© Scholastic Inc.
The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin have been adored by generations of kids since the publication of the first book in the series, Kristy’s Big Day, over 30 years ago in 1986. Just writing that makes me feel very old. As a kid I loved going to the local library every week to stock up on new books, especially during the summers when, at least in my small town, there wasn’t much else to do but read (plus reading outside in the summer is the best).
© Scholastic Inc.
Over 200 books were published in the series from 1986 to 2000, some written entirely by Martin and others with assistance from ghostwriters, though Martin still provided the outlines and edited the books. Over 176 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide. Much of the inspiration for the stories and characters came from the author’s own life, including years of babysitting in her youth and working as a teacher as an adult.
In the 1990s there was a Baby-Sitters Club TV show and a movie. The books were so popular, there even was a BSC board game (and yes, my sister and I used to play it, although I didn’t like it as much as the Sweet Valley High board game). You can find the game on Amazon and eBay.
As someone who reads any book about cats that she comes across, whether fiction or non-fiction, for children or for adults, there are some that are extra special and Princess Puffybottom – And Darryl by Susin Nielsen is one of them. The story is about a cat who is Princess of her domain but is dismayed by the addition of a puppy to her kingdom. The puppy is messy and uncouth but worst of all he takes attention away from the Princess. Princess Puffybottom knows that this intruder needs to be banished somewhere far faraway. She tries everything to do that including hypnosis, trickery and sabotage but nothing works – it looks like Darryl is there to stay. Princess Puffybottom is sad but no one even notices – except Darryl. Slowly the Princess learns that Darryl has some redeeming features. He worships her, puts her on a pedestal (literally!) and even helps her get extra food. Princess Puffybottom comes to understand that there is room for both a Princess and a companion in her kingdom and life is good again. But what is that, that her human subjects are bringing home on the last page?
The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is absolutely delightful, featuring a love triangle between a “sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a dot”, who was of course hanging out with “a wild and unkempt squiggle”. Accompany your reading with the short animated film on YouTube (and apparently also as a special feature in The Glass Bottom Boat DVD, of which we own 3 copies, so feel free to check that out).
The overall structure of the plot arc is quite predictable, but that’s not where the charm of this wonderful romance lies. Part of it, I’m sure, is just in the fact that it was written in the 60s, so some of the phrasing is a touch quaint reading it now, but I want to say that the charm of it is simply in the fact that this is a mathematical romance. It’s dedicated to Euclid! There are math puns & references everywhere (though some of them smarter than others), and the entire novel(la) is overall a delightful romp. And as some of you know, despite math not being anywhere near my forte, I have a love of it all the same. You don’t really learn anything about shapes or math in any way apart from how to creatively apply lines and shapes, but that’s why it’s a romance in lower mathematics, right?*