The Baby-Sitters Club is back with a new novel — a prequel at that! — and re-issues of the first three books of the series! Kristy's Great Idea and Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls were released in April 2010, while The Truth about Stacey will be released in June, with additional titles slated for release in fall 2010.
If there was one club I wanted to belong to when I was a little girl (other than the book club, of course), it was The Baby-Sitters Club. Never mind you that I was way too young to even baby-sit myself when I first discovered the series! I read a big chunk of the books even after I was too old to be seen in public with them (the joys of a fake book cover) and it's one of my top gifts to give to my younger friends, hoping that they would be inspired by these great teenage girls and would find in their stories the same joy I did.
The Baby-Sitters Club was launched in 1986 and followed a group of friends in middle school who ran a business of the same name. It's one of the most successful children's book series in publishing history. I was only one of millions of girls who immensely enjoyed plunging into their world, as more than 176 million of the books were printed. It makes me happy that the adventures of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey and their six proteges continue to be discovered by young girls in North America, as they make for great models. Far from perfect, the girls deal in realistic fashion with common, day-to-day issues such as friendship, sibling rivalry and peer pressure while making space for more serious issues such as divorce, diabetes and death. Each book tackles one issue in particular, making the reader witness how one group of girls came to help one another overcome these obstacles.
Ann M. Martin has a way of talking to preteens that makes these books a source of reflection rather than of preaching to the reader, which of course make their message all the more powerful. "This series truly got an entire generation — especially the girls — to read," said David Levithan, Vice President & Editorial Director of Scholastic Press. It's not for naught that the series went on for 15 years, with around 250 titles, a TV series and a feature film.
“The stories about children who discovered a love of reading when they read The Baby-Sitters Club are the ones that have had the greatest impact on me as a writer,” said author Ann M. Martin. “Writing about these characters and stepping back into the world of Stoneybrook was like having a reunion with old friends — friends who truly haven’t changed a bit. I’m very excited about introducing The Baby-sitters Club to a new generation of readers.”
The Summer Before was released in April 2010 in hardcover, in which we meet the four girls who started The Baby-Sitters Club a year before Kristy's Great Idea. The official Scholastic press release describes it as "a moving novel about four girls on the edge of something big — not just the club that will change their lives, but also the joys and tribulations of being a girl".
“The characters in The Baby-sitters Club could be any kids, living anywhere, whether in America or abroad, and the universal theme of friendship rings true for an audience of the 80s, 90s, now and beyond,” said Debra Dorfman, Vice President and Publisher of Paperbacks, Cartwheel and Licensed Publishing at Scholastic. “Some of the millions of girls who grew up devouring these books are now mothers, teachers, and perhaps writers themselves. We look forward to sharing the stories of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey with both old and new fans of the series.”
Of course, now that I'm a young urban professional, I will not be picking up a copy of The Summer Before or enthusiastically poring over it and finishing it in less than an hour. Or maybe I will. Whatever I end up doing (although I think you and I both already know what that is going to be), this is definitely a gift I will be buying for any young girl in my life.
You can check out the official Baby-Sitters Club website here.