Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Night in Werewolf Woods by R.L. Stine

Night in Werewolf Woods is #5 in R.L. Stine's Give Yourself Goosebumps series, sort of like the Choose Your Own Adventure books I remember from my childhood.  Published in 1996, the book gives readers a series of choices as the story progresses.  Told in the second person and geared toward children in the 8-12 age range, Stine makes young readers feel as though they are part of the story.

The idea behind Night in Werewolf Woods is that you (the reader) are taking a summer vacation with your family to WoodsWorld, where according to legend, werewolves walk the woods at night.  Your parents force you to be nice to Todd Morris, the son of their best friends, who are sharing the cabin with your family.  But Todd is a bit nerdy and a bit whiny.  As Todd is unloading the car, the Murphy brothers steal the red tin box that contains Todd's prized collection of pewter figures.  You don't really like Todd, but you don't hate him.  In fact, you feel a bit sorry for him, so you offer to attend the Kids Only Campfire and get his collection back from the Murphy bullies.

At this point, readers are given their first choice -- to ditch Todd and attend the campfire alone or let Todd tag along.  There are more than 20 possible endings to the Night in Werewolf Woods, and you can bet that The Girl made any risky decision that would put her face-to-face with the werewolves.  We stayed up late one Friday night last month reading this book together.  We took turns answering the puzzle questions and making decisions about where to go and what to do next, but The Girl was quick to voice her opinion if she thought my choices would end the story too soon or weren't scary enough.

The Girl is a big R.L. Stine fan, a lover of scary, creepy stories.  I tell my husband that when she gets older, he'll finally have someone in the family who enjoys watching horror movies as much as he does.  (For now, I have to keep telling her that the scary movies she sees advertised in the commercials are not appropriate for her innocent eyes.  I can't even stomach most of them.)  But honestly, this book wasn't as creepy as the R.L. Stine books I remember reading as a kid.  Granted, this was the first time I read a book in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series and we only saw one way the story could go, but it seemed that Night in Werewolf Woods was exciting simply because there was something to do, some action to take at the end of every page that kept the story from slowing down.  Even The Girl wished it had been scarier.  I think the scariest part was when we decided to turn off the lamp and read using a little book light -- and my overstuffed bedroom closet popped open without any (human) help.  What a funny coincidence!

Here's what The Girl (age 9) had to say about Night in Werewolf Woods:

Night in Werewolf Woods could have been scarier.  I personally like books that scare me and make my spine tingle.  Night in Werewolf Woods lets you choose your own adventure.  Me and my mom made the scariest possible choices.  I would like to re-read the book because I want to see what would happen if I let something bad happen to one of the characters (Todd).  The sentence I just said might sound mean, but he was annoying.  My favorite part when when the action happened.

Disclosure: The Girl purchased her copy of Night in Werewolf Woods at a library sale.



Serena said...

I was going to ask if The Girl was going to read the book again and try other choices to see how the ending would change, but I guess she answered my question!

bermudaonion said...

Goosebumps books were wildly popular when Vance was younger and I remember some parents wouldn't let their kids read them because they thought they were too scary. Vance was more like The Girl - he didn't think they were scary enough. Nice review!

Suko said...

Great review! The Girl obviously likes her Goosebumps to be a bit scarier! My son loved this series of books.

Anonymous said...

I used to love Choose Your Own Adventures. I haven't read one for years.

Staci said...

The real scary ones are the Fear Street series!!! Gruesome!

Andi said...

Cool! I wonder if Rocketboy has a copy of this one? He would looove it!

christina said...

My students love Goosebumps. They can't get enough.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love that The Girl thought it should have been even scarier! I really find it fascinating that Stine manages to write "scary" stories that aren't reeeeeaaaally scary, if you know what I mean! What a great characteristic for an author writing for kids!

Anna said...

Serena: I'm sure she'll revisit it at some point, but I probably won't. Once is enough for me.

bermudaonion: I loved the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, but I didn't think they were scary either. Many of the Goosebumps books in her collection were once mine.

Suko: I have a feeling she's going to love horror movies when she gets older.

carolsnotebook: Me, too! I got one of the originals from the library for The Girl awhile back, but she wasn't really interested.

Staci: Thanks for letting me know. She found a Fear Street book in her collection and pulled it out for the Read-a-Thon.

Andi: I bet he would!

christina: I'm not sure whether it's big in her school. I think the Wimpy Kid books get the most attention.

rhapsodyinbooks: I wonder if they're scary for other kids, though. And I met R.L. Stine at BEA last year, and he was a bit creepy in person. LOL