Thursday, May 31, 2012

Goosebumps #40: Night of the Living Dummy III

Trina and her brother Dan have a ventriloquist obsessed dad. He had a dozen of the dummies stuck up in the attic, in a space he calls his own museum. He brings home a new dummy that he found in a dumpster and fixed up his head. Trina finds a slip of paper in its pocket and reads the funny words written on it. The dummy winks at her and then slaps her across the face, but no one believes her.

A few days later their cousin Zane comes to spend a week. When he visited the summer before, they scared the crap out of him with the dummies, so his dad makes them promise not to do it again. Of course weird crap starts happening right off the bat. One night they find a dummy sitting at the kitchen table and on another night, the same dummy seems to follow them around the house.

Zane takes a bunch of pictures and develops them in their dad’s darkroom in the basement. He gets pissed off when he finds that over half the photos are of the dummies. Trina and Dan start wondering if he did to scare them, but he swears he didn’t. After hearing sounds like footsteps coming from the attic, they sneak upstairs and hide. They find Zane sneaking up to move the dummies around. They confront him and both sides agree not to do it anymore.

Naturally weird things keep happening. They come home one day to find their rooms trashed, with a dummy sitting in the middle of the room. Their dad gets involved and makes both groups agree to stop messing with the dummies. One night they hear noises, run into the dining room and find the room a mess, with food everywhere and two dummies sitting at the table.

Trina and Dan sneak upstairs again and realize that one of the dummies has come to life. He tells them that his name is Slappy and that from now on, they are his slaves. The dummy attacks Trina, but she manages to grab him and drag him outside. They dump him in an old well in the yard, but the next day he comes back.

They go back upstairs and hide again. Trina thinks that if she says the words again, he’ll go back to being a dummy, but it doesn’t work. Suddenly the other dummies start advancing on them, but then Zane rushes upstairs. All of the dummies collapse on the floor. Zane tells them that he knew they were behind it all along and tells their dad the same thing, who flips out on them.

When Zane leaves, he tells their dad that he’s ready to stop taking pictures and wants to be a ventriloquist. He tells Trina to pick a dummy out for him. She gives him Slappy and right before Zane gets in the car, the dummy’s head turns and he gives her a wink.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #20: Mary Anne and the Zoo Mystery

Animals are pretty much everywhere in this book from the very beginning. Mary Anne tells Dawn about Mojo and James, two gorillas on loan from the San Diego Zoo. Then they go to the movies and see signs about a store that bought an elephant from a circus and use it as a display. Little Babar has a collection and donations go towards saving him.

They go to school and see a giant cardboard box outside and all the science teachers wearing trench coats and sunglasses. The classes all meet in the auditorium and they bring out the giant box. The teachers open their jackets and reveal shirts with the slogan of the Bedford Zoo on the front. Then they learn that they are all getting divided into groups and each group must study animal behavior. Buses will take kids to the zoo.

Mary Anne gets stuck with Alan, while Dawn, Claudia and Logan end up in another group. Kristy is most pissed because she’s in a group with Stacey. This book comes during the timeframe where Stacey quit/Kristy fired her and they never talk. Kristy wants to work at home, observing dogs. Mary Anne points out that Stacey doesn’t have a god, but she doesn’t care. Mallory offers to let her work with Pow. Mary Anne tells everyone about Little Babar and they decide to host a charity elephant walk.

The head of the zoo Mrs. Wofsey gives everyone a key that opens different boxes at each exhibit with information about the animals inside. Conveniently the keys look like the keys to the actual exhibits, but won’t open the exhibits. Everyone wants to watch the new gorillas, but Mary Anne convinces her group to do a fur, feathers, and flippers report. Howie watches bears, Alan watches seals and she watches an emu.

The emu escapes her cage one day and Wofsey freaks out a little since her key went missing. Howie notices a weird couple in matching jogging suits wandering through the zoo with a camera, but they never take any pictures. The next trip to the zoo finds a giraffe escape from her cage. Wofsey promises that it won’t happen again.

Mary Anne sees the couple again, follows them around and peeks in the notebook they keep writing in every day. She sees a bunch of notes with prices listed. She and Logan follow them around again and overhear them discussing the cost of certain monkeys. She also has to deal with Logan and Alan fighting over who will have the best project and people picketing outside the zoo.

Jessi brings Matt Braddock to the zoo because one of the gorillas knows sign language. He asks the gorilla who let the animals out and it looks at Mr. Chester, one of the zookeepers that is feeding her. He asks again and the gorilla signs the word for food. He asks the gorilla once again and still gets the food sign. Mary Anne becomes convinced that the berry stains found outside one cage are a clue.

Alan writes a kick ass paper and Mary Anne doubts him. All of their stuff gets mixed up and when she goes to use her key, she discovers that she has the missing exhibit key. She confronts Alan, thinking he let the animals loose, but he admits that he just cheated by using a textbook. They confront Howie and he admits that he found the key, but didn’t know what to do with it.

They meet up with the members of the BSC and go over everything they know. Claudia discovered that the couple are working for an eccentric tycoon that wants to build his own zoo and the zoo knows all about them. They realize that it must be Mr. Chester and tell Mrs. Wofsey. After like five seconds she decides that they must be right and plans to set him up. Apparently he always wanted her job and was next in line, but they hired someone outside the zoo.

Claudia stands near the gorilla cage and waits for Mr. Chester. He unlocks the cage, she snaps a photo and Wofsey confronts him. He admits that he wanted to make her look bad, so they would fire her and give him the job. They all celebrate the fact that they were right yet again.

Jessi sits for Squirt and Becca, who invites a bunch of kids over. They write a ton of letters to the owners of the store and the mayor, asking that they release Little Babar. The Pike kids decorate and make buttons and sell them around town. Everyone pays $10 or more for the buttons with Free Babar on the front. Kristy sees Stacey watching Charlotte and gets pissed off.

Everyone gathers together and does a four-mile walk to raise money for Babar’s release. Watson organizes the event and the kids accept donations for each mile they walk. At the last minute Jessi realizes that they need a boom box. Claudia thinks of Stacey, but then points out that they aren’t speaking to her anymore. Jessi asks Becca, who calls Charlotte, who calls Stacey and she agrees. The walk goes off without a hitch.

The book ends with the whole group celebrating their success. Mary Anne’s group got an A-, but so did Logan’s so he and Alan ended their feud. The newspaper ran an article about the walk, which revealed that a wealthy donator put up the rest of the money, paid for Babar’s release and sent him to a sanctuary in Florida. Me thinks Watson had something to do with that…

*Mary Anne mentions that Claudia gets a lot of her clothes at thrift stores. This gets mentioned a lot and yet nothing she wears ever seems like it’s vintage or even old. One outfit described here is an oversized white man’s shirt, black bowler hat and leggings.

*In a ridiculous waste of money, the school arranges for a bunch of buses going to the zoo, but then lets the kids decide whether or not to work at the zoo.

*Supposedly people pay the zoo an extra fee and get one of the keys, but all the students get the keys for free. How exactly does the school keep getting all this stuff?

*Every time they mentioned picketers outside the zoo, I wondered why Dawn wasn’t standing with them and waving some huge sign. I guess she’s selective when it comes to her protests.

*Kristy gets pissed off when she sees Stacey sitting for Charlotte because don’t you know that the BSC are the ONLY baby-sitters allowed anywhere in the world.

*The Stacey thing kind of annoys me. Were they really only friends with her because of the club? They act like they can’t even speak to her now that she’s not in the club. Even Claudia stays away from her and Mallory seems like the only one interested in her. Stacey doesn’t help though. She lets them use her radio, but insists on carrying it at the front. Basically she walks up front, even though she didn’t take part in any of the planning.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fear Street: College Weekend

You probably can’t tell by the cover, but that is Tina and she’s so beautiful that everyone thinks she will become a model. I also want to point out that I’m fairly certain I had that dress.

Tina and her cousin Holly are heading to visit her boyfriend Josh at college. Tina wanted to go on her own, but her parents made her take her cousin. Holly just wants to party and check out the drama department, while Tina wants to do some heavy making out. They get to the bus station and there’s no sign of Josh. Tina sees a flash and some creepy guy attacks them. A handsome guy jumps out of the shadows, chases the guy off and reveals himself as Josh’s roommate Chris. Josh went on a camping trip with his friend Steve, had car trouble and won’t be back until late.

Chris takes them to their dorm room because he’s staying at his photography shop. He convinces them to go to a party with him and leaves so they can get ready. A girl walks in, sees Tina and freaks out. She calms down and says that she’s Steve’s girlfriend Carla. Carla also tells them that Chris had a girlfriend Judy who died in high school and he never got over it. They go to the party together and Tina realizes that Chris has the same horrible taste in music as her. The more they talk, the more they have in common.

Holly dances with a bunch of guys, while Chris talks to her about his uncle who is a hugely famous photographer. He offers to take some shots of her that weekend. At the end of the night, she can’t find Holly anywhere. She thinks she sees her scream and get drug off on a motorcycle, but Chris says she went off with Alyssa, a girl from Shadyside.

Tina wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks she hears someone in the room. The front door is open, but no one is there. She discovers that Josh left his hiking boots behind, but Chris claims he got a cool new job and bought new ones. She also finds his keys, but again Chris has an excuse. Chris also tells her that the repair took longer than they thought.

They go walking around campus and he tells her that Josh is pledging a fraternity, even though he always told her that he hated them. Carla runs up and announces that she has to go and pick the guys up. Tina wants to go, but Carla says she can’t and keeps looking at Chris. She claims she only has a two-seater and runs off again.

They run into a guy from Shadyside who tells her that Alyssa transferred to another school. She freaks out, but Chris still convinces her that things are fine by getting her a frozen banana. They go on the ferris wheel and it stops at the top. Chris kisses her and she kisses him back, but feels guilty and pulls away. He flips out, starts shaking the ride and she imagines falling to her death. Cheerful. I should also point out that she kisses him multiple times in the book, but then keeps saying that she loves Josh.

So Chris decides that they should go to his studio and he’ll take a bunch of photographs of her. She agrees and he reveals a closet full of clothing in her size. While in the bathroom, she trips over a dead body and starts screaming. Chris turns out the light and introduces her to “Mary” the mannequin he uses for lighting. Tina notices the brown wig on the mannequin, but blows it off to put on makeup.

Chris does a bunch of shots, but then decides that she would look better with the brown wig. Turns out that the only difference between Judy and Tina is eye color and hair color. A few minutes after putting on the wig, Chris starts calling her Judy. Tina talks him down and tells him that wearing the wig was a bad idea. Then she asks about the clothing because she thinks Josh would love it and it turns out that the clothing is Judy’s too. She wants to change into another outfit, but all of the clothes were hers.

Tina just wants to take off, but Chris wants more photos. He gives her an old-fashioned dress and she plays along with him. She goes to get dressed and finds a ton of photos that he took of her, including one while she was sleeping and one from the bus station. She also finds her and Josh’ prom picture. Chris erased Josh’s name from a special message she wrote on the back and wrote in his own name.

Chris naturally starts calling her Judy again and asking why she left him. Then he reveals that he actually killed Judy by throwing her overboard. Tina tries to get away and finds Josh’s dead body. Chris threw acid in his face and beat him to death. Chris finds them both and Tina uses Josh as a distraction. She tells him that Josh moved, Chris looks over and she throws acid in his face. Well actually, she threw water in his face because she grabbed the wrong tray.

Chris drags her around the studio, but she manages to hit him over the head with a tripod. She grabs the wrong door and Holly tumbles out. She says that Chris introduced her to a guy at the party and they left together. When she got home, he jumped out of the shadows and tied her up for interrupting his moment with Tina. Why do I get a Liz-Enid vibe from this situation?

The next thing we know, Chris hops up. Carla and Steve rush into the room. Carla tells him that she will help him take his photos, get a shot of them together and keeps calling Tina Judy. Chris keeps waving around a pair of scissors, but when he reaches for his camera, Carla grabs the scissors. Steve knocks him down and I assume that they call the cops.

Carla explains that Chris told them that Josh had another girlfriend and went away with her for the weekend, so she went along with this story. I have no idea what she wouldn’t just tell Tina the “truth” and let her go home instead of waiting around for a guy. Steve went on the camping trip by himself and when he talked to Carla, he told her the truth. Josh was apparently so excited about the trip that he didn’t even go. She apologizes and I guess everything is fine.

By the way, this is the only Fear Street book I still have from when I was younger. I remember that my brother’s ex-girlfriend bought me a bunch, but for some reason I only had this one.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #65: Stacey’s Big Crush

Stacey’s favorite teacher is leaving for a few weeks, turning his class over to a student teacher named Wes Ellenberg. Stacey feels bad for him because he has a geeky name and she’s sure he’ll be a huge dork. When he arrives in class, she’s struck dumb because he looks just like Tom Cruise. Of course she develops a huge crush on him, thinks about him all the time and starts dressing up for class. After a few days, she decides that he doesn’t like pants, so she only wears dresses to school.

She spends a lot of time on her homework and even incorporates jokes, so he’ll think she’s funny. On their next big assignment, she’s the only one to get a perfect score and he singles her out in class. He starts calling on her more and asking her to show other people how to do hard work. One day she stays after class to talk to him and he asks her to stay late and help him organize his paperwork.

A few days later he asks for her help again because he can’t find some of the things he needs. She stays so late that she’s almost late for her BSC meeting. He drives her and when his hand brushes her, she’s sure that he did it on purpose. She tells the whole club that she’s in LUV with him and she’s pretty sure he feels the same way. Sam calls and asks her to the big junior high dance, but she turns him down because she thinks Wes might ask her.

After mooning over Wes for weeks, she decides to write him a love poem. She presents it to him after class and he gets embarrassed. He starts avoiding her and she isn’t sure if it’s because he doesn’t like her or because he does and doesn’t know what to do. On the last day of class, he tells her that he’ll see her at the dance and she thinks he said it as a special message to her.

She goes stag to the dance and sees Wes at the punch table. She asks him to dance and they dance together a few times, before other girls start cutting in on them. She finally gets him alone and he tells her he likes her as a student, but that’s it. She’s only 13 and she’s way too young for him. Stacey feels kind of bad and then notices Sam with another date. When she sees Wes hanging out with other teachers, she realizes that he was right and feels silly about the whole thing.

The B-plot involves Dawn and Mary Anne sitting for Elvira the goat. They hate leaving her home alone, so they start taking her on sitting jobs. Nicky Pike lets her loose and she knocks over trash cans and eats garbage. She gets out a few more times and is generally a pain in the butt, but they’re still sad when it’s time to give her back.

*Is this how student teaching works in other states? My friend was in the teaching program when we were in college and she had to teach with the real teacher sitting in the background. He graded her and evaluated her to make sure she was capable. Here, Wes just randomly teaches for three weeks.

*What is up with Sam? He gets another date for the middle school dance, but once again he’s in high school! He’s almost old enough to drive!

*Charlotte has a crush on a guy in her class and thinks he might like her. She confesses how she feels and it turns out that he likes her too. Then he starts annoying her by calling all the time and by the end of the book, he likes someone else.

*Wes comes across as a little creepy sometimes. Like the fact that he has her stay after school to help him and then gives her a ride home. That definitely crosses some lines.

*Stacey justifies her crush by saying that when she’s 20, he’ll be 29 and that’s okay. I would totally say something similar, even though when I was 20, I wouldn’t date a 29 year old guy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #31: Jessica’s Bad Idea

Jessica doesn’t like Sandra Ferris, but then again no one really seems to like her. She’s tall, gawky and a big klutz. Liz invites her over to the house one day and she asks Jessica a question. She sees her working on some sketches and fawns all over her designs. When she mopes about her own looks, Jessica offers to give her a makeover. The twins do her hair and makeup and take her shopping at the mall.

The next day at school, everyone fawns all over her. Girls suddenly want to be her best friend, guys are noticing her and even the Unicorns offer to let her sit with them. Jessica tries telling people that she did the makeover, but Sandra acts like it just suddenly came to her one day and doesn’t tell anyone the truth.

The middle school is hosting two different competitions. One is for a student to introduce the mayor at the next school assembly and the other is for Citizen of the Year. Jessica wants to win both, especially Citizen of the Year because then she gets to ride in the parade for Sweet Valley Heritage Days. She asks Liz to nominate her and she agrees.

Then Sandra goes to Liz and asks for a nomination. She tells her that she’s worried people won’t like her if she didn’t have cool hair and cool clothes. Liz agrees and tells Jess, who flips out. Liz explains that it means a lot for Sandra to introduce the mayor. Sandra wins and feels great about herself.

Jessica decides to focus on the COTY contest and tells her mom all about it. She asks her mom to help her make a dress for the parade and they put in long hours on the dress. She starts looking for ways to show the other students that she’s a good citizen, but Sandra keeps showing her up. If she donates $1 for the library, Sandra donates $2.

She hears that the bookmobile needs a huge donation for repairs. The school keeps trying to raise money, but they keep running out of options. She talks to Steven and he tells her that the high school makes commemorative booklets and sells advertising space in the back. They use the money to hold the prom every year. She decides to do the same thing with the Heritage Days festival. Liz thinks it’s a great idea, but Steven just wants Sandra to come back because he thinks she’s cute.

The next day they start talking about the idea and Sandra overhears part of it. She decides that a commemorative booklet is a great idea and runs to their teacher with it. By the time Jessica goes to pitch the idea, it’s already been credited to Sandra. Jessica is furious, but Sandra can’t figure out why she’s so upset. She announces the idea before introducing the mayor. Everyone loves her idea and vote her COTY for the sixth grade. She’ll be sharing the float in the parade with two Unicorn members.

Jessica finishes her dress, but feels crappy about herself. Sandra finally asks Liz what happened and when Liz explains, she swears she didn’t steal the idea. She stops by the house and Steven tells her Jessica came up with the idea the night before she did and she ends up feeling bad. She decides to give up her spot in the parade and let Jess have it.

She explains everything, including the fact that she did hear part of their conversation. She gives Jess her spot and Jess gives her credit for coming up with the idea. Jessica gets to wear her dress and ride on the float. She does decide that putting together clothing is hard and that she couldn’t handle being a real dress designer.

*Sandra kind of pisses me off in this book. She hears Jess talking about selling advertising space and “suddenly” remembers her sister working on the high school book. Then she tries saying that she didn’t steal her idea.

* I actually kind of feel bad for Jessica in this book. She does do some hard work and campaigning, but no one really cares. She also wants to get some recognition for helping Sandra out, but no one gives a crap and Sandra even plays down her help.