{Rereading The Baby-Sitters Club: Books 76-80, Mysteries 15-18, Super Specials 11-12, Shannon’s Story, Secret Santa & Portrait Collection: Stacey}

As you can tell from the title of this post, this is a doozy of a BSC reread installment. There were a whopping fourteen books, in a number of different categories, including another one of the special letter books (Secret Santa). This installment also introduces the Portrait Collection, which focuses on one BSC member at a time and, after a couple of posts without a single super special, this one has TWO!

Still reading these in hyper-drive to keep listening to episode of The Baby-Sitters Club Club, but I promise sewing will once again take over as the main focus around here eventually!

These books were all published in 1994, which means I was thirteen – finally the same age as the baby-sitters! And let me tell you, my life (other than the fact that I baby-sat all the time) was not a single thing like theirs! Arguably I was getting too old to still be reading the books at this point in my life (who am I to talk… I’m now almost forty and thoroughly enjoying this reread!) but I held on to them for the time being. We’re not quite into the territory of books I haven’t ever read yet. Speaking of which… when we get there do I have to rename this series since they won’t be rereads anymore?

Kicking things off with book seventy-six, Stacey’s Lie. The lie in question gets told and found out pretty early on in the book, and then much of the plot line focuses on the repercussions of that. Stacey’s father wants to take her on a trip, and he tells her she can choose the location. Stacey ends up choosing Davis Park on Fire Island. Why does she choose Fire Island when she literally has the world at her feet? Her boyfriend Robert is working on the Fire Island ferry for the summer, and it’s her chance to spend time with him. However, she neglects to mention this to her father or to Claudia, who is invited along. Neither are particularly thrilled when they find out the real reason Stacey chose the location, although Claudia attempts to be supportive at first. It isn’t until Stacey lies again so she can meet Robert when she promised to spend the evening with Claudia that the whole trip falls apart. Even when other members of the BSC visit, Stacey manages to isolate all of them. She has fights with her father and almost breaks up with Robert. All is well in the end however.

Episode-ability: 9. I wasn’t a huge fan of Stacey’s behavior in this book, but perhaps that what would make it a great episode of the show. There’s conflict between Stacey and her dad, Stacey and Claudia and Stacey and her Robert. Stacey ultimately learns a lesson (why do all of Stacey’s lessons revolve around boys?), so I think it would be fun to watch. Oh, and Mr. McGill had a girlfriend now, so that’d be fun to see. Of course, the show has to get past her parents’ divorce first!

In mystery fifteen, Kristy and the Vampires, Derek Masters is back in town filming a tv movie! And Kristy is his set baby-sitter! However, strange things start to happen around Derek. He gets into strange accidents, or narrowly misses them. The BSC begins to suspect that someone is out to get him, and the suspect list is long. It also seems to be connected to Derek’s co-star, Carson Fraser, whom Derek seems to be blowing out of the water with his acting. In the end, their suspicions are confirmed when the culprit turns out to be a fan who doesn’t want Derek to upstage Carson.

Episode-ability: 3. The culprit here is seriously insane. She literally cuts the brakes of the car Derek in which is being chauffeured in the hopes of getting him off the set so Carson can shine. She ends up at facility for disturbed adolescents. This could maybe – MAYBE – be a lesson in the importance of taking care of your mental health, but that’s a stretch for creating an episode out of this. Honestly, the mystery plots are getting more and more outlandish as we go along.

This bring us to Super Special eleven, the first one in quite some time. A little departure from the usually format in which the sitters generally go on a trip or have an adventure, The Baby-sitters Remember showcases some pre-Kristy’s Great Idea memories of the club members. Each member, Logan and Shannon included, get a section to tell their story. Kristy remembers the first time she was allowed to baby-sit, while Claudia shares a special memory she has a Mimi. Jessi confesses to not loving her little brother right away when he was born, and Mary Anne recalls a time when she, Claudia and Kristy tried to torment a baby-sitter. Stacey remembers the time she peed in Laine’s bed, while Logan recalls seeing Mary Anne for the first time. To round it out, Dawn talks about when she first moves to Stoneybrook, Shannon remembers a new girl coming to her school and messing up the social order, and Mallory fangirls out when she meets a favorite author at the mall.

Episode-ability: 5. It’s fun to visit their old memories, but I don’t think it would work for an episode. The memories are cute but none, with the exception of Stacey and Dawn who both remember significant things in their young lives, have a ton of content to them.

We return to Palo City, California in book sixty-eight, Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever. Dawn takes on a new job baby-sitting for twelve-year-old Whitney, who has Down syndrome. Whitney, who doesn’t feel she needs a baby-sitter (and in fact wants to baby-sit herself), is told by her parents that Dawn is there as a new friend. Though Dawn doesn’t feel too comfortable lying to Whitney, she goes along with it. The two girls quickly bond and become friends. Things fall apart when Dawn accidentally reveals that she’s actually a baby-sitter, angering Whitney. Of course, the girls ultimately make up and the We Love Kids club hires Whitney as a baby-sitter’s helper.

Episode-ability: 8. While I like the content of the book, I’ll say again that I hope they never make Dawn go back to California! If they can bring the plot to Stoneybrook, then it’s a total go!

Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph is mystery sixteen, and the BSC is at it again helping the Stoneybrook PD solve the case! This time, there’s a bank robber on the loose, having stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars. Claudia and the rest of the BSC, while taking pictures for a gift for Dawn in California, inadvertently find themselves in the right place at the right time. They manage to get pictures that clue the police in to who committed the crime.

Episode-ability: 6. Again, interesting story, but the mysteries aren’t great episodes. Also, the Stoneybook Police? Useless. (And no, this is not political commentary. They basically tell a group of thirteen year old girls everything about the case that should be kept confidential and then let them sit in on the questioning of the main suspect. That can’t possible be allowed.)

We continue with our Claudia narrative with Claudia and Crazy Peaches, book sixty-nine. We get to meet Claudia’s aunt Peaches! She’s moving to Stoneybrook! And she’s having a baby! Claudia is very excited! (I actually totally get it, Claud… when I was a kid, new cousins in the family was the best!) While they are looking for a house, Peaches and her husband Russ live with the Kishis… and Peaches proceeds to wreck havoc on Claudia’s life. For the most part, this means that Claudia has trouble concentrating on her schoolwork, as Peaches is always coming up with little adventures for them (said adventures aren’t particularly harmful… the worst one is she takes Claudia out for pizza at 1 a.m. without leaving a note saying where they would be). Claudia’s grades slip, but she doesn’t communicate her frustrations with Peaches, and it all blows up. Unfortunately, after the blow up, Peaches has a miscarriage, which Claudia then believes is her fault since their fought. They do make up by the end of the book.

Episode-ability: 9. It would be fun to meet Peaches and the book definitely has that “very special episode” quality to it that you look for when making tv shows. It seems like there’s always a “crisis theme” for these sitters: with Stacey it’s a boy issue, with Claudia it’s a family health issue just after they’ve had a fight.

Next up, it’s time for Shannon Kilbourne to have her day in the sun with Reader’s Request: Shannon’s Story. In the story, Shannon is prepping for the end of the school year, and a trip to Paris with her French class… assuming she can keep her grades up. No problem for Shannon Kilbourne, right? Wrong!

Shannon has been struggling with her mom at home, feeling like she’s been far too clingy lately. When she finds out her mom is chaperoning the trip to Paris, she fails the test on purpose and isn’t permitted to go. Her mother goes without her, and while Shannon is home taking care of her sisters, she realizes how lonely her mother must be and ends up apologizing to her in the end.

Episode-ability: 1. I’m just going to say one at the moment as currently no Shannon Kilbourne exists in the tv show. Aside from that, the plot line was not all that interesting, though I do have vivid memories about reading about Shannon going to Paris. I wanted to go to Paris more than anything when I was a pre-teen, so that’s likely why this one stuck out at me! And I was SO MAD – as a kid and as an adult – at Shannon for failing her test on purpose just so she wouldn’t have to go to Paris with her mom!

In book seventy-nine, Mary Anne Breaks the Rules, Mary Anne gets in trouble when she invites Logan to help out with Jake Kuhn. Jake is struggling with missing his father after his parents’ divorce and Mary Anne thinks the male presence of Logan might help him out. It does, but Mary Anne neglects to tell Mrs. Kuhn what she’s doing, leading to a misunderstanding when she comes home early and sees Logan there. She assumes Mary Anne is breaking the cardinal rule of baby-sitters: don’t invite your boyfriend over and reports Mary Anne to Kristy. It is Jake, however, who clears everything up when he explains to his mom the real reason Logan was there.

Episode-ability: 7. It’s a good storyline, particularly for shy Mary Anne but if I’m being honest I don’t think they made the tv show version of Logan masculine enough for it. However, this plot line is also almost non-existent and gets resolved almost before it even starts. There are three chapters left when Mrs. Kuhn apologizes to Mary Anne for the misunderstanding, and most of it revolves around a Halloween haunted house competition that some of the charges are having.

Mystery seventeen returns us to Palo City, California with Dawn and the Halloween Mystery. After Dawn witnesses the aftermath of a holdup at the drugstore, she and the We Love Kids Club get involved in solving a mystery. As a result of the crime, Halloween is in danger of being ruined as a curfew is put into place throughout the town. Dawn and the other Kids Club members come up with a Halloween party idea for their charges, which they still hold even after Dawn solves the mystery and the culprit is caught.

Episode-ability: 6. If the mystery was moved to Stoneybrook, it could work. I’m sure I’m starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to the mysteries but I don’t think they should really bother with them unless they reveal some really juicy plot details, like the one about Mary Anne’s grandparents. There’s so much original canon to get through without complicating things with the mysteries.

Secret Santa takes us on a little holiday interlude. Much like the Chain Letter book, it is comprised of a series of letters as the BSC grants wishes for each other. Each girl wishes for something almost impossible for their Secret Santa to get for them, but they somehow manage to make it happen in little ways. The other plot tying all this together is the story of a little girl named Eliza who wishes for a few toys as well as the return of her sister, who ran away a year prior. Claudia in particular is struck by this story, and takes it upon herself to locate Jennifer Stanley and return her to her family. It’s a cute little book, and I like reading the little letters and cards. It’s also a quick and easy read – take about ten minutes! And honestly I wasn’t going to bother with read-ability on this one, but if the show needed a Christmas special, they could expand on this content.

In Mallory Pike, No. 1 Fan, Mallory gets to meet one of her idols, author Henrietta Hayes while working on a school project. It turns out that Hayes lives right in Stoneybrook, and Mallory gets up the nerve to knock on her door. She ends up working for the author, and gets a firsthand look into the writer’s life. She is disappointed, however, when she learns that Hayes doesn’t write from her own life experiences, and this causes her to believe the author to be a fraud. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Stoneybrook, Mallory is angering her family by writing a far too true-to-life play about her brothers and sisters.

Episode-ability: 3. Mallory is crazy annoying in this book, and in the end there isn’t a ton that she learns (at least in my opinion; some may disagree). If I’m being completely honest, the actress that they got to play Mallory on the show is so far delightful, and I don’t want them to give her this insipid Mallory plot line!

The Portrait Collection kicks off with Stacey’s Book. In this special collection, the 8th grade members of the BSC are working on their autobiographies, and readers get some backstory into their lives. Stacey takes readers back to her young life in New York City, discussing the time she and Laine met and conspired together to miss ballroom dance classes. She reminds us of her dad’s workaholic tendencies, and the trip her family takes to Maine to force him to relax a bit. Of course, it all leads up to her discovering that she has diabetes for the first time. Stacey discusses what she learns from her experiences, and it’s fun to see the earlier experiences of the girls. This series is cute addition to the main canon and I loved that they include illustrations to represent the photographs they include in their autobiographies, but doesn’t really qualify for the “episode-ability” rating.

Here Come the Bridesmaids! is the twelfth Super Special in the series, and we once again head to Palo City, CA (which is quickly becoming as familiar as Stoneybrook at this point). Dawn’s father is getting married… to Carol, who Dawn and Jeff realize is the best of his girlfriends, and that they’ve actually grown to like her. Mary Anne, Kristy and Claudia fly out to California to attend – and help with – the wedding. Meanwhile, the rest of the BSC is back in Stoneybrook helping out with the Barrett/DeWitt wedding, and Jessi gets hired as a mall Santa!

Episode-ability: 5. It wasn’t a great super special (not a ton of solid conflict, and what there was got resolved very quickly), but it would be fun to see the wedding of Dawn’s dad and Carol (not so thrilled with Mrs. Barrett on the show so I could do without her wedding, truth be told). If the show plans it out carefully enough, they can have at least one wedding per season!

This installment is rounded out with mystery eighteen, Stacey and the Mystery at the Empty House. Stacey is dog-sitting for the Johanssens while they are in Paris. At first, everything is normal… but then strange things start to happen around the house and Stacey suspects that she is not the only one staying there. The BSC jumps on the chance to solve another mystery, and they eventually do… so of by accident (which is generally how these mysteries solved by teenagers tend to go, isn’t it?). As I suspected from early on, while there was something creepy going on, it wasn’t something sinister.

Episode-ability: 3. This got a low score, even for a mystery. It wasn’t the BSC’s most compelling mystery, and with the lack of any character’s moving forward, it’s best left to a reread!

Whew! That’s a lot of baby-sitting fun in one post, but also covered a lot of ground and made a dent in the list of books I still have left to read. Our next couple of installments are not quite so book dense but there’s still tons of content to be had!

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