Great idea, Kristy!

martin_kristy's great idea yellow  martin_kristy's great idea pink  telgemeier_kristy's great idea
The Baby-Sitters Club turns thirty this month, as many of my contemporaries and I know from tweets and articles that are making us feel really old. (Relax — the BSC was popular well into the nineties, so your memories of it might be only twenty-something years old.) In any case, Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, Mallory, Jessi, Abby, sometimes Logan, and sometimes Shannon were an accomplished bunch. Some of their achievements:

  • They virtually always managed to get the entire club to meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, on top of school and a host of extracurriculars and, oh yeah, baby-sitting!

  • And kept a handwritten notebook of their babysitting experiences.

  • And solved mysteries. And still had time for Super Special vacations. And Super Mysteries.

  • They got me to read descriptions of outfits. Outfits, you guys.

  • Actually, they basically got me to read the same chapter over and over. Yes, Chapter 2 always told us what the club was and who its members were (and what they wore), but it told us a little bit differently each time. (And honestly, being told about something you already know is kind of comforting.)

  • Besides creating their own style (sheep were in), they created their own slang. They were so dibble, of course it was fresh.

  • They (gasp!) supported each other and enjoyed each other’s company while being different people with different interests and talents. And they weren’t archetypes. Stylish Stacey was a math whiz. Sporty loudmouth Kristy was besties with quiet, romantic Mary Anne. Logan was a boy baby-sitter.

  • Okay, there were some archetypes. But Dawn was still dibbly fresh, even if her “California girl” personality was a little on the nose.

  • They started a successful, lasting business. While they were in middle school.

  • They kept the children of Stoneybrook alive. Not just through a few hours of babysitting here and there; they started day camps and threw parties and ran carnivals. Again, in middle school.

  • They actually did dispense good baby-sitting advice, and practical life advice while they were at it. I’ve known what to do in first-aid situations because the baby-sitters told me.

  • Like all great entrepreneurs, they timed their operation perfectly, in the days before their “reach a lot of babysitters at once” mission could be achieved with a mass text.

  • They let everyone be an officer, whether “president” or something like “alternate officer” or “junior officer.” (They also had an “associate member” option for really, really busy types, though I wonder if that was partly to keep Logan out of the meetings in Claudia’s bedroom.)

  • They got themselves and the children of Stoneybrook through all sorts of problem novel–type problems pretty much unscathed — well, with the exception of Jackie Rodowsky’s various injuries. (In all seriousness, the BSC books were my age-appropriate introduction to all sorts of issues.)

  • They were thoroughly wholesome, but still allowed us to feel rebellious because we were reading what our friends handed us while we could’ve been reading what our parents handed us.

  • Mary Anne was into knitting and old movies. The baby-sitters constantly made references to culture from before their time (I Love Lucy, anyone?). They were hipsters before it was cool!

And, in their greatest feat…

  • They stopped time, relived the same year through dozens of books, and still managed to have a thirtieth anniversary.

Happy thirtieth, BSC!

30th cupcake
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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