Stoneybrookite

the best friends you’ll never have

I have a sister who just turned ten, and is thus part of the target demographic of the Main Street series. Unfortunately, she is a not a Reader. For her, reading is something torturous forced upon her by evil parents and teachers to interrupt her computer and television time. She would rather, I think, do math problems than read a book. (My little brother, however, is following the example of his other siblings and reads voraciously and far above grade level, so that is some comfort.) So despite the fact that I do have an “in” to this age range, I don’t really know much about what kids that age like to read nowadays apart from Hannah Montana novelizations.

A question that the upcoming BSC prequel/reissues raised for me is what it all means for the fate of the Main Street series. Now, I like Main Street. I like how it focuses on the lives of both and the adults and the children. You rarely got insight into the adult world in the BSC–it was all about the fantasy of thirteen-year-olds leading independent lives. The girls in Main Street are fairly independent for their ages as well, considering that most parents nowadays wouldn’t let a fifth grader go more than a one-block radius from home without an adult present, but adults in Main Street are not just there to be parents who need their lack of parenting skills to be supplemented by some eleven and thirteen-year-olds who pretty much know everything about child-rearing. No, in Main Street they have their own problems and lives and interesting plots. Mim and Mr. Pennington, hot stuff, right?!

Yet I’ve always wondered, ever since I first heard of the series, about how well it is possible for Main Street to sell. Girls who hang out at their grandmothers’ sewing store? That does indeed sound like something that Ann M. Martin would fantasize about, but perhaps not something that would interest preteen girls. The books, while they do deal with heavier issues than the BSC, retain a kind of slow, old-fashioned pace, kind of like Mayberry RFD. Perhaps I am just buying into marketing hype, but that doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of thing that KIDS TODAY! would be into. I would have been into it, but I was also a loser with no friends who sat in my room making weird crafty things.

Anyway, the fact that the focus seems to be shifting back to the BSC makes me wonder if this is somehow a bad sign for Main Street. On Amazon, the most recent Main Street book came out at the beginning of last month. It’s ranked around 10,000, which seems pretty respectable to me. There are no listings for a next Main Street book, though. Perhaps it just means that Ann has been busy with the prequel and the presumed editing of the reissues to write another Main Street book. If the prequel does well, it could be feasible that Ann would do more with her BSC characters, which I think would not bode well for Main Street.

What do you think? Has Main Street been a success? How do you think that the upcoming BSC excitement will affect the series?

8 Responses To This Post

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andrea jean said, November 15th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I don’t think anything Ann does will ever be as “big” as the BSC. And I don’t know anything about, like, sales figures for Main Street. But Ann gets to write a cozy little series related to her biggest passion, sewing! She’s a good writer, and I think Main Street is respectable whether or not it makes a ton of money. So … as long as she’s not “selling out” with books that aren’t true to who she is, I think it’s a success.

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Myu said, November 15th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Forthcoming comment is obviously pure speculation – I haven’t even read the books.
Without meaning to sound cynical, I think Main Street is basically just AMM writing what she wants to write, or what she would have liked to read as a child. Maybe it’s how she’d have liked the BSC to be.
I think I’d have liked the books when I was younger. They sound quite safe and simple in an Enid Blyton way.

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nikki said, November 15th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I agree with all the above comments. Ann M. made a ridiculous amount of money for Scholastic. As such, she got to write exactly what she wants…a completely unobjectionable little series about girls who want to hang out at their Grandmothers’ sewing store.

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Gabrielle said, November 16th, 2009 at 12:05 am

Myu, I have read the Main Street books and I think you are right. They are gentle cozy stories and I do think that they very much reflect AMM’s interests rather than the interests of your average pre-teen. I am not an expert on today’s middle schooler but I am fairly confident that most of them don’t sew their own jumpers. I’m guessing also that Main Street is going to end because Flora and Ruby actually do age.

The population I could see who might like the books are people who homeschool for religious reasons.

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greer said, November 16th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

@Gabrielle: I feel they actually do deal with some real issues, like Nikki’s family situation, that super-religious home schoolerd wouldn’t be into. Plus they don’t go to church!

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ali said, November 16th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I was actually just thinking about this issue. I’ve read all the Main Street books (just read the most recent this week) and while I do think it’s a “nice” series, it really isn’t so innocent. Although I do tend to forget that it’s set in the present day. And really, I agree with Greer that it probably wouldn’t go over well with the religious crowd. One example: in the most recent book, there’s a mention of Aunt Allie living with her boyfriend. Old as she is (and Flora at least certainly thinks she’s old) I can’t imagine the “super-religious” being cool with the idea of, um, an intimate relationship between unmarried people even subtly entering their kids’ heads. I could be wrong about that though.

These books remind me a little of the Boxcar Children books: very wholesome, very into domestic type things, and so on. For the first 19 BC books, the kids did age and I don’t know that doing that really hurt the books or alienated the audience. Not that they could’ve kept that up for hundreds of books. Just a thought. And I don’t know how different the target audiences are.

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Sadako said, November 17th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Nikki, you’re so right. I mean, you can totally tell from her BSC books (the emphasis on sewing that you see from Mary Anne in a lot of books) that that’s what she’s really into. And that wild teenagers are a little scary and threatening and I don’t think she ever really “got” Stacey or Claudia. That’s why, IMO, they tend to be a bit like caricatures of what she thinks teens who wear make up and dress wild would be like. And why Stacey is such a bitch.

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wanderingfrog said, December 6th, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I didn’t think they seemed like the kind of things to appeal to today’s preteens, either, so I was surprised to see how well the circulate at the library, but they do circulate well around here. I think that when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have thought the series sounded interesting from reading the back covers, but if I did actually read the books, I would have liked them.

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