Claudia and the New Girl focuses (big shock) on Claudia, who is my favorite character in the series. A new girl, Ashley, joins Claudia’s class, and she’s also an artist! And she likes Claudia’s art and wants to be friends! Claudia gets swept up in the validation of having a friend share an interest and validate her work as something special. This leads to tension with her other friends and her not living up to her duties as vice-president of the Baby-Sitters Club. Friends falling out, some good babysitting scenes, a boy getting his hand stuck in a tub drain, and a triumphant ending with friendships restored and lessons learned. A satisfying way to spend some time reading.
So why have I only granted this two stars, a pretty harsh rating for a book I seem to like? I am a big fan of this series of Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel adaptations, especially the four Gale Galligan did. I’ve read all eleven of the graphic novels, many of them several times, so it’s not that I am against adapting them into a graphic novel format, as their presence on my shelves can attest. I even own a page of the original art for Boy-Crazy Stacy. This is Gabriela Epstein’s first go at adapting one of the books, and my personal feeling of disappointment with the art and the more surface-level feel of this book leads me to the conclusion that this was my least favorite one. It is still a good book for people who like the series, and it is not a bad piece of art overall. I will still be buying and reading her upcoming adaptation (Feb 2022) of Good-bye Stacy, Good-bye. But I felt that the passion that Raina Telgemeier, Gale Galligan, and Chan Chau brought to the other books was somehow missing here. Something left me less impressed this time.
I guess what any art does is to connect to your personal judgement on a very immediate level. Claudia and the New Girl is art that didn’t fully connect with me, which doesn’t take away from the amount of work that went into it. This might seem like a lot of personal angst that I am having in writing a bad review of a middle-grade Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel, but I take it very seriously and hate to denigrate someone’s work, especially when I didn’t really hate it, just felt kind of “meh” about it. Look forward to my next stressful review of this series in February.