Originally I had planned to feature the next Fear Street book today, title The Surprise Party, but unfortunately I am having a hard time finding it. So instead, to mix things up a bit, we’re going to move on to another series that shaped my adolescence: The Baby-Sitters Club.
Title: Kristy’s Great Idea
Author: Ann M. Martin
Series: The Baby-Sitters Club
Blurb: Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun – and make tons of money.
But nobody counted on crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who don’t always tell the truth. And then there’s Stacey, who’s acting more and more mysterious. Having a baby-sitters club isn’t easy, but Kristy and her friends aren’t giving up until they get it right!
Review: I had forgotten just how good these books really are.
First, a little bit of history, since I did this with the first Sweet Valley High post. The Baby-Sitters Club first came out in 1986. The first 35 books were written by Ann M. Martin, the later books written by ghostwriters. There are 131 books in the original series, with spin-offs like the Super Editions, Mysteries, and the Little Sister series that focuses on Kristy’s stepsister, Karen.
This first book, Kristy’s Great Idea, sets everything up for our series. A group of friends come together to form a club in order to get baby-sitting jobs. Sure, there is the typical 80s thing where each character has their defining characteristic: Kristy is the outgoing tomboy, Mary Anne is the quiet bookworm, Claudia is the artsy fashionista, and Stacey is the fun city girl. Each book is told from the point of view of one of the girls, but we also get some stories from the other girls due to their notebook where they write down the details of their baby-sitting jobs.
So let’s talk about Kristy. She gets in trouble sometimes because she is very outspoken and doesn’t really have a filter. She is going through a but of a tough time. Her parents are divorced, her father is not really in her life, and her mother is dating another man, Watson. Kristy doesn’t want to accept another man in her mom’s life and avoids anything to do with him as much as she can, including refusing to baby-sit for his two kids.
Kristy gets the idea to start the Club after watching her mother try to find a baby-sitter for her little brother, David Michael. She was busy, her two friends Mary Anne and Claudia were also busy, her older brothers were busy, and their other baby-sitter was sick. Kristy felt bad that her mom had to waste time trying to track down someone and also that David Michael had to feel like a burden for her having to do so. The idea, that parents could make one call and reach a group of sitters, was actually a very good one and starts out pretty successful. Sure, they have some hiccups. Prank calls by Kristy’s older brother. Someone calling them for dog-sitting. They ended up at jobs with extra children they didn’t count on, who were all unruly brats.
The book ends with Kristy coming to terms with Watson and his kids, which is good since now Watson and Kristy’s mom are engaged. We also find out that Stacey, who has been acting odd about food all book, actually has diabetes and was afraid to tell anyone. The girls all get in a big fight, but are able to work things out. What I like best about this series is that even though the girls are stereotypes, like I mentioned above, they also feel very real. None of them are perfect, they have definite flaws, but they also sound like kids that I went to middle school with. That’s refreshing.
My plan is to flip back and forth between The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High ever ten books or so, with some Fear Street thrown in as I can find them. That will keep this feature from getting too stale.