Tag Archive | The Baby-sitter’s Club

10 Book Challenge

I was challenged to share the 10 books that have most affected me as a reader on Facebook by my friends J and P.  I then spent at least the last few weeks paralyzed every time I tried to compile the list because it’s SO hard to do.

Keep in mind that this list could change over the course of an hour, much less over a day or a week, but here we go–In no particular order, 10 books that profoundly changed my life.  The links will take you the goodreads page for each book.  I’m going to cheat and use a lot of series to count as a single book

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 3.16.18 PM#1–Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

I have already done a blog post specifically about Magic’s Pawn and how profoundly it affected me.  The short recap, though, is that Vanyel was the first gay person I ever met, and in knowing him I became a better person, and I was better equipped to deal come to terms with my own queerness (I’m bisexual).  The importance of that can’t be overstated, and I only wish that I could tell Brian–the clerk at my local Waldenbook’s who handed it to me–how much I appreciate his bringing Vanyel into my life.  I reread this (and then usually the other two Last Herald-Mage books) every year or two.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 12.48.27 am#2 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind makes this list because it was the first super long book I ever read.  There are very valid critiques of the book, including a dangerous romanticizing of the antebellum South.  When I think about Gone With the Wind, I think about how I have viewed Scarlett over the years each time I reread it.  When I first read it, at 11-ish years old, I thought Scarlett at 16 was amazing and headstrong.  I then reread it every 3-5 years.  Most recently I read it around the age of 30, and I thought Scarlett was an idiot teenager and a pretty horrible adult.  In rereading this book, I have watched myself grow up and mature.  My understanding both of the actual setting of the book and the context of the time in which Mitchell wrote it have grown as well, and that allows me a more nuanced read of the book each time I’ve read it.

While I’m not sure I will read it again, or how many years will pass before I do, it stands as one of the important books from my transition from child to teen to adult.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.54.50 PM#3–The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin (link is to book #1)

Considering I’m re-reading and snarking these books, I don’t their inclusion will come as any surprise.  The BSC books were the first series I felt passionate about.  They were the first books whose release I awaited with rabid desire, and that I devoured on the day I bought them because I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.  I’ve felt this way about many book series over the years since, but they were the first and while I mock them, I do so from a place of deep, deep love.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.03.17 am#5–The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce (link is to book #1)

I’ve always been a fan of fantasy, but even as a young reader I noticed a certain lack of estrogen when it came to heroes and adventurers.  Alanna changed all of that for me.  A girl who disguised herself as a boy to earn her shield, does so, comes out as a woman and faces a lot of misogyny, AND who has sexual agency (having three sexual partners over 4 books–off screen because it’s YA, but still) was a revelation for me.  Not only could women star in fantasy novels, they could do so as complex and rich characters.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.11.04 am

Tamora Pierce is an amazing author.  She’s also incredibly gracious–when a writer for XOJane wrote an article about (among other things) meeting Tamora Pierce, I had to comment on it.  And Tamora Pierce commented back!  (She actually engaged with almost everyone on the comment thread, which is just so awesome of her.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.18.45 am#6–Fraud by David Rakoff

My first acquaintance with David Rakoff wasn’t on paper, it was through the NPR show “This American Life,” to which he regularly contributed.  I loved the stories he told there so much, I went out and bought Fraud (and eventually his other books).  Rakoff is a masterful storyteller and his essays, whether on the page or the radio often made me think as well as laugh.  Sometimes they made me sob, much as the last essay in Fraud does.  Listening to him and reading his work has made me a better storyteller.

“I used to bank here, but that was long, long ago” is about Rakoff’s early battle with Hodgkin’s disease which, when it came back years later, killed him.  You can here him tell that story here, or read a transcript of that episode of TAL, including the essay here.  I strongly encourage you to listen to him tell it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.27.44 am#7-Pandora’s Box 2 by Black Lace books

The was the first (second?) erotica title I ever read.  It my introduction to any number of fetishes that helped me unlock my sexuality.  Given that I’m now a professional erotica author, I’m sure it had some impact on me professionally as well, in setting the bar far above my crappy online erotic fanfic.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.34.40 am#8 Man from Mundania by Piers Anthony (and Xanth books 1-20)

The Xanth books by Piers Anthony make this list because of their bad puns.  Anthony would have his characters walk by some seashells and the eyes of the shell would SEE them.  I started reading these around 9/10 years old and the fact that I got the puns in an “adult” book–although really they’d be better classified as YA at best, they were shelved with the adult sci-fi/fantasy books.  They made me feel smart because I got the puns, and in a way made me fall in love with words.  I’d always loved reading, but the Xanth books with their puns and later the Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun which used massive vocabulary words made me love words and language.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.41.20 am#9–Phantom by Susan Kay

I was already an Andrew Lloyd Webber Phantom of the Opera fangirl (or phangirl as we’re known) when I found this in my local library. Kay’s extension of the Phantom character to a full life story (and a far more satisfactory ending) is just awesome.  This is one of my favorite books, period.  It makes the list because it’s okay to be an obsessive nerdy fangirl.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.46.33 am10–Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz

This books looks at how the Civil War lives in on in the modern American South.  My BA is in history, and the intersection of history and memory is very interesting to me.  The reason it makes the list is that it highlights some fairly odd/disturbing aspects of this living history within Southern Culture but never makes it a cartoonish representation that you can then disregard.  Horwitz brings humanity to his subjects and shows them as fairly complicated people, not caricatures.  It’s also an incredibly readable book for a layperson.  One of the reason I didn’t pursue history at the PhD level was that I hated the level of depersonalization I had to do to write about history.  Horwitz isn’t a historian, he’s a journalist, and that impacts the flavor of the book in a positive way.  (Which is not to say that historians don’t write good books, it’s just that it wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.)

So there you have it…for this second anyway.

If you want to play, consider yourself tagged.  If you blog it, please link in the comments.

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-Sitters Club #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.07.14 am

Mary Anne Saves the Day

Ann M. Martin

Originally Published February 1987

 

If you recall, book 3’s co-plot (along with Stacey’s DIABETES) was about how the Baby-Sitter’s Agency honed in on the BSC’s turf and they had to throw down?  That the BSC proved that they were the superior sitters because of how awesome they were?  Even though they were younger, they were more mature?

Well, screw that.

BSC 4 is basically one long fight between the sitters so that Mary Anne can become friends with Dawn.  Without a massive war, she’s so timid that she would never do so otherwise.  There’s also all kinds of slut shaming patriarchal bullshit with her Victorian era Dad, but we’ll get to that later.

The book opens with exposition about the club and how it works as Kristy and Mary Anne walk across the street and are greeted by Mimi’s pleasant Japanese accented voice.  I’m starting to think we need an ongoing counter of how many times Mimi is referred to quickly followed by the words Japanese, quiet, soft, and accent.  Mimi asks Mary Anne how the scarf is coming along because of course Mary Anne knits like all good little girls on the prairie.  (Sidebar, this was before the hipsters claimed knitting for themselves–it’s supposed to be emblematic of how repressed and old fashioned Mary Anne is.)  Blah blah blah Kristy’s parents are divorced and her mom is engaged to a MILLIONAIRE.  Blah blah blah Claudia is an artist with flawless skin and a junk food addiction.  Stacey is from NEW YORK CITY and has diabetes.  It’s like BSC Bingo.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.02.09 amHere, I made a BSC bingo card for you

Why the book-long fight?  It’s all that bitch Mrs. Newton’s fault for having a baby.

“Yes,” Kristy was saying.  “Yes…  Oh, Jaime and Lucy.”  (Claudia and Stacey and I squealed with delight.)  “Friday…six till eight…  Of course.  I’ll be there.  Great.  See you.”  She hung up.

From there it devolves to Claudia is a job-hog (not like it’s her phone line and she has to do extra work or anything), Stacey has plenty of friends back in NYC and doesn’t need them, Mary Anne is a big baby, Kristy tells Mary Anne to shut up and she yells back at Kristy, Stacey’s diabetes are called dumb, and Mary Anne loses her shit on everyone.

Maybe I am shy,” I said loudly, edging toward the door.  “And maybe I am quiet, but you guys cannot step all over me.  You want to know what I think?  I think you, Stacey, are a conceited snob; and you, Claudia are a stuck-up job-hog; and you, Kristin Amanda Thomas, are the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, and I don’t care if I never see you again!”

The rest of their argument is various retreads of this.  Book 4–have you read books 1-3?  A huge fight was also part of the plot of book 1.  There are over 100 books left to go–let’s not retread plots already.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.18.02 amWithout the introduction of Dawn’s mom, this would have been Mary Anne’s future.

As has been well established, Mary Anne’s mother is DEAD.  Of what?  Who cares!  We do find out that her name was Alma, though, which fits with the weird time-warp parenting style of Mary Anne’s father, Richard.  Since he acts like one, we’re just going to call Richard “Dick” for my own amusement.

Dick, having been left to raise this freakishly female creature, has decided that his worth as a father is to turn out the perfect Victorian/Edwardian era daughter.  Christian Grey had fewer rules for Anastasia—Life with Dick is 50 Shades of Patriarchal Bullshit.

  • She must wear braids at all times
  • She must dress well for dinner
  • She mustn’t say naughty words like gross, hey, and “a long list of other words”
  • Must have perfect table manners
  • Her room is pink and white, which are appropriate girl colors
  • The only picture in her room is Mary Anne and her parents on her Christening Day
  • The only artwork in her room is Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland prints

The relationship between Mary Anne and her father is so disturbing on so many levels.  Clearly, Mary Anne is supposed to be filling in for the “woman of the house.”  She cooks, cleans, is supposed to be dressed nicely for dinner and ask her father about his day.  She’s supposed to know what cases her dad is involved in at court and care about them deeply.

We also see the first mention of religion in the books.  Apparently, Dick asks God to watch over Alma before every single meal, which even Mary Anne thinks is overkill.  She mentions praying at night.  I’m not sure if the super strict is supposed to be tied in with religion, but it’s all kinds of Lurlene McDaniel’s level religiosity and appropriate female behavior (6 months to live review is here).

What does Mary Anne want in life?  To sometimes wear her hair differently, and to have a kitten poster and an NYC poster in her yellow and navy colored bedroom.  Also, to babysit a bit later, sometimes.  UNREASONABLE.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.36.27 amEnter Dawn

Since Mary Anne is fighting with her friends, she needs to find a seat in the cafeteria.  She sits down next to some other friendless loser, who turns out to be Dawn who is new in town.  Because Dawn is from California, she is blonde and health conscious.  She’s also a pretentious hippie and future vegan who shames the rest of us, but that develops over future books.

Mary Anne decides to befriend Dawn to get back at Kristy.  As they’re talking, Kristy looks over and is jealous, so Mary Anne really builds is up, going so far as to agree to hang out at Dawn’s house the next day after school.

Dawn’s mom Sharon is a flake.  She puts shoes in the freezer and can’t focus on a task for more than 5 seconds.  She’s like the polar opposite of Mary Anne’s Dad.  Gee, that’s interesting.

Dawn tells Mary Anne that they moved to Stoneybrooke because her parents divorced and her mom grew up here.  Hey, so did Dick!  What are the odds that they knew each other?  Is anyone thinking of that movie Parent Trap?  If not, Dawn and Mary Anne actually sit down and WATCH THE PARENT TRAP to get it into your mind.  Gee, I wonder what Martin is telegraphing here.  Maybe they could watch The Odd Couple next?

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.54.30 amI don’t think this is the kitty poster Mary Anne had in mind

BSC meeting, y’all.  Said meeting is hostile, lots of sticking out of tongues, hostility, blah blah blah.  Except Kristy isn’t there!  She blew off HER club.  When confronted about it, she suggested that the four of them take turns on phone duty during club meetings and the rest are at their homes.  Each girl can take whatever jobs she can handle offered to her during her shift and then has to call the others to find a sitter for the ones she’s not.  I wonder how well that will work?

On Mary Anne’s first day as the sole representative of the BSC she lines up a job with the Prezzioso’s–possible the only family in Stoneybrook that is more uptight and formal than hers.  For an afternoon at home, Jenny Prezzioso is wearing “a frilly white dress trimmed with yards of lavender lace and ribbon, matching lavender socks, and shiny black patent leather Mary Janes.  her hair had been curled, and was pulled back form either side of her face by barrettes from which long streamers flowed.”  Her parents call her Angel.  Yes, she IS a spoiled brat, how did you guess?

Mary Anne’s Dad loses a case, so obviously Marry Anne picks that moment to push for later baby sitting times, no braids, etc.  Dick shuts her down.  She’s emo because now she’s fighting with him, too.  Mary Anne goes to Mimi for soft spoken accented advice.  At some point in the conversation Mimi calls Mary Anne “My Mary Anne.”  I gasp at the outrageous faux pas.  Claudia overhears this and goes ballistic (AS WELL SHE SHOULD.  WTF, MIMI????).

The next time Mary Anne is the BSC, Claudia stays in her room and plays her music super loud.  Like I said, as they proved in Book 3, the BSC is a totes professional organization.  Then a series of phone calls come in forcing Mary Anne to call Kristy multiple times, culminating in the arranging of a joint babysitting job at the Pikes for herself and Kristy.

I’ll spare you the details but the Pike sitting job boils down to Kristy and Mary Anne only communicating via a passed message through all the Pike kids.

Mary Anne gets back from the Pikes five minutes late, and asks her dad for a later sitting time so she wouldn’t be late.   SHOCKER–Dick says no.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 12.13.16 pmGet to the point about Sharon and Dick

 

Dawn and Mary Anne go through Dick’s old yearbooks.  Not only did Dick and Sharon know each other, they were involved.   They find Sharon’s yearbook and Dick’s note to her.  Wow, if only things had been different, they’d be sisters!

That weekend Mary Anne babysits bratty Jenny Prezzioso, who morphs into high fever Jenny.  As this is the pre-cell era, Mary Anne has to call around, but can’t track down the parents.  After trying everything, she calls Dawn and then 911.  An ambulance comes to take Jenny to the hospital with Mary Anne.  Dawn is going to call and leave messages for Jenny’s parents (because again, no cell phone to call from while in the ambulance or while at the hospital).  The doctors are caring for Jenny when the parents arrive with the mom in hysterics for her ANGEL.  Mr. P gives Dawn and Mary Anne major cash for doing such a great job and drops them off at Mary Anne’s house.  What the hell did we do before cell phones?

Mary Anne and Dawn are looking at pictures in Dick’s albums.  They are magically seated such that Kristy looks over and sees them together.  Mary Anne puts her arm around Dawn and sticks out her tongue at Kristy.  Dawn catches her in the act and storms out when she realizes that Mary Anne has been using her to get back at Kristy.

Mr P calls Dick and tells her how awesome and mature Mary Anne is.  Mary Anne brings up those small things she wants and gets a later sitting time, the agreement that she can sometimes wear her hair down, AND that she can put up a poster on her wall.  Drunk with maturity, she writes Dawn and Kristy apologies for being such a bitch for the past 13 chapters.

Before the sitters can come back together, they have to ruin Jamie Newton’s birthday party.  Which serves his mom right for provoking the fight in the first place.  In fact, Mrs. Newton has been nothing but trouble since book 1 with her pregnancy and her spawning and her looking for responsible older sitters.  She dares to ask “one of them” to go check on the baby–which NATCH starts a fight.  Things escalate until punch is everywhere.  Way to prove that vaunted maturity, ladies. After the party Mary Anne orders everyone over to Claudia’s house and forces everyone to make up.

That night Mary Anne asks her dad about Dawn’s mom.  It’s all Romeo and Juliet–they were in love, her family didn’t approve, blah blah blah

Chapter 16–SIXTEEN!!!  WHAT BLASPHEMY!!!—Dick and Sharon finally meet again when she drops Dawn off at the house.  Stares and starry eyes, and he asks her out.  Mary Anne introduces Dawn to everyone and she is inducted into the BSC

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #3 The Truth About Stacey

Thank god it’s a BSC week.  I need to get the taste of that horrible Sweet Valley book out of my mouth.  Say what you will about the BSC (and we can and will say plenty) at least there was never this horrible level of fat shaming and manipulation that we saw in SVH.

the truth about staceyThe Truth About Stacey

Ann M. Martin

Originally Published December 1986

After being super pregnant for two books, Mrs. Newton is about to pop.  Kristy, being the forward thinker that she is, assumes that Mrs. Newton has no plans for Jamie when she goes into labor.  Obviously, the baby will be born during sanctioned sitting hours so they can ride to the rescue.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the phone call where Kristy tells Mrs. Newton all of this because Janine bursts in, and is all a-tizzy.  This is out of character, but I think this is supposed to be an extension of her and Claudia’s bonding moment in book 2.  Janine found a flyer for the “The Baby-sitters Agency.” OH NOES! Their sitters are age 13 and up and can babysit MUCH later than the BSC girls can!

Kristy converts the BSC meeting to an EMERGENCY meeting (they have a lot of emergency meetings in these early books—If I recall that slows down pretty quickly-maybe because soon we have Dawn’s California zen attitude calming them down…or the reefer fumes coming off her hippie clothes do).

Who ARE these Baby-sitters Agency girls?

“Those two aren’t babysitters any more than I’m the Queen of France. … They have smart mouths, they sass the teachers, they hate school, they hang around at the mall. You know, that kind of kid.”

I’m impressed that Claudia managed to effectively slutshame them without ever actually mentioning boys. These are BAD GIRLS. You just know how this is going to go down.

Kristy calls the BSA, pretending to be a seventh grader named Candy Kane, who needs a sitter for her little brother Harry because she has a date with her boyfriend Winston Churchill. She’s offered three sitters, one of whom is a HIGH SCHOOL GIRL.  I’m dying of laughter over here.

 

bsc logo meme

Kristy is like the Don Corleone of Stoneybook. This second babysitting organization can’t be allowed to survive. After all there’s only like 10 families with kids (apparently) and the nearest town next to Stoneybrook is 20 miles away. Clearly, there isn’t enough business to go around.

Stacey goes home and feels depressed. To pass the time, she gives a lengthy exposition about the last year of her life. How her diabetes was discovered, what diabetes is, and how it wrecked her life.

Before diabetes, Stacey lived on the Upper West Side of NYC with a view of Central Park from her bedroom. I hate to bring realism into this, but her parents have to be millionaires for that to be true (especially as she also attended a private school—which is good for 30+K USD a year on its own). I think Martin just wanted to paint all of us the ideal NYC life—because she knows that just like Mary Anne, we’re all dreaming of living in NYC. I’d love to know what a real New Yorker thought of the huge disconnect between Stacey’s NYC life and real NYC life—or if they just shrugged it off because it’s fiction?

After the diagnosis (which came after several embarrassing things, including wetting the bed at a sleepover—which would absolutely be mortifying for a tweenager), her parents morph into psychotic helicopter parents. At first Stacey doesn’t necessarily manage the diabetes well, fainting at school and getting hospitalized a few times. They also don’t want anyone to know that Stacey has diabetes. The way they handle this makes me think they’d be best buddies with Elsa and Anna’s parents.

(watch all the way, including past the credits)

Stacey and her bff go from friends to enemies overnight. In part, obviously because Stacey has cut her out and is lying. Stacey was thrilled to move to CT and get a fresh start. Now she has friends because of the BSC and she’ll be damned if she loses them because of a competing babysitting agency. Which is incredibly flawed logic from the 35 year old perspective, but makes sense from a 12 year old.

The next day there is yet another emergency BSC meeting.  This is the first appearance of Kristy in the chair with the visor and clipboard that becomes iconic within the series.  However, Kristy is uncharacteristically hysterical and says they should do free housework, drop their rates and bring kid-kits to every appointment.  AND they will hire some older kids, too.  The only idea any of them like is the kid-kits (which also become iconic), but they reluctantly agree to bring in older kids.

Stacey babysits Charlotte Johanssen.  On the way to the playground, they stop at a candy store.  In what I think is a really wonderful and genuine moment, Stacey is tempted to buy some.  Her diabetes is new, after all, and she remembers candy vividly.  As they’re walking, they run into Liz Lewis who hands them a balloon advertising The Baby-sitters Agency.

balloonsevil incarnate

Kristy was worried.  She took the balloons as a personal insult.  It turned out that she’d run into Liz that afternoon herself.  Only Kristy had had the nerve to tell Liz who she was–president of the Baby-sitters Club, and therefore Liz’s number one rival.

Upon reading this, I hope against hope that Kristy is about to break out the Jets jackets and Liz the Sharks and that they’ll break into some kind of snazzy dance based gang fight.  JAZZ HANDS!

One day after school Kristy and Stacey go to Kristy’s house to find Jamie Newton eating cookies with Mrs. Thomas.  Mrs. Newton had a game plan!  Score one for responsible adults!  This of course leads to discussions about how long babies take to be born and what time each of the BSC girls were born.  We get the reminder that Mary Anne’s mom is dead dead dead.  Thus she can’t find out what time she was born because obviously her dad wouldn’t know?  (Luckily Mimi knows and tells her, circumventing her having a conversation with her father.)

Jamie feels a sense of camaraderie with Honest Toddler, and is pissed off that his parents have afflicted him with Infant Sibling Disease.  Kristy decides to throw him a big brother party and invite neighborhood kids.  We get our first appearance of Mallory Pike, who can’t seem to decide if she belongs with the little kids or the baby-sitters because she is destined to spend the series not fitting in with either.  Mrs. Newton calls during the festivities to tell them it’s a girl.  Jamie is not whelmed.

But it isn’t just the appearance of a baby sister that has Jamie Newton upset.

“Something else will be different.  There will be lots of changes.”

“What else will be different?” I asked.

“Kristy can’t baby-sit me anymore.”

“What do you mean?”  That cold feeling crept into my stomach again.

“Mommy called a girl and said ‘We need an older sitter for the new baby.'”

Look, I’m all for 13 year old sitters for my 2 and 5 year olds, but a newborn?  Nope, you’re going to have to be 17/18 at the very youngest and 22+ by preference.  How much you want to bet this entirely rational, responsible, good choice is going to blow up in Mrs. Newton’s face?  Any takers?

Stacey tells Kristy what Jamie had said.  Kristy narrows her eyes and says “this means war.”

this means war

At school they see the BSA girls handing out flyers and they snag one from a boy (because boys don’t babysit, duh).  Kristy calls a triple-emergency meeting at her house after school because it’s her day with David Michael.  For now–what if her mom turns traitor like Mrs. Newton?  It’s TOO RISKY to talk about things at school.  Kristy would make a great drug kingpin.  Queenpin.  Whatever.

Stacey’s parents are going to take her to go see some new holistic new-agey doctor who will cure her diabetes through nonsense.  She tries to tell her parents she thinks the idea is full of shit and gets a stonewall of “we’re your parents and we want what’s best for you.”  Stacey is rightfully skeptical of this, and asks Charlotte’s mom about this Dr. Barnes character and has her worst fears confirmed–Her idiot parents are taking her to a quack.

If the BSA is going to use flyers to advertise for new members, then the BSC members are going to wear sandwich boards to advertise for new members.  As they do, they learn that they are the only baby-sitters worth a damn in the town.  Everyone else watches tv and is horrified at interacting with children.  UGH, children.  Everyone but Kristy fails…but she has two new members.

That these two new members are pals of Liz?  No problem!  They had a falling out!  THIS IS NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.

But before the next BSC meeting, the girls go over to visit the Newtons.  They all have presents for the baby and Jamie.  However, Kristy uses this as an excuse to call out Mrs. Newton for being a traitor.  Mrs. Newton gives a reasonable explanation for why this is her choice for now.  She’ll get hers.

At the BSC meeting, the two new girls get assigned jobs for that weekend.

what could possibly go wrong

Shocking news.  The new girls don’t show up to the meeting on Monday.  Kristy gets irate phone calls to ask why the hell the girls didn’t show up at their jobs.  Kristy decides to confront the girls at school the next day–and gets upset when they laugh in her face.  I never saw that coming.

A few days later Stacey sees Jamie Newton and he’s mopey.  His sitters neglect him and worse.

Jamie nodded.  “With a–a cigarette.”  He said “cigarette” as if it were a dirty word.  Neither of his parents is a smoker.

“Gosh,” I said.  “Anything else?”

“Sometimes they talk on the phone.  They talk longer than Mommy and Daddy do…Stacey?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s a boyfriend?”

Ann M. Martin left no bad babysitter stereotype untouched, did she?  There are NO sitters worth a damn in Stoneybrook except the BSC.  (And maybe Kathy, if she’s still watching David Michael two days a week…unless she turned traitor and joined the BSA?  This is never addressed.  I don’t know if we ever see Kathy again.)

Then Stacey babysits Charlotte and finds out that she’s been getting babysat by bad girls too.  Who only babysit her for the money!  Stacey is indignant at the idea, forgetting that she babysits in part to buy clothes.  With cuddles and kisses, apparently because stores don’t take money.  While Dr. Johanssen is a traitor who hires BSA girls, she does come through for Stacey with a letter for her parents.

What (Stacey) told us got the club ready for the final battle in the war against the Baby-sitters Agency (entry in BSC notebook by Mary Anne)

The BSC girls are walking home and find Jamie Newton on the sidewalk outside his house with no coat and no supervision.  The girls tell him to go back inside and only play in the fenced in backyard, and to wear his coat and mittens. See, I told you Mrs. Newton would get what was coming to her.

When Mrs. Newton comes home, they go over and tell her what happened.  They’re scared of being seen as tattletales, but are relieved when Mrs. Newton believes them.

“Mrs. Newton,” Kristy said suddenly, “I know you’ll want to call Cathy about this afternoon yourself, but could you let us talk to Liz and Michelle?  We have a score to settle with them.”

sharks and jetsLike this, PLEASE!!!!!

I’m so disappointed to tell you that there is no dance fighting.  The girls defeat the BSA with trivia.  What’s Jamie Newton’s favorite sandwich?  What’s Charlotte Johanssen’s favorite game?  What does it mean when Nina Marshall rubs her ears?  What is Nina allergic to?  SEE?  They’re better babysitters and now Liz knows it, too.

Stacey and her parents leave for New York.  Oh noes!  They’re going to stay with Laine’s family.  Stacey will have to face off against her frenemy.

Stace has to go to the witch doctor and get endless, expensive tests.  After a day of this, she sits her parents down and introduces them to reality.  She likes real doctors and has made her own appointment with the help of Dr. Johanssen.  Her parents agree to meet with him, who explains to them that Stacey already has good doctors and is doing a great job of managing her diabetes.  Her biggest problem is her parents (revisit the “How Frozen Should Have Ended” video above again).  At least they agree to back off.

Stacey, flush with triumph at taking control of her health issues confronts Laine.  Laine didn’t know what was going on, was upset at being blocked out, and when another kid suggested Stacey was contagious she believed him.  Stacey explains that she almost had to stay back and that the attention she was getting wasn’t exactly positive.  They make up and all is right with the world.

However, in obsessing over her relationship with Laine, Stacey never once talks to Claudia as a BFF.  This is particularly interesting as it is a HUGE plot point throughout the books that Stacey and Claudia are best friends.  This strikes me as weird.

Once back in Stoneybrook, Stacey learns that the parents have taken down the BSA.  Apparently they had this crazy idea of asking their kids about what the new sitters were like, and once they found out, they started calling one another.  Everyone, mark it on your calendar–this may be one of the only moments adults in Stoneybrook act like adults.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 7.18.50 PMKristy decides to let them live since they’re no longer competing with HER.

I’m torn on this book.  The BSA/BSC war is hilarious.  The way that Stacey’s parents treat diabetes like HIV is just stupid.  However, the way that Stacey advocates for herself is really admirable, and I think that’s what a lot of people respond to.  On one hand, this article discusses this book as an important part of the author’s journey of acceptance with his own diabetes.  On the other, I asked my friend S, who is also a type 1 diabetic about the book and she said “However my vague recollection is of scary view of diabetes that would freak me out if I read it again now and based on those memories the girls won’t be reading them.”  You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Next week: Prom Dress by Lael Littke.

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #1 Kristy’s Great Idea Chapters 13-15 (book complete)

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.

Part 1–Chapters 1-3 can be found here

Part 2-Chapters 4-8 can be found here

Part 3-Chapters 9-12 can be found here

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.54.50 PMKristy’s Great Idea

by Ann M Martin (confirmed)

Chapter 13

Kristy has been condemned to a fate worse than death.  She is going to have to baby-sit Watson’s demon spawn kids because his ex-wife broke her ankle.  Her future husband is out of town, so Watson is going to go help her at the hospital and ensure she gets home safely.


Waston put his foot on the accelerator and vroomed us down the driveway.  I’ve never seen anyone in such a big hurry–and all over a broken ankle.  If Watson could have flown the car back to his house I think he would have.

Watson practically throws Kristy and the kids out of the car, shouting the bare bones rundown—feed them pbj, and if there’s an emergency to call Kristy’s mom.  I wonder if Mrs. Thomas has been getting to know Karen and Andrew at all, given that Watson is putting in major effort to get to know the Thomas kids?  No mention of Boo-Boo the hellcat.  I guess that means there won’t be a third runaway pet subplot?

I stood in Watson’s front yard and looked at Andrew and Karen.  Baby-sitting for them was the absolutely last thing I wanted to do.

I sighed heavily

Ugh, babysitting.  Amirite President of The Baby-sitters Club?

Karen tells Kristy that she wanted pop tarts for breakfast but her mom said no, even though her dad lets them have them and who knows what because Karen never shuts up or gets to the point.  I may have to put up with that from my own daughter, but I can skim over Karen’s babbling.

Karen ate a few bites of her sandwich, then suddenly looked at me very seriously, her brown eyes glistening.  “Is our Mommy all right?” she asked me.

Kristy is capable of being an asshat to Karen’s dad, but she can’t bring herself to be one to Karen.  So she reassures Karen, sharing the story of how she broke her ankle last summer.  Against her best efforts, and despite Karen’s nonstop babble, Kristy starts to warm to Karen.  Oh yeah, Andrew is in the room, too.

Then this happens…

“My daddy says he loves your mommy.”

“I guess,” I said uncomfortably.  I realized that Karen looked uncomfortable too.

“If they get married, your mommy will be my mommy.”

“Stepmommy, I mean stepmother.”  I corrected her.  “And guess what.  I’d be stepsister.  And yours, Andrew.”

“Yup,” said Andrew.

Karen thought for a while again. “I guess that would be okay,” she said at last.  And then, “Do you like being divorced, Kristy?”

“No particularly,” I said.

Karen confesses that she doesn’t want her mom to get remarried or her dad–that she just wants them to get together again.  Andrew starts crying (which I don’t entirely buy–three year old’s don’t really get stuff like that, and their memories are quite short–he likely doesn’t remember his parents ever being married, although I totally buy that Karen does).  Kristy distracts them with ice cream as a special “divorced kids’ treat.”

Karen and Kristy in particular bond (Andrew is wallpaper…he might as well not even be a character).  When Watson gets home, Karen says she’s okay if Kristy gets to be her stepsister.  Kristy feels shy (which is a nice moment for Kristy, and a bit of personal growth).  Andrew is napping so Kristy hangs out with Watson and Karen for an hour until he wakes up.  She finally ditches the angry tweenager vibe (at least for the moment).

That night Mrs. Thomas comes in and manages not to scream I TOLD YOU SO in Kristy’s face.  Kristy begins to ask the big questions–what will actually happen if her mom and Watson get married.

Apart from the small details, the second half of this chapter is a bit hard to snark because there’s genuine emotion and character development happening.  I’m sure that won’t last though…C’mon Martin, give us more secret diabetes and stereotypes.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 10.48.54 PMfrom the graphic novel

Chapter 14

Great news, guys!  Mary Anne has convinced her dad to let her half her baby-sitting money!  VICTORY!  (West Wing geeks–bring her the finest muffins and bagels in all the land for she drinks from the key of glory).  Claudia has explained to her parents that she isn’t an Asian stereotype, and is willing to give up some tv time to let her grandmother help her with Math homework.  Too bad she can’t get Martin to understand that stereotypes are useless.  Kristy asks Stacey how New York was, and Stacey says it was FINE, OKAY?

“You know, the strangest thing happened on Saturday morning,” I said.  As usual, I couldn’t help it.  I was dying to say what I knew.  There would be no stopping me, despite the fact that Claudia was sending me an urgent telegram with her eyes.  Shut up, they were saying.  Don’t do this.  But it was too late, even though I knew I was going to cause problems.  Even though I knew Claudia still considered Mary Anne and me babies, and Stacey sophisticated, and therefore was going to protect Stacey and whatever she was up to.

“Mary Anne saw you come home with your parents on Saturday,” I said.  “How come you made your mom say you stayed in New York?”

Stacey shoots a death glare at Mary Anne and flips out, calling Kristy a baby.  BURN.  You’re from NYC–even if you are a private school kid you know how to curse her out in multiple languages.  Baby is the best you’ve got? Martin noted that Claudia thinks MA and K are babies not two paragraphs ago.  Someone get Martin a thesaurus–even use juvenile/infantile instead of baby if you’re not going to use dipstick, jerkface, or some other 80’s insult.

Claudia jumps to Stacey’s defense noting (correctly) that Kristy has no tact.  Mary Anne says nothing.  Kristy tells Stacey not to treat her like a little kid by lying to them.

 Claudia’s lovingly described outfits allow her to point out “you are a little kid–look at the way you’re dressed.”  Kristy is wearing a sweater with snowmen and snowflakes on it.

“Well you’ve got sheep barrettes in your hair,” I yelled.  “You think they’re adult?”

Ok, now I’m ready to throw down–we do NOT mock Claudia’s fashion.

Mary Anne tries to make peace and is yelled out, making her burst into tears.  She’s called a cry baby for it.  Oh my god, Anne–according to your author’s note, you used to be  teacher.  In what universe did you teach?  Baby, crybaby and mean is the worst you can conjure up?  My third graders had fouler mouths than these seventh graders.

In the midst of the BSC cage match, the phone rings.  They all try to answer it.  Somehow the mom on the other end still offers them a job….which GASP they’re all available for.  (WOW-Who saw that coming?)  The club looks like it’s about to fall apart when Kristy calls dibs since the club was her idea in the first place.  The meeting breaks up with enough of a chill in the room to inspire what future museum curator’s will refer to as Claudia Kishi’s “ice carving period.”  (I wonder if you can carve other barnyard barrettes out of ice?)

Kristy gets home, sure it will all just blow over.  After all, everyone knows she’s a loudmouth with no tact.

GASP!  In a totally unforeseen plot twist Mrs. Thomas and Watson are ENGAGED!  Mrs. Thomas is sporting serious bling–Kristy describes it as “the size of a boulder.”  Nice to know that Watson made up for being such a pussy in chapter 11.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.09.16 PMFor the record, most of the graphic novel is free on amazon in the preview feature.  It’s hilariously bad.

Chapter 15

On Tuesday, Mary Anne and I avoided Claudia and Stacey in school until the very end of the day.  Then I screwed up the nerve to ask Claudia if she wanted to hold a Baby-sitters Club meeting the next day as usual.  She said it was all right with her.

Scene change to Kristy’s family going over to Watson’s for dinner that night.  There is no further explanation, or even dialogue to show us how icy Claud’s demeanor might still be.  Claudia is fine with a BSC meeting because…..Ann is contractually obligated to write three more books in the series at this point.

All six kids and Mrs. Thomas and Watson are having dinner to celebrate the engagement.  Karen is Karen–her mom Lisa and Mrs. Thomas are saints.  SAINTS.

Dinner was fun.  Watson made fondue. He set a pot full of hot, melty cheese in the middle of the table.  Then he gave everyone a long fork and a plate of pieces of French bread.  You were supposed to spear a piece of bread with your fork, dip it in the cheese, and eat it.  Watson made this rule that if your bread fell off your fork and landed in the cheese, you had to kiss the person on your right.

Guess who is sitting to Watson’s left?  New rule–No weird stepdaughter/stepfather moments like this–I’m going to call it the “Petals on the Wind” law.

Everyone starts making up silly rules.  But then Kristy drops some bread in the cheese.  Ruh-roh.  Kristy gives Watson a super fast kiss on the cheek (thus honoring the “Petals on the Wind law”), but feels guilty about it being so fast later (treading the line) and leaves him a note on his bathroom mirror apologizing for it being super weird and fast (and thus breaking the law–she was so close).  It’s just uncomfortable and bizarre and unnecessary.  I’m betting Ann M Martin was almost a big a fan of VC Andrews as I would be once I moved on from the BSC (when *I* was the same age as the BSC girls, for the record).

The next day, Mary Anne and I walked to Claudia’s house for the club meeting.  We went together, sort of as protection.  When we reached Claudia’s room, we found her talking to Stacey.  When we entered, the talking stopped.  Silence.

Mary Anne and I sat down.  I was determined not to be the first one to speak, since I felt I had already made an effort by asking whether we were going to hold a meeting that day.

At long last, Claudia said, “I’m sorry I was so mean yesterday.  I’m sorry I yelled.”  She was looking at Mary Anne but not at me.

This is one of the least believable makeups in literary history.  They make up for the same reason that Claudia agreed to have the meeting in the first place–because Martin has a four book contract.

They offer to get Stacey a salad from the pizza parlor so she won’t be left out during the pizza party.  THANK YOU.  Was that so fucking hard?

Stacey steels herself and confesses that she has a secret.  THANK GOD.

Kristy asks her if she’s anorexic (nope- that will be Jessi’s ballet classmate in book 61).  Shut up, Kristy–let’s get the big reveal over with.

Brace yourselves, y’all…

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 10.23.07 PM

Given the buildup, I thought we needed a big reveal here, too

Diabetes has been so traumatic that Stacey thinks it’s why they moved to Stoneybrook–instead of the Hail Mary Pass on her parent’s marriage that it actually was.  Stacey recounts being bullied because of her diabetes.  Her new BFF’s tell her that they love and accept her, but maybe she shouldn’t tell anyone at school, to which I can only….

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 2.20.28 AMCaptain Picard feels my pain

Sam knocks on the door to leave a snack outside.  Mrs. Thomas isn’t an asshole, and has left an apple for Stacey along with cookies for the other girls.  This is an example of what we call common courtesy, girls.

“Your brother’s so cute, Kristy,” said Stacey.

“I guess. For a boy.”

“No, really….Do you like any boys, Kristy?”

I made a face.

“What do–” Stacey started to say, but I held my finger to my lips.

“Shh!” I hissed.  “Do you hear that?”

“Something at the window.”

We made ourselves quiet.  We couldn’t hear a sound.

“I guess it’s nothing,” I said.

Let’s not wonder what it was—let’s tell scary stories that happened while babysitting instead of checking the yard for a zombie or a serial killer.

I know what that sound was–it was the sound of foreshadowing for book 2.

Kristy feels all warm and fuzzy and hopes the BSC will be around for a long time.  Don’t worry, Kristin Amanda Thomas—Ann M. Martin is going to ride that cash cow and all associated cash cows into the ground.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.00.04 AMThere were apparently not one, but TWO BSC board games.  I have SO MUCH ebay shopping to do….

So fellow BSC fans, that’s book one.  Shall I do the next book?  Or an episode of the TV show.  Or how about the movie?  Any other non BSC snarking nostalgic requests?

 

Snarking Nostalgic–The Baby-sitters Club #1 Kristy’s Great Idea Chapters 1-3

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.54.50 PMKristy’s Great Idea

Original Publication Date-August 1986

One of the books we know for sure was written by Martin (after book 36, many were ghostwritten)

Chapter 1

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.44.46 PM

Chapter 2

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.45.15 PM

Chapter 3

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.

But then—-

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.50.43 PMSource-Halloween Costume Idea (GUYS WE NEED TO DO THIS)

And our lives would never be the same again….

Part 2  (chapters 4-8) is here.