Sailor Moon: A Scout is Born was published in April 1999 by TokyoPop's Mixx Entertainment/Smile Books imprint. This was the first of eight Sailor Moon novels, and the backstory behind the book series is more interesting than one might at first guess.
Mixx Entertainment's Sailor Moon novels closely follow the DiC anime dub, utilizing not only the same 'Westernized' character names (like Serena, Molly, Melvin, etc) but also heavily amps the American pop culture references for the young female demographic.
Each book features the novelizations of three episodes, making A Scout is Born one of the more intriguing novels in the bunch, since it contains the plot of an episode never released in the US. Episode 2, of the anime wasn't dubbed by DiC for reasons still unknown. The episode's plot centered around a fortune teller and Umino/Melvin getting mind-controlled. It's unclear why DiC passed on this one, as there was nothing that would be overtly controversial or difficult to Americanize. For those of you who have seen the episode, a scene where Umino/Melvin flips up his teacher's skirt would likely have been removed, along with him and his friends smashing some school windows.
Each novelized episode gets about forty or so pages, with the first episode, A Moon Star is Born, and the third, Talk Radio, closely following the DiC dub, except when more American references are brought in. The middle of the book, made up of the unreleased episode definitely has that same DiC tone, making me wonder the novelization for it wasn't based on an unused dub script.
Speaking of all the American references, there's an overwhelming bunch between the covers of A Scout is Born. Early on Serena visits a 7-Eleven, mentions Bloomingdales, compares someone to Dennis the Menace, name drops CNN and, strangest of all, goes on a tangent about Montblanc pens.
On page 113, the references get even more outlandish:
"That doesn't mean he's not a babe!" Serena protested. "Tom Cruise was a bad guy in 'Interview With a Vampire,' but he was still a babe."
In the following novel, Mercury Rising, there's dialogue about popular music acts of the day like N'Sync and then-mega-popular Britney Spears. Even shows like Dawson's Creek, which had been waned in popularity by the publishing of these novels, finds itself getting a mention. The Internet was absent from the show, since when the show was airing in Japan in predated any mainstream use, but the World Wide Web is referenced on numerous occasions.
One of the most intriguing aspects of A Scout is Born, is that it was written by TokyoPop founder Stuart J. Levy. While die-hard Sailor Moon fans surely wouldn't appreciate the overt Americanization of the plot, it's clear that Levy knew exactly who he was writing the novel for: young girls that either didn't care or didn't even know that Sailor Moon was a Japanese show, but simply loved the concept and characters. I know this may be heretical to say on an anime blog, but marketing-wise Levy likely made the right business move to appeal to that age set and distance the Japanese aspects found in the show, and that includes invoking so many pop-culture references that are so comical and dated today.
I recall in early 2000 or 2001 being in a Dress Barn with my sister and there was a young girl around the age of eleven or twelve shopping with her mom--the girl was carrying around one of these Sailor Moon novels (I think it was Scouts on Film) and when she spotted Dress Barn's small, but surprisingly well-displayed selection of Sailor Moon jewelry, she went off the rails. Regardless of how far DiC and Levy stepped away from some elements of the Japanese version, it's hard to believe that the girl at Dress Barn or the thousands of other "Moonies" like her, were upset that Serena has a thing for Montblanc pens...
After A Scout is Born, the following seven novels, The Power of Love, Mercury Rising, Mars Attacks, Eternal Sleep, Scouts on Film, Cel Mates, and Diamond's Not Forever, were written by then-seventeen-year-old fanfiction writer Lianne Sentar. The age demographic for those books were reportedly around eight-to-ten year-olds. Another run of Sailor Moon novels (technically called 'junior chapter novels') were published in 2001 by Scholastic and written by Tracey West. These were geared to kids closer to the age of four and eight. If I ever get my hands on one of the Scholastic books I'll certainly post about it here.