Serial novels… or why we love the BSC

A long time ago, in a far away land called Michigan, I was a child. And I, as a child had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. I remember vividly an article titled “Why we love TV”. (Paraphrased, actually. I can’t be sure of the title. I was a child. My brain now processes information differently, leading to potentially false memories).

Before I went off on a tangent about brains and how they function, I was talking about an article I read a long time ago. For some reason, that specific article stayed with me all these years. That and how they predicted that Titanic could hit or miss but probably hit as it had Leo and was about this thing that everyone has been interested in. BTW, I hated that movie a lot. No offense. But it was Looooong and Leo is kind of annoying. Oh, right, so anyway, this article that I read talked about why people like TV so much, especially serial shows, like Frasier. Hey, it was the example in the article. Why I remember that, I have no idea. I’ve seen, like, two episodes of that show.

I think the reasons they gave are similar to why we love books like the Baby-Sitters Club or Sweet Valley, Saddle Club, The Gymnasts, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, and whatever serials that people are reading now. I actually only know of one, that I really love. Sammy Keyes. The reasons that I can remember have to do with characterization, familiarity, the feeling that you “know” the people involved, etc. I offer up one other option. They lace the books with an airborne form of heroin so that children crave them. So maybe that’s not the real reason, but there has to be some sort of a reason, right? Millions of books aren’t sold without some sort of hook.

One of the things that Sweet Valley did that isn’t as obviously present in their books is the lead in to the next book. Sure the BSC has some subtle (and not so subtle) foreshadowing, but they never blatantly tried to sell more books by leaving us on a cliffhanger. I rather enjoy that the BSC wasn’t so blatant with their schemes to dominate the YA Level 4 serial novel market for girls. I don’t know why we first read the books as kids, but something made us start. And for most of us, something made us stop.

So, then why is it that we, as adults, are coming back to the BSC? Why is it that children today are swarming the internet looking for used bsc books? Is it the plots? (probably not) the locations? (judging by the diversity in fandom, probably not) The characters? Possibly. Everyone can identify with one or more of the characters. I personally can be bossy and overbearing like Kristy. (I hate to admit this to myself though). I played a lot of sports in school. (Because I was told thats what you did, not because I actually enjoyed them) Like Claudia, I have a tendency to procrastinate. I took a lot of art classes in hopes that one day I would be talented, like Claudia. I actually quite liked her when I was growing up. She had a happy family and liked mystery novels and junk food and she was excellent at something that I was simply awful at. Mary Anne was shy and studious, nothing like me really, but I liked her enough. SHe had a boyfriend. Stacey was the smart, popular, pretty, fashionable, mature sitter. The one we all wanted to be like. I think she might be the reason that I’ve wanted to move to New York City for as long as I can remember. Why I love cities and being around busy people so much more then anything else. Jessi was a ballerina which I thought was great fun. My mom pulled me out of ballet and stuck me in gymnastics when we discovered that I lack grace and elegance. And Mallory. Well, I never really liked Mallory, but I liked her family. I’m basically an only child, and having a bunch of siblings seemed like great fun when I was 7 through 12.

Was our generation just trained to read these books, which is why in turn we love our scripted dramas? Not that I dn’t veg out infront of a tv watching big brother once in a while (shhh, don’t tell), but it seems like both the decline of scripted dramas and serial printed novels is happening at the same time.

Well, that gives me something to think about.


For anyone who just needed to know…

There are, I believe, 354 books total in the BSC world. Correct me if my math is wrong or I’m missing something.

  • 131 Baby-Sitter’s Club books
  • 122 Little Sister books
  • 15 Baby-Sitter’s Club Super Specials
  • 6 Little Sister Super Specials
  • 36 Mysteries
  • 4 Super Mysteries
  • 3 Special Editions
  • 15 California Diaries
  • 2 Friends Forever Super Specials
  • 12 Friends Forever novels
  • Chain Letter
  • Secret Santa
  • 6 Portrait collection

That’s 354 days, if I read and write about one per day. That’s almost a year. And I forgot to mention the Ann M. Martin biography which I *have* to talk about one of these days.

I guess it’s a good thing I never really got into Sweet Valley then.

Correction! (And some other housekeeping type stuff)

I made a mistake in my entry for Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.  It was pointed out to me that I referred to the girls as 13, when this was one of the 9 books where they were all 12.  Now, I know I knew that.  But I get into the habit of saying 13.  It must be from reading 100 some chapter twos. 😀  Anyway, so sorry about the spread of misinformation

The other thing I wanted to mention was the comments situation.  I THINK I have it set up now so that I only have to approve your first comment.  No one should have to register or anything.  If you are finding out that that is not the case, than please email me at astrid dot kilbourne at gmail dot com.  If you have already commented on here once, you should not have to wait for approval ever again. (As long as you use the same email address).

Thanks, and have a dibbly-fresh day!

Episode 3, In Which We Learn The Truth About Stacey..

The Truth About Stacey is one of those “truths” that we learned a few books ago. Yes, it’s true. Stacey has *gasp* diabetes. It even says so on the back cover, and at the end of the first book in the series. (Also, in Book Two, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls). But that’s beside the point. This book is so much more than “Stacey has diabetes”, although you wouldn’t know it from the back cover.

I might go so far to say that this is one of my favorite books in the series. No, my favorite sitter hasn’t been introduced yet, but this book does have a lot of what I like in a BSC book.

No, it’s not the “Traditional” cover. But it’s the one I had scanned. I actually quite like it, however, I like the candy shop background on the original cover much more. Anyway, so Stacey has diabetes, and that’s the truth. But as I said, this book and Stacey’s problems, go much further than the diabetes; and this book has several good qualities, even if the title is not one of them.

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Episode 2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

This is another one of the “early books,” set before Mallory joins the club, before Jessi and Dawn are invented, and before everyone has settled into their own stereotypes characteristics. I really like it, probably because I was a weird kid who actually liked reading old fashioned things like The Happy Hollisters and Trixie Belden. There’s also the added benefit of this book actually being written by Ann M. Martin, or AMM if you so desire

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