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.
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.
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 baby-sit. 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 undeliverable 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 REALLY 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 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 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.
Émile Bravo's front cover for a French edition of The Summer Before and Kristy's Great Idea
Émile Bravo's back cover for a French edition of The Summer Before and Kristy's Great Idea
Karim Friha's cover for a French edition of The Summer Before