My name is Crystal. You would think that I went by Kristy in middle and high school because it’s a natural nickname, yes? You would be WRONG.
I loved The Baby-sitters Club. I wanted to be a member of The Baby-sitters Club. I tried to start a Baby-sitters Club in Lisbon Falls Maine when I was in the 7th grade. I read them from when they first came out (I was 7, a few months away from turning 8) and bought each new one (roughly every other month) as soon as I got my allowance until middle school (and even occasionally in high school I’d pick one up at the library and skim it). I watched the tv show. Even though I’d long since stopped reading the books, and even though I was in high school, I will totally admit to seeing the movie. When I became an elementary/middle school teacher, I started rebuying the books FOR MY CLASSROOM.
I’ve uncovered a great deal of nostalgia for these books among my peers, so when I decided to start the blog, I was thrilled for the excuse to reread and snark them. I snark with love, friends–I’m still a total fangirl. So let’s drop what we’re doing, put on our nostalgia goggles, and pretend it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 5:30pm.
Original Publication Date-August 1986
One of the books we know for sure was written by Martin (after book 36, many were ghostwritten)
The Baby-sitter Club. I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together
Kristy tells us that she got the idea the first Tuesday afternoon of seventh grade. The BSC girls spend books 1-10 (roughly two years) in 7th grade. They will then spend the rest of the series (aka the next the TWELVE YEARS) in 8th grade.
But before we can learn about how she got the idea for the BSC, we get to hear about her getting into trouble in class, establishing that she’s impulsive and a bit thoughtless. She gets a hundred word essay on “decorum” because she
punched out Alan Gray cheered the end of the school day. I can totally picture that middle school teacher cracking open a beer and tossing the essay off to the side, smug that a point had been made–let’s see if I let you brats make fans during class time again (except I totally will because it’s too damn hot to teach right now). Kristy is a REBEL, yo.
“-I can’t keep my mouth shut, and Mary Anne is very quiet and very shy”
We next meet Mary Anne, whose personality (until she manages to land the new resident hunk Logan Bruno in book 10) is that she has braids and is quiet. She is the anti-Kristy–aka the nice one. Although, seriously, from a 2014 perspective, only in the late 80’s would a father who let his 12 year old daughter go babysit at stranger’s houses be described as “overprotective.” Today he’d be wildly permissive, no matter her hairstyle. Oh, and her mom is dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.
I pulled her hand out of her mouth and looked at her nails. “Mary Anne! How do you ever expect to be able to wear nail polish if you keep doing that?”
I’m sorry, Kristy Thomas, but have you met Kristy Thomas–aka the LAST human being on the planet who would give a shit about wearing polish? By the end of the series, this is a woman who would need a significant bribe–like World Series tickets to give a rat’s ass about nail polish.
OH NOES! It’s Tuesday, and Kristy tells us that it’s her day to watch David Michael. Apparently in Stoneybrook, the elementary school gets out way earlier than the middle or high schools and thus DM’s beating everyone home is a thing that happens. So K and MA rush to Kristy’s house and there is DM on the stoop having a meltdown. As they run we get exposition that Charlie (16) and Sam (14) and Kristy (12) each take a day with DM and that Kathy–a 15 year old girl from down the block watches DM the other two days a week. (We’ll get to you in a moment, Kathy.)
We now get to some exposition about Claudi from across the street. She’s really into art and junk food. She’s also way too cool for Kristy and Mary Anne, as evidenced by the fact that they haven’t been hanging out enough and that she’s started to get into boys, the harlot. Throwaway line about Mr. Kishi being serious about homework because Asian Stereotypes for the win!
In the five minutes it takes for David Michael to have peed and them to have given him some lemonade, Charlie and Sam show up. They are obviously trustworthy, as they invite Kristy to come along with them to play ball in the Hanson’s yard–forgetting that she’s in charge of David Michael. I don’t know why DM is getting so upset about the stoop–clearly given the boys level of commitment to their little brother, being forgotten is probably pretty common.
Their mom gets home with a pizza bribe because Kathy has canceled and she needs a sitter. Charlie, Sam, Kristy, Mary Anne and Claudia are all busy. Two other high school girls have cheerleading practice (because of course they do) and then she’s out. She has run through every last teenager in Stoneybrook. There are no stay at home moms she knows. David Michael has no friends whose moms she can call to set up a playdate with in exchange for a playdate down the road?
Kristy gets the idea of The Baby-sitters club. The rest (and apparently Kathy) are history. Which begs the question–what happened to Kathy? We all know Kristy is way strict–did she take out a hit on Kathy?
Miss one day of your sitting job once and you lose it forever? Way harsh, Mrs. Thomas.
Also–I can barely remember the time when this is a plausible story line, given technology.
We all get to learn what decorum is. Thanks for that, Kristy.
Exposition about how the club will work. I kind of get the feeling that Martin decided phone in this part of the chapter with her own notes about plot points. According to Wikipedia, the BSC was originally going to be a 4 book quartet, and was inspired because a scholastic editor noticed that girls liked this one book about baby-sitting so we should publish some more books about baby-sitting.
Kristy’s mom knocks at the door. Blah blah blah working mom guilt, blah blah blah her parents are divorced and her dad didn’t even acknowledge her last birthday. Kristy has to fess up about getting in trouble and her assignment and her mom finds it all pretty funny.
I asked her if she thought The End could count as the ninety-ninth and one-hundreth words, and she smiled and said she hoped so
Mrs. Thomas totally knows that the teacher isn’t going to read that essay.
9PM–flashlight time. Kristy and Mary Anne have this whole Flashlight morse code thing they do since their bedroom windows face each other. I’m dying to know what it was like since it was so advanced Kristy could signal her whole idea in under four hours. I like that MA responds back “WHAT?” instead of another two paragraphs. The idea is cool, but let’s try to keep it to the realistic fiction genre.
Mrs. Thomas is back–maybe she saw all the flashing and thought that a UFO was landing in the backyard? Nope, turns out she’d just chickened out last time and needs to tell Kristy that she’s going out with Watson again on Saturday night. Kristy cops major attitude (UGH he’s BALDING). Mrs. Thomas eyerolls before getting to the point–could Kristy please baby-sit Watson’s kids on Saturday morning because it’s his weekend to have the kids? Because that will TOTALLY endear him to Kristy.
Kristy says no, because UGH, Baby-sitting.
Great plan, Mrs. Thomas. Maybe you should call Kathy, unless she’s already been executed for missing that ONE DAY of baby-sitting?
The chapter ends with Kristy pouting over being asked to baby-sit Karen and Andrew and then getting excited about her Baby-sitters Club idea. BECAUSE OF COURSE she’s thrilled to start a baby-sitting club after turning down a baby-sitting job out of spite.
Kristy hands in her decorum essay. Can this please be the end of this stupid subplot?
I handed it to him before school, so he wouldn’t have to read it while the entire class was hanging around. He didn’t count the words, just skimmed it, looked up at me, and said ‘This is fine, Kristy. Fine work. You express yourself very nicely on paper.”
Allow me to decode that for you, Kristy. “I’m never reading this. You did it. Yay for you.”
After school MA and K are talking. Kristy wants to know how many of the 8 Pike kids MA is going to baby-sit for and they both seem relieved there will only be two. I really hope you guys charged the Pikes per kid. Kristy is baby-sitting Jamie Newton and her brother. They immediately plan to get the four kids together so they can talk. You guys have the survival instincts of stay-at-home moms, ladies, and as a stay-at-home mom who has planned many a play date so I could hang out with a friend I salute you.
Kristy and David Michael are at the Newton’s door exactly at 3:30 and she tells us she’s NEVER BEEN LATE for a baby-sitting job. You just know she’s dangling Kathy over a pit of vipers for daring to cancel on her mom. It occurs to me that Kristy could grow up and become Sheryl Sandberg, lecturing all the other moms about how they’re not leaning in enough.
Jamie (3) and David Michael (6) bond over GI Joes and the moms of 25 years in the future have collective heart failure over the boys playing with branded violent action figures and start a collection to time travel backwards and hand out waldorf toys to the children of Stoneybrook.
Mrs. Newton shares that it’s 8 weeks until the new baby comes. Kristy says she can’t wait and Mrs. Newton gives her the stink-eye.
Mrs. Newton leaves and Kristy calls MA to give her the all-clear and come over. Because asking permission is lame. Thank god she’s not planning on starting a professional baby-sitting service. Oh, wait…..
Kristy and Mary Anne are sitting and talking about starting their TOTALLY PROFESSIONAL baby-sitting business when they hear a scream and look up and see that Jamie had fallen. He’s totally being three about it, but MA grabs the girls and makes a hasty exit. They plan to go over and see Claudia after the baby-sitting is over.
Kristy exposits about how Claudia is growing up faster. DUDES, SHE’S WEARING A BRA!!!!
Slut Kristy is disgusted because the boys in their grade are gross-what the fuck is WRONG with Claudia?
After that glowing recommendation, Kristy rings Claudia’s doorbell and we are treated to the first of a million descriptions of Claudia’s outfits
She was wearing short, very baggy lavender plaid overalls, a white lacy blouse, a black fedora, and red high-top sneakers without socks. Her long black hair was carefully arranged in four braids. I felt extremely blah compared to her
Don’t we all, Kristy. Don’t we all.
I was so used to seeing Claudia in outfits like that that I didn’t bat an eye. What I did notice was that she was wearing makeup. There was blue stuff on her eyelids, gold stuff about her eyes, and magenta stuff on her cheeks.
Weren’t you worried about Mary Anne’s access to nail polish in chapter 1, Kristy?
Kristy calls Claudia a
tramp clown (no, really–a clown) and for reasons beyond understanding Claudia lets her in instead of slamming the door in Kristy’s face.
We get exposition about how Claudia is Japanese, her parents immigrated as kids (if not read carefully it sounds like they came over together), her parents are conservative and don’t understand her (and she babysits to get her crazy clothes because her parents won’t buy that stuff for her). Claudia’s grandmother lives with them. Janine is Claudia’s 15 year old genius older sister who takes college classes (HI ASIAN STEREOTYPES). Martin then gives us Janine’s IQ–196, and indulges in some nerd bashing about how Janine’s a grammar nazi, her bff is a 14 year old math genius and her other bff is her computer–NERD.
Side note–if Claudia’s makeup, jewelery, art supplies and junk food are all paid for with baby-sitting money, she must baby-sit way more or charge way more than anyone else in Stoneybrook.
Mary Anne shows up and Kristy explains her whole “baby-sitters club” idea.
Claudia, seeing dollar signs, offers her room for meetings since she has her OWN PHONE LINE. She is so much cooler than all of us.
Claudia also knows someone who could join the club–this new girl Stacey McGill. She just moved here from NEW YORK CITY (new game–every time the BSC tells us Stacey is from NEW YORK CITY, we all put a piece of hay between our teeth, make our eyes really big and say in our most hickified voice NOO YAWK SEETEE?).
They agree to all meet the next day at 530 for the first meeting of the baby-sitters club.
Source-Halloween Costume Idea (GUYS WE NEED TO DO THIS)
And our lives would never be the same again….