The Baby-Sitters Club Wiki
The Baby-Sitters Club Wiki
This article is about the original novel. For the graphic novel see Claudia and the Bad Joke (Graphic Novel).

Claudia and the Bad Joke is the 19th book in the original The Baby-Sitters Club series.

Back Cover[]

Claudia's not worried when she hears her newest baby-sitting charge, Betsy Sobak, is a great practical joker. After all, how much harm can one little girl do?

Plenty. Claudia breaks her right leg as a result of one of Betsy's mean jokes...and now she's talking about quitting the club. "Baby-sitting," she says, "is just too dangerous." Kristy thinks Betsy needs to be taught a lesson. She also thinks the Baby-sitters are just the ones to do it.

Watch out, Betsy Sobak! The joke war is on!


Main Plot[]

There is a practical joke war going on in Stoneybrook due to a slapstick comedy festival at the Stoneybrook Public Library. Claudia gets caught up in it the worst when she sits for Betsy Sobak and breaks her leg as the result of a joke. Now the club has to convince Betsy that jokes that hurt people are not jokes at all.


Since Claudia broke her leg, she has a lot of time to sit and reflect on her life in baby-sitting. She starts to wonder if maybe she should just quit the BSC and focus on her art, like she had contemplated doing in book #12 . In the end, she realizes she would miss the kids too much and stays in the club.


Claudia's Family

BSC Members





Pop Culture and Real-Life References[]

  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (books)
  • The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson, The Red Balloon, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (movies)
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • People, Tigerbeat, Seventeen, and Vogue (magazines)
  • Wheel of Fortune, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy
  • Wyken, Blynken, and Nod, The Owl and the Pussycat, Jabberwocky (poems)

Continuity and Inconsistencies[]


  • When talking about the good times Claudia had with the BSC, everyone brings up the events of: Stacey's Mistake, Lucy Newton's christening from Claudia and Mean Janine, and the trip to Disney from Baby-sitters on Board!
  • Claudia mentions that Kristy broke her ankle. This was first mentioned in Kristy’s Great Idea.


  • Claudia mentions that Mallory was not part of the BSC when they went to Disney World, but she and her family did go on the trip.

Ann M. Martin's Dear Reader Letter[]

Dear Reader,

In Claudia and the Bad Joke, trouble starts when Betsy Sobak is carried away by the practical jokes she receives from McBuzz’s Mail Order. When I was young, I loved to order things through the mail—from the backs of cereal boxes, from comic books, and, best of all, from bubblegum wrappers. My prize possession was a piece of fool’s gold, which came in a little gray flannel sack. It cost twenty-five cents, but I thought it was very valuable. Back then, hardly any catalogues came in the mail.

But every fall, Sears Roebuck sent out its Christmas catalogue, The Wish Book. I pored through it, turning down the corners of pages on which I saw toys I wanted. Today, I still do most of my shopping through catalogues. I just love getting things in the mail, although it’s been a long time since I ordered a practical joke.


  • A 2022 reprint was released on February 1 [1].
  • The library hosts a slapstick film festival.
  • The Sobaks are new clients to the BSC, Claudia knows other teens that would also sit for her.
  • Dawn has been eating at the Kishis' for dinner from time to time if her mom is working late since Jeff left.
  • Claudia gets an 81% on her math test.
  • Claudia was Betsy's first babysitter from the Babysitters Club.
  • McBuzz's is brought up later in Karen's Big Joke.
  • The BSC has taken a first aid course sometime prior to this book.
  • Claudia thinks her parents are dorks but every now and then they come through.
  • The Clive Baity's Traveling Circus comes to town.
  • Dawn calls Jeff for jokes on how to get back at Betsy.
    • She borrowed a fake spider from Buddy Barrett.
  • Claudia is afraid of being held back in chapter 12. In Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout, she is sent back to the seventh-grade.
  • Claudia takes phone calls from Stacey in this book.
  • Kristy asked Sam to help her handle Betsy.
  • Mr. Pike and Mrs. Kishi went to get coffee together when Claudia was staying at the hospital.


Baby-Sitters Club Books
The Summer Before | #1 Kristy's Great Idea | #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls | #3 The Truth About Stacey | #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day | #5 Dawn and the Impossible Three | #6 Kristy's Big Day | #7 Claudia and Mean Janine | #8 Boy-Crazy Stacey | #9 The Ghost at Dawn's House | #10 Logan Likes Mary Anne! | #11 Kristy and the Snobs | #12 Claudia and the New Girl | #13 Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye | #14 Hello, Mallory | #15 Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn | #16 Jessi's Secret Language | #17 Mary Anne's Bad-Luck Mystery | #18 Stacey's Mistake | #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke | #20 Kristy and the Walking Disaster | #21 Mallory and the Trouble with Twins | #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet-sitter | #23 Dawn on the Coast | #24 Kristy and the Mother's Day Surprise | #25 Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger | #26 Claudia and the Sad Good-bye | #27 Jessi and the Superbrat | #28 Welcome Back, Stacey! | #29 Mallory and the Mystery Diary | #30 Mary Anne and the Great Romance | #31 Dawn's Wicked Stepsister | #32 Kristy and the Secret of Susan | #33 Claudia and the Great Search | #34 Mary Anne and Too Many Boys | #35 Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook | #36 Jessi's Baby-Sitter | #37 Dawn and the Older Boy | #38 Kristy's Mystery Admirer | #39 Poor Mallory! | #40 Claudia and the Middle School Mystery | #41 Mary Anne vs. Logan | #42 Jessi and the Dance School Phantom | #43 Stacey's Emergency | #44 Dawn and the Big Sleepover | #45 Kristy and the Baby Parade | #46 Mary Anne Misses Logan | #47 Mallory on Strike | #48 Jessi's Wish | #49 Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street | #50 Dawn's Big Date | #51 Stacey's Ex-Best Friend | #52 Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies | #53 Kristy for President | #54 Mallory and the Dream Horse | #55 Jessi's Gold Medal | #56 Keep Out, Claudia! | #57 Dawn Saves the Planet | #58 Stacey's Choice | #59 Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym) | #60 Mary Anne's Makeover | #61 Jessi and the Awful Secret | #62 Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever | #63 Claudia's Freind Friend | #64 Dawn's Family Feud | #65 Stacey's Big Crush | #66 Maid Mary Anne | #67 Dawn's Big Move | #68 Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter | #69 Get Well Soon, Mallory! | #70 Stacey and the Cheerleaders | #71 Claudia and the Perfect Boy | #72 Dawn and the We Love Kids Club | #73 Mary Anne and Miss Priss | #74 Kristy and the Copycat | #75 Jessi's Horrible Prank | #76 Stacey's Lie | #77 Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever | #78 Claudia and Crazy Peaches | #79 Mary Anne Breaks the Rules | #80 Mallory Pike, No. 1 Fan | #81 Kristy and Mr. Mom | #82 Jessi and the Troublemaker | #83 Stacey vs. the BSC | #84 Dawn and the School Spirit War | #85 Claudia Kishi, Live From WSTO! | #86 Mary Anne and Camp BSC | #87 Stacey and the Bad Girls | #88 Farewell, Dawn | #89 Kristy and the Dirty Diapers | #90 Welcome to the BSC, Abby! | #91 Claudia and the First Thanksgiving | #92 Mallory's Christmas Wish | #93 Mary Anne and the Memory Garden | #94 Stacey McGill, Super Sitter | #95 Kristy + Bart = ? | #96 Abby's Lucky Thirteen | #97 Claudia and the World's Cutest Baby | #98 Dawn and Too Many Sitters | #99 Stacey's Broken Heart | #100 Kristy's Worst Idea | #101 Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout | #102 Mary Anne and the Little Princess | #103 Happy Holidays, Jessi | #104 Abby's Twin | #105 Stacey the Math Whiz | #106 Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade | #107 Mind Your Own Business, Kristy! | #108 Don't Give Up, Mallory! | #109 Mary Anne to the Rescue | #110 Abby the Bad Sport | #111 Stacey's Secret Friend | #112 Kristy and the Sister War | #113 Claudia Makes Up Her Mind | #114 The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier | #115 Jessi's Big Break | #116 Abby and the Best Kid Ever | #117 Claudia and the Terrible Truth | #118 Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer | #119 Stacey's Ex-Boyfriend | #120 Mary Anne and the Playground Fight | #121 Abby in Wonderland | #122 Kristy in Charge | #123 Claudia's Big Party | #124 Stacey McGill... Matchmaker? | #125 Mary Anne in the Middle | #126 The All-New Mallory Pike | #127 Abby's Un-Valentine | #128 Claudia and the Little Liar | #129 Kristy at Bat | #130 Stacey's Movie | #131 The Fire at Mary Anne's House
Super Specials
#1 Baby-sitters on Board! | #2 Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation | #3 Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation | #4 Baby-sitters' Island Adventure | #5 California Girls! | #6 New York, New York! | #7 Snowbound | #8 Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake | #9 Starring the Baby-sitters Club #10 Sea City, Here We Come! | #11 The Baby-sitters Remember | #12 Here Come the Bridesmaids! | #13 Aloha, Baby-sitters! | #14 BSC in the USA | #15 Baby-sitters' European Vacation
Portrait Collection
Stacey's Book | Claudia's Book | Dawn's Book | Mary Anne's Book | Kristy's Book | Abby's Book
The Baby-Sitters Club Notebook (1987) | The Baby-Sitters Club Postcard Book (1991) | Trivia & Puzzle Fun Book (1992) | Ann M. Martin: The Story of the author of the Baby-sitters Club (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Guide to Babysitting (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Chain Letter (1993) | The Baby-Sitters Club Secret Santa (1994) | Audio Books on Cassette Tape (1994-5) | BSC Movie Novelization (1995) | The Complete Guide to the Baby-Sitters Club (1996) | Autograph Book (1998) | BSC Graphic Novels (2006-present) | We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers (2021) | Welcome to Stoneybrook: A Guided Journal (2021) | The Official Coloring Book (2023)