The 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.
It’s a mask…no…it’s my face! Aaaaahhhhhh……..
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?
The Shack by William P. Young
Mackenzie Phillips did not expect his family’s camping trip to end in tragedy, but it did. One minute the family was canoeing, the next, one of the daughters, Missy, is gone. She’s missing. There is no sign of her anywhere. There’s a coloring book, a red crayon, and a ladybug pin that does not belong to Missy. A search follows. The only thing ever found of Missy is her bloody dress in a shack near the campsite. That’s it. It’s all the work of the notorious Little Lady Killer. Each time he kills a girl, he leaves a lady bug pin, with an extra dot for the newest victim.
The tragedy shakes Mack’s family. The family was always prayerful and always close to God, whom Mack’s wife likes to call Papa, but now, Mack doesn’t know what to think. How could a good god allow such an awful thing to happen?
Four years later, a strange letter comes in the mail. Nobody knows where it came from. The letter invites Mack to the shack, but is signed “Papa.” Is this some cruel trick by Missy’s murderer? Is this letter from God? Mack prepares for both scenarios. If it’s the murderer, he has a gun. If it’s God, he has questions. What he finds in the shack is nothing he could have ever expected.
What I liked
I really liked this book. I don’t want to give away much of anything about it. It’s very profound. If you want to read something that makes you think and feel on a deep level, this book can certainly fit that bill.
This is a Jesus book, which you might not appreciate if you’re not a Jesus person. Usually, I don’t appreciate “Jesus” books because everyone is too high and mighty about it, making both Jesus and God too impersonal; this book is the opposite of that.
I loved this scenario of possibly meeting God. If you met God, what would you ask him/her? What would you say? How would you act? Do you think you would tremble in fear in the presence of God, or do you think that you and God would get along like family?
I can’t imagine how I would behave around God. I have definitely been a prayerful person in my life, but I think it’s different when you can’t see a person and they’re not actively responding to you, having actual verbal responses and a face to look act would be a game changer, I think, anyway.
This is one of those books that makes the idea of a higher power one of the most beautiful things you can imagine, at least for a short period while reading the book.
What I didn’t like
I don’t entirely agree with some of the theology in this book. I liked a lot of it. It was beautiful.
There is this bit presented in this book claiming that the independence of humanity is what has screwed everything up. This book also claims that Adam and Eve eating that fruit screwed it up for all of us. I don’t believe this. God gave us the ability to be independent and think for ourselves so that we could be more like him. God certainly thinks for himself and makes decisions for himself, so why wouldn’t his creation? We were made in God’s image, after all.
I also believe the whole eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was supposed to happen. It was the first exercise of choice for humanity. When humanity saw that it could make choices and that choices had consequences, it was able to understand the idea of being this autonomous creation of God.
The death of a child is an awfully sad way to go about all of this.
I really enjoyed it.
Can you imagine meeting God?
Do you find that you’re angry at God/the universe/the higher power of your choice if something bad happens to you that is beyond your control?
Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by Hal Johnson
Have you ever wondered what types of creatures may lurk in the edges of the forest, just beyond where familiar trees give way to bigger and scarier trees? The Lumberwoods is that area where civilization meets the wild. Maybe you’ll see a raccoon, or maybe you’ll see something more.
The creatures in this book just might come across your path as you’re exploring the wild. Almost all of them are incredibly dangerous. There is a snake that can kill secondhand. You don’t even have to be bit by it. If you bite something it bit, you’ll suffer the awful demise associated with its terrible and extremely deadly venom.
There’s a tall creature with no knees, that might gobble you up, along with some tree tops. There’s a large fish that comes down from the mountains, devouring everything in its slimy path. There’s a creature that swims under the snow; you just might disappear.
There are plenty more creatures in this book, some too scary to mention here. Just be careful, there, in the Lumberwoods.
What I liked
I love this concept of the Lumberwoods. I originally thought of “the limberlost” which is different, but maybe similar. I love the idea of an area of the wild where things stop making so much scientific sense. Creatures are strange, perhaps supernatural, or plain conspiracy theory. We only know so much about the world; what about the parts we don’t know? Could there not be something so fantastic that it could defy our current explanation of physics, biology, or even time? Science cannot know everything, so for now, maybe everything in the woods is perfectly explainable, but maybe, it’s not.
I loved the illustrations; they were very Burton-esque.
I loved the stories. They were like Mythology, and folklore, and ghost stories–all of which, I adore.
What I didn’t like
I have heard of a few of these creatures, or something very similar, off-hand. These stories were re-ka-jiggered by Hal. There is another book with this same name, supposedly, written some time back. I would like to read that book. While Hal’s take on these stories is perfectly fine, I’d like a little more meat to any actual folklore surrounding these creatures. A little more background would also be nice. Folklore generally arises out of something, why did these creatures come into existence, albeit a fictional existence?
Watch out when you’re in the woods.
Do you think it’s possible that there might be strange animals in the woods?
What do you think about the idea of the Lumberwoods?