Book info

Dawn And The Older Boy (1997)

Dawn and the Older Boy (1997)
Author
Rating
3.52 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0833562665 (ISBN13: 9780833562661)
languge
English
publisher
turtleback books
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Dawn And The Older Boy (1997)
Dawn And The Older Boy (1997)

About book: This is a re-review for the books that made me love reading challenge. Rating I gave this series as a child, 5. Rating I give it as an adult, 3. Allow me to explain.If I had to pick a single person to credit for my love of reading, it would be Anne M. Martin. I remember coming home from second grade and reading two Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books at a go. Karen Brewer had a crazy imagination like me, and she had two very good friends. I pretended they were my friends to make up for the fact that I didn't really have any of my own. It worked. I had a wonderful childhood in the company of my pseudo-imaginary playmates.When I got a little bit older, I naturally turned to The Baby-Sitter's Club to read about Karen's big stepsister Kristy and all her friends; she had at least 11! I had a little white bookshelf lined with the BSC. I would beg my parents to take me to the bookstore to get the latest volume in the series, and oh the joy, when a new one came out! Once my older sister and I cut out hundreds of squares and rectangles from paper, stapled them together to make little envelope pockets, inserted carefully measured slips of lined paper, and turned my BSC collection into a play library. We spent hours on the project, showing yet another way these books enriched my young life. I still find these play library slips in my old books too!Are you noticing how nostalgic this review has been so far? Imagine my delight, when I found a copy of "Dawn and the Older Boy" at my local thrift store. I remembered the cover and knew that meant I had loved this particular volume. Re-reading it, there were several things I liked about the book, and in turn the series: *The writing was fresh, and it felt like Dawn was talking directly to me*The characterization was great; I felt like I know each of these girls*Multiculturalism - yay!*It's super cool that 13 year-old Christy started such an amazing business*The trials of the BSC member in profile lined up with the trials of the kids being babysat*There were important lessons to be learnedThings I didn't like so much:About 1/3 of the book was devoted to explaining who everyone was, how they met, where they fit into the BSC, and the like. No wonder Anne M. Martin could crank these out so fast! Each book catches the reader up on everything. I don't remember this bothering me as a child, but it would drive me nuts now (it was fine this time around since I was reading for nostalgia's sake).There were a lot of parenthetical asides and sometimes sloppy jumps into the back story. I just wanted to know what was going to happen with Dawn and Travis, but then I had to listen to how Dawn's mom met Mary Anne's dad. The transition felt forced. And yes, the author literally uses a lot of parentheses too.In the end though, the Baby-Sitter's Club isn't meant to entertain adults. It's targeted at eager middle grade readers, and if memory serves me correctly, the series does a great job of reaching its target audience. I learned a really important message too...Luckily, the message is repeated point-blank at least 4 times in the story, then recapped in a note from the author in the end, so I think I REALLY understand it. Allow me to quote the author:"If someone is interested in you, then he or she is interested in you--not in somebody you're pretending to be. Remember, if you pretend to be somebody you're not, you'll be unhappy, and the other person won't know who you are. The best kind of relationship is one that's honest, in which the people involved are open with each other and truly know each other."Touche, Anne M. Martin, touche.

Dawn falls hard when she meets Sam Thomas’s friend Travis, a high school boy from California who shares Dawn’s love of health food and Aryan features. What’s more, Travis seems to like her back--he swings by her school or house to take her shopping or talk now and again, and tells her how she should arrange her hair and what kind of jewelry to wear, which Dawn takes as a sign of caring, Mary Anne takes as a sign of controlling, and I take as a sign he is gay. Dawn’s upset when Kristy mentions Travis’s high school girlfriend. Eventually she comes round that he is a jerk (which he is, but: sour grapes), and tells him off. As a consolation prize, Mary Anne entices Dawn to become pen pals with Logan’s cousin Lewis. A Suspiciously Similar Subplot has James Hobart, one of the Australian boys the club sometimes sits for, allowing himself to be controlled by a school friend, Zach, who calls James weird for writing plays and hanging out with girls. Zach offers to take James under his wing and teach him to be a real man, and the sitters are always disappointed when he goes.I know all BSC books are the same length, but this one feels very short. There’s not much to it. Again, I know these are children’s books, but the plotlines are too neatly aligned, and everything is just too beat-you-over-the-head simple. It’s hard to sympathize with Dawn when the guy she likes has no redeeming features (all he does is talk about himself and criticize her). It would be ridiculously easy to create a character who is an alluring romantic hero, which would make it actually upsetting when it turns out Dawn can’t get him, even if it’s totally telegraphed that she won’t. (See Jean and Johnny for a sample.) It’s interesting, theoretically, that Dawn, the one who’s supposed to be so self-confident (although we’ve never really seen evidence of that in her own books), is the one to be taken in by the Henry Higgins type boy, but it would be nice if the book explained how and why that came to be or acknowledged that it was weird in any way.The one scene in this book I do like? Surprisingly, the scene where Dawn calls up Travis to tell him off. While I normally hate scenes like this--I think they’re unnecessary and unrealistic, and they make me cringe with discomfort--I love the way Travis is totally unrepentant and doesn’t even understand what Dawn is saying. He doesn’t see anything wrong with how he acted, and thinks Dawn is freaking out over nothing. I’m glad they didn’t make him back down and apologize. And it does give some perspective to the whole thing. I mean, he’s not wrong.Timing: Still fall (Mary Anne and Dawn are shown raking leaves) Revised Timeline: Early tenth grade, which poses some problems for the plot. If Dawn is in high school, it’s not as big of a deal that she likes a guy who’s in high school, and it seems unlikely that Dawn would be so out of the loop that she would not know that Travis had another girlfriend. We can pretend Travis is a college freshman; actually, it makes more sense for him to be a California transplant if he’s here for school.
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Reviews
Julie Decker
Dawn really likes Travis and is convinced they're soulmates: Yeah, he's three years older than her (a big deal when you're thirteen!), but he's a beach bum like her and they both love California. So what if he doesn't really seem very interested in her as a person, likes to talk over her, and seems a little self-absorbed? Maybe it's her who needs to change.This book has a good message--don't change yourself for others, don't date guys who are mean to you just because you think you're in love--but it rammed it home in a ham-fisted way. Travis was a textbook jerk. He won't let Dawn get a word in edgewise. He decides what she should have to eat and she just shuts up and takes it. Even though her gut keeps recognizing these red flags, she remains convinced of their bond because . . . you know, I guess it's just that hard to find a hot guy who says he likes the beach. The idea is a good one to teach young women but they made Travis's jerkiness so obvious that I wonder if it would do anything to stop the more subtle manifestations these warning signs usually present in the real world.
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