TITLE: The Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea
AUTHOR: Ann M. Martin
PUBLISHED: Scholastic Inc. 1896
PAGES: 156 pages
READING TIME: 56 minutes
Why is Stoneybrook so obsessed with babysitting?!
I turn 28 next week, and all I want anyone to get me is one of the books from Ann M. Martin’s beloved teen series The Baby-Sitters Club. Preferably with the original covers. When I reread my childhood favorites as an adult, they take on a whole new meaning. It’s like they’re different books. Sometimes they disappoint because they’re unable to transcend childhood memory and satisfy my adult sensibility, but The BSC, I’m happy to say, holds up because of its depth. Yes, depth. I mean, at the center of this series, at least for me, is this burning question: Why is Stoneybrook so fuckin’ obsessed with babysitters?
It’s been years since I’ve thought about The BSC, but my desire to revisit this series was sparked by the podcast The Baby-Sitters Club Club. Hosted by Jack Shepherd and Tanner Greenring–one read the series growing up, the other is reading it for the first time–the podcast examines the themes of friendship and adolescence present in each book. Shepherd and Greenring also devise conspiracy theories about the small town of Stoneybroook. For instance: Whenever a new character is introduced, another must die.
My goal is to reread each book along with the podcast, so my sister gave me Kristy’s Great Idea for Christmas. Kristy Thomas’s idea is that she and her friends Mary Anne Spier and Claudia Kishi, along with the new girl in town Stacey McGill (who’s super cool because she moved from New York City), should start a babysitting club. The club was meant to solve the very pressing problem parents in Stoneybrook seem to have with finding a babysitter. Instead of making four separate phone calls to see if one of the girls was free, The BSC provided a single phone line (Claudia’s bedroom phone) for parents to call and get in touch with four babysitters at once.
Martin’s books are applauded for creating female characters who take initiative and start their own business, but they’re also just real depictions of young girls trying to navigate family, boys, school, and friendship. It’s hard to find books that celebrate female friendship. Sure, the girls have their fights (the BSC almost breaks up in this book!), but they always realize how important their friendship is by the end of the book.
Now, this is important. If you and your friends read The Baby-Sitters Club books growing up, there was probably a character you each identified with most–“I’m a Kristy,” “I’m a Claudia.” Call Kristy bossy and tactless all you want; she was the character I aspired to be when I was a teen. However, I’ve always been somewhere between a Mary Anne and a Claudia. My sister would say I’m Claudia’s precocious older sister Janine who’s always correcting people’s grammar, but what she doesn’t understand is that I only correct her grammar to get under her skin.
Since each book is written from a different girl’s perspective, you end up identifying with them all at some point. But at heart, I guess you have to decide whether you’re a Kristy, a Mary Anne, a Claudia, or a Stacey. I’m probably a Mary Anne.