The Baby-Sitters Club Wiki
The Baby-Sitters Club Wiki

Karen's Surprise is the thirteenth book of the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series.

Back Cover Summary[]

Yea! Ms. Colman's class is putting on a Thanksgiving play. Karen wants to be the star, of course.

But Karen is given the worst part of all — the Thanksgiving turkey! All she gets to do is walk across the stage in a fat brown suit.

Will everyone laugh at Karen the Turkey? Not when they see her big surprise!


While Karen and Andrew are playing with building blocks at their mother's house, Karen teaches Andrew about the first Thanksgiving. They discuss where they might be spending Thanksgiving this year, since Mommy and Daddy often argue over who the children spend the holidays with. It is eventually decided that Karen and Andrew will have a midday meal at the Little House, and then go to the Big House that evening for dinner.

At school, Ms. Colman allows her students to vote on a Thanksgiving project to do as a class. The class decides to write and perform a Thanksgiving play. The first act of the play will tell the story of a girl named Samantha dreaming about visiting the first Thanksgiving. When she wakes up on Thanksgiving Day, her food comes to life as she fixes the meal with her family. Karen and Nancy both want to be Samantha. This leads to some hard feelings between the friends, especially since Nancy can "make herself cry" and Karen cannot. The girls make up after Ms. Colman decides to have her students pick slips of paper out of a hat rather than auditioning for certain parts. Much to everyone's dismay, Pamela Harding gets the part of Samantha. Karen is very upset to choose the part of the turkey.

That weekend at the Big House, Karen tells Kristy about playing the turkey. The sisters decide to make the food roles more interesting by writing a song for them to sing. Karen writes a special line for each food in the play. She also thinks of a special surprise, but she doesn't tell anyone yet-not even Nannie.

Back at school, Karen shares her song with her classmates. It makes the students with food roles feel more excited about the play, and Hank Reubens says that he feels glad to be a cranberry now. After a less than successful dress rehearsal, it is finally time to perform the play for their families, teachers, other students, and other people. Karen finally gets to reveal the special surprise she has been planning. After Mrs. Noonan stops playing the piano, Karen sings three more turkey verses that she wrote just for herself. She absolutely loves that everyone in the audience is focusing solely on her. Mrs. Papadakis, Mr. Dawes, and Daddy congratulate Karen on a job well done.

Not everyone loves Karen's surprise, though. After the play, Ms. Colman sternly tells Karen that she almost ruined the entire thing because Mrs. Noonan and the other actors were so confused, and Karen's classmates call her a stage hog.

When Karen and Andrew wake up at the Little House on Thanksgiving Day, they get dressed up in their best clothes and sit down to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade together. They almost miss seeing Santa Claus in the parade, because Mommy's parents and Seth's parents arrive as a surprise for the children. Despite wanting to save space in her tummy for Daddy's meal, Karen eats a large helping of food at the Little House, including the special hot apple cider she asked Mommy to get.

At the Big House, Karen fills her plate with turkey, peas, stuffing, rice, and potatoes. After a slice of pecan pie, Karen is very full and has a bad stomachache. Daddy takes her to her bedroom to relax. Andrew falls asleep on the couch, despite all of the noise the rest of the family is making. When Mommy comes for pickup a few hours later, the two families have a talk. They decide that two Thanksgiving dinners in one day was just too much for everyone. They agree to have one Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, and one on Friday from then on. Karen and Andrew will also spend Christmas Eve at one house, and Christmas Day at the other house.

Characters in this book[]

Karen's Family

Extended Family



  • Ms. Colman
  • Mrs. Noonan - Piano player of the play
  • Mrs. Papadakis
  • Mr. Dawes

Places in this book[]

Thanksgiving Play roles[]

Anyone who pulled a food also played a Native American person in another act.

  • Pamela - Samantha
  • Ricky - family grandfather
  • Natalie - a pea
  • Hannie - Samantha's mother
  • Nancy - a baked potato
  • Karen - a turkey
  • Hank - a cranberry


  • A reprint was released October 3, 2023.[1]
  • On the dedication page it says: "For Susan and Ashley, who keep my life from being too surprising. Thank you."
  • Pop culture and real life references: The Nutcracker Ballet, Snoopy, Superman
  • Continuity: On page 35, Karen recalls when Pamela was invited to her sleepover Karen's Sleepover. On page 42 Nancy brings up her adopt-a-grandparent from Karen's Grandmothers and how she's pen pal to Karen's grandmother on page 97.
  • Besides the play the other options for the class project was: cook a meal for the class and their families or write a book for the library.
  • Nancy can cry on cue.
  • Leslie and Jannie are now are Pamela's best friends.
  • Hannie's grandparents come to her house for Thanksgiving.
  • This is the first mention of Nancy taking dancing lessons.
  • The carrot on the cover is an unknown student.


Baby-Sitters Little Sister Books
#1 Karen's Witch | #2 Karen's Roller Skates | #3 Karen's Worst Day | #4 Karen's Kittycat Club | #5 Karen's School Picture | #6 Karen's Little Sister | #7 Karen's Birthday | #8 Karen's Haircut | #9 Karen's Sleepover | #10 Karen's Grandmothers | #11 Karen's Prize | #12 Karen's Ghost | #13 Karen's Surprise | #14 Karen's New Year | #15 Karen's in Love | #16 Karen's Goldfish | #17 Karen's Brothers | #18 Karen's Home Run | #19 Karen's Good-bye | #20 Karen's Carnival | #21 Karen's New Teacher | #22 Karen's Little Witch | #23 Karen's Doll | #24 Karen's School Trip | #25 Karen's Pen Pal | #26 Karen's Ducklings | #27 Karen's Big Joke | #28 Karen's Tea Party | #29 Karen's Cartwheel | #30 Karen's Kittens | #31 Karen's Bully | #32 Karen's Pumpkin Patch | #33 Karen's Secret | #34 Karen's Snow Day | #35 Karen's Doll Hospital | #36 Karen's New Friend | #37 Karen's Tuba | #38 Karen's Big Lie | #39 Karen's Wedding | #40 Karen's Newspaper | #41 Karen's School | #42 Karen's Pizza Party | #43 Karen's Toothache | #44 Karen's Big Weekend | #45 Karen's Twin | #46 Karen's Baby-sitter | #47 Karen's Kite | #48 Karen's Two Families | #49 Karen's Stepmother | #50 Karen's Lucky Penny | #51 Karen's Big Top | #52 Karen's Mermaid | #53 Karen's School Bus | #54 Karen's Candy | #55 Karen's Magician | #56 Karen's Ice Skates | #57 Karen's School Mystery | #58 Karen's Ski Trip | #59 Karen's Leprechaun | #60 Karen's Pony | #61 Karen's Tattletale | #62 Karen's New Bike | #63 Karen's Movie | #64 Karen's Lemonade Stand | #65 Karen's Toys | #66 Karen's Monsters | #67 Karen's Turkey Day | #68 Karen's Angel | #69 Karen's Big Sister | #70 Karen's Grandad | #71 Karen's Island Adventure | #72 Karen's New Puppy | #73 Karen's Dinosaur | #74 Karen's Softball Mystery | #75 Karen's County Fair | #76 Karen's Magic Garden | #77 Karen's School Surprise | #78 Karen's Half Birthday | #79 Karen's Big Fight | #80 Karen's Christmas Tree | #81 Karen's Accident | #82 Karen's Secret Valentine | #83 Karen's Bunny | #84 Karen's Big Job | #85 Karen's Treasure | #86 Karen's Telephone Trouble | #87 Karen's Pony Camp | #88 Karen's Puppet Show | #89 Karen's Unicorn | #90 Karen's Haunted House | #91 Karen's Pilgrim | #92 Karen's Sleigh Ride | #93 Karen's Cooking Contest | #94 Karen's Snow Princess | #95 Karen's Promise | #96 Karen's Big Move | #97 Karen's Paper Route | #98 Karen's Fishing Trip | #99 Karen's Big City Mystery | #100 Karen's Book | #101 Karen's Chain Letter | #102 Karen's Black Cat | #103 Karen's Movie Star | #104 Karen's Christmas Carol | #105 Karen's Nanny | #106 Karen's President | #107 Karen's Copycat | #108 Karen's Field Day | #109 Karen's Show and Share | #110 Karen's Swim Meet | #111 Karen's Spy Mystery | #112 Karen's New Holiday | #113 Karen's Hurricane | #114 Karen's Chicken Pox | #115 Karen's Runaway Turkey | #116 Karen's Reindeer | #117 Karen's Mistake | #118 Karen's Figure Eight | #119 Karen's Yo-Yo | #120 Karen's Easter Parade | #121 Karen's Gift | #122 Karen's Cowboy | 8 x 2 = Sweet Sixteen
Super Specials
#1 Karen's Wish | #2 Karen's Plane Trip | #3 Karen's Mystery | #4 Karen, Hannie, and Nancy | #5 Karen's Baby | #6 Karen's Campout
Activity Books
Activity Books | Secret Diary | School Scrapbook | Summer Fill-In Book | Jump Rope Rhymes | Playground Games | Photo Scrapbook | Book of Laughs
Other Series
Baby-Sitters Club | Super Special | Portrait Collection | Readers' Request | Mystery | Super Mystery | Baby-sitters Club: Friends Forever | California Diaries | The Kids in Ms. Colman's Class