Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Karen's Grandmothers

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Karen’s Grandmothers (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #10)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1990

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-43651-1

Length: 102 pages

Illustrations: black-and-white drawings by Susan Tang

Quote: “Some of them don’t have any visitors at all. They are very lonely. Who would like to adopt a grandparent?”

Poor little Karen Brewer, the stepsister of Baby-Sitters Club founder and president Kristy Thomas, has grandparents. Since both of her divorced parents have remarried, she has four “grandmothers” already. (She doesn’t even count grandfathers.) She also has one brother, three stepbrothers, her stepsister Kristy, an adoptive sister, and more pets than any reader with an active life of her or his own is likely to count. “But…having four grandmas…is gigundo special. And if I could have a fifth, that would be even better. I do not know anybody else with five grandmas.”

Did I mention that Karen’s father is a millionnaire? That doesn’t even register as special with Karen. She knows other people whose parents are millionnaires, and although she doesn’t know how to express the thought, having a blended family of four parents and six siblings is not necessarily a good kind of “special.” Also, Kristy is smart, cute, athletic, a leader, and a go-getter, and Karen is the one with the thick glasses. In this spin-off series about Karen, the poor little rich girl is always getting into trouble by trying to be even more “special” than her author has already made her.

Somehow I’ve always suspected that Ann Martin actually knew somebody like Karen. Maybe that’s because Karen reminds me of the poor little rich child of divorce, who didn’t have thick glasses but did have tooth braces, at my school. She might be your very worst friend, if you were her age, and a nightmare if you were her teacher, but you do have to feel sorry for her.

Anyway, in this episode, once again Karen’s craving for special attention gets her into trouble…but in a very nice way that’s easy for her to get out of. How much time does it take for a seven-year-old to relate to five adoring grandmothers? Exactly. But why hasn’t Karen’s school friend, who doesn’t have any grandmother, failed to “adopt” one? Is it possible that Karen’s new adoptive grandmother would be more congenial with someone who really needs an adoptive grandmother? No points for guessing.

Karen Brewer is easier to take in the books than she would be in real life, and in this early episode she hasn’t even unlearned how to write contractions, so Karen's Grandmothers is a nice, wholesome, short fun read.

Martin is still alive, active in cyberspace, and writing a new series for the new generation of kids, so all BSC books are Fair Trade Books. That means that when you send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, we send $1 per book to Ann Martin or a charity of her choice. If you buy ten Baby-Sitter's Little Sister stories, you'd send $55 and Martin or her charity would get $10.