25 October 2012


Reading Diary: BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn's House by Ann M. Martin

I picked up the phone in Mom's bedroom and called Mary Anne.

"Hi," I said. "Want to come over? I have this great idea. I want to invite the whole club to my house and we'll search for a hidden passage."

"Oooh," said Mary Anne. "Scary. I'd love to."

"Do you think the others are free?"

"I know they are. I was looking at the appointment calendar during the meeting yesterday. We all had jobs this morning and we're all free this afternoon. Stacey's mother can probably drive us over."

"Perfect," I said. "Listen, can you call Kristy? I'll call Stacey and Claudia."

Just to be nice, I waited until it was past 1:00 in the morning to start reading this ninth installment in Ann M. Martin's Baby-sitters Club series. The last time Martin tried to do scary, she kind of failed (See my Reading Diary entry on BSC #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls for details)--so I thought I'd more than meet her halfway this time. Well, I guess she had the same idea because she came prepared with the spookiest weapon in the storytelling arsenal: a Ghost Story.

Ghost Stories and Adventures in Baby-sitting are actually very compatible genres. I like to call the overlap "Governess Gothic"--and if you've read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Henry James's Turn of the Screw, then you know what I mean. Which is not to say that The Ghost at Dawn's House is worthy to be a bookend to them (ROFL!!!), but to explain why Martin doesn't do too badly this time around. Although I don't think this story is structured as seamlessly as it might have been--not when a second ghost story becomes necessary and the hidden passage they find doesn't get to freak them out during a baby-sitting job--I find I can forgive it.

But that's because I'd say that the highlight of the novel is neither the ghost stories nor the baby-sitting, but the development of the girls' friendship.

Quick! Pick a Movie!

Ghostbusters poster 2, Source: http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ghostbusters-3-news-the-gangs-all-back/movie-poster-ghostbusters/ StarWars poster, Source: http://thehollerinhog.blogspot.com/2012/05/lost-art-of-drawn-movie-poster.html MaryPoppins poster, Source: http://www.listal.com/viewimage/141744 SixteenCandles poster Pictures, Images and Photos ParentTrap poster, Source: http://www.moviepostershop.com/the-parent-trap-movie-poster-1961
All done? . . . Good!

Now use your Secret Decoder Ring to find out which member of the BSC you are!

"So what movie do you guys want to watch?" I asked.

Ghostbusters," said Kristy.

Star Wars," said Claudia.

Mary Poppins," said Stacey.

Sixteen Candles," said Mary Anne.

"And I want to watch
The Parent Trap," I said, looking woefully at the VCR.

So who are you? I'm Dawn! =D And no, I didn't plan it that way! =P

My favourite part of the novel is the slumber party the girls have at Dawn's house, which is when they have trouble deciding what movie to watch. (You'll have to read the book to know how they pick the winner, though!) It's a kind of milestone for their friendship. Remember that not only was Dawn the last to join the BSC, she was also the new girl in town--and it took her a while to feel accepted by the entire club. Now, everyone is staying over at her place as if they've been doing it all their lives . . . and we get a great new Dawn-Stacey (Dawcey? . . . Stawn?) pairing, to boot!

I never would have teamed Dawn and Stacey up this early, but then again, I haven't been very observant when it comes to the BSC. For these two girls have something very obvious in common: neither one eats the junk food that the rest of the club takes for granted, and both of them have become annoyed at the packs of crackers casually tossed their way whenever everyone else is pigging out on chocolate. LOL! I do like the way they get back at everyone else--and the fact that they work the secret passage and the ghost story into it is just the cherry on top. =)

Image Sources: a) The Ghost at Dawn's House by Ann M. Martin, b) Ghostbusters poster, c) Star Wars poster, d) Mary Poppins poster, e) Sixteen Candles poster, f) The Parent Trap poster


DMS said...

I am a big fan of ghost stories and hidden passages- this reminds me of a house my friend, Stephanie, used to live in in Brookfield, CT. It was an old farmhouse that had a hidden passage in the floor of a closet. It was completely bizarre, and somewhat unsettling- We were ALMOST brave enough to shimmy down the hole in the floor and see what was down there- but even though neither of us could pull the trigger- it was still a fun adventure! We could just see a dirt floor and a corridor that led off into the dark. My fear was not being able to get back out of the hole- it was really deep! Sounds like a good book! Thanks : ) ~ Jess

mrsdarwin said...

Aw, I was Dawn as well.

Love the above secret passage story. When I was twelve, my family lived in an old farmhouse which, while it didn't have a secret passage, had a path through the attic that connected the two upstairs bedrooms. Through that attic ran the old chimney, and I used to sit and poke the bricks looking for hidden compartments. I never found one, of course, but I have fond memories of that attic.

Angie Tusa said...

Apparently I am Kristy. Claudia's choice is pretty surprising to me. That doesn't seem to be her type of movie, but maybe it's just been so long since I've read the books.

The disadvantage of growing up in an area that wasn't really developed until the 1950s - 1970s means that hidden passages are something we just didn't see. But my grandparents did have a particularly steep staircase in the house they built in the country, and it often made going up to the second floor feel like an adventure. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Jess -- That's a great memory! I know what you mean about not being brave enough to enter the passage but still appreciating the passage for being there. Did anyone ever try it though?

Mrs. Darwin -- And I have fond memories of an uncle's bathroom, which had a tiled area for the sink, toilet and bath, and a (shag!) carpeted area for his clothes and shoes. The second area had sliding mirrors on its three walls that doubled as cabinet doors, and they kept getting stuck on the runners. Finally, one whole closet was rendered useless because it's "wall" wouldn't open. I found a small hole in the angle between it and the adjacent closet that I could just manage to crawl through--and voila! I had my own secret passage "between" the walls!

Angie -- Claudia's choice raised my eyebrows, too. She doesn't seem like she'd be into either SF or Westerns, which Star Wars is the perfect blend of.

What would you suggest for her? I'm torn between something more "adult" with funky fashions and something really young and innocent. Labyrinth seems like good middle ground, but I'm really not sure when it comes to Claudia.