On select Sundays I will be reviewing some of the old Apple Paperback titles from my childhood. These titles were published, or republished by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s and were written and set in the United States. In Australia, these books were typically only available from libraries or could be ordered through catalogues that were distributed through primary schools, though some popular series found their way into various bookshops. Most of these titles are now long out of print or have been updated and republished for later generations ...
By the time the Babysitters Club got all the way to book #126 the series had well and truly peaked. Key characters, such as Dawn had left the series and gained their own spin-off, and the older characters had repeated eighth grade about ... oh, four times by then. (Except for Claudia, of course, who had been poked down to seventh grade.) The All New Mallory Pike paves the way for the series and it's eventual end. Though, at the time, Ann M. Martin and Scholastic, probably believed that they were recreating the series for a brand new millennium. (After the official series ended, a spin off series began where the girls repeated eighth grade one last time and, finally, graduated from middle school.) Anyway, the All-New Mallory Pike writes a key character out of the series. Mallory first appeared early on as a babysitting charge, later, when she turned eleven she and her best friend Jessi proved themselves responsible enough to be junior members of the club. Intelligent, but often shy and forced to battle with unfair teachers, Mallory did not fit in at Stoneybrook Middle School, and in this novel leaves for boarding school. Riverband Hall is a specialty school that helps kids cultivate artist talent, which is just perfect for Mallory. Unfortunately once she gets there she not only has to battle homesickness and the fact that she misses her friends, but she encounters some bullying from another student, who also happens to be her roommate.
I felt that the subject matter of this one was well-handled for its target audience, and it is realistic in the way that the adults did not step in until they were forced to, and even then, one admits that she did the wrong thing by Mallory by deliberately placing her in a situation where she knew that she might be bullied. And because this is Mallory's last book, there is a suggestion in there that she has truly found her niche, even though she misses Stoneybrook and her family and friends.
A fitting farewell to Mallory Pike.
About the Author: Ann M. Martin is the original author of The Babysitters Club series, and has written a number of other books for middle-grade readers and a few books for young adults.
About the Ghostwriter: Ellen Miles is a prolific author of books for children including the Puppy Place and Kitty Corner series. She also adapted a version of The Wind in the Willows for a contemporary audience.