Another mystery is already upon us! Is it bad that I kind of hope Dawn gets murdered in this one? Yeah? Okay, moving on…
Dawn is baby-sitting at the Hobarts’ and those two neighborhood pricks Zach and Mel are still making fun of James and Mathew for being Australian; they keep calling them “dumb Crocs,” which is a really lame insult if you ask me. If there had been Australian kids at my elementary school I would have immediately tried to befriend them and talk about kangaroos and koalas. Then, while baby-sitting for Kristy’s little siblings, she finds out a bunch of Stoneybrook kids are having a Sitter of the Month contest, and whomever they choose as the winner will have his or her picture in the paper. (At this point in the story I did a Liz Lemon-level eye roll.) The winner is based on who is the nicest and the most fun. Dawn immediately starts getting a little competitive about it.
At the next BSC meeting everyone’s talking about Sitter of the Month and what an honor it would be to be chosen, and what the criteria are. But they all know that they tend to lose their shit when things get competitive. They agree – “no backbiting” and “no campaigning.” Hmm… wonder how long this’ll last… Also, I’m 49 pages into this book and nothing remotely mysterious has happened. Boo.
Wait, maybe I spoke too soon. While Dawn is baby-sitting for Jenny Prezzioso, they get a no-one-on-the-line-heavy-breathing phone call, followed by a ding-dong-ditch during which an envelope is left on the steps. Inside is a letter written in cut out magazine letters and it says “You’d better watch out! You’d better not shout! I’m going to get you. – Mr. X.” (Too bad it’s not Mr. F from “Arrested Development.”) So… that’s creepy. But haven’t we seen this sort of plot before, like what Cokie and her squad did to Mary Anne and then Kristy? If this is Cokie again, I’m going to blow shit up. Dawn decides not to tell anybody about Mr. X because she doesn’t want to jeopardize being Sitter of the Month, as if there’s a cash reward or something and it’s not just an arbitrary title voted on by four- to seven-year-olds.
While Dawn’s sitting for the Rodowskys she gets a few more no-one-there phone calls reminiscent of the Phantom Caller (before she was even a member of the BSC). If this turns out to be Alan Gray again, I’m going to riot. Then she gets another note, which says “I’m watching you,” on the Rodowskys’ doorstep. Shea smartly wants to call the police but Dawn would rather get murdered than lose Sitter of the Month. Dawn calls Alan Gray’s house to confront him, but his mother informs Dawn that he’s at a basketball game with his father in Stamford… which means he can’t be the culprit.
Meanwhile, Jessi becomes the next victim while she’s baby-sitting for her own siblings. She gets a hang-up call and a ding-dong-ditch and a note that says “Best wishes from your secret admirer” with a bunch of headless flower stems. (This is very reminiscent of Kristy’s “mystery admirer,” except that Cokie sent toenail clippings – ew – instead of flowers.) Then Mallory gets a note while she and Mary Anne are sitting at the Pikes’: “Do you like your hamster? If you do, you’d better keep an eye on him.” Do we have a bunny boiler situation here? Well, maybe a mouse boiler? Because then Mary Anne finds a dead mouse on the back porch.
Finally the subject of Mr. X comes up at a BSC meeting. Turns out everyone has gotten the creepy calls and notes – except Kristy. IS SHE A SUSPECT? She is super competitive and might want an edge in the Sitter of the Month contest… While Claudia is baby-sitting Charlotte, Mr. X smears baked beans (?) all across the Johanssens’ porch and Claud and Char have to clean it up. Claudia isn’t scared but she’s annoyed, and she’s pretty sure that Mr. X and the Sitter of the Month contest are connected (because she’s a secret genius).
Dawn makes the final connection when she’s sitting for Jamie Newton (but basically only because Jamie lays it right out for her…) and he says that they need to stay home because Mel, one of the jagweeds who’s always making fun of the Hobarts or Susan, is doing “secret baby-sitter checks.” Apparently that includes leaving one of Lucy Newton’s dolls headless on the front steps for Dawn to find. Dawn and Mary Anne later decide to call Kristy, who helps hatch a plan to catch Mr. X in action.
The girls spread a story to all their charges that Dawn will be home alone sitting for her cousin. They figure “Mr. X” will try to scare her using the secret passage, which all the kids know about. The entire BSC gathers at Dawn’s house to try to trap “Mr. X” when he inevitably tries to sneak into the secret passage. And their plan goes off without a hitch – they catch Mel in the secret passage. And he sobs like a baby. Turns out, he wanted to get back at the BSC for getting him in trouble for bullying other kids (Mrs. Hobart had called his parents after Dawn told her about the “dumb Croc” stuff, and his parents had grounded him for two months). He was able to find out where and when they were baby-sitting because of the contest – the other kids told him to try to help their favorite sitters win. Also, his parents want to take him to see a psychiatrist. GOOD. He clearly has some emotional issues.
Oh, and the kids come to announce the winner of Sitter of the Month… it’s a seven-way tie, between everyone in the BSC. Of course… kumbaya.mp3.