Title: The Summer Before (The Babysitters Club)
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: 5/5 (for what it was – obviously not the “best” book I’ve ever read)
When I first heard that a Babysitters Club prequel was being published, I didn’t think I’d have any interest in it. A reunion maybe, but why a prequel? We already know the characters’ back stories. How could an entire book about them be interesting?
Oh, how wrong I was.
First, some background. I LOVED the Babysitters Club books when I was a kid. I had more than one entire shelf on my bookcase dedicated to the series – more than any other series would ever get on that shelf (sadly, I think a lot of those books were “lost” during the eventful summer of 2008 but I will have to take a look at what my brother salvaged for me). When I had to do a report on what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be an author and did my report on Ann M. Martin. I was hooked.
By 6th or 7th grade, however, I had abandoned the books for the more grown-up writings of RL Stine and Christopher Pike. I don’t think I really looked back.
But, to borrow words from Kelly, I missed these characters without even realizing it.
After only a few pages of The Summer Before, I was completely sucked in. I didn’t have high expectations for the book other than reliving some fond childhood memories. But what I got was a well-written, funny, warm-hearted story that made me so nostalgic for these books that I wished I bought the first three reissues when I saw them last week.
A quick plot summary:
- The girls have just finished 6th grade and have their entire summers before them.
- Kristy is dealing with her mom’s new boyfriend and the hurt from her dad abandoning her.
- Mary Anne gets her first chance to babysit but still has to convince her dad she isn’t a baby.
- Claudia experiences her first boyfriend and a distance as she matures faster than her friends.
- Stacey, friendless in New York City, anxiously awaits her move to Stoneybrook where she can start over.
If you loved these books when you were a kid, I promise that you will also love this prequel.