The baby-sitters are back

The recent resurgence in the beloved YA fiction of our youth has twentysomething girls clamoring for more BSC.

by Kara Nesvig

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Claudia Kishi. Kristy Thomas. Cathy Dollanganger . No, these aren’t pop stars or the hottest new members of the Disney clan, but to a certain generation of young women, they’re just as famous as Miley Cyrus . If you were a preteen girl from the late ’80s to the early 2000s, chances are you recognize one or more of these names. Don’t be ashamed to admit to your past lurking in the young adult, or YA, section of your library, because the books of our wide-eyed innocence are back on shelves in a big way. The picture-perfect sisters from Sweet Valley High, the twisted families created by V.C. Andrews and the wholesome chicks who ran The Baby-sitters Club have returned to your life. DonâÄôt be ashamed to reread. It began with the blogs. Hip chicks who rediscovered the kiddie books they’d once adored in boxes and basements began to blog about their contents. There’s Claudia’s Room ( and What Claudia Wore (, which (often snarkily) comment on the âÄúBaby-sitters ClubâÄù series. What Claudia Wore is obviously all about the artsy Miss Kishi’s eccentric wardrobe. A sampling: âÄúShe always puts together the coolest outfits, mostly from stuff she finds in flea markets. For example, at that meeting she was wearing ’50s-style cat’s-eye glasses frames, a plastic barrette in the shape of an alligator, a tie-dyed T-shirt, and bell-bottoms. And it looked fantastic.âÄù Another, the Dairi Burger (, centers on the âÄúSweet Valley HighâÄù series and its too-perfect-for-words Wakefield twins, perfect size sixes with sea-green eyes. Rereading the books as an adult became a popular pastime. Then came the rerelease of V.C. AndrewsâÄô (the real one, not the ghostwriter) penultimate page-turner âÄúFlowers in the Attic.âÄù The book, which had once been banned in schools and hidden at bookstores because of its incestuous instances, is now glossily bound on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. The story of the Dollanganger children, locked away for three years in a mansion attic, is now widely available with its four sequels for another generation of curious little readers. News of Diablo Cody , scribe behind âÄúJunoâÄù and Showtime’s âÄúUnited States of Tara,âÄù purchasing the rights to the SVH series had a community of girls who’d cherished the series in their youth divided. However, it seems as though Cody is approaching the project with a great deal of respect, having read them in her own adolescence. She gives teasers about writing the series on her Twitter: âÄúI just put Elizabeth Wakefield in a coma. Love playing âÄòSweet Valley God.âÄôâÄù However, it may be the âÄúBaby-sitters ClubâÄù series that’s most popular and endearing. After 100+ books, graphic novels, dolls, a movie and a TV series, it looked as though creator Ann M. Martin had had enough of the Stoneybrook crowd. The girls still haven’t aged past eighth grade. (However, when you’re a seven-year-old reading them, it doesn’t really matter; the BSC girls made junior high look as glamorous as any old red carpet.) Because of popular demand, Martin brought the original four members âÄî Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill âÄî for a prequel which just hit shelves on April 1, âÄúThe Summer Before.âÄù If you were curious as to their lives before those weekly meetings in Claud’s room of junk food treasures, wonder no more. The book is on shelves now and judging from enthusiasm on female-dominated Web sites like Jezebel , it’s twenty-and-thirty-something young women who are most excited about the club’s return. But why? âÄúThese books hit on a nostalgia,âÄù said Megan Atwood, who runs a YA writing course at downtown’s The Loft . âÄúWe want to get back to where we were when we were young.âÄù Atwood, who has her MFA in writing for children and young adults, has also found an increased popularity in reading YA fiction overall, and yes, âÄúTwilightâÄù counts. âÄúReading YA has come out of the closet,âÄù she joked. âÄúWhen we were growing up, they were for middle-schoolers, but the genre is coming into its own.âÄù