Babysitting is Kelly’s worst nightmare.
Needing funds for summer camp, the white 13-year-old grudgingly takes a babysitting job. When her charge is kidnapped by leather-taloned beasties, Kelly discovers that the Boogeyman is actually real. Next thing she knows, Kelly is fighting monsters alongside a secret babysitting society, members of which are a moped-driving teen who looks like she stepped out of an apocalyptic future and three of Kelly’s classmates; all are white save African-American Berna, whose hair is “wild [and] puffy.” The stakes are high now, as it seems the stolen white 5-year-old has the power to dream dreams into reality, and the Boogeyman wants him in order to fill the world with living nightmares. Kelly, who has never been popular, discovers she’s got some really surprising attributes, which increase her chances with her longtime crush, Victor from Guatemala (who’s both exoticized and largely off the page). While the story never gets all that frightening, it has its moments, as in the titular guide’s catalog of monsters, which includes the ghost of a woman eaten by her own cats. Grand Guignol, aka the Boogeyman, has a flair for the theatrical, and his snarky complaint exemplifies much of the dialogue: “I get called names like ‘creepy evil, twitchy goat legs’ or ‘that scary man who keeps trying to eat me.’ ”
A series opener that melds Goosebumps and The Baby-Sitters Club with ironic glue. (Adventure. 8-13)