From the original foursome sprung more characters, club members including Dawn, the new girl from California; Mallory and Jessi, the younger girls; Logan, the honorary boy member and Mary Anne's boyfriend; and later members Shannon and Abby. Along with the main characters and their gradual development throughout the series, we were immersed in the world of Stoneybrook, Connecticut—the kids being babysat, the family members and friends of the girls, the school that they attended and its teachers, the neighborhoods, the lifestyles. There were so many books, and so many details (hair and eye color, number and names of the various siblings and babysitting charges, hobbies and habits and qualities and family situations), that David Levithan, now Scholastic's editorial director and a Y.A. author himself, was, as a 19-year-old intern working on the series, tasked with keeping a "bible" so that nothing would be mixed up or forgotten: "The first rule was making sure everything stayed faithful to that world," he told The Atlantic Wire. "I was the guy on the subway not only reading the BSC, I was reading it with a highlighter to keep track of who spoke French, who had green eyes, and so on." Later, that "bible" was published as The Complete Guide to the Baby-sitters Club.
When Levithan started at Scholastic, the series "was already a juggernaut," he says. "I was not very familiar at 19, but I'd heard of it. I was plunged into the world of Stoneybrook, Connecticut, and I found I think like a 13-year-old girl very well! It was amazing to see that it was a fully embodied world to Ann and the editors and the readers. People knew it was fictional but it felt real."
A few times a year, Martin would plot out story ideas with her Scholastic editors, Levithan explains. They'd draw on their own childhood experiences, "always telling new stories and not just the same one over again. It gets harder and harder as it goes," he says, laughing. "We knew if we sat in the meeting and were like, 'Baby-sitters in space!' that would have been the sign of it jumping the shark. We did eventually get to the point that we felt the girls should graduate from eight grade, and that's the final book, but we found the desire was still there many years later and talked to Ann and came up with a prequel to go back into the world and introduce it to a new generation. We want to keep it alive and well, with repackaging, and a few other things coming down the pike." In odd perks of the job: Levithan got to name one character, Cary Retlin, after his best friend—"he showed up a few times, and in the years after, he'd tell me, 'Someone saw my name.' It's always fun making your best friend the arch villain."
Along with serving as easily-digestible monthly installments of sheer reading pleasure, the books taught a lot of girls (and boys, too—"there was a sort of boy babysitter underground," says Levithan, though the audience majority consisted of girls) lessons of empowerment, entrepreneurialism, and individualism. For some of us, the series also taught us how to love reading, and maybe even how to write. It immersed us in the world of Stoneybrook, Connecticut, and gave us a taste of what we might be able to accomplish in our own lives—it also taught us how to deal with common problems teens might face, ranging from the simple (annoying sisters and brothers, trouble at school) to deeper social and cultural issues, like coping with chronic illness, parents' divorce and remarriage, and racism. It's surely not surprising that this writer was a big fan of the series, but so were many others, including some of the editors who worked on the books at Scholastic.