Re-Reading: The Babysitters Club #1 – Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

kristy's great ideaAnd the trip down memory lane continues with another favourite series from my childhood! The Babysitters Club was one of those series that I remember gobbling up because I could totally relate to the characters. I like to think that I was kind of a Claudia, but I really think I was more of a Mary-Ann. I definitely didn’t (and probably still don’t) have the business savvy of any of these girls, but I did remember liking to babysit when I was about 12 years old. Or, at least I liked the income from it.

At any rate, it felt almost refreshing to read this one right after reading the first Sweet Valley High book. Whereas that one was about two bickering sisters — one who was a major pain in the butt and the other one a little more normal, but they were still totally at odds throughout most of the book — this one was about a group of friends in their tweens wanting to start a club, a babysitting club. Less bickering, lots of other stories going on with the girls’ families and whatnot, and a super quick read.

This one was so much fun to revisit! I feel like subconsciously as I’m reading these, it all comes back to me — I can’t remember what I was doing when I was reading these stories but the characters and their situations came back to me. It’s really great that not only does the book focus on the club, but also on the girls and their families. This one was more about Kristy and her family, so we meet her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, her siblings, etc., and learn what kind of drama her family is going through. Through her we learn about the other girls’ families, but I’m thinking we’ll get more story as the books go on.

Dare I say that I really want to continue on with the reread of this series? I mean, I know it’s for the 12- to 14-year old range, but they’re still great for a light read right now. Easily gobbled up within a few hours and so full of memories.

I will also say that while it was great to visit the Wakefields of Sweet Valley High, I feel like the Babysitters Club group would be much more accessible for a girl of that age range. They’re a lot more tame, I’d say less (for lack of a better word) lame in the dialogue, the girls are a lot more believable for their age, and it’s not about boys — it’s about friendship. Mind you, I still want to read the Sweet Valley Twins first book because I hear that series is a lot different from the high school version of the Wakefield twins, so you’ll hear my verdict then.

For now, I think I’m going to go see what’s up with Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls! I’m positive they’ll be a rotary phone or something in that one — while the books are definitely relatable these days, it’s fun finding these things that are so 90s. They’re like easter eggs!

Were you a fan of The Babysitters Club? Which girl did you relate to the most? 

Re-reading: Sweet Valley High #1 – Double Love by Francine Pascal

double loveOh man … MEMORIES!

I may be a grown-ass woman in my 30s but when I come across a book from my childhood, I always want to reread it to see if it drums up those feelings of nostalgia. And this one totally fit the bill.

This isn’t my first reread of a book from the Sweet Valley series. A few years ago I reread one of the saga books and STILL loved it. I mean, how can you not love a sweeping history of the Wakefield family?

Sadly, that is the ONLY book from the series that I still have from childhood. Honestly, I have no idea what happened to the rest, but grown-reader me is super sad that I didn’t keep more of these. Of course, the great thing is that grown-reader me has a car, so I think I might have to go to some discount stores or used bookstores to try and rebuild my collection! (On a related note, I remember my brothers used to read The Hardy Boys ALL the time … I should probably ask my parents if they still have them, but after two moves, I’m guessing no. Sad face.)

Anyway, this was a fun trip down memory lane. Admittedly, I was only two years old when this book came out (there goes my 30-something disguise) so it was a few years down the road until I started reading these books. I probably started with something a little more tame, like Sweet Valley Twins or even The Babysitters Club (another series I need to find more of!), but with about 180 books in the series, I’m pretty sure I read a good majority of what was released for the Wakefield Twins.

This book is SO dated, but I think that’s the fun of the reread. In fact, as I was going through it, I couldn’t believe how OLD Elizabeth and Jessica seemed for 16-year-olds. Is that just a sign of the times? Were people just older then? I’d say it could be based on maturity levels, but when it comes to these twins one definitely has a good head on her shoulders (Liz) and the other one is kind of like a bat out of hell (Jess). And I can so remember wanting to be Liz when I was younger — there was always that ONE twin that you identified with more, right?

Yeah, so Jess is crazy in this book and it’s so weird to think that these twins actually like one another because she basically doesn’t want Liz to be happy even if she says that she does. She’s one of those people who is constantly going behind your back and trying to get all the good things for herself and leaving you with the crap.

Didn’t we ALL have a friend like that?

One thing that made me laugh right off the bat, though (aside from some of the language which is SO not prevalent these days), is the description of the twins. I mean, they’re so … perfect. And they know it. I mean, it’s one thing to be pretty, but to be humble about it and not braggy braggy, but these guys were all like, “We’re SO perfect. I mean, how do we have such a BEAUTIFUL family? I mean, isn’t our brother PERFECT?” I can totally see how a teenage girl could feel inferior to these two. I mean, yikes.

Story aside, I had to think about how different YA books were back when I was growing up compared to how they are now. I read a lot of YA these days and love it, but you really can’t find books like Sweet Valley or The Babysitter’s Club anymore. They just don’t write them like that. And I think I can say that I’m happy for it. There are some wonderful books to introduce young readers to these days, but YA is just so diverse and, for the most part, not based on such frivolous things, like the Wakefield sisters worry about. I guess you can say there’s more depth to the YA stories of now than the YA stories of the past. BUT, that being said, it’s still a lot of fun to go back and reread the stories I loved as a child and young adult. I plan to try and seek out some more, in fact! It’s a nice way to spend these lingering winter days ….

Were you a Sweet Valley fan in the 80s and 90s? What were some of your favourites?