Friday, February 14, 2014

Sweet Valley Twins #77: Todd Runs Away


Sweet Valley Middle School is about to launch yet another special program. This one is a special creative writing class that meets after school, and Mr. Bowman gets to pick the chosen few who take part. Elizabeth and Amy naturally end up in the class, but so does Todd Wilkins, which is odd since he never wanted to write before. He's a little worried because the class ends just 15 minutes before basketball practice, and he isn't sure he can do both.

Todd has a lot on his plate lately because he's the star of the middle school team, and you know how important middle school basketball is in terms of life. His dad was once a great player, but he blew out his knee before he could make it to the pros. He keeps pushing Todd to be a better player and focus all his attention on the sport.

Mr. Ramirez, the new teacher of the program, is a super cool guy who lets the kids call him Mark. He encourages them to work together on a story to show them that the greatest stories involve making a big choice. He asks them to write a story that's at least three pages before their next class.

Todd keeps working on his story, but it makes his playing suffer. His dad pops up to warn him that he shouldn't focus too much on school because he's an awesome dad. Seriously, he keeps saying that he didn't have as much homework before he took this one class and that he should consider how much time his schoolwork takes away from his practice time.

He winds up missing an easy shot at the next game, which leads to another lecture from his dad. Mark then tells him that he had the best story out of everyone in the class. Mr. Wilkins tells him that he has to drop the class, and he starts to but changes his mind. Mark then tells everyone to rewrite their story for no real reason, which means that he has to take more time away from basketball.

Mr. Wilkins decides to do something about this awful teacher. He goes to the school, but the principal won't do anything because Mark didn't do anything wrong. He then goes to different parents, and the parents tell their kids, so they all snub Todd in school. Todd gets so sick of people being mean to him that he skips school. The principal suspends him from the next game, and everyone hates him even more.

Todd wants to tell his dad what happened, but he decides that running away makes more sense. Elizabeth sees him and tries to talk to him, but he makes up a lame story about carrying a backpack full of clothes because he's making a donation to the homeless shelter. He buys a bus ticket and falls asleep at the station, waking up to his dad standing beside him.

Mr. Wilkins talks about his glory days as a player and how he wants to see Todd succeed in life too. He kind of says that he's sorry for being an asshat, and he encourages Todd to play basketball and write at the same time. He tells everyone what happened, and the other kids feel kind of bad for blaming him when his dad was the asshole.

The other story is all about how the twins need bras. They both want to talk to each other, but are afraid that the other doesn't need one yet. Jessica puts a bra ad in Liz's closet, Liz finds it and hides it in her room. They finally sit down and talk about it and decide to go to the mall together without telling their mom.

Every time they get in the store, something goes wrong. They see a classmate's mom one time and have Caroline in the dressing room next to them the next time. They finally go back, but the store is having some special promotion. They're the one millionth and one customer and would get discounts on all their purchases for a year, but they run away because the store wants to take pictures of them holding their items.

They finally go back again, find the right sizes, and make the purchase. On the way home, they run into some kids from school, and it starts raining. The kids all run away, but their bags get wet. When they go to leave, the bags split and spill their bras on the ground. There's no real resolution either because then Elizabeth sees Todd and runs away.

*Todd keeps saying that his dad was practically a professional NBA player until he blew out his knee. Turns out that it happened when he was a junior in high school. Um, there's a lot of good high school players who never go on to the pros.

*How does this school have so much money??? Mark is yet another teacher hired for just one program.

*The whole choice thing irritates me. Not every story in the world deals with someone making a choice between two different things.

*Apparently this class is mandatory too. Todd wants to drop it, but everyone chosen must go to the class. What if you had no interest in writing? Or what if you had afterschool commitments?

*This is pretty gross, but Steven notices the twins are "growing" and keeps teasing them about it. I grew up with two older brothers, and they would never even comment on it when I needed my first bra.

*Steven seriously walks around with his shirt pulled out at chest level, talking about how his sisters are growing up. Ew.

*You might think this book involves Todd running away, but it only happens like 20 pages from the end, and the story resolves itself in a few pages.

*Ellen apparently needed a bra before any other sixth grader that Jessica knows. I guess that means Lila is still walking around without a bra on under her fancy designer clothes.

*Todd's story is about a basketball player who has to choose between making the game winning shot or letting his best friend do it. Yeah, that story sounds awesome!

*Elizabeth's story is no better though. She writes about a girl who has to choose between writing for a newspaper or writing mystery novels. The teacher points out that she could do both, and she says that she never thought about that before. Really? Aren't there multiple books where she writes poetry or short stories while working for the paper too?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Goosebumps Series 2000 #1: Cry of the Cat



Cry of the Cat opens with a girl and boy getting attacked by a cat before it cuts to a girl checking on her little brother. He's screaming because the movie is so scary, but she turns it off and calms him down. Tanner tells Alison to have a "mice" day, and she lets us know that it's an in joke because she has a big collection of mice.

Alison meets up with her best friend Ryan, and the two head back to school for rehearsals of a play they're in together. She sees a cat run out in front of her, and it runs under her bike before she can stop. Ryan wants her to just leave it behind, but she wants to see if it's okay. When she realizes the cat is dead, she sees a house nearby with the door open. A young girl named Crystal opens and flips out, saying that it's Rip and only her mom can help.

Alison is still really upset over what happened but goes to school anyway. While working on stage, she keeps hearing a cat meowing but no one else can hear it. Then, she opens a cabinet door, and the same cat rushes out and attacks her. When she knocks the cat off, some kids moving a heavy throne drop it on the cat, and it dies again. She goes back to Crystal, who mentions that only her mom can help before shutting the door in her face.

This pretty much leads to the cat coming back and terrorizing Alison in multiple ways. She tries to eat a bowl of homemade soup her mom made and finds big clumps of cat fur in the bowl. Rip then attacks her when she's asleep one night and leaves behind big white scratches on her arms that disappear the next day. Crystal still refuses to help, though she does say something about how he used up eight of his nine lives.

Alison then comes home to find her collection of mice in the trash can and on the floor. She lies to her little brother, telling him that she did it herself. While standing on a ladder at another rehearsal, she thinks that she's a cat and tries to jump off the top of the ladder and land on all fours, but she doesn't hurt herself too bad.

This is all kind of lame, so let's just jump ahead. Alison tries to find Rip, Ryan sees her and follows her. They wind up in a pet cemetery, the ground shakes, and a bunch of cats climb out of the graves. They run back to Crystal's house, and the cats follow them. They somehow get separated, and Crystal says that her mom can help before leading her into the basement.

Her mom is actually some random half woman half cat creature that pretends to help before revealing that she really just wants to help Rip. They tell her a long story about how her mom experimented on cats, something went wrong, and Rip turned evil. He kept scratching the mom, which let him steal some of her lifeline. Every time he scratched her, she lost some of her life and turned into a cat.

Rip and the other cats descend on the basement and start to attack. Ryan shows up, and Rip attacks him, scratching up his face. Alison remembers that she still has a toy mouse in her pocket from when she cleaned up her room and she throws it at the cats. They all attack the mice and kill Rip in the process.

Crystal and her mom thank her for breaking the curse and announce that they plan on leaving town. Ryan has no clue what happened, but he's glad Alison is okay. Cut to the two of them leaving a few days later for rehearsal. Ryan sees something in the grass, bounds over, and comes back with a half-dead mouse in his mouth. Alison bitches that she saw it first, so I guess they became cats or something.

*Yeah, so we have cats. Alison says that she threw the mouse because even dead cats are still cats. Most of ours will have nothing to do with toy mice, even those realistic looking ones. They see them, turn up their noses, and walk away.

*The description of the mom is pretty brutal. She has a woman's face with whiskers, and she has one normal arm and one cat arm with a complete tail.

*Cry of the Cat comes back again when her brother tries to watch it again, but he gets too scared and freaks out. Then again, he's only supposed to be five.

*At one point, Alison starts licking her arm like a cat in front of people and can't understand why they keep looking at her funny.

*This is random, but my thrift store copy of the book still has the iron on transfer in the middle. Is it bad that I totally want to put it on a tee shirt?