I completely missed the popular The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann B. Martin in its original format – I was almost finished with college when it first came out, and my two sons had no interest in it. I was interested, though, when I saw that one of my favorite graphic novel authors, Raina Telgemeier, had adapted the first book, Kristy’s Great Idea, in a graphic novel format. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, realistic drama.
Twelve-year old Kristy lives with her mom and three brothers. At the start of seventh grade, as her mother and other parents are scrambling to find baby-sitters, Kristy gets the idea to start a Baby-Sitter’s Club with her two best friends, Claudia and Mary Anne, and the new girl who just moved to town, Stacey. Together, the four friends form a baby-sitting co-op so that parents can call just one phone number to find a sitter who is available.
The girls deal with all kinds of baby-sitting issues and challenges, from scheduling problems to difficult kids, but this novel is also about their own lives and their friendship. I expected the book to be sort of predictable because clearly the girls fit certain character stereotypes: the brainy bookworm, the creative artsy one, the NYC transfer who is into fashion. I was pleasantly surprised, though, by the diversity and depth in the novel. Besides the typical preteen problems you might expect, the girls also deal with some serious challenges, including divorce, blended families, and even chronic illness. Amid these very real issues, there is also a nice sense of humor in the novel that is enhanced by the graphic novel format.
The characters and dialogue felt real to me and the situations and plot felt fresh (even though it was written in 1986!) Telgemeier’s characteristic drawings, seen in such recent graphic novel hits as Smile, Sisters, and Drama, are fun but realistic and add to the engaging storylines and sense of humor. Together, the classic novel and the updated format are a winning combination!
181 pages, Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic