Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Stine-R.L.

#992 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine

 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine

Greg has to do a report in his class about something true that happened to him. He decides to tell the class about a time he and his friends found an evil camera in an old house. The teacher doesn’t even let him finish and gives him an F, but Greg needs good grades to go and visit his cousins over the summer. The teacher tells Greg that he will reconsider the F, if Greg can prove the camera was evil.

This is a bad idea, but Greg decides that he has to go and get the camera back. He goes to the old house where they found it in the first place, but it’s not there; the house has been torn down. There’s a boy there who tells Greg where the camera is and agrees to let Greg borrow it. Somehow in the middle of everything else, Greg gets his picture taken with the camera and it looks like a negative and he’s gigantic. He continues to get gigantic and his teacher isn’t at school that day. What’s going to happen to Greg? Will he ever get rid of that F?

What I liked

Again, R.L. does a good job of continuing a story without having it be out of left field. I think this continuation fits.

What I didn’t like

Why is Greg stupid enough to tell a story that no one would believe? Look, there are times when you tell people the things that happened to you, even if they don’t believe at first. Those things are times like, “Hey, good-upstanding-keys-to-the-city-for-saving-a-drowning-puppy person touched me inappropriately.” The times you don’t tell your experiences to other people are something like Greg’s experience. If some guy came up to me and said, “Hey, I found this evil camera,” I would think he was full of it. Nobody would believe it.

Maybe the thing really happened, but there is a point when you trade off sharing your story versus having people think you’re bananas. People generally don’t believe stories from other people that are about inexplicable things. “Hey, I saw a ghost,” might get you believed by some people. “Hey, I saw a UFO,” will get you believed by a few and people will think you’re one of those crazy UFO-believing, conspiracy theorists.

If it’s something illegal, you tell other people about it, even if they don’t believe you at first. If it’s about that time you, for sure, saw Bigfoot in the woods, you might have to keep it to yourself if you want people to look upon you credibly. It’s kind of sad that we have to filter what we can tell the world depending on if our situations are believable or not. If it really happened we should be able to talk about it.

You can choose to tell people anyway, not taking into account whether anyone will believe you, and maybe it will turn out ok. Greg may have been able to tell someone else all about the evil camera and just have them be like, “Oh, that’s awful! I’m so glad you’re safe now!”


Couldn’t Greg have just talked about that time he went to a water park?

Weigh In

Have you had something happen to you, that was really weird, and when you told people they didn’t believe you?

Do you think people are generally scared to tell society about things that happened to them because the other people will not believe?

#992 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Stine-R.L.

#990 The Haunted Mask II by R.L. Stine

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

Steve made the wrong choice when he chose to coach the six-year olds’ soccer team. They’re awful. They’re hellions wearing the clothes of small people instead of actual children, not really, they’re just children, very bratty children. Steve determines that he really wants to scare them for Halloween. He remembered that Carly Beth had a really scary mask last Halloween, so he asks her where she got it, but she’s reluctant to tell.

When Steve finally finds out where the mask came from, he goes and gets one, by nefarious means, only to find out that he can’t take the mask off. He feels and sounds like an old man and people aren’t scared of him at all. He has to ask Carly Beth about getting the mask off. She tries what she knows, but maybe this mask is different. Maybe they should go back to the party store.

What I liked

I liked that R.L. was able to continue this story without having it get too crazy and unbelievable, if you can believe in a haunted mask in the first place. Knowing the original story, none of what happens is too far from the events that made the first story possible. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, essentially, I’m saying that this book fits in the world of The Haunted Mask and the reader doesn’t feel like the author is reaching for extreme ideas to continue the story.

What I didn’t like

I don’t feel like this story has the same moral as the last story. Steve does become another person while wearing the mask, but he doesn’t necessarily have different motivations. He does feel different. He essentially steps into someone else’s shoes. He learns what it’s like to be an old man and scaring small children soon ends up at the bottom of his list of things to do. Maybe Steve learned that things that once seemed important, are not important at all. He wanted to be petty, but when he put himself in the shoes of someone else, he saw that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Sometimes, we just need a change of perspective.


Don’t put on weird masks you find in basements. I feel as if I’ve said this more than once and I shouldn’t have to.

Weigh In

Have you ever had a moment where something you thought you cared a lot about became not a big deal when you thought of it from another person’s point of view?

Would you put on some random mask you found in a creepy basement?

#990 The Haunted Mask II by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Stine-R.L.

#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?

#985 The Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Stine-R.L.

#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?

#984 The Barking Ghost by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Stine-R.L.

#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?

#981 It Came from Beneath the Sink! by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Stine-R.L.

#978 My Hairiest Adventure by R.L. Stine

My Hairiest Adventure by R.L. StineMy Hairiest Adventure by R.L. Stine

Larry is in a band with his friends. A battle of the bands is coming up and Larry and his group are practicing, but they find an old bottle of tanning lotion and decide to try it out. None of them turn out any more tan, but Larry starts growing hair in strange places. He shaves it off and he’s afraid to tell anyone.

One of the band members disappear and his family is gone. That is strange. Then another band member disappears and her family is caught leaving. There is a dog that seems familiar and wears Lily’s pirate gold necklace. What in the world is going on? When Larry finally asks his parents about it, what he finds out is something he never expected.

What I liked

If any Goosebumps book could be straight-up about puberty, it’s this book. Hair growing everywhere? Being super awkward and embarrassed about everything? Yep, sounds like puberty.

What I didn’t like

As much as I kind of like this book basically being like an example for puberty with a twist ending, I also don’t like this book for being basically about puberty. Reading this book like was like going through puberty and cringing about body hair the whole time. Hair just grows all kinds of weird places, especially when you have an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder. I grew a lot of hair as a teenager and it sucked, in addition to all the other things that suck about puberty, acne, being weird shaped, awkwardness, embarrassment about everything and so forth. Why does there have to be hair? Why hasn’t science figured out a way to make people go bald on their bodies and not their heads? Just switch about that bald thing and make it happen to my legs and everywhere else, except my head, eyebrows and eyelashes. Hair is awful.

Body hair was probably a close contender for the worst thing I dealt with during puberty.


Get your razors ready.

Weigh In

Where did body hair rate in your worst things about puberty list?

Did body hair make you self-conscious as a young person?

#978 My Hairiest Adventure by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Stine-R.L.

#964 Phantom of the Auditorium by R.L. Stine

Phantom of the Auditorium by R.L. StinePhantom of the Auditorium by R.L. Stine

Brooke and her best friend Zeke auditioned for the school play, which is said to be cursed. The play was supposed to be performed over seventy years before at the auditorium, but the actor who was supposed to play the phantom disappeared. The play was not performed. What else can you expect from a play someone found in a dusty room?

Brooke and Zeke get the main parts in the play and weird stuff starts happening right away. There is a trap door underneath the stage and there’s a new boy at school. Zeke tries to scare people with his phantom mask, but things get even worse than that. Sets are vandalized and the play director gets fed up. Zeke and Brooke decide to explore underneath the stage. What they ultimately find out is unexpected and creepy.

What I liked

This story was kind of fun. The idea of theaters being haunted isn’t an original idea. Lots of theaters are reportedly haunted. This is why it’s a good idea, on R.L. Stine’s part, to build upon this folklore with this particular story. Also, if you haven’t guessed–this story kind of pokes at The Phantom of the Opera, but without all the singing.

At night he sang to me,

in dreams he came.


What I didn’t like

Let’s talk about plausibility. We’re not going to address whether or not ghosts are real or that people live underneath theater stages; we’re going to discuss why this play would be put on the first place. So if people knew this story and they knew that this play was supposedly haunted because a kid disappeared, why would this play be put on in  the first place? Why would parents and school administrators be ok with this? Hi Parents, we would like to put on a play that we attempted to put on many years ago, but a kid disappeared during the production of the play. Is that cool with you guys? I imagine this went over really well.

As people, we tend not to replicate things that were really painful to us. We tend to want to A) not provide any possibility for those things to be repeated and B) to lessen the memory of those events. This is why we didn’t build the twin towers back exactly the way they were. This is why an Amish community chose to tear down a school where multiple young girls were shot in a terrible tragedy rather than hold school there again. This is why some houses where terrible murders happened are torn down. The social memories of these places are too hurtful.

This event, the play, would most likely qualify as an event that was too socially hurtful in this community for this play to ever be put on again.


Break a leg–literally, because this theater is haunted and the ghost is mean.

Weigh In

Knowing what you know about the history of this play–would you be ok with your kids performing this play?

Where you grew up, were there sites that you didn’t go because people said something awful happened there?

#964 Phantom of the Auditorium by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks