought was a cop. Evelyn admits that she robbed the place because she needed more money to pay for stuff for Timmy. She didn't really feel guilty either because she worked at the hot dog place and they didn't pay her enough. The cops take her away, and everyone once again agrees not to say anything to Timmy.
Dawn sits for Clover and Daffodil and takes them trick or treating. They then go to the Halloween party and meet up with everyone. Dawn pulls out some random Pippi Longstocking costume that she had as a kid, and she ends up winning a prize for the best last minute costume. She gives a big speech about how she loved the costume as a kid and loves it even more now.
The other story involves the DeWitt and Barrett kids. Their parents take them on a mystery trip when Jessi sits and show them a house that they want to buy in another town. None of the kids seem too happy, and the Barrett kids break down to Mallory about how they don't want to leave Stoneybrook. She convinces them to actually tell their mom.
The adults then agree to keep looking for a new house. Everything they find is either too small or too expensive. They eventually find a house by accident that the kids love but the adults still think is too small. Even though they say that they'll put in an offer on it, it ends on one of those notes where you wonder what really will happen.
*Dawn says she always thought adults shouldn't wear neon sunglasses. Bitch, this was 1994 and everyone wore neon sunglasses. She also kind of complains about Carol wearing ripped jeans and an MTV tee shirt. She would so hate the way I dress!
*According to Dawn, Richard drives a Chevy Cavelier. That is so not the type of car I pictured Mary Anne's dad driving.
*While at the Halloween store, Dawn tells Sunny that the clerk liked her (Sunny). Given that they describe him as a high school junior or senior and she is in eighth grade, that's pretty gross.
*We naturally get a bunch of comments about how disgusting hot dogs are, which really annoys me. Plus, considering the way Dawn talks about how everyone in California eats so healthy and just like her, it's funny how busy the place is.
*It's kind of nice to see adults who don't constantly bend over and do whatever a teen girl tells them. The California cops seem more professional than the ones in Stoneybrook.
*The DeWitt/Barrett story annoys me. They keep going to open houses and showings and then freaking out over the price. Isn't that something you should look at before going to an open house? Also, Franklin complains that the yard in the last house is too small and worries that the kids will have to share rooms. Did he really expect to find a house with seven bedrooms?
*Are they really hurting for money anyway? They both have big houses that they can sell, and it always seemed like Franklin had a lot of cash. Suddenly, they're freaking out over how all houses in Stoneybrook cost too much.