The Baby-Sitters Club #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House – Ann M. Martin

The babysitters have been apart for two whole weeks! During that time, Mary Anne and Stacey found boys at Sea City, Claudia and her family took my Mimi to a resort and Dawn visited her father in California. Kristy? Well, she stayed home, but home is now a mansion so she can’t really complain.

In this book, Dawn plays Nancy Drew, investigating a hunch that her new old house, which was built in 1795, has a previously undisclosed special feature: a secret passage. You know, like The Hidden Staircase, the Nancy Drew book that gave her the idea in the first place.

It’s like a large, creepy dollhouse.

Dawn invites the whole BSC over to help her search. They don’t find anything but they do scream a lot. Incidentally, at one point Dawn lets out a scream I don’t think I’ve heard in real life.


After going to a great deal of effort failing to find the secret passage, Dawn does. By sitting down. I love it when laziness is rewarded.

Claudia, whose life basically consists of art, sugar and forbidden Nancy Drew books, was one of the last BSC members to learn about the secret passage at Dawn’s house. I should not be this disappointed for her but here we are. If I’d written this book, Claudia would have led the investigation, Nancy Drewing her way to success.

Dawn babysits Buddy, Suzi and Marnie Barrett. Mary Anne babysits Myriah and Gabbie “Toshe me up” Perkins. Dawn babysits the Pike kids (all of them, with some help from Mallory) and then they babysit the triplets and Nicky. Kristy babysits Karen, Andrew and David Michael. Claudia babysits Jamie “hi-hi!” and Lucy (who was an “angle” – love Claudia typos) Newton. Stacey babysits Nicky, Vanessa, Claire and Margo Pike – and does housework! She can do my housework as well if she’d like.

Books in a book: Dawn reads Ghosts and Spooks, Chills and Thrills: Stories NOT to Be Read After Dark, which she reads after dark (obviously), freaking herself out. She also reads about a Stoneybrook legend in A History of Stoneybrooke. Apparently the e at the end dropped off over the years. Of course, this legend freaks her out even more.

Dawn and Jeff freak out about having to block off a wall so the ghost can’t get in the room. So much freaking out in this book. Also, don’t they know that walls aren’t a problem for ghosts?

Dawn’s mother dates a man named Trip. I have yet to meet a man named Trip.

Claudia magics chocolate from a hollow book. Which is the exact moment I decided I needed to buy a hollow book. Why haven’t I done that yet?

Gabby has a Cabbage Patch Doll. At the time I was reading these books I’d never heard of most of the junk food Claudia found in her room so it was a relief to come across something familiar.

Mary Anne’s crush on Cam Geary is mentioned a couple of times. Hello, foreshadowing.

There’s no emergency BSC meeting in this book but there is a slumber party at Dawn’s house. Kristy wants to watch Ghostbusters, Claudia wants to watch Star Wars, Stacey wants to watch Mary Poppins, Mary Anne wants to watch Sixteen Candles and Dawn wants to watch The Parent Trap. I want to watch Jaws.

Consistent with the responses of the BSC members, this book freaked me out as a kid. The idea of living in a haunted house terrified me, made worse by the fact that my neighbour decided to tell me that their home had a resident ghost around this time.

This book inspired me to borrow a bunch of books featuring ghost stories from the library that remained unread because my imagination was big and my courage was small.

I loved the idea of a secret passage. I looked for one at my home, despite it being less than fifteen years old at the time. I decided right then and there that one day I would live in a home with multiple secret passages. It would also have a secret reading room behind a bookcase, but I digress.

Because my childhood BSC books didn’t come with me into adulthood, I’ve repurchased them. The previous owner of this new old book completed the Notebook Pages. My favourite response was when the 8 year old reader said the BSC member they’re most like is Stacey because they’re “fashion sensitive”.

I want to give Nicky Pike a hug.

About the cover: The secret passage can be accessed through either a trapdoor in the barn or a wall in Dawn’s bedroom. Are Dawn and Jeff heading up to the attic together in this image, something they don’t do in the book? Or did someone in marketing forget to tell the artist how to find the secret passage?

Stoneybrook Central Time: At the beginning of the book, it’s the third week of August, two weeks until eighth grade begins. The babysitters are back after their various adventures of the past two weeks. You’ve already read about Mary Anne and Stacey’s time in Sea City. At the end of the book, school will be starting again in a few days.

Up next: Mary Anne meets Cam Geary in the flesh. Sort of.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Dawn has always thought there was a secret passage hidden in her house. But she never thought there was a ghost… until now. All kinds of creepy things go on whenever Dawn’s at home. There are even spooky noises behind her bedroom wall!

Dawn is sure there’s a ghost in her house. And so are the other Baby-sitters. But they’re so busy with their baby-sitting jobs that they hardly have time for a ghost hunt. Will Dawn and her friends ever solve the mystery, or will Dawn have to share her house… with a ghost?

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