Deb Rachel is a Kristy (But She Wanted To Be a Stacey)

I took this picture on Monday afternoon. I arrived in Seattle earlier that morning (for some Pacific Northwest readings–Portland tonight!) and within two hours of landing I found myself rifling through the children’s section of a used bookstore at Pike’s Place Market. When I found these titles I pretty much had no choice but to buy them. An old-school Babysitters Club cover is not easy to come by.

I know. I’ve tried.

I loved all the Sweet Valley books when I was a kid, but The Babysitter’s Club were It. I collected the whole series—Super Specials included, obvs—and lined them up by number on their very own shelf. I still credit the BSC as some of my earliest exposure to just how great a friendship can be. Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey and Dawn (and later Mallory, Jesse and—ugh—Abby) were the truest of true BFFs. I wanted to be exactly like them. (My own best friend and I even tried to start our own club… not as easy as the Stonybrook Girls make it seem.)

Two years ago, when Scholastic rereleased the first two BSC books—and a new prequel—I wrote a blog post devoted to my favorite childhood series. “The BSC was a fearsome foursome long before anyone had ever heard of Carrie Bradshaw and her merry band of horny pals,” I wrote. “Over the course of the series…I developed an expectation of what friendship should be.”

So imagine my joy when I got an email later that afternoon from a publicist at Scholastic. Did I want to interview Ann M. Martin for my blog?

Um, did I? DID I?

Yes please.

And that’s how I found myself two weeks later, sitting at the lobby of The Sheraton Hotel with the woman who, in some small way, is responsible for my first book. The woman who taught me that best friends are forever, or at least should last through middle school. The woman who created characters who I—and so many girls like me—pretty much worshipped. Oh, to be as cool and creative as Claudia. Or as cosmopolitan as Stacey. Or to have an actual boyfriend, like Mary Anne. (Logan! Swoon.)

I asked Ann M. Martin about friendship (“I think maybe a best friend is somebody you feel comfortable enough to have a fight with, and then make up with”), the success of the 213-book series (“It was supposed to be a four-book miniseries—one book about each of the main characters”), and her recommended reading list for kids (The Invention of Hugo Cabret; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry).

And then I just about died.

I had just met Ann M. Martin.

Screw Kirk Cameron or Jordan Knight. If you were born in the early ’80s, this was the celebrity run-in of your dreams.

Were you a Babysitters Club fan? Is there a childhood series that you similarly hoarded? Would you have just died if you met the author?

14 Replies to “Deb Rachel is a Kristy (But She Wanted To Be a Stacey)”

  1. Not having been born in the early ’80s, I don’t have quite the same attachment to The Babysitters Club, though I do remember my daughter reading them. Now, if I could have met Julie Campbell (the creator of the Trixie Belden series, who wrote the first six) I would have been over the moon. I wanted to live in those books.

  2. I missed these books by about a decade, but I’m not sure if I would have read them anyway. I was a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy nerd as a teen and devoured Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern books, reading them over and over until they were completely falling apart. I was so sad, recently, when I heard she’d passed away and a secret part of me wished I could have met her and told her how much I’d loved her books.

    But what a lovely experience for you, Rachel. Wow! The power of blogging, huh? So glad you were able to make this connection and I’m SO loving these stories.

  3. That is such a great story, Rachel–behold, the power of the internet!

    I remember those books so well.

    Like Joanne, I liked sci-fi in my teens. I thought John Christopher’s Tripod series was so incredibly cool (and the BBC did a version and I was ga-ga over Will in that one) so I suppose I would have loved the chance to pick his brain over those.

    1. You are so lucky you still have all those books at home! I’m jealous (and you’re smart). One day when my kid says it’s fine for me to throw out her book series (what will that be? Hunger Games?) I’m just going to box it up and hold on for the day when she gets nostalgic…

  4. A bit long in the tooth for Babysitter’s Club I fear. I read Nancy Drew voraciously though. I think meeting Judy Blume would have knocked me for a loop for sure. And Charles M Shulz – I was a HUGE Peanuts fan as a kid. K

    1. OMG meeting Judy Blume would the IT. I loved Nancy Drew, too. And LOVED The Boxcar Children… (don’t know why I bunch Nancy with the Boxcar kids, but I do…)

  5. I am dying just reading this post. And I’m a bit jealous. I LOVED these books. I had all of the BSC books, all Sweet Valley Twins and all Sweet Valley High. I didn’t just take them out of the library – I made my dad buy them for me. He thought fostering my love of reading was important so he never declined, even when I would read a book in one day and ask the next day to go back to the store to buy the next one. I don’t know what I did with those books. I may have thrown them out in a fit of room cleaning and I’m sad about that now. I always imagined myself as a Mary Anne but secretly wanted to be a California girl like Dawn.

    1. Wow! Clearly you had a great Dad. I loved Sweet Valley (Twins and High) too…. Now I want to read them all over again. I am a bit sad at the realization that I’m really a Kristy, not a Claudia/Stacey/Dawn. Sad.

  6. OMG, Rachel, I love this story!! I wrote Ann M. Martin a fan letter when I was young and got a typed form letter back, which was simultaneously exciting and disheartening.

    I had the first 100 books or so, also arranged in numerical order on my shelves, but I sold almost all of them in college for beer money. SAD.

    1. What is wrong with us stupid college kids? I told my mom she could throw out my BSC collection, and now it’s like I’m starting over. Should have known better…

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