Stacey's so excited! She's invited her friends from the Baby-sitters Club down to New York City for a long weekend. It's going to be perfect—a party and a sleepover Friday night, a big baby-sitting job on Saturday, and lots of sightseeing on Sunday.
But what a mistake! The Baby-sitters are way out of place in the big city. Mary Anne sounds like a walking guide book; Dawn's afraid of everything; Kristy can't keep her mouth shut, and Claudia's jealous of Stacey's friends.
Does this mean Stacey can't be the Baby-sitters' friend anymore? Will the Baby-sitters Club fall apart?
The adults in Stacey's neighborhood have decided to hold a meeting to discuss the apparently rampant homelessness in the area. Quite a few of them ask Stacey to watch their kids during the meeting, and she feels bad that she has to turn most of them down.
That's when she gets her idea: she'll get the BSC to come up for the weekend to help out! The visit gets off to a rocky start, though. The Connecticut contingent of the BSC gets lost in Grand Central Station, and it takes Stacey twenty minutes to find them. When she does, Stacey realizes that they look like.....CONSPICUOUS TOURISTS.
Mary Anne pulls out a guidebook, in spite of the fact that she has a native New Yorker right there, Claudia has a suitcase with wheels, Kristy is wearing her famous collie baseball cap, Dawn looks terrified, and they're ALL being loud. After a quick stop at the McGills' apartment to drop off luggage, the girls go to lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. They make a big fuss over how cool the place is, which embarrasses Stacey, and Kristy orders fill-it-mig-nun. They go to Bloomingdale's next, where Mary Anne gets chased down by mall security for taking eye shadow that she thought was a free sample.
After the shopping trip, the girls head back to Stacey's, where they make their way through her apartment building, meeting the kids they'll be taking care of the next day. Then, it's time to get ready for the BSC party. Mary Anne insists that everyone wear what Stacey tells them (so they can blend in with all the sophisticated New York kids), but in the end, she herself is the only one who doesn't. Laine Cummings arrives early (looking 19) to help set up for the party, and she and Claudia definitely get off to a bad start. To be fair, Claudia started the snide comments.
Laine seemed perfectly willing to be friendly, but as Stacey says, "Laine isn't one to ignore a snipe attack." The party itself is sort of a failure. The Connecticut and New York kids aren't mixing, except for Mary Anne. She first bugs the snot out of everyone by reciting her New York facts and then entertains them by describing how terrified Dawn is of everything. Kristy manages to make a love connection with Stacey's friend Coby but Claudia cuts in on them when they're just about to enjoy a nice slow dance. By the end of the evening, Dawn is mad at Mary Anne, Kristy is mad at Claudia, Claudia hates Laine, and Laine decides to go home rather than spend the night.
Stacey calls a truce for the next day, to get them through the sitting job. They collect the ten kids mid-morning, and head to the Natural History Museum. They lose Henry Walker, but find him pretty quickly; he'd just gone back to see the brontosaurus after the rest of the group had moved on. After lunch in the museum restaurant, they head to Central Park. It's there that Stacey has an epiphany of sorts; Claudia points out that Stacey has been acting like nothing in New York is exciting to her anymore, and that makes Stacey wonder if her embarrassment is more about her own snobbery than her friends’ behavior.
Later that afternoon, Laine calls. She wants to try again with the BSC (especially Claudia), and invites them out to dinner and a Broadway show. The night ends up a success, and Laine and Claudia become friends. Well...sort of. They exchange addresses as the limo is dropping the sitters off at the end of the night.
I loved writing Stacey’s Mistake, the first book in the series that takes place in New York City. Since I’ve lived in New York for a long time, it was lots of fun creating Stacey’s life there—her neighborhood, her friends, her apartment. I love living in New York. It’s so exciting, and there’s so much to do. Like Stacey, I enjoy going to the theater and museums, and I love trying different kinds of food. When I was a kid, I liked reading books that were set in New York City. Some of my favorites were Stuart Little, The Cricket in Times Square, and Eloise. (By the way, Eloise was one of Stacey’s favorite books when she was little.) So if you’ve just finished Stacey’s Mistake and you’re ready for another New York adventure, how about trying one of these? From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, or Slake’s Limbo.
Original 1988 cover
1996 reprint cover
2021 reprint cover
French cover by Philippe Munch
French cover by Karim Friha
French cover by Émile Bravo for Boy-Crazy Stacey, Stacey's Mistake (?), and Dawn on the Coast