The We Love Kids Club is meeting one day when they get a call from a new client, Mr. Cater. He wants to hire a sitter for his daughter for the next few weeks, until her day camp starts. The catch? Whitney is 12 years old, with Down's Syndrome, and her parents have told her that Dawn is her new friend, not a sitter. Dawn gets the job, and she's pretty curious about Whitney. She's never met anyone with Down's before, and she's not quite sure what to expect. Whitney is friendly, though, and she likes to do lots of the same things that most girls her age would. She even wants to baby-sit! Dawn takes her to visit Sunny "at work," sitting for Clover and Daffodil Austin, and Whitney is great with them. Dawn is impressed by how responsible she is, but the fact that Whitney is, in fact, different, really hits home as their walking back to the Caters'. Whitney gets scared when they come to a busy intersection, and only crosses the street comfortably when Dawn takes her arm.
One afternoon, Whitney decides she wants to go the mall. She and Dawn have a good time, and just as they're about to leave, Whitney goes into one last store and comes out with a "Best Friends" necklace, half of which is for Dawn. Dawn is really touched by the gesture, and realizes that Whitney isn't just a sitting charge anymore; she's a friend, too. On another of their afternoons together, though, things take a bad turn. Whitney decides she wants an ice cream sandwich, but her parents have told her not to snack. Dawn tells her no, but nothing's going to come between Whitney and her ice cream! Finally, Dawn lets it slip that she's the baby-sitter, and that Whitney has to do what she's told. Dawn feels awful once she realizes what she said, and Whitney feels even worse. Not only has she been working really hard to prove to her parents that she's grown up, but she honestly thought that Dawn just wanted to be her friend. The next couple of days that Dawn goes to stay with Whitney, Whitney won't even speak to her.
Dawn is sitting for Clover and Daffodil Austin on a hot day, and she goes inside to get the girls some juice. When she comes back, though, the girls are missing. Dawn checks the Austin's yard, house, and street, but there's no sign of the girls. One boy says he saw them walking with a lady, so Dawn calls the police. A huge search is organized in the neighborhood, so Dawn decides to leave the neighborhood to cover more ground. She ends up at this carnival that's been set up nearby, and to her surprise, there are Clover and Daffodil on the ferris wheel, with Whitney Cater! Whitney had come by and taken the girls out, to prove how responsible she could be. The girls thought it was okay to go with her since she's not a stranger, and she told them she was baby-sitting. Dawn gets everyone home and calls off the search. Later, she talks things out with Whitney, and all is well in that department.
Meanwhile, Dawn's dad is dating up a storm. After he gets to know the women a little, he includes Dawn and Jeff on one of the dates. They go on date after date with women who are clearly not a good fit, until they all finally realize how good they had it with Carol. She and Jack get back together and get engaged again. Back in Stoneybrook, Mrs. Barrett and Mr. DeWitt also get engaged.
Thoughts and Things
- It really, really, bugged me that nearly everyone Dawn encountered when she was with Whitney was rude and awful, as if the whole world was out to get people with Down's Syndrome. That's not very realistic. Plus, just because someone stares a little too long doesn't mean they're having mean thoughts. Some people are honestly curious. In my case, I tend to notice people with Down's Syndrome because I worked with a girl that had it years and years ago, and I always wonder what happened to her...
- This book contains the best meal in the entire series, IMHO: endive salad, asparagus, three-cheese macaroni, and raspberry crisp. It's really the macaroni and the crisp that sounds good; I could care less about the endive salad and asparagus. The food that the Schafers plus Jack's date have at a picnic sounds good, too.
- One of Jack's dates calls him "Richard." :D
- Another one of Jack's dates has a daughter named Alana that goes to Dawn's school. Dawn says that this girl is the only person she knows named Alana. What about that older sufer that Stacey hung out with during SS#5?
- I really want an ice cream sandwich.