Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review: The Ghost at Dawn's House

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Ghost at Dawn’s House (Baby-Sitters Club #9)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1988

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic
ISBN: 0-590-25164-3

Length: 148 pages

Quote: “‘We’re creeping ourselves out, you know. This is just a silly storm.’ ‘I know,’ said Mary Anne, ‘but it’s fun to creep ourselves out.’…I couldn’t wait to start!”

In this early installment of the Baby-Sitters Club series, Dawn’s mother and Mary Anne’s father are still renewing their long-ago friendship, so Dawn and Mary Anne don’t yet live in the same house. Dawn lives in the sort of big old house that just might have a secret passage. During episodes of New England weather, California-born Dawn likes to imagine that there is a secret passage, possibly holding treasure, possibly inhabited by a ghost.

In this book, the Baby-Sitters and Dawn’s brother Jeff find that there is indeed a secret passage. And it contains some old things…nothing very valuable or exciting, all by itself, until the old things start moving around when none of the kids admits having been in the passage.

The Ghost at Dawn’s House proceeds to become one of the standard “ghost stories” of the twentieth century, where ghost activity turns out to have a rational explanation, usually (if the stories were aimed at children and did not feature Nancy Drew or Scooby-Doo) involving another kid who needs love and understanding and a ride on someone’s bicycle, or something like that. To preserve some semblance of suspense I won’t say who that kid is or what symbolizes love and understanding for that kid.

What else can I say about the Baby-Sitters Club books that I’ve not said already? I’ve reread and reviewed many of them, this year, because I’ve been dressing Storybook Dolls to go with several volumes in the series. (I never was determined enough to collect the whole series! There are BSC books I’ve never read.) The version of Dawn I currently have is not, in my mind, a real triumph, since I used a pale-pink-and-white-flecked yarn instead of knitting tiny narrow stripes of pink and white, but it represents the basic Barbie-type doll jeans-and-shirt outfit…I think I’ve published the instructions somewhere else, but I’ll recap here for fellow knitters:

1. To make jeans or any kind of trousers for any adult-or-teenager-shaped doll approximately 12” high, cast on 12 st for a waistband. (You could cast on 10 or even 8 st if the doll has a super-slim waist, but that would make it hard for a child to pull the trousers on and off the doll.) Knit 2 rows (1 g st ridge) on these 12 st.

2. Increase 1 in every st across row to 24 st. Purl back and stock st for 10 rows on these 24 st.

3. Divide for the legs and work 2 groups of 12 st separately for 20 rows.You may reduce each group of 12 st to 10 st for skinny jeans, or inc to 14 or 16 toward the bottoms for bell-bottoms.Whatever. At the end of these 20 rows, work 2 g st ridges (K 4 rows) to stabilize the hems, cast/bind off, and sew up the legs, then sew up the front (or back) fly. You may tie the ends of yarn in a neat little bow, or run a strand of yarn through the waist for a belt.

4. To make a baggy shirt with narrow stripes running around the body, you need 12 st on the front and 12 on the back of the doll. Sometimes I co 24 and g st the required length to the armhole—in this case from about the mid-thigh point—and sometimes I co 12 and g st one side of the shirt at a time.

5. From the armhole on, the sides of the shirt must be worked separately. For short sleeves, co 4 at the beginning of 1 row, k 12, turn, co 4, and k back across these 20 st. G st 3 ridges (K 6 rows) on 20 st. Next row, k 7, bo 6, k 7.

6. If you knitted both sides of the waist in one piece, break yarn and join to the rem 12 st and work the front of the shirt similarly. Shaping the neck is optional; it’s done by working the last g st ridge as follows: first row, k 9, s 2 wyib, k 9; second row, k 8, s 4 wyif, k 8. Now find a third needle—one size larger is usually fine—place the two needles holding the two sides of the shirt together, bind off 7 together, bo 6 for the front neck, bo last 7 st, and neaten ends.

If you knitted only one side of the waist, after working the k 7, bo 6, k 7 for the last row of the back, turn and k 7, co 6, k 7. Continue down the front—again, neck shaping is optional—and join the sleeves by binding them off tog. Join the sides of the waist as you go.

To buy a doll dressed to match a book jacket, send $20 per doll + $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment (up to $100) to either address at the very bottom of the screen.

To buy Fair Trade Books, send the $5 per book + $5 per package, and you could fit at least eight BSC books into a package, + $1 per online payment if applicable, and we'll send $1 per book to Ann Martin or a charity of her choice.