Jessi knows a secret language! She learned it from Matt Braddock, the BSC’s newest charge. Matt’s been deaf since birth, and he uses sign language to speak. Since Jessi is Matt’s baby-sitter, she has to use sign language, too.
Soon all the kids in Stoneybrook want to learn to sign… which keeps the members of the Baby-sitters Club busy. Jessi’s the busiest of all: she’s working on another super secret, just for Matt.
Will Jessi be able to keep the secret and pull off her special event? Of course she will – she’s a member of the Baby-sitters Club!
When you see the title of the book, you think the secret language must be some made up thing, right? Of course, it’s clear by the cover that it’s about sign language and because of that I wish the book would have had a different title. I feel it does an injustice to those who need sign language to communicate. Especially when at the end of the book, you learn the author (because she was still writing the books at this point) stole the title from another book.
Besides that one little gripe, I really enjoyed rereading this book. As an introduction to Jessi, I felt Martin did a great job making her a likable character and even better, it allowed you a different point of view than that of always being in the halls of Stoneybrook Middle School or only at meetings. Even better, I never realized that Jessi didn’t have any real aspirations to be a ballerina when she grew up. She has a real love and joy for dance and I liked that. I suppose this is partly because this was created in the mid-80’s when people first started trying to educate young girls about the importance of being a healthy dancer vs a skinny one.
As for her plot with learning sign language in order to care for the new family in town, it was nice to be introduced to some fresh faces. As much as I loved the families/kids that are featured so prominently throughout the series, the Braddocks were a breath of fresh air to the series. Even better, though I read this book before and most of the series, I completely forgot about the kids. So it was like I was being introduced to them for the first time. All in all, this is probably one of the better books from the beginning of the series. Not only does it help bring awareness of the need for tolerance for everyone, it wasn’t so heavy handed on the “we’re the best baby-sitters ever.” Besides Jessi is probably one of the best characters from the series because she’s different and yet, she shares a lot in common with so many of the other girls.