The Doll People by Ann M. Martin & Laura Goodwin
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Publisher: Hyperion, 2000
ISBN 9780786803613 / 256 pages
Find this book at your local library
Forty-five years ago, the Doll family lost their beloved Aunt Sarah from their humble dollhouse home. After finding her Aunt Sarah’s journal stashed in the library bookshelves, Annabelle Doll takes it upon herself to venture out of the house and look for her aunt. On one of her explorations, she meets a new set of dolls and befriend Tiffany. With a new friend and a new burst of courage, Annabelle and Tiffany venture into the world of the living humans to look for their missing relative.
There are number of elements in this book that make it fantastic.
1. Illustrations by Brian Selznick. The author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret does a fantastic job bringing the doll families to life in this book. He pencil illustrations are amazing, depicting the smallest flecks of emotion in the doll’s faces.
2. Ann M. Martin. The author of the Babysitter’s Club teams up with author Laura Goodwin to write the first in a trilogy about the Doll family. This book is imaginative, funny and well paced. Annabelle’s family is from the Victorian era, made of porcelain and passed down from generation to generation. Tiffany’s family is new, plastic and perfect for the rough hands of a playful 5-year-old younger sister. The contrast between old and new, traditional v. modern is well examined through the friendship of Annabelle and Tiffany.
3. Living Dolls. Lives in Dollhouses. I LOVE, LOVE this genre in children’s fiction. This book is a perfect for fans of the following:
- The Indian in the Cupboard series (Lynne Reid Banks)
- The Castle in the Attic (Elizabeth Winthrop)
- Toy Story (the movies)
- Time Windows (Kathryn Reiss)
The storyline is simple to follow, adventurous and the conversations feel true to the ages of the characters. Parents can enjoy this book and also use it as an opportunity to share stories from their childhood, or pass along toys from their childhood.
Spread the word
The Baby-Sitter’s Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin
Told through the eyes of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Ann and Stacey, we get a look into the lives of the four girls who would later form The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Kristy is unhappy that her mom is dating again. Mary Ann is constantly struggling to prove to her father that she is responsible and is no longer a baby. Claudia is making some tough decision about growing up and growing away from two of her best friends. Stacey is new to Stoneybrook and trying to find a place to fit in, despite her diabetes.
Although this book was written years after the Baby-Sitter’s Club series ended, I thought that the stories held true to each of the four girls and their friendships. At times the narration felt more like a flashback, an adult Kristy or Stacey recapping that summer in their lives. The voices and conversations were far more mature than what I would expect an 11 year old to say.
For those that read through the entire series and the spin-off stores like I did, this book doesn’t really supply you with any new information about the girls. I did like reading from all four perspectives, especially about the same events that happened during the course of their summer break. It was also the perfect length, in total pages and per chapter. There was an even number of chapters for each girl, but I did feel that Kristy took center stage a lot. That’s probably because quite a few of the Mary Ann chapters were about Kristy. I thought the Mary Ann chapters were fairly boring, and the Claudia chapters about growing up and having a first boyfriend were the most entertaining. This is fairly odd for me, because reading the series I loved the Mary Ann books and usually skipped over the Claudia titles. The conflict and drama is pretty low on the richter scale, so it might come off as too slow for kids 11 and up, but the younger crowd will enjoy it.
Older Baby-Sitter’s Club fans will appreciate the book for its nostlagia and younger readers will enjoy it for a peak into the lives of the girls before the club.
I also heard that Scholastic began reissuing the series in April this year (hence the timing of The Summer Before). I’m not sure how many libraries will reinvest in this series, since it is nearly extinct in most library systems in the US. I’d like to see the BSC series make a comeback though. It was one of my absolute favorites growing up and one of the main reasons I was such a book nerd.
In case you missed the BSC tribute back in November, follow the link to a week-long tribute started by everybody’s Friend Amy to your favorite girls and books from Stoneybrook, Ct.
The Summer Before (BabySitter’s Club)
by Ann M. Martin
Scholastic Press, 2010
Find this book at your local library
Anastasia Elizabeth McGill
Best Friend: Claudia Kishi
Appearance: slender, blonde hair (sometimes permed)
Stacey first moved to Stonybrook, Connecticut when her dad was transferred for his job. Stacey became fast friends with Claudia due to their love of fashion and boys. Stacey quickly became the club treasurer due to her love of math and science and became a part of the SMS Mathletes Club. Stacey is also known for her struggles with type 1 diabetes, an illness that has put her in the hospital quite a few times.
In book #13, Goodbye, Stacey, Goodbye Stacey moved back to New York with her parents when her father was transferred again. She became an honorary member of the BSC, even though she no longer lived in Stonybrook. A few books later in the series, Stacey dealt with a tough divorce battle between her parents and had to make the tough choice of staying in New York with her dad or moving back to Stonybrook with her mom. Book #28 #28 Welcome Back, Stacey!, reunites Stacey back into the BSC group when she chooses to live with her mom. In book #83, Stacey vs. The BCS, Stacey battles with the rest of the club members as they start to seem immature to her. Stacey slowly begins to grow apart from the girls and seemingly leaves the club. It is right around here where I had stopped following the series.
Stacey and Mary Ann were always my favorites of the BSC girls. Mary Ann was the girl I could most relate to, the shy, quiet bookish girl. Stacey was the girl I wanted to be. The girl who dated the older boys, who joined the cheerleading squad, wore the cool clothes and was good with math. Stacey was a good role model for me growing up, giving me something to aspire to. Mary Ann was a great role model, because I could identify with her character the most and could feel more comfortable in my own skin after reading a few of her books.
I started reading the BSC when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I don’t remember which exactly. Although I couldn’t relate to 12 and 13 year old girl drama at the time, the characters and their stories engrossed me in every way. My sister was a member of the monthly BSC book club, but I was the one who read through all the books. I bought as many as I could from the Scholastic book orders to keep the series going when my parents ended the subscription, I once received a BSC book for free because they mailed an extra and my teacher knew I loved the series (it also just happened to be a Stacey book).
I’m sad that these books are slowly filtering out of the library system. Although new graphic novel renditions are taking their spots, its just not the same. I hope you enjoyed my character spotlight of Stacey. I’d love to hear what you think. Who is your favorite BSC member? What is your favorite book of the series?
Go here for the complete Babysitter’s Club Series Catalog
If Stacey is your favorite, then make sure to reread all your favorite Stacey Books:
Stacey Book Catalogue via Scholastic.com
||Welcome Back, Stacey!: Stacey’s parents have been fighting a lot lately. Even so, she’s still not prepared for the terrible news: her parents are getting divorced.
||Stacey’s Choice: Since Stacey’s parents got divorced it hasn’t been easy. They each need her – badly. How will Stacey ever choose between her mom and her dad…again?
||Stacey’s Lie: When Stacey’s father asks her to take a vacation with him, she knows just where to go: Fire Island. It’s close to New York City, and it’s where her boyfriend’s family is vacationing too!
||Stacey vs. the BSC: The Baby-sitters Club. They’re the best friends Stacey’s ever had. But lately , they seem kind of immature to her.
||Stacey and the Bad Girls: Stacey enjoys hanging out with Jacqui, Sheila, and the other girls. They’re fun. A little wild even. But how much can Stacey trust them?
For those of us who grew up with the Babysitter’s club, now is your chance to visit that long-last era of your life and reunite with the best friends you always wished you had. All this week, various blogs will feature special character spotlights and ruminations on one of the most beloved series of our youth.
Make sure to check in regularly at My Friend Amy’s blog for a daily dose of BSC reviews, character spotlights and more! She’s the host of this fun tribute, so make sure to tell her how thrilled you are she’s doing this.
I’ve noticed the sad decline of the BSC series on the library shelves, and it seems to be spreading nationwide. While the Boxcar Children series is still running strong, most libraries have already deleted almost all of their copies, due to condition and lack of circulation. I loved this series. My sister signed up for the monthly BSC book club, but I was the one who read all the books. Even going into the BSC Little Sister series with Karen. I ordered all the books from the Scholastic book orders we got in elementary schools (who doesn’t love those?). I have almost all the mysteries, all the vacation books and I’ve seen both movies and all the TV shows. I’m glad this week gives me a chance to travel back into a time of my life that really helped shape my future. Although the classics are out of circulation, you can catch the girls in a graphic novel format, and keep the stories going.