The Baby-Sitters Club Makes A Comeback
Like many women my age I grew up reading The Baby-Sitters Club. We'd exchange books at lunch and read them under our desk when we should have been paying attention to the teacher. So I was kind of excited when I read in the New York Times that The Baby-Sitters Club is making a comeback and there's a new prequel.
In April the company plans to reissue repackaged and slightly revised versions of the first two volumes in one of its most successful series, “The Baby-Sitters Club,” in the hopes of igniting enthusiasm in a new generation of readers. And just as Mr. Lucas brought “Star Wars” back with a whole new arc of stories that began before the original series, Scholastic is publishing a newly written prequel, “The Summer Before,” by Ann M. Martin, the original author of “The Baby-Sitters Club” books.
There's lot of interesting things in that story. First off, the books are being marketed to a younger group. Where as my friends and I read them more around the ages of 10 and 11, they now being marketed to kids as young as 7. Instead of being the ages of the baby-sitters they are now for the kids they were baby-sitting.
And the books are getting an update. Bye-bye Walkmans, hello internet. These aren't the first books to do that. Perhaps the most famous update was when Judy Blume's Are You There God, It's Me Margaret was updated to remove the sanitary napkin belt. A couple of years ago Ellen Emerson White's President's Daughter series was updated for new technology and even came out with a new volume, though in that case it was more of an epilogue than a prequel. Like Liz B said on twitter, I think it would be far more interesting if Ann M Martin did a series based on the older years of The Baby-Sitters Club girls. Imagine them grown up and in college - wouldn't that be fun? (Though I suspect they probably would do much less baby-sitting.)
I've often thought that it would be fun to go back and reread the series, which as the NYT article mentions blogger My Friend Amy is doing, but I no longer own them and since they are out of print tracking them down would involve a lot of luck at thrift stores and on eBay. Instead I've found the next best thing - The Baby-Sitters Club Revisited blog. Kristen is rereading the whole series and logs what she remembered about each before before she read it and then her thoughts were on rereading it. And one of the things I love is how she highlights Claudia outfits. It's really quite shocking that a. I remember so many of them and b. any of us actually thought that they were cool. The thing that I find pops up most often though are the continuity issues. Oy the continuity issues. I can only hope that when they rerelease these books that they work on the continuity as well as the technology.
I still read a lot of YA and a bit of juvenile fiction and I think that readers are used to character aging. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson both aged and matured with each book. Will today's readers really be ok with a group of a kids who never age, always stay in the same grade and yet have multiple summer breaks and vacations? And do people still let thirteen-year-olds baby-sit their kids?