I grew up reading The Baby-Sitters Club books and review the series on Netflix, from the perspective of a mom of tweens and fan of the books. So join me in a nostalgic trip down memory lane with The Baby-Sitters Club.
This has been a week full of nostalgia. The kids have been asking me about my childhood and what I liked and what I did, the music I listened to, the tv shows I watched and the books I read. And it all stemmed from the launch of The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix last week. My kids binged-watched the 10-episode series in a couple of days and they loved it!
Memories of Babysitting
Those books hold a special place in my heart. I remember my mom taking me to the bookstore to buy a new book and I dove right in; often reading them multiple times each. I also kept them and passed them along to my kids not that long ago.
And of course, I was a baby-sitter when I was younger. I sat for family and the kids in my neighbourhood, my parents’ friends’ kids and more. In fact, I even purchased a Guide to Babysitting (from an ad in the back of the book) that I used when I babysat.
I created my own ”kid kit” that I brought with me to my neighbours houses and even made emergency contact cards I had the parents fill out at each job. I don’t think I charged very much, but made a bit of spending money babysitting all those little kids – which of course I used to buy more books!
This nostalgic trip down memory lane with The Baby-Sitters Club was very welcome. Recently on a walk, the kids asked me which character I liked the best, and I quickly answered: Claudia. There was something about her creativity that I really loved. But really, there was something about each of them that I loved, and that’s why these beloved novels by Ann M. Martin are still so revered. And probably how the series has made a comeback.
The books: then and now
It’s crazy to think that these books debuted over 30 years ago, and that I can share the love of the series with my own kids. I’m grateful I kept my books and love that they read them all. I especially love when they share they enjoyed about the stories and characters.
The books even got a “graphic” makeover, which my Little Mouse enjoys. Graphic novels are written comic strip-style, with images and helps younger readers visualize the stories a bit better. So we have a nice mix of both types of books; my original ones and some graphic novels. They even made me purchase some of the books I’m missing in the series. (I had 1-4, 7 and 8. And then somehow had book 48 and 87, although I don’t remember reading those).
Between 1986 and 2000, 131 books were published in the core series along with 15 Super Special books (which were longer novels that had multiple narrators, vs the one in each book of the core series).
Unfortunately there only seems to be books 1-8 are available to still purchase from most retailers today, however they seem to be re-releasing books 9, 10, 11 in August, September and October, respectively.
Season 1 on Netflix is about the first eight books of the series and the Super Special book Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation.
So, what do I think of the series? It’s great!
The casting of these loveable characters is really well done, and wonderfully more diverse than the books. The essence of their characters is still there and I found myself smiling at the friendship that the girls have.
There really isn’t anything better than to know you have a squad. Friends that are different enough to bring new things to the dynamic, but still all there for each other. And this series really is about friendship, responsibility, conflict resolution, family and coming of age, told from each girls’ perspective.
Modernized tween coming of age stories
These tweens are into makeup and boys and learning to find their voices while building a business, learning responsibility through babysitting. They are entrepreneurs and their drive is contagious and inspiring and I think they are great role models for girls today. Even the political and social issues thrown into the mix, is presented in a way that is understandable to their tween audience.
It’s updated enough to feel relevant, and it pays retro homage to the past, including having the girls use an analogue landline telephone for the club. The see-through phone, that lights up when it rings, was a purchase from one of the girls off Etsy! Does anyone else remember those see-through phones?!
Like I mentioned, it’s modern, but retro. It really is a nostalgic trip down memory lane with The Baby-Sitters Club. As I mom I appreciated that the characters don’t have their noses stuck in their cell phones. They spend every afternoon together at one of their houses, and work together to build, advertise their business into something the whole neighbourhood knows about.
And even when faced with some high school competition and the characters handle that with maturity and grace.
The content and subject matter stayed true to the tween target market, while throwing in a few Easter eggs for us moms who could be watching along with them. Like when Kristy refers to her mom, played by Alicia Silverstone, as not all “Clueless”. I especially loved that my kids understood that reference to the movie that she is best known for.
Overall, I really enjoyed the series, and echo my kids’ sentiment about wanting another season. So here’s to hoping they get the green light (post pandemic, of course).
Finding ourselves in the characters
Meanwhile, my girls continue to ask which character I think I am, which only makes me think of adult women asking which character they think they are most like from Sex and the City (which I still find hard to choose just one).
So, which baby-sitter character do I think I am? Well, between Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey and Dawn, I would say I’m a little bit of each of them. Which is what makes me still love the books and fall in love with the series!
Kudos to Ann M. Martin for creating such wonderful, everlasting characters that speak across generations to girls everywhere, and kudos to Netflix from creating a series that couldn’t have been timed more perfectly for kids to watch!
It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane with The Baby-Sitters Club that I didn’t know I needed!
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