04 May 2016


Reading Diary: BSC #18 Stacey's Mistake by Ann M. Martin

Remember the Baby-sitters Club I used to belong to in Stoneybrook? Well, I sort of carried the club back to New York with me, except that I'm the only member of the city branch. For some reason, none of my friends here seem interested in sitting. On the one hand, this is nice, because there are plenty of little kids in my building, so I get lots of jobs. On the other hand, I have to turn down lots of jobs, too, and I always feel bad about that. Besides, I miss the meetings our club used to hold.

Well, anyway, a total of five parents called up a whole month in advance to ask me to baby-sit on the afternoon of the big meeting. I felt bad about turning four of the families down, especially when the parents were all going to be at the same place for the same time. If only--

And that was when I got my brilliant idea.

It looks as if Baby-sitters Club President Kristy Thomas isn't the only one who can have really brilliant baby-sitting-related ideas! But only Stacey McGill would think of mixing business with the pleasures of a weekend-long sleepover and a boy-girl party in New York City. It sounds fantastic, doesn't it? So why isn't the title something closer to Stacey's Great Idea?

My wild guess is that it's because the most accurate label for this book would be Ann M. Martin's Mistake. I refer, of course, to her late-rued decision to make Stacey move away in BSC #13: Goodbye Stacey, Goodbye--which she corrected as soon and as credibly as she could. But if there is a part of her that wishes she could go back in time and prevent herself from even needing to correct it, then there is a part of her that is open to a parallel universe in which this book never existed. In that universe, we'd still have all the subsequent Stoneybrook-set stories, since it would just be a matter of dropping Stacey back into them. But we wouldn't have this particular adventure at all.

And there really is an AU feel to the baby-sitting part of the story . . .

"Okay," I whispered, as the elevator doors opened and we stepped into the Reamses' hallway. "This is the penthouse. It's the biggest, most expensive apartment in the building. The Reamses are really rich. They're nice but rich, so don't touch anything . . . Now, there's only one kid here. Leslie Reames. She's four. And she's a little like Jenny Prezzioso, so be prepared."

"Another spoiled brat?" wailed Mary Anne.

picky brat . . . But not a bad kid."

The BSC may be the main draw of the series, but their client families make a strong supporting cast. The high-energy Pikes, the crazy Brewers, the spoiled Delaneys, the unpredictable Rodowskys, the precious Prezziosos . . . Martin handles big ensembles well, and I'm sure that BSC fans have both a favourite sitter and a favourite family. But here we have an alternative bunch of families: you might say, the cast we would have had instead if the books had been set in New York City from the very beginning. And as fun as it is "to meet" them, it's a little jarring to think of a universe in which Mary Anne is a regular sitter not for Jenny Prezzioso, but for Leslie Reames!

But while all the baby-sitting scenes are unmistakably BSC, the main plot makes me wonder whether Martin, a prolific writer beyond this series, originally intended it for another project. Take out all the baby-sitting and you still have a great story about a girl who is trying to balance two worlds she has lived in and loved (a classic Martin theme!) by bringing her friends from both spheres together . . . only to discover that they are not as compatible as she believed. This conflict could really have used the simplicity of three main players: the friend from the first world, the friend from the second world, and the friend in the middle. But here Martin has six, and because she clearly wanted each of the four outsiders to have a particular quirk that would annoy someone on the inside, we see our beloved BSC members acting totally, even comically out of character. Still, I think she ties all the loose ends together well in the end.

It would be really fun "to slide" into that parallel universe in which Stacey never moved away from Stoneybrook, just to check three things:

a) whether either BSC #13 or this book is about Stacey's New York best friend Laine visiting Stoneybrook and not getting along with the rest of the BSC;

b) how Martin's oeuvre there differs from her oeuvre here, and whether there is a stand-alone novel with the plot I described above;

and of course, c) whether she picked a different BSC member to move away from Stoneybrook.

But until we develop the technology, we'll have to make do with BSC AU FF. =P

For Your BSC Notebook Entry: Do you have a favourite family from the series?

Image Source: BSC #18 Stacey's Mistake by Ann M. Martin


Sheila said...

Mallory's family. I loved them and always wished I had a family like that. (Be careful what you wish for .... lol. Visiting my parents *now* really is that chaotic.) They remind me of another favorite book family, the Murphys ... sadly I cannot remember either the titles of the books or the author! Maybe someone can help me out here. I just remember there were a bunch of kids and the mom was pregnant and on bedrest, and poor Jennifer didn't have any clean underwear and had to borrow her brother's. And of course that brother told everyone at school about it....

When I was ten I had a birthday sleepover in which I was allowed to invite four friends. I asked two from school, one who was a family friend, and my cousin. None of them really knew each other already. To my chagrin, they divided into "friends from school" and "friends not from school" and got along horribly the entire time! That's how I learned the lesson that not everyone I like, likes each other.

Enbrethiliel said...


I spent years trying to get two distinct groups of friends to hang out together. They never got along horribly, thank goodness, but neither did they get along comfortably.

Now I wonder whether I was unconsciously doing unto them what I wanted them to do unto me. I feel a little left out when I see my friends Facebook photos of themselves with their other friends, and genuinely wonder why it doesn't occur to them to be more efficient about get-togethers by meeting more than one or two persons at a time. Perhaps they are worried we won't get along, but (my surly projections aside) I'm very open to being nice and fun!

Charlotte Johansson is my favorite BSC child. Small family, though! And no, fates of the universe, I'm not wishing!!! =PP

Other literary families I like are Madeleine L'Engle's Austin's and Murrys. (How sad, though, that the Murry siblings never seemed to discuss their adventures with each other.) Louisa May Alcott's March family are also great. Oh this should be a separate post! ;-)

I don't think I've read that book with the Murphys, but if I remember a YA-themed Twitter chat in time to join next week, I'll ask if anyone else does.