the immutable joys of ann m. martin

the subtitle for this post is: Helen overuses the italics function

It is a universal truth about females my age that if you talk to us about Barbie dolls, we will tell you stories of mutilating them gleefully. If you talk to us about Jem and the Holograms, we will have a sudden reiteration of our love for light-up pink earrings. If you talk to us about the Baby-Sitters Club, we will collapse into paroxysms of inarticulate joy, something resembling a sputtering version of religious ecstasy, punctuated with seemingly nonsensical phrases like "mme noelle" and "krushers" and "radowsky." Because here is the thing: there is nothing - nothing - more awesome in this world than the Baby-Sitters Club.

Let's ignore the series' inconsistent punctuation (talk about your hyphen challenges. talk about your plural/possessive challenges. this sucker is tough to crack) and focus on its awesomeness. Here is a series of more than one hundred books about a bunch of junior high students in mythical Stonybrook, Connecticut (which in my mind is second only to Avonlea in terms of Places Where I Will Raise My Children, Goddamnit, Fictionality Of Locale Be Damned) who, like the Simpsons, never age - and who in the space of this one academic year manage to experience several dozen spring, winter, and summer breaks, thousands of days of school, and like fourteen Christmases. They have attended summer camp, been snowed in, been adrift at sea, been shipwrecked on an uncharted island in Long Island Sound (i shit you not), and myriad other things which happened after I stopped reading the series and which I can only imagine involved significant drama such as perhaps being caught in a freak hurricane which sends them to Sweet Valley, California, where they are taken hostage by rich-and-snotty Lila and forced to babysit a ragtag bunch of Lila's rich-and-snotty nieces and nephews while Lila drugs Jessica Wakefield in order to steal her boyfriend, but Kristy realizes that THIS IS WRONG and with the help of Mallory, who is totally crushing on the stolen boyfriend, convinces Jessica that Lila is out to get her BUT THEN it turns out that Dawn is missing because she's gone to look for her brother, Jeff, who lives in San Francisco, having no knowledge of the fact that California is, like, the entire height of the United States, so Jessi and Dawn's step sister Mary Ann (who incidentally totally grows up to be Charlotte from Sex & the City) go to look for her, because Jessi - being from Oakland - knows her way around California, which did I mention is a really really really big state? and back at Lila's evil mansion one of the snotty rich cousins gets sick and pukes on Stacy's black blouse which is like, from New York City, guys, and thus very sophisticated, so Stacy freaks out and goes into a diabetic coma and Lila is the only one who can call 911 and oh my god will she find it in her heart to forgive the girls of the BSC???????. Plus, each chapter will be written by a different character in the story.

Deep breath. The real thing is, kids, that I have discovered the greatest website ever. And by "I have discovered" i mean "I read about on Gawker," which is like when you go to the grocery store in a different state and you say "I have discovered a new flavor of fruit roll-up" whereas in fact they've been selling it for, like, years in Iowa, it's just that you have never been to Iowa before. Except that I read Gawker every day, but that is not the point. The point is: THIS LINK RIGHT HERE on which the author, my Personal Hero, is going to read and reread every single BSC book, and provide brief recaps, and her opinion. I am so in love.

For the sake of complete disclosure, I would like to share the following anecdote: When I was in fourth grade we moved to a new school district, and after my first day of school my mom asked me if there were any cute boys in my class. There were, as it happens, and I said so. "His name is Austin," I said. "What's his last name?" said my mom (undoubtedly digging to find out whether he was Jewish and, thus, marriageable [nb: I was, at the time, 9 years old]). "Bentley," I said, with confidence. "Austin Bentley."

Two facts are relevant here. One, we were having this conversation through the closed bathroom door, because I had had a long and stressful day and really needed to pee, and to this day my mother does not understand that it is not really terribly considerate to talk to someone while they are peeing. Two, and perhaps more importantly, the cute boy in my class was not named Austin Bentley. He was named Austin Something Else. Austin Bentley, however, was the name of Claudia's crush object in the seminal BSC book, Logan Likes Mary Ann.

I would also like to add that if you are a female between the ages of 18 and 27 and you were raised in the United States by parents who were not explicitly neglectful and/or abusive, and you did not at some point band your friends together and attempt to start an ersatz BSC of your own, you have not lived.


Naugler said...


Kat said...

You can always count on me,
and I can count on you..
good times, bad times, in between,
my friends will see me through..
we'll be sharing wonderful times every day..
all together, singing our song,
growing in every way..
Say hello to your friends..
((baby-sitter's club))
say hello to the people who cared..
nothing's better than friends..
((baby-sitter's club))
cuz you know that your friends are always there..


Gwen said...

This is one of my very favorite shirts ever:


Sadly, I currently live in LA, where people are trained from birth to never read if they can help it, and so very few people get it.

Also, there's now a BSC graphic novel combining the first four books, which I am ordering from Amazon as soon as humanly possible.

Jen said...

I totally took a guy on a date to see the Babysitter's Club movie. And brought my sisters. :)

As for the books, I knew I had truly reached adulthood when, in a fit of generousity, I donated my entire BSC collection to my old elementary school.

EL said...

The real question is, where are the baby-sitters now?

Luckily for us, the internet has the answer.


Sophie said...

Jessi was from Oakland, New Jersey. I knew it was too good to be true.

Tori said...

it is now my personal goal to go and reread every BSC book known to man which i realize won't take much time because the books are only about ten pages long.

Sophie said...

I doubt that the BSC is known to men, and what men it is known to are probably another gender unto themselves.

Lucy said...

And in Ireland. I always feel vaugely naff admitting I spent my early teens reading over one hundred books on childminding though. So I lie and say I just read Louisa May Alcott over and over again in my youth. Lucy & the BSC- the love that dare not speak it's name.