Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Babysitters Club

The Babysitters Club series of novels for young girls, written (mostly) by Ann M. Martin, has been around since 1986. The original series of 131 titles spawned several spin-off book series, which run to over 200 titles, as well as board games and dolls, a TV show, and a movie. For years it was a children’s publishing juggernaut, so it’s no surprise that the folks at Scholastic Graphix chose The Babysitters Club as one of their first graphic novel adaptations. And who better to do the adaptation than a former babysitter and lifelong fan of the series? Raina Telgemeier, 2005 Eisner Award nominee for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition, brings the gang from Stoneybrook to life better than I think anyone else could have.

The main characters are a group of 7th grade girls who form a baby-sitting club and become fast friends. Along the way we meet their parents, the families they sit for, and other kids at the girls’ school…and yes, some boys as well. The girls share with each other, keep secrets, support each other, disagree, and work together to turn failures into successes. This is really a refreshing change from many of the graphic novels we’ve been reading because there are no superheroes or villains, no violence, and nothing too adult, just true-to-life girls doing everyday girl things.

Raina’s spare, cartoony style belies the depth of her work – the whole thing just feels so real. She very effectively uses background, or the lack thereof, to focus the reader’s attention. When she wants us to focus on the characters’ expressions or conversation, the backgrounds are almost completely empty, and when she’s establishing place and action, her backgrounds are fully realized. These are not action stories, but there’s never a dull moment thanks to the constant movement and expression of the characters. The Babysitters Club graphic novels are thoroughly entertaining and I couldn’t get the girls to put them down. Not only are these great books for young girls, they are also wonderful for grown-up girls. Will boys like The Babysitters Club? Of course, but only if no one catches them reading their sister’s copy!

Shelby says: The Babysitters Club is about four girls who baby-sit little kids by setting up a club. Mary Anne only has a dad because her mom died when she was little and she’s sort of shy and likes to read, like me. Kristy has about twenty other siblings and she’s not shy at all – she’s the leader of the club. Claudia likes to do art, like me, and she’s sort of punk. Stacey is new in town and she has a secret. They meet at Claudia’s house and they talk about what they can change and what’s been doing well. They also get phone calls from people who need babysitters. Then they all go out and do babysitting jobs and they write about it in a journal.

I like the part when they go on the babysitting jobs because some of the kids are weird and cause trouble and some of them are nice and sweet. Lots of funny things happen when they go babysitting. I just can’t stop reading this. I say, “I’m going to put it down now,” but I always end up reading about 35 pages more. This is because of the art. I like sometimes how Raina uses highlights and shadows only on some things, like chairs, hats, and hair. I like the doggies because they are cute and they have detail in their fur. The little kids that Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey baby-sit are adorable!

Sarah says: I liked Babysitters Club 1 and 2 because all of the characters had different personalities. My favorite characters would have to be Jamie, a little boy that they baby-sit, because he is all cute and stuff and seems like a nice person, and Stacy because she wears good clothes and she’s nice, too. I liked the drawings – it doesn’t feel realistic and it doesn’t feel make believe either. I like reading about kids who are older because I wanna know what it’s going to be like when I get older. It’s basically about regular kids doing regular stuff, but it’s not boring because there’s competition and they talk about cool stuff a lot and it’s funny. I think Babysitters Club is for people who like Archie, because it’s kind of like that.

The Babysitters Club; Kristy’s Great Idea (you can check out a preview here) and The Babysitters Club; The Truth About Stacey are available now, with more titles on the way. These books belong in every children’s library and classroom! And if you haven’t seen Raina’s webcomic, Smile, click right now! I would never have guessed that I’d truly enjoy a comic about dental work.


At November 10, 2008 at 9:08 AM , Anonymous Lark said...

Keep up the good work.

At April 24, 2009 at 4:55 AM , Anonymous Melissa Lindel said...

I have so much fond memories reading these friends. Kristy is my favorite cos at that time I think I can totally relate to her haha.


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