Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lessons I Learned from the Babysitters Club, Part II

Part II of what I learned from the BSC!

Kristy and the Baby Parade

Synopsis: The town of Stoneybrook holds a baby parade. The girls decide on a theme and borrow some babies. But when they start fighting, will they ruin their chances of winning?

Lessons learned: I like to think that you can tell a lot about the personality of kids from what they buy. The BSC fans looking over their Scholastic book lists and begging for this one instead of, say, Stacey's Lie or Dawn's Big Date are the ones you have to worry about. (Another good test? If they were more interested in saving their money to buy an exquisite Ann M. Martin approved tea cozy instead of Goosebumps pogs and Creepy Crawlers.)

Welcome to the BSC, Abby

Synopsis: The BSC has a new member! Meet Abby Stevenson. She's Jewish, has long curly hair, plays soccer, tells a barrage of nonstop corny jokes, and suffers from asthma.

Lessons learned: Ann M. managed to cram in two Asian stereotypes (Asian airhead for Claudia and super smart Asian for Janine), the cliche of jock girls not being into boys or makeup, the California blonde one, and a few others. Should I really be all that surprised that the token Jewish girl is Woody Allen lite?

Kristy and the Copycat

Synopsis: Kristy joins the softball team at school but finds herself under pressure to do things she knows are wrong as part of the hazing process.

Lessons Learned: Based on the actual plot of this book (which has little to do with Karen's copying Kristy), I think Ann M. was outsourcing more than just the actual writing of this book. If we raided Scholastic's corporation in Korea, would we find pale, emaciated writers chained to desks, coming up with tag lines and titles to books they've never actually read?

Get Well Soon, Mallory

Synopsis: Mallory hasn't been feeling well for a while. Turns out she has mono!

Lessons Learned: Between Mallory's mono, Stacey's diabetes, Shea's dyslexia and Abby and Anna's various ailments, little Stephie's asthma, I blame the BSC for my hypochondria. This series was worse than a year in med school when it came to inspiring fear of development diseases.

Kristy in Charge

Synopsis: The kids at SMS are given a chance to teach a class for a week as part of the Short Takes program. Kristy has the opportunity to teach 7th grade P.E. but has to deal with the annoying Cary Reitlin.

Between this and Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall, apparently, education, experience, and certification aren't huge components of becoming an educator. I'm also starting to realize why Ann M.'s autobiography glossed over the section where she worked as a teacher.

Kristy + Bart = ?

Synopsis: Kristy's always described Bart as her sort of boyfriend. But they've never had the same commitment as Mary Anne and Logan. Does Kristy want a real relationship with Bart?

Lessons Learned: Dating, relationship, and guys are confusing for most teen girls. And the best way of conveying that confusion isn't through metaphors and interesting prose: it's through the question mark.

Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade

Synopsis: Claudia was bumped back from 8th to 7th grade a few books ago. She makes the best of things and may even be elected Queen of the Seventh Grade as part of the SMS class games.

Lessons Learned: Ann M, you're a closet Priscilla, Queen of the Desert fan, aren't you? You can admit it. I won't tell anyone.

Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever

Synopsis: While in California for a few months, Dawn meets a 12 year old girl named Whitney who has Down Syndrome. Whitney's parents ask Dawn if she'll sit for Whitney, who can't be left alone for long, but without telling Whitney (who thinks she's too old for a babysitter). When Whitney finds out Dawn's being paid to spend time with her, she's hurt. Later, when Dawn is sitting for some other kids, they disappear...but later are found at a carnival with Whitney who was trying to prove her responsibility. Later on, the We Love Kids club makes Whitney an honorary member.

Lessons Learned: The mentally challenged should be treated like everyone else. Except when they engage in light kidnapping, we don't sound the Amber Alert--instead, we treat them to hugs and societal approval.

Super Special: California Girls!

Synopsis: The BSC girls come into some money and spend it on a trip to California where they stay with Dawn's father.

Lessons Learned: Somebody out there at Scholastic has to tell Ann M. that there's more to the Beach Boys than California Girls references. Please. Someone stuff Pet Sounds in her stocking this year along with kitten pincushion. Also, considering all the California Girls references, Ann M. and Scholastic should feel grateful Brian Wilson was too busy mainlining birthday cakes (and making the odd Full House guest appearance) in the 80s and early 90s to get too litigious.