Quarantine does weird things to a person, like make them want to reread the entire Baby Sitters Club series, despite the fact that they are almost forty and well over the reading level required to read the books! However, for me they were a big part of my childhood and therefore are providing a sense of comfort and nostalgia in this strange, strange time.
And so I am going to reread them, and snark on them and relive my childhood! I’ll be doing this in approximately five book increments.
The first five books serve to introduce the core members of the club, minus the junior members who will come into play later. Yes, Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey are the original four, but I also consider Dawn to be an original as well (plus she’s my favorite – my childhood cat was named after her).
So let’s start from the beginning shall we? Kristy’s Great Idea is the first in the series, and it establishes the basic premise and the characters. Here are some various things that I completely forgot:
- Kristy is a major jerk to her mother’s boyfriend. Like really, really horrible.
- Mary Anne cries a lot more than I remember, though I also have to admit that, as an adult, she is the character I should’ve related to the most as a kid!
- Claudia and Stacey’s outfits are designed in minute detail, to the point that I am starting to suspect Ann M. Martin wanted a career in fashion before she started writing pre-teen books!
- Problems are solved at a rapid fire pace, unless (as you will see later) they are required for the full plot of the book, but even then things tend to resolve VERY quickly. But really what did I expect from books for kids?
In Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls we have already established who the BSC are… and I immediately remembered that I used to dislike the books narrated by Claudia the most. I don’t really know why. It’s not as though the voices of the characters sound vastly different from book to book, I guess I just didn’t really enjoy the Claudia storyline of it all. In this book they talk about how Claudia and Stacey are more grown up than Mary Anne and Kristy and perhaps this is why. I was more a Mary Anne/Kristy type of seventh grader, still playing with dolls and not really into dances and boys and stuff yet.
This book also had a bit of a mystery, as members of the club start getting mysterious phone calls. As a kid, this was probably thrilling. As an adult, I knew exactly what was going on even though I didn’t remember how the story turned out!
In The Truth About Stacey, I wasn’t sure what the “truth” was supposed to be. She’s diabetic? Already knew that from the first book. She’s not getting along with her best friend from New York? Okay, but this never seems to be revealed to the other BSC members. I guess the truth is that she’s diabetic, but her New York best friend didn’t know, and when she found out they became best friends again… right? Not knocking the plot of the book, just how the title related to it.
In Mary Anne Saves the Day, the BSC has their first big fight, and this goes on for the entire book (which is what I meant when I said some problems don’t get solves four sentences later). However, even when the problem gets resolved, it happens nearly instantaneously! But this is also the book when Dawn gets introduced (as a result of the fight, Mary Anne makes a new friend)
Finally, a Dawn book! I remember that I looked forward to these SO MUCH when I was really into the series. In this one, Dawn and the Impossible Three, we reach the reason Dawn was always my favorite, probably – and it’s the vaguest reason ever! She LOOKED like me: “I have long, l-o-n-g hair (almost down to my bottom). It’s thin and fine, and so blonde it’s white. Mom says it’s like corn silk.” While my hair was never as long as Dawn’s, I wanted it to be! The funny thing is, I realize now as an adult that Dawn is kind of a hippie vegan, which I would never be!
I’m also determined to track the timeline of the books because, if I recall correctly, the girls are in seventh grade for quite some time! I know this will be a futile project eventually and the timeline will get really wacky, especially with all the mysteries and Super Specials thrown in (I’m reading in publication order), but I’m doing it anway!
Kristy’s Great Idea: September
Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls: October
The Truth About Stacey: November/December
Mary Anne Saves the Day: Unclear but they mention Lucy Newton who is “less than two months old” and she was born in the previous book so that would make it January/February-ish.
Dawn and the Impossible Three: Its hard to say but I learned that this is where the series got picked up beyond four books, so presumably time became a non-issue at this point! It became a vague thing rather than something that was called out all the time. I’m going to keep tracking it though whenever there’s a mention of it.