As far as phenomena go, I feel like the Baby-Sitters Club is one that just about spanned the (Western?) world. If nothing else, the numbers speak for themselves: 176 million copies sold, 9 spin-off series, one tv-series ànd a movie. How does the series stand the hand of time, though?
The premises of the baby-sitters club is most likely exactly what you have: it’s about a club of baby-sitters! (Shock, I know).
When Kristy’s mom can’t find a bay-sitter for Kristy’s little brother, the idea of the baby-sitters club comes to her: one location, multiple baby-sitters. She brings in some friends, and the club is started.
Throughout the series, members of the BSC leave, come back, new members are added, be it in a full-, a junior-, or associate-status…
Alongside the various baby-sitting jobs, the girls are faced with new friendships, family dynamics, first loves… Basically everything 12-to-13 year old girls would come across as they make their way through middle school.
I first read this series when I was around 10 years old. The entire series, and most of the spin-offs as well, has been translated into Dutch. This included Dutch-ified names, locations, … As a ten year old? I loved the series. It made me dream of those days when I, too, could be a baby-sitter, preferably in a club, with other friends who loved to baby-sit…
That was, apparently, one of the common threads for this series: it inspired others to also start their own clubs. Although the amount of succes for these clubs could vary (a lot of them got shut down because the members themselves still needed a baby-sitter, according to their parents), not many series have had that effect.
Beyond the scope of baby-sitting, though, I found something recognisable in the characters. Because each book is narrated by a different member of the club, almost anyone can find something they relate to in the BSC. Whether you’re a dancer, into arts, have to deal with an illness of some sort, face racism… Just about any scenario any tween could possibly come across? You found it in the books.
That universal-ness translates well, even when re-reading the series 15 years later. While the world the BSC takes place in has become more than a bit outdated (Claudia gets to be vice-president because she’s the only one to have a phone line), the feelings have remained the same.
Reading the series again, brought me right back to the confusion of being 13 years old, those first crushes, friendships changing or falling away… No matter what our circumstances are, it appears those basic things, at least, stay the same.
The rating: 3,5/5
If you’re in need of a series for a tween that will be relatable, while at the same time showing just how the world worked (somewhat, at least) in the 90s? This is your series. More likely, though, if you want to get that nostalgic feel of a world that isn’t really there anymore? The Baby-Sitters Club is just about guaranteed to give you that experience. Sure, there’s a lot of clichés, and sure, every story has exactly the same format… But none of that takes away from the fact that these books are (were) just a good old enjoyable read – and one that I definitely don’t regret having gone back to!