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Monday, February 22, 2016

Things I've Read Recently (27): Goosebumps Edition

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

Yeah, you read that right. I'm writing a blog post about Goosebumps. Who would I be if I didn't mention everything I read in a blog post? Hopefully this will be a quick one. I had to rush to get these to who I wanted to give them to because it was the last time they were coming before the winter break, so I'm doing this by memory and my notes.

And, hey, this is pretty timely now what with the movie just coming out on DVD!

The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena by R. L. Stine

Published: While first published in 1995, Scholastic released this edition just recently in early 2015.
Genre: MG Horror
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 144. I don't have my copy so we'll go with it.
Part of a series? Yeah, there are a buttload of these. It's #38 in the original series, and #27 in the Classic Goosebumps series.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Jordan Blake and his sister, Nicole, are sick of the hot weather in Pasadena, California. Just once they'd like to have a real winter with real snow.

And then it happens. The Blakes are taking a trip to Alaska! Mr. Blake has been asked to photograph a mysterious snow creature there.

Poor Jordan and Nicole. They just wanted to see snow. But now they're being chased by a monstrous creature. A big furry-faced creature known as the Abominable Snowman!

Thoughts: My graduated Storytime kid was interested in these, so I said to her mom that I'd get some for her. She's not too sure how she feels about scary things yet, so I was looking for ones that weren't too scary. This is definitely one of the more silly ones, and that works awesome. One thing I will say - if you have a reader who wants to get into these, but is a little hesitant about being too scared, see if you can get the old covers. This updated cover is definitely scarier than the book. My Storytime kid who still comes said this cover was scary, but the other two I got in the old ones weren't scary to her.

Kids do judge books by their covers, apparently!

The back says something like Grade 4 RL, with an appeal for 4-6. I think that's a really interesting thing they've started doing, since reading level isn't something we want to get too invested in when recommending books to kids. It can be nice as a general guideline, but there's so much more to it than just that. Since my graduated Storytime kid is younger than that range, it is nice, actually, that this is one I still feel comfortable recommending to her. There's not language or anything, this one is more silly than scary, and I think the voice is engaging enough to keep her interest so that it being a more challenging read doesn't make her want to quit.

This one is somewhat dated, and others are more so, but it's not badly enough that I'm like "NOPE". Just little things like cameras with film, a lack of electronics, stuff like that. This one, like the Egypt one, might also be fun as a way to talk about Alaska, since they spend a fair amount of the book there.

My Hairiest Adventure by R. L. Stine

Published: Originally published in 1994 by Scholastic, with a reprint in 2006.
Genre: MG Horror
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 122.
Part of a series? Yes, this was #26 of the original series.
Got via: The Library
Amazon / Book Depository / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): Larry Boyd just found the coolest thing in the trash. It's an old bottle of INSTA-TAN. "Rub on a dark suntan in minutes"- that's what the label says. So Larry and his friends do. But nothing much happens.

Until Larry notices the hair. Dark spiky hair growing on his hands and face. Really gross shiny hair.

Hair that keeps growing back even after he shaves it off....

Thoughts: This is another silly one. I actually saw the TV version of this one recently when Teletoon was playing the show before Halloween. Honestly, I said about the same thing about the book as I did about the episode - who uses self-tanner they found in the garbage????

These kids, apparently.

This one is... it's kind of ridiculous. There's a major thing dating it, in that the self-tanner expires in 1991. In 1994, that was not quite so far away! The kid also are in a band that plays really old music, like Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and they mention StarSearch at one point. This one is definitely not exactly scary, and there are some major plot holes.

It's not the best Goosebumps, but I wasn't looking for the scariest, so it's fine. The idea, while kind of nonsensical, is original, and the puberty metaphor snuck in amused me. Like I said, not my favourite, but it's fine. What is WITH this cover, though? What's the green goop he's swimming in?

Vampire Breath by RL Stine

Published: Originally released in 1996 by Scholastic, with a recent re-release in 2011.
Genre: MG Horror
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 114
Part of a series? Yup, #49 in the original series.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Tough. That's Freddy Martinez and his friend, Cara. They're not afraid of anything. But that was before they went exploring in Freddy's basement. Before they found the secret room. Before they found the bottle of Vampire Breath.

Poor Freddy and Cara. They should have never opened that bottle of Vampire Breath. Because now there's a vampire in Freddy's basement. And he's very, very thirsty...

Thoughts: This one is both silly and more scary than the other two. The protaganists in this one are in more danger in this one. As an adult, especially, I can see the silliness (vampire with dentures anyone?), but I'm pretty sure I read this as a kid and was scared the appropriate amount. It has a good twist, and it's just scary eough to be fun for kids in this age range. This one also had a recent updated cover, and I think I'll say the same thing as the snowman one - scarier cover than the book actually is, and the more cheesy older cover might be more inviting for some readers who would be turned off by the cover.

If I didn't read this as a kid, I should have, because I would have loved it. Vampires and time travel? That's got baby!Laina written all over it! Vampires may not be quite as popular as they were at one time, but I think they're still pretty popular with kids, especially when you don't have the romance element at all.

I consider this one of the classics, and one of the better ones, and I really recommend this one. The only part I think some parents might have issues with is that the two main characters get into physical fights with each other, which I understand some people would have issues with. I don't have any reservations in recommending it, though.

The Girl Who Cried Monster by R. L. Stine

Published: June 1st, 1993 by Scholastic
Genre: MG Horror
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 137 plus an excerpt of the next book, and a couple of listings of other books.
Part of a series? Yes, this is #8 in the original Goosebumps series.
Got via: The library.
AmazonIndiebound / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Lucy likes to tell monster stories. She's told so many that her friends and her family are sick of it.

Then one day, Lucy discovers a real, live monster: the librarian in charge of the summer reading program.

Too bad Lucy's told so many monster tall tales.
Too bad no one believes a word she says.
Too bad the monster knows who she is...
...and is coming after her next.

Thoughts: I really love this one. I can't help it! Most of it takes place in a library, and I'm pretty much always going to love books set in libraries. Especially the one in this one, where it's kind of dark and creepy. I'm obviously a fan of libraries that are bright, open, and inviting to kids, but there's something about a creepy library that is also pretty cool, at least in a book. And the descriptions in this make me remember being in libraries as a kid. My childhood library had the children's section in the basement, so it was always a little darker and cooler than upstairs.

This one is one of the more scary ones of this group. The librarian is creepy, and there are some genuiely scary moments. Lucy gets chased, and is threatened, and it's scary. There's not even as much silly stuff in this one. And I am pretty sure I read and loved this one as a kid, and if I didn't, I know I would have loved it. The twist is great, and I won't give it away because it is actually really clever when you read it. I love this one, and it was really fun to read.

Okay, that's it! This was a fun thing to do. I know a few kids who are getting into Goosebumps these days, so that's really quite exciting. Maybe this is a starting place for some of you! Or, just fun nostalgia. Either way, let me know what you thought.

Peace and cookies,

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