Dear Ben,

I bet you didn't expect a letter so soon! I'm actually

writing this from the plane, I think we're somewhere

over Illinois. I still can't believe you didn't get to

come to Las Vegas with us! It would be so much

more fun with you here! But I guess this school

break was also a good time for you to go back to

Australia to visit. Hope you're having fun! I know I

will be, too!

Miss you,


I guess you're a little confused as to what's going on, right? Well, let me set you straight. My name is Mallory Pike, and I'm eleven years old. I live in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Ben is a friend of mine (ok, so he's kind of my boyfriend) And, at the moment, I am on a plane heading to... LAS VEGAS!

And it's not just me, either! Practically everybody I know is going!

You see, my school (Stoneybrook Middle, I'm in the sixth grade) is on a two-week spring break right now. But, while we were on break, there was an optional student-trip offered to anyone who wanted to go. We get to spend two weeks in Las Vegas! Sure, it's still school, so we have to keep a journal while we're on the trip and we have to do some kind of project with that, but I don't mind at all, because I love to write! I probably would've kept a journal even if I didn't have to.

I think this plane is just filled with people I know. All of my friends from school are going. But, it's not even just them. My friend Kristy, who is two years older than me and in the eighth grade, is on the trip along with her whole family. Kristy (who is also the president of the Baby-Sitters Club, to which I belong) asked her mom if she would like to chaperone the trip, since her mom has always wanted to go to Las Vegas. Not only did her mom say yes, but after discussing it with Watson (her husband, Kristy's stepdad), Watson decided that it would be a fun vacation too, so he decided to bring their whole family! And when I say whole family, I mean it! Kristy is the only one I know with a family as big as mine (I have SEVEN brothers and sisters, included triplets!)

I guess now is as good a time as any to introduce you to my friends, since they're all on the trip. And I'll start with Kristy, since you already know her.

Kristin Amanda Thomas (or Kristy, as everyone calls her) is such a tomboy. She loves sports (her favorite is softball, she even coaches a kids team) and she never wears anything but jeans and either a turtleneck or a t-shirt. I guess this is all because of growing up with three brothers. She has two older brothers, Charlie, who is seventeen, and Sam, who is fifteen. She also has a younger brother, a seven year old named David Michael. Kristy grew up pretty normal, with her brothers and her mom and dad. But just after David Michael was born, Kristy's dad just walked out on the family. Can you believe someone would do that? Well, that was pretty rough on Kristy's mom, but she got through it. And just last year, she got married again. TO A MILLIONAIRE! I'm not kidding, either. His name is Watson Brewer, and he lives in an honest-to-god mansion, where Kristy gets to live now! And this is where Kristy's family gets crazy. Watson has two little kids from his first marriage, Karen, who is seven just like David Michael, and Andrew, who is four. They alternate every other month between their dad's house and their mom's house. And if that wasn't enough, just after getting married, Mr. and Mrs. Brewer decided to adopt a child. They adopted the cutest two year old girl from Vietnam named Emily Michelle. After that, Kristy's grandmother, who she calls Nannie, moved in with them. And all of them, from Emily Michelle to Nannie, were on the trip! Needless to say, her section of the plane was NOISY! It was no wonder Kristy decided to sit with us SMS students instead.

On this trip, we are assigned three to a hotel room. Kristy is going to share a room with Abby Stevenson, our newest BSC member, and Abby's twin sister, Anna. Abby is a really neat person. She just recently moved to Stoneybrook from Long Island, which is in New York. Abby is a lot like Kristy, a tomboy who's really into sports (but Abby prefers soccer to softball). Abby's also really funny, she's always cracking really corny jokes or dancing or singing (usually Elvis). She's really excited about getting to see all the Elvis stuff in Las Vegas. Abby and Anna are also Jewish, and they recently had their bat mitzvahs, which is a rite of passage that Jewish kids go through when they turn thirteen. It's a really dibble ceremony that we all got to go to. By the way, dibble is a word my friends and I thought up, it's short for incredible. The one thing I don't know much about with Abby is about her father. He died in a car accident when she and Anna were nine years old. Understandably, she doesn't like to talk about it much. I don't know Anna very well, just that she's a lot quieter and reserved than Abby, and that she's very into music. She plays violin in our school's orchestra.

Sharing a room with me is Jessi Ramsey, my best friend, and Mary Anne Spier, another of the eighth graders in the BSC. Jessi and I are best friends because we have so much in common. We both love reading, especially horse stories. Our favorite is Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry. Have you ever read about it? It's about this horse that lives on an island off of Virginia and... well, I won't bore you with the details, but trust me, you should read it. It's excellent. Anyway, Jessi is eleven and in the sixth grade like me. We also are both the oldest in our families, and we both feel that our parents treat us like babies.

Of course, like any good friends, we have our own seperate interests, too. I'm very into writing, I want to write and illustrate children's books when I get older. Jessi doesn't like to write, she prefers to read. Her biggest talent is her dancing. She is this amazing ballet dancer. She goes to a special school in Stamford, which is the nearest city to us. She actually had to audition to get in there, and she's the youngest in her class! She's danced the lead in several of their productions, and I always go see her. She even looks like a dancer, with these long legs and graceful movements, and she always has her hair pulled back.

The other difference between us is that I'm white and Jessi is black. But that doesn't make any difference to us. She could be purple and she'd still be my best friend!

Mary Anne is one of the sweetest, most sensitive people I know. It's probably a result of the rough life she's had. She's an only child and her mother died when she was just a baby. Mary Anne was raised all alone by her father, and he was super-strict with her. He wouldn't let her pick out her own clothes, and her room was decorated like a nursery until she was twelve years old! What changed when she was twelve? He fell in love! I'll get to that in just a bit. Now, Mary Anne has a lot more freedom. She picks out her own clothes, and always dresses very neat and preppy. Her hair, which used to be long and worn in two braids, is now this cute short, stylish cut. And she has a boyfriend! His name is Logan Bruno, and he is so cute! He's from Kentucky, and he has a southern accent and he looks just like Cam Geary (Mary Anne's favorite movie star). From what I've told you, none of that sounds like anything the old Mr. Spier would have allowed, right? Like I said, he fell in love... with the mother of another BSC member!

Meet Dawn Schafer. Dawn (who would be sharing a room with Stacey McGill and Claudia Kishi) moved to Stoneybrook in seventh grade, after her parents got divorced. Up until then, she had been living in California! Cool, right? Dawn is such a California girl. She has this super-long blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. She also loves health food and can't even stand to eat sweets or red meat. She's also very passionate about environmental issues, but luckily, she's very nice about it and doesn't lecture people. We call her style of dressing California casual. She says she doesn't care about trends or fashion, she just dresses how she likes to, in cool, breezy, California-type clothing. So how did Dawn's mom and Mary Anne's dad get together? Well, that happened long, long ago, when they were both in high school, here in Stoneybrook. They dated in high school, but Dawn's grandparents didn't approve of Mr. Spier. So, after graduation, they drifted apart, and each married their respective spouses, had children, and went on with their lives. But when Dawn's parents divorced and she moved here and met Mary Anne, the two of them were looking through their parents old yearbooks and discovered the secret! And the rest is history. Dawn's mom and Mary Anne's dad soon married, so Dawn and Mary Anne became stepsisters.

But it gets pretty sad. Back before the marriage, Dawn's brother, Jeff, wasn't happy in Connecticut, so he moved back to California to live with their dad. And, just recently, Dawn was feeling the same way. She loved her friends here, and her new family, but she's a California girl at heart and couldn't deal with the winters here, so she moved back to California. And here's some exciting news... Dawn was going to be joining us in Las Vegas! She wasn't on the flight with us, but she was going to fly in from Los Angeles and meet us at the airport. I couldn't wait to see her again!

Sharing a room with Dawn was going to be Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill. Claudia and Stacey are the coolest people I know. The two of them are best friends and they are so much alike. Claudia is so pretty. She's Japanese-American and has this creamy complexion, almond-shaped eyes, and long, silky black hair. She's also an immensely talented artist. She can create anything. She paints, sculpts, draws, photographs, papier-maches, and whatever else is left! She even takes her love of art to the way she dresses. She can throw the weirdest stuff together and make it into the coolest outfit, and she even makes some of her own stuff. For example, on our flight today, she was wearing red-and-white polka dotted stirrup pants with this huge, oversized bright purple blouse. She had recently taken her paints to the blouse, and had written "Viva Las Vegas!" all over it in different colors and handwritings. With all this, she was wearing Day-Glo yellow high-tops. Sometimes, I think Claudia tries to work every color in the rainbow into her outfits. She had her long hair pulled back with a barrette, and she had glued miniature playing cards and dice all over the barrette. I guess I should also mention that this is one of Claudia's tamer outfits!

The most surprising part of the outfit was that the words on her blouse were all spelled correctly. I guess she had looked them up in a book. Claudia is not the world's best student, and her worst thing is spelling. You should see her entries in the BSC notebook. Luckily, we're all used to her "unique" way of spelling words. Aside from art and bad spelling (ha!), Claudia is also addicted to junk food and Nancy Drew books. In fact, at the moment, she was asleep in the seat next to me with a Nancy Drew book open covering her face, and a Kit Kat wrapper on the tray table. She has to hide all of these things all around her room, because her parents don't approve of the books (they both feel that she should be reading fine literature) and they want her to eat healthy.

Stacey is a fashion-plate just like Claudia, but in a different way. First off, they look nothing alike. Stacey has blonde hair that she almost always keeps permed, and blue eyes. And while Claudia prefers to dress creatively, Stacey likes to shop at high-end boutiques and department stores in New York City. How does she get to do that? Her dad lives there! The sad part is, it's because her parents are divorced. Stacey lives with her mom in Stoneybrook, while her dad lives in New York City. Stacey actually grew up in New York (lucky duck). She goes to visit him a lot and she always comes back with a few new outfits. She's a very stylish dresser, wearing whatever is the latest style in the New York boutiques. I wish my parents would let me wear the kind of clothes Stacey gets to wear.

Don't get me wrong, Stacey's life isn't all New York and shopping. She also has this disease called diabetes. I don't know exactly what it is, just that her body can't process sugar like everyone else's can, so she has to stick with a strict no-sweets diet and even give herself insulin injections! Ew! I couldn't imagine doing that, but Stacey says she's so used to it that it doesn't even faze her. Can you believe that her best friend is the junk food addict? I'd think Stacey would go into diabetic shock just being near Claudia!

So, that's the Baby-Sitters Club. My best friends. And, at the moment, we were all sitting in one big group on the plane. To my right was Claudia (still fast asleep) and to my left was Jessi, who was reading the newest Saddle Club book. She was in the window seat, I was trapped in the middle. Across the aisle from us was Mary Anne, Logan, and Stacey, in that order. Stacey was listening to a U4Me tape on her Walkman. U4Me is this band that she loves. I think they're all right, but Stacey is always talking about them, especially their lead singer, who she says is very cute. I personally think he's too old, but what do I know? Mary Anne was staring dreamily out the window, and Logan was asleep. But guess what? He had his head on her shoulder! I couldn't believe that! I don't know if I could ever let a boy sleep on my shoulder like that where everyone could see it.

In the row behind them was Kristy, Abby, and Anna. I think they were all sleeping, too. We had to leave really early this morning and it was a long flight.

In the rows in front of us and in back of us was the rest of the group. I didn't even know how many of us there were, there were so many!

I decided to pull out my notebook and start on a few entries. I quickly wrote down the seating order for all us BSC members, then wrote down the room assignments. After writing down all us girls, I decided to add Logan, since he is a BSC member as well. He doesn't go to our regular meetings, but he helps us out whenever we get really busy.

"Mary Anne!" I whispered loudly across the aisle.

She turned around and looked at me, but didn't say anything. She probably didn't want to wake Logan.

"Do you know who Logan's rooming with? I'm trying to get all of this in my journal." I asked.

"Pete Black and Alan Gray." she whispered quietly, trying not to make much of a sound.

I crinkled my nose in disgust. Pete Black is all right, he's friends with most of the BSC members and has even gone to dances with some of them. But Alan Gray is another story. He's the most immature boy in the 8th grade. He's always joking around and making a scene. I couldn't believe Logan was going to share a room with him.

I wrote down the names, and closed my journal. I leaned back in my seat and looked out the window. Jessi looked up from her book and smiled at me. I smiled back. We didn't need to say anything, we both knew what the other was thinking.