cover image We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers

We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers

Edited by Marisa Crawford and Megan Milks. Chicago Review, $19.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-64160-490-1

Poet Crawford (Reversible) and fiction writer Milks (Kill Marguerite and Other Stories) collect heartwarming reflections on the influence of Ann M. Martin’s famed Babysitters Club series in this reverent anthology. As they write, “We are all the legacy of these books, which taught us to see young people’s lives as serious business,” and the essays and art on offer consider the books’ messages about friendship, work, family, race, gender, and sexuality. In “Fun with Role-Play,” Kristen Arnett reflects on how the series allowed her to escape her reality as a queer child in an ultrareligious home. Artist Yumi Sakugawa contributes an astonishing graphic essay about her love of Claudia Kishi, an Asian American series character, and in “Scripts of Girlhood: Handwriting and the Baby-Sitters Club,” Kelly Blewett investigates how the handwriting of each club member tells a story of gender performance. While the anthology is deeply nostalgic, each piece does a fine job of balancing tenderness with critique: “Getting Over Claudia and Calories,” for example, sees Jennifer Epperson describing how the series’ obsession with thinness affected her relationship with her body. Sentimental but never cloying, this anthology will hit home for readers who grew up with the series. (July)