The Babysitters Club 001: Kristy’s Great Idea
This is the first installment of the Babysitters Club series (1 of 77 books I was able to obtain via the internet). Kristy is a 12 year old girl who, like most people with limited to no education or training, forms a union (the Babysitters Club1) along with her friends Mary Anne, Claudia and new girl Stacey. Kristy is from a divorced family and lives with her single mother, two older brothers and one younger brother who is annoyingly named David Michael, and is referred to as such constantly. Kristy’s father lives in California, rarely calls for special occasions, and does not pay child support. Kristy obviously has a problem with this, but he is my hero. This distrust of her father is an obvious contribution to Kristy’s dislike of her mother’s boyfriend, Watson (and will be the reason she will one day end up as a stripper). The rest of the family’s love is bought by Watson regularly bringing over pizza and Chinese food for dinner, but Kristy purposefully gives him the cold shoulder. Also, she has a dog, Louie.
Mary Anne is a crier with a strict-but-not-abusive father. He seems overprotective, but not unreasonable. Mary Anne is childish and boring.
Claudia is Asian and probably a forerunner of the hipster, evidenced by her quirky fashion choices (the book mentions knee-highs with palm trees on them – can you believe it!?); although, she is without irony. If we drew out a hipster “evolution of man”, Claudia would come well after Buddy Holly but before a topographical map of Williamsburg. Claudia has some other interests I don’t care about, but she also is into boys before Kristy and Mary Anne.
Stacey is the new girl from New York City, shares Claudia’s interest in boys, and is blond.
The girls form the club, elect officers, and jump right into business. The club is definitely modeled after a union. There are monthly dues to be paid, there is a “hall” (designated place for work to be handed out – e.g. Claudia’s bedroom, because she has a phone), and all non-union workers are swiftly eliminated from competition.2
Kristy’s first job ends up being a pet-sitting job for a pair of St. Bernards who live in a China museum or something. Stacey sits for David Michael, but spends most of the time flirting with Kristy’s 14 year old brother Sam during a World Championship Series of Candyland®. I can not recall Claudia participating in actual babysitting duties, although the book alludes to her earning money. No questions from me. [edit: I later remembered Claudia’s babysitting adventure: she calms a group of insane, screaming kids using the tried and true technique of ignoring your children. She powers through reading aloud four books as, little by little, the little monsters run out of steam and listen quietly.]
Mary Anne has an interesting adventure watching Watson’s two children when Kristy refuses. One child can not shut up and believes a witch next door cursed their cat, Boo-Boo, into becoming fat. The other child seemed mildly retarded, as he would only answer “Yup!” when addressed. After being instructed to not handle the ill-tempered cat – well you see where this is going.
Later, after the cat had been cursed a second time, the babysitters smartly decide on keeping notes of each job so each sitter will not make the same mistake twice. This is helpful to Kristy when she is forced to watch Watson’s kids without instruction in an emergency. After emotionally bonding with the children over the shared experience of divorce, Kristy offers up ice cream after lunch. The children balk at this idea, but she informs them that children of divorce are special, and can eat ice cream with impunity; thus, explaining our national childhood obesity epidemic. This eventually leads to Kristy warming up to Watson; engaged to mom; yawn.
The last part of the book deals with some Babysitter Club infighting, as Stacey has been disappearing on the weekends and lying about it! I naturally assumed she was off somewhere starting her own junior high escort business, but during the final pages (and naturally at a slumber party) it is revealed that Stacey has diabetes and that is why she has been “dieting” and lying about her whereabouts, NOT her predilection for male anatomy. The book closes as the girls giggle and tell ghost stories, and it is implied that Sam is peeping at them through the window.
1The book actually digresses into a discussion whether Babysitters should be possessive or not (via Claudia’s sister, Janine, who has an IQ of 196 – genius level). It is left unresolved, but stated that either could be appropriate.
2I assume, since there are no other competing babysitter operations