Portrait Collection: Dawn's Book

Original Publication Date: 1995

Ghostwriter? Yes, Jeanne Betancourt


Although Dawn has moved back to California, she still gets assigned an autobiography. Her strongest memories include:
West Coast Beginnings: Dawn is born, gets a baby brother when she's three, and attends nursery school, where she builds block towers with her friend Ruthie. But soon her family moves to Palo City.

The New Girl on the Block: Dawn has fun playing with Jill and Maggie at school but has no friends in her neighborhood. Until a hippie family moves in, that is (and gets Dawn started with environmentalism). At first Dawn finds them incredibly bizarre and a little judgemental, but she gets to know them better, and they calm down a bit too. Dawn and Sunny end up best friends.

The Golden Anniversary: Dawn's parents fly her grandparents to San Francisco so all six can celebrate Granny and Pop-pop's fiftieth wedding anniversary (I'd find it odd that my kid was planning my anniversary, but whatever). Because her grandparents don't seem to enjoy the same things or want to spend as much time together as her own parents, Dawn surmises that they don't love each other. But as the trip continues, she sees that they are truly in love.

Fire!: In the midst of her parents' marriage troubles, Dawn deals with a bit of a fire phobia. She gets pretty obsessed thinking about fires and the damage they can cause. She worries that if a fire happens, she won't know what to do, and so plan and plans and plans. Then one day at a sitting job, there is a fire--for real. Dawn is able to stay level-headed and gets her charges (Clover and Daffodil) safely out, and call 911. The fire is confined to the kitchen, fortunately. Dawn receives a medal from the mayor, and, having seen how things turned out, stops panicking about fire. But there's another reason fire no longer weighs so heavily on her mind: her parents divorce soon after.

A New Life on the East Coast: Dawn relates some backstory about moving to Connecticut and joing the BSC. Then she talks about a client for whom she sat twice, and screwed up big time. She was sifting through some papers and saw that the daughter was going to have to be held back in school, and mentioned it to her. But her parents hadn't told her yet, and were going to wait until summer was ending so she wouldn't worry. They never call the BSC again, but in the summer rush, no one notices and Dawn has never told anyone until now.

Dawn ends on that note. She gets an A- for content and a B for presentation. The note her teacher writes doesn't mention that she did anything wrong, so her grade's a little confusing to me, but Dawn's happy with it.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

Jill Henderson reminds Dawn of Mary Anne. Dawn soon outgrows Jill, and also somewhat outgrows Mary Anne.

Dawn was born 8 days after her due date. I'd cite this as evidence of her being mean, but I was 15 days late myself (sorry, Mom).

Their Families:

Dawn and Carol have close enough shoe sizes that they can share rollerblades. I think that was mentioned before, even.

There's a picture of Dawn with her parents and newborn Jeff. NO WAY her mom would look that thin right after having a baby. Even if you only gain the baby weight, you come home from the hospital looking seven months pregnant because you just had a human being inside you. Takes a bit for your body to get back to how it was (if it ever does. Sorry again, Mom?).

The Club (and clients): nothing new.


There's some continuity weirdness here. Stacey and Claudia wrote their autobiographies "last" school year, and Dawn says that at her going-away party, the BSC was saying she decided to move to avoid the assignment. Dawn moved at the end of summer vacation, and her California school started one week before SMS. She was assigned the autobiography on the first day of school. I guess SMS let it be known about the assignment before school started back up?

PSA Time:

As a child, I was always told to not let callers know that there are no adults home. For example, if I were home alone with my younger brother and someone called asking for my mom or dad, I was supposed to say, "She's not available right. Can I take a message?" rather than, "She's not home right now." That way random callers don't know that the oldest person home is only 12.


Interesting how few of the girls' most vivid memories from Super Special #11 make it in their autobiographies.

To this day, I can't figure out how to do Morse code with wooden blocks. What's the difference between a dot and a dash when banging blocks together?

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 7

Halloweens in 8th grade: 4 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 1

Christmases in 8th grade: 1 (Hanukkah is also mentioned, but no one in the BSC celebrates it)

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2

Summers after 8th grade: 8

BSC Fights: 10

SMS Staff and Faculty: 48

Students (other than the BSC): 175; 111 8th graders, 6 7th graders, 42 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 33 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 112

Mary Anne-2


noseinanovel said...

After reading this as a kid, I tried to do Morse Code both with wooden blocks and by knocking on my bedroom door. The best I can remember, I would knock with a pause for a dash and do quick kocks in rapid sucession for dots. But I'd think that would still be hard to figure out.

SJSiff said...

Yeah, it seems like tapped-out dots and dashes would be really hard to distinguish. It reminds me of Jessi describing her name sign way back in #16 Jessi's Secret Language. She forms her hand into the sign for J and uses that to sign "dance." But the sign for J is a dynamic one; you have to be moving your hand for the duration of the sign. It can't be done! Someone just learned enough about the subject to make a mistake.