First things first: aside from mom jeans-induced FUPA, Mal actually looks pretty glam on this cover. She’s poolside, her hair doesn’t look too tragic, she’s giving that cool bored look. But then you realize that this is Mallory and this can’t last. Let’s see what mildly pathetic adventures she’s been up to…
Oh, wait, now I feel bad. Mallory’s dad is probably going to lose his job, and there are ten people (and a hamster) in the Pike family. That’d be a real shit show.
Dibble, adj: short for incredible.
See: dibbly, dibble-dom, Queen of Dibbleness,
Meanwhile, the BSC is at it again, making up terrible slang. Ugh. Plus, the Prezziosos have procreated and are bringing another prissy baby into the world. But on the bright side, the club gets a month-long job with the Delaneys, who live in Kristy’s rich neighborhood. Since Kristy is free and lives nearby, she gets the gig.
When Mallory gets home, she finds out the bad news – her dad got a pink slip. Womp womp. He seems really upset and Mal is scared, but Mrs. Pike lays it all out for everyone: no extras, no trips, basic groceries, free baby-sitting from Mal as needed, and no allowances for a while. Despite things coming crashing down, the Pike kids are all pretty cool about it – maybe because they don’t want to piss off their suddenly scary father. Mallory calls all her brothers and sisters into her room for a “Pike Club” meeting and they brainstorm ways to save money. Mallory is eleven and friggin’ stressed. She feels like she needs to hold her family together, despite her hair and face.
The BSC pulls through for Mal and gives her the job with the Delaneys; Kristy even figures out a whole plan for getting Mallory to and from the Delaneys and the BSC meetings and home. The girls all agree that Mal gets first dibs on all afternoon jobs during her family’s financial crisis. AREN’T THEY SWEET?! Say hello to your friends, Baby-sitters Club!
So, while of course it’s nice that Mallory has a steady job for some extra cash, it’s kind of unfortunate that, while her family is going through a financial crisis, she has to spend three days a week baby-sitting kids who have a pool, two tennis courts, a four-hundred-dollar cat, and a fountain in their foyer. Reeeally rub it in, Delaneys. Also, Amanda Delaney is a real bitch, as you may recall. First she uses her pool to be a “gatekeeper” of who can and can’t come hang, then she gets her feelings hurt when people come over just to use her pool and don’t actually want to hang out with her. Can’t win em all, Amanda.
Mr. Pike seems to have slipped into a depression. After exhausting all his job-applying opportunities, he takes to sitting around in scrubby clothing, drinking, watching TV, and not playing with Claire. (This is starting to get pretty dark for a BSC book…) Things come to a head, and Mrs. Pike rightly goes off on Mr. Pike for not living up to the same standard she did when she was home with the kids. Mr. Pike seems to turn it around a bit, but things still aren’t quite back to normal. Mallory is worried that Mr. Pike is going to get used to his new life and not try to get another job, and the bank will take their house when they can’t pay the mortgage. The kids brainstorm more ideas to raise money: an odd-job service from the triplets (ABJ, Incorporated), a paper route from Nicky, and a lemonade stand from Margo and Claire. Vanessa is under the misguided impression that she can sell her poetry to a magazine.
Mallory’s settling in nicely at her job with the Delaneys, and even helps Amanda and Max figure out who their real friends are versus the kids who just want to use them for the pool. Mallory also tells off a couple of sixth grade assholes who’ve been talking smack about her and her dad. Revenge is sweet. (But unfortunately, it doesn’t make money. Vanessa, however, has been making money at school by styling girls’ hair as “Miss Vanessa.” Classic.) The best news, though? Mr. Pike has a job interview coming up.
After three interviews, Mr. Pike gets the job! (Duh. The BSC can’t have a homeless member.) The Pikes all celebrate and the kids pat themselves on the back for being enterprising. In celebration, Mallory hosts her very first BSC sleepover at her house. Despite some lame activities like prank-calling those sixth grade assholes and slime-attacking the triplets, Mallory says it’s one of the best nights of her life.