This is just a few random thoughts about this series. It's a little known fact (at least to everyone who is not obsessed enough to have read the biography of Ann M Martin) that the Babysitters Club was not actually the idea of Ann M. Instead, some editor at Scholastic books had the idea for a series about some girls who babysit a lot and approached Ann M, who was working as a freelance writer, to do the actual plot development and writing. The initial contract was a four book series with each book written from the perspective of one of the girls.
The point of all this, is I think it explains why the early books are better. They were written by Ann M, who really is a good writer* rather than the army of ghostwriters who took over the production line of later books. The characters, rather than being the complete charicatures they became later on, are interesting and well rounded. And the plots...well, they go from reasonably believable (in a fantasy kid fiction kind of way) to somewhat implausible, to completely, ricidulously impossible.
Anyway, I'm not writing a dissertation or anything here, it was just something I thought was kind of interesting and worth mentioning! And to be honest, reading the later books is so fun mostly because they're so preposterous. Claudia's fashion sense just gets whackier! MaryAnne cries more and more! Stacey's snobbishness and bitchiness wins out! Kristy becomes a junior Stalin and runs the club with her iron fist of presidency! After getting through 7th grade in five books, they remain in 8th grade for 121 books, enjoying countless Halloweens, Christmases, summer vacations, overseas trips, cruises and shipwrecks and plays and DisneyWorld!
*The books she wrote as stand alone novels for kids/teens were really good. Fun, enjoyable, touching- there really was a lot to them. Some of my favourite examples-
With You and Without You- Oh god, I just bawled my eyes out over this when I read it in primary school! It's about a girl whose dad dies and she and her family have to learn to go on without him.
Ten Kids, No Pets- Well, the title describes it pretty well. It made me wish our family were bigger and we had alphabetical names. Although I once looked it up in the babyname book, and following her system my name would have been Babette.
Missing Since Monday- Maggie's little sister is kidnapped. In a way this was one of the earliest 'crime' books I ever read. (That's not counting stuff like T*A*C*K to the Rescue where kids solve mysteries that aren't crimes and that don't involve any real police).
Inside Out- A book about a family with an austistic child. Which I loved as a kid, and as an adult just kinda makes my heart hurt for that family.
Me and Katie (the Pest)- Hello, ponies and pesty little sisters? Brilliant!