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Baby-Sitters Club returns with a prequel and reissues

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kristy may have had the "Great Idea," but she was kind of bossy, right? And Stacey was all "sophisticated," but sometimes her popularity was scary, like she was going to abandon the club again for her cool friends in New York, which Mary Anne or Mallory -- say what you will about them -- never, ever would have done.

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We are speaking, of course, of "The Baby-Sitters Club," the 132-book mondo series chronicling the adventures of seven industrious friends who ran a babysitting business in somnolent Stoneybrook, Conn. The BSC eventually spiraled into seven spinoff series, a feature film, a graphic novel, an HBO series -- altogether more than 300 titles selling 176 million copies from 1986 to 2000 when, after 14 years in middle school, the members of the club finally graduated from eighth grade.

Now, after a decade-long dry spell, after skulking around tag sales for out-of-print originals, the faithful are being rewarded. On Thursday, Scholastic Books released "The Summer Before," a prequel outlining how each girl's cruddy summer led her to join the club (OMG alert: Trevor Sandbourne was not Claudia's first crush!).

Accompanying the prequel: rereleases of the original books, updated for modern times. Gone is Stacey's bodacious perm, replaced with a generic "expensive haircut." Gone are references to Walkmen, VCRs and the daily insulin shots Stacey had to give herself: Treatment of Type 1 diabetes has progressed in the past decade.

The updates are meant to introduce Ann M. Martin's series to a new generation of readers and bring it back to life.

Snort.

As if it ever died.

As if we could have forgotten that touchstone of 1990s childhood.

As if we have not been copiously dissecting every one of Claudia's fictional outfits on WhatClaudiaWore.com, a blog dedicated to exploring the sheer awesomeness of push-down socks and feather earrings.

In San Francisco, someone on Craigslist writes a posting announcing a book club for adults, dedicated solely to analyzing the BSC books. "Come discuss," the post encourages, "the exotification of Asian femininity; the complicity of white allies in the racism of their peers; the emasculinization of Southern boys in the North; the internalization of images of disability, and the disgusting way Alan Gray eats a sandwich."

Birth of the babysitters

The meeting of "The Baby-Sitters Club" will now come to order.

The members present are:


CONTINUED     1           >

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