The Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea – Ann M. Martin

The year was 1986. I was in the second grade. My childhood dog was still a puppy. It was my first year playing netball. It was also the year Kristy Thomas had a great idea.

It was an idea that meant that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5.30pm to 6pm, I’d be thinking about Kristy, Claudia, Stacey and Mary Anne (and later in the series, new BSC members). I knew they would be hanging out in Claudia’s bedroom waiting for the phone to ring. She’d have junk food for those who partook and healthy options for those who didn’t. They’d talk Kid Kits (another of Kristy’s great ideas but she hasn’t thought of them yet), collect dues (ugh!) and run a thriving business (at 12!).

I never babysat when I was a kid so I’m not entirely sure what kept me coming back for more. It was probably a combination of the friendships and the introduction to the fun and mischief of little kids. I was an only child who desperately wanted a sibling so this was my window into a world of what if.

As an adult I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be leaving young kids with a 12 year old babysitter. I wondered how long these girls have been babysitting if they are as experienced as they claim. I’m also slightly disturbed, realising it’s extremely likely I’m now older than the babysitters’ parents are in the series.

Kristy’s Great Idea was my second BSC book. It was Mary Anne who introduced me to the other babysitters when she saved the day and given I was a Mary Anne at the time (shy, quiet and serious), she was the perfect one to accompany me to Stoneybrook. But it was this book that made me wish my best friend lived next door so we could talk at night using a secret flashlight code.

I was never especially keen on Kristy but the bossiness that annoyed me when I was growing up seemed largely absent in this book. She’s organised and entrepreneurial. Sure, she’s a real little snot to Watson for a good portion of this book but she’s 12 and her own father is MIA, so you can kinda see where she’s coming from.

There’s a nice symmetry in this book: David Michael is both the reason Kristy thought of the Baby-Sitters Club in the first place and his mother is the first parent to call at the inaugural BSC meeting to request a babysitter for him.

Because of the time spent setting up the story, it’s not until the eighth chapter that we first see one of the famous handwritten notebook entries. It’s written by Claudia, who babysat for Jamie (“Hi-hi!”) Newton and his three cousins. I used to love being able to identify each babysitter by their handwriting (and seeing if I could find Claudia’s spelling mistakes).

When I read my original copy of Kristy’s Great Idea, the final few pages were out of order and the last page was missing entirely. I remember borrowing a copy from my library and the satisfaction I felt when I finally got to read that final page. I also remember dutifully transcribing every word on it and putting my folded handwritten page inside my own copy so I’d always have the entire story at my fingertips.

About the cover: The original covers are always going to be superior to any of the later ones. That’s a given. But why is this the very first time in 34 years that I’ve paid attention to the fact that Kristy is wearing a dress on this cover? That’s sacrilege!

Weird bits (besides Kristy wearing a dress):

  • Classes finish at Stoneybrook Middle School at 2.42pm. Why not 2.40 or 2.45?
  • Kristy has a purse. That’s almost as anti-Kristy as her wearing a dress.
  • I have trouble imagining Kristy voluntarily playing with dolls as a kid. Wasn’t she always a tomboy?
  • Kristy wears a blouse and skirt to school. Who is this imposter?!

A word this book introduced to me when I was a kid: decorum.

My current favourite quote:

You really haven’t lived until a dog has stepped on your face.

I’ve been planning a BSC binge for a long time. All of my childhood books were thrown away (not by me!) and I mourned their loss. I’ve repurchased many of them since and I finally finished my BSC collection almost ten years ago. This was before I started reviewing and at the time I made it up to #54. I’m now hoping to gradually work my way through the entire series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kristy thinks the Baby-Sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun-and make tons of money.

But nobody counted on crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who don’t always tell the truth. And then there’s Stacey, who’s acting more and more mysterious. Having a baby-sitters club isn’t easy, but Kristy and her friends aren’t giving up until they get it right!