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Jessi's Secret Language (The Baby-Sitters Club #16)

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,979 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
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 wo
Paperback, 145 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Scholastic (first published March 1st 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 31, 2010 Ciara rated it it was ok
i always thought this book was a real yawn, & my opinion hasn't really changed much in the last twenty years. it's the first jessi book, but jessi is, sadly, not exactly the most compelling character in the series. i was never into horse stories, ballet, baby brothers, or whining about being eleven, so jessi never really captured my imagination.

anyway--the A-plot involves jessi being hired on as a regular sitter for matt & haley braddock. the sitters haven't worked with the braddocks bef
Apr 22, 2013 Swankivy rated it liked it
This was one of my favorite books in this series because I thought Jessi was a neat character and I loved that she was willing to learn sign language to be able to communicate with a deaf sitting charge, though there were some inaccuracies and even some faux pas in how it was presented. We also get to see Jessi in her dance classes, dealing with not fitting in herself (because she's new, because she's the youngest, and because--of course--she's black, and no one else is). And I liked the informa ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Shira rated it it was amazing
this is the first time I've read this book!

jessi gets a regular job baby-sitting job (twice per week) with a new family, the braddocks. matt braddock is profoundly deaf and uses ASL (and doesn't lip-read or verbally speak), so jessi learns about deafness and she starts learning ASL. meanwhile, jessi is cast as the star of a ballet (Coppélia) performed by her ballet school, in spite of the fact that she is both the youngest and newest member of her class. see the plot highlights section for why I
Kristine (The Writer's Inkwell)
Posted originally on my blog:
The Writer's Inkwell

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
Laura Hughes
Jessi baby-sits a Deaf boy; dances lead in a ballet; is perfect in every way.

Jessi’s aptitude for languages (sure) makes her a natural for a regular sitting job with a new family, the Braddocks, whose son Matt is Deaf. Jessi becomes more or less instantly conversational in ASL. Also, despite being the youngest in her class, Jessi earns the lead role of Swanilde in her ballet school’s production of Coppélia. Some of her classmates resent her apparently effortless ballerina skill, but she wins the
Jun 19, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
I didn't really read the French version of this novel but for some reason it's the only one listed on either Good Reads or Amazon. Ann M. Martin is not so good at naming her books. There is no "secret" language, in actuality it is just sign language which she uses to communicate with one of her charges. Although Jessi was my favorite baby-sitter's club character this was due more to the fact that I wanted to be like her than it was to her actual characterization. She was more contrived and less ...more
Idea Smith
Nov 28, 2013 Idea Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-this-book
If a book were a person, 'Jessi's Secret Language' would be a very, very likeable one. This is the first Jessi book and it also introduces the Braddock kids, Matt and Haley. Matt is profoundly deaf and the Babysitters Club is asked to learn sign language so they can interact with him. Jessi takes on the challenge, in addition to rehearsing for the lead role in a ballet production. Jessi's commitment doesn't just have her learning a new language but helping Matt integrate better into his neighbor ...more
Hester Rathbone
Jun 26, 2012 Hester Rathbone rated it liked it
I feel almost embarrassed admitting this but every now and then, when I'm tired of reading my "adult" books or I'm just not feeling the books on my bedside table, I'll wander over to the stack of paperbacks that I have up for trade on and pull off one of those to read. Nearly all of them are BSC books. I grew up reading these stories and loving these characters. I've read almost the entire series and amassed quite a collection of books over the years. After going to the ballet ...more
May 18, 2009 Leyla rated it liked it
Jessi Knows a secret language!

She learned it from her one and only newest charge, Matt Braddock. Matt is born deaf, and uses a very special language called , sign language. Since Jessi is Matt's baby-sitter she has to use sign language, too.

Soon, all of the children in the neighborhood of Stoneybrook eagerly want to learn sign language. Jessi is so busy, because she is working on another super secret, only for Matt.

Will Jessi be able to keep the secret and reach her goal for making a special
Julie Decker
Jul 08, 2014 Julie Decker rated it liked it
Jessi feels different because she's the youngest and the only black girl in her ballet class. In a way, she relates to her new babysitting charge, Matt, feeling different because he is deaf. With the help of Matt's sister, she begins to learn sign language so she can get to know Matt, and learns about his interest in baseball. She wants to help him connect with other kids who play baseball too, and learns more about how to celebrate a person's differences as a means of bringing people together.

Who needs updated versions? Not me. The classic first edition is just as good now as it was 25 years ago. And, yes, it makes me cringe to think of how long ago I first read these. The only thing that was outdated was a need to use a pay phone because I can't tell you the last time I saw a pay phone. Other than that, not one thing was outdated. Also, I need to re-learn sign language. It is embarrassing how much I have forgotten since college.
Mar 21, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Cute. Jessi's stories can be a bit dull, but still sweet.
Shanjida begum
Oct 05, 2009 Shanjida begum rated it it was amazing
Jessi, one of the newest (and youngest) members of the Baby-sitter's Club, gets a weekly job babysitting for a new family in town, the Braddocks. the Braddocks have two children--Haley and Matt. Matt is deaf, so Jessi begins to learn sign language to communicate with him.

Being one of the only black people in their town, Jessi understands how it feels to be different and isolated from the people around her. She begins to realize, however, that Matt's deafness not only isolates him from children h
Elise Hedlund
Aug 26, 2014 Elise Hedlund rated it it was amazing
Although I enjoy reading all the baby-sitters club books I especially liked this one. Jessi's secret language tells a wonderful story in descriptive words and a way that makes you want to read to the end the moment you pick it up. Jessi has some problems fitting in but she perseveres and helps others, not just herself. I recommend this particular book to most people, especially people who have some trouble fitting in like Jessi. Most of the other baby-sitters club books I would recommend to baby ...more
Kristine Hansen
Nov 21, 2014 Kristine Hansen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This is one of my favorite of the Baby-Sitters Club books. Jessi learns ASL in order to care for a child. The larger storyline here shows genuine caring and community spirit - teaching others sign language, building acceptance for those who are different, and providing new opportunities for the disabled. I mean seriously, all this and the girl is only 11!

Love the Jessi books and look forward to re-reading them all again.
Jennifer Worrell
Jun 12, 2015 Jennifer Worrell rated it it was ok
The heroine's perfect, everyone turns out to be friends, and everything ties up neat and happy. Then again, I'm not exactly the age for these things, and I loved 'em as a kid. I guess this is just not one of those books that stay with you as you get older.
Ashely Nicole
Jan 03, 2014 Ashely Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a joy to read!

I decided to read this book because I was feeling a bit nostalgic. I grew up reading these books and had all of them at one point. Jessi was always one of my favorites. I love the fact that she's a dancer. I love how she gets to learn sign language and mix it together with her ballet in this book. I love the way Ann M. Martin used her to tell the story. Very unique and easy to read way. Overall, this book took me back and made me feel good as I read it. I would definitely reco
Dec 17, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I've always loved this one. Both of the stories in the book are well put together and not overly boring (usually the sub story just seems like filler).
Jul 03, 2008 cubbie rated it it was amazing
okay, so the joke has always been that jessi is only ever the black character, and her stories always revolve around how she is black and oppressed-- but actually, i found a lot more to her in this than i remembered-- not even just that she dances, but that she's really into words... and there's this whole cool thing in this story about sign language as a way to dance and talk at once... i mean, the books are always simplistic and stuff in the special bsc way, but... i really thought it was swee ...more
Mar 16, 2013 April rated it really liked it
Fantastic books for young girls getting into reading!! Great stories about friendship and life lessons. The characters deal with all sorts of situations and often find responsible solutions to problems.

I loved this series growing up and wanted to start my own babysitting business with friends. Great lessons in entrepreneurship for tweens.

The books may be dated with out references to modern technology but the story stands and lessons are still relevant.

Awesome books that girls will love! And the
Apr 24, 2015 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babysitter-books
i thought it was a very sweet story!
Apr 20, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All my sign language came rushing back when I read this. It was pretty cool!
Mar 10, 2013 Natalí rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, oldie, bsc
I have serious problems with this book. Is ASL that easy?? Every kid seemed to learn it in a couple of weeks :S I guess I'm a bit biased because I watch "Switched at Birth" ( where many of the Hearing Impaired Community problems are addressed and people don't find it so easy to learn.
In other themes... this is my first Jessi book (had never read one from her POV) and she kind of disappointed me but I don't really know why :S I guess I really felt I was readin
Katie Loucks
loved learning about ASL
Delicious Strawberry
Nov 14, 2012 Delicious Strawberry rated it really liked it
Shelves: ann-m-martin
It was always refreshing to see the Baby-Sitters Club encounter kids that were different in some way (for example, Kristin babysat an autistic girl) In this book, Jessi takes on the baby-sitting duty of a boy who is deaf. The book was well-written and researched. Yes, it's a kids' book, so it doesn't offer a complex perspective in the world of the deaf or anything like that, but for its reading level, the context was presented appropriately, and it was cool to see Jessi learn sign language.
Rachel Brand
This isn't one of my favourite BSC books - Mallory and Jessi never seemed to have such strong character development as the older characters - but I still enjoyed it a lot. This book covers a lot of issues - the difficulties of living with a deaf sibling, coping with jealousy, moving to a new neighbourhood and making new friends. Quite impressive for under 150 pages! BSC books are the best comfort reading for exam time. 8/10
Kylie Abecca
May 06, 2016 Kylie Abecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite Babysitters Club book. A wonderful book for children to help them understand the importance of sign language and acceptance of others with disabilities or limitations.
Mar 04, 2014 Amie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bsc
This was always one of my favorites. I love Jessi. This would be a great book for a girl who enjoys dancing, or would like to learn more about ASL. The signs are described well enough in the book to imitate on your own. A dictionary in the back would be nice, though.
Apr 29, 2009 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, bsc, deafness
I learnt the finger-spell alphabet after reading this, as the copy I read had a few pages about Auslan at the end! I wonder if the American ones had the same about Amslang? I still remember the alphabet, too. :D
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Ann Matthews Martin was born on August 12, 1955. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, with her parents and her younger sister, Jane. After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer.

Ann gets the ideas for her books from many different places. Some are based on personal experiences, while others are based on childhood me
More about Ann M. Martin...

Other Books in the Series

The Baby-Sitters Club (1 - 10 of 132 books)
  • Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1)
  • Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-sitters Club, #2)
  • The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club, #3)
  • Mary Anne Saves the Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #4)
  • Dawn and the Impossible Three (The Baby-Sitters Club, #5)
  • Kristy's Big Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #6)
  • Claudia and Mean Janine (The Baby-Sitters Club, #7)
  • Boy-Crazy Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club, #8)
  • The Ghost at Dawn's House (The Baby-Sitters Club, #9)
  • Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-Sitters Club, #10)

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