#987 The Rock N Roll Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Rock N Roll Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Rock N Roll Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are excited to help out some local musicians. They get to go behind the scenes and learn about various instruments. Some people like old instruments because they’ve been played for so long that they just sound really good. Strange things start happening though, as always. Instruments start to go missing, including a guitar with a special paint job. Who would be so dastardly as to steal someone else’s axe?

What I liked

I like instruments and I like that the Aldens are interested in them. It’s fun and stimulating to play a musical instrument. There are just all kinds of studies that say a person who plays an instrument is generally smarter in some areas than a person who doesn’t play an instrument.

I’ve found out I’m good at games involving adding numbers, apparently, like dominos(the game not the pizza, but maybe I’m good at Dominos pizza as well) and cribbage. Maybe it’s because I’ve played the piano forĀ around nineteen years, or maybe it’s because I’ve played a lot of 2048 on my phone. I don’t know what the answer is, but something made me good at finding number combinations quickly.

What I didn’t like

Look, why would someone steal someone else’s instrument? That’s a mean move. If I had a piano right now, I’d be ticked if you came and stole it. I’d be ticked it you stole anything of mine, but my piano–that’s crossing a line.

It’s one thing if someone steals something from you that you’re kind of “meh” about. Someone stole my washing machine! *Oh, sob, oh cry* *wipes fake tears, goes to store, gets new washing machine, because laundry has to be done.* There are also laundromats so you can go and do your laundry elsewhere for a few dollars.

It’s another thing if someone steals something that is part of a hobby or profession. Someone stole my porcelain paint palette! Where am I going to put all my paints now?! This is a catastrophe! It’s not like there are places where I can go and rent porcelain paint palettes. I could get a crappy plastic substitute from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, but that’s the best that is happening without ordering a replacement porcelain palette, on the internet, for around a hundred dollars, then waiting for it to show up. You do what you have to do, but some things aren’t easily replaceable, if they’re replaceable at all, and it would hurt if someone stole those things.


Play music and don’t steal.

Weigh In

What is a thing you would be really hurt over if someone stole it?

What do you think about old instruments?

#985 The Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R.L. Stine

The Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R.L. StineThe Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R.L. Stine

Wendy and her younger brother Elliot are on a boring car trip with their parents. It’s so boring that they convince their parents to let them ride in the camper trailer they’re pulling behind the car. Things are fine, for a bit, but they realize their trailer has come detached from the car and they’re rolling through the countryside. There’s a knock at the door, but it isn’t their parents; it’s a strange guy who says he’s from Camp Jellyjam, a sports camp nearby. He says they can come and stay at the camp while waiting on their parents.

The camp is very concerned with being your best. “Always the best,” that’s what everyone keeps saying while competing in events. If they win a sports event, they get a medal. If they get six medals they get to walk in the winner’s walk. Elliot is determined to get six medals right away, but Wendy encounters some weird stuff .When one of her cabin mates gets all six medals, she doesn’t come back. The counselors say she left. One girl in the woods told Wendy to leave, but Wendy didn’t listen, so Wendy decides to follow the people on the winner’s walk to see what happens to them. What she sees is horrifying. She knows she has to get her brother out, but it’s going to be smelly.

What I liked

This story makes me kind of glad I never went to summer camp as a child.

What I didn’t like

Ugh! Sports!

Look, I know people like sports. I know they can be fun to play sometimes. They are not the be all and end all of life though. Some people are just way to competitive, even on the child level where sports are concerned. I don’t really like team sports, at all. I’d rather see someone compete in an individual sport, skating, gymnastics, boxing, whatever. My aversion to team work probably fuels this dislike of team sports as well. There are too many people who don’t do their share of the work. Your team could suck because your teammates suck, not because you suck, and that’s just not fair. If I suck, I want to suck all on my own and not drag other people into it.

Part of me still kind of wishes I had been one of those kids that got to go to camps during the summer. It would have been a nice break away from the house.


Don’t trust a place called Jellyjam unless they’re making delicious jellies and jams.

Weigh In

Did you get to go to summer camps? Did you enjoy it?

What do you think of team sports?

#984 The Barking Ghost by R.L. Stine

The Barking Ghost by R.L. StineThe Barking Ghost by R.L. Stine

Cooper and his family have moved way out into the middle of nowhere. There is nothing but woods all around. It doesn’t take long at all before Cooper starts hearing barking dogs in the night. He never sees any dogs though and there is not supposed to be anyone around who would have dogs. Cooper then sees the dogs, but he also finds a neighbor girl who tells him there are no dogs. The two soon find out that there are two large black dogs hanging around, getting into things, but none of the adults believe them.

One day the dogs drag them into a strange place in the woods. Cooper and the girl soon find out the truth about the dogs and their lives are never going to be the same.

What I liked

Ghost stories are a lot of fun. This one was a little weird, but it was still entertaining.

What I didn’t like

Part of me completely gets ignoring what kids say and not taking them seriously. Kids make crap up all the time. They exaggerate things. They don’t have world experience so their opinions and desires can’t be counted on for a whole lot. You can’t pass up a great job just because your kid would hate moving. That’s life and life has to happen. On the other hand, there are so many stories about parents dismissing everything their kids say, much like this story. If the parents knew what had happened, they would feel awful, but they don’t know, so they can’t feel bad about dismissing the concerns of their son.

If this story were real life and these kids were my kids, I don’t know what I would do. Would I not listen to my kid knowing my kid has an active imagination or would I listen to my kid and believe there were some mysterious black ghost dogs roaming around, which just sounds silly?


Let this story be a lesson for you–don’t get messed up with strange dogs.

Weigh in

Would you follow some strange dogs into the woods?

If you were in the place of Cooper’s parents, would you have believed him?

#983 The Spy Game created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Spy Game created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Spy Game created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens visit a neighbor and find a mystery. They find out that there is a game prepared by one of the original owners of the house. There is a photo of bride, but a woman they know looks a lot like the bride. There are different names mixed in all of this. What could by the mystery?

What I liked

I kind of like the idea of just leaving some random scavenger hunt for whoever buys one of my houses. I should have done that with the last house I sold, but I was too stressed out to do anything like that.

What I didn’t like

This mystery ultimately involves some assumed names. It must be nice to be able to be someone else.


There’s something weird going on in this house that isn’t ours. Let’s mess with it.

Weigh In

If you did find out some mystery about a friend’s house, wouldn’t it be best to let them deal with it?

What kind of mystery would you like to find in your house? A bathroom you haven’t noticed before?

#981 It Came from Beneath the Sink! by R.L. Stine

It Came from Beneath the Sink! by R.L. StineIt Came from Beneath the Sink! by R.L. Stine

Kat and her brother Daniel move to a new house. There are even balconies. The dog doesn’t like what’s under the kitchen sink. They think it’s nothing, but they look anyway. It’s a sponge, or so it appears. The dog goes crazy over it. They think it’s just a sponge, but they also kind of think it’s breathing, so they keep it. It even appears to have eyes. Bad stuff starts happening once the thing turns up. The dog runs away and their dad falls off of a ladder. Kat can’t even celebrate her birthday.

They do some research and think they thing is a Grool. It thrives on bad luck and cannot be killed by violence or force, all of which Kat tries. They also cannot give the thing away or they will die. Kat thinks she has found a way to get rid of the thing, but would it really work?

What I liked

I keep thinking “Grohl” instead of “grool,” so the Foo Fighters have gotten mixed in with this story, in my head. I’ve imagined David Grohl underneath a kitchen sink causing bad luck for everyone around.

What I didn’t like

This is an awful idea–a thing that causes bad things to happen, but you can’t get rid of it. Having this thing around would be living with knowing, for sure, whatever bad thing that could happen, will. It would be a permanent Murphy’s Law attached to you.

Granted, this is how some of us feel all the time. We’ve had our share of life and generally when we feel something bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen, because that’s just the way things work in our lives and no amount of, “Be positive,” is going to fix any of that. Maybe some of us have grools in our lives we don’t know about.


Leave old sponges alone; they’re full of bacteria and bad luck.

Weigh In

If you found an old sponge in a random house, would you pick it up?

Do you feel like you have a grool in your life that you can’t find?