More or less in order of how obsessed I was with the fictional world and characters. I listed only the series with recurring characters and indefinite (at the time I was reading them) length — i.e. as opposed to something like Goosebumps, which introduces a new story/set of characters in each book, or Harry Potter, which I consider a single long story split into seven books.
10. Amber Brown, by Paula Danziger
A third/fourth-grader deals with her parents’ divorce, her best friend moving away, and other life issues. I think I read up to Amber Brown Goes Fourth. Author Paula Danziger passed away in 2004, but her close friends Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy have agreed to co-write several new Amber Brown stories. The first, Amber Brown is Tickled Pink, should be released sometime this month.
9. Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
A precocious little girl deals with life issues such as a new sibling, the death of a pet, her father’s smoking habit, and just trying not to be a “pest.” I first got hooked into the series when my third- or fourth-grade class read an excerpt in which Ramona tries to make a No Smoking poster for her house, but runs out of room on the first line, and her father wonders who “NOSMO KING” is. What happens next? I wondered — will Ramona’s father figure out what she really meant? How will he react? Will she convince him to quit?
There was also, of course, the Hard-Boiled Egg Fad incident, excerpted in one of my third- or fourth-grade literature anthologies. I also borrowed all the available VHS episodes from the library.
8. The Saddle Club, by Bonnie Bryant
Yes, I went through a horse phase. I did the riding lessons (well, ok, a week-long summer riding camp). And I read The Saddle Club, as well as the meh first book of the spin-off series, Pine Hollow.
7. American Girl (the Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly books)
Read the books, learned about American history, subscribed to the magazine and the doll catalogue even though I never did get any of the dolls. Fun times.
6. Thoroughbred, by Joanna Campbell
The Griffens had to leave their old breeding farm after a disease killed many of their horses and insurance wouldn’t cover the losses. Now Ashleigh’s parents are breeding managers at Townsend Acres — an impressive place, sure, but not Edgardale. And she could never love any of the horses like she had her mare, Stardust…until little Wonder is born. The series follows Ashleigh as she nurses Wonder to health and trains her for the great races, while pursuing her dream of becoming a jockey. Later books focus on other adolescent Townsend residents, including Ashleigh’s daughter. There was also a prequel series focused on Ashleigh’s Edgardale adventures, and the prequel Ashleigh’s Diary, which described the events that forced the Griffens to leave their old home.
5. Animorphs, by Katherine A. Applegate
A group of teens takes a fateful shortcut through an abandoned construction site and meet an alien fleeing his people’s greatest enemy, the parasitic Yeerks. Just before his capture, the Andalite gives Jake and his friends his people’s secret power — the ability to “acquire” the DNA of other animals and change shape. Throughout the series, Jake, Cassie, Marco, Tobias, and Rachel — and, later, the Andalite Ax — use this power to fight the Yeerks. Trouble is, the Yeerks could be anyone; their M.O. is to take over the bodies of their chosen hosts, who become the Yeerks’ slaves and instruments for the takeover of Earth. They could be your teachers, your friends, even family members.
There was a show on Nickelodeon. I watched maybe two or three episodes on VHS, since my family didn’t subscribe to Nickelodeon back then.
4. Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The series follows Alice McKinley from 6th grade through high school (plus three prequels covering her years in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade), from her search for an adult female role model, to her first boyfriend, to body issues and more. See more of my thoughts on the series in my review of Incredibly Alice.
I wouldn’t say I was ever “obsessed” with this series, but I am still kind of actively interested in it beyond its nostalgic appeal. Hey, isn’t there a new book out by now? I should get on that…
3. The Baby-Sitters Club, by Ann M. Martin
Read the books, watched the TV show, rented the movie multiple times…and still have bits of Claudia’s science exam study rap stuck in my head (The brain, the brain, the center of the chain…) BTW, The Nostalgia Chick has a funny review of said movie.
I also read the first few books of the spin-off series, California Diaries — the adventures of Dawn and her California friends, after she moves back to California.
2. Baby-Sitters Little Sister, by Ann M. Martin
The adventures of BSC President Kristy’s younger stepsister, Karen. I could’ve counted this as a spin-off, but for a while, I was almost more obsessed with this series than with the original. I once almost wrote a letter to Karen, who I actually thought was a real person, just because The Baby-Sitters Guide to Babysitting (or maybe it was The Complete Guide to the Babysitters Club) talked about the characters like they were real. I was 10. Don’t judge.
1. And my number one childhood book series obsession….will be revealed in my next post! (Oooh, didn’t expect that, did you? I’m sure you have no idea what it could be. It’s not like I’ve been
threatening hinting at this Nostalgic Review for ages now, or anything…)