I read my first Baby-Sitter’s Club book when I was in fourth grade (aka A Long Time Ago). And it wasn’t even the first one, Kristy’s Great Idea. I had gotten a four-pack from the wonderful Scholastic Book Club that included books 5-8. I didn’t know a whole lot about the books – I had never baby-sat in my life, and I had no interest in baby-sitting – but one of my besties was reading one at the time, so of course I had to jump on board. I started with book 5, Dawn and the Impossible Three. It looked like this:
Well, apparently all it took was one book, because after tearing through it in just a day, I was hooked. I moved on to the three other books in the set – Kristy’s Big Day, Claudia and Mean Janine, Boy-Crazy Stacey – and then shortly after that I ordered the next four-pack of books, and the rest is history. Over twenty years later, I own every single BSC book, plus all the BSC Mysteries, Super Specials, and Friends Forever series. I still have them all backed in three boxes in my daughter’s closet with the hopes that one day she, too, will discover and love all things BSC (even though by the time she’s 10 years old, Kristy’s Big Day will have turned 32 years old).
Growing up with friends who also read the books, we all had our favorite baby-sitter. My favorite was always Claudia Kishi, probably because she was the complete opposite of me. Japanese, artsy, cool…all things I was not. I also probably liked her because Stacey was already taken by another friend, and you know the rule. NO ONE CAN LIKE THE SAME SITTER. Whatever, Claudia was cool. And hey, I ended up marrying a Japanese guy, so…you know…she probably had something to do with that, right?
And of course I had many BSC books I considered my favorites, although I always read them all – usually in order – pretty much every year while growing up. For the longest time my favorite was #6 Kristy’s Big Day, the one where Kristy’s mom gets married to millionaire Watson Brewer. Why did I like it so much? I don’t know. Guess I just like weddings.
I have to admit, though, my favorites were always the scary ones. You know which ones I’m talking about: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, The Ghost at Dawn’s House, Mary Anne’s Bad Luck Mystery, etc. So when Ann M. Martin began the Baby-Sitter’s Mysteries series, well, I was thrilled. The Super Specials were also fun, mainly because they were longer, and you get to read from the point of view of all the sitters, not just one like the regular series does. I tended to read Baby-Sitter’s Summer Vacation and Baby-Sitter’s Winter Vacation the most because they were about two things I love reading about: Camp and Snow.
They had way better vacations than me.
I liked all the sitters, but of course there were some I preferred reading about over the others. For example, I never read a Stacey book I didn’t like. For some strange reason, I loved reading about her diabetes. I was fascinated with the whole “I have to give myself a shot everyday” thing. And of course she was popular and always had boyfriends. I was not, and did not. Had to live vicariously.
I usually enjoyed reading about Kristy and Mary Anne, even though they weren’t as cool as Stacey and Claudia (duh). Mary Anne Saves the Day was particularly good, though, because the girls get into the huge fight. Gotta love fights! But because of that fight, Mary Anne became friends with the original California girl, Dawn, and she finally got to take those stupid braids out of her hair.
The ever-changing hair styles of Mary Anne Spier.
The series is long gone now, but there has been a couple of new things in the world of BSC. Last year, Ann M. Martin released The Summer Before, which is about – you guessed it – the summer before Kristy came up with her great idea. At first I was afraid it was going to be updated, as in now the girls have cell phones and text each other and all that jazz, which was obviously not around back in 1986. But thankfully there was no mention of technology in the book, making it a seamless addition to the series.
Another cool that thing has happened to the BSC is the transfer to the graphic novel. I’m not an avid reader of graphic novels, but I think I actually squealed when I saw this at the bookstore:
The graphic novel pretty much follows the dialogue of the books verbatim – trust me, I know these books by heart – and the illustrations are adorable. I had the pleasure of meeting the illustrator, Raina Telegmeier, at the Long Beach Comic-Con last October, and we chatted about – what else – our BSC childhoods. I bought Kristy’s Great Idea from her and she signed it for me AND drew me a picture:
It’s fun to see the series continue on in different forms, and I hope that young girls today can find an interest in them despite the fact that the girls don’t text and update their Facebook status. The covers have to be updated, of course, to get their attention. Case in point, check out the different covers for #3 The Truth About Stacey:
Pretty cool, huh?
So whether you considered yourself a Claudia, a Kristy, a Mary Anne, a Dawn, a Stacey, a Mallory, a Jessi, or an Abby, just know that when you grow up a BSC fan, you sort of remain one for life, even if you’ve forgotten about the series. And now I think I need to get those boxes out of my daughter’s closet and see which sitter I want to be after all these years.
I have a feeling I’ll still think Claudia is pretty damn cool.