First things first, LiLu, you are the lucky winner of Maniac Magee!!! Email me your address, nhboisture at gmail dot com, and I’ll send you the book. Congrats and enjoy.
Second things second. It’s my 50th post! *pats self on back*.
Now, on to the book:
Do I love this cover? Yes I do. My only problem is that the stairs in the secret passage are not right off Dawn’s room, so it’s factually incorrect. But look at Dawn and Jeff. They are drawn so age-appropriate. Dawn’s jeans are butt-fugly, but this book was published in 1988, and what jeans weren’t back then? Also, Dawn and Jeff totally look like brother and sister. When I picture Dawn, this is the Dawn I picture. Not the 8 foot 3 giantess on the cover of Dawn on the Coast.
Surprisingly little happens in this book. Dawn is a freak for ghost stories. She lives in an old house and becomes convinced there is a secret passage somewhere. She accidentally falls in to it one day. She hears noises and thinks it’s a ghost, but it turns out to be Nicky Pike, hiding from his asshat brothers. (Just kidding, I love Byron, Jordan and Adam. But mostly Byron). Still, she hears noises when he’s not there, so maybe there is a ghost after all. (my theory is that the moaning is Mrs. Schafer using the passage to have hot secret passage sex with the Trip-man) Also, we are introduced to three very important things in this book. 1- The precocious Perkinses, 2-Claudia’s hollow book (raise your hand if you totally wanted that thing! *raises own hand*), and 3-the concept of Mallory as a babysitter, not a babysittee.
- Right away, we know Dawn is going to be fucked up because she talks about her Disneyland Daddy. “…It was spectacular except for the fact that a Disneyland Daddy doesn’t feel like your father anymore.” We get it Ann M. Kids of divorce have it rough!
- The best thing about this book is that there is no ‘chapter 2,’ with the idiotic introductions. Just a couple of lines here and there scattered through the fist few chapters. Nice. The ghostwriters should have taken a page from Ann M. on this one.
- So Jeff, who is not quite ten, doesn’t need a babysitter. But the triplets do. And Mallory did up until this book? My head hurts just thinking about it.
- Karen acts like a spoiled bitch. But when doesn’t that happen in the world of BSC?
- Mrs. Pike says to Dawn “you know how we feel about rules around here.” True, the Pikes are Stoneybrook’s famous rule-less family (except where safety is concerned). Ned Flanders’ parents “tried nothing, and we’re all outta ideas.” And he turned in to Neddily doodily Flanderino.
- Dawn and Jeff watch All in the Family. Because Ann M. really believed that a 10 and 13 year old in 1988 were watching that. At least they both say that they hate the show. I do too. What the fuck was so supposed to be so great about it again?
- Claudia’s spelling is just fucking atrocious. Night=nigt. (like Dwigt!), Angle=angel, Tryng=trying, porgram=program. And not an apostrophe to be found where it should be. I wish her parents would just give up on her already.
- So Dawn’s mom has been divorced all of at most 8 months at this point. And she has already dated one guy who was the son of a friend of her parents (that’s the Trip-man), two guys from her office, a couple guys she met at a party AND Mary Anne’s dad. I wasn’t really joking when I said that the moaning from the secret passage was probably her.
- Did you know when you say “having a cookout,” while your head is buried in a pillow it sounds like ‘havee a fuh fow?” Because evidently, it does.
Now, I have something a little bit special (or spay-shul as Logan would say) here for you all. Because I don’t think the secret passage is included in nearly enough story lines. I just shit out a little piece of fanfic for you all. It takes place seven years after this book. Be kind to me, because I know I’m a loser. But really, so little happens in this book and there’s no excuse for it. So I thought the passage deserved it’s own little piece of fiction. Here goes. Ahem:
That’s Not a Ghost at Dawn’s House
Dawn stopped what she was doing for a moment and stuck her ear up to the wall to get a better listen. She knew she had been hearing noises the past few days from the secret passage. She counted on her fingers; Nicky Pike must be fifteen years old by now. Too old to need the secret passage for any good reason. If he was using it, she knew he must be up to something. She stopped to think. What could Nicky be doing? He could have a girl in there. He could be smoking, drinking, whatever. Should she do something about it? Dawn was at that age where she was straddling adolescence and adulthood. It left her wondering how to treat the children she used to babysit for. Is Nicky’s behavior any of her business anymore? Dawn hesitated for another minute, then grabbed her flashlight. She could at least check it out. If Nicky was up to something, she wouldn’t have to tell anyone. And at this point, having heard the noises for three days in a row now, she was getting curious.
She touched the molding on the wall and the door to the secret passage opened. By this time, Dawn no longer needed the flashlight, so well did she know her way. So as she walked away and the light from her room grew dimmer, she still had no need to turn the flashlight on. She was tiptoeing, as quietly as possible, fingers trailing the dirt wall very lightly. She had nearly reached the steps when she stopped. Dawn heard a muffled male voice right at the bottom of the stairs, where the passage gets wider.
She couldn’t tell what the voice was saying, but it was clearly too deep to be Nicky’s voice. With a sudden jolt of recognition, she realized it was Jeff’s voice. She breathed a sigh of relief. There would be no worry over catching Nicky Pike at something and having to decide whether to tell his parents.
Dawn tiptoed even closer. Jeff had stopped talking. Dawn had a big smile on her face and a devious plan in her mind. She was going to give Jeff the scare of his life! Never in her life had Dawn tiptoed so quietly. Closer and closer to the stairs and to the sound, she drew steadily nearer. While Jeff wasn’t talking anymore, she could hear some vague, unplaceable sound. She thought for a minute and realized it was the sound of two people kissing.
That little rat, thought Dawn. Just the other day, he insisted that he didn’t have a girlfriend. Dawn’s smile widened, wondering who her brother’s girlfriend could be.
She turned on the light and shined it toward the couple, locked in an embrace at the bottom of the rickety stairway. Jeff turned around, his eyes widened. Dawn shifted the flashlight to the other face. Byron Pike.
“Oh,” said Dawn, backing away.