Review of Best Babysitters Ever

Best Babysitters Ever
by Caroline Cala
Intermediate, Middle School     Houghton     246 pp.     g
2/19     978-1-328-85089-8     $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-328-52788-2     $9.99

In this series opener, Malia stumbles across an old copy of Kristy’s Great Idea, the first of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books, and appropriates the central business model. But unlike Kristy and friends, whose babysitting adventures came with an earnest wish to do right by their charges, the trio of Malia, Bree, and Dot has less interest in caring for children than in getting paid — mainly so they can impress their peers with a party like the one at a classmate’s recent bat mitzvah. Nor are they particularly capable sitters...and things go from not-so-great to worse when Malia’s older sister and her friends become competitors. Much of the humor in this over-the-top send-up of lesson-laden kids’ pop culture comes via the hyperbolic traits of its sometimes misguided characters. But believable friendship dynamics and motivations balance out the silliness: as Dot eventually points out, Malia’s obsession with proving herself has made her unreasonably dependent on the club’s success. The source material’s premise (babysitting + friends + “a corded telephone” = club) is clearly explained and serves as a jumping-off point, so familiarity with Martin’s series isn’t necessary, though it makes these characters’ incredulity at its wholesomeness funnier. A breezy, entertaining read, this book and the promised sequels seem likely to fill a role similar to the original — as reading material kids choose for themselves.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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