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Ann M. Martin wrote The Summer Before as a prequel to The Baby-Sitters Club when, in 2011, Scholastic, Inc. decided to re-release the first four books to a new generation. The Summer Before revolves around the four original BSC members (Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey) during the summer between sixth and seventh grade (when Kristy has her idea for the club). The book alternates between each character and each chapter is told from a different character's first person point of view.

Back Cover Summary[]

Before there was The Baby-sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade, each of them is getting ready for big changes.

Kristy is still hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove that she's no longer a little girl. Claudia is navigating her first major crush. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind in order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

Separately, it's a lot to deal with. But together, these friends will find a way to make it through — with plenty of laughter, tears, and surprises along the way.

Plot[]

Kristy[]

Starts off the first chapter describing 11-year old Kristy's last day of 6th grade at Stoneybrook Middle School. She has to babysit for 5-year old David Michael that afternoon/evening because her mother is going on her sixth date with wealthy Watson Brewer, whom she met barely a month before. Kristy reveals her dislike for Watson and her hope that her father will want to reconnect with her and her family. After David Michael goes to bed, she sits down and writes him a letter describing the recent happenings in her life. Once she has written her letter, she receives a phone call from Mrs. Pike, asking her and another sitter to babysit. Kristy decides to ask Mary Anne, who has never held a sitting job before because her father won't allow it. In the next Kristy-devoted chapter, her letter to her father has come back undelivered and she hides the evidence from David Michael. Her greatest wish for the whole summer is that her father would be the surprise at her twelfth birthday party.

Mary Anne[]

Mary Anne does not like her pink decorated bedroom. She is intrigued and excited by the change to sit for the Pikes. In April of her 6th grade year, she was home sick from school and went up to the attic to look for a blanket. She found a box of her mother's things and snuck it down to her room. Her favorite thing in the box is her mother's old dolls, which she would like to create clothes for. Mary Anne notes that her father does not speak much about her mother other than to bless her during grace every night before dinner. In order to gain her father's favor, she makes dinner and asks to start baby-sitting with Kristy. She and her father have a small argument, but she ends up winning and is allowed to go sit with Kristy, provided she is home by nine and calls her father every half hour. After she baby-sits the Pikes her father agrees to let her baby-sit as long as she's back by 9:00 and someone goes with her.

Stacey[]

Stacey has to move away from New York, and she has a goodbye-party with all her babysitting charges and Laine. Laine is extremely rude to Stacey, including spilling Coke by "accident" on her new white blouse. When Stacey finally moves from New York to Stoneybrook, she is led around by one of Claudia's friends and meets Claudia at lunch. Then she talks to Claudia about how she moved and what happened.

Claudia[]

Claudia feels she is growing apart from Kristy and Mary Anne, finding friends like Dorianne Wallingford and Emily Bernstein more mature. She has a boy-girl pool party at the Goldmans' for her twelfth birthday, where she meets Frankie, a classmate of Janine's. Janine is then mad at Claudia for liking Frankie. Then on the phone, Claudia breaks up with Frankie, only to be friends.

Characters[]

Kids

Pre-Teens

Teenagers

  • Kristy's Family: Charlie Thomas, Sam Thomas
  • Marlene - Janine's friend from statistics class
  • Frankie Evans - Janine's friend/crush from statistics class and Claudia's first crush
  • Lindy, Anna, Tracy, Alexa, Morgan, and Val - Frankie's friends

Adults

Locations[]

  • Thomas House
  • Stoneybrook Middle School (briefly)
  • Local playground
  • Spier House
  • Kishi House
  • McGill House
  • McGill apartment
  • Goldman House - just the pool area
  • Renwick's
  • Sal's and The Half Moon - places Stacey's eats dinner with her parents
  • Newton House

Pop Culture and Real Life References[]

  • Charlie Brown (Chapter 5, Kristy mentions Watson has "an enormous Charlie Brown-type bald head".
  • Mary Anne says her room has pictures of Alice in Wonderland characters.
  • Alma's dolls are bigger then a Barbie but smaller then an American Girl doll.
  • Stacey's knowledge about camp is limited to what she knew from The Parent Trap.
  • Mary Anne asks for a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for her birthday.
  • When Stacey walked up to her new house she felt like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
  • Claudia compares the girls flanking Frankie at the pool to Tinker Bell to Peter Pan.
  • Mary Anne played with Troll dolls when she went to SMS.

Continuity and Inconsistencies[]

Continuity

  • The slumber party from The Baby-sitters Remember where Stacey peed the bed is recapped on page 47.
  • Stacey's love of pigs are mentioned on page 94.
  • Chapter 17 has dialogue and scenes from Kristy's Great Idea.
  • The Berks are the first family to visit the McGills after their move. They were mentioned once before in Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye, Charlotte mentions getting her dresser at the Berks' garage sale.

Inconsistencies

  • Kristy looks at Mary Anne like she's crazy for playing with dolls at first, however, Claudia says that Kristy was playing with dolls in Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.
  • Claudia's Nancy Drew collection is bigger than the library’s. But in other books, Claudia says that the public library doesn’t have Nancy Drew books.

Trivia[]

  • On the dedication page it says: "For Jean Feiwel, David Levithan, Brenda Bowen, and Bethany Buck - from the beginning to the end and back to the beginning."
    • There is also a special thanks: "Special thanks to my nephew Henry for introducing me to the Tail Trail and the naked mole rat, and to Haedyn and Holden Riley for inventing the game of Sticky."
  • Kristy, Stacey, Mary Anne, and Claudia discussed the summer the book is set in "when we were older."
  • Claudia barely scraped by in passing math.
  • This is one of the few mentions of Patrick's mom in series. Kristy said that her grandmother used to shout "school's out, school's out, teacher wore her bloomers out."
  • Claudia stopped sitting with Kristy and Mary Anne sometime between winter break and spring break.
  • Charlie mentions having a friend name Hank that he played baseball with.
  • Elizabeth and Watson met in May and went out twice; in June they saw each other four more times.
  • David Michael's summer bedtime is nine.
  • It's been about five months since Kristy wrote to her dad.
  • Mary Anne has her first sitting job with the Pike family in this book.
  • Mary Anne has been in the attic looking for information about her mother.
  • Some kids Claudia wanted to invite to her party is Polly, Kurt, and Darnell Harris. These kids are never seen within the main series.
  • Claudia's Nancy Drew collection is bigger than the library’s.
  • The previous summer Laine went to a summer camp in Maine for the month of August.
  • Karen is on the honor roll.
  • Sam baby-sits Andrew and Karen.
  • Mallory is made deputy baby-sitter at Mary Anne's first sitting job.
  • Mary Anne became friends with Lauren Hoffman and the Shillaber twins through Kristy.
  • Claudia and Kristy celebrate a birthday in this book.
  • Stephanie and Tim Berk along with their daughter, Lana, are the first people to welcome the McGills to Stoneybrook.
  • The Hanson family gives the McGills take out menus from the area.
  • Presents that Kristy's family sends is: a necklace, a sixteen month softball calendar, 20 dollars, bracelet, baseball cap, and two books.
    • Kristy's godmother is mentioned and sends money, others mentioned include Elizabeth's co-workers and her college roommate.
  • A woman named Nancy is the letter carrier on Bradford Court.
  • Kristy almost cried when she got Mary Anne's present.
  • Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne are responsible for the dent in the Spier's garage door due to an incident taking training wheels off too early. Nobody knows that it was them.
  • A blonde girl saw the parade on Kristy Day. Although not confirmed, this was likely Stacey.

Gallery[]

Baby-Sitters Club Books
The Summer Before | #1 Kristy's Great Idea | #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls | #3 The Truth About Stacey | #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day | #5 Dawn and the Impossible Three | #6 Kristy's Big Day | #7 Claudia and Mean Janine | #8 Boy-Crazy Stacey | #9 The Ghost at Dawn's House | #10 Logan Likes Mary Anne! | #11 Kristy and the Snobs | #12 Claudia and the New Girl | #13 Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye | #14 Hello, Mallory | #15 Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn | #16 Jessi's Secret Language | #17 Mary Anne's Bad-Luck Mystery | #18 Stacey's Mistake | #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke | #20 Kristy and the Walking Disaster | #21 Mallory and the Trouble with Twins | #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet-sitter | #23 Dawn on the Coast | #24 Kristy and the Mother's Day Surprise | #25 Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger | #26 Claudia and the Sad Good-bye | #27 Jessi and the Superbrat | #28 Welcome Back, Stacey! | #29 Mallory and the Mystery Diary | #30 Mary Anne and the Great Romance | #31 Dawn's Wicked Stepsister | #32 Kristy and the Secret of Susan | #33 Claudia and the Great Search | #34 Mary Anne and Too Many Boys | #35 Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook | #36 Jessi's Baby-Sitter | #37 Dawn and the Older Boy | #38 Kristy's Mystery Admirer | #39 Poor Mallory! | #40 Claudia and the Middle School Mystery | #41 Mary Anne vs. Logan | #42 Jessi and the Dance School Phantom | #43 Stacey's Emergency | #44 Dawn and the Big Sleepover | #45 Kristy and the Baby Parade | #46 Mary Anne Misses Logan | #47 Mallory on Strike | #48 Jessi's Wish | #49 Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street | #50 Dawn's Big Date | #51 Stacey's Ex-Best Friend | #52 Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies | #53 Kristy for President | #54 Mallory and the Dream Horse | #55 Jessi's Gold Medal | #56 Keep Out, Claudia! | #57 Dawn Saves the Planet | #58 Stacey's Choice | #59 Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym) | #60 Mary Anne's Makeover | #61 Jessi and the Awful Secret | #62 Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever | #63 Claudia's Freind Friend | #64 Dawn's Family Feud | #65 Stacey's Big Crush | #66 Maid Mary Anne | #67 Dawn's Big Move | #68 Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter | #69 Get Well Soon, Mallory! | #70 Stacey and the Cheerleaders | #71 Claudia and the Perfect Boy | #72 Dawn and the We Love Kids Club | #73 Mary Anne and Miss Priss | #74 Kristy and the Copycat | #75 Jessi's Horrible Prank | #76 Stacey's Lie | #77 Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever | #78 Claudia and Crazy Peaches | #79 Mary Anne Breaks the Rules | #80 Mallory Pike, No. 1 Fan | #81 Kristy and Mr. Mom | #82 Jessi and the Troublemaker | #83 Stacey vs. the BSC | #84 Dawn and the School Spirit War | #85 Claudia Kishi, Live From WSTO! | #86 Mary Anne and Camp BSC | #87 Stacey and the Bad Girls | #88 Farewell, Dawn | #89 Kristy and the Dirty Diapers | #90 Welcome to the BSC, Abby! | #91 Claudia and the First Thanksgiving | #92 Mallory's Christmas Wish | #93 Mary Anne and the Memory Garden | #94 Stacey McGill, Super Sitter | #95 Kristy + Bart = ? | #96 Abby's Lucky Thirteen | #97 Claudia and the World's Cutest Baby | #98 Dawn and Too Many Sitters | #99 Stacey's Broken Heart | #100 Kristy's Worst Idea | #101 Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout | #102 Mary Anne and the Little Princess | #103 Happy Holidays, Jessi | #104 Abby's Twin | #105 Stacey the Math Whiz | #106 Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade | #107 Mind Your Own Business, Kristy! | #108 Don't Give Up, Mallory! | #109 Mary Anne to the Rescue | #110 Abby the Bad Sport | #111 Stacey's Secret Friend | #112 Kristy and the Sister War | #113 Claudia Makes Up Her Mind | #114 The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier | #115 Jessi's Big Break | #116 Abby and the Best Kid Ever | #117 Claudia and the Terrible Truth | #118 Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer | #119 Stacey's Ex-Boyfriend | #120 Mary Anne and the Playground Fight | #121 Abby in Wonderland | #122 Kristy in Charge | #123 Claudia's Big Party | #124 Stacey McGill... Matchmaker? | #125 Mary Anne in the Middle | #126 The All-New Mallory Pike | #127 Abby's Un-Valentine | #128 Claudia and the Little Liar | #129 Kristy at Bat | #130 Stacey's Movie | #131 The Fire at Mary Anne's House
Super Specials
#1 Baby-sitters on Board! | #2 Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation | #3 Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation | #4 Baby-sitters' Island Adventure | #5 California Girls! | #6 New York, New York! | #7 Snowbound | #8 Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake | #9 Starring the Baby-sitters Club #10 Sea City, Here We Come! | #11 The Baby-sitters Remember | #12 Here Come the Bridesmaids! | #13 Aloha, Baby-sitters! | #14 BSC in the USA | #15 Baby-sitters' European Vacation
Portrait Collection
Stacey's Book | Claudia's Book | Dawn's Book | Mary Anne's Book | Kristy's Book | Abby's Book
Other
The Baby-Sitters Club Notebook (1987) | The Baby-Sitters Club Postcard Book (1991) | Trivia & Puzzle Fun Book (1992) | Ann M. Martin: The Story of the author of the Baby-sitters Club (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Guide to Babysitting (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Chain Letter (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Secret Santa (1994) | Audio Books on Cassette Tape (1994-5) | BSC Movie Novelization (1995) | The Complete Guide to the Baby-Sitters Club (1996) | Autograph Book (1998) | BSC Graphic Novels (2006-present) | We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers (2021) | Welcome to Stoneybrook: A Guided Journal (2021) | The Official Coloring Book (2023)
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