Book Thoughts: More Tales to Give You Goosebumps – Special Edition #2

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.

Something Fishy

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.

Suckers!

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.

Shell Shocker

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.

Poison Ivy

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.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #50: Calling All Creeps!

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.

Calling All Creeps! was another action packed book. I have one other Goosebumps short stories book I will read, but this is the last proper Goosebumps book I have. The story was a nice send off to the series for me. The main character, Ricky, found out there were these monsters living in his school called Creeps. The school paper’s editor in chief, Tasha, kicked him out of the reporting team. To get back at her, he attempted to put her phone number in the paper, asking all Creeps to call after midnight. This plan backfired when Tasha caught this prank and changed the number to Ricky’s phone number before publishing.

The Creeps started calling Ricky at midnight and forced him to meet in person. They transformed into lizard creatures in front of him. They thought the message in the paper was a coded message for the Creeps to mobilize and that Ricky was their leader. The rest of the book was about Ricky trying to stop the Creeps’ plans while still hiding that he wasn’t actually a Creep. The story wasn’t all that scary, but it created a lot of tension.

I got a little frustrated at how bad everyone treated Ricky. My frustration was tempered knowing it wasn’t very realistic. It was unbelievable how many bad things happened to Ricky. Even his teachers and his parents made fun of him. In real life not everyone would be against a kid like that. Another thing I didn’t like was how the Iris character wasn’t mentioned during the ending of the book. She wouldn’t have accepted what happened. It was a nice ending that tied up everything except what happened to her.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #41: Bad Hare Day

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.

Bad Hare Day was about a boy who loved magic tricks. He was constantly doing little magic shows for the other kids at school. A lot of times his little sister would ruin it by revealing the secrets to the tricks, but that never stopped him from trying to come up with new ways to fool everyone. He eventually got to see a professional magic show.  The main character, Tim, tried to talk to the magician backstage but the magician was really mean. In retaliation, Tim stole the magician’s briefcase of magic tricks.

That’s when the horror started. Tim realized he didn’t know how any of the tricks worked. These tricks weren’t benign. They had serious consequences. He had no idea how to reverse them either. The rest of the book was about Tim finding a way to fix this problem. I thought it was a fun story, not too scary but fun. When I was little, I had a cheap magic kit. I wasn’t interested in really performing though. I only wanted to learn the secret of each trick. My interest in magic faded when I saw that magicians don’t like to reveal their secrets.

I had a friend who was also really interested in magic tricks. I think it was just a phase he was going through. Right before a school trip, he had bought this little metal contraption. I don’t even remember what it did. I only remember that we both thought it was cool. It was somewhat cheap though because it broke during the trip. We both spent hours trying to put it back together and eventually succeeded. While on the trip, we got to visit a magic store there. It was a lot of fun seeing all the different tricks they had. I think my friend ended up buying some of that special paper that flashes when ignited.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #40: Night of the Living Dummy III

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.

I never read Night of the Living Dummy I or II, so this was all new. Well, maybe I did read them once from the library, but I don’t have those earlier books. Anyways, the main character here was the evil dummy, Slappy. This was the first book where the antagonist was truly evil. Slappy wanted to cause as much suffering as he could, and then he no doubt planned to kill the family. Then he’d find another family and do it all over again.

The book was much scarier than most of the other books. In most of the stories the unknown was used to create scares. Sometimes there might be a monster that was trying to kill them, but the monster didn’t talk or he was only killing so his secret wouldn’t be found out. Slappy was much worse. The fears were worse too because Slappy wasn’t just going to kill them. He wanted to torture them. That was much scarier.

Since I’m older the feelings manifested as frustration instead of fear. The main characters, a brother and sister, kept getting blamed for everything. The dummy knew to become limp when anyone else was around. No one would believe them that the dummy was alive. Their dad kept getting angrier and angrier. I really sympathized with the kids. I couldn’t wait for them to find some way to deal with Slappy. I also didn’t like the kids’ cousin. He didn’t know the dummy was alive, but he took advantage of the situation every time the dummy messed with his things. It was satisfying when the kids found a good way to pay him back.

I really liked how the main characters here were good, responsible kids. In almost all of the books, the kids were selfish or impatient or just made bad decisions. That was not the case here. The kids genuinely tried to do the right thing and yet still took all the blame. That is partly why I became frustrated. Unlike most of the books where the kids partly deserved the consequences of bad decisions, these kids were doing nothing wrong. They didn’t deserve all the suffering they went through.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #38: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena

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 story in this book mostly stuck with the typical abominable snowman (or yeti) stories, but there were a few twists to keep things interesting. The father was a photographer. He got an assignment to find the abominable snowman and take pictures of him as proof. After a few short introductory chapters, the family went off to Alaska to find the abominable snowman. Then it turned into a survival story. Their guide left them out of fear of the monster. Of course, they found the abominable snowman, but he was different than most people would expect. He was not really mean; he actually helped the family out of a few scary situations.

This is the first Goosebumps book I read where the kids’ parents were divorced. I don’t know if it was a conscious effort by the author to always portray married parents, but that seemed to be the case up to this point. I didn’t read all the Goosebumps book though. A lot of times an artist, such as writer, will be influenced by what’s going on around them in real life. Based on the author’s short biography in the book, he was still married. Maybe he knew a couple that got divorced. He could have just wanted to write something different too.

The front cover of the book had an ad for the Goosebumps TV show. I remember watching this show a little bit. Back then I had a hard time visualizing what I read. It was nice to see what the things I read about looked like. I was never a regular watcher of the TV show though. It came on in the early afternoon right after school, but many days I got home after it was already over. I mostly just watched reruns.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #34: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes

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.

It’s a big jump from the last Goosebumps book I read, #27, to this one, #34. I was getting older by the time I read this book. My interest in Goosebumps was going down. I was really getting into Star Wars books. Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes was about lawn gnomes that came to life when nobody was watching to cause mischief. I think there have been horror movies about lawn gnomes coming to life, so I don’t know if this was an original idea at the time. It was interesting to me because I recently saw the movie, Gnomeo & Juliet. The movie had a love story instead of a horror story, but seeing it made visualizing lawn gnomes coming to life easier.

As far as the story went, this book was a return to form. The main character, Joe, was the only one to notice the lawn gnomes were moving and causing all sorts of trouble at night. When he tried to tell everyone, no one would believe him. Finally, the other kids in the story at least were shown proof that the gnomes were alive. Then they all worked together to stop the gnomes. The parents continued to be oblivious and never believed the kids.

The only thing I didn’t like about this story is that not a whole lot happened. It was obvious early on that the gnomes were alive. Anyone could tell that just from looking at the front cover of the book, but the story took awhile to get to the action of the kids finally doing something to stop the lawn gnomes. It was made worse by the ending. I didn’t feel the lawn gnomes were really dealt with. I won’t get into details, but the gnomes could probably still come back in the future.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #27: A Night in Terror Tower

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.

I must have read this book for a book report because I recognized the front cover. I saw this image many times probably because I kept having to open the book to summarize it in the report. Inside the cover my mom wrote the name of one of my teachers. It had to be third or fourth grade. Remembering these things was kind of like going back in time. I remembered what it was like in third and fourth grade. It was even more interesting because the story in this book involved time travel.

The story started out with kids going on a sightseeing tour around London. At the end of the tour, they got to see an old tower dungeon. Somehow the rest of the tour group got away from them and they became lost. Then a man dressed in black started chasing them. The kids escaped and got back to their hotel only to find that nothing they remembered made sense. They had actually come from a different time. I won’t go into details to avoid spoiling the story, but I really liked it.

The story was confusing at times because they were going through time so much, but I was able to follow it well enough. I can now see why I had to keep reading the book again back when I did the book report. This book was probably very confusing to my third or fourth grade self. I have no doubt that my mom had to help me with it.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #25: Attack of the Mutant

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 had a great story. Probably the best so far. It started out like a normal Goosebumps story but quickly changed. Again, it wasn’t a typical horror story. The main character, Skipper, saw one day a building that looked like the headquarters of the villain in a comic book series he was reading. He eventually worked up the courage to enter the building and found drawings of himself near a printing press. When he got home later he read the latest issue of the comic book only to find what he had just done that day in the story. Basically, his life became a comic book story. It took him awhile to figure it out, but he got to become the hero at the end.

This was a really cool story. I know I’ve seen a story like this somewhere, but I can’t remember where. I wished the book was longer, so more details could be explained. Like when he found the drawings of himself near a printing press, it made it seem like he was in the offices where the comics were printed. It was never explained who the writers were.

The author could have done another interesting thing in the story. He could have had the comic book writers or illustrators write what Skipper was to do. Then Skipper would be paralyzed from doing anything but what had been written. That would be true horror there. Imagine being alive but not having free will. You could be suffering from immense pain, but not be able to do anything about it. That would be a living hell.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #23: Return of the Mummy

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.

Return of the Mummy was another sequel in the Goosebumps series. I didn’t like this story as much though. It seemed to be a lot more slow-moving. There were many details on various places, people, and Egyptian history, but not a whole lot happened. I think it was pretty bad as a horror book. There was only one scary part in the last five chapters or so. Everything was just normal in the rest of the book. Like the first book, a human was the evil one, not the mummy. Again, the kids had to save the day.

While reading this book I wondered how spiders and snakes ended up inside empty chambers. I saw this before in the Indiana Jones movies, but I don’t think it is actually realistic. In order for snakes and spiders to continue living, they would need a food source. Otherwise, once they became trapped inside a tomb, they would eventually all die off. There would never be a situation where a person opens a tomb to find it filled with snakes. The person might find a bunch of bones but nothing living.

I could see some tombs might have small openings that insects could fit in. Maybe the craftsmanship wasn’t perfect. A door made of stone might develop cracks that insects could get into, but it wouldn’t be crawling with insects inside. The insects could travel back and forth through the cracks. They wouldn’t all be concentrated in the closed off room.

I think this book could have been a little better if there was some more character development. All the main characters were exactly the same as before. They didn’t really change in any way from the previous book. There wasn’t much horror in it. There wasn’t much character development either. That meant there was little payoff for reading the book. I just felt indifferent after reading it.

Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #21: Go Eat Worms!

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.

Go Eat Worms! was a really fun story. It wasn’t all that scary but very interesting. It was the same length as the other books in the series, but it was packed with action from cover to cover. The first half was focused on the main character, Todd’s, science project, a worm farm made from a dollhouse cut into a cross section with clear glass for viewing. The second half was where the horror started. Worms started appearing everywhere in Todd’s belongings. It turned out to be caused by something mundane, but there was a nice scare at the end of the book.

There was one thing I didn’t get though. Todd’s friend Danny supposedly won first prize for the science fair, but the book never gave any reasoning for this. It was a total surprise because his project was the most cheaply done out of everyone, as far as the book described it. If that was the case, then why did he win? The book never explained this.

Danny’s project was a solar system with painted balloons for planets pasted on a piece of cardboard. This reminded me a project I did in school. I did a solar system mobile. My mom liked arts and crafts, so she took me to a store with that kind of stuff. We got these big styrofoam balls. They were actually made for sticking plants in, but my mom helped me paint them into each planet. We then hung them with wire and string. After the assignment was done, I kept that mobile hanging in my room for probably a decade. I thought it was a pretty cool at the time.

It was interesting reading about the science projects. The only projects we had to display were state and country projects. It wasn’t a competition though. The teachers would go around and grade every project, but I don’t remember anyone getting a prize. I think we all just got grades for how good they thought it was. It was set up like a gallery. Students and parents could look at the projects on their free time, but there wasn’t a performance aspect with people in the bleachers watching to see who would win.

At one point in the book they visited an abandoned house. I thought it was creepy, but they never went back. I think it would have been cool if the author worked it more into the story. He could have had the worms somehow be coming from this house. Maybe they explored it and found someone lived there who ate worms or maybe bred worms. Then he would be the one hiding worms in Todd’s things to scare him into not collecting anymore worms and releasing the ones he had. I guess it was a nice surprise that the plot didn’t go in this direction. That story would have been similar to some of the previous Goosebumps books.