Review by Frank Plowright
With The Baby-Sitters Club optioned for a TV series (screened on Netflix from 2020), Scholastic not only reissued all previous graphic novels in colour for the first time, they reactivated the series, continuing with Dawn and the Impossible Three. With Raina Telgemeier now a global success with her own projects, it fell to Gale Galligan, who’d assisted Telgemeier on Drama, to pick up the baton.
It’s unlikely the target readers will notice, but while Galligan’s cartooning continues to supply charm, there are slight changes from the previous look. She doesn’t quite capture movement naturally, the expressions she gives the cast are slightly more exaggerated with greater recourse to wide eyes, and Galligan tends to show the cast in close-up more often. It’s mostly just a matter of interpretation.
As previously, this is a faithful adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s novel, using her plot and a fair bit of her dialogue, and she’s very skilled at wrapping the audience up in the lives of her characters. Dawn was a new addition to the cast in Mary Anne Saves the Day, and officially joined the club in Claudia and Mean Janine. Plot elements from both are followed up. Dawn moved from California when her parents were divorced, and has bonded easily with Mary Anne, but not all the other girls, and divorce and the problems of single parenthood run through this story. It’s skilfully handled, with Dawn initially judgemental, and while younger readers will side with her, any adult reading the book knows there’s more to the situation than Dawn realises. It’ll take a smart young reader to make the connection, but Martin plays out a similar judgemental situation for comparison, just moved up a couple of generations.
If Dawn’s constant babysitting calls are a challenge, so is Kristy’s unhappiness. She has reason to be unhappy, tying into matters introduced in Kristy’s Great Idea, and Martin packs in plenty more besides. A lost child, a prospective new club member and parental romance all feature in what’s a fine continuation to the series, and Kristy’s Big Day follows.