Babysitters call it quits

It’s taken fifteen years, but Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are finally graduating from grade eight. They are fictional friends featured in a hugely popular paperback series called The Baby-sitters Club. Readers are girls ages 8 to 12

The author, Ann Martin, began their adventures in 1985 in a book called Kristy’s Great Idea. She went on to write 130 more BSC books. In November, she gives the series a happy ending in The Graduation.   

Over 180 million copies
It’s been a hugely successful run for both Martin and her publisher, Scholastic, specialists in children’s books and educational materials. There are over 180 million baby-sitters club books in print, including spin-offs with the girls’ little sisters, special editions and a mystery series. The series has been translated into 19 languages, according to the publisher.

In the last book, author Ann M. Martin writes a special letter to her fans. There’s also a timeline featuring highlights from the series over the years.

The books tackled real life issues such as parents’ divorce, remarriages, deaths of relatives and dating. Allhis happened against a backdrop of friendship and growing up.

Debut for books
The Babysitters Club was originally planned as a four-book series. The first book set the scene in fictional Stoneybook, Connecticut. It introduced the core group of young girls who shared baby-sitting adventures and close friendships.

Within a few years, the series was sitting at the top of the Publishers Weekly best seller list, according to Scholastic. The New York Times Book Review named the young readers’ series one of its “Books of the Century.”

In Canada, the head of Scholastic marketing says the series was certainly a favourite with young Canadian readers. Pat Strachan says like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, popular series from another era, the Baby-sitters Club has run its cycle. Now, other series, like Harry Potter, have taken over.

“Fifteen years is a long time. Now the popularity has started to decrease. And the author decided the time had come. That doesn’t mean they won’t come back. But to keep all the books in print all the time is a lot for something that’s been around this long,” she says.

Author’s background
Martin has written other children’s books, including Ten Kids, No Pets and P.S. Longer Letter Later, both award winners. She’s a former teacher. A decade ago, she set up a foundation for children, education and literacy. She lives in upstate New York with three cats, Woody, Gussie and Willy.

The Baby-sitters series has been a key part of Scholastic’s fiction list. The company is now a global children’s publishing company. It specializes in educational materials for teachers and parents. It distributes products and information via the Internet, mail order book clubs and school book fairs.