the best friends you’ll never have

So Ashley of dibbly-fresh sent me the new editions and The Summer Before (those who pay close attention the fandom will know why soon ;) ), and I, naturally devoured them all. I’ll write about the prequel later, because I have more to say about it and probably should read it a second time before I sit down to do a thorough post about it, but here’s what I think about the rereleases.

The text is quite large, but the same font, so after a while, it’s less noticeable. I’ve read that they were aiming a slightly younger target audience, so this, and the graphic covers, makes sense. The handwriting is now fonts, and not the fonts that were created for the CD-roms. I suppose, going along with the new lower target audience thing and the decreased emphasis on learning cursive in schools–I’m shocked at how many even my age can’t read cursive–I’m not surprised. I’m sure it increases readibility. Plus, Claud’s “how did this girl ever get out of the first grade” spelling errors have been taken down a notch. She now seems like a perfectly capable twelve-year-old who isn’t the greatest speller, but at least picks up a book once in a while, even if it is Nancy Drew. If they get to Claudia and the New Girl, I wonder what they’ll do with the spelling test scene, where they go through Claudia’s spelling thought process.

After reading about the Sweet Valley rereleases, where they got rid of 1BRUCE1, I was scared about what I’d find. But they did a nice subtle job, one that I only noticed if I was really looking hard–and I’ve been reading these books constantly for nearly 20 years now. They changed “tape deck” to “stereo,” for instance, and frankly, even when I was a kid no one said “tape deck” any more. Charlotte’s favorite tv show is no longer The Cosby Show; she now has a favorite board game instead. Kristy, however, still says “One false move and I’ll punch your lights out,” and if I were an editor I would have taken that out, because what the hell are the best baby-sitters in town doing, threatening violence against their clients? WTF, Thomas?

So all in all, I think they did a damn good job here. In fact, I was kind of hoping for MORE edits, just so it’d be DIFFERENT and exciting. But whatever, yay Scholastic. I do wonder, though, if the lack of more edits to modernize it will lead to reviews like the latest ones on Amazon for the new Alice McKinley book, Alice in Charge:

The dialogue between Alice and her friends falls flat. They simply don’t speak the way teenagers talk. In fact, sometimes when various characters talk, they seem to serve only to hammer home the moral lesson Alice is learning. Naylor (or her editors) seem to want to avoid dating the books. This is admirable, but it makes Alice and her friends much less relatable and their world feels inauthentic. The books contain a few token references to Facebook and Starbucks, but are otherwise so devoid of pop culture that these token references stick out like someone’s parent trying to be “hip to the scene.” The characters often listen to “a CD.” CDs are dinosaur technology to your average high school student. The names stick out to me as well. Many of them seem to be literally like `50s era names–Penny, Fran, Rosalind, etc. There’s nary a Taylor or a Brianna to be seen.

As a long-term fan, I like that the overall feel of the books wasn’t affected. But after spending time with girls in the target age group earlier this month, I’m not sure how much they’ll connect with it. Plus, it seems now that eleven-year-olds are sittees, not sitters. They’ve available for preorder on Amazon up until Kristy’s Big Day, and like I said in my last post they planned to do the first seven at least, so we’ll see if we get any after that.

2 Responses To This Post

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Stephanie said, July 28th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I’m glad they left in Kristy’s line about punching the kids’ lights out!

I’m sad they changed Kristy’s clothing in the first book (they changed to be more similar to her later uniform of jeans and sweaters).

greer said, July 29th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

@Stephanie: as I recall Kristy was wearing some sort of jumper? I feel that the change also reflects that no twelve-year-old would wear that today, except for maybe Mary Anne because Richard picks out her clothes. Plus, Kristy becomes famously adverse to skirts/dresses.

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