Published by Scholastic Press on April 1, 2010
Review based on ARC
Rating: 5 bookcases
Summary from ARC cover: Before there was The Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade, each of them is getting reading for big changes. Kristy is still hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove that she’s no longer a little girl. Claudia is navigating her first major crush. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind in order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.
Separately, it’s a lot to deal with. But together, these friends will find a way to make it through - with plenty of laughter, tears, and surprises along the way.
Whether you are a fan of the original Baby-Sitters Club series or if this is your first visit to Stoneybrook, The Summer Before is a sweet, moving novel about four girls on the edge of something big - not just the club that will change their lives, but also the joys and tribulations of being a girl.
In my last In My Mailbox post, I talked about how much I loved The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) in fifth and sixth grade (and yes, I realize that I’m dating myself when I say this). Pretty much all the girls in my class were obsessed and we would talk about which books were our favorites and see who could read the most books. Reading The Summer Before took me back to those days. It really did feel like visiting with old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, except this time they were telling me a story I had never heard before.
The Summer Before takes place during the summer before Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey start 7th grade, before Stacey moves to Stoneybrook, and before the Baby-Sitters Club existed. Really, it follows the four of them as they navigate the time between being a kid and being a teenager.
Having read a lot of BSC books in my youth and other stand alone novel by Ann M. Martin more recently, I had very high hopes and expectations for The Summer Before. I am happy to say that it met all of my expectations. It really felt as though I was in Stoneybrook with Kristy, Mary Anne and Claudia and NYC with Stacey. There were both happy and sad moments and experiences. My favorite story line belonged to Mary Anne, who spent the summer trying to prove to her very strict father that she was growing up and trying to understand why Claudia would want to spend time with a boy instead of her and Kristy.
The Summer Before works as both a standalone novel and as part of a series. For girls who have already started reading BSC books, it is a great look at these characters before the club started. For girls new to BCS it is a wonderful introduction. The Summer Before is a definite recommendation for girls in the 8 to 12 age group, especially those who enjoy reading series and stories about friends. It is also a great read for adults who spent time in Stoneybrook when they were younger.