Thursday, 22 November 2012

1990s Nostalgia: Mallory Pike

Today I'm paying tribute to one of the more ahem, troubled, members of the Babysitters Club, Mallory Pike. Although Mallory was one of the less interesting characters in the series (let's face it, she didn't wear weird clothing like Claudia did,) Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin surprised the now grown-up fans of the series when she stated that she had no strong feelings about Mallory Pike. (Read more about it here.) But who is Mallory Pike really, and what did she contribute to the BSC?

Mallory Pike debuted as a ten-year-old sitting charge in the first book in the series, Kristy's Great Idea. The oldest of eight kids, Mallory was annoyed that she still had to have a babysitter. As the series progressed, the members of the BSC released that Mallory was mature for her age and eventually asked her to help out as a junior helper at a playgroup that they established one summer. Later, after Mallory had turned eleven and Stacey left the club to return to New York, Mallory was asked to join the Babysitters Club full time. However, Mallory's transition from sittee to sitter would not be a smooth one.

The first book told from the perspective of Mallory Pike was aptly titled Hello Mallory. Readers learned that Mallory hated her red hair, freckles and glasses and that she loved reading books about horses. Despite being the oldest of eight kids, she had no close friends, until one day, a girl called Jessi transfers to Stoneybrook Middle School. A number of kids in their grade are prejudiced toward Jessi because she is black (oddly, people in Stoneybrook have a problem with black families, but no one seems to care that Claudia's family is Japanese ...) Mallory soon realises that Jessi likes many of the same things she does and they become best friends. Meanwhile, the older members of the BSC want to make sure that their new member is good enough to be a professional Babysitter and have devised a number of tough tests, which Mallory inevitably fails. She and Jessi start their own babysitting business. And then, to cut a long story short, the members of the BSC realise that they made a mistake and ask Mallory to join. She does on one condition, that they allow Jessi to become a member as well. 

Mallory's adventures in the series revolved around her desire to carve out an identity for herself. Unhappy with her appearance, she convinced her parents to allow her to have her ears pierced. She went on strike from babysitting for her siblings to concentrate on her schoolwork and refused to participate in gym class when the other students began to routinely humiliate her due to her lack of co-ordination. Other adventures included dying her hair blonde (it was dyed back before her parents could discover what she had done,) working as an assistant to her favourite author and joining in on the various holidays and vacation themed BSC special edition.

Although Mallory was sometimes friendly with Ben Hobart, she often had a lot of contempt for boys.

Mallory eventually left Stoneybrook to attend an all girls boarding school. She did not appear in the Friends Forever series.