Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #11: The Haunted Mask

Goosebumps was a series of classic horror books for kids written by R. L. Stine. They were extremely popular when I was growing up. Even these days, the volume sales of the series as a whole is second only to the more recent Harry Potter series. Before I gave these old books away, I decided to reread the books I had and write my thoughts on them. An interesting thing about Goosebumps was that both my sister and I liked it. My sister and I never got along, so it was rare sight for something to interest both of us. In fact, my sister originally got the first Goosebumps book. I only got into it after borrowing the books from her.

The Haunted Mask was a nice, classic Halloween story. It was probably the scariest so far because it didn’t rely on scary sights or monsters to scare the reader. The fear was a real fear that anyone could relate to, even adults. Basically, the main character put on a mask for Halloween, but then it wouldn’t come off. She had some fun scaring friends with it, but imagine if you couldn’t get a scary mask off and you had to look like that the rest of your life. Your life would be ruined.

The story was typical for children’s fiction. It was basically trying to teach kids a lesson: “be careful what you wish for.” The author had to see this because this saying is the title of the next book in the series. In The Haunted Mask, the girl scared easily and the other kids at school knew this, so she was always the target of scares. The girl got so fed up she vowed to scare everyone for Halloween, especially the friends that hurt her the most. Well, she got a scary mask that fooled everyone, but it was too good. She almost had to look that way the rest of her life.

Of course, this was all fake, but the lesson applies to real life. Kids so often don’t see the whole picture. They want their parents to buy them the latest toy but don’t realize their parents have bills to pay. They want to skip school but don’t realize they need their education because one day their parents won’t be taking care of them. It could even apply to teenagers who skip their part-time job and get fired. They don’t realize that being fired will look bad on their resume, making it hard to get a new job. It takes a lifetime to understand the big picture. I still don’t understand everything, so I try to follow the advice of my elders, including the Church, to give myself the best chance of having a good life and maybe getting to see heaven one day.

I could sort of relate to the main character. She was humiliated every day at school. It never got that bad for me, but there were times in elementary school when I got teased a lot. In those times, I dreaded going to school. I just wanted to stay home with my nice family. Luckily, those times were temporary in my life. I can only imagine how it is for some kids that get teased their whole life. It must cause real damage to their self-esteem that could take years to recover from.

I think it is worse these days too. A lot of parents don’t do much parenting. They expect the school to do all the work. Their kids turn out selfish, so they have no sympathy for others at school. It increases the chance that they will tease or bully the other kids. If the parents always side with their kid when their child gets in a fight or is punished at school, it doesn’t how good of a teacher they have. Parents don’t want to say no to their kids. They just want to be their best friend, which means always saying yes.

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