Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Joe Ballarini
Illustrator: Vivienne To
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Kelly Ferguson, age thirteen, works every job she can so she can attend Camp Miskatonic, where she will have an idyllic summer and come back magically transformed into a cool kid. On Halloween she decides to earn money by babysitting her mother’s boss’s 5-year-old son, Jacob. After tucking him into bed she quickly discovers that monsters under the bed are real when they arrive and carry Jacob away! She dials Jacob’s regular sitter, Liz, who helps her chase after the monsters to save Jacob. Before Jacob’s parents return, Kelly and her new friends, professional babysitters like Liz, race around the area, fighting monsters to find and retrieve Jacob and get him safely home to bed. Kelly gains a new appreciation for her strength and for the uncool-but-best-friends-ever team of professional babysitters and joins their group.
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting is Joe Ballarini's first novel. Ballarini strikes a good balance between horror and humor in this tale of the creatures that lurk under the bed, in the closet, and elsewhere in the night. The characters are fun, quirky, and dedicated in their charge as professional babysitters to protect the children. There’s plenty of action and monsters to battle, so the story reads quickly. The final conclusion begins to feel like a moving target as Kelly’s group escapes the monsters, only to have the monsters catch up and engage in battle once again. The scenes are easy to envision as one reads and the simple pencil illustrations enhance the story. Mature readers who definitely know that monsters are not real and who like a bit of a fright will enjoy this novel.