Welcome back to Stoneybrook, where pen pal fever has taken over all the kids in second- through fifth-grade (meaning all of the Pikes except Mallory and Claire, to start). They’ve been writing back and forth with Native American kids (Zunis) from New Mexico as part of Pens Across America and are really excited about it. Adam even taught his pen pal Pig Latin (which Byron and Jordan are not happy about). Dawn thinks the whole thing is cool and is jealous that she doesn’t have a pen pal. And when she finds out a few days later that the Zuni kids’ school and some of their homes have burned down in a fire/explosion, she wants to help. (Or she wants to make it all about her. You never know with Dawn. I bet she’d have a really annoying social media presence.)
Dawn comes up with a plan: a food drive, a clothing drive, and a fundraiser. She gets the support of the Stoneybrook Elementary School teachers, and also the support of one Kristin Amanda Thomas… but she worries that Kristy might completely take over and make it out to be her idea. Classic Kristy. The club decides to make fliers and to collect clothing, food, and other goods in Dawn’s barn. They also agree, to celebrate, that they should hold a big sleepover at the elementary school with games and contests, and let the kids come up with some ideas for how to raise money for the Zunis.
The BSC is dismissed from school to go to SES for an assembly, at which they’ll announce their plan to all of the second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. Dawn is encouraged by the response and the kids start fundraising. The Pikes and Linny Papadakis hold a carnival at the Pikes’ house – a carnival at which a dinosaur show guy named Goober Mansfield performs. (What?) The Rodowskys host a yard sale in their backyard, but it turns out a lot of kids donated their parents’ things… without asking their parents. It almost turns into a fiasco, but it gets sorted fairly quickly. No children were murdered. But then – Dawn is looking around her barn at the stuff that’s been donated and notices that some of the stuff looks too nice to have truly been donated by the parents. They have the same issue as the yard sale, and some parents have to embarrassedly take stuff back. Dawn is starting to regret her idea, just like I’ve always regretted Dawn.
Haley Braddock gets into the fundraising spirit, too, setting up a fortune-telling booth on her lawn; she’s the famous Madame Leveaux. She tells fortunes for twenty-five cents apiece and makes, like, two dollars off Alan Gray and Pete Black. Haley has the right idea. Atta girl.
Finally it’s the night of the sleepover. The BSC has the gym fully prepped, but there’s some stress – a few kids are crying wussies, and the pizza almost doesn’t get delivered because Mr. Morton runs out of flour (but he manages to make it work), etc. Oh, and the BSC is helping take care of a hundred kids (half of whom probably have gross runny noses, as kids do). The local toy store donates a bunch of prizes, and then Dawn and the BSC give out awards. Haley Braddock wins Most Creative Fundraiser; Rob Hines wins Most Clothing Donated; every kid ends up with something, even if it’s little; the Pikes end up with a croquet set to share. All of the hard work has paid off, because Stoneybrook raised a ton of money and gathered a lot of goods for the kids of Zuni, who we’ll probably never hear about again. The Baby-sitters Club is elated by the next morning when everything has gone pretty well (and is over).
Overall, this book was a real snoozefest, but at least it didn’t make me want to kill Dawn.