Cover image for Best babysitters ever
Title:
Best babysitters ever
ISBN:
9781328850898
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2019]
Physical Description:
259 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
On title page, [bad] is crossed out.
Summary:
Mayhem ensues in their sleepy California beach town when three best friends, motivated by unlimited snacks, no parents, and earning money for an epic seventh-grade party, find an old copy of "The Babysitters Club" and decide to start their own babysitting business.
Audience:
780L Lexile
Series Title:
Series Sequence:
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Children's Book Fiction Cala
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Summary

Summary

A funny new middle grade series about three 12-year-old best friends who start a babysitting club in their small California town. Perfect for fans of series like Whatever After and the Dork Diaries.

Once upon a time, a girl named Kristy Thomas had a great idea: to form The Baby-Sitters Club with her best friends. And now twelve-year-old Malia Twiggs has had a great idea too. Technically, she had Kristy's idea . (And technically, little kids seem gross and annoying, but a paycheck is a paycheck). After a little convincing, Malia and her friends Dot and Bree start a babysitting club to earn funds for an epic birthday bash. But babysitting definitely isn't what they thought it would be.

Three friends. No parents. Unlimited snacks. And, okay, occasionally watching other people's children. What could possibly go wrong?


Author Notes

Caroline Cala worked as an editor at Penguin Random House before pursuing her lifelong dream to write. Her work has been featured by Vogue, Refinery29, ELLE, Bustle, the Huffington Post, Design*Sponge, A Cup of Jo, and many others. Find her on Instagram @carolinecala. Best Babysitters Ever is her middle grade debut.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Finding an old copy of Kristy's Great Idea in a box of free books, seventh grader Malia (or "Alia," as she prefers) devises a plan to raise money for the most epic joint birthday party of all time. Enlisting the help of her two best friends-aloof, black-clad Dot and bubbly, Taylor Swift-obsessed Bree-the three launch a babysitting service, refusing to let lack of experience (or dislike of children) stand in their way. When Malia's perfect older sister schemes to steal their clients, the girls are forced to reconsider their plans, as well as their own motivations and needs. In her middle grade debut, Cala artfully uses humorous banter to paint the dissimilar friends' realistic relationships as well as their bumbling efforts to vocalize their feelings and advocate for themselves. Some scenes, as when a charge urges the babysitters to communicate, can feel inauthentic but allow worthwhile messages to shine. An appealing, humor-filled update to a classic series. Ages 10-12. Agent: Lanie Davis, Alloy Entertainment. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In this series opener, Malia stumbles across an old copy of Kristys Great Idea, the first of Ann M. Martins 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 paidmainly so they can impress their peers with a party like the one at a classmates recent bat mitzvah. Nor are they particularly capable sittersand things go from not-so-great to worse when Malias 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, Malias obsession with proving herself has made her unreasonably dependent on the clubs success. The source materials premise (babysitting + friends + a corded telephone = club) is clearly explained and serves as a jumping-off point, so familiarity with Martins series isnt 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 originalas reading material kids choose for themselves. shoshana flax January/February 2019 p 86(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Fans of the Baby-Sitters Club books are a natural fit for this debut novel about three enterprising girls, Malia, Dot, and Bree, who decide to start a babysitting business, despite the fact that they don't particularly like children. Their motive? To earn enough money to throw a huge party. The girls' plan hits a snag, however, when Malia's sister decides to start a rival babysitting service (the Seaside Sitters) to put them out of business. Malia has always felt inferior to her sister Chelsea, so Malia is doubly frustrated when she finally finds something she is good at, only to have Chelsea steal her idea. As the story moves forward, Malia hatches a plan to stand up to her sister and reclaim her business idea. Cala incorporates themes of sibling rivalry, jealousy, competition, friendship, manipulation, entrepreneurship, and first crushes into this realistic series starter. As the pressures of running a business and rivalries mount, readers will find themselves rooting for the best babysitters ever. Try with Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel Kristy's Great Idea (2015).--Tiffany Flowers Copyright 2019 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

Whats the best way to make tweens laugh? It may be books that find the comedy in coming of age. MEL BROOKS SAID IT BEST. "To me, tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." When you're 12, though, the line between comedy and tragedy can thin to the point of translucence. Teetering on the cusp of adolescence, many kids feel that compared with the threat of embarrassment, walking into an open sewer is rather enticing. Yet the freshest fears yield the greatest comedic bounty. True schadenfreude is built on seeing your fellow humans fail with epic splendor. That's where books come in. Rather than encourage average kids' bloodthirsty instinct to cheer for the downfall of their friends and neighbors, let them delve into the fiascos of fictional characters. Three funny new novels do precisely that, appealing to kids' inclination to laugh at others' foibles and, maybe in the course of things, themselves. TO THE THREE FRIENDS in Caroline Cala's BEST BABYSITTERS EVER (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 256 pp., $13.99; ages 9 to 12), there's nothing funny about being broke and filled with an overwhelming desire to pull off the greatest mutual 13th-birthday party in history. When Malia Twiggs (named after a former first daughter and aware it "sounded kind of bootleg") stumbles on an ancient, crumbling edition of "Kristy's Great Idea," the first of Ann M. Martin's classic Baby-Sitters Club books, it's not long before she's roped her buddies Dot and Bree into updating the outdated concept. But how do you adapt a text from an era of corded phones and inexplicable loafer/vest combos to a world of babysitting apps, viral videos and parents wanting to pay via Venmo? Sure, the Baby-Sitters Club books have been successfully adapted into graphic novels that today's kids gobble up, but given that "Best Babysitters Ever" plays off some serious '80s nostalgia, a question lurks: Is the book bound to entice parents and librarians who harbor dear memories of cuddling up with their own super-special editions, more than it will speak to children? Happily, Cala manages to provide hilarity that both the intended audience and the snooping adults will appreciate on their own levels. From the start of this debut novel, Cala flexes her prodigious comedic muscles, managing to render the three friends both as sympathetic heroines and as the victims of lives more humorous than they would like. In the course of things adults are reduced to two-dimensional cutouts, particularly Dot's mother, a hippie who acts like a walk-on from "I Love You Alice B. Tokias." As the girls babysit more, things go worse and worse (aided in no small part by their utter lack of interest in wrangling children not much younger than themselves). By the time they score a massive family-reunion job, their careers end in a hilarious brouhaha involving glorious destruction and property damage. They may never get another babysitting gig, but you're hooked on their story for life. PERHAPS MALIA, dot and bree will consider alternative methods of collaboration, like writing a book together. The wellknown adult author Meg Wolitzer (whose Y.A. books include, most recently, "Belzhar") and her real-life bud Holly Goldberg Sloan ("Counting by 7's," "Short") did just that, resulting in to night OWL FROM DOGFISH (Dial, 320 pp., $17.99; ages 9 to 12). Told in a series of frantic emails and other methods of correspondence, the book chronicles the doomed love story of two men and their canny daughters. Informed by their single dads that they will soon be sisters (despite having never met), the outgoing Bett and the guarded Avery join forces to rend asunder their parents' romantic plans. When the girls attend a summer camp together and bond, the book takes a right-hand turn toward "Parent Trap" territory. A fraught trip to China wrecks the dads' relationship, but by then the girls want to force the incompatible couple back together. Whether or not they've watched "The Parent Trap," young readers who identify with Avery and Bett will want to see their fathers prove that true love conquers all. But a sneaky twist at the novel's end makes it infinitely clear that sometimes the happiness we claim to want for others is instead a projection of our own wants and needs. Built on a foundation of absurdity, coincidence and the occasional rather good one-liner, the novel manages the difficult balancing act of using increasingly ridiculous, and often funny, situations to drill home the idea that every close relationship takes hard work, particularly when things start going south. At the same time, the authors attend closely to the perceptions and interpretations of its young characters - so much so that when Avery extols stories told by unreliable narrators ("the person telling you what happened can't be trusted with the facts and you have to figure it out"), you should pay attention. WHEN BETT AND AVERY Start doubting their own friendship in the wake of their fathers' split, they have the option of never seeing each other again. Not so the woeful putz Liam and his younger siblings in Gennifer Choldenko's one-third nerd (Wendy Lamb, 224 pp., $16.99; ages 9 to 12). When you're a kid, family isn't something you get to choose. After all, Liam didn't have any say in his parents' divorce. Now he spends 90 percent of his time worrying what his classmates think of him and the remaining 10 percent worrying what his little sister Dakota (a full-fledged third-grade nerd with an unfortunate tendency to put urinerelated experiments in the family fridge) will do to embarrass him. His youngest sister, Izzy, has Down syndrome, a condition that, to his (perhaps unbelievable) credit, Liam doesn't find embarrassing at all. When their beloved, and incontinent, German shepherd has to clean up her act or face eviction by the family's crotchety landlord, the siblings seek to keep intact what little family they have. Choldenko doesn't go for the belly laughs found in Cala's and Sloan and Wolitzer's books, in part, perhaps, because she's set the stage squarely in workingclass America, where the price of a pet surgery (to solve Cupcake's problem) is no laughing matter. Nonetheless, the author sneaks in amusing moments that might catch young readers off-guard, as when we learn that Dakota once shaved off her eyebrows "to see if they served a purpose on her face," or when newspapers are placed in context as "how people used to find out things before cars but after dinosaurs." Ultimately, the humor in "One-Third Nerd" stems from Liam's relationship with Dakota. While she lunges boldly forward with plans to save the family dog, merrily disregarding common sense or her siblings' feelings - selling their personal treasures on eBay is, to her mind, a logical sacrifice on their parts - Liam trails behind in a state of high exasperation, stuck on one emotional setting, while his sister has a one-track mind. The women writing these novels are only slightly impeded by the inconvenient fact that for middle-grade comedy to bloom, it must be bounced off the fraught emotions of the prepubescent. Characters must glean meaning in the midst of the ridiculous. Choldenko adheres most closely to the serious, even as she's giving her chapters titles like "Licking Toilet Seats and Other Problems." Sloan and Wolitzer throw a serious accident into the book's third act, upping the tension but preventing the book from a final return to frothy humor. And though "Best Babysitters Ever," with its trail of gut-busters, may appear to be the least serious of the three, even that book deals with feelings of abandonment and loneliness, proving that tragedy plus time-honored humiliations equals comedy. Kids laugh that they may not weep, but who says you have to choose? Elizabeth bird is the editor of "Funny Girl," an anthology of funny female writers for kids. She blogs about children's books at School Library Journal's A Fuse #8 Production.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Malia Technically, the Baby-Sitters Club was someone else's idea. But Malia was the one who stole it, and she thought it was okay to be proud of that.      The epiphany came during the worst week ever. Monday started off with an algebra test where she left half of the answers blank, followed by gym class, where she walked many, MANY semi-aerobic circles around the basketball court, upon which Connor Kelly--aka the only boy worth loving--was practicing free throws. Malia was wearing her new silver leggings and the ultra-curling mascara she'd borrowed from her best friend Bree Robinson even though it made Bree freak out because sharing mascara could apparently lead to eye infections. But Connor didn't look at her once.      On Tuesday morning, Malia walked to school--yes, walked, on foot like some kind of pilgrim--because her evil big sister, Chelsea, cast her out of their regular carpool. One of Chelsea's dumb friends had a science project that was taking up Malia's usual spot in the back seat, and so she was left without transportation.      Like that wasn't bad enough, on her way down the front walk, she dropped her phone, and the screen shattered into a billion little pieces. Malia could already hear her mom's voice the moment she saw it. "Ma-li-a," she'd say, drawing the name out like some kind of curse word. "You have to learn to be more responsible." Every time she said Malia's name, no matter the occasion, it sounded like it was laced with disappointment. After all, Malia wasn't turning out anything like Malia Obama, the brilliant first daughter after whom she was named. Instead, she was destined to be Malia Twiggs, which anyone had to admit sounded kind of bootleg. This is what led her to rebrand herself as "Alia," a campaign that had been met with moderate success. Malia was still constantly correcting people for including the M . But she had faith that eventually it would stick.      It was only October and so far, seventh grade was turning out to be all kinds of meh. Even Malia's once-favorite pastime--killing time at the Playa del Mar Mall--had become insanely depressing. She and her friends wandered in endless loops, eating food-court chicken, and looking at all the things they had no money to buy. Her mom called it "window shopping" and said it was good for building character, but Malia called it "torture," since that's what it actually was.      To make matters worse, seventh grade wasn't bad for everyone. Seemingly all of her classmates were bringing their A game, like Sheila Brown, whose thirteenth birthday party had featured an actual elephant, and Charlotte Price, who'd hosted the most lavish bat mitzvah the world had ever seen. Thanks to her high-flying classmates, Malia's own upcoming birthday was hard to look forward to. Her typical plan--a backyard party with her two best friends--was usually the highlight of her fall, but this year, such a gathering would pale in comparison. Malia had yet to come any closer to realizing how to make her joint-birthday-party dreams a reality.      So anyway, there she was, broke and bad at math, with zero romantic prospects, and now she couldn't even check Instagram without the threat of cutting her fingers. It was almost too much to handle.      "Wisdom of the universe, come to me!" Malia said, which is something her other best friend Dot Marino's mom told her to do whenever she felt confused. Dot's mom was a yogi-slash-tarot-card-reader, which, in their tiny hippie beach town, was actually less weird than it sounds. She was kind of nuts, but in this one instance, Malia figured it couldn't hurt to follow her advice.      Malia continued on her walk for another block, when straight up ahead, she spied a bunch of cardboard boxes outside the local library, labeled FREE STUFF! Even she could afford free stuff! It looked like the librarians had gone on a wild cleaning spree, ferreting out any old books, magazines, and DVDs that no longer had a place on the shelves.      The biggest box was overflowing with books--cookbooks, gardening books, an illustrated volume of dog breeds, and a guide to achieving optimum colon health. (Ew.) Malia noticed a little yellow corner peeking out from the middle of the jumble.      She pulled it loose to reveal an ancient paperback. It was wrinkled and worn, and the bottom corner was entirely missing, like someone had tried to eat it and then changed her mind. The Baby-Sitters Club was spelled out in red-lettered alphabet blocks, followed by the title Kristy's Great Idea . The cover illustration showed four girls wearing the most basic clothes she'd ever seen. Like, there was a turtleneck. And loafers. And a vest. Malia had seen the newer version of this book floating around school, and a couple of her friends had even read it, but the original cover was really something to behold.       Four friends and baby-sitting--what could be more fun? read the tagline. Um, she could think of about eight million things. Still, she couldn't explain why, but she felt like she was meant to find this book. It was a sign from the universe.      Malia settled onto the rickety wooden bench in front of the library and read the first chapter. She learned how Kristy Thomas, a sports-loving tomboy with a mom who said things like "Drat!" had this big idea to form a babysitting club. She and her three friends met multiple times a week, answered a corded telephone, ate various things wrapped in plastic, and got hired to watch people's children. Weird, she thought. Is this seriously what people found fun in the '90s? The idea of minding kids for money had honestly never occurred to her before. She didn't read much more, but she didn't have to. She had an idea. Technically, she had Kristy's idea. Now it was time to recruit the rest of the club. Excerpted from Bad Babysitters by Caroline Cala All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.