Facebook is really good for some things! How awesome it was to find out this piece of interesting news: Scholastic books/Ann M. Martin is reissuing several volumes of The Babysitters Club books with updated editions as well as a prequel about the events before the formation of the club. Insert loud squeals and EEEE! noises here.
Growing up I was a bit of a bookworm. Allegedly, I began reading at the age of 2 1/2-3 yrs (I’ll believe it!) and since then have been devouring books left and right. As a little girl I loved The Little House on the Prairie series (my favorite parts of the books was when they woudl describe what they ate for Christmas dinner and the gifts they got), The Westing Game (still one of my favorite books), the American Girl series (cos the books were all we could afford!), Boxcar Children, Sleepover Friends and of course- The Babysitters Club.
I tend to love my books to death, so any of the surviving volumes of the BSC books I have are pretty tattered. I don’t recall how exactly I began to read them- our school might have had only a few books, but that section of BDalton at Willowbrook Mall was my favorite place to camp out and see what books I could buy (or get my mom to buy). I would take out any I could find at our town’s public library. And they would be read, at least twice before being returned or tucked into my bookcase until the next time I decided to pluck it out to peruse.
My friends were kind of into the BSC but not as much as me- I collected the Super Specials and the trading cards, the board games, anything BSC related. I remember trying to act like a baby-sitter though my mom would never have left me alone in the house with my baby brother at the tender age of 9. I made a Kid Kit like the babysitters did for their charges, but they were really just activities for me and my brother to do when we did hang out with each other.
Each babysitter was unique- which one was I? the eternal question that burned my skull probably every time I finished a book. I thought myself as a little of each. I could be a Claudia- Asian, artsy, bad at math, in love with junk food and clothes (though my fashions were no where near as wild or crazy as hers; then again I coudl be Mary Ann, quiet, reserved, good at taking notes. Stacey never really fit me though since I thought she was the prettiest (in my head, of course), and she was diabetic and I couldn’t picture my life without sugar or chocolate. I felt really bad for her. Mallory was a bit too nerdy, Jessi was a dancer (hey, I did ballet from the ages of 3-4…), Kristy was bossy and likes sports (not my forte then and now- I will watch them, but I’m very terrified of playing any sport with bases), Dawn was too crunchy. So yeah. I would emulate Stacey’s handwriting, attempting to dot my i’s with hearts like she did.
These twins were kind of fug. sorries.
I learned a lot about fashion from the BSC- and who didn’t? Seriously, Claudia Kishi was the shit and girlfriend knew how to put together an outfit. Her fabulous fashion sense has inspired this hil-effing-arious blog by a really witty, cute, and fashionable writer- Kim-What Claudia Wore. I can’t picture my life before knowing of this post, and her analysis of the BSC and their fashion and the covers- so spot on!!! My favorite fashion/trend that Claudia would pull off (and maybe Stacey too) was when she would layer three colors of socks-and describe them as three different scoops of ice cream on a cone. I wish I had a sick block quote to insert here, but do you know how beautiful that imagery is to a 9 year old girl? Ah-maze-ing. I was all about push-down socks and went on a bit of a hunt for them, and kind of found them (in pink)- pretty much slouchy socks? Anyway, with my Express floral leggings and oversized Express sweatshit, I was pretty much the shit. I totally supported Mallory’s desicions to load up on the push-down socks in Mallory and the Trouble with Twins (#21)- as she talks about how much she admires Claudia’s earlier in the book before she goes shopping spree at Merry-Go-Round. The shopping trip is spurred by her realization that she should be a bit more daring or cute (she gets her ears pierced and I never understood tha how important it was as my ears were pierced at the tender age of 2 days old or something) because the twins she baby-sits for want to have their own identity, etc etc. Whatever, Mallory was always kind of boring but did they have some essential accessory shopping descriptions in this book!
Was it just me , or were all the guys they crushed on look like 25 yr olds who were on Melrose Place?
Another thing learned from the BSC was boys. Boys, boys, boys. Up to the time I was reading BSC, I believe my first crush was Kermit the Frog (cuuuuute) and maybe Thomas Luke (because he looked like Kermit the Frog? Mannerism-wise too), and so my first official crush was Roberto Flores in like fifth grade. then he had to piss me off because he saw D2 the Mighty Ducks (also another obsession at that time) before I did. Lame.
Anyway, the boys. They all seem to have some sort of boyfriend-Logan was Mary Ann’s Southern Gentleman, Dawn, Stacey, and Claudia went through a couple of boys and always had a crush on someone (older boys too, tsk tsk jailbait), Jessi had her dancer Quint, and even Mallory and Kristy had Ben Hobbart the Australian and Bart Winslow (who I never liked simply because his name was Bart and it rhymed with fart). Anyway, Boy Crazy Stacey (#8) when Stacey is sweatin’ on the lifeguards at NJ’s own Sea City (I equated it with Point Pleasant back in the day or Seaside Heights since that’s where we went when we were younger, but it’s probably more based on Sea Isle City or LBI) and having her summer crushes as mother’s helpers (how glam of a job was that? it sounded like the Best.Summer.Ever). Anyway, Stacey was the prettiest and always seem to have luck with guys- including Kristy’s older brother Sam- remember that? And they kissed and danced during Super Special #8-The Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake when there was the dance after the big boat parade (who lets 13 year olds drive motorboats btw?)? Well, I remembered it, and unfortunately, my idea of crushes and boys took on a very unrealistic approach since I thought that whatever happened to Stacey McGill would happen to me. Sigh.
But the memories! Several years ago, my friend Katie gifted me two Super Specials I was missing because I probably destroyed them. They were so much fun to read them. I’m pretty sure there is a picture of me floating around surrounded by my BSC books. The Super Specials were my favorite, since you got to hear it from all the BSC. I even got into the mystery series and the weirdo-emo California Diaries series for a hot second (was Ducky gay? Can someone answer this for me?). I learned about Hannukah (I met my first Jewish friend like in high school) from the Little Sisters series starring Karen, Kristy’s little step-sister. The most I ever knew about divorce (until high school when I had friends whose parents got divorced) was from the BSC books.
Looking back I guess you can throw some sort of subversion onto the books- the dyfunctional mothers that the BSC had as clients (Mrs. Barett with the three kids- oneo f which named Marnie? really? she was a hot hot mess. Cougar-worthy probs), Kristy’s possible lesbianism, etc. But like the NYT article states, there’s a resurgence, since mothers don’t need to worry about what is in the books. It’s not like Claudia and Stacey are going to take a bunch of diet pills and go apeshit at the mall and buy like 25 pairs of push-down socks and sparkly barettes. And they are probably quite tame compared to whatever else is out there in pre-teen/Tween lit (at least there are no vampires in the BSC. or like weird prep-school threeways or something). So yeah, next time I’m at my parents, I’ll be sure to hunt them down and maybe sit down with a chapter or two and rediscover my youth.
Where are they now? I like to think….
-Kristy: The know-it-all with the business plan that started the club. The eternal tomboy, she continues to play softball and other sports through high school, letters in Varsity, gets pretty for prom (where everyone ooh’s and ahh’s) and bring Bart Winslow as her date. Post HS she attends UConn on a softball scholarship, learned to drink like a guy, and is oddly super-feely with her teammates. A little obnoxious (like the one person who keeps on asking questions during like a large lecture hall kidn of class- like that kind of annoying) and a child psych major, she graduates, works at a children’s non profit for years and marries an accountant. The both like the New York Giants and they met a sports bar. Mary Ann is her maid of honor.
-Claudia: Everyone’s favorite clothes-horse. Continues to be excellent at dressing and art, so decides to go to FIT much to her parents dismay. Moves to the big city and is a bit discouraged by everyone wearing black at orientation. Befriends a small army of gays and armed with her fake ID hits up the East village and Lower East Side. Makes out with lots of musicians and hipsters, discovers Brooklyn, single-handedly reintroduces the stirrup pant to Willamsburg, interns with Betsey Johnson, and screen prints thrift store tees and owns a clothing boutqieu in Red Hook. Lives with her domestic partner Luke who plays keyboards in a Band You Might Know Of and they live in a super cute loft that is featured in Nylon magazine. Goes to visit her parents and her older sister Janie, husband, and her niece and nephew who she paints with at least once a month. Her and Stacey still talk but you know, it’s kind of weird.
-Stacey: sugar free this and that. Decides to try her hand out at the business world and goes to NYU. Visits with Claudia at Pomme Frites but their relationship is strained when Stacey starts making out with some guy Claudia kind of liked/Claudia leaves her unattended at a party when Stacey (almost) has this major diabetic melt down something like that. Majors in accounting with a minor in fashion marketing, and ends up at Kate Spade then to Ralph Lauren. Her fashion sense kin dof has calmed down, but is still cut, very stylish and chic. Gets engaged to a really cute guy from old money and she moves to a really sweet-ass apartment on the Upper East Side. At her wedding , her father brings his young girlfriend which totally pisses off her mom, etc etc. She has a daughter who she loves to dress up.
-Mary Ann: quiet and shy, Mary Ann graduates high school with honors and goes to Wellesley. There she is a English Lit major, hoping to go into teaching. has one lesbian experience, but then meets boy of her dreams (Logan who? oh ps- they totally keep in touch still), who she loses her virginity to. Etc, etc. Graduates and becomes a teacher, has three kids, moves back to Stonybrook with her husband to raise their brood. Calls Kristy on the weekend for brunch dates and visits Dawn once a year with the kids in California.
-Dawn: of course, the EAst Coast totally sucks, so she moves back to Cali-Cali, goes to UC Berkeley where she majors in Environmental Sciences, becomes a vegan, and practices yoga daily (she toys with getting a certification). She ends up working for some sort of government agency that collects soil samples or something. Totally quits that job when she meets her now-husband, Tom who is an ex professional surfer. They live in San Diego or whereve in a nice beach house with their four dogs, wher they also own a surf /pro shop that Dawn manages. She’s also really involved in slow food and like organic farming and farm worker’s rights.
-Jessi: So the token dancer, was totally dedicated to ballet right until some asshole at Julliard (where Quint went to!) tells her that she’s too fat and she’ll never make it as a serious ballet dancer, so she decides to pursue every other dancing genre there is- and she’s pretty much kicks ass at all of them. After graduating from state schoool, she travels the nation with several popular Broadway tours. She settles in Chicago and gets her masters in dance and teaches at University of Chicago as well as helping find a non-profit that allows inner city kids to discover dancing and shit. She meets another dreamboat in form of a lawyer/activist who tells her that she needs to rediscover her African roots, and they travel to help out needy children in Kenya.
-Mallory: the brainy redheaded junior member of the club really lets her writing flourish at Brown, where she goes for creative writing. She quickly learned to break out of her shell and becomes editor of the college newspaper, sleeps with many boys, and publishes her first volume of short stories at 21. She grows into her beauty and still fits into her ‘Mallory’ jumpsuit which becomes the center piece of a risque photoshoot by her talented friend cum lover, Jasper from RISD that she meets on Thayer Street, after bumping into him while getting crepes. they have a beautiful love affair and she picks up lots of drinking and chain smoking and continues to write dark stories about her alcoholism and murder in common suburbia. She is slightly estranged from half of her siblings, except for Vanessa, Byron, and Margo, who she travels with to Sea City once a year with their families. After becoming a popular mystery writer, she gains notoriety for her relationship with her much older publishing agent. She writes her autobiography in a week after breaking up with her mentor, while locking herself in her suite at the Boston Park Hotel with a case of wine. She dedicates chaper 10 to Jessi, Nicky (please forgive me), and her nieces and nephews.
Please also visit this lovely list by McSweeneys- The Babysitter’s Club: The College Years. hilarious.