Val reads Baby-sitters Club #1: Dreams, dates, and diabetes.
(Or, the Baby-sitters Club did not call cell phones. Ever.)
Baby-Sitters Club was one of those things that was mine. I read all the books, watched the TV show, begged my parents to let me audition for a role in the movie. Dawn had me wishing I was a California girl. Stacey and Super Special #6 had me dreaming of New York. My sisters were older and had Sweet Valley, but this series, which began in 1986, when I was five, was geared a little more towards the younger set (I’ve confirmed this by reading every Sweet Valley book I could get my hands on in used bookstores abroad). Though, I was never a baby-sitter myself (I don’t think I ever held a baby until my sister had Dylan four years ago,) I still enjoyed reading the adventures and saw a lot of myself in those sitters.
I had the tenacity of Kristy, the club’s founder. Like her, I would often get crazy ideas and take them way too far. I had the shyness of Mary Ann. I had the artistic side of Claudia and the boy-craziness of Stacey. And I pretty much wanted to be Dawn, the California girl who was oh so cool.
Later in life, Baby-Sitters Club was one of the things that started bringing Heather and I together. We had known of each other in college, and our groups of friends intersected, but we never hung out together. Back on Livejournal (yes, Livejournal), I remember responding to something she had written about New York, because we both knew everything we knew about New York from Super Special #6 New York, New York! Like, for instance, how to properly pronounce Houston. And it helped catalyze our bonding over being basically the same person.
And so, some time ago, I added “Read every Baby-Sitters Club book” to my life list. I wanted to revisit this treasured childhood series. Although, I’m certain that when I added it I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are over 200 books in the ever-expanding series.
Luckily, each one only takes a couple of hours to read (and only because I’m a super slow reader).
For my goal, I’m determined to read the books in order, which is going to prove difficult. I lost everything from my childhood in the great fire of ’99, but I have a box full of the series that someone bought me a few years back. They aren’t in any sort of order though, just random numbers.
Luckily, I did have the first three in the series. And my sister managed to procure the fourth for Christmas. So, over the course of a couple of lazy afternoons, I started to read…
Kristy Thomas is a seventh grader at Stoneybrook Middle School and one afternoon she has a great idea. Her mother sometimes has to call around town to find a babysitter for her little brother. But wouldn’t it be great if she could save time and just call one number to reach a handful of babysitters? Kristy rallys up her best friend Mary Anne Spier, her neighbor Claudia Kishi, and the new-girl-in-town Stacey McGill, and, together, the Baby-sitters Club is born. The girls meet three times a week in Claudia’s bedroom (because she has her own phone in her room) where they take calls and divy up jobs. This was totally a big deal in the 1980s. Because, you know, cell phones didn’t really exist back then. It also sparked a few fights because, since Claudia hosted the main phone line, she’d sometimes take jobs without offering them to the others (oh the scandal!).
In this first book we start getting to know the girls, Kristy ends up dog-sitting, Stacey meets Kristy’s brother, Mary Anne meets a witch, they fight, they break up, they kiss, they make up.
Even though book #3 is Stacey’s Big Secret, we actually find out Stacey’s big secret in the very first book. You see, she’s a little odd. She’s only in seventh grade but always on a diet. She always refuses the candy treats Claudia hides in her room. And she lies to her new friends, saying that she’s out of town when she’s not. But the real truth about Stacey: she has diabetes, y’all. Really, Ms. Ann M. Martin likes to hit you over the head with this fact and mention it every few paragraphs. In case you forgot. But it also was kind of a big deal to have a diabetic tween in young adult literature at the time. And it was one of those educational things for many a young girl. Even though Stacey has diabetes the rest of the Baby-Sitters Club don’t think she’s a leper like her friends in New York did. Although, really, her friends in New York didn’t even know she had diabetes, but whatever.
And thus ends the first saga in the lives of the babysitters of Stoneybrook.
“Her second best friend is her computer.”
“I have absolutely no interest in boys, of course.”
“Diabetes? Is that all?”
Sometimes it’s scary to be a babysitter. Like when a Phantom Caller, someone who has been phoning houses to find out if people are home and then robbing them blind, is on the loose in a nearby community. And that is exactly what’s been plaguing the four babysitters of Stoneybrook. While on sitting jobs the phone has been ringing and no one is on the other end and, after one of their neighbors gets robbed, the club members are scared!
To Claudia, that is only the half of it: Trevor Sandbourne, the love of her seventh grade life, doesn’t even know she exists. And he certainly hasn’t asked her to the Halloween Hop. Le sigh.
One night, while on a tandem job, Kristy and Claudia get a few more strange phone calls…and then they hear someone creeping outside! They decide it’s best to call 911, and when the police come, they capture the culprit! But, it’s not a robber — it’s Alan Gray, one of their classmates. Turns out he had been the one calling and hanging up. Why? Because he wanted to ask Kristy to the Halloween Hop! She says yes (much to Claudia’s surprise — Kristy is not boy crazy at all) and the police leave and all is right with the world…except, of course, that Claudia still doesn’t have a date.
Of course, the next day Claudia gets more calls from no one, and then the caller finally speaks up, and it is none other than Trevor Sandbourne! Not only does he know who Claudia is, he wants to go with her to the Halloween Hop! And so Kristy, Stacey, and Claudia all head to the dance (sans Mary Anne, who totally isn’t into boys or dances) and the cops catch the Phantom Caller and all is right with the world.
Oh, and Stacey still has diabetes. In case you forgot.
“I never dreamed I’d fall in love with a poet.”
We found out the truth about Stacey all the way back in book 1: Stacey has diabetes. Her friends in the Baby-Sitters Club don’t care (I mean, they do care but you know what I mean) but her friends back in New York did. Kind of. And Stacey’s parents are nuts and keep taking her to doctor upon doctor hoping for some whack-job cure. But Stacey really just wants none of it. Not only is she upset that they want her to miss school (and babysitting) to go to New York to see a new doctor, they are going to be staying with her former best friend, someone she hasn’t spoken to since she left New York, someone who just can’t handle her being different. In the end, with the help of one of her doctor clients, Stacey manages to book an appointment with a good doctor who convinces her parents to back off, and Stacey reconnects with her best friend, who had been jealous of her attention and scared she was contagious. In the end, all they had to do was sit down together and actually talk.
Back in Stoneybrook, the Baby-Sitters Club has a big problem: they no longer have a child care monopoly over their town. A new club — The Baby-Sitters Agency — has set up shop. It’s run by older kids, ones who can stay out later, a big draw to parents. So when the Baby-Sitters Club starts losing jobs they desperately try to get them back. As it turns out, all they have to do is keep being good sitters. The older sitters ignore the kids, invite boys over, and even smoke! But Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, and Mary Anne actually pay attention and engage. In the end, the Agency shuts down because the sitters just can’t be trusted, and the Baby-Sitters survive to sit another day.
“All boys are pretty interesting.”
“I’d forgotten how expensive things were in New York.” Stacey, after buying a small soda and popcorn at the movie theater for $1.75…
When you get a group of tweens together three times a week in one room with one phone only one thing is inevitable: a fight. It was only a matter of time before the four members of the Baby-Sitters Club would blow up and realize they can’t stand each other. It all starts when Kristy takes a job babysitting a newborn everyone is dying to take care of — and doesn’t even ask around! This leads to a yelling match over Kristy being overbearing and bossy, Claudia for always taking jobs without offering, Stacey for always acting like she’s cooler than everyone for being from New York, and Mary Anne for being a shy little baby. And then everyone storms out — and no one is sure of the club’s future.
Weeks go by and the sitters ignore each other. They still babysit, but don’t meet in the same room. Mary Anne is hurt and wants everyone to be back together, but she doesn’t know how to make it happen. She does, however, use the time to make a new friend: Dawn, a transplant from California. Mary Ann uses Dawn to make Kristy jealous, but she really does like her company — especially when they figure out that Mary Anne’s widowed dad and Dawn’s divorced mom used to date in high school! And when Dawn comes to help when a a babysitting client gets sick and Mary Anne has to get her to the hospital.
But Mary Anne’s jealousy plan does work on Kristy, until Dawn finds out, that is! And then everyone is mad. And it doesn’t help that they all have to collaborate on a birthday party and end up fighting in front of the kids. It’s then that they all realize they’re being silly, and need to get over it all for the sake of their clients, themselves, and the club. So they all apologize and decide to celebrate in grand Baby-Sitters Club style: with a pizza party (with a hamburger for Stacey, because she has diabetes you know). They invite Dawn to their party to get to know everyone, and they decide that she’s responsible enough to become a baby-sitter too! So the Baby-Sitters Club is back and stronger than ever — with a new fifth member in tow!
P.S. This version came out in 2010…and I’m pretty sure it’s updated. And by updated I mean that they kept calling people on “their phones.” And those phones were always mysteriously turned off. And I’m not sure because I don’t have an original to reference, but that just seemed odd. Because, you know, the Babysitters-club never called anyone on a cell phone. Ever. Because it was the 1980s. And those kind of things didn’t happen back then. Unless, maybe, you were Zack Morris.
“I’d give anything to be Stacey. Not to have diabetes, of course, but to have lived in New York and to be able to dress like a model.”
“It’s nice to have someone to feel babyish with.”
“…and then go back up to my room to fool around.”
Since this was a new book, it didn’t have the activities section at the back of it. Wahwah.
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