Goosebumps

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?

Comment to WIN FREE BOOKS!!!!!

The story:

I have inherited a whole boatload of pristine paperbacks from my sister.
She was moving, I was trying to be nice. She favors fiction, I like cookbooks.

The end.

Except now I have four boxes full of books I know I am never ever going to read. They are perched on one of our already-overstuffed bookcases and I am tired of dusting them. These books are lonely and long to be held. I have decided to do like my friend Curly, and turn this situation into a super fun CONTEST! From now until they’re gone, I will offer these books to a lucky winner – three at a time.

UP FOR GRABS in this inaugural contest:

1) The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
2) A Ship Made of Paper by Scott Spenser
3) Little Children by Tom Perrotta

I cannot vouch for any of these books – I have not read them personally, but all 3 are in super shape, read only once by my smarty pants sister, and are now looking for a new good home. If you would like them, then please comment below. Entries will be taken through the holiday weekend to give people a chance to enter, and I will select the lucky winner via random number generator first thing Tuesday, May 27th. Good luck & many thanks!

My weekend so far

Yes, things have been ever-so-exciting here at our palatial West Philly estate on this 3-day Presidents weekend. Yesterday I took care of some friends children most of the day, while my husband caught up on schoolwork (but mostly surfed the internet). I baked a cake for another friend’s party, but got distracted and when my husband yelled, HEY YOU WANT ME TO TAKE THIS OUT OF THE OVEN? I ran downstairs panic-stricken to find my beautiful cheesecake the color of burnt caramel. But I will be bringing it anyway. I don’t have time to make another one – the party is today. And it is a baby shower, so maybe they won’t notice. I cleaned the kitchen cabinets b/c I was bored and they were disgusting. But then I got even more bored and I stopped half-way through. My husband said he was jealous that I was getting to clean the cabinets and I felt really bad for him b/c that is so sad. His schoolwork must be truly awful.

Last night my husband and I had a Date Night Out (OOOooooohhhhhh). I know you are all hopelessly jealous, but try not to hate me too much. We decided to stay out as late as we wanted too b/c our friends were keeping the girls OVERNIGHT. (OOOOoooooohhhhh…) Yes, I CAN FEEL your envy. We decided to go where we always go when we have a night totally to ourselves. Atlantic City! And we were not alone. It was a way busy night down in AC, what with the Village People performing at Resorts and Frankie Valli at the Borgata. I am not a big fan of either, but they are both well-liked by many. The groups of fans were identifiably different and that was fun too.

So we did what we always do when we go down there. We went to stuff our faces at the Borgata Buffet. It was a very long wait at the Buffet. The line wound round 4 of those theme park line dividers, there must have been 150 people ahead of us. All waiting. I amused myself by staring at the people whose tables were closest to the waiting area. I sent them telepathic messages imploring them to throw a shrimp or two my way, b/c I was so hungry. I told my husband there should be some sort of device which tracks hunger, much like a metal detector detects metal. As you came into line at the Borgata Buffet, a restaurant worker would wave this special wand over your stomach and it would register your hunger in decibels. The hungriest would be moved to the front of the line automatically, leaving the less hungry to wait – and as they waited of course, their hunger would increase, making it an altogether more pleasant and satisfying experience for all. Especially me, b/c my hunger was very great and I would have been seated an hour earlier than last night.

While we were waiting in the verrrrrry loooonnngg line, I distracted my husband with stories from the supremely hilarious book I have been reading. It is called The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs and it is laugh-out-loud funny. I truly love this book, I guffaw heartily and then my husband calls from the other room – HEY WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT? I am reading honey. OH, THAT BIBLE BOOK? Yeah. OH. I think he is jealous of this A.J. Jacobs for making me laugh so hard. And I am not joking. He has glanced at his dust-jacket photo and I know he is thinking Boy I am glad that A.J.Jacobs looks like a writer and not a movie star (no offense, A.J.). Also, my husband has begun growing a beard. At first it was a mystery as to why. I complained but I FINALLY get it. He is jealous and wants me to like his beard. I think. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together, but I am finally getting 4. So this book I am reading is all about A.J. (and his alter-ego, Jacob)’s quest to live by the rules of the Bible for a year. NOT AN EASY TASK. So many whacky rules to abide by. Like tending sheep, and not touching women. His wife Julie deserves accolades for her patience. I laugh as much about that as anything. I cannot imagine what it must have been like living with this guy for a year, on the receiving end of all this oddity.  I picture a lot of heavy sighing.  Way to go, Julie!  You are a very good wife.  So I regaled my husband with funny stories from this book, and I could sense even the women in line behind us listening, b/c it is that THAT funny. You really must read this book. I am looking forward to reading A.J.’s other book, The-Know-It-All when I am done. I just know it will be good fun.

I will have to tell you more about my adventures later, as I have to go to the baby shower now.  Hope you are having a fun weekend too.