Guess Who’s Dating a Werewolf? is kind of The Baby-Sitters Club meets Goosebumps. The main character, Annie Dubinski, is like an even-more-sporty, less business-oriented Kristy Thomas. Best friend Lily has Claudia’s hair but a lot of Mary Anne’s personality, only with two over-protective parents instead of one.
Gina and Frank Giardelli, eleven-year-old twins, have been sent to Camp Slumbering Pines for the summer. Gina hates it. She feels invisible because all the other campers know each other, she thinks of the place as Camp Dork, she gets scared by a raccoon, and the girls in her cabin prank her by hiding a garter snake in her bag and shaking a baby rattle so she’ll think it’s a rattlesnake.
Slime Lake belongs to one of those series I think of as “Goosebumps clones”—you know, middle school “horror,” possibly created to capitalize on the success of Goosebumps (although for all I know, some other series predated Goosebumps).
Specifically it sounds kind of early to mid-80s. It’s hard to image anyone being this excited about a shopping mall after that point in history:
“Wonderland Mall Opens Today!” I shouted happily. I read the giant billboard aloud as Mom drove past it and followed the long stream of traffic into the main parking area for the new shopping mall. (loc 30)
But Robin’s mom immediately adds a chilling note, pointing out that the mall is built on the former Mournful Swamp:
“I’ll never forget when three teenagers disappeared in the swamp. It was back when I was in high school. Everybody assumed they walked into quicksand and were sucked under, but nobody really knows what happened to them. Remember that story?” (loc. 32)
Geez, Robin’s mom, it would be pretty hard to FORGET that story.
Anyway, those two quotes from right at the opening of the book tell you basically all you need to know. If I add that there are three creepy teenagers working at the mall, and they’re sacrificing Robin’s schoolmates by turning them into mannequins, you can work out pretty well the whole plot. It’s still incredible fun to read, though.
It’s hard to believe this delicious creepiness was created and written by Betsy Haynes, but I guess she had a dark side of which I was previously unaware.
Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man. After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.
This is what I’m reading right now. Not out loud to the children, just for my own personal entertainment, which is something I really need to make more time for…
I just recently finished reading Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. I can’t say enough good things about that book (although I tried over in my Goodreads review of it). I’ll admit buying that book was a title-and-cover based decision, but it really paid off. It was fundamentally satisfying to watch the heroine respond to perceived bullying by trying to get her own back, and even more deeply satisfying to see her gain the perspective to understand how wrong her revenge plot was, and how the hurtful behaviour of her best friend had been less malicious than she’d thought.
The world really, truly doesn’t divide up neatly into bullies vs. bullied. Many of us have unintentionally been mean, and almost everyone has been on the receiving end. It’s rare to see a book handle the issue so deftly that you walk away re-examining how your behaviour affects other people, instead of just smugly concluding “bullies are bad” without wondering if you’ve ever accidentally been one…
There’s not a lot I can tell you that you haven’t guessed from the blurb, although there’s a bittersweet “time passes but they never age” thread running through this. It was entertaining, but almost more melancholy than scary.
Also, although the back cover refers to “two cute boys,” its important to the plot that only Sydney is instantly smitten (and therefore doomed). Gabby doesn’t fall in insta-love with the second boy, so she manages to escape Sydney’s fate. I’d love to know how she explained things to her friend’s parents when she showed up alone, though.