Ann M. Martin's Baby-Sitters Club series sold millions and millions of copies since it was created in 1986. The series spawned a number of other spin-off series, and ended about a decade ago. Since then, fans of the series have had to be content re-reading old favourite titles, following Ann M. Martin to her new books, reading BSC fanfic, or creating BSC book blogs. Until now...
...because on April 3, a prequel to the series, The Summer Before, hit stores. It's the first book I can ever remember buying on the day it's released (sadly, there were no other people in the store dressed up like their favourite BSC characters), and I read it all before I went to sleep that night.
The story is told from the perspectives of the four original BSC members: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey. It takes place the summer between sixth and seventh grade, the summer before they formed the BSC. Kristy is having a hard time dealing with her mom's new boyfriend and her father's neglect; Mary Anne is starting to struggle against her father's strict rules. Claudia feels much more mature than her friends and thinks she's ready for her first boyfriend, and Stacey has had a terrible year at school and is eagerly looking forward to her family's move to Stoneybrook.
The book had the feel of the early BSC novels, which was great (the first six books hold up remarkably well, dated details and all). I liked the insights into the characters and how it raised themes that were dealt with for the entire run of the series. I was prepared for it to read like fanfic, but it didn't - it felt like a story that Ann M. Martin had known all of this time, but had decided to share it to us now.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin and illustrated by Raina Telgemaier