Putting the “e” in BSC: editor Mallory Kass on The Baby-sitters Club (and her similarities to the “other” Mallory!)
By Guest Blogger on November 19th, 2012
Have you heard? The Baby-sitters Club will be released as ebooks next month, with their classic cover art! To celebrate, we have some super BSC fans writing guest posts here a few times a week throughout the rest of the year. Here’s Mallory Kass, an editor at Scholastic Press. What you need to know about Mallory:
- She started reading the BSC when she was seven
- Her favorite BSC titles are Stacey’s Lie and Mallory and the Dream Horse
- The character she most relates to is — no surprise there — Mallory Pike! (“We’re both horse-crazy writers,” she adds.)
I’m so grateful to have been a kid in the early nineties. Sure, there were some unfortunate scrunchie moments—and some lime-green lace trimmed skorts that will live in infamy—but it was a small price to pay to live and breathe the BSC. From 1992 to 1997, I read over 100 Baby-sitters Club books. And apart from those I borrowed from the library, I still have every single one.
My copy of Boy Crazy Stacey is covered with decades-old spaghetti sauce stains from that night I refused to stop reading during dinner. Mary Anne’s Makeover is warped from being dropped in the bathtub. And don’t even get me started on the tear stains that are still visible inside Jessi’s Wish. But my unwavering love for these books goes beyond my eight-year-old self’s desire to buy push socks with my own money, or go on an ice cream date at the Jersey Shore. Immersing myself in the world of the BSC left me with a reverence for the sanctity of friendship, the power of loyalty, and the importance of individuality.
As an editor and a writer, I reject the notion that authors have an obligation to provide moral instruction for children. However, by creating a cast of kind, passionate, flawed, and utterly charming characters, Ann gave me a group role models that I wanted to emulate—not necessarily because they were good—but because they were awesome. I wanted to be like Stacey, who wore incredible clothes and took pride in her math skills. I had a profound admiration for Jessi, who maintained grace and poise when faced with the ugly reality of prejudice.
As I grew older and began exploring other sections of the bookstore, I supplemented my BSC reading with other discoveries—L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodges Burnett, and then onto Bronte, Austen, and Wharton. But I never would’ve become the type of kid who read The Age of Innocence in high school had I not fallen in love with reading at an early age. And although my copy of The House of Mirth is pretty battered at this point, it’ll never catch up with Mallory and the Trouble with Twins, which I’ve read at least twelve times.
I still pick up my BSC books when I visit my parents’ house. In many ways, the process of reading becomes an act of resurrection—more bittersweet and powerful than looking at old photos, or flipping through yearbooks. Returning to Stoneybrook allows me to connect with a very different version of myself, a girl with a keener sense of right and wrong, a more fervent belief in romance, and a deeper appreciation for oversized sweaters and high tops.
At a recent event, J.K. Rowling was asked to choose which fictional world she’d most like to visit. If not Hogwarts, she said it’d be the bedroom of the character in her favorite childhood book. If I had that choice, I’d probably spend an afternoon frolicking on Prince Edward Island, but once that got boring (and cold), there’s no question where I’d go for some junk food, gossip, and laughter. I’d head over to Claudia Kishi’s house, sit cross-legged on her bed, and wait for the phone to ring.