The Baby-Sitters Club book series holds fond memories for many readers. Its upbeat stories center on a group of resourceful girls and their baby-sitting adventures, with a strong side of female friendship. The first four volumes of the series have been adapted into lively graphic novels by mega-popular artist Raina Telgemeier, and are now in color.
The Truth About Stacey is the second book in the series, but—as with the original BSC books—reading them in order is not terribly important. This graphic novel can easily stand alone. In it, twelve-year-old Baby-Sitters Club member Stacey struggles to keep her diabetes from disrupting her life. Her parents, loving but anxious, insist on trying doctor after doctor, while Stacey feels her disease is under control and just wants to hang out with her friends. And even that just got more stressful: there’s a new club in town, the Baby-Sitters Agency. They’re older and able to stay out later, which makes them stiff competition. They’re also not above resorting to tricks to undermine the BSC—and they might even be acting irresponsibly on the job, neglecting and endangering kids.
As if all that isn’t worrying enough, Stacey’s parents want her to see a specialist in New York City, where they lived until recently. Stacey’s shocked to learn that, while in the city, they’ll be staying with the family of her ex-best-friend—the one who ditched her when she was diagnosed with diabetes.
This book is as fun and colorful as Telgemeier’s award-winning classic Smile. It brings to vivid life the four original BSC members: driven, sporty Kristy; artistic Claudia; sweet, straight-laced Mary-Anne; and fun-loving Stacey. Their friendship is powerful and believable, whether they’re brainstorming ideas on how to be better sitters or cracking up while Kristy fumbles through an awkward phone call. They’re no angels: that awkward phone call is Kristy pretending to be a client interested in the Baby-Sitters Agency so she can scope them out, and the BSC members feel definite satisfaction (even glee) when their rivals are outed as the bad baby-sitters that they are. But the girls are basically good-hearted, supporting each other and really caring about the kids put in their charge.
Besides the BSC members, the large cast includes their families, the families they sit for, the Baby-Sitters Agency members, Stacey’s doctors, and more. Telgemeier’s art makes all of them distinctive and easily recognizable.
Telgemeier’s graphic novels are wildly popular for a reason. Her bright, cartoony-but-just-realistic-enough style and expressive characters make every page fun to look at. The art is a great match for the positivity of the story. Telgemeier’s pacing is perfect for stories like this, where the stakes are mostly social and the characters’ bonds with each other are paramount. The often dialog-heavy scenes flow naturally and are easy to understand. When there’s drama—as when Stacey considers the behavior of her ex-best-friend, or when the BSC girls worry over the Baby-Sitters Agency—it feels dramatic, but not eye-rollingly melodramatic. It’s easy to sympathize with the characters’ dilemmas.
Fans of the original BSC novels will likely enjoy these adaptations, as will those who like Telgemeier’s other graphic novels. For young readers who want realistic fiction and strong female friendships, The Truth About Stacey is a great title to recommend.
The Baby-sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey, vol. 2
by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier
Publisher Age Rating: 8 to 12