Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review: Karen's Sleigh Ride

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Karen’s Sleigh Ride (Baby-Sitters’ Little Sister #92)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1997

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-06590-4

Length: 108 pages

Illustrations: black and white drawings by Susan Tang

Quote: “My idea is that we have a wintery sort of Christmas party, for the Stones, to raise money…we could have sleigh rides—in a one-horse open sleigh!”

The Stones’ barn has burned down, and Karen, the seven-year-old stepsister of Baby-Sitters Club President Kristy Thomas, has not yet learned how to write contraction words but has thought of the coolest idea to raise money to restore the barn. Karen’s father happens to be a millionnaire. It wouldn’t be appropriate for him to hand his neighbor money. Letting the kids throw a party to raise the money is apparently considered better etiquette in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

Why does Karen have this brainstorm before Kristy does? Oh well, maybe Karen cares more… What about the Stones themselves? What about Karen’s various parents and step-parents? Regular readers know how I feel about children’s stories where it somehow seems to take a child to think of something that would, in real life, be stunningly obvious to the adults. Ann Martin didn’t do this in the Baby-Sitters Club series, but here she is doing it to younger readers. Tsk. 

I’ll let it go, however, because Karen is not an especially bright little child-of-divorce and it’s just possible that all those older people would have carefully backed away from claiming what started out as the Stones’ idea, dropping a trail of hints just so poor little Karen can have the experience of thinking of a good idea before Kristy does, because BSC readers already know that Kristy has all the brains and looks in that family. The way Karen tells the story, it sounds as if nobody else thought of the idea first, but regular readers already know that Karen is just a tiny bit insecure and inclined to tell stories in ways that enhance her fragile self-esteem…

Anyway, here, dumbed down to a reading level at which children presumably know about possessive forms but not about contractions, is a very nice story about some very nice kids who throw a very nice fundraising party. It contains helpful hints for primary school children who would like to throw fundraising parties themselves. (Parents, beware.) It’s a short but cheerful read.

I dressed a doll to match Karen's outfit on the cover of this book, put it on display, and wrote this review, but was not able to post it, on June 16. The original doll-and-book package was sold on June 20. To commission a different doll outfit inspired by the cover of this book, send $20. 

To buy just the book, as an ordinary Fair Trade Book, send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 per copy to Ann Martin or a charity of her choice. Ten or twelve Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books would fit into a package, for a total of $55 or $65, from which we'd send $10 or $12 to Martin or her charity.