I just got off the phone with Miranda, and she seems nonplussed by this news. Too bad. I am ecstatic:
Taking a page from Broadway and George Lucas, Scholastic Inc., the children’s book publisher, is trying for a revival — with a prequel attached.
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.
The move follows Scholastic’s 2008 resuscitation of “Goosebumps,” another of its most popular series. For now Scholastic and Ms. Martin only have plans for the one prequel, although the publisher will release three more reissues of the original series later next year.
“The Baby-Sitters Club,” which ran from 1986 through 2000, garnered an ardent following among preteenage girls throughout its run of 213 titles, with the publisher ultimately printing 176 million copies. The series, which followed the baby-sitting adventures and friendships of four 12-to-13-year-old girls — Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey (the cast expanded to eight main characters later in the series) — spawned several spinoffs, including a mystery series and a collection of books about Kristy’s little sister. All of the books are now out of print.
David Levithan, the editorial director at Scholastic and an editor of “The Baby-Sitters Club,” said the publisher decided to bring back the old series because of requests from fans who wanted a comeback.
“This whole generation of girls who had grown up reading ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ were now teachers, librarians or mothers,” Mr. Levithan said. “And at any opportunity they had, they let us know they wanted them back. We couldn’t go to a convention without having women come up to us and say, ‘You’ve got to bring these books back.’ ”
I read these books to Miranda when she was just a pup, and I tend to internalize what I read. I am not a snob. I appreciate a good story, and, brother, if you think the Baby-Sitters Club didn't have heartache, suspense, longing, and character development in spades, you don't know what you're talking about. Being a voracious reader, I have this period locked into what I call my reading memory. We would pick these books up at the B. Dalton store at the mall--I do miss B. Dalton. It was the perfect little store. Books by the shelf, not the acre, and no bag ladies sleeping in the aisles.
If you think this wasn't a series with inherent tension and drama, think again:
Mary Anne was the first club member to have a steady boyfriend, Logan Bruno, who becomes an associate member of the club. They break up for a while in book #41, Mary Anne versus Logan but get back together later in the series. She gets in trouble over him in book #79, Mary Anne Breaks the Rules, when she invites Logan over during a sitting job and is caught. She and Logan break up permanently in Mary Anne's Big Breakup due to incompatible differences and Logan's possessiveness. Mary Anne is heartbroken.
I thought "Goosebumps" was a lame series, and Miranda agreed. Kids don't do horror. Kids are the horror. And you can quote me on that.
We read these Baby-Sitters Club books until she was about nineteen or so. I read them to her over the phone when she was at U-Mass. She put me on speaker phone and I would read the books to her entire floor when she was in the Freshman dorms. Those ladies were polite, and the nostalgia, for them, made more than a few break down in tears.