March 5, 2014

WOMEN'S LIT EVENT: Tamara of Traveling with T on Ann M. Martin Saved the Chicken Pox Princess

Welcome to the Women's Lit Event on Lost in Books!  We are celebrating women in literature and women who write literature!

Today I am happy to have Tamara of the book blog, Traveling with T, here!

How Ann M. Martin Saved the Chicken Pox Princess (and Her Mother’s Sanity)

Picture this: A 9 year old just beginning to enjoy the world of books. She’s got Nancy Drew for when she wants a mystery. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are also favorites. Judy Blume is a high priority in the house. But, this girl reads fast. Super-fast. And there is simply not enough books in the house to keep the gal occupied. Then…. 

The chicken pox happens. 

The 9 year olds mother is at the end of the rope- trying to keep her daughter occupied while she recuperates - she can’t go back to school until she quits breaking out. In a fit of desperation, the mother goes to the library and finds THE BOOKS. The Baby-Sitters Club Books. She checks out 2 of them (that’s all that you are allowed to check out!) and brings them home to the chicken pox princess.  Greedily, the 9 year old takes the books, lays down on her pallet with calamine lotion all over her legs and arms, and begins to read. To laugh. To forget that she has chicken pox. That sound of relief heard all over the world? That was the mom- knowing she had something to occupy her child for some time.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times when Ann and I met via The Baby-Sitters Club books. I was miserable and yet, I was happily ensconced in the world of the BSC.  Reading was what kept me focused during the chicken pox situation- knowing that there was a world I could escape to helped me relax while the calamine lotion and Aveeno treatments worked their magic (did I mention that I wasn’t the only person to have the chicken pox?) More than half my school had it. Walmart had to limit the number of boxes of Aveeno you could buy to 2 boxes per person. I was  part of the Chicken Pox Epidemic of 1989.) I firmly believe that The Baby-Sitters Club series probably saved my mom from losing her mind with a sick chicken pox princess (and oh yeah, a baby in the house!) those fateful 3 weeks.

Why do I say that Ann was the role model to me and not Judy Blume or Francine Pascal? Judy Blume, while she has her finger of the pulse of those sweet and awkward years between being a child and a teen, was not producing new books. Francine Pascal was, but the twins had pretty perfect lives. Their parents were not divorced, they had silky blonde hair and dimples, and the “drama” was solved rather quickly. The Baby-Sitters Club, though, were slices of Americana. Divorced parents, dealing with shyness, moving to new neighborhoods- these girls were wholesome. Perfectly imperfect. The girls had friendships that were strong and true. Was things always rosy? No, not even. The BSC, at it’s core, was about  friendship. They had a realness that I could relate to. I could see myself being friends with these girls- and that is what made reading about them so interesting.

The chicken pox was not fun. But the relationship with the Baby-Sitters Club forged during those 3 weeks? Well, that was life-changing. 


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