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The "Babysitters Club" series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

In Brief: Generally positive feel. Young teenage friends taking responsibility in different situations. General acceptance of complicated family setups.

Author: Ann M Martin

Publisher: Scholastic

Age Range: Pre Teens

Period: Contemporary

Genres:  FamilyFriendshipGirlsGrowing-Up


Synopsis:

There are over a hundred books in this series, all quite short, very popular with younger girls. The basic storyline, reiterated at the start of each book with bewildering variety, is that one of the (never ageing) 13-year-olds finds her mum unable to get a babysitter and decides to form a club with her friends to help the local families and to earn a bit of money.Each story is told by a different club member while making use of the device of the club diary to give the points of view of the other girls. The stories usually combine the trials of different babysitting jobs with the various parallel difficulties faced by the girls themselves (eg young Freddy finds it difficult to let go of his teddy bear now he's older, just as babysitter Frieda can't bring herself to adopt a new adult style of clothing). Occasionally the author makes a epilogue statement about a particularly serious issue being addressed (the death of a friend, teenage dating, etc.) Inevitably there is a certain sameness about the stories but they do manage to stay a step ahead of the game.

Notes:

There is much one could say. Overall the books have a positive feel. The stories are all about families with children, which is a good start, and about the friendship of the babysitters despite some differences of character and opinion. None of the situations and issues portrayed is as serious as drug- taking or teenage pregnancy for example, but the author is clearly setting out to reassure and help kids who encounter other everyday problems.My quibble, perhaps, is that she does this within the accepted framework of her (fictional) society where divorce is a commonplace and remarriage a good thing because it helps the children and indeed creates a bigger, better family. She is (by her own confession) fond of big families: one of those portrayed has 8 natural members, another has even more by a combination of remarriage and adoption.

Tuesday 1st January 2002