{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Books 66-70, Mysteries 10-12 & Chain Letter}

I have to start reading these books more fiendishly as I just finished binging all the episodes of The Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast of the books I’ve read, and I want to events to be fresh in my mind when I listen to the guys talk about the books! So we’re going to jump right into this installment.

Book sixty-six, Maid Mary Anne, was fun mainly because it was all about sewing! However, storyline-wise, it was more “meh.” Mary Anne starts taking sewing lessons from Mrs. Thorne who lives near her home. When Mrs. Thorne breaks her ankle, however, Mary Anne finds herself doing more and more chores and errands for her, often at the drop of a hat. In the baby-sitting charge world, Mary Anne is also trying to teach the kids of Stoneybrook about sewing: a few of their charges are working together to make a friendship quilt, including Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett, who end up quitting when they are made fun for participating in a “girls thing.”

Episode-ability: 5. Maybe. Might be interesting to explore Mary Anne’s inability to manage her time and set boundaries but overall this was not a thrilling installment of the BSC. I did like all the sewing talk though, but that’s a pretty specific interest.

Mystery ten, Stacey and the Mystery Money, returns us to a mystery that the BSC should not be involved in, under any circumstances. Stacey finds herself accidentally involved in the counterfeiting investigation going on in Stoneybrook when she tries to pay for something using a counterfeit bill she received as change from other another. She then takes it upon herself to try and solve the mystery on her own, putting the BSC in some potentially dangerous situations (though, spoiler alert, no one is really in danger at any point).

Episode-ability: 3. There’s some action, as far as a BSC adventure goes, but as I’ve said before, it doesn’t really do much for character growth. The mysteries are like this, for the most part. They occasionally do move the general cannon plot line along (for example, Mary Anne learning about her grandparents), but generally they can be taken as standalones.

Book sixty-seven was the book that most likely destroyed me as a preteen. Dawn was my favorite baby-sitter and as you might guess from the title Dawn’s Big Move, Dawn returns to California. So I was likely not too happy when this book came out and I realized that she would be the next BSC member to go on a journey outside of Stoneybrook. Most of the plot revolves around Dawn’s feelings about leaving, and the BSC and their charges planning a going away party for her.

Episode-ability: 5. Giving it a five for content, but I’m hoping the show never gets to the point where we remove characters. I’m also hoping they just gloss over Stacey leaving Stoneybrook also and just get to her parents’ divorce instead as the reason her father lives in NYC again. I doubt it would work to have BSC members away from Stoneybrook for more than one episode, show-wise plus there’s a really clean way to deal with that situation without the “trauma” of taking major characters away!

In between books sixty-seven and sixty-eight, there’s a little interlude with The Baby-Sitters’ Chain Letter. Don’t judge me, but I bought a copy of this on eBay to make this chronological reading truly authentic. This book is outside of the cannon of the regular books, and I remember loving it as a kid because it was interactive letters. As an adult, I find reading an entire book in the different BSC handwriting a little difficult, but overall it’s a cute little story. Kristy is in the hospital after her appendix ruptures (this has already happened pre-book starting) when she gets a chain letter from her cousin. The chain is simple: send a letter to one person revealing a secret.

Each member of the BSC sends their letter to another member until all their secrets have come out. Some are bigger than others (Mary Anne saw a therapist, for example). In between the secrets, the girls also plan a surprise party for Kristy, and the little plot line is summed up nice and timely in only about twenty pages. I don’t think this one really needs an episode-ability rating as I consider it separate, special content, but you never know! Kristy having appendicitis could be a major plot point!

Dawn’s move leads us to the events of book sixty-eight, Jessi and the Bad Baby-Sitter. The BSC finds themselves overwhelmed by jobs now that they are down a member. Jessi meets Wendy at school, and they become fast friends. Eventually, seeing how good Wendy is with kids, Jessie asks her to join the club. However, Wendy turns out to not do well with the structure and rigidity of one Kristy Thomas, and it ultimately does not work out. In other news, Mallory is not feeling great, something that will be important in future books.

Episode-ability: 4. Depends on where they go with the Dawn storyline. Having a not-so-great baby-sitter could be interesting, but she’s actually not really a bad baby-sitter. She just doesn’t like the structure of the club. Wendy is actually pretty good with kids and has her own little client list of people that she sits for. So this is also a bit of a misnomer title.

In mystery eleven, Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum, the BSC once again finds themselves on a Scooby-Doo like adventure. What they are trying to help out with is far too dangerous for a bunch of kids to be involved in, and yet somehow it is the baby-sitters who solve the mystery in the end! (I’m not really complaining, it’s all in good fun, but I do find it funny every time!). The new museum in Stoneybrook is a victim of a burglary, on the same day that Claudia is visiting with some of the BSC charges. She, and the rest of the BSC, become very interested and invested in helping to solve the crime – which, of course, they ultimately do!

Episode-ability: 3. Same as the other mysteries. Relatively interesting plot line, but there was no real opportunity for character growth, and it didn’t have the potential for one of the poignant little episodes the show is already famous for in it’s one season (seriously, when are they going to announce that it’s getting a second season?!). However, I do like when they give Claudia something to do that shows off her intelligent side. A lot of the time the books seem to portray her as hopelessly intelligent (and sometimes her spelling mistakes just seem deliberately wrong, they are so bad), so it’s always nice when she is able to show that that’s not who she is.

Book sixty-nine, Get Well Soon, Mallory!, finally solves the mystery of Mallory’s illness: mono. With an answer in hand, she also has her treatment plan: lots and lots of rest and no school and baby-sitting. Mallory, though exhausted, is over this pretty quickly and begins to worry that she is letting the BSC down, as they are already missing Dawn. Mallory starts to feel guilty about this and comes up with a plot to make the BSC “fire” her (which doesn’t happen as they see right through her schemes).

Episode-ability: 6. It can’t hurt to show what happens when the BSC finds themselves down two members or to deal with an illness. However, this was not a particularly action packed book (even the plot line with the firing attempt gets solved really, really quickly) so they may need to kind of find a way to incorporate some of it within other plot lines.

Book seventy, Stacey and the Cheerleaders, somewhat explores what happens when sports are very popular in schools. The teachers at Stoneybrook Middle School are showing their preferences for the athletes, giving them better grades and looking the other way when the members of the teams leave class for extra practice (sometimes… sometimes they’re just cutting under the guise of extra practice). Stacey catches the eye of one of the basketball players, and this leads her to trying out for the cheerleading squad and spending more time with the mean girl cheerleaders. However, they ultimately get jealous of her talent and don’t put her on the team even though she had the clear best try out of the bunch. Stacey then teams up with Robert, a member of the basketball team who is fed up with the preferential, unfair treatment, to expose the problems at SMS.

Episode-ability: 9. I actually really liked this one as a potential for a new episode. From the title, you would expect that Stacey would start hanging out with the cheerleaders and attempt to give up on the BSC, but that’s not actually what happens. Instead, Stacey stays true to herself while dealing with the unfair policies that the teachers give to the members of the sports teams and their cheerleaders.

For the last book in this installment, we get to spend some time with Dawn in California. And it’s mystery twelve, Dawn and the Surfer Ghost. We get to spend some time in Palo City, California with Dawn and her We Love Kids Club friends… and I don’t love it. In this book, Dawn is taking surfing lessons with Sunny, and they learn that one of the popular surfers, Thrash, has died. Following this incident, strange things begin to happen… including the frequent spotting of a surfing ghost! Dawn find herself wrapped up in a ghost story mystery, and ultimately becomes the one to solve it.

Episode-a-bility: 4. It gets really iffy at the moment to really determine the “episode-ability” of a Dawn book while she’s out in California. Maybe this one could work if she’s just visiting her dad? Also still curious if they’re going to randomly introduce Jeff at some point in the series or if he’s just gone forever as far as the series goes. Clearly he never moved to Stoneybrook with Dawn and her mom if he still exists, so some of the plot points in upcoming books will likely never make it into the show.

I have to say, I missed having a Super Special in this little section of books, but it was also nice to have slightly fewer books to get through in this installment. With work in full swing now, reading time is going to get somewhat dicey, and I have a couple of non-BSC books that I also want to read. But even as I finish writing this installment, I am almost done with the next cluster of books so this month will see two BSC posts at least.

Still curious to see how many of them I can get through before we hit 2021!

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