Original Publication Date: 1997
This is the first of fifteen California Diaries books. Dawn's school requires all students to keep diaries, from kindergarten through twelfth grade (it's a private school). The teachers never read them, so the students open up a bit as they write. This series tells about the experiences of Dawn and four of her friends through their diaries. We start with Dawn at the beginning of a the school year (still eighth grade), when the eighth grade is moved to the high school campus because of over-crowding. Fans have noted that as these books deal with darker themes than the other Baby-Sitters Club books tend to, it's easier to just pretend they take place when Dawn and her friends are in high school.
This book deals with the tension that comes from being middle schoolers in a high school (there's hazing involved, coming to a head when Dawn, Sunny, Maggie, and Jill are invited to high school party that turns out to be a set-up: there's underage drinking, and it's actually held at the home of an out-of-town teacher), and the stress put on Dawn and Sunny's friendship by Sunny's mother's cancer. Sunny's way of dealing with her mother being so ill is to escape, while Dawn thinks Sunny should spend what time she can with her mom. Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie are also growing apart from Jill, who isn't maturing as fast as the others. There are tensions in Dawn's family too: she accidentally overhears a phone call from Carol's gynecologist that Carol is pregnant. To her credit, Dawn is excited but impatient to let her dad know. Carol wants to wait until she can tell him in person. Dawn feels she nees to tell SOMEONE so she tells Jill, who accidentally lets it slip to Carol that Dawn told, and Dawn guilts Carol into telling Jack before he's back home. Not all the changes are bad or tense: Dawn, Sunny, and Maggie make friends with another eighth grader names Amalia, and a tenth-grader named Christopher who goes by the nickname Ducky (from the movie Pretty in Pink).
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Ducky):
Maggie has switched from trying to gain attention through rebellion to attempting to control everything she can.
Dawn mentions she's growing apart not only from Jill, but from her Connecticut friends and family.
While Jill is pretty immature in this series, I'm with her on two things: I have no sympathy for people with hangovers because they brought it on themselves, and I won't change my plans or routine to accomodate hangovers. I also don't like dishonesty or disloyalty and wouldn't be happy with "friends" coming to a sleepover at my house as a ruse for sneaking away to a better party, especially if I were expected to cover for them.
We learn a bit about Ducky: he's not one of the hazers, he lives basically alone with his older brother who's in college, and his parents travel for extended periods of time on teaching tours.
Sunny's mom is clearly edging toward the terminal side of cancer.
We learn more about Maggie's family: aside from her father being in the movie business, he's pretty distant, and her mother is an alcoholic.
Usually I think Dawn is too harsh on Carol, but when she goes to Carol to ask what "sterile" means (overheard in the context of Sunny's mom's cancer treatments), Carol gets all embarassed and giggly. Yeah, I'd be annoyed, too.
On the other hand, I'm on Carol's side that I'd want to tell my husband about a new baby in person. It will be hard for Dawn to wait, but her dad will be back from his business trip in six days. I was pretty sure I was pregnant for three or four days before confirming it with a home test for this current pregnancy, and it was hard but I didn't say anything, and my husband was home at the time!
The Club (and clients):
The We ♥ Kids Club pretty much falls by the wayside in this book..
If you drink to the point of vomiting, you probably have a touch of alcohol poisoning. And vomiting itself is dehydrating, which will make any hangover you might have worse.
It's just NOT okay for anyone other than the person who is pregnant (and if he's supportive/involved, the father) to decide when to spread the news. Some people like to do it right away, some people like to wait until after the first trimester, but it's up to the pregnant person/couple!
This used copy belonged to Caitlin D., who I must say took excellent care of her books. The pages are still pristine and white, unlike most of my BSC books which are yellowing on the edges.
Carol's gynecologist (and I suppose now obstetrician) calls to confirm that Carol's home pregnancy was correct, and that she's about three weeks along. Well...no. Pregnancy is measured from the first day of the last period, which is about two weeks before ovulation and conception takes place, and about three weeks before implantation. So while you might be 20 weeks pregnant, the baby has existed for 18 weeks. You can't be one week pregnant, and it would be a crazy-sensitive pregnancy test to pick up HCG hormones, which come from the developing placenta, on the same day as implantation! Of course, not every woman has 28 day cycles, but Carol would likely have had a blood test, which shows the level of HCG that can indicate how far along pregnancy is. Four weeks along would have been more realistic. Anyway, if Carol is about three weeks along on October third, the due date should be about June 26.
Starting 8th grade: 9
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3
Summers after 8th grade: 10
BSC Fights: 11
SMS Staff and Faculty: 67
Students (other than the BSC): 209: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 26 7th graders, 47 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 37 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 130