Saturday, July 01, 2017

My Top Secret Dares and Don'ts

30312748Truiet, Trudi. My Top Secret Dares and Don'ts
March 14th 2017 by Aladdin
Public library copy

Kestrel's grandfather has passed away, so she and her mother and brother travel to British Columbia to help her grandmother out with her lodge. Her father stays behind because he is very busy with environmental law cases. When they arrive, Kestrel finds out from the cute bellboy, Beck, that the lodge is in trouble because people have been posting (fake) negative reviews and business is down. The lodge is in danger of being bought by the father of evil twins who are staying at the lodge, Veranda and Rose. Kestrel misses her friends and would rather be home, but she tries to make the best of the situation by hanging out with her brother and grandmother, and trying to help the lodge. Luckily, her best friend Langley's mother is a PR person, so the two come up to the lodge as well. Kestrel gets involved in a local effort to save endangered toads, investigates the hotel situation, and overcomes some of her fears and anxieties.
Strengths: I love books about Kids Who Do Things, and helping out with family businesses is always fun. There's an age appropriate "like" interest, some mean girls, brush with a celebrity, some family drama but parents who are alive if sometimes busy, and a productive look at some anxiety. Kestrel's grandmother and father are described as being Squamish ( a Canadian indigenous people), but there aren't a lot of details about culture.
Weaknesses: The M!X books are so interesting. I don't know why they don't get more attention. I am so, so glad that there is also a MAX series for boys.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and enjoyed my short stay in scenic British Columbia!

Ballarini, Joe. A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting
June 20th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Kelly desperately wants to attend Camp Miskatonic-- she's overhead Deanna, head of the Princess Pack at her school talk about it, and it sounds awesome. The problem? It costs $4,000 to go for the summer, and Kelly's family is struggling financially. She has managed to raise $3,000 by doing various chores for neighbors, but still has a way to go. When her friend Tammy suggests babysitting, Kelly is reluctant to look into that activitiy. When her mother volunteers her to babysit Ms. Zellman's son Jacob on the night of a big Halloween party, Kelly isn't happy. However, the money is good, and her mother is worried that Ms. Zellman, who is her boss, will fire her if Kelly doesn't babysit. Once settled in for the night with Jacob, Kelly isn't a great babysitter. She texts her friends, lets Jacob eat candy as a bribe to get her phone back from him, and just wants him to go to sleep so she can watch her Korean soap opera on Netflix. She's been warned that Jacob has nightmares, but she doesn't realize the monsters are real. When one attacks Jacob and drags him off, Kelly calls his regular babysitter, Liz, who comes to the rescue with her other charge strapped in a front pack! With the help of Mama Vee, Kelly's former babysitter,the Grand Guignol, aka The Bogeyman, and all of his evil hench monsters are put in their places!

Liz is a great character, and I love that she bills herself as a "professional babysitter". Kelly doesn't understand this at first, but she certainly does later! Her Babysitter's Guide is filled with lots of descriptions of different monsters so that she can identify them, as well as the best way to battle them. She also carries a back pack full of objects that are made to look normal but are really monster fighting equipment.

The babysitter's have to battle an amazing array of monsters, from Toadies and Shadow Monsters to the apparition Cat Lady. The Bogeyman is quite scary and evil, and Liz has a long history with him that motivates her to do away with him once and for all. Because the organization is organized and effective, it changes the way that Kelly feels about being a babysitter.

Readers who like Lorey's Nightmare Academy, Coville's The Monsters of Morley Manor, Lubar's Monsterriffic Tales or Stine's Goosebumps books will enjoy following Kelly's adventures in babysitting, and may pick up a few points in case they are babysitters themselves!

I didn't care much for this one because of the negative way the babysitters are portrayed-- frizzy hair, dental appliances, social outcasts, etc. Deanna and her "princess pack" were over the top, too. I also kind of wanted to slap Kelly for wanting to go to the camp. Use the $4,000 to pay for college, girl, instead of wanting to be like the bratty Deanna. It just seemed more like what people thought middle school was like, and not how middle school actually is.

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