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.
This book switched things up by having ten short stories instead of one novella story. Each one was fifteen to twenty pages. The theme was that of Curly, the Goosebumps skeleton mascot, telling these stories to his fellow skeletons around a campfire. Short stories are a great format to read in a daily fashion. Each night I could just read one story, then put the book away until the next day. After reading this book, I thought of getting a short story book with Catholic themes to read daily. It can be part of my study of the faith.
Here are my thoughts for each of the short stories:
The Werewolf’s First Night
In this story Brian was scared to go to summer camp because he heard rumors of werewolves there. Of course, the werewolves turned out to be true. This story reminded me of the time I went to summer camp. I don’t know what got it in their heads, but my friend’s mom and my mom got the idea that we needed to go to a summer camp instead of relaxing during the summer like we normally did.
My friend and I were both dreading it. There was a dance at the end, and my friend got to dance with a girl he met there. He came away from camp pretty happy. I eventually became comfortable and used to camping life but never liked it. I was glad when I got back home. I like going outdoors for day trips, but I hate spending the night outdoors. It’s weird because my parents took me camping a lot when I was little. I remember I loved it, but one day something changed. I no longer liked sleeping out in the cold.
P.S. Don’t Write Back
This was another story at a camp, but this time involving ghosts. When David investigated a letter that went to him instead of another David, he found out the other camp area was haunted by ghosts. I was in Camp Fire in elementary school. Once a year we would go camping. While sitting in front of the fire, our leader would tell us ghost stories. It was one of the best parts of the day because we got to just sit there and relax. Most of day we would be out hiking and doing other exercise activities, which I didn’t really care for. I was never friends with anyone in our group, so I mostly just tagged along. My mom wanted me to do something outside of the normal school things. I didn’t want to do sports, so Camp Fire is what I did.
Eric couldn’t stand the hot apartment during the summer. Somehow he found a way to shrink himself, so he could swim in his fish tank. He almost got flushed down the toilet by his mother who was getting rid of a dead fish from the tank. Somehow when he became dry he grew back to normal size and somehow his mother didn’t notice this. She just thought he had been in the bathroom the whole time. The story seemed a little unbelievable. It reminded me a little of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Eric was so small his mother and sister couldn’t see or hear him.
You Gotta Believe Me!
This story had a science fiction theme. Stanley got a telescope from his parents. He saw flying saucers through it and found out the aliens were brainwashing everyone with TV waves. Nobody would believe him, so he had to stop them himself. One of the main plot points was how the rule of no TVs in Stanley’s family saved them from being brainwashed. I bet this was a subtle move by the author to get kids to think about not watching TV.
This could be adapted to the modern day by having a no smartphones or no social networks rule. Too many kids just spend all their time with these devices and the Internet. There’s nothing wrong with them in moderation, but most kids are not capable of moderating themselves. Parents need to step in and set limits. That means taking away the smartphone or computer during certain times of the day.
Ashley and her brother and cousin were vacationing with their parents on an island. One day they discovered this slimy blob creature with suction cup feelers in an old trunk washed up. They found out it had an appetite for gummy worms. I wish this book was longer because the blob was never really dealt with. Ashley and her relatives were able to escape it, but the blob was still there ready to prey on the next person that found it. I liked the idea of vacation on a small island. I’ve visited the beach many times but always on a big coast, not a little island.
Dr. Horror’s House of Video
I just realized all these stories are about summer vacation. Anyways, in this story Ben was bored with his horror movie collection. He happened to find a store that specialized in horror movies. Ben ended up getting more than he asked for. It was interesting reading about a big fan of horror movies because I’ve never really liked horror movies. I saw a few of them with my friends as a teenager, but I only went to be part of the group. I never developed any interest in them. These days they are usually too graphic to me. The only horror I could like would be more intellectual than traditional horror. Another big reason is that I feel I have enough worries in real life. I don’t need to watch a movie and feel more nervous. I have enough nervousness caused by regular life. This is also why I don’t like all those scary amusement park rides.
The Cat’s Tale
A cat jumped into Marla’s room from a tree during a Thunderstorm. This cat turned out to be evil, actively trying to hurt and kill Marla. Since cats are nocturnal they are always a little mysterious. Their owners never know what they are doing during the night. That makes them great material for horror. The effect is greater for myself because my allergy to cats is scary when combined with the asthma symptoms caused by it. One time I couldn’t be in someone’s house more than thirty minutes before having to get outside. Even outside, there were a few moments I wasn’t sure if I could catch my breath.
This story had a funny ending to it. It was a nice surprise. Tara loved collecting shells on the beach. One day a shell she picked up actually talked to her. It told her where to get the biggest shell in the world. It turned out to be true, but the little voice in that shell wasn’t telling the whole truth. We went to the beach a lot for vacations, so I had my share of seashells. We usually saw hermit crab shells, sand dollar shells, and little crab shells. A lot of times my parents would buy me a shell at one of the local stores. The store-bought shells were cool because they were from totally different parts of the world. When I got older, I lost interest in collecting things. I still have several of the best shells, but I no longer collect new ones.
During camp Matt noticed a poison ivy plant growing really fast at night. Some kids made fun of him for thinking this, breaking off pieces of it and throwing them around. The next day it was even bigger. That night it enveloped their whole cabin. They were trapped. Matt and the other boys discovered an unlikely weapon to use against the plant. When some of the boys got rashes from the poison ivy, it reminded me of one of my trips with Camp Fire. We were hiking on a path in the woods on the campgrounds. Somehow we got lost. We could see through the trees to one of the buildings, and decided to just cut through the woods and down the hill to the building. It seemed like it took forever to get through those woods. When we finally got out, everyone had cuts and scrapes.
The Spirit of the Harvest Moon
This story took place in a nearly abandoned lodge in the woods. It reminded me a little bit of The Shining. Here, it was about ghosts possessing people. The main character, Jenny, had to make sure all the windows and doors were closed at night or else the ghost could enter the lodge and possess someone while they slept. I won’t give it away, but I loved the ending. It wasn’t very scary, funny though.
When I think of the harvest moon I think of Halloween. As I kid, I loved candy, so naturally, I loved Halloween. I didn’t really care for costumes, but I knew what I had to do to get that candy. I remember I even went trick-or-treating a few times while sick with a cold. I would not skip getting candy no matter how bad I felt. One year our family did a little haunted house in our basement. It was a lot of fun scaring people. I played a vampire locked up behind bars and would spray water at people as they walked by in the dark. I still like Halloween because of the nostalgia, but I don’t really participate anymore.