A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
What makes you weird is what also makes you cool. Friends protect each other. Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it is important. Take risks: You may surprise yourself with your own awesomeness.
Positive Role Models
Relatable main character Kelly is charmingly awkward, has loads of personality, doubts herself, is responsible. She proves to be a fierce fighter in the face of danger. Supporting characters are creative, brave, and quick thinkers. All are also thoughtless, mean, or rude at times. Kelly and most of the characters are white, save for a Black girl and a boy who's Kelly's crush, who's mostly absent from the action and regrettably exoticized. Girls are strong and fearless, while the boys are more or less sidelined and ineffective.
Violence & Scariness
Kid's nightmares are creepy, come to life. Young children are taken by the Boogeyman and his minions, and they face (sometimes) serious peril, as do the babysitters trying to save them. Fighting with weapons are mostly magical in nature and there's very little blood (scratches) and no gore.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
No swear words. Regular insults like "freak show," "idiot," and "weird."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Joe Ballarini's A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting, which is the first book in a trilogy and is being adapted for a Netflix movie, tells the story of Kelly, an average 13-year old, who fails to prevent the kid she's babysitting from being abducted by monsters. A secret society of monster-butt-kicking babysitters converge on the case, and Kelly discovers her own demon-fighting powers as she tags along. Positive messages of being true to yourself and doing what's right shine brighter than the doubts and meanness characters occasionally share (with insults like "idiot," "weird"). There's mostly tame fantasy violence with little to no blood. Relatable main and supporting characters show courage in the face of danger. Most characters are White; a Black girl is described a bit stereotypically, and another character, from Guatemala, is largely objectified as Kelly's crush. They almost kiss but are interrupted. There are scary and suspenseful scenes, so it's best for tweens who don't frighten easily and enjoy these kinds of stories.
Is It Any Good?
This funny and creepy book has all the elements of a great Halloween read for older kids. Kelly and the monster-hunting babysitters are all impressive in their own right, and have moments of fear and doubt like real people. And illustrations by Vivienne To add to the fun. The scary scenes in A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting are quite scary -- with monsters abducting terrified children and trying to kill the babysitters -- but also pretty tame in their fantasy violence, with little blood or gore. Most appealing to middle grade readers, perhaps, is that really young kids, tweens, and teens are the only hope for saving the world.
Yet, Kelly falls flat at times, reverting to boy crazy and self-interested when it's not appropriate. And the story fails its two characters of color, who seem like they are there to check the diversity box. While one is more developed and complex than the other, neither ends up feeling fully realized or authentic. Excessive product mentions (including Jansport, Facebook, Uggs, Instagram, Amazon, Reef sandals, SpongeBob SquarePants, and more) mar what is otherwise a fun and spooky read.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.