#777 Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine

Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. StineNight of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine

Lindy and Kris are identical twins, who compete at everything. They try their hardest to stand out, against the other sister. One day the twins find an old dummy in some trash at a nearby construction site. Lindy takes to the dummy right away, which she calls Slappy. After Lindy starts getting a lot of attention for her ventriloquist act, Kris wants to try her hand at it as well. Her father ends up buying her a dummy as well, but this one is wearing casual clothes. Kris calls her dummy Mr. Wood, versus the more formal looking Slappy, with the less formal name.

Things are fine. The kids get some laughs. They perform at birthday parties. Some strange things start to happen though. Mr. Wood starts to do some things of his own accord. He says some awful things, that get blamed on Kris. He tears up the kitchen. One night Lindy sees Mr. Wood moving, but the girls’ parents won’t have any of it. The girls know they have to deal with the dummy alone. It starts talking to the girls, calling them slaves. They know they have to get rid of it.

Ultimately, a steam roller becomes their last hope, but have they just gotten rid of one evil to make way for another?

What I liked

I like the idea of dueling evils, just hiding out. We tend to have stories with only one villain, why not more than one villain? Maybe your villain isn’t that bad, but he’s not nearly as bad as the one that would replace him if you got rid of him.

What I didn’t like

I don’t like dummies. I don’t like ventriloquism. It’s not that it’s not kind of  cool, because it is, a little, it’s just not that cool. It’s boring. Seriously… it’s a trick. You expect me to be all impressed because you can make it look like a doll is taking? You know what, I can make a doll talk. I could put a voice box in it and put a pull string on its back and make it talk. I’d rather see Muppets, at least they’re entertaining.

I had a Furby that could talk and dance on its own, but a ventriloquist dummy has to have a person to be able to make it do those things. I’m just not that impressed. Ahmed the Dead Terrorist is funny and all, but there are funnier things I would enjoy.

An evil dummy is a bit of a gimme. This creepy wooden doll isn’t going to be possessed? Like, who believes that? If we see some creepy doll out somewhere, we pretty much assume the thing is haunted. How about a haunted tea kettle? I could go for that. It moves around the house on its on. It makes tea, without tea packets. It pours cold water on the cat.


Leave the dummy alone, if not for the threat of it being haunted, leave it alone because it’s not funny.

Weigh In

Would you buy a dummy?

Do you think dummies are funny?

#777 Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks


#776 A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin ChenowethA Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth has been on our televisions in such shows as Pushing Daisies, but she’s also been on Broadway and in movies. You might have seen her in a little play called Wicked, in which, she played Galinda, the good witch. The story of Wicked is based on the book of the same name by author Gregory Maguire.

Kristin is quite more interesting than you might think. Starting off, Kristin was adopted and raised in Oklahoma. She loves Oklahoma and she loves the south. She always felt that she was meant to be with her family and she despises it when people say things like “adopted son” or “adopted daughter.” To Kristin, if you’ve been adopted, you’re family now and there are no qualifiers.

It didn’t take Kristin long to get into pageants, acting, and singing. She tried to be in several well-known pageants, but always felt she was overlooked because she was so short. Kristin is short, very short. She went on to get a master’s degree and tried to act on the big stage. She’s been classically trained to sing. She’s immensely talented. Wicked was a play that put Kristin on the map, in addition to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She’s gone on to be in movies and television. She’s also recorded her own CDs.

Through all of this, Kristin has maintained a faith in God and her religion. She likes church and she likes the idea of a God being there for her. She’s always tried to make her faith part of her life.

What I liked

I’ve known who Kristin is for a while and I’ve liked her in anything I’ve seen her in. I was surprised to find that she was so interesting. I figured she was short; I just didn’t know how short. I really like that she is classically trained to sing. I have been classically trained to sing as well, although I am severely out of practice. I admire anyone else who is classically trained to sing. After an hour or two of that, a person feels as if they’ve had a full workout. I remember being exhausted after practice.

I like that she’s from Oklahoma. I sort of hail from Oklahoma. Part of my family is from there and I still have a lot of family there.

I really want to see Wicked now. I’ve read the book, more than once. I’ve read the entire series actually. I would really like to see the play; it sounds wonderful. Someone buy me tickets.

I have a friend who was Miss United States and she is definitely tall, so I think Kristin’s assumption that short girls might be getting over-looked in the competition, could be true.

I also like the Kristin has stuck to a lot of her religious leanings. She’s not a fundamentalist by any means, but it’s nice to know that she does rely on a faith in something  bigger than herself.

What I didn’t like

Kristin wouldn’t have been my first choice of person to read about; I’m glad I did read about her, but she’s not one of those celebrities that you automatically think you should read about.

In some ways, I almost feel as if Kristin is being a little too old-fashioned in some of her thoughts, but it really is her life and she can think whatever she wants.


You have to sing from your hoo-hoo.

Weigh In

Would you have picked up a book about Kristin?

Do you want to see Wicked?

#776 A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#775 A Horse Named Dragon created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

A Horse Named Dragon created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerA Horse Named Dragon created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are visiting a horse ranch where they spend a lot of time. All of the horses on the ranch are rescue horses. They are only there for a short period of time before being adopted out to loving families. There are all sorts of horses there, including one named Dragon. Each of the children have a particular horse they like to ride.

There’s a new employee on the ranch, who other people don’t like. There’s also a new vet. One day, a couple of the horses go missing. They turn up a couple of days later, but the entire thing has made the ranch and its employees wary of losing horses. They start trying to  catalog each horse. They take pictures, but then the camera used to take the pictures disappears. One day, dragon disappears. Where did he go?

A search soon starts for the missing horse. The children start looking and find that some people have been looking for their missing horses on the internet and they’re at the ranch. Ultimately, the missing horse does turn up and the kids figure out who was taking horses.

What I liked

Horse thievery isn’t exactly a big deal these days, so it was interesting to read a story where the main conflict was horse theft. I like the idea of a facility that finds homes for animals that don’t currently have homes.

What I didn’t like

This isn’t one of the more interesting Boxcar stories. I like horses ok. I like the idea of finding animals homes. I like the Alden kids, but horse trafficking isn’t that interesting. This book would have been more interesting if horses had more value to people. It’s not that people don’t value horses generally; it’s that people don’t need horses as much these days. We use cars. If the Alden children had solved a huge car theft ring, it might have been more interesting.


Stealing horses is not cool. Don’t steal animals from other people.

Weigh In

What would you do if someone stole your horse?

Are horses as valuable today as they used to be?

#775 A Horse Named Dragon created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#774 The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell by Chris ColferThe Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Alex and Conner have had a difficult time of things since their father died. They’re twins. They both go to the same class. Their mother is always working, but their grandmother comes by to see them every once in a while. It’s their birthday, but their mom has to work. Their grandmother comes in and helps them celebrate. She gives them a book of fairy tales; it’s a family book.

Conner starts hearing strange noises coming from his sister’s room in the night. She’s not getting a lot of sleep. She doesn’t know the answers in class. Conner finally discovers what the problem is; it’s the book. The book lights up and vibrates. What’s more, Alex has been pushing things into the book–pencils, dirty socks, other books. The things go in, but they don’t come out.

After a particularly upsetting day at school, Alex wants to see if her hand will go into the  book, and if it will come back out. She’s in the middle of the experiment when Conner barges into the room. She loses her balance and ends up falling, head first, into a book of fairy tales. Conner jumps in after her. They find themselves in a land they thought couldn’t be real. Goldilocks is an outlaw there. Red Riding Hood is real. Sleeping Beauty is real. The big bad wolf is real. It’s all real. Not everyone is good and not everyone is how one would expect from the traditional fairy tales. Some of the bad guys aren’t actually as bad as you might think.

Conner and Alex learn that there is a way to get out of the land of stories, but they must gather a specific set of items in order to make a wish. The catch is that the wish has already been used once and it can only be used once more. All of this would be fine if Conner and Alex were the only ones looking for the wish items, but they’re not. Someone else is right on their tail.

What I liked

One of my friends really likes this book series so I thought I would give it a shot. It is enjoyable. I love fairy tales, if you haven’t figured that out from reading with me for a while. I do like non-traditional takes on traditional tales. I mean, really, what if the wicked witch really wasn’t all that bad? I’ve already pointed out that the chances of Snow White becoming a well-adjusted human being are pretty slim because she was only valued for her beauty, just like her evil step-mother. Once that beauty goes away, or someone surpasses you, what are you supposed to be valued for? Think about it. All things considered, Snow White may have eventually ended up in the same darn place the evil queen was, resorting the murder and evil in order to maintain that one thing that set you apart from everyone else, because people insisted on only valuing you for that one thing.

I like the idea of a fantasy world and a real world colliding. I think it’s great. Wouldn’t it be so neat to find out that these fairy tale things were real? It would certainly make life more interesting.

I thought some of Conner’s summations about fairy tales were pretty funny.

What I didn’t like

I quite enjoyed this book, so there’s not a whole lot I didn’t like.

Ok, I did find some of it a bit predictable. So the bad guy wasn’t all bad–you don’t say. Astounding, simply astounding.


I want to fall into a book, specifically The Lord of the Rings, in a passage with Aragorn, preferably one where he’s not wearing all of his clothes.

Aragorn, it’s ok, we’ll have that sword to rights in no time. * wink, wink*

Weigh In

What book would you fall into?

If you found a fairy tale was real, how would it shape your current life?

#774 The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#773 Mike’s Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mike's Mystery by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMike’s Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are visiting grandfather’s uranium mine; yes, you read that correctly, a uranium mine. The uranium mine is fairly new. Some was discovered on the Alden property so the family started a mine, which came to include an entire town. The Alden’s have a friend there named Mike, although he doesn’t always get along with Benny, the youngest Alden boy.

The family isn’t there long before something terrible happens–Mike’s house burns down. The family escapes, which is great, but Mike’s mother can no longer make money because she can’t take in washing anymore. She makes great pies though. The family soon finds places to stay, but a rumor goes around. Someone says that Mike started the fire himself, just for fun. This isn’t true at all, especially since the fire started in the basement, where Mike’s dog was.

Mike and Benny decide to put aside their differences and help Mike’s mom start a pie business, but also figure out who in the heck actually started that fire. It was awfully strange that the fire seemed to have started on all four sides of the basement at the same time. Soon the children start to hear about some people who don’t like their grandfather. Could those people have started the fire?

What I liked

Who in the world has a uranium mine? I think it’s interesting. I’m not sure that it’s very likely, but it’s interesting.

What I didn’t like

Isn’t uranium… dangerous? You know, like radio-active? Like, it can cause cancer? Right?

I don’t think children should be around a uranium mine, or that many adults. You certainly shouldn’t be making pies and selling them near a uranium mine.

I feel bad that this kid’s house burned down, even if he may have been a brat. That’s an awfully big loss for a family.


Don’t start a fire near a uranium mine.

Weigh In

Would you work at a uranium mine?

Would you eat a pie made at a uranium mine?

#773 Mike’s Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks