Only two days after her first assignment for the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors, 12-year-old Gabby Duran’s cosmically renowned babysitting skills are called back into service.
Ever enthusiastic, the “Sitter to the Unsittables” quickly befriends a lonely young troll whose penchant for thievery and riddles might just make Gabby the most hated member of the Brensville Middle School orchestra. Plucky, positive, and peppy, Gabby remains a one-dimensional yet likable protagonist. Unfortunately for her and for readers, this follow-up to Gabby Duran and the Unsittables (2015) isn’t all that…adventurous. Most of the novel centers on Gabby’s desperate efforts to recover a rare book to be auctioned off to raise funds for the orchestra, all while trying to adhere to strict policies designed to protect A.L.I.E.N.’s secrecy. She risks termination, but there’s no bounty on her head. There are no dark agents hot on her trail. The stakes somehow feel lower this time around, and both tension and intrigue suffer. While the cast of secondary characters remains largely underutilized, one of the best parts about this sequel is that Gabby’s best friend, Zee, is given a slightly larger role than before. With her love of science and gadgetry, Zee is perfectly suited to take part in the alien escapades and to remind preteen readers that it’s cool for girls to be passionate about STEM.
A mostly lukewarm second outing. (Science fiction. 7-12)