A series of popular children’s books is getting ready to welcome a new member to its family. Following the success of the graphic novel adaptations of Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club books, Scholastic’s Graphix imprint has announced plans to adapt a BSC spinoff series, The Baby-Sitters Little Sister, which consisted of 128 titles and launched in 1990. The Little Sister books will now be made into graphic novels aimed at ages seven to 10.
Martin told PW, “It’s incredible to see the success of the graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club books, and I’m thrilled that now Scholastic is releasing the Little Sister series as graphic novels as well. I loved writing about Kristy’s little stepsister Karen and can’t wait to see the pages come to life once again!”
Familiar Faces, Fresh Look
The series that originated in the mid 1980s has had a recent resurgence, thanks to several graphic novel adaptations by Raina Telgemeier and Gale Galligan. The Little Sister line, according to Cassandra Pelham Fulton, executive editor at Scholastic Graphix, “will be informed by the character and setting designs established in the core graphic novels, as we want the two series to feel consistent.”
By reinventing the BSC brand for a younger audience, the extension builds upon the existing titles and brings other characters (such as Kristy’s stepsister Karen) into the spotlight, while maintaining the books’ original themes. “Karen is a favorite supporting character from the core series, so it will be fun to see her star in her own graphic novels centering on family, friendships, and everyday adventure,” Fulton added.
Illustrating the Little Sisters offshoot is Katy Farina, a Los Angeles-based animator who, much like Telgemeier and Galligan, grew up reading the original series. She recalls how her own experience and ability to relate to different characters helped shape her drawings. “I see a lot of myself and my younger sister Maddie in Karen, so it was really fun to reflect on our childhood,” she said. “We invented a lot of wild scenarios and stories for everything around us, and I tried to bring that sense of importance to every adventure Karen and her friends have.”
Farina’s illustrations showcase a modern sensibility that speaks to a brand-new audience. “Katy’s page layouts will feel a bit simpler for younger readers, with fewer and larger panels on each page,” Fulton explained. “Her kid-friendly illustrations are clean and confident, with just the right touch of humor.” Colorist Braden Lamb, who worked on the core BSC graphic novels, will resume his role with the series.
More Little Sisters
Kicking off the series is The Baby-Sitters Little Sister Book 1: Karen’s Witch, which will be published on December 26, 2019. Two BSLS graphic novels will be published each year, with book #2 slated for July 2020, book #3 in January 2021, and book #4 in July 2021. “We’ll have something for the BSC/BSLS reader every season,” Fulton said.
Amy Berkower at Writers House represented Martin, and Steven Salpeter at Curtis Brown represented Farina in the four-book deal for world rights.
Helping to drive the momentum for the brand is a first-ever public appearance, in which Martin, Telegemeier, and Galligan will appear together at BookCon. The trio will sign books and pose for photos, and a limited-edition poster will be given away.
Also fueling BSC fever is a Netflix series expected to begin streaming next year and a documentary focusing on fan-favorite character Claudia Kishi. These initiatives, bolstered by the Little Sisters launch, are a testament to the BSC’s longevity and Scholastic’s efforts to make the series relevant for both seasoned and new fans.
“I think the documentary and numerous podcasts show how iconic the BSC was to so many young readers and how important the characters were in helping their younger selves figure out who they were and their place in the world,” said David Levithan, v-p and editorial director of Scholastic Press, who edited much of the original BSC series. “It just shows how important the right books can be at the right time.”