#948 Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar CanteroMeddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

It’s been years since the Blyton Summer Detective Club has gotten together. Each went their separate ways, including suicide and life in a mental institution, but it’s time to get back in the game. There are some strange things going on. Peter is dead, but Nate, Andi, and Kerri are alive, not necessarily well. There is also Tim, the weimaraner, the great-grandson of the original Sean who went on adventures with the kids, when they were kids. Things have certainly changed. The things they encountered in their younger years have left scars on each of them.

There’s a mystery they didn’t quite solve. It has to do with a creepy old mansion and an old woman. Things turn out to be even stranger than they ever imagined. This time, it’s not just someone in a mask. There is some real and terrible stuff going on. There are monsters and volcanoes and all manner of things four people and a dog would never expect to run into. Can they solve the mystery? Can they fix what is about to happen?

What I liked

I really liked Scooby Doo. This is very much the gang from Scooby Doo all grown up. I never really thought to stop and think about what effects such a strange life might have had on the teenagers involved. In the television series, most things were fake, except for the whacky races and the Boo Brothers. Most of the time it was just someone in a mask. I liked how this book was real.

Sometimes it is refreshing to have the thing, the question, the thought, the hypothesis actually turn out to be that strange thing. It doesn’t always have to be just one guy or a guy in a mask, maybe, just maybe, it really is some supernatural creature or happening. It can get old to read stories, over and over again, that always try to explain away the “woo” by blaming everything on one guy with an elaborate plot. While there certainly is an elaborate plot involved, there is certainly woo and it’s just not explained away.

I miss watching Scooby Doo. Why can’t someone put the cartoon on Netflix? I don’t care about the live-action movies at all.

This book also pokes at the possible relationships between the members of the group. Come on, we all know something has to be going on between at least two of them. I always figured Daphne and Fred would get together, but you know, maybe not.

What I didn’t like

I wish I would have had more time to read this book. I feel like there would have been more of it that I would have appreciated. The book also has a Lovecraft sort of feel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re expecting run-of-the-mill woo, you’ll be disappointed. It’s definitely woo like the woo from the woo-master himself, H.P. Lovecraft.

Overall

I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…if I had a nickel for every time I’ve used this phrase in real life–I’d have no nickels; I’d be broke and I’d have to live under a bridge.

Weigh In

If you could solve mysteries with your friends, which friends would you pick and why?

Did you enjoy Scooby Doo?

#947 The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. StineThe Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine

Grady and his family, including six deer from South America, have moved to Florida, the middle of nowhere Florida, not the beach Florida. There is nothing around but swamp. There are a few other houses and there’s not really much of a town to speak of. The local swamp is called Fever Swamp. Apparently, some time back people who had gone into the swamp had gotten a fever and starting acting strange.

Grady and his sister, Emily, explore the swamp not long after moving in, where they get lost and encounter a hermit who lives in the swamp.

The pair soon meet the other neighborhood children Will and Cassie. Will says Cassie is weird. She’s always talking about werewolves. The family also acquires a dog, a rather large dog. They hear howling in the night and wonder what it is. They soon start finding animals that have been torn to pieces. They’re not sure what that’s about either. One day one of the South American deer is torn to pieces. Everyone thinks the new dog has done it, but Grady soon finds out that this isn’t the case at all. It’s something much more horrible and unexpected.

What I liked

Florida is a strange place sometimes, why wouldn’t there be a werewolf down there? There are supposedly swamp monsters, after all.

Florida isn’t a place I think of as having “backwoods,” but it does. There is a whole interior of Florida that’s full of pine forests, and swamps, depending on where you’re at. I haven’t explored any Florida pine forests or swamps myself. I always went to the coast, or Orlando, when I went to Florida. I’ve lived in the South most of my life and Florida is a place that you don’t really consider “the South.” It’s just too full of people who moved there from somewhere else and so much weird stuff happens there that no one is really sure how to classify it. It doesn’t really fit it with any other region of the United States. It’s just its own thing.

What I didn’t like

Someone’s always got to blame the dog. I get it, sometimes dogs are jerks. They kill chickens or tear up the neighbor’s petunias, but it’s not always the dog. Maybe neighborhood hooligans did that thing. Maybe a bobcat did that thing. Maybe someone did that thing and is trying to blame it on the dog. Dogs aren’t without blame in many situations and they’re certainly a lot of upkeep, but the first response shouldn’t be to blame all the problems on the dog.

Overall

Just don’t go in the swamp; this solves a lot of issues, whether it’s werewolves or swamp creatures.

Weigh In

Would you go live in the swamp?

Would your mosquito bites ever heal if you lived in the swamp?

#945 Welcome to Camp Slither by R.L. Stine

Welcome to Camp Slither by R.L. StineWelcome to Camp Slither by R.L. Stine

Boone and his sister Heather are going to a camp called Hither, but everyone calls it Slither. Things aren’t right from the bus ride. There’s a big awful snake on the bus. This upsets everyone, of course. At the camp, there are more snakes. Snakes in the bunk houses, people getting bit by snakes, vanished camp counselors, who happen to be snakes–it’s just a lot of snakes. There was some secret experiment that went awry. Will Boone and his sister make it out alive?

What I liked

I don’t hate snakes, but I don’t necessarily like them. I’ve come across snakes several times over the years and I can’t say I was pleasantly surprised to see any of them. Most recently while taking the dog for a bathroom break, there was a small brown snake, maybe a water moccasin, at the bottom of the steps. The dog stepped right over it and I did too before I realized what it was. I wasn’t that excited about this encounter, not that I was that scared by this encounter either.

You have to expect a certain amount of snakes when you live in a country-ish setting.

What I didn’t like

This book was so much like the other R.L. Stine summer camp book I read, although the circumstances were not the same. Let’s go to summer camp, oh it’s really awful and the kids have to get away.

Overall

Just wait until you see the bathrooms at the camp!

Weigh In

If you liked snakes, would you go to a camp about snakes?

Did you ever have a bad summer camp experience?

#939 Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Kezi lives with her mother and father. She’s an only child, they worship the one true God. There’s an altar in their home dedicated to this god.

She does not know that other Gods exist, including one around her age named Olus. He happens to raise goats on land leased from Kezi’s father. He is the god of wind and loneliness. He has a special interest in Kezi.

One day, Kezi’s mother falls terribly ill and the local medicine man just wants to let her blood and doesn’t give a lot of hope. Kezi’s father makes an oath to their god. He swears that if his wife recovers, he will sacrifice whoever, if anybody, congratulates him on his wife’s recovery.

She does get better and no one wishes congratulations until an elderly aunt comes by. Kezi knows what will happen, so she wishes her father congratulations instead. She must die.

There are thirty days left in Kezi’s life, but she runs into Olus and he whisks her away. He tells her that perhaps she could become a goddess. She would have to become a heroine and pass a test. Could Kezi complete this task? Could she stay with Olus forever?

What I liked

This story was fun. I like the idea of being with someone forever. I believe we do go on after this life. I would like to think we can keep the relationships we have.

I really have no knowledge of other God’s existing, but it’s kind of fun to think about, at least in the mythology sense.

What I didn’t like

This is kind of Twilight.

Overall

If only we could all be rescued from life by some immortal being…*sigh* *teenage love ideals*

Weigh in

If some immortal dude asked you to go with him and leave everything behind, would you?

Would you offer yourself so someone else wouldn’t have to die?

#936 Be Careful What You Wish For by R.L. Stine

Be Careful What You Wish For by R.L. StineBe Careful What You Wish For by R.L. Stine

Sam is taller than anyone else in her class. It’s embarrassing. She’s also clumsy. People think that because she’s tall she can play basketball, but she’s not very good at that. A girl named Judith constantly makes fun of Sam by calling her Stork and doing other mean things.

It’s just about too much. One day while walking home from school, Sam meets up with a strange woman asking what direction a certain road is. Sam helps her out. The woman says she will grant Sam three wishes for being so helpful. Sam doesn’t really take this seriously, but wishes she were the strongest player on the basketball team.

At the next game Sam realizes that she’s not any better, but everyone else is worse. They lose horribly. The rest of the team members get sicker and weaker. They all have to stay home from school.

The mysterious woman appears again and Sam makes another wish, that doesn’t turn out well. For Sam’s third wish, she wishes that everything was back to normal, except that Judith would think Sam was the greatest person ever. Well, that was a mistake.

What I liked

No matter how cheesy all of these stories are, we do have to be careful what we wish for. It’s just a fact of life. We may want something and we may get that something somehow, but that something never turns out the way we had envisioned it. Maybe it’s better. Maybe it’s just different. Maybe it’s horrendous and awful and the worst thing ever to grace our lives. The fact of the matter is that nothing ever turns out the way we day-dreamed that it would.

While this story is silly, I do find that it’s a good story for children to learn from. Sure, maybe they do wish that their entire family would disappear, but then burglars would come and try to rob their house because the entire family is gone and they have to defend everything with BB guns and a tarantula–extra credit points if you know what this story line is from.

What I didn’t like

I hate that kids make fun of each other and bully each other. I went through more than my fair share of what as a child and I know plenty of other people who also endured it. This girl, Judith, isn’t just being a bratty little kid, she’s being insanely cruel. I don’t even know what you’re supposed to do with kids like that. Send them to the corner for forever?

There is a part of me that sometimes thinks we should gather up all the toxic people in our lives and send them to an island to live by themselves. I might send Judith there, along with one or two other people I know.

Overall

If you encounter a strange person who offers you wishes, it might be a good idea not to wish anything. You might say, “I wish I had a million bucks,” but then your wish is granted and you did have a million bucks, but have since gone bankrupt and the IRS is after you for back taxes.

Weigh In

How would you phrase your wish in such a way that it couldn’t be taken the wrong way?

Did you ever get made fun of for being tall?