Today is Ann M. Martin's birthday. That might not mean much to you if you're a male, especially if you don't have sisters, but she is the author (at least, at first) of The Baby-sitters Club series. You'd be pretty hard-pressed to find a girl in my general age bracket who didn't own a couple of these growing up. To celebrate such a monumental occasion, here are a few facts about the good old BSC.
1. There are 131 Baby-sitters Club books and 122 Little Sister books in print, plus all of the super specials and mysteries. I loved the Super Special when they went to Disney World and Karen freaked out at the Magic Kingdom because she really believed it when the disembodied voice in the Haunted Mansion told her that a ghost would follow her home. Oh, that Karen. She was always such a drama queen.
2. The character of Mary Anne is based on Ann M. Martin herself. Do you think Ann M. Martin also underwent an extreme makeover and went from dressing mousy to dressing cool (meaning: leggings and hats)? Despite this fact, Martin says Kristy is her favorite character and was based on her childhood best friend.
3. The idea to write about a group of girls who just looooove to babysit wasn't Martin's idea. It was her editor's idea, and Martin ran with it.
4. The characters didn't age in real time, obviously, since they were perpetually stuck in middle school. If Martin had allowed them to age in real time, they would have been 28 when the series finally ended.
5. The books created quite a few spin-offs. There were the Little Sister books, centered on Kristy's bratty step-sister Karen Brewer; The Kids in Ms. Coleman's Class, a spin-off of Little Sister about Karen's classmates at Stoneybrook Academy; and California Diaries, a series about Dawn when she returned to California. This series dealt with some pretty deep issues, including anorexia and and racism. There is also apparently a graphic novel of the first BSC book, which I am rather delighted by. Has anyone seen it?
6. Remember the BSC notebook entries each girl wrote, which is how we know that Stacey dotted her i's with hearts and that Claudia couldn't spell to save her life? One single person at Scholastic hand wrote those entries for all of the girls. And I thought I had schizophrenic handwriting!
7. The series officially ended in 2000, but the last book came out in 1999. It was The Fire at Mary Anne's House. Between the series debut in 1986 and the finale in 2000, the books sold more than 175 million copies.
8. The books came out on a monthly basis for a while, leaving a very short turnaround time for Ms. Martin. She says a lot of the books had very little editing at all... which you can kind of tell if you go back and read some of them today. Not that I have. Not that I still own some, or anything.
9. Ann M. Martin stopped writing the books entirely herself at Stacey's Choice, #58. After that, she wrote a basic plotline and others filled in the details. You can tell which ones were ghostwritten because there is always a notation in the book that says "The author gratefully acknowledges So-and-So for their help on preparing this manuscript."
10. Sadly, there are no plans for a BSC reunion. Dang. I can't be alone in wondering what the girls would look like at 28, can I?
Tiff of "Stoneybook, Connecticut," blogged her way through a bunch of the old books over at Claudia's Room. She no longer does it, but there is quite a back log of recaps to read through, and she's pretty hilarious. I highly recommend it as a way to kill a little time and relive your childhood.
OK. Multiple questions today. What was your favorite book, who was your favorite babysitter, and what do you think the gals would be doing at the age of 28? Mine: I think Stacey was my favorite, for obvious reasons. I liked The Ghost at Dawn's House, Mary Ann's Makeover and Stacey's Emergency. Claudia has gone to art school, obviously, and is now working for Betsey Johnson. Stacey is on her third marriage and still perms her hair. That's about all I can say without getting unnecessarily mean. But you can be as mean to the teenage sitters as you want, as long as you share with the rest of us in the comments!
Have a Q10 request? I'm on Twitter and I'm all ears! Err... all keys. Something.