Middle Grade Monday – The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels)
Raina Telgemeier, who is currently taking over the world, turned her incredible talents in an interesting direction, taking on the retelling of the original Ann M. Martin Baby-Sitters Club novels in graphic novel format in the mid 2000s. Now that her talents are being widely recognized and are in high demand, these are being re-released in a full color version with updated covers. True confession time, I’ve never read one of the original novels. I have read other Ann M. Martin titles, but it never seemed necessary to read the Baby-Sitters Club books. They came and went with great frequency until they gradually lost their cache amongst my students. But now they are back – with the full force of the extremely popular Telegemeier’s uniquely appealing style.
For those of you like me who’ve never experienced the series, it revolves around four seventh grade friends who run a sort of babysitting cooperative. They have regular meetings to discuss their business and their clients, and they advertise as a group. I’m assuming the advantage of this to the families they babysit for is that one of the four girls will most likely be available, so they will only have to make one phone call?
This title, the second in the series, has two main story threads. The first explains the title – Stacey has Type 1 diabetes. About half of the novel focuses on Stacey’s struggles in coming to terms with her condition and the fallout from it, including the ways it has changed her relationships with her friends and her parents. I thought the book dealt with these issues in a very helpful and straightforward manner. Stacey missed a good deal of school time in sixth grade and almost had to repeat the year. Her best friend abandoned her, and her parents became extremely overprotective. We are given a window into what Stacey feels and the struggles she faces. Along the way, we are introduced to the idea of seeking adult help, advocating for oneself, the importance of communication between friends, and the value of forgiveness. All are presented in a realistic and nonjudgmental fashion that will encourage readers to seek similar solutions when confronted with their own difficulties.
The other half of the story addresses a challenge to the club – a group of eighth grade girls have started the rival ‘Baby-Sitters Agency’. The rival group, being older, advertises their services highlighting their maturity and ability to stay out later that our protagonists. I was a little less pleased with how this story line played out, although there were several significant moments where the club worked together to come up with ways to improve their business. In addition, the girls manage to navigate the fine line between being ‘tattletales’ and involving adults when situations could have serious consequences. I think my main quibble with this story line is the idea that leaving a newborn infant with a 14-year-old would be preferable to leaving her with a twelve-year-old. I’m not entirely sure I’d leave an infant in the care of a college student unless I knew him extremely well… I suppose I buy the idea of leaving your three-year-old in the care of a twelve-year-old you know well for a few hours in the afternoon. In some communities. I also wasn’t super pleased with the way the girls dealt with it when their competition met their inevitable downfall. Their response, however, was fairly typical for what we expect of seventh graders. I would love to see, in subsequent episodes, the four main characters being able to see their competitors in a more complex light.
On the whole, I was delighted by this novel. I’m sure it will be popular with my students, and I look forward to a new generation of Baby-Sitters Club enthusiasts. Highly recommended for all collections serving middle grade readers. This particular title will be available July 28th. Review copy was provided by Scholastic.
Filed under: Middle Grade Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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