Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Jessi's Baby-Sitter

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Jessi’s Baby-Sitter (Baby-Sitters Club #36)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1990

Publisher: Apple Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-43565-5

Length: 137 pages

Quote:  “I am far too old and responsible to need a baby-sitter. After all, I’m a sitter myself. But Aunt Cecelia does not trust me.”

In real life, “having two (or more) Mommies” usually means that one (or more) additional relatives have moved in to help Mommy care for her children, or to try to pay for the security Mommy can offer them by helping her with the children. When Jessica faces this prospect, her friends Kristy and Claudia try to reassure her that they’ve loved living with their grandmothers in their homes. Jessi knows that this kind of thing depends on the individuals involved. Kristy’s Nannie and Claudia’s Mimi are wonderful, but Aunt Cecelia is different.

Jessi’s Baby-Sitter is one of the funnier BSC books. While the kids are playing the sort of harmless-but-annoying pranks kids play to prove that they’re cleverer than someone else, which are usually somewhat funny, readers can enjoy the even funnier plot twist that forces Jessi to recognize in herself the same hyper-responsible, bossy, meddling tendencies she resents so much in Aunt Cecelia. Even while she’s short-sheeting “Aunt Dictator’s” bed, Jessi is taking over the science project and spoiling all the fun for the younger child she’s baby-sitting.

It’s all about negotiation, of course.This is the story of how Jessi and her younger sister and brother negotiate their personal boundaries with Aunt Cecelia. During the course of the story, anger and resentment will be expressed (in very nice ways) and the kids will even, from some adults’ point of view, behave badly (in very nice ways). By the end of the book, the children and their aunt will respect each other and be on good terms, and everything will be nice enough to belong on the Fabulous Planet of Nice where the members of the Baby-Sitters Club spent more than ten Earth years being thirteen (but in the nicest of all possible ways).

While it’s easy to laugh at the improbable storyline that  gave the BSC such a long early adolescence, there’s a lot to be said for the Baby-Sitters Club. The girls always provided good role models for early teenagers. They’re consistently intelligent (even though Claudia can’t spell and Stacey actually likes New York City). They earn and spend money responsibly. All of them like boys, and the two who are most wholesome and sensible and sisterly about it even have steady boy friends, but none of them  is ever boy-crazy. Each of them has nice clothes that suit her style, and none of them tries to dress like the others or nags at the others to dress like her. Each of them has talents and interests of her own, other than baby-sitting. And they always learn something middle school readers can use—for baby-sitting, or living with younger siblings—in the course of each of their adventures.  The BSC saga was really quite a contribution to the field of children’s literature.

To buy this or other BSC books here, send $5 per book + $5 per package (+ $1 per online payment, + $20 if you want one of the unique hand-dressed dolls I've been peddling locally along with these books) to the appropriate address at the very bottom of the screen. That's a U.S. postal money order for $10, or Paypal payment of $11, for Jessi's Baby-Sitter, from which we'll send $1 to Ann Martin or a charity of her choice; if you want seven more books in the series the total would be $45 or $46, from which Martin or her charity would receive $8.