BOOK REVIEW: A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini

“In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against…”

Weeeell…almost, but not quite. If Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scooby Doo, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and The Babysitter’s Club {BSC} had a love child, the result would be Joe Ballarini’s A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.

Heavy on Spiderwick, light on the BSC, A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting follows thirteen-year-old Kelly Ferguson on her quest to raise a ridiculous sum of money to attend Camp Miskatonic – a summer destination she learned about from Deanna, leader of the Princess Pack {think small-scale Plastics from Mean Girls}. An odd-job extraordinaire, K-Ferg, as Kelly oft-times calls herself, has experience in everything from ticket taker to lemonade stand CEO and rain gutter cleaner to grocery bagger. The one thing she has yet to try? Babysitting.

Encouraged by her BFF Tammy {and the lure of big babysitting bucks}, Kelly begins offering her services. Upside? She scores her first gig within a few hours’ time. Downside? She’ll be working for her mom’s boss, Mrs. Zellman, so she cannot. make. any. mistakes. The bigger ish though? It’s Halloween, which means Kelly will have to miss the huge Halloween bash she was planning on attending – and her chance to hobnob with her crush Victor. Nevertheless, cash calls, so Kelly kisses {figuratively} Victor goodbye, and says hello to Baby Jacob.

A tot with terrible nightmares, and a serious sweet tooth, Kelly spends the night bribing the babe with candy and ice cream until something detrimental happens: he’s abducted by monsters living under his bed. I know, right?! With Jacob gone, Kelly crosses paths with Liz LeRue, Jacob’s usual sitter – who just so happens to be a member of The Order of the Babysitters, a secret society of babysitter’s who fight monsters {where can I sign up?}. Together, along with the rest of the Order, the two girls have to find Jacob, kick the Boogeyman’s {aka the Grand Guignol} butt, and have Jacob tucked into bed by 1:00am. But when you’re dealing with everything from Toadies to Hobgoblin’s, some things are easier said than done.

I liked this one. Did I love the fact that the entire 338-page book took place in one. night. Nope. Did I l-o-v-e Kelly? Negative. What I did love {or, rather, who} was Liz LeRue. Some may not be a fan of hers, but I capital L-O-V-E-D loved her. Snarky, tough, brainy…she was like a female Fortnite character come to life {right down to her clunky boots and arsenal of bomb weapons}, and I enjoyed every moment she was on the page. Mama Vee was also a pretty cool character; and I'm confident that Kelly will grow on me over time {especially once the Netflix adaptation of this series debuts}. Will I read the sequel, Beasts & Geeks? The jury’s still out; but I would encourage anyone who grew up with Spiderwick, or is looking for an easy laugh, to snag this one – especially during the season of spook.

Star Rating: ***


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