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Review: Netflix’s Baby-Sitters Club Series Is Near-Perfect Kids’ Television

For years as a kid, I longed to know the Baby-Sitters Club. My sister would read of their adventures in Ann M. Martin’s blockbuster middle-grade book series and relay them to me, but something—probably some lame, inculcated belief that the novels were for girls—kept me from reading them myself. (I threw all that pretense away for the Sweet Valley High books, which I just could not resist.) So I only knew dimly of Kristy’s great idea to start a baby-sitting club, of Claudia’s artsiness, of Stacey’s Manhattan origin story, of Mary-Anne’s burgeoning step-sisterhood with Dawn. All the early teenage (and some tweenage) goings-on of Stonybrook, CT glimmered as a faint, homey reality, always slightly outside my grasp.

I was excited, then, when, at age 12, the Baby-Sitters Club movie came out. It was my chance to get some distilled view of Martin’s world—with its careful descriptions of bedroom color schemes, of mild interactions with boys, of fussy kids who needed their baby-sitters’ resourceful mollifying—in just 95 minutes.

But upon seeing the film, my sister informed me that it didn’t get the books right. She said the movie was trying too hard to be “cool”—but not succeeding, unlike the previous summer’s Camp Nowhere, beloved in our home. (I’m yours forever, Mud.) My sister was done reading the books by then, and the movie hadn’t done the trick. So I was consigned—I thought, for many years—to forever only half get the BSC references, to never really understand this coalition of busybody kids who ached for the approving awe of adults impressed by their prim, ordered maturity. (For truly, that was one of the ultimate fantasies of the Baby-Sitters Club books, no?)

But! What we think is lost can sometimes be found. No, I did not spend quarantine reading the books. Instead, I’ve used this

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