Back in the babysitting sack

A mere 48 hours have eclipsed, and 2010 is already kicking an unprecedented amount of ass. After a decade on the literary sidelines, the exquisite members of the Baby-sitters Club are back in action, according to Jezebel.

In April Scholastic will release repackaged and revised editions of the first two books in the series along with The Summer Before, a new prequel written by Ann M. Martin, the New York Times reports. The Baby-Sitters Club was one of Scholastic's most popular series ever, and executives say fans have been clamoring for a comeback.

Ah, the Baby-sitters Club. Has a single series of continuous fiction meant more to a generational group than since the last time Nancy Drew cleaned clues out of a clock? As a kid, I was unbelievably obsessed with these books – and that’s the biggest understatement since, “hey, I think Palestine and Israel might have some issues with each other.” (Presumably, someone at some point in human history has uttered a phrase similar to this one.)

Throughout the duration of my formative tween years, the dynamic baby-sitters and their constant cast of characters provided an indisputable influence over my fledgling life outlook and conceptions of the human spirit. Probably like many of the series’ devoted followers, I was the type of kid who fostered dreams of business entrepreneurship and ambitious goal achieving far beyond the mere realm of Barbie outfit planning. I never really much identified with the casual pettiness of the Sweet Valley High series, either, and Goosebumps just scared the living daylights out of me. (I never got comfortable with the notion that some of the main protagonists in this series could perish or transform without a sugary solution presented at the end. I have to imagine the writers of Dexter read a lot of Goosebumps way back when.)

But anyway, back to the Baby-sitters. As with any grouping of individualized, self-actualized people, it’s almost impossible not to pick a favorite. Mine was Claudia Kishi, the Club’s tortured artist and fashionista in training. Like her, I come from a family of scholarly political types, and spent a lot of time fostering a love of the creative and artistic, right-brained aspects of life, both then and now. (Also, being a boring WASP, I think I secretly wished I was Asian.) I also have/had great admiration for Stacey and Dawn; Stacey because of her inherent, NYC-laced sophisticated air, and Dawn because of her inherent, California-laced sophisticated air. As an average white girl growing up in the Midwest, one can only dream of such far off places and exotic lands, and reading and connecting with these characters made me feel a little less trapped, as it were, or as far as an eight-year-old with a limited worldview can feel trapped in suburban hell.

One thing about this comeback is bugging me, though. As Margaret points out so accurately on Jezebel, there’s something vaguely sacrilegious about giving these characters and the times they lived in a modern, millennial update. I think there’s something to be said about film and book characters maintaining an insular, static quality, and this is always what makes any given literary notion so appealing. The problems faced and overcome by the members of the BSC were universal, and didn’t require the inclusion of cliental texting and Mary Anne’s Twitter updates to speak to readers. Hell, I don’t even think it needs those things now: in Margaret’s words, “As a child I appreciated The Secret Garden without Mary taking a jet to Mr. Craven's '80s bachelor pad.”

Still, like every other smarty pants girl with a ‘90s childhood, I’m eagerly greeting the return of the BSC with arms that are wide, wide open. I really wish a box set of the entire series existed somewhere out there for zealots like me to throw our credit card numbers at. Can’t wait to kiss the marketing wiz who finally masters that one.

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