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The Baby-Sitters Club #131

The Fire at Mary Anne's House

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When Mary Anne is woken up in the middle of the night by her cat, Tigger, she immediately knows something's wrong. Then she smells the smoke. . .and hears her father yelling her name. Mary Anne's house is on fire--and she makes it out right before everything burns down.

Now Mary Anne doesn't know what to do. All of her possessions are. . .gone. Her house is. . .destroyed. Will Mary Anne be able to get her old life back? Will her family move away from Stoneybrook. . .for good?

136 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1999

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About the author

Ann M. Martin

792 books2,618 followers
Ann Matthews Martin was born on August 12, 1955. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, with her parents and her younger sister, Jane. After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer.

Ann gets the ideas for her books from many different places. Some are based on personal experiences, while others are based on childhood memories and feelings. Many are written about contemporary problems or events. All of Ann's characters, even the members of the Baby-sitters Club, are made up. But many of her characters are based on real people. Sometimes Ann names her characters after people she knows, and other times she simply chooses names that she likes.

Ann has always enjoyed writing. Even before she was old enough to write, she would dictate stories to her mother to write down for her. Some of her favorite authors at that time were Lewis Carroll, P. L. Travers, Hugh Lofting, Astrid Lindgren, and Roald Dahl. They inspired her to become a writer herself.

Since ending the BSC series in 2000, Ann’s writing has concentrated on single novels, many of which are set in the 1960s.

After living in New York City for many years, Ann moved to the Hudson Valley in upstate New York where she now lives with her dog, Sadie, and her cats, Gussie, Willy and Woody. Her hobbies are reading, sewing, and needlework. Her favorite thing to do is to make clothes for children.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books342 followers
July 22, 2011
mary anne is flipping through a magazine with the clever name "teenzine". an ad for a contest catches her eye. "teenzine" is looking for the world's greatest babysitters. applicants must write an essay about why they like to babysit, they have to solicit testimonials from some of their charges, & they have to include a history of their babysitting careers. mary anne thinks someone from the babysitters club is a shoo-in to win the contest, so she brings the magazine to the babysitters club meeting that afternoon.

kristy consults to rules & regulations & then suggests that the babysitters club enter as a group. apparently there's nothing in the rules saying that an entire group of sitters can't enter. everyone is excited about this idea because it means they won't be competing against each other, & they don't see how they could possibly lose with all their combined babysitting experiences & skills. kristy volunteers to write the essay, mary anne will compile the history, & stacey will start soliciting testimonials from the charges.

this all takes place on wednesday. mary anne exhaustively catalogues everything she gets up the following friday, because she says it is the last normal day of her life (not that she knew that at the time). it's pretty dull. the babysitters are still working on their contest entry, which is due the following week.

that night, mary anne goes to bed. everything is normal until 4:30am when tigger wakes her up by meowing & butting his head against her. when mary anne wakes up, she realizes that the smoke alarm is going off. then she hears richard yelling for her in the hallway. she scoops up tigger & makes her way to the door. she touches the handle & it's warm, but not hot. as soon as she opens the door, the room fills with smoke & she can hear a fire crackling & popping. richard grabs her wrist & yanks her toward the stairs. still holding on to tigger, mary anne makes her way downstairs. the smoke is thicker with every step, & she can feel the heat of the fire. they have to crawl the last few feet to the door because it's too smokey to walk, but they make it out okay. sharon is waiting outside for them. somehow, she maintained the presence of mind to grab the portable phone off the stand in the hallway & called the fire department. they show up shortly after mary anne & richard get outside.

mary anne stands in a stupor while her house burns to the ground. it takes the fire department several hours to put out the fire & the house is destroyed. almost nothing is salvageable. stacey lives nearby & came over when she heard the sirens. she calls the rest of the babysitters club, & soon after daybreak, kristy shows up with watson & elizabeth. they offer to allow sharon, richard, & mary anne stay with them while they figure out their next move. mary anne's family accepts.

everyone else is in tears about the fire. sharon realizes all her photos of dawn & jeff are gone & starts crying. mary anne realizes that all the letters she saved & all her photos of her mother are probably gone, but she can't bring herself to cry. sharon calls dawn, who offers to come out on the next available flight. mary anne can't cry or talk to anyone.

watson & elizabeth go into organizational mode back at their house. elizabeth starts organizing a housewares drive so mary anne's family will have possessions when they find a new place to live. kristy organizers the babysitters club into shifts to help mary anne's family sift through the debris looking for salvageable possessions. richard gets in touch with the insurance company. mary anne is back at the site of the fire looking for anything that can be saved when watson shows up with dawn. dawn immediately loses her shit.

mary anne's family is finding it difficult to live at watson's place. even though they have plenty of space there, kristy's family is a chaotic ball of perpetual motion & it's hard for schafer-spiers to have a moment alone to figure out what to do next. richard finally calls a family meeting in the playhouse in the backyard. he says he was offered a job in philadelphia. he was going to refuse it, but since the house burnt down, he thinks maybe moving to philadelphia could be a good way to start over. sharon has been wanting to change careers & would be able to go to a better school in philadelphia. dawn seems indifferent to this suggestion, but mary anne is horrified. she's lived her entire life in stoneybrook (except for those 18 months when richard shipped her off to iowa) & can't imagine losing her school, her friends, & the babysitters club on top of her house & all her belongings.

she keeps having nightmares about being trapped in the house as it burns down, or being stuck in an unfamiliar room, unable to find her way out, in a fire. she finally gets up in the middle of the night one night, steals kristy's bike, & bikes back to the site of the fire. she goes into the barn, which wasn't affected in the fire, & sees the few items that teams were able to save from the wreckage. she finally lets herself cry. that's where dawn finds her. dawn explains that she saw mary anne leave the room during the night, & when she didn't come back, dawn figured she had come to the barn.

that's pretty much where the book leaves us. kind of a weird cliffhanger to end the babysitters club books. i've already recapped the friends forever series, which covers the schafer-spiers' decision to turn the barn into a house. so that's how that shakes out.

& i'm done! i have recapped all 131 regular series babysitters club books, 15 super specials, three reader requests, six portrait books, 36 mysteries, & four super mysteries! whew!
Profile Image for Robin.
69 reviews77 followers
January 14, 2011
I've never read the entire BSC series chronologically; as a kid I stopped at #43 ("Stacey's Emergency") in 1991 and started reading Sassy Magazine. The next year my mind was sufficiently blown by Nirvana, and from that point on, all tween-hood BSC bets were officially off. As an adult I've reread and stopped and re-collected and reread and stopped again. But I saw the LAST BABY-SITTERS CLUB BOOK EVER at a thrift store and figured that I needed to read it. The Baby-Sitters Club was important to me. It's probably the reason that my job title today is "babysitter". It made me love reading the way no other young adult series did. I was a Kristy. Et cetera.

This is the last BSC book ever, and it's still a "the author gratefully thanks _______ for ghostwriting this book help in preparing this manuscript" situation? I call shenanigans. I can also tell that it's wicked late 90's because on page 2, Mary Anne makes a point of proclaiming that she doesn't have dreadlocks, baggy jeans, or a pierced nose (let alone ears). There's the prerequisite pages upon pages of back story and explaining how the Baby-Sitters Club works, which seems pointless. This is the last book, and the club won't exist in exactly one month. Why bother?

The B-plot of the story, which revolves around the BSC's group entry into some shitty teen magazine's "Babysitter Of The Year" contest, serves as the sort of clip show before the series finale. The contest requires an essay and testimonials from charges, so there's a lot of, 'Remember when Jessi sat for the Mancusis and had to feed rats to a snake?' And, 'Remember when Jenny Prezzioso had a temperature of 104 and I incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills by calling an ambulance, rather than just giving her some Tylenol?' (Never mind "remember when Jessi thwarted jewel thieves?", or "remember when a bunch of us were shipwrecked and then stranded on a deserted island?" Those sound like winning essay topics to me for sure.)

Suddenly, the A-plot drops like a ton of bricks. The Schafer-Spier farm house burns to the ground. We see hints of Mary Anne's love for her house and home life sprinkled throughout the chapter- her comfy old bathrobe she can't seem to throw away; her excitement about painting her room yellow in the summertime (but which shade of yellow?! Oh Mary Anne, you dependable bore, you). All of a sudden, poof, it's gone. The house where so many BSC sleepovers and camps took place? Gone. The ghost-ridden secret passageway? Gone, at least on one end. (Which leads me to wonder: did the ghost burn up in the fire? DID THE GHOST START THE FIRE?!?)

The Stoneybrook community reacts in the various ways they know best. Kristy and Watson offer to let Mary Anne and her family stay for as long as they need to. The BSC provides Mary Anne with much-needed emotional support. Vanessa Pike writes a poem. Meanwhile, the Spier-Schafer family considers moving to Philadelphia. Soon B-plot merges with A-plot; since Mary Anne is too busy with the fire to write the BSC history, the kids of Stoneybrook offer to do it for them, since they've been there the whole time. (Ah yes, that 13-year span where they were in 7th grade for one year, and repeated 8th grade 12 times. It's like something out of Lost.)

As I'm reading this with adult eyes, I appreciate the sensitivity with which the author approaches the topic of the fire; fire safety is discussed throughout the book, as is the trauma that Mary Anne endures (Mary Anne, the notorious crybaby who cries about anything and everything, cannot bring herself to cry about the fire). But still: WTF?! Why was it a necessary plot point for the farm house to be burned down? Was it done so that there would be an excuse for Dawn to reappear in the last book? Also, what happens next? The book ends with Mary Anne and Dawn crying together in the barn in the middle of the night. Where does Mary Anne go from here? Do she and her family move to Philly? How long do they stay at Kristy's house? Does the BSC win the Babysitter Of The Year contest? Most glaringly: Mallory can't even pick up the phone in a situation like this?

I get that Scholastic and Ann M Martin were trying to transition into the Friends Forever series, to have a guaranteed crossover readership that they could grow upon. The problem is that they didn't do justice to the original series that carried Scholastic's banner for more than a decade, and likely offended their remaining BSC readership by taking them for granted and expecting them to feel nothing, to move on into a drastically different- and more grown-up- series without pause. It's sad (and telling) that they couldn't give the series a proper sendoff: one last Super Special exotic preteen vacation, one last forbidden Stacey McGill love affair, one last Cokie Mason Halloween shenanigan; heck, I'd even take one last dumbass mystery to be solved. But this is ridiculous.

For shame, Scholastic. For shame, Ann M. Martin. FOR SHAME! When I get my eventual BSC tattoo, it will be despite, not because, of this book.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gretchen.
249 reviews8 followers
April 3, 2011
It's been fun to dive into a couple of BSC books again. I devoured these books when I was a kid. The Fire at Mary Anne's House is the final installment in the original BSC series. It was published in 1999. I was a freshman in college at this point, so I had never read this one.

The book begins with Mary Anne and the rest of the BSC just out of school for the summer. The first thing I wondered was, "Oh my goodness, did the BSC finally finish the 8th grade?" The summer starts off uneventfully enough. Mary Anne finds a contest in a magazine for America's Best Baby-sitter or something like that, and so the BSC decides that they are going to enter the contest as a group rather than each entering as individuals. Nice way to prevent any hard feelings, I guess.

But then one night Mary Anne's kitten Tigger, who has been a kitten for a good 10 years at this point, wakes her up to a blazing fire. Mary Anne, her father, her stepmother, and Tigger get out safely, but their house is destroyed. In the aftermath of the fire, Mary Anne find it difficult to deal with her feelings. The usually emotional Mary Anne does not even cry.

I thought this book was actually pretty good. I felt like it provided a good story for readers who might have experienced a similar devastating event and were having a hard time dealing with it. As I was reading the book, I thought, "Wow, this is pretty serious stuff." I guess I had never really thought about what it would be like to have my house burn down and lose everything... all my books, my pictures, my clothes... It was kind of overwhelming to think about how that would affect me. Reading Mary Anne's feelings about having lost everything she owned was very sad.

I miss the BSC. These books, I think, are what really started me being a voracious reader. I wish they were still popular among kids today.
448 reviews93 followers
January 8, 2020
this is my first time reading this book.

in this FINAL BOOK OF THE MAIN SERIES written by ghostwriter Ellen Miles, the bsc try to get voted best baby-sitter of the year in a teenzine contest. that’s pretty much all that happens for a few chapters, until one day where mary anne wakes up in the night and realizes her house is on fire. she, richard, sharon, and tigger all manage to get out but their house is completely destroyed and they lose all their stuff. there’s a lot of logistical stuff, like the spiers going to live with the thomases temporarily and going through the rubble and discovering that pretty much everything they own is destroyed. plus richard might take a job in philly, which would mean the spiers would move there. mary anne is really sad but can’t cry about it. logan suggests she go to dr. reese (her therapist, mentioned in Chain Letter, Claudia and the Perfect Boy, and Mary Anne and the Memory Garden) but she just wants to be left alone. dawn comes and says that with the house burning down, she feels like her life in stoneybrook is over. one day in the middle of the night, mary anne rides kristy’s bike to the burned remains of the house and sifts through the rubble, and she finally cries a cathartic cry. and that’s pretty much how the main bsc series ends. we don’t know whether richard will take the job (we’ll get that answer in Everything Changes), and there isn't really any resolution. oh, and the bsc kids help them finish the teenzine contest submission.

-kristy is gentle and cautious with mary anne after the fire, which weirds mary anne out because it’s so out of character. but then kristy says she's trying to act how mary anne would act in that situation. lol!
-the teenzine contest is basically just a vessel for another The Baby-Sitters Remember-style dumping of anecdotes from their past.
-I guess the fire plotline is handled well? I don’t even know.
-if you consider this the end of the series, then it’s pretty unusual to end with the huge question mark of whether mary anne is going to move to philly.

-mary anne narrates that she likes to look neat; "no dreadlocks or huge baggy jeans." she doesn’t even realize how sketchy and racist this sounds.
-do teen magazines ever have baby-sitter of the year contests? it seems like such a thing that would only ever happen in a bsc book.
-why do they take a few chapters to get to the meat of the story? I mean, we all knew mary anne’s house was going to burn down because we knew the title and saw the cover of the book. it’s sort of like in Claudia and the Sad Good-bye how it’s while into the book that mimi dies. like, we get it.

no outfits

snacks in claudia’s room:
-pretzels under her bed
-twizzlers (n.s.)
-reese's peanut butter cups (n.s.)
-frookwiches (n.s.)
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 16 books434 followers
August 28, 2019
The last of the original BSC books is something of a tearjerker. I admire the move to leave things open-ended w/r/t the fate of the club and Mary Anne's family (will they move to Philadelphia or stay in Stoneybrook? a question left tantalizingly unanswered). But to leave the B-plot open too -- do they collectively win Teenzine's Baby-Sitter of the Year contest? -- whoa. Bold. Or maybe we know the answer without it being given to us, bc obviously they win. But here's the most burning question: Why stop here, at such an odd number? #131 destabilizes me. If they just cranked out one more book, we'd all feel so much better.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3 reviews
October 28, 2021
A LONG time ago I read the Baby Sitters Club books. I got up to like book 60 before we stopped getting those book order things from school. Well I was scrolling through Netflix and noticed they are making the books into a series so I watched it. I liked it then I had to go look up the series it ended with 131 books in the original series and 2 series that spun off from it bring the total to 218… I am reading the last book in the original series. It’s okay so far they’re still in 7/8th grade lol I might read some others the library has a lot of them in ebook
Profile Image for Hezekiah.
100 reviews
December 26, 2017
Wow. This book was way more intense than I remembered. Mary Anne's reaction to the trauma of the fire felt so real: the nightmares, the derealization, the emotional numbing. The action sequence of escaping from the burning house was extremely well done. The research for this book was well done.
Profile Image for Leigh.
910 reviews
July 16, 2022
This was a dark depressing way to end an otherwise positive upbeat series. We start out with the b plot involving Mary Anne finding a babysitter of the year contest and the club joining as a group. Since it is the last book it sort of recaps the series the equivalent of clip shows sitcoms do. The main plot and literal title of the book doesn't happen until almost half way through. Mary Anne describes her last normal day, kind of a dull average day. She goes to bed and nothing is the same again. She wakes to Tigger jumping on her smells smoke and hears her dad yelling her name. She and Richard barely escape in a harrowing scene, while Tigger at first squirms which I could see my idiot pets doing. I'm trying to save you sit still. They have to crawl the last part to get outside. Sharon calls 911 on the portable phone because cell phones were a rare thing in the late 90's. But that old house would go up quick. The family try to salvage what they can. They stay with Kristy's family, lord having to stay with Karen after losing everything how horrid. To make matters worse Dawn for some reason decides the best thing to do is fly back to Stoneybrook even though in reality she's just in way. She's an insensitive jerk saying her last ties to Stoneybrook are gone with the house even though her mom and grandparents are still there as is her best friend and stepsister Mary Anne and stepfather but sure Dawn. Then she cries about the things she's lost. Again most of your stuff is back in California you lost next to nothing compared to your Stoneybrook family. She truly is the worst. Lecturing Sunny about her dying mother and making the trauma Mary Anne and her mom and step-dad just went through all about her. Why did you even bother to come Dawn? You're just in the way. And of course her room remained somewhat intact compared to the others and she even has a dresser and some clothes that might be salvageable. Meanwhile Mary Anne lost almost everything but for her current journal and a pearl necklace that was her mother's. Mary Anne is also in deep shock and unable to cry which is unlike her since crying is her main personality trait and having nightmares but she refuses to see her therapy even though she probably should. I would be in the first available appointment. Then Richard and Sharon drop a bombshell. Richard was offered a dream job in Philadelphia that he was going to turn down until the fire happened and Sharon wants to go back to school. The we switch back to the forgotten b plot where the kids pull together to get the BSC entry done. This was some light comic relief especially the testimonials from the kids from Norman Hill talking about how they give him carrots instead of cookies, Jackie going on about his various broken bones and other injuries and Becca describing her dream sitter who let's her get away with whatever she wants. But the whole books ends on a sort of cliffhanger for both plots. We never know what happens with the contest and the main plot ends with Mary Anne sobbing her heart out in the old barn with Dawn who stopped being selfish for once. Hopefully she can do the same to Sunny who I think according to the timeline has just lost her mom. We don't find out if they will leave Stoneybrook or not unless you read Friends Forever which I already did so I know. But it was just a depressing way to end the main series. Still a very dramatic end to the oddly numbered 131 BSC series.
Profile Image for Gouthami Sajjanagandla.
50 reviews6 followers
March 31, 2019
I was/am a fan of the BSC series growing up and I have always wanted to read/own every single one of the books for myself and for my future children. But alas I was not impressed with this book. This is the veryyy last book in the orginal series and I was expecting so much more from it. I was expecting a lot more heartfelt moments, a ending that nicely summarizes how they all began. I wasnt thrilled that it was only Dawn and Maryann at the end, I was expecting of a whole group gathering that affirms everyone's believes that they will always be there for everyone. I appreciated Kristy's friendship in this book, reaffirming that she is indeed my favorite member. I thought it this books was definitely anticlimactic...and I am sadden to see this is how they choose to end the series.
Profile Image for Samantha.
Author 22 books26 followers
August 30, 2017
I haven't been reading the books in total perfect order, and my crappy mood today made me want to read something devastating. Congrats, Mary Anne! You won because your house burned down and you lost everything!

It felt like such a weird, cliff-hanger ending to the regular series. I know that this book leads into the Friends Forever books which are the REAL ending to the series, but still. I was almost sorry I went ahead and read it, because it felt like the real ending of something when I still have quite a few books to go. I dunno...a good and bad choice, I think.
Profile Image for Lianna Kendig.
672 reviews24 followers
January 21, 2021
Damn. The last book in the main series. The subject matter was and is so important, as well as being a difficult thing to deal with at any age. I think it was done pretty well. Some things were a bit too much, not going into details to avoid spoiling anything, but it felt like a finale book in the series, which I appreciated. The only thing that’s really annoying is that it was written with the intent to “start over” with The BSC Friends Forever series, so I think the book could have meant and felt so much more if they simply ended the series here.
Profile Image for Sayo    -bibliotequeish-.
1,526 reviews25 followers
July 29, 2020
As a kid my best friends sister had the whole BSC series on a book shelf in her room. I thought she was so grown up. And I envied this bookshelf. And would often poke my head into that room just to look at it.
And when I read BSC, I felt like such a grown up.
And while I might have still been a little too young to understand some of the issues dealt with in these books, I do appreciated that Ann M. Martin tackled age appropriate issues, some being deeper than others, but still important.
Profile Image for Madison.
Author 1 book5 followers
September 24, 2020
This was a great way to wrap up the original series. It's intense, emotional and mature, and I liked that it was open-ended (though of course, the intensely sub-par Friends Forever series will change that). A few Portrait Collections to take a look at and then that's it for the great BSC re-read of 2020!
Profile Image for Shannonmde.
550 reviews8 followers
January 18, 2022
After reading the history of / social commentary about the BSC book earlier in the month, I thought I’d go read the last book in the series. They don’t really close the series, but there may be another spin off series? And I find the decision to close the series with a Mary Ann book interesting. Quiet strength?
Profile Image for Cassandra-Lee Doon.
1,041 reviews8 followers
March 18, 2023
When I was 10 I joined a readers club/group where we got a new book every week. I chose The babysitters club.
The books are fantastic! So enjoyable. I loved getting the book every week. They are super quick reads and I was able to read it in one day.
Highly recommend for young teenagers to read or even younger if they are able too read well.
Profile Image for Tiffany Mitchell.
76 reviews1 follower
October 8, 2020
Since I read over 100 of this series, I was wanting to see how it “ended”. This did not disappoint. I wasn’t sure that after 30 years the characters would still come alive as they did for me when I was 11, glad to find I could still connect with them.
Profile Image for Kristin Bateman.
417 reviews2 followers
January 21, 2018
I grew up reading Baby Sitters Club...in fact this was the series that taught me to learn how to love how to read.

I quit the series around book 50, but I always needed to know how it ended.
Profile Image for Amanda.
84 reviews3 followers
November 11, 2018
Don't judge me for revisiting this series I stopped reading around 7th grade. I wanted to read the final book so I could listen along to one of my favorite podcasts - The Baby-sitters Club Club.
Profile Image for Jennifer Baratta.
1,569 reviews
December 6, 2019
The series ends. Maryanne loses the second house she and her father called home. Sharon Schafer lost her first house she bought after her divorce. Richard thinks about moving to Philidelphia.
1 review
Want to read
August 13, 2020
I think mary anne will leave stoneybook, connecticut....................................................................................
Profile Image for Elsa.
1 review
April 19, 2021
This book is really good but also sad since there is the fire.
Profile Image for Valari.
31 reviews
September 5, 2022
LOVE!!!!! This!!!! SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! took me a year to read all 131 books in this series, now working on another BSC series!!!!
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 12 books1,268 followers
February 16, 2010
(I now maintain a blog just for my kid-lit reviews. Find it at http://kidlit4adults.blogspot.com .)

A friend has convinced me to try my hand this year for the first time at writing children's literature; but I don't actually know anything about children's literature, so am starting the process among other ways by first reading a stack of existing books that have been recommended to me. Today's selections are my first foray into the world of "The Baby-Sitters Club," which during the 1990s and '00s became one of the most successful kid-lit series of all time; between the original tales and the various spinoffs, there are now nearly 500 volumes set in Ann M. Martin's sleepy middle-class suburb of Stoneybrook, Connecticut, with collective sales of at least 250 million copies and a literal empire of supplemental merchandise, feature films and television episodes. (By the way, I've been quietly told by gossipy friends in the industry that dozens of these books were actually ghostwritten by other authors, with Martin simply slapping her name on them at the end for brand consistency, although I have no way of actually verifying that; for those who don't know, this is one of the types of employment I'm seeking within the YA industry, to be the ghost-author of such formula-driven, interchangeable chapter books, which is why I'm reading so many of them these days.)

And as you can expect, the BSC books follow a familiar formula down to a T (or at least the three I read -- #81's Mallory Pike, #1 Fan, #115's Jessi's Big Break, and #131's The Fire at Mary Anne's House), staring with just a massive amount of exposition, not even cleverly handled but literally as if you were reading an encyclopedia entry; in fact, each and every title in the series starts first with an entire chapter of that book's particular hero reading aloud her own Wikipedia entry, then a second chapter of them reciting the entry concerning the club itself (essentially a group of junior-high female friends who gather around a central phone every late afternoon, so that parents can call that "hotline" and have the most appropriate babysitter sent to their house later that night), a total of eight thousand words devoted to nothing but reminding people of all the various things that have happened in the hundreds of books that came before it. Like many chapter-book series, the "crises" that befall club members are usually pretty gentle in nature, and the books mainly exist as a way to teach non-controversial moral lessons to its readers. Each book is roughly 30,000 words total, pretty normal for the 9-to-12 age group they're designed for; but surprisingly, the main characters themselves are mostly aged 12 to 14, just a little older than most of the books' readers, which confused me at first until I thought back to my own childhood, and how I used to love at this age reading books about kids a little older than me, in that I felt like I was sneakily getting away with something.

To her credit, Martin tries to inject as much diversity into this white-bread environment as she can, and also introduces plenty of modern hiccups to the stereotypical nuclear family (the club members' backgrounds are filled with ugly divorces, single parents working full-time jobs, sudden moves into entirely new economic classes, adopted Asian siblings and the like); but to her detriment, these are the exact types of books that edgier YA authors are railing against, sickly-sweet tales where all conflicts are resolved by the last page, and where all the kids ultimately end up dutifully obeying the pronouncements of the all-wise adult authority figures around them. I mean, you can't argue with success, but the BSC books are definitely the ones helping to write the "rules" for chapter books to begin with, which is why they barely ever break the well-known rules we now think of when thinking about this type of literature (you know -- make sentences short and punchy, introduce lots of peril but very little legitimate danger, be sure to repeat important information several times, concentrate on the way that girls this age interact with each other, set many of the scenes in a school environment, try to get the parents out of the way as much as possible, always have a happy ending, etc etc etc). They're neither outstanding nor terrible, which I'm sure is a big reason they've sold 250 million copies by now, and I can see myself easily being able to churn one of these out from beginning to end in just two or three weeks.
Profile Image for Marna.
579 reviews
October 24, 2015
I realized that my book count so far this year is abysmal. But maybe that's because I've been reading a lot of these I never got around to (because by the time I discovered them I was already almost too old and could not be seen buying them - also, I just didn't have a lot of money). So, it's kind of a secret project of deep shame because of stress and other factors that make me just not want to read anything difficult or scary. I actually read the other 'last book' in this series before this one (because I'm buying them in lots off ebay in lots and reading them in no particular order).

Anyway, this is a very long and convoluted way of saying: I am going to do what I used to during library read-a-thons (for which I never won anything except a copy of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler - a book that I still didn't get around to reading until sometime last year) and just log some books way below my reading level as a way to raise the grand total a bit. But not every book, as that would be pathetic and sad. Just the few that stuck out to me (I'm also planning on reading the prequel and will probably log that here as well).

There not being much to say about these, I will mention that I got pretty choked up over everything with Tigger in it. I always related to the whole 'pale bookworm' aspect of Mary Anne's character (but not the ability to be in any way nice/tactful) plus, I also love cats and have a few and would not care (as my book is safely filed away in several different places) if everything in my house burnt up but them. Well, maybe in that it would be inconvenient. But I am not a terribly sentimental person.

Also, the parts with Dawn in them.

What's really creepy is I'm reading Mary Anne and the Memory Garden now, and it seems like the author PLANNED to burn down Mary Anne's house for quite a while! They make a point of saying it's a 'fire trap' and that Richard recently bought a bunch of new smoke detectors!
Profile Image for Christine.
360 reviews
January 25, 2021
“You know,” [Dawn] pointed out gently, “sometimes good things grow from bad things. Maybe this really is a chance for a new beginning.” I nodded, but I didn’t feel the truth of what Dawn was saying. Maybe someday I would. That was something I could hope for. In the meantime, I would have to hang on to what I had. These few sad objects, saved from the fire — and the love of my friends and family. With these things, I would begin a new life.
In the final book of the main Baby-Sitters Club series, Mary Anne's house burned down in the middle of the night. Mary Anne was a sensitive girl who cried easily. However, she had difficulty processing her emotions after the fire and was unable to cry. Logan gently suggested that Mary Anne consider talking to Dr. Reese, the therapist she sometimes saw. I was glad to see that therapy was encouraged, and wished that mental health had been more of a focal point throughout the series. While the book/series did not end with all its plot points wrapped up in a tidy bow, the ending was hopeful. To answer the question from the tagline, it made me believe that Mary Anne could rise from the ashes.
Profile Image for Rea K.
704 reviews36 followers
August 26, 2015
There. There were 131 of these things. I'm not ashamed to say that my youthful self owned a good portion of them (not to mention there were scads of super-specials and mysteries and stuff) because when I was a child, I read like a child. I always wanted a baby sitter club of my own (not that there were any children in the neighborhood that I was entrusted to watch). I grew to have read so many that I didn't need the excessive "this is everyone and why we started" and that was probably a large portion of why I quit reading. That, and at the tender age of however old I was, I already was certain that it was pathetic to NEVER grow up. (a very important part of why I quit reading Nancy Drew, that, and the complete rewrite of the old ones to modernize them creating completely different books. Seriously, publishers. Stahp rewriting things that were golden as is.)
Profile Image for Dawn.
353 reviews4 followers
April 6, 2011
My friend, who is also in love with the BSC loaned me The Fire at Mary Anne's House, the last real BSC book (for some reason, Martin decided to change the series to "Friends Forever", even though it appears all the same characters populate them). I had never read this far into the BSC books, I outgrew them around book #80 or so. This book was still good, I teared up when Mary Anne was going through the aftermath of her house burning down, but it didn't quite have the same magic as the earlier books I remember from childhood. One reason is very likely the fact that Martin began, at some point, to have her books ghostwritten. So, although there's not a specific part that I can point out that obviously betrays the ghostwriter, it still feels different.
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