Well. It’s a Dawn book again. I’m sure we can all get through this together.
Side note: Mallory is described as having “dark curly hair” but I’ve always thought of Mal as a redhead. (Maybe because of the TV show/movie?) ANYWAY, Mallory and Jessi are officially inducted in to the Baby-sitters Club (in a dorky ceremony by Kristy) so they’re now junior officers, available to take afternoon jobs. Everyone also gets a little pissed when Mrs. Johanssen calls and specifically requests Claudia for a sitting job (because Charlotte misses Stacey and Claudia was Stacey’s best friend). Kristy and Dawn are both prone to jealous outbursts – it’s a wonder they’re not best friends. Hm.
At home, Dawn’s brother Jeff gets in trouble again, for getting into a fight at school. He begs his mom – again – to let him move back to California with their dad, and she finally relents. Dawn is horrified, but Mrs. Schafer thinks it’s best for Jeff and his anger issues. Dawn thinks it’s going to tear their family apart more, but it’s not Dawn’s decision.
Before the next BSC meeting, Dawn and Claudia see an ad for Little Miss Stoneybrook, a local pageant, in the newspaper. Claudia’s not into it: “I think pageants are sexist… they think that the only thing little girls are good at is dressing up and looking cute.” I love Feminist Claudia. Most of the other BSCers – except Mary Anne – think the idea of a pageant is gross and sexist too. Then, just as everyone’s getting snippy about Claudia’s “special” Johanssen job again, Mrs. Pike calls with a special job – for Dawn. Margo and Claire have heard about the pageant and they want to enter. Mrs. Pike wants Dawn to coach them since she’s lives close by (and since Mallory won’t because she thinks the whole thing is dumb and sexist). Dawn happily agrees – she wants to prove she’s a “special” sitter too. Dawn is an egomaniac.
Meanwhile, over at the Thomas-Brewer estate, Karen Brewer has found out about the pageant (because Kristy told her) and wants to take part, and Kristy will be her coach (which was Kristy’s motivation in telling Karen). Take that, Dawn. And then take another blow – your brother is moving back to California. Mrs. Schafer gives Jeff the news and he practically does cartwheels. Dawn thinks he’s rude as hell for being so excited to ditch her and their mother, but she’s also secretly a little jealous – she wants to go back to California, too, but she doesn’t want to leave her mom and the BSC.
The next day Dawn pageant-coaches Margo and Claire Pike for the first time and finds out that they are not pageant material at all. They’re goofy and have no talents and virtually no attention span. Whoops. Mary Anne, on the other hand, is baby-sitting for the perfect Little Miss Stoneybrook contestant: Myriah Perkins. She’s smart and sweet and she can sing, dance, and do gymnastics. Mrs. Perkins agrees to let Mary Anne coach her for the pageant but warns that they need to do it only for fun, and to watch out for overly competitive people. Turns out, though, that the BSC members are becoming the overly competitive people. They’re turning the pageant into a Who’s-the-Best-Baby-sitter Contest. And Claudia’s the next to join – she’s coaching Charlotte Johanssen.
Some of the contestants – Margo and Claire – start to get competitive with one another (and drive their whole family insane), and the BSC coaches definitely get competitive with one another. No one wants to give away secrets about their contestant’s talents or how they might answer the questions in the final round. Mary Anne and Claudia even try to spy on Dawn while she’s working with the Pikes the day before the pageant. Dawn is super frustrated with everything – “it wasn’t fun anymore”.
Dawn is also dealing with the fact that her brother Jeff is about to fly off to California for at least six months – maybe more – and that she doesn’t know when she or her mom will see him again. She and her mother sob at the airport when he leaves. Dawn is still hurt that Jeff is so excited to leave them and it doesn’t seem like he will miss them at all.
Dawn doesn’t have time to dwell on that, though, because it’s pageant day! Claire, Margo, Myriah, Karen, and Charlotte are all about to compete for Little Miss Stoneybrook. Will one of them win? Or will “pageant-head” (as Claudia calls her) Sabrina Bouvier win? Will anyone care? Let’s find out.
Myriah Perkins tap dances and sings “The Good Ship Lollipop” – she’s a good singer and dancer and she gets a ton of applause and cheers. Claire Pike sings “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man”, replete with weird gestures and funny faces. She gets some laughs but doesn’t come across as talented, ya know? Karen Brewer sings “The Wheels on the Bus” with extra verses that she made up herself and everyone’s like “huh?” Sabrina Bouvier sings “Moon River” in a fancy evening gown and she’s terrible but she smiles a lot and the judges seem to like her. Margo Pike goes on stage, peels a banana with her feet, and recites “This Is the House That Jack Built”. No one really gets what she’s going for with the whole banana thing, but she gets applause anyway. Charlotte Johanssen, on the other hand, completely forgets her act and runs off stage in tears; her parents take her home and she doesn’t even finish the pageant. Poor Charlotte – first Stacey moves, now this.
Myriah does really well in the question portion, saying she wants wars to end and that the children want peace. Karen, Claire, and Margo, however, don’t do so well. Karen and Claire give silly answers and Sabrina Bouvier steals Margo’s response so she doesn’t say anything. At this point the BSC realizes how ridiculous the whole thing is and they stop being competitive. They know Myriah is the only one with a chance to win so they band together and root for her. And Myriah wins… first runner-up! She’s excited because the prize is a shopping spree at Toy City. But the grand prize winner? Sabrina Bouvier, of course. “It was disgusting,” according to Dawn.
It’s going to take everyone a little while to get over the pageant – especially Dawn, since now Claire Pike wants her help to enter a Beautiful Child contest – but at least Dawn can feel comforted that her brother is happy in California. He calls to fill her in on what’s going on, and tells her he misses her. She’s happy to hear that… and maybe it’s a little foreshadowing, because we all know what happens to Dawn a little bit later on!