For the record, a new job has not yet magically fallen from the sky. But thank you for asking.
Today I am thinking of something else altogether. Goosebumps. No, not the physiological reaction to cold or terror, but the children’s book series of the same name. If you too have kids, you may have heard of it. Maybe you’ve read one (or more) yourself? As a kid, I adored mysteries. I read Nancy Drew of course, and the Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine (before the Goosebumps series). I even recall the Ellery Queen minute mystery segment which used to air on a local AM radio station. Any tale that involved the supernatural, a ghostly spectre or skeletal hand, creaking doors, maniacal laughter – you name it, and I was transfixed. As a teenager I moved onto horror, and for several years let Stephen King scare the crap out of me. Eventually I grew tired of the genre, mostly b/c I preferred sleeping soundly at night. I’d also discovered something as I aged. The terrifying fact that people in real life can be bigger monsters than anything in fiction.
Fast forward twenty years. I am now mother to two girls, one of whom loves a good mystery. The shivers creeping up & down her spine, till she’s forced to pull the covers over her head. Surprisingly it’s my younger (not older) daughter, who has been for most of her life enchanted with all things ghoulish. We have a running joke about her watching episodes of Scooby Doo as a toddler, reminding us all (in her slurpy slurred speech – due to the pacifier) “mmooonsteersss – pphhaffake.” Her older sister tried Goosebumps a few years ago and was pretty much traumatized by the series. Couldn’t sleep for days, the poor thing. I banned the books and videos (though I didn’t need to). She couldn’t even look at the covers w/out cringing. But recently our younger daughter has started checking the books out from the library. She is 6, and frankly, cannot read that well. The Goosebumps series is geared towards prepubescents. I find it amusing that she proudly clutches them to her chest at the check-out, displaying her choice for all & sundry, and announcing loudly to her sister than SHE IS GETTING GOOSEBUMPS. This week it’s The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
Two nights ago she thrust the book under my nose. I feigned terror – Ooooooh Georgia, I can’t even look at it! And she positively beamed with pleasure. She tries (or pretends) to be reading the books, though I know she can’t make out more than a few sight words. I understand half her motive for the selection is to (try to) get one-up on her big sister, whom she knows can’t stand the series. Her checking out Goosebumps is akin to saying You Wuss and thumbing her nose at her. I don’t encourage this sort of thing, but it’s not doing any harm. In terms of real competition or threat, it’s a non-issue, and it might be helping her learn to read. A little.
But my husband is having none of it. He sees these Goosebumps books as a completely ineffective distraction from the task at hand. Her learning to read. He has no patience w/ her pretending to do so. So tonight we’re going back to the library to get some more suitable books for our youngest. My question. Can anyone recommend some good mysteries for a 6 year old? Believe me when I saw we’ve exhausted the collection of Scooby Doo soft backs. Are there any others out there for this age group?