Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Baby-Sitters Club nostalgia

When I was growing up (we're talking between the age of 10-17), I was TOTALLY into The Babysitters Club book series by Ann M. Martin. Oh man, those girls were the schizz. However, as every good mother should feel, my mom didn't really like me reading them. They were "too easy to read", "silly", and "full of things you don't need to think about at 11 years old." (ie. boys, makeup, shopping, eighth grade shenanigans, etc)

*my whiny voice* "But Mom! They're a BABY-SITTING club! Shouldn't I read them so I can learn how to be a better baby-sitter??" But deep down, we both knew I wanted to read them so I could learn more about boys, makeup, shopping, and eighth grade shenanigans.

So my mom and I made a deal. For every Baby-sitters Club book I bought and read, I had to read a challenging book. A book above my reading level. Extra points if it was a Newbery Award winner. So when I went to our local bookstore and bought "Island of the Blue Dolphins" I also indulged myself and bought The Baby-Sitters Club book #60 "Mary Anne's Makeover" (or whichever one was most recent).

Oh those books! Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, Mallory, and Jessi. They were the coolest. I spent many hours reading those books. I wished I could be a part of a baby-sitting club. I even made "Kid Kits" like the girls did and brought them to houses when I baby-sat.

My favorite character was Claudia Kishi. The Japanese-American vice president of the club who loved junk food (and hid it around her room), Nancy Drew novels, and making art (especially her own jewelry). The only bad thing was Claudia was not a very good student and a horrible speller. I meen, shee wood spel werds like thiz. And she was in eighth grade. (Maybe my mom had a point...)

What I loved most about Claudia was her outfits. She was the coolest dresser. The author always spent lots of time describing what Claudia wore and I'm sure every little girl reading these books wished she had her style.

Well the other day, I ran across gold in the form of a new blog. (Haley - I think I saw it on facebook or twitter from you?) It's a website called "What Claudia Wore". Holy crap, you guys. I read this blog for an hour yesterday and I was crying from laughing so hard. It's written by a girl named Kim (26 years old) who lives in Massachusetts. Like me, she grew up reading the BSC books and has dedicated the entire blog to going through Claudia's outfits from each of the books and adding her comments. Below is an example from book #36 - "Jessi's Babysitter" (the book is written from Jessi's point of view). All comments from Kim are in brackets and pardon the language.

Jessi: "My friends and I were dressed in typical outfits. Typical, but not necessarily traditional. For instance, Stacey was wearing tight black pants that reached just above her ankles, and sported a column of four silvery buttons at the bottoms. The buttons were just for show, I think. Over the pants she was wearing a long blue jacket made of soft material. Under that she was wearing a sleeveless blouse. Now that was unusual. [And by unusual, she means stupid. Keep trying, Stacey.]

Claudia was wearing a fake leopard-skin vest, a fairly tame blouse, and blue leggings. She had made her jewelry herself - five papier-mache [always with the papier-mache] bracelets that were painted in soft desert colors.

Mary Anne and Dawn had traded outfits, which they do pretty often. That's one nice thing about having a stepsister who's your best friend and also about your size. They were both dressed colorfully, and trendily, but not as wildly as Claud and Stace. [I love how Jessi kind of glosses over Mary Anne and Dawn...the author must have run out of steam after dreaming up the soft jacket and blue leggings. "They're colorful and trendy, okay? Moving on!"]

Then there was Kristy in her jeans and turtleneck [what she ALWAYS wears, dammit Kristy]. And finally Mal and me, also in jeans, but wearing (if I do say so myself) pretty fresh [fresh = cool, for those of you who've forgotten that the baby-sitters have not discovered drugs and alcohol yet and thus have to entertain themselves by making up annoying slang] sweat shirts. And Mal had been allowed to buy high-top sneakers with beaded designs on the sides!"

[Goody for Mal. I think we'll all sleep better tonight knowing that her high-tops are beaded. One small victory for fashion-challenged eleven year olds everywhere.]

As you read, Kim actually make comments on all the girls' outfits, not just Claudia's. I was swimming in a sea of BSC nostalgia and modern day snark. A perfect combo, I must admit. I seriously could not stop laughing.

If you want to read more entries, I would recommend going to the website and clicking on "2007" (when Kim began blogging). Start at the beginning (the bottom) and work your way up to the present. You will be amazed at the 80's and 90's fashion described in painstaking detail in every BSC book. And you will laugh at Kim's witty observations.

I am curious: who grew up also reading the Baby-Sitters Club books? (Or were you a Sweet Valley High girl?)


Emily said...

My mom would not let me read BSC books, even in trade for more difficult books. Sigh. I did read several of them when I stayed over with friends who had them, though! I was into the Saddle Club series and The Gymnasts series. Did you ever read any of those? I'm not sure how my mom thought either of those were any better than the Babysitters...LOL!

Smarshie said...

I don't think I ever read the Saddle Club or the Gymnast series, although I remember hearing about them. I was also into the "Sleepover Friends" and "The Fabulous Five" series. Oh the pre-teen angst these books shared! =)

Jody said...

My mom is a librarian and she didn't care what I read as long as I was reading. My 4th grade teacher, however, HATED the BSC books. I think I read them all. I even started my own "Babysitters Club", where 10 of us sat around and talked about boys, make up and boys.
Sweet Valley High was beneath me. I tried. I really did. I loved Nancy Drew in 8th grade, though.