The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea
The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea adapts the first book in the popular novel series by Ann M. Martin into comic form. Raina Telgemeier beautifully handles the conversion, creating a work that reads as though it had always been illustrated. It’s a great story for girls of all ages.
Kristy has the idea of forming the club with two friends and a new acquaintance. Mary Anne is shy, with an overprotective single father. Claudia’s growing up a bit faster than the others, and her new friend Stacey just moved to town from New York City. The girls carefully plan their endeavor, solve problems, advertise, and successfully start a small business where each have their own skills to contribute.
Kristy’s energy means she speaks before she thinks, often seeming rude and making up for it later with heartfelt notes. She’s adapting to seeing her divorced mother date seriously, and she’s part of a large family where her tasks include taking care of her younger brother. (Her older brothers share that duty, which makes it a family responsibility instead of a girl one.) That’s just one of the many elements making up the various plots in the book. There’s a lot going on, which makes for full chapters and different kinds of drama and suspense.
The real appeal of the book for me, though, was Telgemeier’s stunning art. Her characters are drawn as expressive and lively, as though they’re capable of stepping off the page. Her simple style is unassuming, clean, friendly, and deceptive in the way she makes it look so easy. The story flows through the panels, with never a misstep or poorly chosen angle. Well-selected moments of exaggeration let the reader feel the same emotions as the characters.
The wordless scenes where the girls are shown taking care of youngsters are some of the best in the book. They show so much through charming, playful illustrations. The girls are obviously skilled at baby-sitting, yet the book isn’t showy about their abilities. It’s a quiet competence that encourages the reader to accept their capabilities without question and demonstrates the good feeling resulting from valued work.
In a world that too often thinks having one girl on the team or in the group suffices, it’s also refreshing to see such different personalities and types represented. They’re all unique, yet still shown as normal.
Update: This book series is now being reissued in color.