Wednesday, May 16, 2012

YA Highway 130: A Book that Brings Back Memories

"Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic." Today's question on the YA Highway Road Trip is: "What is a book that brings back memories?"

For me, the answer is super, super simple. THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB series, by Ann M. Martin. I devoured these books. They were hot right when I was busy being a precocious reader--like many people who go on to spend the rest of their lives writing, I read middle-grade novels early, in first and second grade. I found the eleven and thirteen-year-old protagonists so glamorous, and longed for the days when I could baby-sit.

Some of the memories the BSC evokes:

  • Sitting on the lid of the toilet in the bathroom reading. I have two older brothers who very much enjoyed terrorizing their little sister, and the bathroom was the only room in the house with a lock.
  • Playing "Baby-Sitters' Club," first with my friends who also read the books, and then later, when I became a baby-sitter, with my charges--who were so surprised that I knew about the Rodowskis and the Prezziosos and all the names of the Pike children.
  • Taking my copy of Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #2, Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation to an author signing at the then-Waldenbooks in the mall. All the other people had brand-new BSC books for Ms. Martin to sign, which they'd just bought before getting in line. And here I come with this then five-or-six year old book, completely tattered, contact-paper-covered to try to hold it together, stained from sticky hands because it had been read so many times while eating lunch. 

"This one is my favorite," I said to her as I put it on the table. "I wanted you to sign my favorite one."

And she smiled and said, "I love it when people bring me their favorite one."

(No, the color isn't off--the pages are THAT yellow!)

I recently read the prequel to the BSC series, BSC 0 : The Summer Before, released in 2010 in anticipation of the re-release of the series. Reading it took me right back, and for that alone, I gave it five stars.

I have nieces now who this year will turn 8, 7, and 6...and I can't wait to introduce them to Kristy, Mary-Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and the gang.


  1. OMG, I LOVE how yellow that page is! That shows us right there what memories the book has for you. Nice!

  2. Don't forget Dawn! =) I LOVED the BSC! I'm pretty sure I still have my collection of paperbacks stowed somewhere!

  3. I'm torn. One side of me wants to be a writer that produces deep and important books like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but another side of me thinks it would be great fun to be known for a series of entertaining books that run for years--like BSC. I've not read this series, but I know of plenty of other series like this (e.g., Lillian Jackson Braun's CAT WHO books) that run for years and give pleasure to millions. I could live with that. :)

    1. @Colin I'm resisting the urge to say, "I know, right?" I would love to write a nice hard-hitting, Printz- or Newbery-Award winning contemporary classic. But there'd be something deeply satisfying in creating a series like this. Because the thing is, Ann M. Martin created a series that got girls in that age group reading. And what I really love about them is that they show girls being creative, and businessy, and smart--without anyone needing to be a witch or a princess. They were really just everyday girls that were worth looking up to.

      I could do a lot worse things with my writing career than create such good role models. :)

  4. I used to absolutely love this series! I devoured it too, and after I read all of it, there was a huge gap in my reading life. I meandered around the adult fantasy section of the library awhile, read a few books, and then when I got tired of looking for something I couldn't find, I started writing what I wanted to read. So, I guess you could say BSC was the last great reading stint I had before I took my first steps as a writer.

    I love that you were able to get her to sign your favorite one too.

    1. Mine, too! In fact, my first "books" were totally written in the first-person, diary-style narration like BSC--I even wrote a novella when I was 13 that did the shifting first-person POV thing from the super specials. :)

      Those were the books I was reading, so I thought that was how one wrote.

  5. Oh wow, am I jealous of that signed copy--and that you got to meet Ann M. Martin! I loved this series as a kid.

  6. That memory of Martin signing your copy is so cool. The BSC really is a huge touchstone for so many of us!

  7. I used to play Baby Sitter's Club too! I adored the books and so did all my friends. I also liked Sweet Valley High, RL Stine and Nancy Drew. We didnt have as many books back then as now for YA's.

  8. Replies
    1. I did! I even owned the Christmas one. I thought it was so strange seeing all the girls--they didn't always look like I expected. But I still loved them.

      I think the magic of BSC was that it was easy to look at the characters and go, "Oh, that's a girl like me!" So it was fun to get to do that.


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