the best friends you’ll never have

Everyone who has read an “About the Author” page in a BSC book knows that Ann is from Princeton, NJ. Those who have conducted further research know that Stoneybrook is more or less modeled after the Princeton of her childhood. I was in a BSC Geography Wikipedia Spiral earlier today, examining Fairfield County (where Stamford is located) for possible locations and analogies to Stoneybrook, and then I went to the Princeton page for clues of what Stoneybrook must be like. I hit paydirt in the “history” section of the page:

Originally, Princeton was known only as part of nearby Stony Brook.

The town of Stony Brook, NJ no longer exists today–it is still the name of tributary of the Millstone River, however, and Stoney Brook is indeed an alternate spelling. So it is safe to say, I think, that Ann did not get the name of “Stoneybrook” from the other places that bear this name. There is also a Chatham in New Jersey, and the county that Princeton is located in is named Mercer–both fictional neighboring towns of fictional Stoneybrook.

Why didn’t Ann just put Stoneybrook in New Jersey?

It’s also interesting that the only real place mentioned in the books, besides major cities (NYC, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, DC), is Stamford. This sticks Stoneybrook in a concrete geographical location, yet Ann does not mention the real neighboring coastal towns of Stamford, Darien and Greenwich. Perhaps this would stick Stoneybrook in a too obviously wealthy situation, even though everyone is a lawyer so it’s obvious that the sitters are more or less upper middle class, or even upper, for Kristy Post-Watson and probably Shannon as well. Instead, the towns surrounding Stoneybrook are pretty generic and have generic names with Hersey roots. I suppose that Stamford isn’t a well-enough known city–people have heard of it, but probably can’t name any interesting facts about it or place it on a map of Connecticut–that Ann can get away with glossing over what really surrounds Stamford. And stick in some familiar New Jersey names dear to her Princeton-raised heart.

EDIT: Myu pointed out that Timothy Carmody in Baby-Sitters on Board! is from Darien:

I cleared my throat. “Where are you from?” Maybe he would be from someplace exotic like Tahiti or Los Angeles. At least that would give us something to talk about.

“I’m from Connecticut,” he replied. “How about you?”

“Hey, I’m from Connecticut, too! From Stoneybrook.”

“No kidding. I’m from Darien. That’s not too far from Stoneybrook.”

My geography is terrible, so I wasn’t sure, but I figured Timothy knew what he was talking about.

I am trying to figure out how it is possible that Claudia doesn’t know about a town that borders Stamford. Also, why was Timothy only a vacation boyfriend if they lived so close to one another, but I guess that when you’re 13, even being a town or two away is kind of long-distance.

The wiki has seen a lot of edits since it’s been reopened! Go and check it out, use it to look up and random things, and edit it to help us reach our goal of cataloging, well, everything in the BSC universe.

12 Responses To This Post

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Myu said, December 14th, 2010 at 11:56 am

Isn’t Darien mentioned in Special 1? I think one of the holiday romances lives there.

- I’m not too active in the fandom these days (RL; general disinclination) but I’m still reading and enjoying this blog :)

greer said, December 14th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

@Myu: I’ll have to get ahold of SS1 and look it up. But that’s funny, because if someone lived in a neighboring town, you’d think it’d blossom into more than vacation romance.

maculae said, December 16th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Could be in Stony Brook, NY. Small townish. Nice area. Has a SUNY school in the area.

bbb said, December 16th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Yeah, I was going to mention Darien. New Haven is also brought up in Stacey McGill, Math Whiz.

Re: “why didn’t Ann choose NJ,” she taught school in CT before becoming an author, maybe that had something to do with it…

greer said, December 18th, 2010 at 5:50 am

@bbb: Camden Falls is also in Massachusets but based on where she lives now in the Hudson Valley area of NY.

Eowyn said, December 21st, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I always suspected it was because the last episodes of I Love Lucy take place in Connecticut. Oh, and Stacy’s last name McGill almost certainly comes from McGillicutti or is McGillicuddy?

ashley said, December 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 am

“Such as he might have been seen in Mercer yesterday,” said Jake. “That’s only twenty miles from here.”
“And a lady saw him in New Hope, too,” added Laurel.

-M#18, the Kuhns worry about the escaped convict.

Myu said, December 22nd, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Ah – isn’t another town mentioned in Claudia and the Phantom Phonecalls? I seem to remember the same sort of conversation as in mystery 18

greer said, December 22nd, 2010 at 8:26 pm

@Eowyn–good point!

Ashley–New Hope is a town in PA just over the border from Princeton.

greer said, December 22nd, 2010 at 8:27 pm

@myu–I’ll have to reread Phantom.

» Princeton! Stoneybrookite: the best friends you’ll never have said, September 23rd, 2011 at 9:31 am

[...] NJ relationship is a favorite subject of mine. I’ve written about it twice: here on the Princeton/New Jersey BSC connections and here, where I examined [...]

» Imagining Stoneybrook, Part One Stoneybrookite: the best friends you’ll never have said, February 12th, 2014 at 9:09 am

[...] inspiration is actually the Princeton of Ann’s youth. I have explored this subject in this post. The only major difference I can see is that Stoneybrook is on the Long Island Sound, and Princeton [...]

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