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.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the fact that Stacey explains the club in one paragraph. I believe that an excerpt is acceptable under the Fair Use Doctrine, so I’m going to type it up for you.

There are just the four of us in the Babysitters Club: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne (she’s the secretary), and me, Stacey McGill. I’m the treasurer. We’ve been in business for about two months. Kristy thought up the club, which was why she got to be president. We meet three times a week from five-thirty to six o’clock in Claudia’s room (Claudia has a private phone), and our clients call then to line us up as sitters. The reason the club works so well is that with four baby-sitters there at the phone, each person who calls is pretty much guaranteed to get a sitter for whatever time he or she needs. Our clients like that. They say that having to make a whole bunch of calls just to line up one sitter is a waste of time. They like us, too. We’re good baby-sitters. And we worked hard to get our business going. We printed up fliers and distributed them in mailboxes, and even put an ad in The Stoneybrook News, the voice of Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

It’s such a change from the later editions of this series where it takes most of Chapter Two or Three to explain. The paragraph after that discusses each member succinctly. Kristy and Mary Anne are “less mature”, Stacey knows Claudia the best, and Mary Anne is unbelievably shy where as Kristy is outgoing and a tomboy. Simple, concise, quick. All anyone needs to know to understand these characters.

Now, for once the plot isn’t restricted to an A-plot and a baby-sitting adventure. Instead of the usual formula, we get the main plot of Stacey’s personal dilemma, which is her diabetes and how her life has changed since her diagnosis. It’s apparent from the beginning that Stacey, despite being the popular, pretty, mature, worldly sitter, is fighting some pretty intense stuff at home. She might appear to be tres sophisticated (as they say in Stoneybrook) to most of the SMS students and her friends; but once you put her back in the city, it’s apparent that she really isn’t. The subplot is concerned with how the club is growing together. To make the girls best friends forever, an outside force is introduced.

Yes, that’s right. The famous Baby-sitters Agency is active for one book only. Amazingly, the BSC doesn’t have a monopoly on babysitting yet. This group of girls is introduced to us by way of Janine Kishi, who is described by Stacey as “Dull as dishwater”. What a Park Avenue princess like Stacey McGill is doing with dishwater, I do not know. We may never know.

But one of the best parts of the first chapter is listening to Claudia’s description of the new sitters in town. She tell us that “[Liz Lewis and Michelle Patterson] have smart mouths, they sass the teachers, they hate school, they hang around at the mall. You know, that kind of kid.” I’m not even going to point out the irony of Claudia being the one to tell us how LL and MP hate school. However, I will say that it’s nice that despite the fact that Claudia isn’t really into the school thing, she does at least try. At least she does here, in the original four books.

Personally, I think the Baby-Sitters Agency has a pretty good idea. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of the three times a week meetings are, and it doesn’t seem very convenient for anyone. I think there are several ways that would make more sense then having up to 7 people gather three times a week for 30 minutes.

Change Claudia’s answering machine message and let parents call whenever they feel like it. Tell them to leave a message and someone will get back to them. Check the messages twice a week during a club meeting.

  1. Have people call during certain times three times a week, and take turns with the phones (like in #4)
  2. What the Agency does. Call mary anne or claudia’s house, and they can call around and offer it to people.

Obviously, this means that they won’t have meetings three times a week to plan random events for children. This will give them more time to throw inpromtu Emergency Meetings though, because, guess what? This meeting of the BSC has turned into an EMERGENCY MEETING. That’s 2 out of three books that include Emergency Meetings, for those of you keeping track at home. (Interestingly enough, in Kristy’s Great Idea, there IS an Emergency Meeting of the Math Club. If anyone knows what kind of emergency a math club could have, please let me know).

The beginning of this book is all really well done, giving us the history of Stacey in New York, how she hated (yes, she wrote hated) Laine, but it’s broken up by the Emergency Meeting, so it doesn’t get boring. I really, really hate how later the books have a data dump chapter two.

Stacey has a sort of boyfriend in Pete Black. That’s nice. So far, it’s been three books and she has crushed on Sam and sort-of dated Pete.

Kristy makes everyone wear sandwich boards advertising the clubs. Stacey, the new kid, is actually okay with this, and with talking to potential members. I know I wouldn’t have been that self confident when I was twelve. I would have died. Not literally, but I would have been so embarrassed I probably would have embarrassed myself more trying to fight Kristy to NOT make me do such an awful, embarrassing thing.

This is the first book with Kid Kits. They are invented to help keep business. That is actually a very smart idea, Kristy. I will give you credit for that. That makes you even for the sandwich boards. I also think that her other idea, seeing if Sam or Charlie or Janine want to help out and take jobs that last longer, is a pretty good idea too. They can get more business if they can sit later. More sitter = more jobs. And no one says that they have to go to the meetings.

Oh yeah, and Mrs. Newton has Lucy. The girls all act crazy and jealous because apparently Mrs Newton plans to leave a newborn at home a lot while she goes out. And Mrs Newton is going to call the Baby-Sitters Agency. I don’t get it. Don’t most people not leave their newborn? I know things were different a long time ago, in the late 1980s, and I don’t really have an actual reference point in my own life, but from what I gather about the whole childcare thing, newborns kind of need to be around their parents most of the time. Not to mention that most people wouldn’t want to leave their newborn baby with a high school student or a junior high kid.But I really don’t know. I was raised by indifferent parents and an Emily Gilmore like grandmother, so I have no actual reference. I don’t even know the last time I’ve seen a newborn. 😦

This is getting long again, so I’m going to cut it off and make it snappy. Stacey goes to the city. She spends a day getting tested by some new age doctor who she doesn’t know or trust. Her parents dont’ listen to her. She tricks them into talking to a different doctor who tells her that she is fine and her parents need to give her some stability. Her parents actually listen to this advice and all is well. Just like a sitcom, it’s all wrapped up neatly at the end.

She even makes up with Laine. Popcorn and a soda costs, like, 1.90. The Agency goes out of business because they have hired irresponsibly sitters who smoke cigarettes in the house. Jamie Newton decides his sister doesn’t completely suck.

Interesting fact that I never noticed as a kid

Stacey’s parents couldn’t have any more kids after Stacey. I know I read this and knew this somewhere deep in my brain, but I don’t think I realized how that tiny little fact affects the characterization of Stacey’s parents. Suddenly, the divorce makes a lot more sense. The parental behavior, all the doctors, the way they acted in Stacey’s Choice and Stacey’s Emergency. She’s spoiled, and it seems as though Ed might blame Maureen. I can not wait until I get through this entire series so I can finally read about Samantha (Please, no “spoilers”).

Educational Moment of the week

Kristy calls up the agency and says she is dating Winston Churchill. The BSC members, who are smart and don’t fool around in school, get the joke. The Agency of Baby-Sitting slackers do not. My 7 year old self did not get the joke until after I saw Camp Nowhere which was my first actual exposure to Winston Churchill.

Vocabulary Lesson

Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be one. Sure there’s a lot of talk about insulin and glucose levels, but she never actually explains what those words mean. There is no “hey, isn’t that a great word? I learned it in ____ class. It means ________.” Strange.

Book Tie-In

The Cricket in Times Square, which, oddly enough, is NOT published by Scholastic. It’s a Yearling book, which I think is a division of Random House. Way to give free advertising to the competitor.

Seemingly Random Moment of Feminism

The closest thing I could find to a feminist comment in this one is the part where Kristy remarks that everyone will love the Baby-Sitters Agency, because they have boy sitters. (Obviously, the Lowells have yet to move to town and remind us all the boys don’t baby-sit)

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One Response

  1. “Kristy calls up the agency and says she is dating Winston Churchill. The BSC members, who are smart and don’t fool around in school, get the joke. The Agency of Baby-Sitting slackers do not. My 7 year old self did not get the joke until after I saw Camp Nowhere which was my first actual exposure to Winston Churchill.”

    That is the best part of the entire book. I also share a love for this one (but, I love most of the BSC books, so that may not be saying much). The thought of Kristy-on a date-haha. The earlier books seemed to have just the right amount of humor in them. My co-worked described this book as a mini-soap, when she sat in and listened to me read about 3 pages to the little girl I tutor. She is 9, and also didn’t get the Winston Churchill joke.

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