The Baby-Sitters Club: Stacey Takes a Stand

Words cannot describe how much I hate the saccharine theme song at this point in the review process. Thank GOD for 10 second advance!!

hqdefaultFirst of all, everyone on the internet will tell you that this show had its full run in 1990. But I’ve noticed the recurring kids (mostly Danny Tamberelli) having major growth spurts that would be a real-life version of television-kid rapid aging syndrome. But that is simply not true because here we are in the penultimate episode of the series and the girls are talking about the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls on Broadway.

Anyway, the sitters are jealous that Stacey gets to hang out in NYC with her dad, but Stacey is like guys it is actually kind of hard to have two parents in different cities and have to split time with them. It gets even harder when her dad asks her to move back to New York for high school.

snapshot151Stacey tries to reason through this very difficult decision with the shortest pros and cons list of all time. It’s NYC: 1. Dad 2. Museums; StoneyBrook: 1. Mom 2. The Baby-Sitters Club! She calls the club from her Dad’s, so they all head to NYC for the day to cheer her up. They rent boats in central park (this is legit filmed on location btw). I love this episode. It is so sweet and they’re such a nice group of friends.

mv5bmtg3otiynzqzov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjuwmjezmje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_Stacey decides to talk to both of her parents. She explains how she’s constantly keeping things from one parent or another because she’s afraid of hurting one of them. She also asks them to stop shit-talking each other in front of her. She hasn’t even invited her dad to attend a special Father’s Day event that the BSC is putting together in Stoneybrook. But luckily, her mom comes through and invites him at the last-minute. He agrees to back off on the moving to New York thing and also to make a better effort to get over to Stoneybrook more often. I mean people literally commute from CT to NYC daily, so yeah he needs to get his shit together.

Okay, that was kind of a bummer, so let’s round things out with the most 90’s dance ever.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t try to violate your custody agreement by asking your kid to move across state lines.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn Saves the Trees

7986_300The baby-sitters take the kids for a picnic by a brook. (Woah, do you think this is THE Stoney Brook??)

They find an injured bird, but Dawn cautions against getting too close. Kristy says, “Sometimes it’s better to let nature take its course.” And an adorable little preschool boy replies, “You mean let him die??” GEEZ, KRISTY. But instead they agree to call the parks department.

On their way to find the proper bird-authorities, Dawn stumbles upon some surveyors who plan to build a road through the woods. She goes to city hall and requests information. They give her a copy of all of the plans and permits. She promptly throws all of these papers into the trash because she figures they only gave them to her to slow her down with READING. So much for informed civic duty…oh and saving the trees. That is not a recycling bin, Dawn. Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 11.50.28 AM

She also meets a new teenage boy (played by Zach Braff) immediately after that so Dawn has a LOT going on right now.

Dawn decides to plan a demonstration. She’s even going to make one of the kids dress up as a tree! Geez, these parents give the baby-sitters a lot of latitude with their children.

Dawn is supposed to go on a date with Zach Braff, but he comes over to pick her up and sees her picket signs…which prompts him to tell her that he supports the road and his mother is the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

Dawn yells. A lot. And refuses to go out with him. Even Kristy tells her that Dawn was rude…and like Kristy is THE rudest.

mv5bntqyntq1mtu4mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotmwmjezmje-_v1_So Dawn goes to the hearing and tells everyone it’s wrong to cut down trees. And Zach Braff’s mom is all like um sounds like you didn’t even read the plans because we’re going to build an access road so elderly people and those who can’t trek over rocks like you and your friends can enjoy this park and also we’re building recycling facilities there so that people don’t throw their trash in the water. I guess Dawn wants to save face because she still tries to tell them they’re ruining everything, but it is just embarrassing at this point.

Afterwards, Mary-Anne tells Dawn, “You have to learn to persuade, not just scream and yell.” That’s insightful stuff, Mary-Anne!

Dawn finally does some research and with input from the club and drawing by Claudia, she creates plans for an accessible packed-dirt pathway that winds around the trees. She goes to Zach Braff with the idea. He has his mom meet them by the park, where she reviews the plans. She is impressed and agrees to take the plans back to the commission for further review.

Very Special Lesson: I think Dawn best sums this up when David asks her why she didn’t come up with the great packed-dirt road idea earlier: “Because I’m a jerk. Well, a nice jerk that just gets a little too worked up.

Also, fun fact. This is kinda based on a true story or life imates art or art imitates life or idk but here’s the park they filmed at in NJ:

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 12.22.58 PM.png

The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the Missing Jewels

Okay, listen, “JEWELS” is a stretch. Claudia is selling some of her homemade earrings at a crafts fair and this is like one-step up from macaroni jewelry people. Within two minutes, a local boutique owner purchases a pair of earrings and gives Claudia a downpayment to make 4 more pairs.

That downpayment is $50. FIFTY DOLLARS!! And that’s 1990 money people! So it’s worth almost twice as much in today’s dollars. Geez. Well let’s hope she does more with this career opportunity than Stacey did.


Oh wait, she wants to use the advance to let the kids they baby-sit for buy plants to pot for a plant sale. Smh. You know you’re in a cult when they start taking all your money.

One day, Claudia goes over to Kristy’s house to babysit her little sister Karen because Kristy is busy studying. She also brings over the jewelry she’s been working on, which soon goes missing.


Kristy immediately blames their housekeeper, Julie. Oh. So like. She’s classist too. Geez, Kristy. So they babysitters decide to go undercover (aka wear brightly colored sunglasses) and stalk her through scenic downtown Rutherford, NJ — I mean Stoneybrook, CT. Lucky for them, the housekeeper is pretty spacey and doesn’t catch them. But they’re also terrible detectives and lose track of her.

In another stroke of luck, Julie walks right into the pizza place they’re hanging out in. They notice she’s wearing Claudia’s earrings but they’re all afraid to confront her.

Meanwhile, Karen keeps trying to get Kristy to check out her tree with cool stuff in it. But Kristy is too busy trying to deal with Julie to see the tree. So I think we all know where this is going.

When Kristy finally works up the courage to call Julie a thief to her face, Julie tells Kristy that the earrings were a birthday gift from Karen. Connecting the dots, Kristy realizes that Karen only wants her attention and was planning to give the jewelry back as soon as she ventured over to the tree.


Very Special Lesson: How many of these episodes are dedicated to Kristy learning not to be an a-hole? TBH I never read a Kristy-centered book in my BSC days and now I’m remembering why.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy and The Great Campaign

Kristy’s baby-sitting a shy kid, Courtney, who is new in town. Apparently in Stoneybrook, third-graders run for student council. And it just so happens that Kristy’s rival’s little brother is running for third-grade student council. Showing a characteristic complete lack of boundaries, Kristy decides to get way too involved in this and becomes the new kid’s campaign manager.


Sweet, sweet Mary Anne is the only baby-sitter who doesn’t immediately jump on-board to help with this campaign. Similarly shy Mary Anne wants to make sure Courtney is really on board with this, but all of the other baby-sitters are too swept up in Kristy’s new “great” idea to even listen to her.

hqdefault3So then a bunch of thirteen-year old girls swarm this little eight year-old’s house chanting her new campaign slogan “Count on Court!” Kristy micromanages the whole process. (Oh btw she’s supposed to be BABY-SITTING THIS KID not turning her into the Manchurian Candidate). It isn’t long before they’re taking this poor girl to the mall for a makeover.

mv5bmje3mjcxmtk3m15bml5banbnxkftztgwmzc3nzezmje-_v1_uy1200_cr48506301200_al_But even the other sitters know that Kristy is cray. She overrides Mary Anne when she gives Courtney permission to play with a friend after-school before practicing her speech. It seriously feels like middle-school involvement in elementary-school elections should be banned. This has good to be the grade school equivalent of a foreign campaign contribution.

There’s even some shady dealings from her opponent. He tries to sabotage her with a snake in front of the whole school, but she loves animals and isn’t afraid of it, which only makes her campaign more successful.

When Courtney overhears Kristy arguing with her opponent’s older brother, she realizes that Kristy is more interested in winning than helping. The rest of the sitters feel awful that they didn’t intervene earlier.

But seriously, it’s easy to hate on Kristy. However, I love her. I really do. You can tell that she’s got a good heart under all of that overbearing control-freak mania. She apologizes to Courtney and tells her that winning isn’t as important as being yourself. Awwwwww.

Very Special Lesson: (see last complete sentence of previous paragraph.)

Grumpy Cat’s All About Miserable Me: A Doodle Journal for Everything Awful

51nki1utskl-_sx373_bo1204203200_First of all, let me preface this by saying that I just finished a 3 day work retreat, but like the kind of “retreat” where tons of people come in from out of town and you’re the one coordinating how everyone is getting from point A to point B and making sure the restaurant has gluten-free options and didn’t forget your reservation for fifteen in the private room. So yes, I’m probably a bit tired. But to be perfectly honest, I love doodling and I love complaining and those two factors really drew me to this diary for children. But hey, Lisa Frank is making a comeback so I feel like we don’t need to feel like only children can benefit from this really cool doodle book. Also, I love cats. That was also a selling point for me.

So for kids, I feel like this would be a book that kind of teaches you to “use your words” and express your emotions in a healthy way. For adults, I feel like this is a great way to draw pictures of cats and list things that piss you off. I’d say it’s a win-win for all ages. Maybe it’s even something you could enjoy WITH your kids. Although, if I’m being perfectly honest, I think it would be kind of hard to share. Grumpy Cat’s All About Miserable Me will be released on July 20th and is available for pre-order on Amazon for a mere $3.87.

The Best Epistolary Chick Lit

When I’m not nit-picking hard-hitting, emotional, life-lessons from sitcoms, I like to read books.

A few months ago, I wrote about my totally ecstatic reception of the first Princess Diaries book for adults. This is not exclusively due to the fact that I love the protagonist and her weird behavior, but also because my childhood spoiled me with epistolary novels and the adult world is sadly devoid of them! I started with the Dear America series and then forayed into the classics: P.S. Longer Letter Later and Absolutely Normal Chaos. The Princess Diaries and Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series basically ruled my middle school life. Then there were of course the countless other books I devoured and have since forgotten. But basically, if the book was written in a diary, series of letters, or newspaper clipping format (or better yet, all of the above!) then I read it immediately and desperately searched for my next fix.

But then I grew up and no one wanted to let me read fun books of letters anymore. So I’ve decided to compile a list of the best epistolary chick lit I’ve managed to find. (If it’s a serious book, then I don’t want to read it in the form of notes between friends, so that’s why this is specifically geared toward chick let. But hey, The Very Special Blog does not want to be gender normative, so go ahead and partake of this list as well, gentlemen):

71zlxoecx4lAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
I loved this because it like really innocently fulfilled all of my Harriet-the-Spy dreams. It’s the turn of the millennium and this kind of glum-fellow takes a job reading a newspaper employee’s flagged emails. So basically he’s reading a lot of silly/crass emails that have nothing to do with work and then he like kind of gets inspired by those emails to…well I’m not going to spoil this for you.

Daisy Fay and The Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg
Daisy Fay is a precocious 12 year-old when she starts her diary, and she basically just writes about the weird things that happen in her family. Her family is REALLY strange, so it’s a very fun read.

whered-you-go-bernadette-book-coverWhere’d Ya Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
While this book isn’t entirely written in the epistolary style, in my opinion the best parts are. I loved reading Bernadette’s messages to her outsourced “personal assistant” and all of her husband’s bitchy admin’s emails. I just like really really really want there to be a sequel to this book.

The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
Honestly, this one is kind of boring in places but I was really illin’ for some epistolary reading when I picked it up. Meg Cabot is definitely funnier in The Princess Diaries, but she’s pretty funny here too.

Notably absent: Bridget Jones’s Diary–I could not get through this book. I loved the movies, but the writing drove me nuts! Bridget’s thoughts are far easier for me to comprehend when spoken by Renee Zellwegger.

The Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding

I started reading The Princess Diaries series in middle school. It is by far the most endearing, light-hearted, and comedic book series I have ever read. This book series basically ruined all other “fun” book series for me forever. For decades, I have been trying to find the kind of book that’s fast-paced and silly, but in a way that doesn’t make me feel like an airhead trying desperately to care about vapid and annoying characters. So I am super excited that Meg Cabot wrote a new installment in the series but for adult readers.

Picking up this book, makes me feel like a twelve year-old all over again. And for once I can say that in a good way. I was so into the books when I first started reading them that I actually brought the first volume into the shower with me. This really didn’t make any sense because it basically meant that I stood under running water, destroying the environment, until I finally realized I had to toss the book over the curtain and quickly was the shampoo out of my hair so that I could get back to reading uninterrupted.

While I’d like to say that I’ve gotten more mature in the personal hygiene department, I can’t say that this book is any less addictive than the first. (Or second through tenth. I even picked up the final YA book in college and secretly read it in my dorm room until my bff saw where I had failed to hide it successfully and begged me to let her borrow it). Today alone I have considered reading it:

a. at a stop light ( only my overwhelming sense of road safety prohibited me)

b. on the stationary bike at the gym (which I did, and it was my best workout ever)

c. maybe I could make that shower thing work. maybe I’m older and wiser enough to really master it this time…

As you can tell from the cover, the book is about Mia and Michael’s engagement and “royal wedding” but there’s obviously so much more. The best part of this series was always the little stuff and not whatever big event each book happened to be centered around.

No spoilers! I haven’t finished reading this book yet (though I’m running at a fast clip. If only I didn’t have to work for a living, I could really knock it out!) My heart hurts just to think that there could not be more books after this. There HAVE to be more books. PLEASE @MegCabot (I know this isn’t Twitter but now I want a Twitter just so I can tweet that at Meg Cabot).

I’m bad at being a Millennial and I don’t know how to tweet or instagram or whatever, so who wants to start a letter writing campaign with me?

Clarissa Doesn’t Explain It All

It’s spreading like the plague that will inevitably cause the Zombie Apocalypse. Clarissa Explains It All will be rebooted as a novel, in which Clarissa does not have all of the answers.

I can’t handle Clarissa having a quarter-life crisis. It sounds like she’s having a quarter-life crisis from the book description. :/

The fun of Clarissa Explains It All is that you really do think you have everything figured out when you’re fourteen. And maybe at fourteen, in your small pocket of the world, for like two-seconds, you do have it all figured out. I mean who is going to barge into your room and tell you that your assessment of school newspaper politics isn’t the most important thing in the world? You’re cool neighbor Sam? Yeah, right. He’s too chill to start an argument.

Clarissa, can you please explain the cultural zeitgeist that is happening right now?? What will I tell my children when we watch reruns together? My parents got to say things like “This is M*A*S*H. You don’t even understand how good this is.” And I would laugh along like I did understand, but I didn’t. I was pretending until I was old enough to actually get it.

But I will have to tell my children, “This is a continuation of a series that began thirty years earlier and you need to see twelve seasons prior to this one before understanding what’s going on here.” Or worse. I will Little Rascals-them about everything. Of course, I am referring to how my parents shamed my love of The Little Rascals movie because it wasn’t the “real” Little Rascals/Our Gang/I totally get what they were saying now and I’m going to be just as obnoxious to my children.

I’m probably going to pre-order this Clarissa book though. Let’s be real.

Boxcar Memories

If you haven’t checked out The Art of Eating books, then you really owe it to yourself to read this awesome blog. What I love about this blog is that it makes the worlds of our favorite books more tangible. It seems like this blogger has found a unique way to participate in some classic stories. As I have previously mentioned on this blog, I don’t really enjoy cooking…but I definitely enjoy eating, so I feel like I’ve reached some kind of a compromise with the chore (sorry cooking fans, I know that sounds like blasphemy to you). Anyway, this most recent post on “The Art of Eating Books” really resonated with me in part because I’m going to embark on cooking my mom’s recipe beef stew this weekend. (I purchased pre-cut stew beef thanks to a tip from hemcfeely at Meta’s 1942 Meals).

Okay, so yeah maybe some of the titles leaned a little “very special.”

But I also really loved today’s post specifically because I loved those books so much as a kid. I originally read the mystery books, which my friend’s older brother would give me on occasion. I didn’t have any older siblings of my own, so this was one of those cherished moments when I got to imagine what it might be like to be a kid sister. And I didn’t get to imagine this with some awful older brother (like from The Wonder Years) but with a really awesome older brother, who would every so often lay out all of his Boxcar Children books on his bedroom floor. Then he would carefully consider all of the books, picking them up and giving them the once over one last time. Sometimes he would pull a couple out of the display and set them to the side. Those were the ones he wanted to keep. The ones that were so good he wanted to read them again. But really he wanted to read them all again. The ones so thoughtfully laid out before me were simply the ones he could bear to part with. And that was best part of all of this–that it was truly a gift.

I don’t remember this one. This one looks weird.

He wasn’t just trying to unload his old books on me. He genuinely loved all of them, but he knew that I loved them too. And like any good older brother, he wanted to share that love for books. The stipulation was that I could always pick out x number of books from the display. The number varied based upon the market value of his library (a.k.a. how many he super wanted to read again). So then I would carefully consider all of the titles and covers. He would tell me which ones he liked best, or which ones he though might most appeal to me. (At this point one or two more books might disappear from the display again.I would hope to get this back in the selection sometimes later on in the rotation.) Finally, I would make my selections. If I was particularly torn between two books, he usually gave me both of them. This was in part because he was (and is still) an incredibly nice person, but I also think it was because he loved the stories all so much that he found it somewhat unreasonable to ask anyone to decide between them.

I totally loved these mystery books. It wasn’t until about the second or third grade (after years of Boxcar books) that I actually read the first book. It isn’t a mystery, which was shocking and disappointing to me. I only felt this way because it wasn’t what I had expected and come to love. It is an adventurous tale though and I did come to like it. But mostly I felt anxious for these kids who had to run an entire household out of a boxcar. But hey, I’m just now tackling beef stew so they’re obviously way ahead of me.