#957 Deep Trouble by R.L. Stine

Deep Trouble by R.L. StineDeep Trouble by R.L. Stine

Billy and Sheena are spending the uncle with their uncle, Dr. D, who is a marine researcher. The kids are with him on his ship, as well as an assistant named Alexander. Billy is told not to swim in the lagoon area beside the fire coral, but he soon finds out why fire coral is called fire coral. Some big time zoo people want to pay Dr. D to find a mermaid, which seems absurd. Mermaids aren’t real, or so everyone thinks.

One morning Billy is out swimming, where he’s not supposed to be, and a shark tries to attack him. Something comes to his defense. He’s incredibly surprised to find out that the creature that came to his defense is a mermaid. She’s caught up in a net along with Billy. Dr. D wants to study her, but it isn’t long before mean people show up. How in the world did they know about the mermaid? Can everyone make it out of this situation ok?

What I liked

I did not read this Billy and Sheena book, which goes with the Creep from the Deep on purpose. I didn’t even know that this was what the book was about. I liked that I inadvertently read this.

I do find the folklore surrounding mermaids interesting, although, I do not think they exist. It’s pretty much impossible. People are mammals and fish are fish. A person who had a fish tail wouldn’t work out very well.

What I didn’t like

Part of me thinks this idea of animals being in a zoo for people to see is great. Zoos have certainly helped preserve some species of animals by initiating breeding and conservation programs. On the other hand, I do find it’s a bit sad for some animals, as great as they are, to be locked away in cages.

Overall

Just don’t swim over there.

Weigh In

If you found an officially unknown creature, what would you do?

Would you capture an animal if you knew you would get a lot of money for it?

#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?

#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?

#912 The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine

The Haunted Mask by R.L. StineThe Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine

Carly Beth is a scaredy cat and everyone knows it, especially Steve and Chuck. Anytime they get the chance, they scare Carly Beth. It can be a “Boo” from around a corner or a story of a tarantula gone wild. Carly’s brother also likes to get in on scaring Carly. This year, she has determined to go as something really scary for Halloween. Her mother bought her a duck costume, but that’s not scary.

There’s a new costume shop in town. Carly begs entry into the store around five in the evening on Halloween. She doesn’t want to be a gorilla or a Freddy. There’s a room in the back though. Inside are very scary masks. The man refuses to sell her one, but she insists. She puts on the mask and she is terrifying. Her brother is scared. Her friends are scared. Carly finds a delightfully evil power in scaring other children. She finds she is mean in the mask. It’s as if something awful comes out in her when she wears the mask.

When she’s had her fun, or she thinks she’s had her fun, she tries to take the mask off, but there’s a problem–it won’t come off.

What I liked

Obviously, I get on subconscious kicks to read similar things sometimes. I just read another book concerning a mask and here I am reading this one. I think I recently did the same thing with vampires. I find this kind of funny.

You know, I can see this mask as being a metaphor. Sometimes we pretend to be someone or something else so we can act out some desire or rage that we normally wouldn’t act out, as ourselves. We have to ask ourselves a question though. Is it the real you if you hide something down deep that can only come out when you’re “pretending” to be someone else? Wouldn’t the “pretend” you be the more real you? At the same time, we’re all human every single one of us have had a desire to strangle someone else. Someone has, in reality, been so annoying, aggravating, crazy-making, or anger-making that we wouldn’t mind seeing them get run over by a steam roller. Do we act on these desires? Usually not. We calm down and know that violence is not the answer, unless it’s vigilante justice, in which case, violence is always the answer, but none of us are Batman, so we better hang up that hat.

This book reminds me of the idea of internet trolls. There are jerks on the internet, who may be perfectly nice people in real life who use the internet as a mask so they can belittle as many people as they want. They can get away with anonymously calling a thousand people fat, lazy slobs on the internet, whereas in real life, someone might tackle them, and this person would probably end up on the short end of that stick.

Carly isn’t a jerk, but I can understand her frustration. We all want to secretly get back at someone every once in a while. Carly found that getting back at people can make you something you’re not, or make you someone you don’t want to be. Horror of horrors, what if that new someone is the you you’re going to be forever?

What I didn’t like

I do find this book a little scary for kid standards. Maybe kids won’t think that deeply about this book though. I think I find it scary because of the deeper implications of “getting someone back,” but maybe that wouldn’t even cross a kid’s mind.

Overall

It’s a mask…no…it’s my face! Aaaaahhhhhh……..

Weigh In

Would you wear a weird mask you found in the back of some weird store?

If you could be someone else, would you act on some of those deep and taboo desires you might have?

#875 Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R.L. Stine

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

Billy’s parents have sent him to camp, which is obviously in the middle of nowhere. The uncomfortable bus drives all the children out into the desert and leaves them there. Some strange animals chase the children before the camp counselors show up, but nobody says anything about it.

Immediately upon getting assigned bunks, another boy in Billy’s cabin is bitten by a snake. There’s a forbidden bunk which no one is supposed to go near. There isn’t a nurse. Kids start disappearing.

Billy goes on a terrible canoe rafting experience and even more strange stuff happens afterwards. What in the world is happening to the children at Camp Nightmoon?

What I liked

I do like stories where things are not as they seem which does end up being the case in this book. The world isn’t always as understandable as people would like to believe.

What I didn’t like

Some things in this book seem pretty severe to be happening to children. I imagine that if I had read this book as a child, which I did not, at least as I recall, that I might have been a little freaked out by the snake incident. I don’t fear snakes, but the idea of getting bit without available medical attention is anxiety inducing.

Overall

Sometimes summer camp isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and we’re not even counting the bugs or toilets you have to walk outside to get to.

Weigh in

If you found out you were in a murderous summer camp, what would you do?

If you could take one television survivalist with you to the murderous summer camp, who would you take?