Back in the day we were pre-teens instead of tweens and as a pre-teen I was all about every and any book series I could get a hold on. Like most similarly inclined young women of my generation I read and adored everything in the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley canon. But there were other smaller, less remembered series that kept me company on rainy days and lazy Saturday mornings when playing outside wasn't possible or appealing and nothing on TV seemed worth it. One such series was the Sleepover Friends. Everything about it is right there in the title but if you need a deeper explanation it was about a group of young girls who were friends and held a sleepover together every weekend. They each had their own distinct personality and background so that the majority of the reading audience would have at least one character to identify with and my favorite was Stephanie. Stephanie was the Loud One (which I was) and the Fashionable one (which I wasn't) and had a play house in her backyard (nope but I did have an above ground pool, swing set and a few really cool trees). What I remember most about Stephanie is that "her thing" was she always wore red, black and white. All three colors at the same time and nothing else. I wanted nothing more to do the same but my mother who bought my clothes and thus picked them out was more enamored with all the neons and pastels the early 90s had to offer.
This morning I got dressed to leave the house and without really thinking any further than "These are clean and go together" I put on black jeans, a red and white shirt and a black cardigan. Some 16 years since I last read one of these books my old friend Stephanie was who I immediately thought of. These books weren't great literature, weren't even the best of their genre but I applaud the author (authors? so many of these series were written by committee) for planting something in my brain that will never go away. I'm sure a lot of space could be taken up arguing for or against the idea that what is good literature or literature at all is only debatable up to a certain point and that any author worth his or her salt should strive to be remembered for the right reasons. But the truth is I see no shame in the Wakefield twins of the trashy, non educational, shallow world of Sweet Valley being as much a part of my reader DNA as Anne Shirley and Jo March, two women who belong in books that almost always made the list of Great Classics. If/when I ever get published I'll be just as happy to write something that someone out there loves as I will to write something that someone out there respects.
I do promise to never, EVER pay any sort of fashion homage to Claudia from the Babysitters Club and if you need to know why that's such an important promise to make I'll direct you over here and bid you a very entertaining reading experience.