Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bookish Bent Goes Retro

I know I’ve posted about kids books before here and here, but yesterday I got to thinking of more books that I used to read and got excited about them all over again. I’m talking about The Baby-sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins. I loved these books when I was younger. When did we read these – fifth grade? I feel like I read them when the characters – middle school girls – were older than me. And I read nearly all of them. The BSC had like 130+ and SVT had like 100+ in each series. I’ve always been a fast reader and I consumed these books in days, excited to move onto the next one. And the good thing was that they were already well-established series so volumes and volumes had already been published.

I loved reading about Elizabeth and Jessica in Sweet Valley Twins. The first book was about them going to seventh grade and realizing they were very different from each other. I totally related to Elizabeth, who was smart and a good student. I had friends who were a Jessica though, more interested in being popular (remember the popular girls club she wanted to and did join, The Unicorns? Kills me!). I think the books were a little over the top, but they did cover issues that junior high brings. I never got into Sweet Valley High though.

I never baby-sat when I was younger – I was one of the youngest in the neighborhood – but I still loved reading about the girls who did. I think Claudia and Stacey were my favorite characters. The books dealt with diversity (Claudia was Hawaiian, wasn’t she?) and illness (Stacey had diabetes), plus all the other things (like boys, moving, fighting) that junior high girls deal with. Both series had “Super Editions,” those few books that were like three books in one – usually when the class or the group went on trips or something. I loved those!

I also read a lot of the Mandie books, by Lois Gladys Leppard. Mandie was a teenaged orphan who went to live with her wealthy uncle after her parents passed away. The books took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Each book had a mystery to it – like Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, Mandie and the Ghost Bandits. I loved these, too. Now looking back on them, because they’re dated, I can see some stereotypes were made when it came to Native Americans and blacks. However, I never noticed those things as a kid, and it didn’t alter my perceptions, I don’t think. Have you ever looked back on books you used to read and question them?

I also read Anne of Green Gables, and all the subsequent books that followed. (Anne with an ‘e’!) Those were good, too. I liked the movies that would sometimes air on PBS, too. I think we even watched them in school? How did the boys stand it?

So, go retro for me. Did you read these books too? What other “series” books bring you back to your pre-teen days? What did boys read at that age?

(P.S. It was hard for me to find a cover of Sweet Valley Twins or The BSC. Publishers update the covers of the older books so they look nothing like how I remember them. Or else they don't have an image available. I understand why, but it's also kind of sad.)


Sarah said...

I remember those books!! I liked them. However, I didn't really read much as a kid. Isn't that sad? Weird because I love it now, and my favorite class was adolescent lit in college.I guess because I got to read all the good stuff I missed out on.

willikat said...

man, i would read so much when i was little, the librarians would laugh at me and my big bag o' books. i LOVED SVH, BSC, Fear Street, Betsy-Tacy, anything by Lois Lowry, the Face on the Milk Carton, and, of course, the Ramona Quimby books. even younger, i liked Pippi Longstocking. my favorite stories of all time--where the red fern grows and island of the blue dolphins, were read when i was in the same age as when i read BSC. i also loved claudia!

Anonymous said...

For several years in a row, I checked out the most books of any student from our elementary school library. I wasn't into SVH or BSC OR American Girls. I read most everything else though. My favorite were always Betsy books. Don't ask me the author or what they were about, I just remember vividly where they were in the library, and the red hardcovers.

I'm glad you did this post because after elementary school my mom didn't know what to give me to read so I got her trashy romance novels and I was thinking recently about what "normal" girls read.

I think guys read Matt Christopher (or Christopher Matt?). I read one or two of those. Sports and horror themes.