Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street (Baby-Sitters Club #49)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1991

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-98484-5

Length: 140 pages

Quote: “Rosie is quite occupied with her lessons after school. We’ve found the most marvelous private teachers who come to our house…You know, it’s tough enough to manage a daughter’s career…”

Rosie has talent, all right, and her mother wants the world to know it. Rosie has formal lessons and practice sessions whenever she doesn’t have auditions—for dance, acting, music, spelling, and if her mother ever finds out that Rosie shares Claudia’s interest in art there’ll probably be a teacher to manage her painting “career” as well. That’s why, when Rosie finally breaks down and admits she is interested in Claudia’s paintings, she doesn’t want her mother to know.

It’s the Baby-Sitters Club; therefore, it all ends nicely. A middle school art show, in which Claudia’s study of Andy Warhol culminates with a display of “Disposable Comestible” (junkfood) paintings, is involved. Money is earned, lessons are learned, even in a burst of furious rage nobody says anything uglier than “I’m not going to do it any more!”, old traditional songs of American childhood are sung, and groan-out-loud middle school jokes are cracked. And a nice time is had by all.

It’s easy to make fun of the nonstop niceness of the Baby-Sitters Club world, but seriously, you have to salute Martin’s achievement with this series. She stuck to the formulas for over a hundred books in the original BSC series plus almost a hundred spin-offs, presenting at least one real-world baby-sitting success story for readers to learn from in every book. BSC books are still selling like hotcakes; while writing them Martin wrote a few non-series novels, as well, and now…she’s not retired; she’s writing another series. Her favorite Baby-Sitter is Kristy, the organizer who’s always thinking of ways for everyone to make more money. I think there’s a bit of Kristy in Ann Martin.

Anyway, as mentioned previously, all BSC books are Fair Trade Books. That means that from the $5 per book + $5 per package you pay to either address at the bottom of the screen, we send $1 to Martin or a charity of her choice. If you order eight BSC books, you send us $45 and Martin or her charity gets $8.