The Baby-sitters Club

The Baby-sitters Club

The Baby-sitters Club (BSC) is a series of novels written by Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic between 1986 and 2000, that sold 17 milllon copies.[1] Many of the novels were ghostwritten, including 43 by Peter Lerangis.[2] However, Ann Martin wrote the first 35 novels.[2]

The series is about a group of middle school students living in the fictional town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. They run a business called the Baby-sitters Club that helps parents find babysitters from the club available for jobs by calling during their club meetings. The club starts out with four members (Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill), eventually expanding to ten. Most of the main characters are thirteen years old. When the club was founded (in 1986), the four members were in the seventh grade, but ten novels later (1988), they are promoted to the eighth grade. From there, they are frozen in time until the very end of the series (2000), in which they graduate from middle school.

As of December 31, 2009 (2009 -12-31), the Baby-sitters Club series was out of print. However, in April 2010 the series was re-released with updated versions of certain volumes of the original series, as well as a newly written prequel.[1]

Contents

History of the series

The idea for The Baby-sitters Club series originated with Jean Feiwel, an editor at Scholastic who saw the popularity of a novel called Ginny's Babysitting Job and realized there was a market for novels about babysitting. She contacted Ann M. Martin, who took the general idea of a babysitter's club, and created the characters, plots, and settings for the series. It was initially planned as a four-book series, but after the first four novels were moderately successful, Scholastic ordered two more, followed by twelve more as the series grew in popularity. By the time the sixth novel was published, the first printing was up to 100,000 copies. When publishing ceased in 2000, there had been 213 novels published in the series. Of these, Martin estimates she herself wrote from 60 to 80 of the novels.[3]

Structure of the novels

With the exception of Super Specials and Super Mysteries, the novels are written and narrated from one character's point of view. The novels generally follow this format:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to self; Beginning of plot
  • Chapter 2: Description of club and members
  • Chapters 14-15: Conclusion

Main characters

Kristy Thomas

  • Club position: President
  • Appearance: Shoulder length brown hair usually worn in a ponytail, brown eyes and usual clothing is jeans, a turtleneck, a sweater and sneakers.

Kristy is known for her great ideas, as well as her bossiness and a big mouth that can occasionally get her into trouble. The idea for the Baby-sitters Club came to Kristy when her mother has having trouble finding a babysitter for her younger brother David Michael. She felt sorry for David Michael, as well as her mother. In a "flash", as she calls it, Kristy had her "great idea"; to form the Baby-sitters Club. Kristy formed the club with herself, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey as founding members. A tomboy, Kristy usually wears jeans and a t-shirt (in the winter, a turtleneck and, if needed, a sweater), sneakers, and sometimes a baseball cap with a collie on it; in memory of the family dog, Louie, who was put to sleep in book #11, Kristy and the Snobs. She loves sports, and even coached a softball team for small children and called it Kristy's Krushers, which includes many of the club's sitting charges.

Claudia Kishi

  • Club position: Vice President
  • Appearance: Long jet black hair, almond shaped dark brown eyes, creamy tumbleweed complexion

Claudia is Japanese-American. She is extremely creative in both her artistic things and her funky wardrobe. Both generally take up more of her attention than her schoolwork; she is particularly horrible at spelling. Her grades were so bad (with the exception of art), that she was briefly sent back to seventh grade. She stayed in the seventh grade until she brought up her grades, then she was allowed back into the eighth grade. Her parents are generally supportive of Claudia's artistic aspirations and creativity, despite her poor academic ability.

Mary Anne Spier

  • Club position: Secretary
  • Appearance: Long brown hair worn in braided pigtails until book #4, Mary Anne Saves the Day (she cuts it short in book #60, Mary Anne's Makeover), brown eyes, short for her age, wears reading glasses

Mary Anne is the Baby-sitters Club secretary due to her exceptional organization skills and neat handwriting. She and Kristy initially looked similar until Mary Anne cut her hair and began wearing a little makeup in book #60, Mary Anne's Makeover. She also vowed never to get her ears pierced due to being traumatized by almost having her ears pierced by a fellow camper at Camp Mohawk. Author Ann M. Martin said that she based the character of Mary Anne on herself.[4] Mary Anne and Kristy have been best friends since childhood and lived next to one another until Kristy's mother marries Watson Brewer.

Stacey McGill

  • Club position: Treasurer
  • Appearance: Honey-blonde hair, sometimes permed, dark blue eyes, medium height

A native New Yorker, Stacey moved to Stoneybrook in the seventh grade when her dad's job transferred him. She quickly became friends with Claudia because of their love for fashion and boys. They are known to be the best dressers at Stoneybrook Middle School (Stacey is the more sophisticated dresser, while Claudia is more funky). Stacey dots her I's with hearts. One of Stacey's most notable traits is that she has diabetes, and has been hospitalized several times as a result. Stacey's position as the club's treasurer is because she is gifted in math, has a logical mind, and is in the Stoneybrook Middle School Mathlete Club[5].

Dawn Schafer

  • Club position: Alternate Officer #5-67 & 82-88, Honorary member #68-81 & #89-end
  • Appearance: Light blond hair, blue eyes

Dawn originally lived in Palo City, California, a suburb of Anaheim, with her family, until her parents' divorce moved Dawn and her younger brother Jeff across the country to Stoneybrook, CT, where her mother, Sharon, grew up. Jeff had a lot of trouble adjusting to the move (although he did make and stay friends with the Pike triplets throughout the series), and soon returned to California to live with their father and stepmother, Carol. Dawn joins Stoneybrook Middle School in the middle of the seventh grade, when the Baby-sitters club members were having a fight. She met Mary Anne and they instantly bonded. Kristy, as Mary Anne's best friend, is initially jealous, but gets over it and invites Dawn to become the fifth member of the club once the fight between the club members end.

Mallory Pike

  • Club position: Junior Officer, Honorary member #69-74 & #126-end
  • Appearance: Curly reddish brown hair, blue eyes, wears clear braces and glasses

At age eleven, Mallory is the oldest of eight children: Claire, age five; Margo, age seven; Nicholas "Nicky", age eight; Vanessa, age nine; and the identical triplets, Adam, Byron, and Jordan, age ten. Mallory often refers to them as "stair step children" because they are all one after another in ages. They all have distinct personalities and problems. For example, Claire is known for her silliness (her mantra is "silly-billy-goo-goo"), Vanessa is an aspiring poet who will often speak in rhyme (which her brothers and sisters find annoying), Nicky wants to fit in more with the triplets, who often refuse to play with him, and Margo is on a "bossy" stage and gets sick very easily. The Pike family is one of the Baby-sitters Club's most frequent clients, because of all the children. Her family has a pet hamster named Frodo, named after Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings.[6] They used to have a cat named Sarge, which was mentioned by Mary Anne in book #1, Kristy's Great Idea. They also have a pet dog named Pow that they adopted from the three Barrett children.

Jessi Ramsey

  • Club position: Junior Officer
  • Appearance: Black hair, brown eyes, long eyelashes, tall and slender

Jessi moved to Stoneybrook from Oakely, New Jersey at the beginning of the sixth grade, coincidentally into Stacey's old house. She has an eight-year-old sister called Rebecca or "Becca," and a baby brother named John Phillip Ramsey Jr., better known as "Squirt." When Jessi and her family first moved to Stoneybrook, many people were racist toward them because they were black, but this improved toward the end of the first novel featuring Jessi, which was book #14, Hello, Mallory. In book #36, Jessi's Baby-sitter. Jessi's Aunt Cecelia moves in to Jessi's house. Jessi calls her "Aunt Dictator" and at first hates her, but at the end of the novel they become friends and she is part of the family for the rest of the series. It is also known that Jessi knows American sign language. This is mentioned in book #16, Jessi's Secret Language. Jessi uses this when she baby sits Haley and Matt Braddock, because Matt Braddock is deaf.

Logan Bruno

  • Club position: Associate member

Logan moved from Louisville, Kentucky, before eighth grade. He participates in many sports, including baseball and track, and works as a busboy at the Rosebud Café. He was Mary Anne's steady boyfriend for a while. He also was an associate member of the club, which is a member who does not come to meetings, but takes jobs when no regular member is available. Logan lives with his mother Louise, father Lyman, sister Kerry, and brother Hunter.


Shannon Kilbourne

  • Appearance: Wavy dark blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, high cheekbones
  • Club position: Associate member, Alternate Officer #68-81

Shannon is an overachiever who is involved in many extracurricular activities, and is the only member who doesn't attend Stoneybrook Middle School; she instead goes to Stoneybrook Day School, a private school. She has two sisters, Tiffany and Maria, and is Kristy's first friend in her new neighborhood, although the two did not initially get along (they played many cruel tricks on each other). After the death of Kristy's beloved collie Louie, Shannon gave Kristy one of her dog Astrid's puppies, which Kristy's brother David Michael named after Shannon.

Abby Stevenson

Abigail "Abby" Stevenson

  • Club position: Alternate Officer: #90-98 & #100-end
  • Appearance: Curly brown hair, brown eyes
  • Birthday: October 15[7]

Abby first appeared in book #89, Kristy and the Dirty Diapers. Shortly after Dawn moves back to California to live with her father, Abby moves to Stoneybrook from Long Island with her mother and twin sister, Anna. Her father died in a car accident when she was nine years old, which was part of the reason for the move. Abby still misses him greatly, and does not like to talk about him[citation needed]. Abby and her family move into house on McLelland Road and spend the first night in the neighborhood sleeping over at Kristy's house due to some problems.

Stoneybrook

Stoneybrook is a fictional suburban-like town in the state of Connecticut in The Baby-sitters Club series. It is the hometown of many of the characters and the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series as well.

The town is assumed to be near Stamford, Connecticut. Several adults in the town commute to Stamford, and Jessi Ramsey takes her ballet classes there. They also often go shopping there.

Early in the series, new Baby-sitters Club clients move to town, such as Myriah, Gabbie, and Laura Perkins.

Stoneybrook's public schools include Stoneybrook Elementary, Stoneybrook Middle School, Kelsey Middle School, and Stoneybrook High. Private schools include Stoneybrook Academy (which Karen Brewer and several other charges attended) and Stoneybrook Day School, which is where associate member Shannon Kilbourne attends.

Karen Brewer's father and Kristy Thomas' stepfather Watson Brewer owns a mansion in an upscale subdivision of Stoneybrook. The families of Hannie Papadakis, Amanda and Max Delaney, and Shannon Kilbourne, among others, also live there.

Karen Brewer's mother and stepfather Seth reside in a regular middle class neighborhood, in which the family of Nancy Dawes also resides. The majority of the members of the Baby-sitter's Club also live in a middle class neighborhood. Mallory and Stacey live behind each other (their backyards touch). Bradford Court, where Claudia lives (and at the beginning of the series, Mary Anne and Kristy too), is within walking distance of almost all of their houses and of Stoneybrook Middle School. After Mary Anne's father Richard marries Dawn's mother Sharon, they move into Sharon and Dawn's house, which is on Burnt Hill Road.

Novels

Super Specials and Readers' Requests

  • Super Specials: Super Specials were an extended version of the regular series, with several members of the Baby-sitters Club (plus at times, their friends and/or sitting charges) narrating (chapter-by-chapter changes of narrators). Super Specials centered on a larger-scale plot, usually with at least three subplots. For example, in The Baby-sitters Club Super Special #7, Snowbound, some members of the Baby-sitters Club are babysitting when a snowstorm hits Stoneybrook and the larger area, and the others are spread out. Dawn is stuck at the airport waiting for Jeff with her mother, and Kristy is stuck at home with Bart. The members narrate their experiences and usually, the next chapter would bring on an entirely different plot or an extension of the previous chapter, only with a different narrator.
  • Readers' Requests: These were special novels featuring associate members Logan and Shannon, and their personal lives away from the Baby-sitters Club.

Mysteries and Super Mysteries

  • Mysteries: These resemble the style of the regular novels (single narrator), only the plot of the novel mainly focuses on solving a mystery, with a small subplot.
  • Super Mysteries: those resembled the style of Super Specials, with multiple narrators, only the plot of the novel was mainly focused on solving a mystery, with a few small subplots.

Portrait Collections (1994–1997)

  • Portrait Collections: These are autobiographies of the Baby-sitters Club members (Stacey, Claudia, Dawn, Mary Anne, Kristy, and Abby). Mallory and Jessi were not included because the autobiographies were an eighth grade project only.

Baby-sitters Club: Friends Forever (1999–2000)

  • Baby-sitters Club Friends Forever: These novels are an extension of the original series, which focused on the original four members (Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey). They were set following the fire at Mary Anne's house, which drastically impacted the lives of the Baby-sitters Club members, and concluded with a final Super Special detailing the girls' graduation from Stoneybrook Middle School. The series contained twelve novels and two Super Specials, and was considered a spin-off.[citation needed]

Baby-sitters Club: Reissue and the Summer Before

  • In 2010, Scholastic Inc. re-released the first two volumes of The Baby-sitters Club novels in an attempt to revive the series for a new generation of readers. Ann M. Martin also published a prequel to her series, called The Summer Before. It depicted the lives of the main characters the summer before the school year began (the setting in which the original series began).[1]

Spin-offs

Baby-Sitters Little Sister

The Baby-Sitters Little Sister novels were a series of novels for younger readers. It centered on Karen Brewer, the seven-year-old stepsister of Baby-sitters Club president Kristy Thomas. One hundred and twenty-two Baby-Sitters Little Sister novels and six Baby-Sitters Little Sister Super Special novels were published. The series ran from 1988 to 2000.

The Kids in Ms. Coleman's Class

The Kids in Ms. Coleman's Class series was a spin-off of the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series and covered Karen Brewer's second grade classmates at Stoneybrook Academy, and their adventures in Ms. Coleman's classroom. Twelve of these were published. The series ran from 1995 to 1998. The titles are Teacher's Pet, Author Day, Class Play, Second Grade Baby, The Snow War, Twin Trouble, Science Fair, Summer School, Halloween Parade, Holiday Time, Spelling Bee, and Baby Animal Zoo.

California Diaries

The California Diaries series centered on Dawn Schafer and her friends after her return to California, and targeted a slightly older audience, with a darker feel. Fifteen novels were published focusing on the characters of Dawn, Ducky, Amalia, Maggie, and Sunny. Examples of subjects dealt with are anorexia, sexual orientation, and racism, along with the girls' personal problems and family disputes.

Graphic novels

In 2006, Graphix, a division of Scholastic, released a graphic novel version of the first Baby-sitter's Club novel, Kristy's Great Idea. The novel is a contemporary yet faithful adaptation illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, an Eisner Award-nominated cartoonist. The series continued with the release of The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day, and concluded with Claudia and Mean Janine. Currently, there are no other graphic novels in the series set to be published.

TV series

In 1990, The Baby-Sitters Club spawned a thirteen episode TV series, that aired at various times on HBO, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon, and was later released to video.

Movie

A movie based on The Baby-sitters Club novels was released in 1995 which starred Schuyler Fisk, Rachael Leigh Cook, Larisa Oleynik, Bre Blair, Tricia Joe, Zelda Harris, and Stacy Linn Ramsower.

References

  1. ^ a b c Motoko Rich (December 31, 2009). "Comeback Planned for Girls' Book Series". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/books/31babysitters.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  2. ^ a b The Harvard Crimson :: Magazine :: Peter + Baby-Sitters Club = ?
  3. ^ Sally Lodge (January 7, 2010). "The Baby-sitters Club to Reconvene". Publishers Weekly. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/442845-The_Baby_sitters_Club_to_Reconvene.php. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  4. ^ Ann M. Martin: Ask Ann
  5. ^ Book #105, Stacey The Math Whiz
  6. ^ Jessi mentions this in book #48, Jessi's Wish
  7. ^ The Babysitters Club Portrait Collection: Abby's Book

External links


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