Anyway, I want to do this thing where I write one short "review" before I reread the book, basically about what I remember about reading it as a kid. Then, I'll do a more snarky review based on my impressions now, to compare my reaction.
Two things stand out when I think back to Kristy's Great Idea.
1. I have this vivid memory of Kristy yelling out in school, because she was glad the day was over and having to write some essay about words she (or I) didn't understand.
2. Everyone thought Stacey was anorexic in this book because she wouldn't eat candy. Which I only remember because there is some other book where Jessi's friend actually DOES have anorexia and none of the girls have ever heard of it. When I read that book, it really bothered me because if they thought Stacey was anorexic, they obviously knew what it was, right? So, if a continuity error like that bothered me as a kid, I can't image how many will bother me now.
You know how you always skipped chapter two of every book because it was a summary of the girls families and how the club started? Well, this entire book is where everything that is summarized in that chapter actually happens. I assume you know the story - Kristy's mom needs a baby-sitter and calls a bunch of people while her pizza gets cold. Kristy watches her and gets a "great idea" for a club, they start it, etc. etc. etc. The only decent part about reading this today is that it is kinda entertaining to see how things were described before everything got super formulatic/cliche. We do get to hear about each girl's first job:
Kristy - Sits for a couple dogs. Of course, she thinks it is going to be a couple of little kids so there is all this dialog right out of Three's Company where Kristy thinks someone is talking about keeping her children locked in a laundry room, or whatever.
Stacey - Sits for David Michael. And she meets Sam and flirts with him the whole time. Typical.
Mary Anne - Sits for Karen and Andrew. And gets scared when Karen tells her Mrs. Porter is a witch. Because, she is five, not twelve and actually believes in witches.
Claudia - Sits for Jamie Newton and his "bad" cousins. I think they show up a few times later in the series. The point of this job is that it teaches the girls to always ask who they will be sitting for - since Mrs. Newton didn't bother to tell Claudia there would be three extra kids around.
There is also a subplot going on: Kristy's mom is dating Watson, and Kristy HATES him. Seriously, she is a whiny little bitch to him and refuses to sit for Karen and Andrew. But then, there is an emergency and she is the only one who can, and she decides they are cute. She also starts to warm to Watson, so by the end when her mom and Watson announce they are engaged, she is kinda okay with it. There are some hints in the book, that she actually doesn't like Watson because she sees how he is a good father to his kids after a divorce, and her own dad is an asshole. I probably missed that the first time around.
- So in this book, the girls actually act like twelve year olds. They have recess at school, get their parents permission to do stuff, etc.
- According to the descriptions here, Mary Anne and Kristy have never been that good friends with Claudia. But I know in those flashback books they have later, they talk about them being a threesome all the time. Stupid continuity issues.
- Would a twelve-year-old really refer to the people she baby-sits for as "clients"? That seems a little odd.
- First Claudia outfit ever: "short, very baggy lavender plaid overalls, a white lacy blouse, a black fedora, and red high-top sneakers without socks." She also tries to wear make up, but her parents won't let her. Someone should tell Mallory that, so she will stop whining about not being able to at eleven.
- Second Claudia outfit ever: "A baggy yellow-and-black checked shirt, black pants, red jazz shoes, and a bracelet that looked like it was made from a telephone cord. Her earrings were dangling jointed skeletons that jumped around when she moved." Skeletons? Really?
- First Stacey outfit ever: "a pink sweatshirt with sequins and a large purple parrot on the front; short, tight-fitting jeans with zippers up the outside of the legs; and pink plastic shoes." Parrots and sequins, wow. The model of sophistication!
- First Kristy outfit? A skirt and a blouse. With knee socks. And she describes it as her regular school clothes. I wonder when the jeans and a turtleneck started?
- Of course Stacey's parents buy all her clothes for her.
- They don't even say Watson is a millionaire in this book. Mary Anne goes to his house, reports to Kristy how nice it is, and they assume he has a lot of money. Interesting, that the first time Kristy sees his house is when she stops hating him.
- Another thing different in early books: Stacey and Claudia NEVER eat lunch with Kristy and Mary Anne. Cause they are cool and eat with the boys Kristy things are annoying.
- According to Kristy, her dad is married again and pays child support. Again, this is not consistent with later books. How hard is it to be just a little consistent? Isn't that what editors are for? These books must have made Scholastic and Ann M. Martin a fortune, yo would think they could pay an editor.
- Hey, I never realized this, but the back cover of the books is like the flier they make up. It has the block logo thing, and says "Need a sitter? Save time!" Then has all their names and offices. If I was still eight, I would think that was cool.
- I really hate the stupid KL5 thing for phone numbers. No one does that, and I don't believe they did in the 80s.
- Man, Kristy really was awful to Watson. He brings over Chinese food and she makes herself a peanut butter sandwich just to avoid eating something he bought. Then calls him an awful father. I know he is the one who raised Karen, but Kristy hasn't met her yet, so she can't judge.
- Janine spends several pages debating with herself whether "Baby-Sitters Club" should have an apostrophe. She asks the girls if they meant it to be possessive and they ignore her like it is a dumb question. Personally, I think it should be an apostrophe AFTER the S. The club belongs to all four of them.
- Okay, what is this stupid flashlight code Kristy and Mary Anne have? Do they use morse code or something? I don't get how you could converse with a flashlight through their windows. Am I just missing some really obvious explanation?
- Kristy isn't allowed to watch cable when her mom isn't home. Now, how does a single mother who works full time enforce THAT rule?
- All the girl's handwriting is different in this book. Not totally different, but just a little off. It is sorta like watching a first season episode of The Simpsons and seeing how the characters are drawn.
- Watson tells Mary Anne how Boo-Boo is an awful cat who might bite her if Mary Anne gets to close, but then refuses to lock him in a cage or other room. That...seems kind of mean. Maybe I am just sensitive because I hate cats.
- Kristy's salary for her first ever job? $3.50.
- The BSC total earnings in the first week or two? $26.75. I guess to a twelve-year-old in 1985 that is a lot.
- Kristy's mom makes her kids get dressed up to hear that she MIGHT get engaged to Watson. Personally, I can't believe two divorced parents would get engaged before introducing their own kids, but that is just me.
- Someone should tell Claudia you actually do need to be able to do math when going shopping. That way, you know how much you are spending. Just a minor detail.
- Okay, Kristy has to take care of Karen and Andrew because their mom breaks her leg and Watson has to go to the hospital. Why the hell would WATSON go to the hospital when his ex-wife breaks her leg? Especially when she is engaged herself. Those two were always unnaturally close for exes. Kristy's mom should be careful about that.
- Karen calls Kristy's mom "Edie Thomas." Isn't her name Elizabeth?
- You know, they always say Mary Anne's father is soooo strict, but every time she stands up to him, he gives her whatever she wants (in this case, spending some of her money on pizza). In later books doesn't he let her get a makeover, buy a cat, go out with Logan? And as soon as she ASKS to stop wearing her hair in breads he lets her. I'm thinking he is really just a big softie.
- David Michael acts like a six-year-old in this book. Later on, all the kids they sit for seem older than they are supposed to be.
- Ha, Mary Anne and Kristy were playing with dolls up until the summer before 7th grade. Remember that when they act SO old in later books.
- Best exchange ever: Claudia makes fun of Kristy for wearing a sweater with snowflakes on it. Kristy's response: "You've got sheep barrettes in your hair...you think that is adult?" To which Claudia says: "Sheep. ... are in." Keep telling yourself that sweetie.
- More outfits (all Stacey): "plaid wool pants...which were held up with red suspenders" and later "a matching top and skirt made of gray sweat shirt material with big yellow number tens all over it. Her hair was pulled back with clips shaped like rainbows."
- When Stacey reveals she has diabetes. Kristy says: "Diabetes? Is that all?" Heh. Because really, Stacey, get over yourself. (No offense to diabetics, of course).
- Oh, the word Kristy had to write an essay about? Decorum.
Well, that is it for review number one. Look for the next one later this week. Let me know what you thought. If anyone wants to recommend a book or make any other suggestions, just let me know.