This may just be my least favorite books of this series. Dawn starts off recalling some of her earliest memories. She remembers when they brought home Jeff and how much she hated him because he was the baby now. He later started saying Da-Da, which everyone thought meant daddy, but because everything has to be about her, she knows he was really saying her name.
She also remembers playing with this girl Ruthie in preschool and building buildings from blocks. When two boys played with the blocks, they always knocked down their creations, so one day, they glued the blocks together. They ended up getting punished and made to clean all the blocks with glue, but Dawn didn't care because she loved being around water.
Oh, and she actually started walking at the beach and tried to run into the ocean. Of course she did. There's also something about how she loved Play-Doh so much that she took some and put it on her ears. Since Sharon is a moron, she thought Dawn was bleeding from her ears and now can't be around it at all. Dawn still loves Play-Doh though and uses it with her charges.
A few years later, she's a little older and feeling lonely because there aren't any girls her age on her block. When she hears about a new girl her age moving in, she gets all excited. The day they arrive, she runs over and thinks they're super world. The mother and little girl wear long dresses with no shoes, they drive a car with peace stickers all over it, and are basically hippies. She also flips out when the mother says Sunshine but then realizes it's the little girl's name.
While playing together, Sunny gives her a lecture on how her family doesn't buy plastic products because plastic is bad for the environment. She later complains because Jeff and a friend are playing a war game, which is also bad, and convinces Dawn that they must teach them another game. Sunny also tries to teach Dawn Morse code and invites her over to tie dye some clothes. Dawn eventually makes up excuses because she thinks Sunny is too weird.
This all changes when their mothers take them shopping and leave them in the toy section by themselves. Dawn tries to ditch Sunny by looking at Barbie dolls and plastic Barbie stuff, but Sunny keeps following her around. The power goes out, and Sunny shows up using a light up toy as a flashlight just as Dawn freaks out. Their mothers are stuck in an elevator, so Sunny uses Morse code to talk with them and pass along messages to the repair crew. The store gives them a free lunch, and everyone gushes about how Sunny is so amazing.
Later on, it's Granny and Pop-Pop's 50th wedding anniversary. Sharon decides to treat them to a trip to San Francisco. She then has to constantly remind Jeff and Dawn to cut down on the list of things they want to do because her parents are too old. Just like the SVH book with a similar story, it turns out that they are in great shape and want to do everything the kids do.
Dawn keeps worrying because they rarely spend any time together and keep splitting up. The guys do one thing and the girls do another. It all culminates with a special anniversary dinner where her grandfather doesn't show up. Granny freaks out because he's never, ever been late. He finally does show up and says that someone told him the wrong time. He then gives her a ring in the same way he gave her an engagement ring and wishes Dawn's parents 50 happy years.
A few years later, Dawn is obsessed with fires. She keeps thinking her house will burn down, instead of worrying about her parents fighting all the time. After her dad knocks a coal out of the grill and starts a small fire, she creates an evacuation plan and makes everyone practice what to do in case of a fire. They all just kind of roll their eyes but go along with her.
While sitting for Daffodil and Clover, she smells something weird and takes them to her house to call 911. It turns out that there was a small kitchen fire. The firefighters come, and their mom thanks her over and over again. The newspaper runs a story on her, and the mayor invites her to a special community event where he gives awards to her and a woman who raised 20 foster/adopted kids on her own.
The fire happens not long before her parents' divorce and her move to Stoneybrook. Kristy decides to go over a list of of sitting rules, which is just a convenient excuse for her to remind the club not to snoop. Dawn gets a sitting job with a new client, the Lazar family, and sits for their daughter Sandra. Sandra is having problems in school, especially with reading. While taking a message, she sees a letter from the school that says Sandra will have to repeat the second grade.
The next time she sits, she works with her on her reading. Dawn makes the mistake of saying that she'll be back in second grade. Sandra picks up on it, changes the subject, and then attacks her mom with the news later. Mrs. Lazar plays it off like it wasn't a big deal but never contacts the BSC again. Dawn keeps waiting for her to complain, but the family just kind of disappears. She says she learned a message but eh.
*So does this mean we can blame Sunny for turning Dawn into a bitch? Prior to meeting her, Dawn was eating chicken, hot dogs, and other random stuff and didn't really seem to care about the environment. Now she's an environmental nazi.
*I love how in the other books Dawn always said that everyone in California ate the way she did and cared about all the stuff she did. Her parents are completely normal in this book, there are no mentions of vegetarian food, and Dawn even eats cookies a few times.
*Major continuity error. When Dawn visits California and sees Maggie and Jill, she says she barely knew them from school. In this book, they are best friends early on and form a clique before she moves to Connecticut. Of course, she also has a bird named Buzz that she makes up stories about, despite Buzz never being mentioned before.
*Dawn calls her dad during the elevator crisis and then has to tell him to call Sunny's dad and the friend Jeff is with. He's all like, "thank god you reminded me of that," because it can't be a BSC book without parents being inept.
*Pop-Pop being late makes no sense. They're all together when Sharon tells them what time to be there, but he then says Jeff told him it was 30 minutes later. I can't tell if it's supposed to be him not paying attention or just lazy writing. Of course Sharon screws up anyway. She takes them to a fancy revolving restaurant and plans a special dinner but never tells them it's a special anniversary dinner. Oh, and Jeff freaks out when the restaurant moves because it feels like an earthquake.
*Dawn's grandparents are in their 80s in this book, which means they were in their 30s when Sharon was born. That's kind of late for back in those days. Then again, in one of the other books, she says her grandparents are in their 60s.
*Sunny's dad plants a huge peace sign of flowers in his front yard and later turns the front lawn into one big patch of wildflowers. Dawn says she loves that it's so different than all the other lawns on the block, but I can't image her fancy neighborhood allowing it.
*I'm not a big fan of people complaining about kids playing with toy guns. We played the hell out of cops and robbers/cowboys and indians when I was a kid, and I somehow turned out okay. Sunny just acts so obnoxious in this one.
*Apparently Carol turned into Sharon. She keeps losing stuff and is disappointed that she lost her rollerblades. Dawn says she can use hers but then kind of rolls her eyes at how Carol still acts too young.