For a large part of my childhood, it was just my dad and I. I mean, I spent the afternoons with my Nan until my dad got off of work, but I lived with my dad and only occasionally saw my mom (I learned later that the fact that I was being raised by my dad was one of the reasons I didn’t have many friends in elementary school, but that’s a story that can be told another time, if at all). Anyway, when I DID see my mom, I was usually bitter and resentful and would spend most of the time with a nose in a book so that I didn’t have to pay attention to her or her current boyfriend.
I have a very strong memory of being 7 years old and wandering off in a Gemco to find the books section. My mom dragged me there because they were under liquidation and it was an EVERYTHING MUST GO ZOMG THE DEALS! sale. I don’t even remember if she was panicked or mad or whatever, I just remember that I read Kristy’s Great Idea and Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls sitting on the lowest book shelf while I waited for her to finish, then I made her buy me The Truth About Stacey before I’d even agree to leave the store. Dude. I’ve always been a fast reader, don’t judge.
The best thing about long running kids’ series like The Baby-Sitters Club is that when you’re young, it’s almost instant gratification. If you’re reading them as they come out, you never have to wait more than a month or two for the next book. They never end on cliffhangers, and even if you miss a book (or ten), you can pick up anywhere in the series and know exactly what’s going on.
Because after the first few books where the girls of the BSC are in the 7th grade, they’re forever 13 and in the 8th grade, having summer vacation after summer vacation (filled with being the best baby-sitters ever, natch), but constantly cycling back through the 8th grade again (except for that one later book where Claudia is [gasp] sent back to the 7th grade…don’t worry, though, it was only temporary).
Stoneybrook, Connecticut (and even the surrounding area) seems to be stuck in some sort of temporal vortex where no one really ages or changes. When you’re a kid, you notice this shit. It always bugged me that I was getting to be older than the BSC, and I still carry a little bit of that bitterness.
I’m talking about this now because a few weeks ago I discovered the gloriousness that is openlibrary.org, and found that they have ELEVENTY BILLION BSC PDFs (not exaggerating too much here, there are a ton of these books) that I am able to check out and read on my nifty new Nook HD.
I had no idea where to start, though. I didn’t want to start at the beginning, because I don’t have the time or the patience to wade through all the fake preteen/teen dramz that took up over 100 books with tons of spin-offs.
So I went to my childhood standby, the Super Special.
The Super Specials are especially fabulous because they’re not full of the day-to-day mundanities of being a suburban teen baby-sitter. They are ADVENTURES! And TRIPS! And…well, okay – I’m making them sound like they’re more exciting than they actually are, really they were just twice as long and didn’t have much actual baby-sitting.
This shit is still pretty awesome, even more than 25 years later. And by awesome I mean cringingly bad, but in the best possible way.
Because the girls never age, if you ONLY read the Super Specials, it’s like you’re reading about the greatest summer of all time. Seriously, THE BEST.
Only reading the Super Specials, you have:
- A cruise to the Caribbean and DisneyWorld!
- Summer Camp! Being Counsellors in Training!
No, that’s not really a thing, but ZOMG how I wanted it to be after reading this book.It IS a thing! See the comments!
- A Winter getaway with an overturned school bus and skiing and all kinds of other outrageous shenanigans.
- BEING SHIPWRECKED ON AN ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF CONNECTICUT! (no, really)
- A trip to California to meet movie stars and learn to surf and drive too fast with boys that are too old!
- A trip to New York to babysit foreign children!
- Another Winter storm (because Stoneybrook has the WORST WINTERS EVER, apparently) where a bunch of the BSC are trapped while on their babysitting gigs, and Stacey and her mom almost die in their car when it runs out of gas.
- Another summer, this time at Shadow Lake, where Kristy’s incredibly rich step-father has been left a cabin…there’s also a mystery to be solved (of course).
- A school production of Peter Pan! And of course the leads are ALL GIVEN TO the BSC and their friends/families/boyfriends/sitting charges. Of course.
- Another trip to Sea City, NJ (there was one early in the series, but we’re supposed to ignore that no one ages), but this time there’s A HURRICANE! Who knows if the BSC will even make it out alive?! (hint: this girl did)
- A summer slumber party where everyone reminisces about their “most vivid memories,” most of which have something to do with baby-sitting, but surprisingly not all of them do.
- THE BSC IN A WEDDING IN CALIFORNIA!
- A TRIP TO HAWAII (note: I didn’t get to read this one, it’s not at openlibrary :( )
- A ROAD TRIP ACROSS THE USA!
- A trip to YERP! And brushes with royalty! And ROMANCE! And other stuff, I just finished it two days ago, but I’ve already forgotten.
Obviously, there’s nothing these girls can’t do (except for Stacey, she can’t have sweets…and Claudia, who can’t spell), and they did more in their 8th grade year (and the following summer) than I’ve done in my entire life.
Someone remind me why I re-read these, because now I kind of hate these girls.