Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini

Kelly's biggest problem has always been being invisible at school and not having the guts to speak up to her crush. Until now.

Now she's gotten stuck babysitting her mom's boss's kid Jacob...and he's just been kidnapped by a genuine, real MONSTER. Turns out, monsters are real, deadly, and the only thing standing between them and the kids are....the babysitters. Kelly sets off with experienced babysitter Liz to get Jacob back and defeat the Grand Guignol once and for all. But it's not that easy. Along the way they'll encounter monsters, deadly danger, and even *gasp* an after hours party and Kelly's crush!

Kelly's obsession with popularity, friends, and her crush even in the midst of monsters and deadly danger is realistic albeit a little frustrating. Throughout the story she grows as a friend, realizing that the other babysitters are good friends, even if they are weird, and overcoming her fear both of monsters and of the popular kids. At the end, Kelly isn't perfect - but neither are her new friends. She has found something she cares about though and she's willing to fight for the kids and through her own fears both big and small.

The story includes pages from the Babysitter's guide to monster hunting as well as descriptions of events happening outside of Kelly's narrative. The story has an open ending that's not quite a cliffhanger but leaves the possibility of future adventures of the babysitters.

This is a brisk action/adventure fantasy with just enough creepy/gross monsters to interest readers who like a little creepy without turning off more sensitive audiences. It's firmly in the middle school range - it hints at middle school crushes, frustrations and angst, has several moments of genuine scariness as well as missing children, deadly weapons, and killing monsters, but doesn't include more mature relationship issues and language.

Verdict: Strong female characters who are flawed but work through their flaws, nerdy kids who don't overcome their outcast status but accept it and move on, and lots of adventure and action make this a book that's sure to fly off your shelves, especially around Halloween. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780062437839; Published 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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