their pen pals all attend an elementary school on the zuni indian reservation. he is also disappointed that his pen pal looks like a regular kid & isn't sporting a headdress & war paint. but early in the book, mallory is late to a BSC meeting because her siblings received the news that the zuni students' school burnt down. they like it too, & they arrange for dawn & the other BSC members to give a presentation at the elementary school outlining their idea. kids are instructed to bring food & clothing drive items to mary anne & dawn's barn. the rodowskys host a fundraising yard sale, & it turns out that kids all across the neighborhood donate things without their parents' permission. again, no word on how they transported it out of their neighborhood, or why, considering that they don't go to SES, don't have pen pals, & aren't eligible to attend the sleepover. the school struggled to get financing to re-build after a disaster like a fire for at least three weeks? the principal also says that the government just agreed to provide disaster relief funds. our elementary school burnt down, our kids are just hanging out at home, some of our community member sare homeless & going hungry, & the government is not stepping up with disaster aid, nor is there enough money in the city/state education budget to get cracking on a new school building without the benevolent gifts of our white benefactors in connecticut. but i am so dumbfounded by the racism, cultural insensitivity, & utter FAIL in comprehending the way that government disaster relief & school budgets are administrated that i can't even focus on the stupid sleepover.
And I'm pretty sure the boy in red is wearing one-piece pj's...possibly footies. The book starts out with Dawn & Mallory watching the younger Pike kids. They're writing kids in New Mexico who are all part of a Native American tribe called Zunis.
It does seem a little weird that the BSC is just able to come up with all these ideas, down to the details, which rely on permission, support, and donations from other organizations (notably the elementary school), without including them in the planning.
But then they get bad news that the Zuni kids' school burned down (along with some houses) and they want to do something for their pen pals to help them get back on their feet after the disaster.
Their kind hearts and giving ways always put a smile on my face, and this book just made me really happy.
Dawn decides to extend her white, privileged largess to the poor suffering Zuni people by throwing a party for the white, privileged kids of Stoneybrook. (They're the people who got a special thanks because of their information on Zuni culture.) My mom tapped all her resources at the schools, and at the 8 Northern Pueblos meetings, but we never learned their identities. PUEBLO PEOPLE DO NOT LIVE ON RESERVATIONS BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT NEVER MOVED THEM FROM THEIR ANCESTRAL LANDS!!!! This was actually something I appreciated as a kid because Pueblo people do live closely with their extended family. Things I've considered since reading this as an adult: The Pikes infuriate me again when Adam is upset that his pen pal just looks "you know, like a kid." When his sisters ask what he thought his pen pal would look like, Adam says he thought he would look "Like an Indian, I guess." He's sort of embarrassed about it, but then he brings up the stupid name thing again. Vanessa then reads her letter from her pen pal out loud, and I am completely confused about what I'm supposed to be offended about -- the fact that white people assume that the layout of pueblos haven't changed in four hundred years, or the fact that white people think that Indians live in large extended families to break up "the work." Vanessa's pen pal asks why she doesn't live with her other relatives, and says "It must be hard to get all the work done." A Pueblo kid would never, ever say this. And Pueblo kids who have access to cable TV, Nintendo, and Ninja Turtle movies know full well that white people don't live with their extended families. As a Pueblo girl reading the BSC books (many of which I checked out at my pueblo's library) I didn't think living so close by to my aunt, my uncle, my great-aunt, my cousins, their spouses, and all my cousin's children was unusual. I also knew (thanks to reading the BSC, but also because of TV, movies, and having lots of friends in the wider world) that white people often live far away from their parents, or other extended family. Granted, Zuni is considered one of the most traditional Pueblos, and they have kept a lot of traditions that most of the other Pueblos have given up on, but any kid living there would know full well how white people live. There was nothing in the few letters she heard the Pike kids reading to imply that the Zunis were poor. Zuni is under the jurisdiction of the nineteen pueblos of New Mexico, who are all under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) a US government agency within the Department of the Interior. It sucks that they had a fire, and the school burned down, but there is no reason for Richard to imply that their buildings aren't up to code, and no reason for Dawn to think that the people of Stoneybrook should come to the rescue. That doesn't mean a gas station can't explode, and cause a fire that can get out of control quickly, but the BIA and the governors of the other pueblos can ensure that money, clothing, food, shelter, new school supplies, a new building, and anything else Zuni pueblo needs will find their way to the right people. Maybe what Dawn means is that compared to most small communities, Stoneybrook is probably rich, but why she thinks that means it's her job to save the poor, pathetic Indian (excuse me, Native Americans) who lost their school and their homes and have no way of helping themselves is beyond me. One, I assume someone like a responsible adult has approached Zuni's school leaders and/or community leaders (remember in pueblos they are interchangeable) and asked if they could accept a donation. The principal of Zuni's elementary school sends a letter to Stoneybrook saying that the money they donated "helped enable us to obtain financing for the construction of a new school." I can promise you that it absolutely did not. The US Government is pretty strict on what Native tribes can do with donated money, and building new schools is not one of them.
dawn is really bummed, and in a kristy-like move, decides to DO SOMETHING about it: create a campaign to raise funds and collect donations of food, clothing, etc. highlights: -dawn tells someone to eat his heart out and narrates that it is not something she would usually say but she's keyed up. hahaha -dawn says david michael makes labels using "one of those little rotating things that look like mini versions of the starship enterprise." OMG. kids keep giving things away without asking parents, both in the rodowskys' yard sale (a fundraising scheme!) and for the clothing donations. at some point mary anne finally makes a permission slip that parents have to sign with the descriptions of items donated so the bsc knows the kids have permission. -haley braddock's plotline as "madame leveaux" the fortune-teller (a fundraising scheme!) is funny. we find out that haley braddock wrote a letter to her penpal as madame leveaux predicting that a lot of money would come to the zuni rez "from the east", and her penpal responded in earnest, like, "wow, everything you said came true! lowlights/nitpicks: -sort of reads like its goal is to make people know that native people don't look like horrible stereotypes (a chapter where the pikes talk about how the penpals look like normal kids, not wearing feather headdresses and all that jazz), but then there's this gypsy plotline with haley being madame leveaux and manipulating people out of money. I like that because screw alan gray, but I just want to know: is this or is this not an anti-stereotype book? -dawn narrates that she doesn't know how stacey can "watch claudia pull out candy left and right and not go totally crazy." two problems with this statement: 1. -pike triplets have a free throw contest at their carnival (a fundraising scheme!) and dawn doesn't understand why it's called a "free" throw contest when it costs money to participate.
Even as a kid I knew that they were all assholes to think that most Natives have names like Running Bear and wore war paint every day of their lives.
After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer. Sometimes Ann names her characters after people she knows, and other times she simply chooses names that she likes. Some of her favorite authors at that time were Lewis Carroll, P.