According to a recent article in the New York Times, The Babysitter’s Club series is coming back. That series was wildly popular – 213 titles and 176 million copies sold – in its day. I can’t comment on the series’ literary merit because I’ve never read one. When the series began in 1986, I was already an adult.
For me, the equivalent of The Babysitter’s Club would be The Bobbsey Twins. Oh, how I loved the adventures of Nan and Bert and Flossie and Freddie, two sets of twins solving mysteries in and around Lakeport. Laura Lee Hope, the series’ author, was actually several authors overseen by Edward Stratemeyer, the man behind The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and several other juvenile series. Of course, I didn’t know that back in that day. I thought Miss Hope was wonderfully inventive and I thought the Bobbsey twins were courageous and funny and clever.
The first Bobbsey Twins books was published in 1904 and the never-aging twins continued to solve mysteries until the mid-seventies.
Every year for my birthday, my uncle would give me a couple hard cover Bobbsey Twins books and I would devour them. They were always my favourite gift. I’ve never reread them as an adult and I have no doubt that they wouldn’t be nearly as magical as I remember them…but no matter. They served their purpose and did what all great literature does – transported me to another place.
I still own several of the books – although many were lost or given away during my childhood. They now have pride of place on my daughter’s shelf. Although she’s read them, she is not – of course – the same sort of kid I was. Still, it’s wonderful to know they are cherished.
I was an avid reader of these books when I was 8 and 9, and while they weren’t the only books I loved (I adored Trixie Beldon books and The Famous Five and The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton, too) they have a very special place in my heart.
How about you – I’d love to hear about your first literary love(s).