The Summer Before — "The Babysitters Club" Series
The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is a prequel to the first book in the original "The Baby-Sitters Club" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
As the summer before seventh grade begins, Kristy and Mary Anne are sad because their friendship with Claudia seems to be changing. Claudia feels she is growing up faster than Mary Anne and Kristy, and she wants to explore other interests, such as fashions and boys. At her birthday party, Claudia meets Frankie, who becomes her first crush. Claudia's older sister, Janine, likes Frankie as well, and Claudia's friendship with Frankie creates tension between the sisters. Miles away, Stacey is helping her parents prepare for their upcoming move to Stoneybrook. She is looking forward to a fresh start after being ostracized by her friends in New York City, a situation that has been further complicated by her parents' decision to keep her diabetes diagnosis a secret from those outside of the family.
All four girls enjoy baby-sitting, and Mary Anne is especially happy when her father, a strict widower, allows her to baby-sit on her own. When Watson, the boyfriend of Kristy's mother, asks Kristy to baby-sit for his children, she refuses because she dislikes the possibility of the two families becoming one. Kristy is devastated when her father fails to attend her birthday party, so Mary Anne uses baby-sitting money to throw a special celebration to show Kristy how much she is loved. After Claudia's friendship with Frankie ends, she realizes she has been neglecting her other relationships. Claudia, Mary Anne and Kristy have a heart-to-heart talk and decide that they have shared too much over the years to let their friendship go. Stacey and her parents settle into their new house, and she meets Claudia on the first day of school — the same day Kristy decides to start the baby-sitters club.
Mary Anne's father says a blessing for his deceased wife before every meal.
Other Belief Systems
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Alcohol: Stacey's parents consume alcohol with a meal.
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Readability Age Range
9 to 12
Ann M. Martin
Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc.