Welcome back to Nostalgic Reads! Today, we head back to Stoneybrook and the continuing adventures of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey and Dawn – the Baby-Sitters Club!
About the Book
Title: Claudia and the New Girl
Author: Ann M. Martin
Series: The Baby-sitters Club #12
First Published: April 1, 1988
Blurb: Claudia has always been the most outrageous girl in her class…until Ashley Wyeth comes along. Ashley’s really different – she dresses in hippie clothes, wears six earrings, and is the most fantastic artist Claudia has ever met.
Ashley says Claudia has artistic talent, too. She thinks Claudia should spend more time on her “calling” and forget about the Baby-sitter’s Club: It’s just a waste of time.
The Baby-sitters are sick of Ashley Wyeth, and they think Claudia’s a traitor. Claudia’s got to decide: either the Baby-sitter’s Club or the new girl – one of them has got to go.
It’s funny the things you remember about books that you read as a kid. I know that I read this one back then, but you know what the overall thing I remembered was? The new artsy girl made a sculpture of a fire hydrant and wanted Claudia to sculpt a traffic light. Out of everything else, those were the things that stuck with me. Weird.
I always felt a bit sorry for Claudia, although I had a hard time relating to her otherwise. She has a hard time in school, which means that her parents aren’t always forth coming with praise. I wonder now, looking back on it, if maybe Claudia had a learning disability or ADHD or something. Some of her struggles look a lot like what my daughter has dealt with (which is why she is currently homeschooled). They even both love art and have an older sibling who is really, really smart and good at school. Okay . . . this is getting a bit creepy. My daughter IS Claudia!
Moving on. I can see why Claudia would get overwhelmed by the new girl, Ashley. Ashley studied at a famous art school in Chicago. Ashley is really, really talented and recognizes that Claudia is as well. I get the feeling that aside from Mimi (her grandmother), not very many other people really support or encourage Claudia in her artwork. You get the impression that her parents sort of tolerate it but would rather she was focusing on her studies more instead. So having someone admire and encourage your art would probably be pretty intoxicating, enough so that you start to neglect your friends and other things in your life that is important.
Let’s also talk about Ashley. She is a very driven kid, clearly, and doesn’t have any friends. Not sure if she had friends back home, but my guess is that she didn’t, except maybe at the art school. That must be really lonely, even if she doesn’t recognize it. I’m sure finding Claudia was a really nice change, especially when she thought Claudia was as singularly focused on art as she was. Ashley doesn’t understand diverting ones time to other endeavors – like baby-sitting. To be honest, I was kind of the same way in middle school and high school – not with art, but with music. The only difference is that I didn’t have the overwhelming confidence that Ashley does (actually, I still don’t).
What I loved about this story was how Claudia realizes what she has done and gets herself back on track. She incorporates the two things she loves – art and baby-sitting – by choosing one of her baby-sitting kiddos to be the subject of a sculpture for the upcoming art show. While she doesn’t win (Ashley does with her fire hydrant sculpture), she does get an honorable mention ribbon for her work, which was only a work-in-progress. Plus it was nice to see her family praising her work and being very impressed with the art museum.
In the end, Claudia tries to help Ashley make some friends by inviting her to sit with the baby-sitters at lunch. This doesn’t happen every day, but enough so that Claudia can still be friends with her while not forgetting her besties. I don’t remember if Ashley is ever mentioned again in the series but if she’s not, I wonder what happened to her. Hope she is doing well.
Categories: nostalgic reads