Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYT article

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa. I'm going out tonight to a party at my best guy friend's apartment... just looking forward to actually getting out and putting some of my new clothes to use.

This morning my father sent me an article from the New York Times (which he reads online) on the release of the first two books and hte prequel to the BSC. I'll just copy and paste here. There's also the book cover of the prequel which is kind of disappointing (I think) but I'm not all that surprised.

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.’ ”

The publisher had also seen how well the formula had worked with a new “Goosebumps” series, “HorrorLand”: there are now 3.5 million copies in print of the 12 books it has published since April 2008.

Ms. Martin, who wrote more than 60 of the books in the original “Baby-Sitters Club” series, has written several stand-alone novels and started another series for young girls called “Main Street” (also published by Scholastic) since “The Baby-Sitters Club” ended.

Recently, though, she started to miss the books that propelled her writing career for so many years. “When I started to think about the books with a certain amount of nostalgia, I was happy to revisit them,” Ms. Martin said.

She proposed the idea of a prequel to Scholastic, tracing the original characters through the summer that precedes the school year covered by the earlier series. “I have had many suggestions from fans over the years for reunion books that take place far in the future,” Ms. Martin said. “I was more interested in exploring the characters and what led them up to the beginning of the series.”

Mr. Levithan said the publisher was aiming the series at a slightly younger age group than it was originally pitched — at girls ages 7 to 10 rather than 8 to 12. But some likely readers are older fans, many of them now in their 20s and 30s, who recall the series fondly if not with rabid passion.

Amy Riley, an adult literacy coach in Corona, Calif. who blogs at, recalled reading the books when she was in fourth and fifth grade. “I was completely obsessed when I was young,” said Ms. Riley, now 29. In November she proposed to fellow book bloggers that they celebrate “The Baby-Sitters Club” series for a week, each writing about their favorite volume and characters.

Despite the current craze for novels about vampires and other characters in the fantasy realm, Ms. Riley said she figured new young readers would be attracted to “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

“The characters are so different that every girl can find somebody she can relate to,” Ms. Riley said. “I think that same basic appeal will still be there.”

Editors at Scholastic updated some of the references to technology and outdated fashions in the reissued books. So a “cassette player” has become “headphones” and a “perm” has become “an expensive hairstyle.”

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Heather Hebert, a bookseller at Children’s Book World in Haverford, Pa., said she planned to order the prequel and reissued books in large quantities.

Back in the 1990s, she said, “we sold them like crazy.” She said that the books helped turn reading into “a group sport” by getting readers to talk about them among their friends.

She added that she suspected the series would sell “really well to the girls who aren’t quite ready for vampires and particularly to the parents of the girls who aren’t quite ready.”

Jamie Tan, a children’s bookseller at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., said that when Scholastic published graphic-novel editions of the first four “Baby-Sitters Club” books in 2006, they had been very popular with new readers. “A lot of ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ fans are getting older and passing it on to their children,” Ms. Tan said. “It’s becoming a classic.”

Julie Peterson, a mother of two in Mechanicsburg, Pa., who blogs at, said that her 10-year-old daughter, Hayley, had discovered the books through her fourth-grade teacher, who kept many of the original volumes in her classroom.

Ms. Peterson, 40, missed the series the first go-around because she was too old. But when she saw Ms. Riley’s invitation to blog about the series, Ms. Peterson asked her daughter to recommend one.

After reading “Baby-Sitters on Board!” Ms. Peterson posted a review. “I enjoyed that the girls and their actions seemed realistic; and I even liked that the girls had issues that they had to work out — like disagreeing with each other,” she wrote. “As a mom, I am thrilled that my daughter wants to read all of The Babysitter Club books because I don’t have to worry about anything inappropriate happening in the stories.”


Sadako said...

Thanks for posting. Can't wait for the sequel!

LAK said...

Thanks for posting. As I am in Canada, I never would have seen it otherwise.

nikki said...

I'm way too excited for my own good. Also, my niece's ninth birthday is in April. Guess what she's getting?

Julie said...

Thank you so much for posting. It irks me - a lot - that they're changing little things (it's supposed to be a "perm," darn it), but overall it's very exciting.

Alison said...

I'm excited for the prequels...but how dare they change the fashion references! It is taking away everything that is good about the BSC!

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