This is the fifth installment in a series of Baby-Sitters Club character analyses/essays. Turns out, the gals aren’t as rad as we thought they were back in the ’90s.
Dawn Schafer, the California hippy, did not impress BSC Overlord Kristy Thomas upon their first meeting. Not surprisingly, the BSC was in the midst of a fight and so Mary Anne and Kristy were not speaking. So Dawn, being the new lonely girl at Stoneybrook swooped in and grabbed the introvert as her friend. Eventually, Kristy got over it, and Dawn was permitted to join the Baby-Sitters Club. Of course, Dawn was not given a full-fledged position. Instead she got to be the Alternate Officer, filling in when other baby-sitters were slacking and did not show up to their regularly scheduled meetings.
The first book to feature Dawn, Dawn and the Impossible Three, does not speak highly of her baby-sitting skills. While the family she’s baby-sitting for isn’t exactly the easiest, Dawn probably should not have taken on the job as a way to prove herself to Kristy. I won’t spoil the ending, but Dawn does lose track of a kid during this plot. Not the greatest commentary on her skills.
However, she remains in the BSC, and, not content to be solely the Alternate Officer, also informally acts as the health police for the other baby-sitters. Since she moved to Stoneybrook from California, naturally, she is a vegetarian and health food nut (and of course is blonde), and won’t even touch Claudia’s junk food stash. She and Stacy bond over their plain-ass popcorn. You’re thirteen, have some fun, Dawn! At least Stacy’s got a medical reason.
Dawn and her mother moved to Stoneybrook, her mother’s hometown, after her mother and father got divorced. Initially Dawn’s brother Jeff moved to Stoneybrook, but then after a dramatic series of occurrences and many parent/teacher conferences, it is decided that Jeff shall move back to California and Dawn will remain in Stoneybrook with her mother and her baby-sitting cult. However, that does not last long, as Dawn later is heartsick for California and so during a two week spring break (two weeks!) she decides to move back for an extended six-month visit (Dawn on the Coast). Then she comes back to Stoneybrook. But, oh wait, then she decides she simply cannot handle boring ol’ meat-filled Stoneybrook. So she heads back to California, ostensibly permanently this time (Farewell, Dawn).
But in California, she has no need to miss her baby-sitting duties! Nor does she have to miss her club meetings, as there is a hippie version of the BSC called the We Heart Kids Club. It’s a bit more laid back than the Kristy-led BSC (as is the North Korean government) and they don’t have candy. They have apple slices. Woo, go crazy, California girls. At one point, though, the informality simply becomes too much (Dawn and the We Heart Kids Club). The club does a TV interview, and holy crap they become successful. But alas the success is too much and they have to deal with it. Such drama for Californians.
Dawn, in addition to her baby-sitting and vigilant vegetarianism, is also weirdly obsessed with ghost stories. She and her mom move into a house with an ostensibly haunted passage (The Ghost at Dawn’s House), which gives her plenty of reason to talk about ghosts and terrify younger and more sensitive people – Mary Anne – with stories. For more on how Mary Anne ends up living in the house with Dawn and her mother, see Mary Anne’s profile.
And what would a baby-sitter be without some boy drama? Dawn is not immune to the ways of males – although she seems to have a thing for older dudes. Let’s not forget Dawn and the Surfer Ghost (thank you for your loyalty to the BSC, Kimmy Schmidt), in which she has a crush on an older surfer dude who people think drowned during a competition, but (spoiler) he did not, he just super-duper disguised himself. And then of course we have the aptly titled Dawn and the Older Boy in which Dawn uncharacteristically gives up her individuality in order to conform to this older gentleman’s idea of beauty. It’s a soap opera, let me tell you. And of course the other baby-sitters have plenty of thoughts on aforementioned older gentleman.
Dawn’s story arc throughout the series travels coast to coast, and has your full daily serving of fiber, fruits, and veggies. You’ll be scared by ghosts, irritated by overzealousness, and be irritated by the We Heart Kids Club’s lackadaisical attitude, but Dawn’s the best alternate officer the BSC could have.
Next week: Jessica Ramsey
YouTube Channel: Scholastic
Featured image via Valley of Sweetness