Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book Review: Karen's Carnival

A Fair Trade Book


Title: Karen’s Carnival (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #20)

Author: Ann M. Martin


Date: 1991

Publisher: Apple Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-44823-4

Length: 99 pages

Illustrations: drawings by Susan Tang

Quote: “But we’ll need an awful lot of money to buy three pairs of skates.”

So Karen, the poor little rich girl, and her second grade classmates, Hannie and Nancy, organize the sort of little fun-fair North Americans typically call carnivals. Then Karen and Nancy are bitten by the “volunteering” bug when they hear that the adults in their very nice suburb are already planning to do something to raise money to build a playground, and decide to donate their earnings to the playground fund, before they’ve actually made anything they might be able to sell. Hannie prefers the original idea, and Karen and Hannie quarrel. Their quarrel takes up more space than the obvious difficulties children this age have in organizing a street carnival when they’re not bickering about what to do with the still hypothetical profits.

Of course, even when the children are allowed to set up their booths at the grown-up street carnival, there are no profits. The second grade take in $32.40 after spending $54.

But Karen’s father is a millionnaire, so all is well on the Lost Planet of Niceness. Karen’s (smarter, tougher, prettier) older stepsister and baby-sitter, Kristy, “gently” reminds disappointed Karen, “But you know what? I think everyone had fun today. And you can still give the thirty-two dollars and forty cents to the playground fund.” For the wealthy, profitability is no object as long as an investment is fun.

(Does this account for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign?)


Baby-Sitters Club books usually tell child readers what to do to make sure a project succeeds. In this one Martin changed gears and told them what to do to make sure a project does not succeed. For anyone who’s irritated by Karen’s constantly reminding readers how hard it is to have too much and too many of everything, Karen’s Carnival might become a favorite.

Ann Martin is still living, and writing a new series for children of the present generation, so all BSC and spin-off books are Fair Trade Books. When you buy them here, you send $5 per book, $5 per package, plus $1 per online payment, to either address at the very bottom of the screen. That's a total of $10 by U.S. postal order, which we recommend (the post office collects its own surcharge), and we send 10% of that $10, or $1, to the author or a charity of his or her choice. Ten Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books would probably fit into a package for $55, of which Martin or her charity would receive $10.