Dawn’s a little jealous when there’s a formal ceremony to welcome Jessi and Mallory into the Baby-sitters Club. Don’t people know that Dawn’s a special baby-sitter, too?
Then it’s Dawn’s turn to shine. Mrs. Pike wants her to help prepare Margo and Claire for the Little Miss Stoneybrook contest. So what if Margo’s only talent is peeling a banana with her feet? Dawn’s going to help her charges win that contest any way she can. The only trouble is… Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia are helping Karen, Myriah, and Charlotte enter the contest, too. And nobody’s sure where the competition is fiercer: at the pageant – or in the Baby-sitters Club!
This is probably one of the most memorable Baby-sitters Club books for me. Compared to a lot of the other books, this one has a bit of everything in it. For one, it’s the official introduction of Mallory and Jessi into the club. Now I didn’t remember the part where Dawn was jealous, but for once, I felt it was an appropriate reaction to what was going on. Especially since Dawn’s introduction to the club came at such a bad time for the club. It was at the tail end of the big fight that nearly split the group up for good and the main reason she wasn’t made to feel as welcomed as the junior officers is because Kristy was severely jealous of her presence in Mary Anne’s life for quite some time. I actually wish they would have gone far enough to have Dawn confront Kristy, either back then or in this book. But, of course, that will never happen in this series.
The big plot of this book is about a local pageant. As I reread it, I was actually surprised by how strongly the girls felt about pageants in general. For one, I never really felt the girls were mature enough to even think pageants were sexist. When Charlotte begins requesting to have Claudia to babysit her because she misses Stacey, the rest of the club feels bitter. It was actually nice to see they weren’t going to drop Stacey completely from the series and that she was more than a single footnote during the explanation of the club and how it started. But I don’t get how they would feel bitter. I felt Charlotte’s reasoning was logical and you would think if they were such great babysitters, they would not only be understanding, but sympathetic to the poor girl. Instead, they all use it as an excuse to turn the pageant into a contest between the sitters.
Besides the pageant, there’s also a subplot that has been slowly developing over the past several books. Dawn’s little brother has been increasingly unhappy at school and in Connecticut. There have been countless mentions of all of the trouble he’s been having and in this book, it finally comes to a breaking point as his parents finally agree that maybe he should try moving back to California with his father. I actually felt like this should have been a bigger plot in the book. Instead of focusing so exclusively on the pageant, this book should have been about Dawn and her feelings about her brother leaving. Instead, it was a passing event where there were extreme emotions displayed during, but for the most part, it wasn’t really addressed outside of a few brief moments.