In a brilliant move, Scholastic had Raina Telgemeier turn Ann M. Martin's hugely successful (but gently out of date) series The Baby-Sitters Club into a (black and white) graphic novel in 2006. It took almost 10 years and two best selling graphic novels penned by Telgemeier herself for Scholastic Graphix to add color to the four books in this series, which will be released over the course of this year and the next. Unfortunately, I could find only one interior image from the new color edition of The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea. The bright side is, Raina Telgemeier's work is so widely known today that anyone reading this will know what to expect.
I never read the original chapter books, which debuted in 1986. The series concluded in 2000 and totaled 213 different books, including special editions and spin-offs. Martin estimated she wrote between 60 - 80 of these with ghostwriters, like Peter Lerangis, writing the rest. I'm not sure what changes have been made to the graphic novels, but they feel contemporary, for the most part. Claudia, who is Japanese American, has a shock of pink hair that feels very right. Stoneybrook, CT, for now, doesn't seem especially diverse, although Telgemeier includes an African American teacher and a few classmates in the opening pages. Anorexia and diabetes come up in the plot along with divorce, remarriage and blended families. There is a mildly surprising absence of cell phones, however this also allows for a more coherent plot, as the club gathers at Claudia's house because she has a landline in her room. The concept of the club itself is such a great story idea because it gives the girls endless varieties of situations and complications to be in, especially when the four different personalities of the girls come into play. In The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea Kristy, who shares babysitting duties for her little brother with her two older brothers, comes up with the idea for the club and, with the help of Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey, they start taking jobs all over town. Kristy even gets roped into sitting for two rowdy dogs. As the business gets going, the girls learn things about Stacey, who is new to town. Kristy comes to terms with the fact that her mother is going to marry her boyfriend, Watson, and is helped along by being forced to babysit for his kids in an emergency. The book ends with a celebratory pizza party and sleepover and the promise of more jobs - and stories - to come.
The Baby-Sitters Club works wonderfully as a graphic novel, especially with Telgemeier's art work. The four originals are always checked out in my library, and I know the new color editions won't stay on the shelf, either. Interestingly enough, being a collection with the average publication date of 1994, I have almost a complete set of the original chapter books on the shelves and cannot get anyone to check them out...
The four books in the graphic novel series: