Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls
A book review for parents
This tween chick-lit book is the second in the original "The Baby-Sitters Club" series by Ann M. Martin and is published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc.
Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
The members of the baby-sitters club — Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey — are nervous when they learn that a burglar, nicknamed the Phantom Caller, has been stealing jewelry from homes in a nearby town. In the event that the Phantom targets one of the homes in which they are baby-sitting, the girls devise a plan to notify each other if they need help. Their anxiety increases after a few of the club members answer the phone while baby-sitting and hear silence. This silence is the Phantom's trademark.
While baby-sitting together, Kristy and Claudia receive the signature call and notice a prowler outside. The police come to their aid, and the prowler turns out to be Alan Gray, a boy who has a crush on Kristy. He admits to making some of the earlier phone calls, and Claudia later discovers that Trevor Sandbourne made some of the other calls to her. Trevor is the boy she has been hoping would ask her to the upcoming school dance. The real Phantom Caller is captured the following week, and the four baby-sitters feel they have successfully ensured the safety of their baby-sitting charges.
Because Claudia is not doing well in school, her parents make her spend time each day working on her homework while other members of the family supervise. When Claudia complains about her older sister, her beloved grandmother Mimi explains that a person can only change his or her own behavior — not someone else's.
Other Belief Systems
Karen, one of the children the girls often baby-sit, believes her neighbor is a witch. Karen feels that her new freckles are the result of one of the neighbor's spells. Stacey and another baby-sitting charge watch a scary movie together in which a character comes back from the dead.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What steps did Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey take to protect themselves — and those they baby-sit — from the Phantom Caller?
Why were they afraid of this burglar? What can you do when you're afraid of a possible threat?
- Why does Mary Anne's father refuse to allow her to baby-sit?
How do those in the club respond to his decision?
- What does Claudia find frustrating about her sister Janine?
What advice does Mimi give Claudia about sisters?
Tell about a time when you were frustrated with your siblings.
How is Claudia’s situation similar to yours?
How is it different?
Does Mimi’s advice work for you? Explain.
- Did Alan and Trevor intend to scare the girls?
What could they have done differently to avoid the trouble they caused?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.