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The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before Hardcover

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The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before + The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club, No.3) + Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-Sitters Club, No.2)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Baby-Sitters Club
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; 1 Reissue edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545160936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545160933
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change. Kristy is still hung up on hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove to her father that she's no longer a little girl who needs hundreds of rules. Claudia is navigating her first major crush on a boy. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind...

...in order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

The Summer Before . . . is a sweet, moving novel about four girls on the edge of something big - not just the Club that will change their lives, but also all the joys and tribulations of being twelve and thirteen.

Amazon Exclusive Interview with Author Ann M. Martin

Q: It's been a decade since the last Baby-sitters Club books came out, and 24 years since the first book was published. What was it like to come back to the BSC after so many years away?

Martin: I had a great time re-visiting the characters. It was fun to explore their lives in the prequel, “"The Summer Before," and to figure out what led the girls to form The Baby-sitters Club, something that would eventually change their lives. It was like a reunion with friends--friends who haven’t changed a bit.

Q: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey are very different characters, which is in part why the series was and is still so popular. Every reader can relate to at least one of the characters. So, we have to ask you--which character are you most like?

Martin: I am most like Mary Anne who is the shy and quiet one. Like me, Mary Anne enjoys more solitary pursuits such as reading and needlework. My favorite character, however, is Kristy. I think she's my alter ego.

Q: Were you allowed to baby-sit when you were twelve? If so, were they any funny or awful stories you'd like to share?

Martin: Yes, I did a lot of baby-sitting when I was twelve. One of the worst and also funniest things that ever happened was when I was baby-sitting for our neighbors and the kids wanted to wash their parents' car. They started the job with much enthusiasm--using Brillo pads.

Q: More than 200 BSC books were published in the eighties and nineties. Are there any that you are particularly fond of and why?

Martin: My favorite Baby-sitters Club book is "Kristy's Great Idea," which is the first book and sets the series in motion. I also like the more serious books such as "Claudia and the Sad Good-bye," which deals with the death of Claudia’s grandmother. This book was written shortly after my own grandmother died. My other favorite BSC books include “Kristy and the Secret of Susan,” in which the members of the BSC baby-sit for a child with autism, and "Jessi's Secret Language" in which the girls learn American Sign Language in order to communicate with a sitting charge with profound hearing impairment.

Q: Why do you think that the series is so well-loved and has endured over so many years?

Martin: I think the characters in the BSC books are easily relatable. The books deal with timeless topics including friendship, family, and school.  Also, the books tackle serious issues including racism, bullying, kids with disabilities (physical and mental), and death of a loved one. These issues were relevant to kids in the 1980s and 1990s, and are still relevant to kids today. In addition to being relatable, these are characters readers can aspire to. The kids run a business--in this case, a baby-sitting business. They are entrepreneurial, independent, creative, and confident. And at the heart of the series is the friendship--the "glue" that binds these characters. Sure, they have fights, but they're loyal and they support one another. I think a lot of us--even adults--can relate to that.

Q: "The Summer Before" takes place during the summer before the girls enter the seventh grade--where suddenly there's a ton of pressure to fit in. The months leading up to it can be filled with anxiety, excitement, and anticipation. Do you remember how you spent the summer before seventh grade?

Martin: I was nervous that summer because in the fall I would be going to a new school – the junior high (this was in the time before middle schools). Even the words "junior high" seemed terribly grown-up. My friends and I would be attending school with eighth-graders, who were one step away from high school. I spent that summer reading, going to the community pool, taking a family trip to Cape May, New Jersey, doing some baby-sitting, and also recovering from surgery. But the knowledge that I would soon be in junior high school colored every day and every activity and did lend the summer an air of both anxiety and anticipation.

Q: Despite the fun the girls have together in "The Summer Before," they're all dealing with pretty tough problems—moving away, an absentee father, a first crush. How did you choose the issues you wanted to focus on?

Martin:  One of my favorite things about writing a series was that the characters themselves generated plot ideas for later books. One of the themes that developed as the series progressed was that of Kristy's relationship with her father. It was an idea I enjoyed exploring, and when I had the opportunity to write the prequel I realized that this summer would be a charged time for Kristy, and that I could introduce the issues she had with her father here; then they could unfold in the later books. The same applied to Stacey. Her reasons for moving to Stoneybrook had been revealed in later books, but I realized that during this particular summer the reader could actually watch the events take place. The other issues – a first crush, wanting more independence yet still feeling like a kid--are themes that I felt would resonate with most "tween" readers.

Even though the books have been out of print for ten years there are still some very devoted fans. Surely you must have received a ton of letters about the series over the years. Are there any that stick out in your mind?

Martin: The most memorable are stories of girls who have written to me and told me that I’ve made an impact on their lives, that The Baby-sitters Club books have turned them into readers. Some have also said that the BSC books made them aspire to become writers. I’ve also heard from a lot of the original fans who grew up to become teachers, librarians, editors, journalists, entrepreneurs, etc. To know that this series inspired a generation of readers and writers is very humbling.

Q: There’s been a lot of speculation in the blogosphere about where Claudia, Kristy, Mary Ann, and Stacey would be now, in 2010, had they grown up. Do you have any thoughts on what path each would have taken?

Martin:  I understand the fascination of the older BSC fans who would like to know what happened with the characters when they got older. It’s thrilling to realize that after all these years the fans remain passionate about the books and the characters in The Baby-sitters Club. I can see Kristy running a business--I can also see her being in politics. I think Mary Anne became a teacher. I imagine Stacey went into fashion--not as a designer, but maybe on the business side. And Claudia became an artist. I think fans can fill in for the rest of the characters!

About the Author

Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitters Club series sold over 176 million copies and inspired a generation of young readers. Her novels include the Main Street series, BELLE TEAL, the Newbery Honor book A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE, HERE TODAY, A DOG'S LIFE, and ON CHRISTMAS EVE, as well as the much-loved collaborations P.S, LONGER LETTER LATER and SNAIL MAIL NO MORE with Paula Danziger, and THE DOLL PEOPLE and THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD, written with Laura Godwin and illustrated by Brian Selznick. She lives in upstate New York.

More About the Author

Ann M. Martin is the bestselling author of the momentous series The Baby-sitters Club, as well as the Main Street series. Her other acclaimed novels include "A Dog's Life," "Belle Teal," "Here Today," and the Newbery Honor Book "A Corner of the Universe." She lives in upstate New York. For more information, visit www.scholastic.com/bsc.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I was a huge fan of this series growing up and eagerly awaited every new book in the series.
Debbie's World of Books
In my late 20's, I found a copy of a BSC book (the Truth about Stacey) at Goodwill, bought it, reread it, and fell in love with the series all over again.
And a whole new generation will grow up feeling like Mary Anne, Claudia, Kristy and Stacey are their friends, too.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alison on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was beyond thrilled to hear that Ann M. Martin was writing a prequel to the BSC. I've been a fan of the books since I was 7 years old - more than 20 years now. The book is set the summer before the BSC begins (if that isn't obvious from the title) and stars Mary Anne, Claudia, Kristy, and Stacy, with a cameo from Mallory. We see a lot of our favorite baby-sitting charges too.

Although this book is written for tweens, I think adults will relate to it best - especially those of us who have "known" the BSC girls for years. All four of the girls are struggling. It really is a difficult summer - that awkward time when you're no longer a little child, but you're not even a full teenager yet. Mary Anne is feeling tied down by her strict father and trying to learn everything she can about her deceased mother. Kristy is devastated that her father is completely absent and resents Watson's intrusion. Claudia is ready to grow-up and clashes with her still childish friends - she gets her first boyfriend and learns that's not always as great as it seems. Stacy is about to move away from NYC, has no friends, and still getting used to being diabetic. I felt sad throughout a lot of the book - relating to the girls now more as a parent than as a friend - you just want to give them a hug and try to ease the growing-up process. This interesting but difficult summer makes the Baby-Sitter's Club seem even more important than before - it gave 4 girls a place of friendship, happiness, and stability.

Ann M. Martin's writing has definitely improved over the years. She'll never be one of the more skilled writers in children's literature, but I can see clear growth between this book and her early books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Camilleri on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was so excited when I heard that a prequel was being written. I read every single BSC book growing up and have gotten my nieces hooked on them too. Ann M. Martin has written a wonderful beginning to this wonderful series. I was instantly transformed back to Stonybrook and into the lives of its residents. I noticed a few continuity issues but that was just because I am a somewhat obsessed fan of this series. I doubt most normal readers would even notice.
This book had a lot of very emotional chapters which I'm thinking may be lost on the age of the readers the book was designed for. Overall, this is a wonderful book for all of us old friends as well as a great introduction for new fans.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Megan Lewis on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading the Baby-Sitter's Club series since I was 7 (going on 17 years now) and am still a HUGE fan of the series. I feel like the girls of the BSC are my best friends. I pre-ordered this book and could not put it down. It's about the summer before seventh grade for Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill. Kristy secretly wishes for her father to come back, hoping he will surprise her for her 12th birthday. Mary Anne, still in pigtails and little girls clothes, must deal with her super strict father and convince him that she's old enough to baby-sit, Claudia falls for her sister Claudia's friend Frank at her 12th birthday party (and her first boy/girl party), and Stacey is dealing with the losing her best friend Laine whom she grew up with but got into a fight with when she found out she got diabetes and now Stacey's family is moving to Stoneybrooke for a fresh start. Kristy, Mary Anne and Claudia grew up on Bradford Court but started growing apart in 6th grade and are coming to terms with the friendship this summer, but all things turn out great at the end, as they form a club, and Stacey is invited into this club and gets her fresh start. It's a summer of learning and growing and friendship....and watching for those shooting stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian Schwartz on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gosh I love this series. This book is a prequel, it takes place before the first book. Kristy misses her dad who is absentee, Claudia falls for an older boy, Mary Anne's dad is just too darn strict, and Stacey is about to move from NY. This book was very well written and serves as the perfect prequel. Now, all we need is a BSC Flashfoward! LOVE IT
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KeenSense on November 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a huge BSC/Ann M. Martin fan back in the day - and OK, I admit it, I still read the books today, when I just want to read something fun and lighthearted. There was something "magical" about the characters - obviously, as an almost-30-year-old (me) still reads them and I know I'm not alone!
This was a great tribute to the series, and a nice way to remember my childhood.
That being said - and I enjoyed this book, believe me - it's not my favorite book of the series. I don't think I could read it over and over as I can with, say, #91 or #77. (I can picture the titles and the book covers of those, mind you.) Yes the BSC spirit was captured and preserved in this book, but the story wasn't up to par with the others. I know a lot of those were ghost written, perhaps that's why.
Overall it's a great book for those of us who grew up with these girls. But if you're new to the series, I'd stick with the originals first.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I found out that this prequel had recently been published, I got really excited to find it and read it, even though it had been at least 15 years since I'd read a BSC book (I think I stopped reading somewhere in the 30s, maybe early 40s). It had been so long that I'd totally forgotten the names of a lot of the characters, bur reading the prequel really started jogging my memory (though I still didn't remember the names of any of the sitting charges except the Pikes!), and it was a fun, if fluffy, stroll down memory lane.

Set during the summer before the four original baby-sitters began junior high, the book takes the form of a super-special, where each girl narrates her own chapter, though unlike a super-special, their storylines don't always intersect. Stacey's storyline in particular is separate from the others,' since she's in New York City for most of the book and doesn't even meet them till near the end. Each girl is dealing with growing up, entering a new phase of life, and having old friendships tested. Kristy, far from the bossy, controlling, overbearing character she would become as the series wore on, is just a typical twelve year old kid here, a girl who misses her father, who hopes he'll change his mind and come back to the family. She holds out hope that he'll call or visit, or at least send a present or letter, for her birthday, and resents her mother's relationship with Watson Brewer. Yes, she is a real brat to him in this book and the original first book of the series, but can you really blame her given how her dad walked out on the family, Watson is a much better dad to his own kids, and her mother's relationship with him is proceeding at lightning speed?
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