Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen & Daryle Conners, 2015
Children’s novel for grades 4-8: humor, science fiction
Twelve-year-old Gabby Duran is such an incredibly super babysitter that her clients fly her across the country for her services. Her sister, ten-year-old Carmen, manages Gabby’s hectic schedule, and everything runs smoothly, even if Gabby doesn’t have as much time to practice her French horn as Madison, her orchestra rival, does. One day, after a routine babysitting job for a famous actor’s rambunctious triplets, Gabby gets an unusual offer: a woman identified only as Edwina offers her a ten-minute babysitting job. The child turns out to be an alien, and when Gabby is surprisingly successful, she is offered a job babysitting for aliens secretly living on Earth. Edwina is with an organization called Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors (A.L.I.E.N. for short) and she is desperately in need of someone with excellent babysitting skills and the ability to keep a secret. Gabby agrees, but her first job comes on the worst possible day. She is supposed to be playing in a school concert. The bulk of the book takes place during one school day, as Gabby attempts to keep a shapeshifting alien girl named Wutt safe at school. Meanwhile, Wutt is being pursued by someone from the anti-alien organization Group Eradicating Totally Objectionable Uninvited Trespassers, otherwise known as G.E.T.O.U.T.
This book may not have quite enough literary distinction to be a Newbery contender or even to make it onto many recommended reading lists, but its plot is entertaining, especially for readers who love aliens and lots of action, and it has some hilarious dialogue. (When Gabby asks her sister, “What’s the scoop?” Carmen replies, “It’s what Mom uses to measure out the coffee.”) Gabby’s close relationship with her best friends, Zee and Satchel, as well as her relationships with her mother, sister, and clients, are almost too perfect to be believable, but they do make her an extremely likable character. The pacing feels a little off to me, since the entire book takes place on two non-consecutive days and awkwardly skips over slow-action moments, but it’s adequate to keep the plot going and the reader engaged. I strongly recommend this book for any middle-grade reader who likes lighthearted, humorous, non-sciencey science fiction.
A sequel, Gabby Duran: Troll Control, will be coming out in February.