- Age Range: 8 and up
- Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
- Series: Baby-Sitters Club (Quality) (Book 32)
- Publisher: Scholastic (March 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0590731890
- ISBN-13: 978-0590731898
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,144,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kristy and the Secret of Susan (Baby-Sitters Club (Quality)) Paperback – March, 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
Introducing a character with autism in The Babysitter series was a good idea, just presented in a way I did not like. Having a child with autism should never be a secret. This book is a start by educating children about those with autism.
The premise of The Babysitters Club is to meet three times a week for thirty minutes to get calls for sitting jobs. Each of the members has a title and function. Kristy and The Secret of Susan is written in the third person, by Kristy. Kristy is President of the Babysitters Club, thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.
There is a Babysitters Club notebook that contains the writeup of all the jobs they do. They learn how their friends solve problems and what is going on with the kids they watch.
I often found myself looking back to the beginning recap on each of the members since it was confusing to recall the sibling names for all the girls.
The reason for me perusing The Babysitters Club #32, Kristy and The Secret of Susan was due to the topic of autism, so I tried to keep track of all the members.
One day Mrs. Felder called to get someone to sit Susan. Susan went to a special school far away, currently home for one month before heading off to another new school. Mrs. Felder wanted a sitter for three days a weeks from 3:30 - 5:30, so she could have a break. Mrs. Felder mentioned to Kristy on the phone that Susan was autistic.
At the Babysitters Club meeting the girls discussed what autistic meant. Kristy looked the word up in the dictionary, which mentioned Childhood Schizophrenia. When checking that word out Kristy became more confused, "withdrawing from reality".
I liked that the storyline had them check the dictionary. In fact that was the first place I looked when I read "autistic like" in a report seven years ago relating to my own son.
Right away I had mixed feelings about Mrs. Felder. It did not seem right to me as the single parent to two boys on the autism spectrum that this parent needed so many breaks during a one-month period her eight year old autistic daughter was home. I felt this was the wrong message and would have preferred if she needed to keep up with some obligations she had year-long. It seemed a bit drastic for respite time with the time-period chosen.
We learn that Susan plays the piano and remembers dates. She can sing and recite music she just heard, but does not speak. Although not mentioned within the pages of The Babysitters Club, Kristy and The Secret of Susan these are savant skills that affect about 10% of the autistic population.
Susan is in her own world, she wrings her hands, clicks her tongue and rarely makes eye contact. Her yard is fenced in for she gallops back and forth. My son is also eight and he has been skipping merrily along for several years now and does not speak either.
The month went by quickly and then it was time for Kristy to help Mrs. Felder pack for Susan and say goodbye. This was when Kristy met Mr. Felder and told him of her dream to keep Susan home with them and make friends in the neighborhood.
Mr. Felder explained to Kristy about the special school and how they used music to get through to kids. It was also shared that Mrs. Felder was going to have another baby.
Kristy thought about being a teacher working with special kids like Susan. The Babysitters Club, Kristy and The Secret of Susan covers fifteen chapters within 145 pages. It is a quick read for a pre-teen or teenager. It might be helpful for a sibling to see how others in their age group learn about autism through trial and error.
Although the reader had some insight into the special talents of Susan, it was not really made clear why she needed the special school far away from home. It almost seemed like since Mrs. Felder was having another baby that they shipped off Susan so they could be the family they had wanted.
This book is from 1990 and attitudes were different regarding disabilities and autism.
Instead of treating Susan with dignity, she's treated appallingly. Kristy physically yanks her around, forces her outside when she's trying to go to the bathroom, and somehow didn't realize something was amiss when kids were coming to the door to have Susan play a song and then leave. Susan's parents are worthless pieces of s***e who can't be bothered to spend time with her and can't wait to ship her back off to another school. Even on school breaks, Susan isn't home, and that's in the canon of this book. The Felders live locally, yet Susan's never seen. The babysitters actually discuss that. Susan is hidden away from the world like a shameful secret. The parents are ultimately neglectful and very stupid for thinking a 13-year-old should be left in charge of a profoundly autistic child. My daughter is high on the spectrum, and I won't leave her with anyone but an adult I've had the chance to watch interact with her for many hours.
The most disgusting part of this book is when Mrs. Felder announces she's pregnant again, and the pregnancy is literally called a second chance at having the family they wanted.
This book shouldn't even get one star.
Also I didn't like the way Kristy treated Susan at first, like when she dragged her outside even though she wanted to play the piano. It wasn't hurting her, was it? Forcing autistic kids to interact doesn't do anything but agitate them more. Believe me, I know. And talking to her like she was two? Just because she couldn't respond doesn't mean she couldn't understand normal speech.