Let’s get started with the first-ever BSC book, Kristy’s Great Idea. Published in August of 1986, this is the book that introduced us to Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey, and Stoneybrook. HERE WE GO!
Vocabulary lesson: decorum, noun: dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc. (from dictionary.com).
Right off the bat, the BSC taught me a new word. As a young reader, this was the first time I’d come across the word decorum. Remember, Kristy had to write a 100-word essay on it after she pissed off her teacher in the very first chapter? Classic Kristy. She couldn’t help it, she was just so happy to go home at the end of a long, sweaty day.
This first chapter also introduces us to Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia, such as the fact that Kristy is the loudmouth, Mary Anne is shy and quiet and her father is super strict, and Claudia seems “older” than the others and “has never been a close friend” (page 8). What if the BSC was just Kristy’s grand plan to get closer to Claudia?! Totally plausible theory.
Damn, I totally forgot about Kristy and Mary Anne’s flashlight schtick! Since their bedroom windows face each other, they can communicate using morse code at night, since Mary Anne isn’t allowed to use the phone after dinner. (Mr. Spier is cray.)
It’s the second Tuesday of seventh grade, and while watching her mother make a million phone calls trying to find a baby-sitter for her little brother David Michael, Kristy comes up with the idea for the BSC. She almost chokes. (What if Kristy had choked to death on her pizza and died?! My whole life might be different.)
We learn a bit about how the Thomas family works. Mrs. Thomas is a single mom who has a good job and works hard, but feels guilty about not being around all the time with her kids. Kristy’s dad is kind of a dick; he ran off and got remarried and doesn’t send enough child support and even forgot Kristy’s birthday. UNCOOL, MR. THOMAS. But Mrs. T. seems to be holding it down okay. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves…
Oh, and by the way, Mrs. T. is dating Watson! Kristy doesn’t like him… he’s bald. But really, it’s not about Watson… Kristy doesn’t want her mom to get remarried because she likes her family the way it is. Fair enough. She’s twelve. She is kind of petty, though, and refuses to baby-sit his kids, Andrew and Karen.
Janine schools me in language! This book was also the first time I realized that I (and everyone I know) constantly use the word “hopefully” incorrectly. As she says, “the word means ‘in a hopeful manner’… it is not acceptable to use it to mean ‘it is to be hoped'” (page 30). Okay, Janine. Touché. But I will continue to use it incorrectly, so…
Kristy and Mary Anne are stunned when they first meet Stacey. As Kristy says, “we looked like second-graders… Stacey and Claudia looked like models” (page 32). Still, Kristy thinks Claudia is real dumb. When Claud’s confused at Stacey suggesting officers for the club, Kristy says, “she was probably thinking of policemen”. Ouch.
The gals elect the club officers – Kristy for President, Claudia for Vice President, Mary Anne for Secretary, and Stacey for Treasurer. Perf! Their first flier looks like this:
Watson brings Chinese food to Kristy’s house for everyone, but Kristy acts like a brat and makes herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. Honestly, Kristy. You love chicken with cashews. It’s not the food’s fault your mother is moving on. To make matters worse, before running off to her room Kristy yells at Watson: “I’M SORRY YOU’RE SUCH A TERRIBLE FATHER!” Yikes bikes, Kristin Amanda Thomas.
Stacey gets the first job through the BSC, sitting for Kristy’s little brother David Michael. Kristy gets the next one, sitting for Buffy and Pinky McKeever. Buffy and Pinky. Later, after the meeting is over, Mrs. Newton calls Claudia’s line looking for a sitter and Claud takes the job. Kristy is pissed, because she usually sits for the Newtons, and thinks Claudia should have offered the job around first. WELL THAT ISN’T A RULE YET, KRISTY, SO CHILL.
Kristy shows up for her sitting job at the McKeevers’, and is somewhat suspicious when she sees and hears no signs of children in our outside of the house. She starts worrying that she has been lured into a trap, which is legit – I would think the same thing. Kristy “had a very bad case of the creeps” (page 68). What if Kristy had been murdered on her first BSC job?! My life might have been totally different…
But then Kristy finds out the truth – Pinky and Buffy are dogs. And not just dogs – “huge, fluffy, drooling, barking Saint Bernards” (page 68). She has her hands full but she survives, and makes a whopping three dollars and fifty cents. (NOT WORTH IT, GIRL!) She also has the idea for the BSC Notebook, where everyone has to write about their baby-sitting experiences so they can share knowledge and not make the same mistake over and over again.
In Chapter 8, we’re finally introduced to a BSC member’s handwriting! Unfortunately it’s Claudia’s, which is kind of sloppy and hard to read in the books, especially since all the words are misspelled. Side note: I recently downloaded a pack of all the BSC fonts, which basically made my life.
I always liked Stacey’s the best, because she’s overall my favorite and I like how she writes her “A”s and “E”s and – of course – dots her “I”s with hearts. SO SOPHISTICATED, Y’ALL. But these days… I hate to say it… I’m liking Mallory’s handwriting. Jessi’s was always the worst to try to read. BUT ANYWAY. Mal and Jessi haven’t even arrived yet.
Claudia goes to her sneaky sitting job for the Newtons and – surprise – his three cousins are there too! And one of his cousins, Rob, is totally sexist and hates girls. (Okay, maybe it’s because he’s a kid and, you know, cooties and all that, but I hope he shapes up soon. Who run the world? Girls.) Don’t worry, though – Claudia “tamed” them.
Stacey, meanwhile, is baby-sitting for David Michael but – more importantly – discovering that Kristy’s fourteen-year-old brother Sam is a “gorgeous hunk”. And Kristy later finds out that Sam thinks Stacey is a “foxy chick”. This just sounds like a match made in heaven. Kristy is still like “boys, ew!” (Uh, probably to this day.) Sam does sound like kind of a hottie: “dark curly hair and sparkly blue eyes and a few freckles” (page 83). I’m into it. You know, if we were both fourteen. Sam must be smitten with Stacey, because he played Candyland with her and David Michael for hours. What a guy.
Mary Anne, in her BSC notebook entry, straight up called Karen Brewer “a pill”. Wow, Mary Anne! But, yeah, Karen’s a pill. And Boo-Boo the cat is a fat mean disaster. And then there’s the neighbor Mrs. Porter… better known as MORBIDDA DESTINY. Only the greatest witch name ever. Morbidda Destiny literally has a wart on the end of her nose. Amazing.
Kristy’s mom announces that she and Watson might be getting engaged! Everyone is excited, except Kristy, of course. Kristy murders everyone. (Just kidding.) The BSC wants to have a pizza party to celebrate their success, but everything goes wrong: Mary Anne won’t let her spend three dollars on pizza (remember, this was 1986), Claudia’s parents are making her do math homework all weekend, and Stacey is supposedly in New York (but Mary Anne saw her coming home). Then Watson calls with an emergency and Kristy has to go baby-sit for Karen and Andrew… DUN DUN DUN.
Buuut… turns out Kristy actually likes Karen and Andrew, and together they can commiserate about being “divorced kids” and she’s going to be their baby-sitter from now on. So it all works out! (Shocking, I know.) She even writes a nice note to Watson saying she likes his house and it’s okay with her if he marries her mom. Good thing, too, because now Watson and Edie are really engaged!
Kristy can’t stay calm for long, though. At the BSC meeting she calls out Stacey for lying about New York, and it turns into a huge blowup: Claudia & Stacey vs. Kristy & Mary Anne. They avoid each other at school, but agree to have their regular BSC meeting. And, luckily for us, they are able to smooth things over. Kristy even says she’s going to start watching her mouth. (Yeah, right.)
They have a makeup slumber party, where Stacey finally admits her BIG SECRET to the others. Kristy thinks it’s anorexia, but Stacey informs the girls she has diabetes. (This is also where I learned what diabetes is. A year or two later one of my friends was diagnosed with it and I was like THANK YOU ANN M. MARTIN FOR LETTING ME KNOW WHAT’S UP.)
The girls decide to have a slumber party once a month, and start sharing stories. Everyone gets warm and fuzzy. In her narration, Kristy goes on a bit of an ego trip:
“The Baby-Sitters Club was a success. I, Kristin Amanda Thomas, had made it work, or helped to make it work. I hoped that Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey and I – the Baby-Sitters Club – would stay together for a long time.”
Oh, Kristy. You don’t even know. I’m not crying, you’re crying.