Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: Starring the Baby-Sitters Club

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Starring the Baby-Sitters Club (Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #9)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1992

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-45661-X

Length: 237 pages

Illustrations: black and white drawings by Angelo Tillery

Quote: “Peter Pan would be my chance to shine in front of all the kids.”

Not only the Baby-Sitters Club, but several of their favorite younger children, participate in the school musical version of Peter Pan.

Naturally, minor mishaps, learning experiences, and a very nice ending, can be expected from the charmed world of the Baby-Sitters Club. Jessi wants to be Peter Pan and resents being cast as a nameless pirate instead. Dawn keeps wanting to edit out some of the sexist bigotry. Stacey can hardly contain the excitement—and embarrassment—of playing Mrs. Darling to her boyfriend’s Mr. Darling. Cokie gets cast as Princess Tiger Lily, and is thrilled, until she realizes that means being surrounded by her official school enemies throughout the play. Logan’s been cast as a pirate called Noodler. Little Jackie Rodowsky is still scared of the crocodile costume, even after seeing that a friend is wearing it, and keeps wanting to throw things at it and shout “Cowabunga!” or maybe “Crocabunga!”

Everyone will live happily ever after.

If Stoneybrook Middle School were a real place, the mere facts that all the members of the Baby-Sitters Club are in the musical and few non-members are in it would beg for further investigation; they’re the Baby-Sitters Club, not the Drama Club, and the image of a full-sized school where everyone with any singing or acting talent just happens to be a Baby-Sitter boggles the mind. 

Actually my middle school experience was a bit like that; with approximately 250 kids in my eighth grade class, there were approximately 50 kids whose names people remembered, who were nominated for “student government” positions and were in all the clubs and were expected to be at the head of every class whether we were or not. Any time anyone was looking for someone who stood out in any way, they’d automatically think of one of our names—because those were the names they remembered—even when, as when I was identified as “the quietest” at an awards banquet, everyone knew that several other people were so much quieter than I was that they had no memory of those people’s voices, or faces, or names. (I was the quietest in the name-recognition crowd.) Among the other 200 kids some did achieve name recognition before grade twelve, most were sober and law-abiding and employable, and about half even finished grade twelve. Sigh. 

The not necessarily admired but at least recognized crowd at my school weren’t an exclusive clique, just the minority of kids whose parents worked in town enough to want us to be in after-school clubs. Still, somehow, as nice as the Baby-Sitters are, you’d think they’d be sensitive about the mere possibility of being mistaken for an exclusive clique. Not that middle school kids can do much about that if they happen to live in a small town where the majority of other kids’ parents do not work in town or know one another socially. Somehow the Baby-Sitters seem the type who ought to be able to think of something.

What made some of the Baby-Sitters Club books “Super Special” was that they were longer, written in the voices of all of the Baby-Sitters rather than only one per book. (Despite the use of different fonts for “handwriting” and Claudia’s constant misspellings, all the Baby-Sitters, including Logan, write in remarkably similar voices. It’s more noticeable when the viewpoint shifts to a different character in each chapter.) In Starring the Baby-Sitters Club, even Cokie and Sam get to narrate a few chapters. Funnily enough, their narrative voices sound a lot like those of Kristy, Stacey, Dawn, and Mary Anne. It is not for nothing that both a BSC Fan and a BSC Snark community exist on Live Journal...

Ann M. Martin is still living, writing (a new series for a new generation), knitting, and supporting charities and other nice things, so the BSC books that have inspired my last few contributions to the Storybook Dolls series are Fair Trade Books. That means that, if you buy any BSC book from this web site, you send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and Martin or the charity of her choice gets $1 per book. That applies even if you order the exclusive, original package containing the doll I've dressed to match the book I've read, which will cost $20 altogether (dolls do not fit into the packages with additional books, even if they physically could fit, because dolls don't come under the Post Office's special Book Shipping Rate). 

The doll is currently still available; she's dressed to match Stacey's character, the one with the Edwardian dress, and although I'm not completely satisfied with the bertha collar I designed, the instructions for knitting one like it...should appear here, one day, whenever I'm able to transfer them from my modem-free home computer to this web site.