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Today I’ve chosen the theme of babysitters for Fantastic Fiction for Kids. I would like to say that my husband and I are often out doing all sorts of exciting things of an evening which require us to have a babysitter, but the truth is we’ve NEVER had one… we’re still at that oh-just-give-me-a-cup-of-tea-and-let’s-crash-out-on-the-sofa-now-that-the-kids-are-in-bed stage of parenthood… Nevertheless, we’ve read some great books about babysitting and it’s these I’d like to share with you today.
If you’ve ever babysat for someone, perhaps your idea of a good night has been one where the children have slept soundly for the duration and you’ve been able to put your feet up and finish a good book. Well, this is not the sort of evening that the babysitter in this book is after – all she want is to have fun and play games with her charge, young Gordon. But Gordon has promised his parents that he will be good. He tries to resist temptation but soon he and his babysitter are bouncing on the bed, exploring the garden and generally having a whale of a time. Will this naughtiness be discovered by the parents? Will everything go horribly wrong? Whilst this may not be the book you leave out for your babysitter to read to your children it is a marvellously funny read with fantastic illustrations in the style of Quentin Blake.
With an opening reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are this book immediately grabs your attention. Benjamin McFadden has been left at home with his robot babysitter. Fed up with being told to go to bed Benjamin rewires the robot and soon the Babysitter has forgotten its responsibility to look after Benjamin and simply wants to have fun. Pretty soon things descend into chaos and all Benjamin wants to do is to crawl into bed and turn the lights out but he doesn’t know how to get himself out of the mess he’s created. There is a special password which will reset the robot babysitter, but what could it be? In scenes that will remind you of Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, will the house be tidy by the time the parents return? Will Benjamin be able to reset the robot and sort out the mess? The richly detailed illustrations alone make this book worth reading. I think it would be particularly appealing to slightly older children (?7-10), especially boys.
The above two books are great for M and older kids. The next two are perhaps better for younger kids, say 2-6 (rather than 4-8).
The storyline in Jake and the Babysitter is somewhat similar to Be Good, Gordon – the babysitter who is left to look after Jake just wants to get up to mischief – they slide down the bannisters, have a feast and watch a scary film together as soon as the parents have left. The twist in this tale comes when it transpires that the babysitter isn’t quite who we thought he was – the following day the headline in the local paper is “Escaped Gorilla!”…
Of all the books I’ve chosen today, this is the one that you might want to read to your kid if you are actually going to have a babysitter over and want to introduce your child to the whole idea of babysitting. There’s no nonsense or naughtiness in this book, just a gentle story about Hopscotch, a normally brave little rabbit who is rather afraid of having a babysitter. He builds himself a special “No Babysitters Allowed” den under the table and hides there until eventually his babysitter wins him round with plenty of books and games. A reassuring story with no robots, mischief or gorillas.
Coming up with music and crafty activities related to babysitting has been a bit of a challenge to say the least. The music is all pretty good stuff to dance around to (to tire the kids out before you leave them with the babysitter?):
The Baby-sitters Club is a series of children’s books about a group of teenagers who set up a babysitting club. I hadn’t heard of this series until very recently (I’m not sure how popular it was over here in the UK) but which is causing a bit of a buzz in some parts of the kidlitosphere – the books were out of print but some are due to be reprinted this spring. Do you know the series? What do you think of it?
On a housekeeping note, I’m on the look out for more contributors to Fantastic Fiction for Kids – if you (or anyone you know) would like to contribute a selection of books on a theme/topic of your choice, plus a few sentences about why you like each book, please get in touch via the comments. If you’ve already contributed and would like to do so again that would be great too!