Saturday, December 3, 2011
Module 13: The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea
Raina Telgemeier adapted Ann M. Martin's Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) books into graphic novels. In this first book of the series, Kristy Thomas has a Great Idea (hence the title: Kristy's Great Idea) to form a baby-sitting club with four of her friends. The group, comprised of bossy-but-lovable Kristy, shy Mary Anne Spier, artsy Claudia Kishi, and From-New-York Stacey McGill. (True fact: I just went to the Amazon page to look up Stacey's last name, and even Amazon describes them as "shy Mary Anne" and "artsy Claudia" -- it seems like everyone pretty much sticks to those back-of-the-book descriptions...I'm pretty sure those have been the descriptions used in the books since the dawn of BSC time.) The club members face a number of obstacles, while Kristy deals with the possibility of her mom re-marrying, Stacey tries to hide a secret about herself from the rest of the club, and all members deal with different baby-sitting adventures.
Readers who are already familiar with the BSC books, particularly the first, will enjoy this new look at things. The books have certainly undergone artistic changes from the first go-around to this current one:
Telgemeier transforms bossy Kristy into, I think, a slightly softer character (and I don't mean that in a she-feminized-her-to-make-her-less-of-a-strong-woman way). Not that being bossy is in and of itself a negative trait, but Kristy always came off as a little callous, and Telgemeier has ever so slightly made her into what she was always (I think) meant to be: a sporty girl who knows how to get things done. At any rate, I never liked Kristy all that much until this version of the BSG, and now I find her to be likable. Is it because I'm judging Kristy Thomas by her looks, and she looks so cute and like, well, me as a tween? Maybe. At any rate though, the book is absolutely charming, and Tegemeier absolutely does justice to drawing the characters' different personalities.
"The strengths of the original stories remain in their new graphic life. Each of the girls has her own insecurities and goofy quirks, but those never run to cliché. In fact, each girl's problems and strengths blend in a refreshing way. Stacey, for example, is the thin, pretty, mildly boy-crazy new girl at school, and her initial shyness and refusal to eat the other girls' sweet snacks make it possible to write her off at first as a stereotype of girly femininity. But as the second volume reveals, Stacey is doing her best to overcome an illness that she has been told she must keep secret. Furthermore, she has learned from harsh experience that her secret can cost her friends, and trusting these new friends will take time. As the series continues, all the characters deepen, and Telgemeier's style portrays their growth lovingly" (Teacher Librarian, 2008).
"This graphic-novel version of a popular series describes how the Baby-Sitters Club was formed, focusing on the girls' friendships and some of their amusing jobs. Subplots include Kristy's gradual acceptance of her mother's boyfriend and their eventual engagement and Stacy's medical problem (readers may think it's anorexia, but it is really diabetes). The black-and-white cartoons are clear and uncluttered, and the language is simple enough for slow or reluctant readers" (School Library Journal, 2006)
"Telgemeier offers a spirited graphic novel adaptation of the debut title in Martin's The Baby-sitters Club series, the story of the four founding members of this fledgling club. The graphic-style black-and-white panels engagingly spotlight the camaraderie, as well as the minor spats, among the quartet of seventh-graders--outspoken tomboy Kristy, earnest, shy Mary Anne, artistic and free-spirited Claudia and the somewhat secretive newcomer to town, Stacey--as they team up to launch a baby-sitting service. Various sitting jobs provide the story's livelier moments: Kristy arrives at one stint to discover that her charges are rambunctious pooches rather than kids, and Mary Anne attempts to rescue a family's cat from the yard of an alleged witch. Telgemeier also portrays the tale's quieter moments, as Kristy gradually and credibly comes to accept her divorced mother's new fiancé and his children, and Stacey reveals that her mysterious behavior is due to the fact that she has diabetes. The artist adds abundant energy to the pages and, largely through amusingly exaggerated facial expressions, ably captures each character's personality. This will likely hook reluctant readers on this affable group of girls and may well spur a new generation of youngsters to move on to the original series" (Publishers Weekly, 2006).
Start a BSCC (that is, a Baby-Sitters Club Club) (aka, a BSC book club)!
Kristy's Great Idea. (2006). Publishers Weekly, 253(17), 61.
Gordon, R. (2006). The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea. School Library Journal, 52(7), 128.
Sanders, J. (2008). THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB. Teacher Librarian, 35(4), 19.