Have you seen this article in the New York Times? Ann M. Martin’s seminal series The Baby-Sitter’s Club is being resuscitated by Scholastic with not only a reprint and a prequel, but also a revision to update the books. No more perms and no more cassettes!
Like a lot of my peers, I read a fair number of BSC books in their heyday. It was never my favorite series, but I liked it better than the wholly ridiculous Sweet Valley High (and far better than the loathsome younger reader spinoffs of that) for featuring somewhat realistic girls doing well, everyday activities. And while there are far better books out there for young readers, I do not mind them reading stuff like the BSC. But is a revision to update the books really necessary? When I was in that same age group, I inherited some of the books that had originally belonged to my two older sisters, ten and twelve years older than me. Among these were several Judy Blume books, the requisite horse books like Marguerite O’Henry’s Misty books, and also the Amy and Laura books. The latter series was about a pair of sisters, different as different can be (and I suspect that difference is why my sisters had them; they had a very difficult relationship till they were adults), living in the Bronx in the–well, to this day I’m not entirely sure when they lived. Their lives were drastically different from my own, and though I wanted a malted, I wasn’t entirely sure what one was. But there were many similarities besides the complicated relationship between Amy and Laura, which echoed the one I witnessed between my own siblings. Like Laura, I checked out the Lang Fairy Books (I remember her interest in finally acquiring the Olive volume), and like Amy, I enjoyed riding my bike around the neighborhood. I really don’t think any small difference between my technology and theirs impeded my interest in their lives in the slightest.
The same goes for many classics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; though my mother had to explain segregation and belts for pads (when I read Iggie’s House and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, respectively), that hardly lessened my enjoyment or understanding of the books. But I suppose there may be an argument that since the BSC books are of less err, literary merit, shall we say, then they do need updating to remain relevant to children. I don’t know. But I may have to take a trip thrifting soon, and try to stock up on those original volumes just in case I ever have some girls interested in Stoneybrook.
Also: I first saw this article on the second of January, when the comments were already closed (really, NYT? Really?), but I MUST respond to this comment by Adrienne of New York (who is more than welcome to rebut):
This whole generation of girls who had grown up reading ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ were now teachers, librarians or mothers,” Mr. Levithan said.
…Does Mr. Levithan really believe that little girls can only grow up to be teachers, librarians or mothers?? These books were about strong, entrepreneurial women. Mr. Levithan just robbed all women of the childhood joy they derived from these books. Thanks.
Ummm, yeah. Pretty sure Levithan is entirely aware of the fact that the women most in the position of recommending books to young readers are, well, mothers, teachers, and librarians. Ya think?