December 28, 2006

Friends, Family, and One Fabulous Idea

This book was a nomination for the graphic novels category of the 2006 Cybil Awards.

Since I always hated babysitting, I never got into the original Baby-Sitters Club series even though I was at the right age when it came out. However, the graphic novel version of the first book in Ann M. Martin's popular series has been nicely adapted with an all-American "funny papers" style of artwork from Raina Telgemeier. With the same strong storyline dealing with girls' friendships, family relationships, and responsibility, it's sure to be as popular with young girls now—the baby-sitting ones, at least—as it was then.

In The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea, Kristy Thomas and her three friends—Mary Ann, Claudia, and new girl Stacey—team up to form a baby-sitting business. Since all four are experienced sitters, they advertise in the paper and spend a few afternoons a week manning the phone together. Anyone needing a sitter would only need to call the BSC during their phone hours to reach an experienced baby-sitter. They'd earn money, have fun, and help out their neighbors…right?

Well, it's not quite as straightforward as Kristy expected when she first got her brainstorm. Though Kristy is happy watching her baby brother or other neighborhood kids, she's far more reluctant when the kids she's asked to watch are the son and daughter of nerdy Watson, her mom's boyfriend. Somehow, Watson brings out the worst in her. Meanwhile, Mary Ann has to deal with her strict widowed dad, and Claudia is waylaid by her parents, who want her to get better grades like her genius sister. And Stacey…seems to have a secret she doesn't want anyone to know, not even her new friends.

Each character is distinct and interesting, and though older readers might find it a bit too "sweet" or feel that the story's message is a bit obvious, it's a great pick for under-12 readers. The artwork is expressive and nicely complements the written story. It's both agonizing and heartwarming to watch as Kristy and her friends resolve their differences, deal with their unique family issues, and find, in the end, that none of their problems are so insurmountable after all if they find the inner strength and responsibility to deal with them head-on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hurrah. It's such a sweet, clean series. I'm glad that the graphic novel is catching on.