No Babysitters Allowed by Amber Stewart and Laura Rankin

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No Babysitters Allowed by Amber Stewart and Laura Rankin

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Hopscotch is an extremely brave little rabbit. There is very little that scares him apart from being left at home with the babysitter while his parents enjoy an evening out. His tummy hurts, he does not want to play with Mrs Honeybunch and he even builds a camp where no babysitters are allowed. Mrs Honeybunch is a very kind thoughtful babysitter though and it's not long before Hopscotch realises that having a babysitter is not so bad after all.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747598473

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I expect that most parents will have, at some time, found it difficult to leave their child with a babysitter. Also, most children will have had a good attempt at trying to stop their parents going out particularly if they are not too keen on the replacement. If you or your child identify with either of these scenarios then you will definitely appreciate the story of No Babysitters Allowed.

In this delightful picture storybook we meet Hopscotch who is a young rabbit. We soon learn that he is incredibly brave and will even remove the spiders that scare his mummy and not cry when he falls off his tricycle. However, there is one situation where he does not feel brave at all and that's when he has to be left with the babysitter, even when it's the very nice Mrs Honeybunch. After the worried tummy ruse has failed and his parents have left for the evening, he resorts to setting up a camp where no babysitters are allowed. He even puts his toy Rabbity on guard duty outside.

Unfortunately it's very boring inside the camp with nothing to do, especially when Hopscotch hears Mrs Honeybunch start reading stories to Rabbity. To make matters worse, she gets in such a muddle telling the stories and mixing up the names that Hopscotch cannot stand it. He bursts out of the camp to set her right and before long they are busy sharing stories, building cars and painting pictures – all the things that the best babysitters do so well. Unsurprisingly, his worried tummy disappears and by the time Mummy and Daddy arrive home he is a very happy rabbit telling them that Mrs Honeybunch can definitely come to play again!

I read this story with both my three year old and five year old daughters. They really enjoyed the story but didn't really identify with Hopscotch's worries as they generally love their babysitter. There is a subtle humour in this book and I do believe that my elder daughter understood that Mrs Honeybunch was really playing a clever trick on Hopscotch. The story provided a lot of talking points and both girls were in awe of Hopscotch's willingness to get rid of the spiders. It's also a very useful book to share with children who might not enjoy being left when their parents go out. This book shows that actually most babysitters are very kind and you can have a lot of fun with them. Also its message is reassuring as it demonstrates quite nicely that mummies and daddies do always come home after their nights out.

Along with this funny but thoughtful storyline are some wonderful expressive illustrations. There is a great deal of detail in the pictures and they do match and enhance the words on the page very well. Hopscotch has a wide range of facial expressions which demonstrate his bravery, his anxiety and his enjoyment at different stages in the story. Our favourite illustration is when Mummy and Daddy are about to leave and are virtually pushed out the door by the very capable Mrs Honeybunch. Both Mummy and Hopscotch look so worried and it reminds me very much of that bittersweet feeling I often get when escaping for a night out – a sense of freedom tinged with a sense of guilt. This feeling is captured perfectly in this picture. My five year old also likes the fact that on the front cover there is a sign with the words NO BABYSITTERS ALLOWED. When we arrive at the last page the sign is still there but the word NO is firmly crossed out!

The story is told through quite simple language making it easily accessible for both girls. In fact, the story is written in such a way, that my elder daughter who is in Year 1 and has only had two terms at school can pretty much read it for herself (after having it read to her a couple of times). She is able to use her knowledge of phonics and high frequency words as well as her predictions from the storyline and the pictures. She still needs some prompting and help with some of the longer words but this book has been such a boost to her confidence and this is something I had not anticipated.

Overall, we really enjoyed No Babysitters Allowed. It has an identifiable and enjoyable storyline, appealing characters and lovely illustrations. It is definitely a story we would recommend for sharing with young children. If this story appeals to you and your child, you could take a look at Molly and her Dad by Jan Ormerod and Carol Thompson.

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