Monthly Archives: December 2018

Ode to the BSC

I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I’m a die-hard, #1 Babysitters Club fan. Like, for real, forever.  (Team Claudia, in case you’re wondering.) I read all the books up to number 60-something when I was a kid/past the time I should’ve been reading them. (In all fairness, I was reading a lot of complicated, interesting, age-appropriate stuff too. But the BSC habit dies hard.) Then, as I’ve become a full-fledged mama, I’ve downloaded and read a whole bunch more later in the series because…uh…when my girls get old enough…I’ll be able to tell them about the characters and…something, something.

Nah, I’m still a fan.

(Side note: do you know what happened to Mallory? Her story line got a bit weird later on! She ended up participating in this ‘students-teach-students’ kind of program at Stoneybrook Middle School – what school does this?- and, in true Mallory fashion, messed it up. Her cruel-but-kinda-accurate name was Spaz-Girl! She got hella depressed about school and decided to apply at a boarding school. And she was accepted there on a scholarship. Which is good, because she has eighty-billion siblings and I can’t see Mr. & Mrs. Pike being OK with forking over a crap-ton of money for ol’ Mal’s education. Anyway, then she went off to boarding school, never to be heard from again, except on one of the seventy-four summer vacations the BSC enjoyed over their two-year friendship).

Anyway, here’s what I love about the BSC:

  1. The outfits. These are SO quintessentially eighties-early-nineties that it HURTS. Claudia dressed like it was Halloween every damn day, and no matter what kind of crazy nonsense she wore, it “would’ve looked insane on anyone else, but on Claudia the outfit just worked.” Did it, Ann M? Did it REALLY?
  2. The timelines. OK, so you went to California, Hawaii, New York, summer camp, a trip across the USA, multiple Sea City visits and a few more New York and California trips just for kicks in TWO years? Dude, when did you go to school? There are SO many summer/spring/winter vacations over the course of the series. I think they literally just gave up when it came to making any sense of what happened when.
  3. The wacky-near-impossible stories (especially the mysteries) intermixed with the super-boring, nothing really happens books.
  4. The misunderstandings that could’ve been SO EASILY RESOLVED by talking to an adult (I’m looking at you, Claudia and the Great Search. If you thought you were adopted, C-Kish, why didn’t you ask your parents?)
  5. The candy. The hiding of candy around Claudia’s room. Candy in general.
  6. The fact that almost everyone’s dad was named John. It’s kind of weird, but true! Other than Watson, I think most of the dads were John.
  7. The ghostwriters and their fairly obvious styles. They all TRIED to sound like the OG, Ann M. Martin, but their voices were quite distinct. No matter, I would’ve read the BSC written by Stephen King as long as it had a Claudia outfit description in it.

So I love the BSC. It’s in my blood, it’s in my past, it’s in my present, on my Kindle and, since Christmas, the graphic novels (illustrated by the ridiculously talented Raina Telgemeier) are on my shelf. Vivi has absconded with book 1 (Kristy’s Great Idea), but I’ve hidden The Truth About Stacey in my office for later reading.

I will read it and report back. All in the name of helping you, of course. Not because I love it dearly and am so happy to see Vivi as obsessed as I was.

Not at all. All for you.

Santa Bruce


Title: Santa Bruce
Author/Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins
Published: Hyperion, 2018


Guys, how is it that Christmas is 13 days away? Less than TWO WEEKS! We’re finally TOTALLY ready. (I thought I was ready, then I remembered other people that I was going to see before the holiday…and we had to get a few gift cards for Vivi’s awesome teachers and…long story short, we were NOT done. But we are now!)

Anyway, we’ve been continuing our ‘let’s read about Christmas!’ tradition with this fantastic book: Santa Bruce! I told you I was going to hunt out all the other Bruce books, and I wasn’t kidding. I really like this one. Bruce’s surliness, his disdain for everyone and everything, the mice trying to persuade him to be Santa…it’s all good!

Here’s the story, in a nutshell:

Bruce normally skips Christmas by hibernating, but this year his family members (the mice and geese) want him to stay up. So he does. He is not exactly into the Christmas spirit, and he finds the weather nippy. So he wears long underwear and a hat (both red) and is immediately mistaken for the big man himself: Santa. With this case of mistaken identity comes a slew of forest animals and their holiday wishes. And then the forest animals’ parents, thanking Bruce for playing the role of St. Nick.

When everyone leaves his cave, Bruce decides to head to bed…but the mice step in and convince him to be Santa. He delivers gifts (wrapped boxes of crackers, actually) to all the forest critters. They all have an excellent Christmas and then celebrate with a big feast (that Bruce is forced to attend and generally doesn’t enjoy).

I know Bruce is surly. I know Christmas is all about being jolly. But dang it, I like the cut of his jib.

My kiddos know that Santa isn’t real. That is, that Santa is a concept and anyone can be Santa. Vivi kinda figured it out when she was two. I was wrapping gifts and planning a whole surprise for a friend who was having a tough year. Out of the blue, she turned to me and said, “Mama, you Santa?” and I decided, in that split second, to ruin childhood for my kid.

Kidding! I decided to explain that Santa is an idea and a spirit and anyone (anyone!) can be ‘him.’ And that yes, I was one of the many Santas she’d meet in her life. I know people who are die-hard pushers of “you must believe in Santa, dammit!” but it just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t want to have to eventually admit to lying to my child, even if it was just about Santa. I also wanted her to understand that it was in her power to make other people’s lives better/happier/more comfortable. It wasn’t up to a random stranger to pop down a chimney one time a year and bring gifts – it was up to her to pick up the baton and get out there and help, darn it.


Anyway, it’s worked out rather well. Since she was two, we’ve really encouraged the giving part of Christmas. Give to the food bank. Give to homeless people. Give to kids who are sick in the hospital. Give of your time, your talent, your money – whatever it is, just give. And the happiness my girls have felt because of that…well, it’s pretty close to magic.

Mama’s review: 5 surly bears/5
Vivi’s review: “Bruce is so grumpy! I kind of love him.”
Lily’s review: “I can’t believe he gave them all crackers.”

Bear Stays Up For Christmas


Title: Bear Stays Up For Christmas
Author: Karma Wilson
Illustrator: Jane Chapman
Published: Scholastic, 2004

It’s official: I can start playing carols on the radio all day long! I can leave the Christmas tree lights on from dawn till dusk! I can force my family to join me in a carol sing. A pioneer carol sing, no less! Yes, it’s finally December and I am no longer considered crazy for my love of Christmas. Hooray!

To get the girls into the spirit of the season, I’ve been reading a bunch of really great picture books. Today’s is Bear Stays Up For Christmas and it’s adorable.

Bear has starred in other books as well, but this is definitely my favourite one. The basic premise is that Bear (sometimes called “the bear” and sometimes simply “Bear”) never stays up for Christmas. He’s always busy hibernating…until this year! His friends are bound and determined to keep him up and show him what Christmas is all about. So, despite his exhaustion, Bear sticks it out for his friends. They get a tree and decorate it. They have tasty foods. They sing carols. And then, after all his friends have dozed off, Bear makes some gifts of his own (and Santa shows up, unbeknownst to Bear).

The book is all in rhyme, which you know I love, and the art is simply fantastic.

The message is very sweet: it’s worth making sacrifices/staying up (when you should be hibernating) just to be with your friends. And Bear’s friends clearly adore him and just want to have him around for the big day. It’s all about love, friendship, and the real meaning of Christmas: being together with the people we love.

Mama’s review: 5/5 Christmas trees
Vivi’s review: “I really like the rabbit!”
Lily’s review:  “This book is great!”