Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: Claudia and the Great Search

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Claudia and the Great Search (Baby-Sitters Club #33)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Author's web site: (I linked to her "letter" blog post because it's about an interesting charity; you can click back to the home page)

Date: 1990

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-49295-5

Length: 144 pages

Quote: “My sister and I sure are different. It’s hard to believe we’re related.”

As Baby-Sitters Club fans know, Claudia’s sixteen-year-old sister Janine is the complete stereotype of the high-achieving Japanese-American student; Claudia is the stereotype-buster, the arts-and-fashion-oriented Japanese-American student who struggles with boring academic stuff like math and spelling. (You can always identify Claudia’s contributions to the B.S.C. logbook, when they’re quoted in the text of any volume, by the misspellings.)

So Claudia goes on a secret search for evidence that she might have been adopted—being a good role model for baby-sitters, and learning more about baby-sitting, along the way. It’s the Baby-Sitters Club, so the story is lighthearted and short and everyone is nice.

All B.S.C. stories can be accused of being fluff or froth, not digging deeply into topics or issues or even emotions. Thousands of girls who enjoyed this series had no problem with that. I do accuse the critics who complained that Claudia doesn’t think enough about her cultural identity, though, of carping. Claudia obviously does think about her cultural identity; what she thinks about it is that she wants to fit into New England Anglo-American culture in every way she can…even though her “individual self-expression” (a trendy thing for Anglo-American teenagers to have) does seem to have been influenced by Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, who were sooo trendy in the 1980s and 1990s that most middle school kids never even found their clothes in stores, but kids like Claudia studied their work for inspiration.

I’ve dressed two dolls to match this book cover; Claudia wears our basic shirt and trousers, and  Emily’s playsuit consists of basic shirt and trousers patterns knitted in one piece with the feet closed together. At the time of writing they're available as a set from the real-world Internet Portal but, unfortunately, I can't afford the phone minutes to post a picture of them online. To buy the dolls and book online, send $30 to either address at the bottom of the screen (down below the blog feed).

To buy just the can, of course, buy them directly from that other Amazon Associate who posted that photo at Amazon; in theory I get a commission that way, too, and their price on that set of four "new" books is high enough that the commission would be worth my time. Or you can buy gently used clean copies of any or all BSC books directly from this web site for $5 per book + $5 per package. At least eight BSC paperbacks should fit into one package, which would cost you a total of $45. When you buy them here, because Ann M. Martin is still living, we send $1 per book to Martin or a charity of her choice.