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Kristy and the Secret of Susan

(The Baby-Sitters Club #32)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,692 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Kristy's newest baby-sitting charge is Susan Felder, who goes away to a special school. Susan isn't like most kids. While she can play the piano and sing beautifully... she can't talk to anyone. Susan is autistic. She lives locked inside her own secret world.

Kristy thinks it's unfair that Susan has to be sent off to school and is treated differently from everyone else. But
Paperback, 145 pages
Published 1996 by Scholastic (first published February 1st 1990)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  1,692 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Aug 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
i was not looking forward to reading this book again, & it was actually even worse that i remembered. this is the one where kristy gets a month-long regular sitting job watching susan felder, an eight-year-old autistic girl who lives around the corner from claudia. the club has never sat for susan before because she attends a special school, a boarding school, where her developmental issues can be professionally addressed. but she's home for a little while in this book, awaiting transfer to ...more
Feb 21, 2013 rated it did not like it

The handling of autisum in this book is what really makes it show its age. You can tell it was written before doctors and other people knew about the spectrum. Susan, the autistic kid, is portrayed as totally mute and lost in her own little world, clicking her tongue and flapping her hands and her mother having to yell just to get her attention. At one point she even wets herself in public because she's so unable to function outside her home.

Susan's mother and Kristy's thoughts outline that
Dec 17, 2015 rated it liked it
this is my first time reading this book!

kristy starts a regular baby-sitting job with susan felder, a low-functioning autistic girl who is home from her specialized (boarding) school before starting at a new specialized (boarding) school. kristy doesn't know anything about autism -- she thinks she can get susan to make friends, and she thinks she can get her parents to keep her at home and send her to the public schools' special ed programs. meanwhile, the hobart family moves into the spiers'
I couldn't sleep last night, and I couldn't concentrate on any books or podcasts, so I decided to download a BSC book to my Kindle to pass the time.

I owned this book as a kid, I think it was the only BSC book in our house that was actually mine, and I remember really liking it....probably my second favorite, right after Claudia and the New Girl. It is primarily about Susan, a child with autism who Kristy starts babysitting. It is also the book where the Hobarts (the red headed Australians)
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: autism
Kristy and the Secret of Susan is Ann M. Martin's way of educating young readers about autism. When I read this in late elementary or early middle school, I didn't consider the way Martin went about educating her readers about the characteristics of autism. I thought it was simply a good book for teens.

As an adult with greater knowledge of autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other disorders on the spectrum, I realize the way Martin portrayed Susan is incorrect. She gave Susan every possible trait
Maria Elmvang
I remember when I first read this I was so disappointed that Kristy didn't solve everything as usual. Now that I'm rereading it, I'm glad she didn't, as it just wouldn't have been realistic. As it is, it's heartbreaking.
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
In this fun edition of the BSC , Kristy gets a month long sitting job for a little 8 year old girl with Autism. She learns about what Autism is and some of the differences they have from other children. This little girls name is Susan and she doesn’t communicate/talk much or listen that well but she is very talented at other things like playing the piano and memorizing dates and songs. While all this is going on a new family moves in Mary Anne’s old house and they are all the way from Australia! ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Kristy baby sits an autistic girl named Susan, and becomes determined to "fix" her. I read this book when I was about ten, and thought it was really boring, but it actually gave a lot of good information about autism that helped me later in life.

Things I remember from reading this as a kid:
Very little. I remember that Susan was amazing with dates, and music, and that some jerk tried to make money off her as a sideshow, like in a circus. I also remember reading the whole book, and still being
Alys Marchand
Apr 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is one of the most offensive BSC books, and it's one Ann herself wrote. Ann claims to have worked with autistic children, but I have a hard time believing that. Kristy's actions get a pass only because Ann thought Susan's treatment was appropriate. I'm raising an autistic child, so have a few things to say.

The Felders, a couple who are long-time Stoneybrook residents, bring their daughter home from an institution for a while. No one even remembered they had a daughter since she was thrown
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cliquey-pizza
One of my least favorite BSC books , fortunately it's a slim read. Ann M Martin attempts to tackle the issue of autism - but sabotages the seriousness of this by going the Hollywood route and making the child savant as well. Think Rain Man. Susan is a pianist who is able to play anything, even after only hearing it once. She is also described as being very beautiful. Kristy is given the job of babysitting her , and swells with self-righteous indignation that this girl is somehow being short ...more
This book bothered me a lot as a kid, and it still bothers me now as an adult. First, and I know it was the 80s/early 90s, but the use of the word retarded more than once just grates on me. People say it, yes. I've said it once or twice and I'm not proud of that fact. Still, come on. It just felt so...unnecessarily redundant in this. Especially when Kristy associates retarded with the Downs Syndrome kids at the school assembly. Oi. Vey.

Kristy's insistence in this one just crossed a line. She
Apr 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hasn’t stood up to the test of time

This book doesn’t deal with the needs of a special needs child in a way that I feel comfortable with today, 28 years or so after being published.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I absolutely did not like this book. first of all, it can confuse readers by adding the very rare ''savant'' part of autism into this book, making young readers think that always happens. there are many issues with this book.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this once, and didn't understand it..But now I reread it, and I feel smphyathy(?) for Susan and her mother..I know kids w/ disorders like that.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This whole series is great for girls between 11-15 years old. I read every last one of them as I was growing up.
While the other baby-sitters have lives, Kristy is always all about the kiddos. Here it's no different, except she's dealing with an autistic kiddo.
Allison Preston
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was in either third or fourth grade (memory doesn't serve), I was intrigued by "Kristy and the Secret of Susan." What is autism, I wondered? I didn't know anyone who lived with it (it isn't a curse, affliction, or epidemic - people do LIVE and THRIVE with it!), but the description on the back of the book made it something I wanted to read (plus, it was "The Baby-Sitters Club"!). I found the story fascinating as a kid, and I still find it interesting now, even knowing the progress that ...more
Joey Susan
This was actually a really sweet story, a good lesson in how to always treat people kindly even if they are slightly different to you and also that even though you may want to help and make someone better it isn’t always possible.

In this book Kristy gets a new client Susan and 8 year old girl, but she isn’t just any client the Susan is autistic and unresponsive, she doesn’t understand why her parents have to send her away and wants to do everything she can to keep her there, to have her in
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, this book wasn’t really my favorite, but it had interesting plots. I really like how the teasing was handled. What I hate is teasing someone over disabilities because that person was born that way (What’s wrong with you?) If Susan knew what Mel was doing, she’d be very hurt. I think Susan’s very smart when it comes to dates and music. I also think of autism as seeing the world a little differently as a typical kid: still growing up, learning new things, and being a little unpredictable. ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, 2019, own, bsc
Like Inside Out ten years before it, Ann M Martin tackles autism in the Baby-sitters Club series - and, like I noted in my review of Inside Out, it doesn't really hold up decades later, not only because of all the times the word "retard" was thrown around. (Which, naturally, I had to read out loud and cackle about, because I am a mature woman.) The story was decent, it was nice to see some awareness and growth from Kristy, but it's hard to appreciate it when you're so busy cringing every few ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Yes a little out of date but that happens with thirty year old books

Most of the complaining reviews I think miss the point of the book. The point is to show Kristy’s concern for all children especially disabilities, I wish we had a chapter on her visiting the disabled class. And just a note, I have some disabilities and you should know a prenatal test is useless, accidents and disease can happen at any time an amnio can only tell you something genetic, an ultrasound can almost show more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally a little more Claudia in one of the other BSC member's books (still not a lot of Stacey, but she's snarky when she's here so that works)! Otherwise, I'm not quite sure how to feel about this one. An important topic, but the language is pretty outdated which makes the whole book come off as tone deaf. I do like the books with slightly more of the parents in it, although it makes me feel old because I identify more with them than the children now and it's weird (and new).
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Biggest disappointment yet.

The words "retard" and "retarded" are used several times and never properly addressed.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up. I love this book series but wasn't at all fond of the way Susan was treated by anyone in this book, including Kristy.
Denise Kennedy
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Little did I know when this book was published in. 1990 that 13years later I would have a son on the autistic spectrum. This book opened my eyes at age 11 to autism.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wow, how far we have come with the way we treat autism since 30 years ago when this was written.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I personally didn't like how this book treats autistic people. Like, at all.

Jennifer Baratta
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Autism is introduced in this book Review on
Stephanie (Once Upon a Chapter)
This review was originally posted on Once Upon a Chapter

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that these books were written in the late 80s/early 90s. Kristy means well but I found her to be pretty condescending towards Susan's parents throughout the book. You could also tell that she was being pretty naive. Susan is Kristy's charge through this book and Susan is autistic. Kristy makes some pretty harsh judgements about how Susan's parents have decided to care for her.

In the end, Kristy
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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

Other books in the series

The Baby-Sitters Club (1 - 10 of 131 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)