It's been many a silvery moon since I delved into a Baby-Sitters Club Super Special. Let's take a moment to reflect on the beauty that was Child Endangerment: The Novel, aka #4: Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure. Or Angry Claudia Eats A Sad Pretzel, aka #6: New York, New York!. And what about Mallory Needs Manners, aka #7: Snowbound? And never forget Get Over Yourself, Stacey! aka #10: Sea City, Here We Come!
We've watched the baby-sitters go on epic vacations and crazy adventures, make themselves right at home in new cities, and deal with disasters, armed with nothing but their wits and their Kid-Kits.
But now... the time has finally come to take a look at the Super Special that started them all!
So join me... and the baby-sitters... and the Pikes... and Kristy's extended family... on the adventure of a lifetime...
Now, you may be thinking... if this is the first Super Special, will it have all the Super Special tropes we've come to expect and, dare I say, love?
🗹Will someone make an unusual friend who is then never heard from again?
🗹Will one of the baby-sitters fall in LUV?
🗹Will at least one baby-sitter who is supposed to be on vacation/sans children be put in a position where they must care for children anyway?
🗹Will someone have a near-death experience?
🗹Will someone act like a major jerk, even though they're normally pretty pleasant?
🗹Will the airplane seats have two seats, then five seats, then two more? Please and thank you.
Okay, one more thing before we begin. I've only been to Disney World once, and I realize that things at the ol' Kingdom of Magic were probably one way in 1988 (when this book was published), another way in 1999 (when I visited), and much different now, so I'm not going to worry too much about any of the details about the park.
I also don't know what it was like to cruise in 1988, but I do know a little about cruising now. So if something on the baby-sitters' cruise seems strange, I might mention it, but I'll also recognize that maybe that's just how they did things on cruise ships in the 80s.
Baby-Sitters On Board begins with Kristy Thomas writing a Thank-You note to her mom, stepdad Watson, and the Pike parents, for an incredible vacation. The following book is apparently dedicated to them, and the letter is signed by Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Dawn, Stacey, Sam, Charlie, David Michael, Karen, Andrew, Mallory, Byron, Jordan, Adam, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo, and Claire.
Again, I don't know how they did things in the 80s, but nowadays you'd run into a real problem if you were one of four adults trying to bring eighteen (18!!) minors on a cruise ship. But we'll let it slide.
Then we're at the airport. Kristy is SUPER excited to be going on a plane, and Dawn is all, "Yawn. Airports. Planes. Over it."
Kristy then tells us about this insane load of 22 people who are about to embark on this trip. How did it all happen?! It all began with the Pikes (doesn't it always?). Mr. Pike won a contest at his workplace, and the prize? An all-expenses-paid trip for his entire family! (And you wonder why Mr. Pike's company went under 30-odd BSC books later.) Anyway, the Pikes somehow have enough money to tack on 2 extra tickets, which they offer to Stacey and Mary Anne so that the girls can come along as parental helpers. Why those two? Why, because just recently they had done such a wonderful job helping the Pikes in Sea City, in BSC #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey! Because that's fair.
Naturally Mary-Anne and Stacey jump at the chance, but then Kristy's stepdad Watson hears about the trip, and is like, "Let's tag along!" So he books the same trip for his entire family. But oh -- now Kristy, Mary Anne, and Stacey are all going -- what about Claudia and Dawn? "Bring them along!" says Watson, the world's most generous millionaire. (Although I suspect he's really trying to get on Kristy's good side, it seems a little strange that he doesn't invite along any of Sam, Charlie, or David Michael's pals.
Anyway, that's how we suddenly have 22 Stoneybrookites all going to the same place. Kudos, AMM.
As Kristy gets ready to board the plane, she mentions that she has a new camera, which Watson just bought for her. Her friends, she notes, all have cameras, too. They don't want to forget anything on this trip.
Once on the plane, a flight attendant offers Kristy's little siblings a chance to explore the cockpit and meet the pilot later. I was about to remark about "simpler times," until I remembered that in 1988, on flights of more than 2 hours (as a flight from Connecticut to Orlando would've been), smoking was still allowed on most airlines. Don't breathe too deeply, kids!
Lunch is served, and Karen goes crazy over all the freebies. Salt packets! Sugar packets! Salad dressing! She urges her little brother, Andrew, to save everything. "You never know when we might need it." Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, Sam, and Charlie then give Karen all their packets.
Spoiler alert: Karen will never need any of these things, ever again.
While Karen, Andrew, David Michael, and some of the Pikes are visiting the cockpit a while later, Kristy calls over Mary Anne and Stacey and tells them, "We should hold club meetings every day. Just short ones. You know, so we can keep track of what the kids are up to." Kristy, the vacation ruiner.
Then Kristy suggests that they all try to think of some kind of gift to present to the Pikes, Watson, and Kristy's mom, for taking them on this trip. But what KIND of gift? No one knows. Well, no matter, they have a week to think of something...
Spoiler alert: It will take them an entire week to think of something.
Finally, the plane lands... IN FLORIDA!
In chapter two, the perspective changes to Dawn's, and she tells us that she's flown back and forth across the United States eleven times, but she's never been on a cruise ship. In fact, I'd never seen one, unless you counted The Love Boat, or the ship the Ricardos and Mertzes went to Europe on in an I Love Lucy show I once saw. (It's at this moment the reader realizes Dawn is Ann M. Martin, except for the nagging suspicion AMM probably did take a cruise before writing this book and, if she was smart, wrote it off for tax purposes.)
Dawn is impressed by the size of the ship, and Mary Anne is holding a pamphlet that talks about the amenities: multiple pools, a beauty parlor, a cafe, a disco! Wow! We also learn that Dawn, Kristy, and Claudia will be sharing a room on board. And that this might be a problem, because Kristy is a slob? Has this... ever been a thing in the BSC books before? I guess we needed a conflict, so... um, yes! Kristy is a slob now!
The girls' stateroom turns out to be tiny, with two sets of bunk beds, two dressers, a desk, and four chairs, all bolted to the floor. I can't help feeling like they've been put in steerage. At least there are freebies -- soap, shampoo, and Ocean Princess playing cards! Kristy immediately opens a pack and drops the cellophane on the floor. Dawn picks it up and throws it away. This is going to be a long week.
The ship's whistle (horn?) blows, and off they go. No lifeboat drill? Okay, I guess it wasn't mandatory before departures back in 1988, so we'll let this slide too. The girls run out on deck, where people are waving to folks on the dock, and some people are throwing streamers and confetti.
A. Mallory Pike, who saw him in line for Peter Pan with his family, and saw "the stowaway" on the first day on board the ship.
☑Will someone make an unusual friend who is then never heard from again? (Yes! Stacey & Marc, Kristy & Mr. Staples, and Mary Anne & Alexandra.)
☑Will one of the baby-sitters fall in LUV? (Yes! Claudia & Timothy and Dawn & Parker.)
☑Will at least one baby-sitter who is supposed to be on vacation/sans children be put in a position where they must care for children anyway? (Yes... Dawn helps Parker take care of his stepbrothers and Kristy watches her younger siblings at least once.)
🗹Will someone have a near-death experience? (Alas, no.)
☑Will someone act like a major jerk, even though they're normally pretty pleasant? (Kind of... Kristy and Dawn's room-cleaning feud. At least it's only in the first half of the story.)
☑Will the airplane seats have two seats, then five seats, then two more? (ALWAYS!)
So that concludes Super Special #1!
Oh, but let's analyze the cover really quick...
Ah, another one of those "who's who?" mysteries. I'm assuming pink stripes is Stacey, which means all-white is likely Dawn, and side-ponytail is Claudia. The two brunettes could be either Kristy or Mary Anne. The one who is shorter (and therefore should be Kristy) is wearing a dress, though since Claudia seems to be smaller than everyone, size seems to have no meaning here. The kids in front appear to be Karen, Andrew, and a random Pike.