Candice Reviews: The Baby-Sitters Club, Part 3

We continue with Part 3 of my review of Netflix’s take on the iconic series from our childhood, The Baby-Sitters Club. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.

Episode 7, Boy-Crazy Stacey (Book #8, 1987): This episode stays pretty close to the book. Stacey and Mary Anne accompany the Pike family on a Spring Break beach vacation where Stacey falls for a much older lifeguard. She has to figure out how to heal her broken heart which she does when one of the Pike children admits he has a crush on her and she sees the situation from a different perspective. The main difference between book and show is when one of Mary Anne’s new friends, a local who helps her when Stacey all but abandons her and their eight charges, helps her understand what Stacey is going through as he tells her about a boy he was crushing on. It’s a great way to incorporate queer inclusion and representation without affecting the book series’ story line.

Episode 8, Kristy’s Big Day (Book #6, 1987): In the book, Kristy’s big dilemma is balancing her duties as both bridesmaid to her mom and super-rich Watson’s wedding and babysitting duties. The show takes the feminist threads presented in the first episode and lays them out as Kristy comes to terms with her fiercely independent mom and the “tiara-wearing princess” she becomes as she prepares for her wedding. Watson buys Kristy’s oldest brother a luxury SUV but the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when he buys an $800 designer dress for Kristy. Her mom tells her “I didn’t raise you to be someone who doesn’t check price tags.” It’s a moment full of tension that is resolved when Kristy and her mom realize how important they are to each other, and that a person can be a feminist and a princess. The two don’t have to be exclusive. As I mentioned earlier, Kristy comes into womanhood and as her friends are there for her, Claudia says “no period shaming here.” It’s a great scene for tween girls.

My absolute favorite scene in this episode is when Morbidda Destiny, aka Dawn’s eccentric Aunt Esme and the spooky next door neighbor of the Watsons, is the officiant for the wedding. Flower girl (and morbidly curious) Karen screams her head off and in response, Aunt Esme makes the coolest speech ever. “This little girl thinks I’m a witch. So, in front of this room full of witnesses, I’d like to say that she’s right. I am a spiritual practitioner. Now, historically the term ‘witch’ has been used to describe people, primarily women, who refuse to conform to society’s expectations of who they should be… When children tell you something, believe them.” I was snapping in solidarity right along with her.

Episodes 9 & 10, Baby-Sitters’ Summer Vacation (Super Special #2, 1989): This book is a Super Special which means it’s longer and has all the girl’s point-of-views as they write in a diary while Stacey is away in New York.

The show changes the name from Camp Mohawk to Camp Moosehead in respect to Native Americans and is all about revolution. First off, the girls of BSC are split up into different cabins, shattering their idea of a summer of togetherness. Kristy is frustrated by the camp owner, Meany, thwarting her plans to wrest control from the counselors who aren’t doing their jobs and connecting with the kids. Mary Anne meets a girl from New York (this ties back into book/episode 3, The Truth About Stacey) who likes Broadway shows as much as she does and they put together a play, Paris Magic, about a girl who time travels to the French Revolution.

In art class, Dawn and Claudia overhear the art director tell a child who doesn’t have commissary money to purchase overpriced shirts for tie-dying that she can’t participate. This bothers Claudia who says “art should be free and available to everyone” and Dawn who sees it as creating haves and have-nots. So they stage a lie-in when Claudia is remanded to her cabin for holding unsanctioned free wildlife art classes. Things escalate to an activity strike which messes up Mary Anne’s play (which is already cursed according to Karen). Striking campers make a picket line and the noise disrupts Mary Anne’s opening. She rushes outside to confront Dawn who says something like “You’ll change the world your way. I’ll change the world my way. And we’ll be best friends.” And that y’all, is why the BSC rocks. Mary Anne has a pause where she makes the connection of her play being about a revolution, but an actual revolution taking place outside the theatre door—such a powerful moment.

The last episode brings in Junior BSC members Mallory Pike and Jessi Ramsey earlier than the books but it makes me so hopeful for a next season. I’m crossing my fingers to see one of my favorites–book #47 Mallory on Strike when she wants to win The Young Authors Day Award. I can dream. Or just reread my copy.

While there’s no confirmation on Season 2, the showrunners have hinted about it on social media. So if you want to get a heads up on what could possibly be next season, I fully recommend dusting off your Scholastic Fair copies boxed up in your attic or checking out the forthcoming new recovers and graphic novels out now to share with a whole new generation of tweens.

Now, for the big question…how do you think Netflix treated the BSC member YOU relate to the most?

The original Ann M. Martin books are busy getting all new covers but the Haunted Book Shop has the new graphic novels and used copies, both of The Baby-Sitters Club and Karen’s chapter book series, Baby-Sitters Little Sister.

To keep everyone safe, we’re open by appointment (you can book your time slot here), as well as curbside pickup and shipping options. We also just announced new hours! Check out the terms and conditions. We also use if we don’t have the book you need in stock.

Happy reading!

Candice Reviews: The Baby-Sitters Club, Part 1

I’m a Mary Anne with the candy-swilling creativity of Claudia, the environmentalism of Dawn, with a little Mallory on top. This group of girls showed preteen-me than anything is possible with a good support group and determination. The book series is near perfection to my tween-recollection but I couldn’t help but be excited and hopeful when I heard about Netflix’s version of the BSC.

Ya’ll. They absolutely rocked it. Proof that the Baby-Sitters Club is timeless.

Netflix’s twist on the iconic Baby-Sitters Club from our childhood has taken the adventures in friendship and babysitting and given it a 21st century shine. It’s written for both the now grown-up OGs and their children, a whole new generation. The sharp writing, edgy quips, and all the nods to now are done in perfect harmony to the personalities Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn are known and adored for. Social issues play a big part and they’re presented in wholesome ways that allow for further conversations. It was a great series to watch with my six and nine year old (though it did take some delicate explaining when Kristy gets her period for the first time in Episode #8.)

The first season is the first eight books in the series, just a smidge out of order and includes one book out of the Super Specials as well. Because I have so much to say about these books and the show, we divided my post into three installments. I’ll talk about books 1-3 in this post, and the rest in two others so be on the lookout for those.

Episode 1, Kristy’s Big Idea (Book #1, 1986): Just like in the first book, the ever resourceful, ever in charge, Kristy comes up with the novel idea of one phone call to reach a handful of reliable sitters. In the show, they do a great job of keeping it in this decade while sticking to the mid-eighties and nineties air of the books. Kristy’s mom, perfectly cast as Alicia Silverstone, bemoans the fact that no one picks up their phone and no one uses landlines anymore when she can’t find a sitter for Kristy’s little brother, David Michael. Cue the BSC.

As they hash out marketing plans, Stacey, sophisticated and newly arrived from New York, suggests cross referencing their Instagram accounts for clients and calculating clickthrough ratios, while the others grimace. Claudia’s genius sister Janine, pops in and in her droll, Daria way, suggests they stick to something they know. So they pass out flyers and Claudia gets a vintage phone from Etsy, (yes, it wouldn’t be BSC without that see-thru corded phone). As secretary, Mary Anne, who is biracial in the show, uses Google docs to organize all their jobs and schedules.

There is a beautiful bit of feminism, which there of course should be in a series about empowered young women entrepreneurs when Kristy complains about her teacher making her write a paper on decorum, telling her mom that a boy would never be made to write a paper like that. Her mom says “You’re absolutely right.” The way she stopped and acknowledged the gender inequality was a moment for me and I definitely teared up (Okay, I teared up in pretty much every episode, let me get that out of the way right now.) The paper Kristy wrote in response was glorious.

Episode 2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (Book #2, 1986): In the book, the whole town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut are up in arms over home invasions and phantom phone calls which Claudia believes stems from a jewel thief. The show deepens this a step further when the “phantom calls” are the not-good-enough thoughts Claudia grapples with. Just like in the books, she’s a Japanese-American who breaks stereotype with her bad grades. Her parents mean well, but they’re only focused on good grades equal good colleges. Claudia’s actual genius of a sister, Janine, attempts to “help” by offering parenting advice, setting up impossible goals. Thank goodness for Mimi, Claudia’s grandmother, who is steadfastly there for her. The internalization of the “phantom calls” really brought home the idea how what’s good for one person, isn’t always good for another. It’s a great illustration that education isn’t one size fits all.

In keeping with the spooky, Halloween-esque tone of this episode, we also get to meet Karen Brewer, Kristy’s soon-to-be stepsister who is delightfully morbid (her character spoke to my six year old’s soul). At one point, when burying her doll, she tells Kristy “there’s no point in praying over her. She’s an atheist.” The unexpected straightforwardness of it made me laugh and sets the stage for an interesting character who comes to terms with changing family dynamics in her own special way.

Episode 3, The Truth About Stacey (Book #3, 1986): Just like in the book, in this one we learn the secret that’s been hinted at in the first two: where does Stacey go on these last minute weekend trips? Why doesn’t she eat any of Claudia’s glorious candy stash?

The BSC start losing clients to the Baby-Sitter’s Agency, a group of high schoolers who are able to drive, stay later than our twelve year-olds, and implement all the social media marketing ideas Stacey had. One tells Mary Anne, “It’s a free market. Deal with it.” It seems the BSC might collapse. (Not in the third book–we need over a hundred more of these!) But then the girls spot one of their kids playing in the street, his high school sitter snuggled on the couch with her boyfriend. When Stacey calls the parent, the sitter tells Stacey she’ll regret that.

The episode turns to cyberbullying when the agency sitter unearths a video of Stacey going into insulin shock and start seizing and sends it to all their clients. The parents are concerned about her ability to watch their kids but Stacey assures them her condition is now under control. A parent, who is also a doctor, steps in and says she noticed the insulin pump from the beginning and was impressed with how Stacey managed her sugar levels without missing a beat playing with the child. The show takes the book’s message of normalizing type 1 diabetes and furthers it when, in the end, Stacey stops hiding her pump in shame and bedazzles it instead.

Now, for the big question…which BSC member did YOU relate to the most?

The original Ann M. Martin books are busy getting all new covers but the Haunted Book Shop has the new graphic novels and used copies, both of The Baby-Sitters Club and Karen’s chapter book series, The Baby-Sitters Club Little Sister.

To keep everyone safe, we’re open by appointment (you can book your time slot here), as well as curbside pickup and shipping options. We also use if we don’t have the book you need in stock.

Happy reading!