This week I present to you the final installment in our look at non-fiction spin-off of girls’ series books, with a volume based on a series near and dear to the hearts of many of us who were in middle-school in the 80s and 90s:
And of the three, this is the one that is unmistakably dated to its era of origin. Despite Cherry’s Ames’ talk of unpasteurized milk and Nancy Drew’s orange-and-brown-and-yellow color scheme, nothing says “1993” more than a book that is based on Prodigy Message Board!
According to the author there are over one thousand baby-sitting clubs in the United States! That includes Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico! Thinking you might like to start one? After reading this book I am not, because I am clearly too old and tired to do so. Seriously, the boundless energy of the real-life 11-to-13 year old entrepreneurs profiled in this book could be harnessed for the space program, but reading about it just makes me want to go and take a little nap.
The Baby-Sitters Express of Iowa City has “nearly a hundred” clients. Babies + Kids, Inc. of San Diego has combined the club with their Girl Scout troop. And Baby-Sitters R Us of Waretown, New Jersey reports that
“We are all CPR-certified and can handle children with special needs. We have three children with epilepsy, one who’s autistic, two with diabetes, and a lot with asthma. We also know sign language.”
Whew! In fact, the real-life sitters kind of make their fictional counterparts sound like lazy whiners. It doesn’t help that the book opens with a “special message” from each of them, and they all seem to have an axe to grind. For example, Mallory Pike tells us:
“A good baby-sitter gives each child equal attention.”
You may recall that Mallory was the eldest of 8 children, so she was always complaining about how her parents never paid enough attention to her. That’s why she dyed her hair blonde that one time.
Shannon Kilbourne weighs in on the subject:
“A good baby-sitter doesn’t cancel unless she’s sick or there’s a family emergency.”
“Associate Member” Shannon was the one that got called on to take over a job when a regular member canceled. Methinks she’s still mad about Stacy neglecting her baby-sitting duties to chase hunky lifeguards around.
But you know who comes off the worst? The parents! Seriously, adults are a bunch of shady jerks! A selection of letters from the Ask Ann feature from Prodigy (Prodigy!) are printed, and Ann M. Martin advises her readers on how to make adults cough up their paychecks.
Also, apparently parents had no compunctions about dropping off their kids off at whosever house had the babysitter for the afternoon- clearly a 12 year old can deal with watching 8 or 9 kids at a time! It makes me feel like I had it pretty easy in my baby-sitting days. The worst thing I was ever asked to do was handle baloney.
The rest of the book consists of First Aid information, various ideas for crafts and snacks, including what I can only assume is some bizarro Connecticut version of Ants On A Log that uses cream cheese instead of peanut butter. Weird.
Speaking of food, it is also suggested that you paint “monster faces” on slices of toast with milk and food coloring, which might be even grosser than touching baloney.
Sign It Was Written in 1993 Department: Aside from the Prodigy tie-in? It includes product placement for Clay-Mate, which I last saw on store shelves around the time Justin Timberlake was a Mouseketeer.
The Best Thing About This Book: Hands down, the best thing about this book is the fact that I got it at a thrift store, so it came to me with the included “Client Directory” already filled out:
Is it just me, or do Jeremy’s favorite things point to the fact that he may be a nascent serial killer?
(On a separate page the book’s previous owner has noted “Jeremy is terrible! Will NEVER baby-sit 4 him again! He needs Riddlen! [sic]”)
I really feel for Anonymous Teen, she probably just wants to watch some USA Up All Night or (if the parents have Showtime) (LUCKY!) some Red Shoe Diaries and Jeremy won’t stop bouncing off of the walls.