Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Happy 30th Anniversary The Babysitters Club!

It started with Kristy's Great Idea....

and turned into one of the most endearing and enduring Middle Grade-level book series - Ann M. Martin's The Babysitters Club. I was at the right age range and reading level to start reading this series when it was first published and borrowed many books from my school and public libraries. I could not get enough of these girls and their adventures.

From the get-go, this pre-teen series was everything that today's bookish professionals want from children's literature:

1) Entrepreneur spirit, without Venture Capital or Silicon Valley. Long before Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In, Kristy and the girls formed not just a club, but a business to serve the local community, hone their business and inter-personal skills, and make them some spending money. Kristy was the original Boss Lady.

2) Diversity. Claudia was my favorite. She was also the first Asian-American character I ever read about in any of the books geared to my age range. She defied the stereotype usually reserved for Asian-Americans: she was artsy and not good at math (no wonder why she was my favorite - we both hated math) and ran into personality conflicts with her family. Her family, notably Mimi (Claudia's grandmother) and Jeannie (older sister) also make multiple appearances Stacey had diabetes, which is how I learned about the disease and how to manage it (damn, sometimes an ice cream craving needs to be satisfied!). Dawn was from California and a vegetarian. Jessi was African-American, knew sign language, and wanted to be a professional dancer.

3) Issues.  Often books help children deal with hard issues, and The Babysitters Club was no exception. From friends moving away (Dawn), Stacey's management of her diabetes, Claudia's Mimi dying, and the troubles with relationships, especially with boys and family.
4) Various, non-perfect but good kids. The girls are point blank real and differ from each other enough that the reader could identify with at least one of the girls in the books. Unlike a lot of children's literature today that uses badly behaving main characters to anchor series, TBC does discuss consequences and repercussions for breaking rules.

4) Various girls, no brats. The girls that made up the club were relatable, good hearted, and faced consequences for their actions but also helped each other solve problems. Unlike a lot of children's book series now, the girls of TBC were not brats who made a mess for others to clean up.

I had many hours of reading enjoyment thanks to The Babysitters Club. In addition to the book series, there is a movie, a television show, and line of dolls. With the first generation of kids who read the series now adults with kids of their own, the series has received renewed interest and attention (see links). The series has also undergone updates to the covers and received the graphic novel treatment to appeal to new readers. I can't wait to share the books with my own daughter in the future.

Happy 30th Birthday to The Babysitters Club...and thanks to Ann M. Martin for your writing.

Complete List of Book Titles:
12 Facts
An Artist Reflects
Bustle on TBC 30th Anniversary

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mid-Summer Reading Update

Image result for beach clipart
It's been a while since I blogged, so I figured a mid-summer check in was over due. Our June weather here in East Anglia was a complete wash out and cold. July actually brought summer weather, complete with a heat wave and a humidity I have not experienced since I joined the military and left home. I have doubled the days out to the beach from one day last summer to two days this summer (Brighton and Skegness beaches) and a trip to an amusement park (took the kids to LEGOLAND Windsor for an overnight trip). Both months were great for reading!
June 1st was the start of the DOD/MWR Summer Reading Program; currently my kids are 134% over their goals (each kid got a 60 minute goal from the program's software and an additional 500 minutes as a personal goal) and I am 492% over my program goal (my personal goal was 1,000 minutes). We have not quite two weeks left in the program, but I think with those percentages, we can just call it a success right now. I like the weekly prizes and the overall theme better this year than last year.
COYER Challenge - Summer Vacation edition started June 18th and is going really well in helping me get my NOOK books read and archived/deleted. Part of COYER is the bingo cards, which I am failing - I definitely have a narrow range of books/genres I am interested in/read and that was made very apparent to me while filing out my cards. But I am having fun and reading a lot off my NOOK, so I am considering that more important than wining at bingo. Twenty-four books so far has been added by me to the challenge linky.
On July 23-24 I participated in the 24in48 read-a-thon. I liked the premise of the read-a-thon, especially as a mom of two young kids and as an epileptic who can't stay up 24 hours without triggering a seizure. I got 15-16 hours of reading done during this read-a-thon and looking forward to the winter edition of this challenge. As per my usual when it comes to read-a-thons, I managed to read two books start to finish. Both were contemporary romance (my old nemesis) anthologies with Christmas/winter holiday themes/settings.
July was also the month that I started watching Breaking Bad. Husband and I watched the first three seasons. We are planning on watching the rest of the seasons between now and Labor Day weekend. Husband is spending his down time this summer reading manga and fantasy genre books and playing the newest expansion pack for Fallout 4.
That brings us to the dog days of summer, otherwise known as August. I love August because it's my birthday month (and the husband's birthday month too - twice the birthday cake!). August also sees the return of Bout of Books (cycle 17) August 22-28, which I will be participating in.
Happy Reading!