Okay, granted it’s not my actual first book. I’m sure I had all the baby ones with the plastic, smooshy pages, and I know I had ones like The Pokey Little Puppy, and some other first kids books at well.
By my first book, I mean the first book that I remember picking out. My mom used to work at Kmart when I was a kid. Back then, bring your kid to work meant you didn’t have a babysitter, and it takes a village. All the employees knew me and kept an eye on me. I’d tag along with various people who were doing stuff in the aisles. Don’t get me wrong, I was never left alone. There was always someone near by and my mom was constantly checking on me. It didn’t happen often, just every once in a while.
Anyway, I found myself in the book section (believe it or not back then, the book section was enormous, or at least it seemed like it to me) and I was perusing the titles. There were a ton of kid books, and I was instantly drawn to the cover for Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Kids. Specifically: Jessica The Babysitter.
Maybe it was the pink cover, or the idea of of babysitting (remember The Babysitter’s Club was also a thing back then), but I picked it up and took it to my mom. She never said no to buying me a book. A (as in singular) book, because as I got older I started wanting TONS of books that cost an exuberant amount of money.
So we took the book home, and I’m guessing it was my first chapter book, because every time I finished a chapter, I thought it was the COOLEST thing in the world.
I’d run down the stairs, tromping like an elephant, and so excited to tell my parents.
Me: Mom, daddy! I got through Chapter One!
Mom: That’s great, baby! Go read Chapter Two!
Cue me running back up the stairs–shaking the walls as I did. (Don’t ask why I didn’t just bring the book with me, I was like 5 or 6.)
Sweet Valley Kids had my attention. Every time I either went to work with my mom, or me and my dad went to pick her up, I’d grab another one in the series. I also got into the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy crossover mysteries. By the time I was in Middle School I was reading Sweet Valley Twins, following along as Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield went through their own middle school experiences.
I was also out of my mind with happiness when they did the Sweet Valley High TV Show.
Basically, I grew up with these girls going from Kids, to Twins, To the Unicorn Club, to High, and even College. Francine Pascal did a lifetime series. Jessica and Elizabeth are the same age as me. A few years back I was ECSTATIC because Pascal released Sweet Valley Confidential, which gave fans an update to the series 10 years later.
Francine Pascal ignited my love of books. My love of books sent me on the path to become a writer. So in an indirect way, Francine Pascal helped me discover my passion and love in life.
PS: As a throw back to Man-Candy Monday, Jensen Ackles who plays Dean Winchester, guest starred in an episode of Sweet Valley as Enid’s cousin.
So once again: