Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin (Rated: C)
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-16093-3
Publication date: April 2010
Hardcover, 224 pages
Ages 8-11

From the Publishers:
Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change. Kristy is still hung up on hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove to her father that she's no longer a little girl who needs hundreds of rules. Claudia is navigating her first major crush on a boy. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind in order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

Our thoughts:
This book is a never-before released prequel to The Baby-Sitters Club. My daughter was really excited about this. The book is written from the first-person POV of all four girls. It does this by dedicating alternating chapters to each girl, allowing the reader to get to know each character’s story as related by them. My daughter pointed out that she liked this.

The book gives the reader more background information about each of the four girls, building up to when they all start school and eventually join together to make The Baby-Sitters Club. My only concern was when Claudia turned twelve and had a crush on Frankie, a boy two years older. They started hanging out together, and she was thrilled to be his girlfriend. Her parents allowed this, and although we could sense their discomfort, never once does a parent discuss dating with Claudia. Let me tell you my warning bells went off. This led to a pleasant discussion with my daughter about when to start dating and why. Thankfully, Claudia’s relationship with Frankie was platonic—no kissing or even handholding—and it was over by the end of summer.

We can see by the story that although all four girls are the same age, they have different issues and are dealing with them according to their level of maturity. This is realistic, whatever the issue. As in the case of dating, Kristy and Mary Anne wouldn’t ever think of going out with a boy at age twelve while Claudia did. As a parent, it opened up my eyes to the concerns of young girls who need a measure of independence (such as baby-sitting and earning some pocket money) along with the guidance only a loving parent can give.

Friendships, moving to another city, loss of a parent, divorce, dating, and growing up are some of the themes that run through this book. It was a great mother and daughter read with plenty of things to talk about afterwards.

Disclosure: Thank you to Nikole from Scholastic Canada for sending us this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. I've never read any of The Baby-Sitters Club books, since I had a boy, but I know they were wildly popular with the girls when he was in elementary school.

  2. I hadn't read any in this series either until Scholastic sent this one and the first book for reviews. My daughter was very happy they did!

  3. I wanted to let you know I got your book today! Thank you! (Now if only my review pile was 0, I could get started...but it's not.)

    I loved the BSC books...a lot. I loved the cover art too...and can still (I think) say who was who!

  4. Therein lies the success of a good novel; not only is it a good read but it invites, in this case, a mother-daughter discussion relating to a time when a girl is evolving into a woman and the inherent challenges and perils that arise. A mother is best defined in this pivotal time as a loving guide for her daughter and, as we look at the world around us, we see the many failures that occur because of a lack of parental love or competency. Exhibit One: Teen-Age Pregnancies.


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