STARRED REVIEW
July 2017

Buffy meets Goosebumps

By Joe Ballarini
Review by

Kelly Ferguson is a self-described “invisible”—a middle schooler several social circles removed from the popular kids—but she has a plan to change that. Since learning about the camp where popular princess Deanna spends her summers, Kelly has been saving up by doing every odd job she can find. Kelly is reluctant to try babysitting at first, but the promise of earning big bucks for watching Netflix all night is convincing. The only catch is that Jacob, the boy she’s babysitting, is adamant that there’s a monster under his bed.

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Kelly Ferguson is a self-described “invisible”—a middle schooler several social circles removed from the popular kids—but she has a plan to change that. Since learning about the camp where popular princess Deanna spends her summers, Kelly has been saving up by doing every odd job she can find. Kelly is reluctant to try babysitting at first, but the promise of earning big bucks for watching Netflix all night is convincing. The only catch is that Jacob, the boy she’s babysitting, is adamant that there’s a monster under his bed. And he’s right. When Jacob is kidnapped by a group of scary creatures, Kelly gets swept along in the rescue efforts of a secret society of monster-fighting babysitters, sworn to protect the children in their charge. Together, Kelly and the babysitters must find Jacob, defeat an evil bogeyman and save the world from a never-ending nightmare, all before Jacob’s parents get home.

The first in a planned series of middle grade humor/horror books, Joe Ballarini’s debut is a cheeky romp full of truly disgusting trash monsters, a quirky and smart protagonist and the unique setting of a Rhode Island coastal town beset by mayhem. Kelly and her new companions are inspirational figures: sassy and determined in the face of the really scary stuff, despite their youth. Despite some awkward narrative moves (such as excerpts from video camera footage), A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting has more than enough charm to leave readers curious about Kelly’s next adventure.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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