Let’s be honest. There were times when I would finish reading a BSC book and just feel so inadequate and unaccomplished. Not only did these young girls already have a thriving babysitting business, but they also managed to spearhead huge and successful projects on the side. Dawn and the Big Sleepover was definitely one of the books that made feel like I was doing nothing meaningful with my adolescence.
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Tragedy strikes in the beginning of the story. Many of the children the BSC babysit for are devastated when the school and homes in New Mexico that belong to the Zunis, their pen pals, are burned down during a gas station fire. As a result, the Zunis are left without food, clothing and an education.
While everyone else in Stoneybrook just feels sorry for the Zunis, Dawn decides to take action. She goes directly to Stoneybrook Elementary School (SES) to organize a food and clothing drive, a fundraiser and a massive sleepover in the school gymnasium to reward the kids for their hard work. Of course, everything turns out amazing in the end and the Zunis receive food, clothing and money to start building a new school.
What I found so interesting in the story was how characters in the novel often revealed that their motivations for their charitable contributions weren’t purely out of the goodness of their hearts. Although Dawn is passionate about helping the Zunis and is happy when Kristy gets involved, she worries that Kristy will overpower her and take credit for her idea.
Also, the SES children openly admit to working hard to raise money and get donations in hopes of receiving prizes and recognition for their efforts. Really, can’t people do good deeds just because they want to help?
Whenever I hear about people like Craig Kielburger, who at 12-years-old became an activist fighting against child labour and founded Free the Children, I want to — and do — believe that his perseverance is fueled only by his need to right injustices in the world. Perhaps I am idealistic and naïve to hope that people can be truly selfless and fight for important causes without ego or personal gain.
But then again, even superheroes are flawed (even Spiderman and Iron Man enjoyed fame and adoration once in a while), so why am I harping on the kids?
Fortunately, although the story admits that the human heart can be a little selfish at times, the reader is constantly reminded that the priority is to help others. Furthermore, the stronger message is that at any age, an individual can make a difference to really help the less fortunate. That alone is inspiring.
Liz Barrera is a communications specialist who is addicted to reading! She loves road trips, musicals, rock climbing, tea parties and The Vampire Diaries (because those vampires don’t sparkle). You can follower her on Twitter @blizanor.
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