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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Flashback for Grown-Up Fans
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...
Published on April 29, 2010 by Alison

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly better than the average Super Special, slightly worse than average main series book.
The Good:

* It's fun visiting with the original four BSC members again.

* Each of the girls deals with an issue that is core to her personality/history (in this way it has some of the charm of the "portrait series" books which explored the characters' backstories).

* Even though Kristy hasn't had her "great idea" yet, there is a good mix...
Published on June 6, 2010 by Laura Redcloud


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Flashback for Grown-Up Fans, April 29, 2010
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (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. The sentence structure and language are more varied, although the formulaic nature of the series was somewhat unavoidable in such a large product. She still does have a thing for parentheses, which always amused me.

I wish we could see the BSC girls all grown up, but this is a fabulous addition to the BSC canon.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Overdue trip down Memory Lane, April 2, 2010
By 
Jennifer Camilleri (Royal Oak, MI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A great prequel to The Baby-Sitter's Club!, April 6, 2010
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (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
5.0 out of 5 stars BSC is back!, April 5, 2010
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This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for the Memories, November 3, 2010
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This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A cute, fun read, August 22, 2010
By 
Anyechka (Rensselaer, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (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? Most kids that age aren't thrilled that a parent is dating again and that a new man is trying to take the place of their father, and Mrs. Thomas apparently introduced him to her kids almost immediately instead of waiting until things were more long-term.

Mary Anne has to deal with her overprotective and strict father, who won't even let her babysit by herself and who still makes her wear her hair in braids, dress like a little girl, and keep her room decorated like that of a three year old's. She's also trying to find out things about her late mother by going through a box of her belongings in the attic, and she can't ask her dad for help because he never talks about Mary Anne's mother. Claudia feels she's growing up a lot faster than her two best friends (the relationship in this book contradicts the one established in the original series, where Claudia was never that close to them until after the club started), as she's started discovering makeup, boys, and the cool girls at school. At her twelfth birthday party, her first boy-girl party at a neighbors' house (nice neighbors that they'd clear out of their own house to let a bunch of preteens have a party there!), she gets a crush on Frankie, an incoming high school freshman who was actually a guest of her sister Janine. The two of them have a relationship of sorts over the summer, though it only consists of hanging out together, without a physical component. Stacey meanwhile is preparing to move from NYC to Stoneybrook, and part of her is glad to leave, because it means leaving behind her horrible ex-best friend Laine. She's also still getting used to having juvenile diabetes.

The book concludes with an abridged version of the beginning of 'Kristy's Great Idea,' and there's some sappy stuff about how the three original friends are going to always be close even though they might not all be at exactly the same place in terms of interests and maturity. It was overall a cute book and a very quick read, and it got me inspired to reread the entire original series (not the rewritten versions with generic cover art and all references to Eighties technology and fads replaced with modern lingo). Hopefully it will get a new generation of readers interested in the series, as well as appealing to the original generation of fans who are now at the age where we can look back on the books with sentimentality instead of only embarrassment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and heartfelt, July 18, 2010
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This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
I have not even finished with this prequel to the Babysitter's Club series yet, but it has already given me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Particularly if you liked the series as a girl, this book will be a delightful addition to your BSC library. What I think makes the book likable besides the nostalgia factor for older readers is the truth that being a girl involves some life experiences that are universal, and this novel touches on many of them. Your first real relationship with a boy, drifting apart from childhood friends and back together again, the independence found in earning your own money - these milestones stay with us into womanhood. Claudia, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Stacey are a PG version of the Sex and the City girls in that they all represent different aspects of a woman's personality - fashionable, assertive, sensitive & shy, and sophisticated. Give this book a chance and you will find Ann M. Martin and the girls to be just as welcoming as ever!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this Series!!!, June 17, 2010
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This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
I first discovered this series in the late 80's, when I was a kid.
When I ended junior high, I quit reading this series. 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. I then bought every single book in the series, including the mysteries, specials, and super specials. Even the board games! When I found out that she had written another book, I ordered it right away. It's like coming home! I love this series.
Ms. Martin, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write another book. I want to know what happened to Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey in the future!!!! If you can do a prequel you can do a sequel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once again, girls will be able to laugh, love and grow along with the club, June 11, 2010
By 
KidsReads (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
Quick quiz: Who are Mary Anne, Claudia, Kristy and Stacey? Chances are, if you're a woman in your 20s or early 30s, you know exactly who these four are: they're the central characters of Ann M. Martin's immensely popular Baby-sitters Club series of books, published between 1986 and 2000. The more than 100 original novels and spinoffs sold over 175 million copies, but have been out of print for some time. The series' myriad fans have been clamoring for a re-release of the original novels or the publication of a sequel ever since the last book was published in 2000.

Well, they're about to get at least part of their wish. Scholastic is republishing the first three titles in the original series, and Ann M. Martin has written a new book starring the four original members of the club. But, as you might be able to guess from the title, THE SUMMER BEFORE is not the "reunion" novel many fans had hoped for. Instead, it's the story of the girls' summer before seventh grade, the summer when many changes in their lives help define their friendship and result in Kristy's eventual idea to form the famous club.

Since ceasing publication of the original series, Martin has been busy writing other books, including the Doll People series and the Newbery Honor-winning A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE. But she seems more than capable of settling back into Stoneybrook, Connecticut, the small town where The Baby-sitters Club novels are set, and into these girls' world of rapidly changing family and friendship dynamics.

THE SUMMER BEFORE finds Kristy, who had the original idea for the club, resentful of her mother's growing relationship with a new boyfriend and still hoping that her father, who has remarried and moved across the country, will return to the family. Mary Anne, feeling both protective of and stifled by her widowed father, longs for the freedom to do something as innocent as babysitting with her best friend Kristy. Claudia, who increasingly feels more sophisticated than her doll-playing friends, wants to arrange her group's first boy-girl party. And Stacey, at the book's opening, hasn't even moved to Stoneybrook yet; she's still living in New York City but coming to terms with a move to the more peaceful suburban setting.

There have been a lot of changes in children's literature since the last Baby-sitters Club book was released in 2000. In the context of similar novels published since then, THE SUMMER BEFORE seems sort of sweetly old-fashioned and innocent, a real throwback to the less risqué series fiction of the 1980s and 1990s. But some things --- worries about family changes, anxieties about changing bodies, feelings about boys, and challenges of rapidly shifting friendships --- haven't changed so much after all.

It's hard to believe that many of the original fans of The Baby-sitters Club are now old enough to have daughters ready to read the series. Clearly, however, that is the audience that Scholastic is hoping for with the publication of THE SUMMER BEFORE and reissue of the original series. Once again, girls will be able to laugh, love and grow along with the club as they find the books in their Scholastic book club fliers and at their local bookstores. And a whole new generation will grow up feeling like Mary Anne, Claudia, Kristy and Stacey are their friends, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great prequel to a wonderful series, June 3, 2010
This review is from: The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before (Hardcover)
If you were a fan of the original Baby-Sitters Club then you definitely want to pick this book up. If you are not familiar with this series it's a perfect read for the tween set. The Baby-Sitters Club starts off with four friends who love to babysit and follows their adventures in babysitting, friendships and more. I was a huge fan of this series growing up and eagerly awaited every new book in the series.

This prequel follows Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey the summer before the start of the club. I was nervous about Martin revisiting the series so many years later but was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to slip back into the Baby-Sitters Club's world. Claudia worries she may be growing up faster than her best friends, Kristy and Mary Anne, and possibly out growing their friendship. Kristy is having to deal with her mother's new boyfriend, Mary Anne takes her first sitting job and Stacey prepares for the move from New York City to Stonybrook. What finally brings these four widely different girls together? Read this prequel to find out.

The style of writing flowed with my memories of the series and was a refreshing departure from all of the paranormal books that seem to have emerged lately. It was wonderful watching as each girl slowly realizes the changes in their lives as they have to grow up and face the changes life throws at them.
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The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before
The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin (Hardcover - April 1, 2010)
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