Welcome to my horror gateway book. It turns out I was an even bigger scaredy-cat as a kid than I thought I was. This book absolutely terrified me, so much so that when the phone rang at night for months afterwards I’d hear in my head,
If you’re unfamiliar with this book, here are the basics. Jenny has a new babysitting gig for a family she’s only just met. Their house should be featured on a renovation show. The kid Jenny is babysitting, who looks angelic, has interests that range from watching Ghostbusters (awesome choice, kid!) to scaring the babysitter.
There’s a weird neighbour hanging around, threatening phone calls and a babysitter with a big imagination who is fearing the worst. Oh, and let’s not forget the newspaper headline …
THIRD BABYSITTER ATTACK HAS POLICE ON ALERT.
This read was a fun trip down memory lane but the things that scared me as a child seem silly now. I could have sworn that Jenny answered at least another dozen creepy phone calls and I don’t remember it being so obvious who the big bad was.
Note to my kid self: When you’re only introduced to a few male characters, it kinda narrows the field of potential male baddies.
I think as a kid I assumed the bad guy was going to be a stranger, because it was the 80’s and we were Stranger Danger all the way. It never occurred to me that you could actually know a villain so R.L. Stine probably didn’t even need to include any red herrings to fool me.
Jenny, who I can only assume failed Horror 101, does what all good potential victims do when they hear a strange noise in the house.
For most of the book Jenny lets her imagination run wild, gets scared and second guesses pretty much everything. She waits for the final act, when she probably should be paying attention, to let her guard down.
80’s Nostalgia Bonus Points
🎧 Jenny has a Walkman. Cassettes … Those were the days. I loved my Walkman so much, even after I learned that other people could hear me sing while I was using it.
⏰ Laura, Jenny’s friend, wears a Swatch, one of the coolest accessories of my childhood.
📸 Flashcubes are mentioned in a description. I haven’t thought of those in years. It could be my memory deceiving me but I’m almost positive I got a minor burn from one of those.
I probably should apologise to you in advance. There are three more books in this series, I own them all and I just realised that Jenny is in every single one of them. I wonder if she invests in an answering machine. Please don’t tell me she thinks it’s a good idea to babysit again!
“Hello? Anyone there?”
Once Upon a Blurb
From the minute Jenny accepted the Hagen babysitting job, she knew she had made a mistake.
First there was the dark and disheveled Hagen house, moaning and groaning with her every step. Then the crank phone calls started. “Hi, Babes. Are you all alone? Company’s coming.” When Jenny discovered a creepy neighbour prowling in the backyard and a threatening note in her backpack, she realised this wasn’t a harmless game.
But who would want to hurt her? What kind of maniac wanted to scare Jenny … to death?