Thursday, January 10, 2013

Goosebumps #12: Be Careful What You Wish For…

Samantha Byrd gets picked on by her classmates, especially this annoying girl Judith. Judith always tells her to fly away because her last name is Byrd, get it? Judith treats her badly when practicing basketball and at school, even spilling tapioca pudding over her brand new shoes in home ec class.

After a particularly bad practice, she starts riding her bike home and comes across a mysterious woman. The woman, Clarissa, asks her for help because she got lost. Sam tells her how to get to where she needs to go and offers to show her the way. The woman is so grateful that she offers her three free wishes. Even though she doesn’t believe her, she asks to be the best player on the team and the woman grants her wish.

Later that night, she plays a pickup game with her brother and sucks worse than usual. When he starts picking on her, she wishes that he was one foot tall. Suddenly she doesn’t see her brother and something small comes walking across the lawn. No worries though because it’s just her little dog and her brother was hiding.

When it comes time for their game, she wonders if she will be any good. All of the other players start moving really slow and clumsily. Judith’s best friend Anna even lays down in the middle of the court. Sam becomes the best player on the team just because everyone else sucks. They lose by 24 points, but she manages to score a few baskets.

Sam starts feeling bad about what happened and calls Judith. Judith asks if she put a curse on them but in a joking way. When Judith and Anna aren’t in class the next day, she talks to the nurse who tells her that they both have a bad case of the flu and will be out of school for a week. She goes to Judith’s house that night, and the girl flips out, calling her a witch and screaming at her.

She talks to her best friend Cory about the mysterious woman, but he doesn’t believe a word that she says. She heads off to find her again, and tells her that she wishes Judith would disappear. Clarissa agrees to take back her first wish and grant her second. When she wakes up the next day, there is no one in her house. She wanders through town and discovers that everyone disappeared along with Judith.

Sam starts crying and runs home. Clarissa shows up at her house and gives her the chance to make one last wish. She wishes that everything would go back to the way it was before except that Judith would think she was great. She gets her wish, but things go a little overboard. Judith starts following her around all the time, cuts her hair like hers, asks to borrow her notes, and even follows her to the water fountain in the middle of class.

At their next game, Judith screws up because she keeps mimicking Sam. No matter how badly Sam screws up, Judith does the exact same thing. After Judith sneaks into her house and won’t leave her alone, she runs off into the woods and starts screaming at her to leave her alone. Clarissa shows up and gives her the chance to make another wish. Sam wishes that Judith was the one who met Clarissa.

She suddenly sees Judith and Clarissa standing at the edge of the woods and talking. Sam sneaks closer and hears Judith say something about “fly away.” She starts feeling a little lighter and starts eying a worm before eating it. She notices that she has a view of them from the sky, and she decides that Judith must like her first wish because she has a big smile on her face.

*It’s kind of cute because Sam worries about what will happen to her with no one to take care of her since she’s only 12. Unlike the Wakefield twins who think they rule the world at 12.

*She also thinks that it’s wrong to take food from the grocery store to survive even if she is the last person on earth LOL.

*I really liked this one! It has a very Twilight Zone kind of ending.

*Cory’s dad makes him a grilled cheese sandwich every day, and the thought of eating one that sat in a locker for 3 hours kind of grosses me out. Why wouldn’t his dad just save some time in the morning and make him a plain cheese sandwich?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goosebumps #49: Vampire Breath

Freddy and his best friend Cara babysit for a little boy named Tyler and terrorize him with stories about werewolves. Right in the middle of one, the door flies open and they all get freaked until they realize it's just his parents. They walk home, and Freddy walks Cara to her house before heading back to his.

Cara comes over the next day and they hang out in his basement playing air hockey. Things get a little rough, she starts chasing him around, and he crashes into a china cabinet. After it falls and breaks, they find a doorway that they never noticed before. Freddy and Cara both find flashlights and venture into the long tunnel behind the door.

It leads them underground and into a room that is empty except for a coffin. Cara gets a little scared, especially when Freddy decides to open it. The only thing inside is a bottle with a label on the front that says Vampire Breath. They fight over it, and Freddy gets scared when Cara opens it. A weird mist fills the room before he can put the lid back on the bottle, and they suddenly see an old man inside the coffin.

The man wakes up, says his name is Count Nightwing, and he admits that he is a vampire. The Count chases them around until they run down the tunnel, and the door closes before they can escape. The Count tries to bite Cara, but realizes that he lost his fangs. The only way he can remember where he put them is by using the Vampire Breath.

He also decides that he won't kill them if they help him find the bottle. He claims that he was asleep for more than 100 years, and the bottle will let him go back to his own time. They track down the bottle and he opens it, but they end up going back in time with him. The Count still wants to eat them and whines about being hungry so they run off.

Cara wants to leave the castle they're in and look for help outside. They climb out of a window and almost die when they discover that they're now on the side of a cliff. The Count finds them and saves them but they run away again. They find a little girl named Gwendolyn who is around their age. She tells them that she's a slave who has to clean the coffins of the vampires, and she shows them multiple rooms filled with coffins.

She offers to help them escape and takes them into a hidden room, only to reveal that she's a vampire. Just as she starts to bite Freddy, the Count shows up again. They discover a room filled with empty bottles of Vampire Breath, and the Count thinks that one is the bottle that he hid away. He grabs one and opens it, but it's an empty bottle.

Freddy manages to find and open a filled bottle, and it sends them back to their time, but the Count comes with them. Just as he starts rambling again, Freddy's parents walk into the basement, and his mom greets the man, calling him daddy. She says that he has been sleeping for more than 100 years down there and it was about time he woke up from his nap.

Freddy's mom also tells her dad that his fangs are in a cup in the bathroom, the same place he left them when he “laid down for a nap.” Freddy asks if that makes him a vampire too, and she tells him that he is, but he's too young for fangs because those won't come in for 100 years. All three turn into bats and fly away. Cara makes a joke about how she always knew he was weird, and they decide to check out the bathroom. She finds a vial of Werewolf Sweat, and even though he begs her to leave it alone, she opens it. Freddy asks her a question, and the book ends with her growling in response.

*Tyler's parents are pretty crappy parents. They know that Freddy keeps telling their son scary stories, and he has trouble sleeping because he's so scared, but they don't say anything until after they get home at the end of the night.

*Yeah, and Freddy and Cara walk home because they live close by. Um, no. It's late at night and they are basically tweens, so someone should walk/take them home.

*If you kept your vampire father hidden in the basement, would you really turn that space into a game room with a pool table, air hockey, table, etc. where your son plays with his friends?

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #26: Claudia and the Sad Good-Bye

Mimi hasn’t been herself lately. She keeps mixing up her words and getting confused a lot more often than she did right after her stroke. One day Claudia goes upstairs while Mimi starts dinner and an hour later, she still hasn’t started because she forgot. On another day, she almost makes Mallory cry after yelling at her about the time they went dress shopping, which never actually happened.

Claudia tries to make her feel better by suggesting they fix a candlelight dinner for the family. While serving the soup, Mimi makes a comment about not feeling good and passes out at the table. They call an ambulance and she spends a few days in the hospital. The doctors cannot figure out what’s wrong with her, but they give her a blood transfusion and she gets to come home.

Mimi seems a little down when she comes back and doesn’t act like herself. Claudia starts getting sick of constantly taking care of her, and when Mimi asks her for something to read right before a BSC meeting, she gets annoyed and snaps at her. Claudia and Mary Anne start an art class for kids after Mrs. Addison calls for art lessons for her daughter Corrie. The classes go pretty well, but Corrie is always the last student to leave and the first to get there, and she never takes home any of her art projects.

While holding a lesson in the basement, Mimi starts walking down the stairs. Claudia helps her down and goes to get her a chair, but she passes out on the floor. She winds up back in the hospital, and once again, the only thing that works is a blood transfusion. Mimi starts talking about what she wants them to do with her things. After she goes home one night, Mimi calls and talks to her about her paintings.

The next morning, Claudia wakes up and hears her parents talking in their room. When she goes to check on them, they tell her that Mimi died the night before. She calls the BSC members and asks them to come over for their meeting even though the other girls want to cancel it. They end up sitting around and sharing Mimi stories all night. Claudia realizes that she can’t handle seeing her painting of Mimi in her room. She moves it under the bed and then tucks it away in the attic.

Everyone, including Logan and Stacey come to the funeral. They share some more Mimi stories, but Claudia still feels uncomfortable. She gets excited about going back to school, but she feels worse when everyone ignores her because they don’t know what to say. She starts spending more time with Corrie, until Kristy warns her about filling the hole Mimi left with someone new.

The next time they have an art class, Mrs. Addison shows up early and says that she needs to drop Corrie and her brother off with a sitter at the ice show so she and her husband can have an afternoon alone. It pisses Claudia off because that’s all they ever do and she finally tells her how Corrie feels. Mrs. Addison is a little embarrassed and ends up going with her kids to the show.

Claudia finds Janine going through Mimi’s stuff and completely explodes. Her parents call a family meeting and she admits that she feels like Mimi gave up on them. Janine shows her something she found in Mimi’s jewelry box, which is an obituary that she wrote on her own that listed the exact date of her death. They decide to donate some of her stuff and turn her room into a guest room. When they start going through her stuff, they find that she actually labeled some of the things for them.

Claudia works on a new collage devoted to Mimi’s memory. After showing it to her friends, she shows her family. They want to hang it over the mantle, but she asks to put it in Mimi’s room. On the last day of the art class, the kids reveal a huge collage that they made for Mimi and she says she’ll hang it in her room. Then, she goes upstairs and gets her painting to hang back in her room.

*This is one of the early mentions of Stacey’s parents fighting. It gets so bad that Mr. McGill decides to stay in NYC and work instead of coming to the funeral.

*It seems pretty realistic that Claudia would want to tell Mary Anne, Stacey, and Kristy herself, but it seems like she would want to tell Mal too, especially after comforting her after Mimi yelled at her.

*Do a lot of people have the funeral at the cemetery? Stacey comes directly to the cemetery where they have the ceremony and then bury her. All of the funerals I’ve been to took place at a funeral home and then we went to the cemetery.

*What is up with Mary Anne’s dad and Dawn’s mom???? In this one, Sharon is still dating Trip, but in just a few books, they get married.

*I love that Claudia points out how bad and huge the collage the kids made is, and yet she decides to hang it in the guest room without asking her parents.

*Janine ends up hanging out with the BSC and coming to meetings because she doesn’t want to be alone, which I find realistic.

*How would Mimi know the exact day that she would die? She had to have wrote it several days before she actually died since she was in the hospital for a few days.

*Claudia tells her friends about Peaches and Russ. It’s funny that between this book and when they move to town, all of her friends somehow met them despite them never visiting.

*I had something similar happen to me. My grandfather died the day before my 21st birthday party, and my mother completely flipped out on me for wanting to go ahead with my party. I didn’t know how to explain that I needed to have my friends around me.

*This is easily the saddest BSC book ever. Despite having read it multiple times and being way beyond the demographic, it made me cry yet again. I wonder if Martin knew how long the series would continue, if she would have kept Mimi around a little longer.

*The nine-year-old fourth grader who owned this book took two days to read it, and then didn’t bother filling out any more of the information in the back.