Thursday, January 19, 2006

#12 Be Careful What You Wish For...

#12 Be Careful What You Wish For...

Front Tagline: It might come true.
Back Tagline: Make a Wish!

Official Book Description:
Samantha Byrd is a klutz. An accident waiting to happen. She's the laughingstock of the girls' basketball team. And that mean, rotten Judith Bellwood is making her life miserable on and off the court.
But everything's about to change.
Sam's met someone who can grant her three wishes. For real.
Too bad Sam wasn't careful what she wished for.
Because her wishes are coming true.
And they're turning her life into a living nightmare!

Brief Synopsis:
Samantha Byrd is a tall klutzy girl who is constantly being tormented by Judith, a moderatly popular girl who taunts her with biting material like "Fly away, Byrd." At one point in the book Samantha literally strangles Judith in rage, so there's an element of anger issues between these two. Samantha is a terrible basketball player and is forced to stay late from school for practice.

One rainy afternoon after practice she meets a lost old lady in the woods and in a smart move not only talks to this stranger but goes with her to another location. The old lost woman is so thankful for Samantha's kindness that she grants her three wishes. Samantha's first wish is the awkwardly phrased "I want to be the strongest player on the basketball team." This leads to all the other players on the team, including Judith, coming down with the flu. Judith accuses Samantha of being a witch, possibly from being stuck at home sick in a Bewitched-induced haze, and in anger Samantha responds that she wishes Judith would just disappear.

When Samantha wakes up the next morning, she's the only person left in the world. Samantha frets and also eats a peanut butter sandwich in what would prove to be the inspiration for that scene in Speilberg's War of the Worlds. After some aimless wandering the old woman appears and says that she's apparently not very good with magic so the only way she could make Judith disappear was to make everyone disappear. I don't think we can really blame Samantha for the failure of this wish though since it's not even what she sort of wished for. The old woman says she'll cancel the wish and give her the third wish. Samantha wishes everything was back to normal and that Judith would think she was the greatest person alive.

This wish is then granted in an extended finale that is actually pretty clever as Judith obsesses over every nuance of Samantha's being, carrying her books to class, sneaking into her bedroom at night, and waiting outside her house in the morning to walk to school with her. Finally after crashing her bike in an attempt to get away from Judith, Samantha runs into the old woman who gives her a fourth wish, which is totally cheating by the way. Samantha wishes that she had never met the old lady, that instead it was Judith who met her.

But the Twist is:
As Samantha leaves the wooded area, she looks down at a smiling Judith, who has just said "Why don't you fly away, Byrd?" Samantha has been turned into a bird.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Samantha Byrd, our narrator and the tallest girl in school, is best friends with Cory Blinn, the tallest boy in school, who disappears about half-way thru the novel.

Questionable Parenting:
Upon hearing voices from his teenage daughter's bedroom late at night, Samantha's father stays downstairs and tells her to get off the phone.

Questionable Teaching:
The book opens with Samantha getting mocked by her peers for not knowing that four plus two equals six. Now, putting aside that the girls were right to laugh at her because that's not a very hard equation, I think the real problem here is that the characters are being taught 4+2=6 in middle school.

Early 90s Cultural References:
Doc Martins, the Orlando Magic, Troll dolls

R.L. Stine Shows He is Down With the Kids:
Samantha's older brother suggests she might be better off playing tiddlywinks or Parchesi.

Foreshadowing Alert:
Number of times Samantha is told to "Fly away, Byrd" or some variation there-of: 13.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 3/4: Samantha thinks she's going to die, she's dead, she's... been knee'd in the chest by Judith.
Ch. 8/9: Samantha in a moment of thoughtlessness wishes her brother was one foot tall, because that's the sort of thing one says casually. She's shocked to see her brother coming across the lawn towards her, and he's only one foot tall... wait, no, that's not her brother, that's the family dog.
I think the main characters of these books need to quit being so melodramatic and stop jumping to conclusions.

Great Prose Alert:
"The rain pattered on the pavement, big cold drops."

The last thirty pages or so of this early book in the series are so unflinchingly cruel and genuinely funny that it reminds me why these titles got so popular so quickly. The novel is still afflicted with a lot of the problems that these books suffer from, but regardless this is definitely a higher-tier Goosebumps entry.


spix michaels said...

Serious lolz @ "Big cold drips."

_jon said...

lol @ doc martins

Anonymous said...

troll dolls

mehan said...

i read this when i was a kid but man, i didn't remember that brilliant twist ending! poetic justice at it's best

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cutelittledevil4u said...

Do you remember watching this one in the tv series? The wishes are different... Instead of wishing that Judith would go away... she goes, "I wish you'd all just BUZZ OFF1" and foom everyone in the world is turned into flies. What I'm wondering is WHY they changed it... To give the old lady some sort of all powerful stance? And I remember she never gets a 4th wish... actually I don't know if that's true or whether I didn't watch the end... the latter would be more justifiable.

BurtonFanatic said...

I hated this one for the ending. This made me really think out what I would wish for if I ever did get three wishes... IE: "I wish that everyone else stayed as rich as they were, and that I was the richest person in the world". I know, but I had a lot of time to think about these things when I was 10.

Madeline said...

I realize I'm a little late on this one, but I remember the TV version ending with Judith wishing something like being the most admired person in town, and then she gets turned into a statue. And the old woman winks at Samantha and disappears. Am I making this up, or did they completely change it for the TV series?

Anonymous said...

The TV series often "adapted" the books rather heavily, I understand. Maybe so that people who read the books still had a surprise at the end.

Also, turns out this book is getting reissued for HorrorLand.

thekosmicfool said...

I love how Samantha makes straightforward wishes that go horribly awry thanks to the piss-poor magic skills of the hag, but then Judith makes a vague non-wish and it works perfectly.

Anonymous said...

[QUOTE]I realize I'm a little late on this one, but I remember the TV version ending with Judith wishing something like being the most admired person in town, and then she gets turned into a statue. And the old woman winks at Samantha and disappears. Am I making this up, or did they completely change it for the TV series?[/QUOTE]

Except for the old woman (who wasn't really an old woman; just a strange lady who wears black and has a feathered hat) disappearing, that *is* exactly what happened in the TV version (the end where Judith wishes that, wherever she was in the world, people would stop and admire her, which leads to Judith becoming a park statue).

Angela said...

Haha! I remembered loving these books and tried to reread them a few years ago, but I just couldn't handle it. Your blog is great! : )

Anonymous said...

a good parody for this would be:be careful what you piss might get wet

Anonymous said...

if the old lady wanted to reward sam then why did she not grant that wish that sam whats after she has been given the first but when she wishes that judith didnt exist, which she obviously didnt mean she comes and grants it streit away?
another thing if someone says their going to grant u 3 wishes dosent that mean their going to grant u 3 wishes and do them all and not grant u 1 wish and give u 3 chances to change it?

Anonymous said...

why the hell does she turn into a crow, i really think it should've been a werewolf or something like that, and the actual story had a more memorisable time in the persons life, that way it probably would've been much better, oh and i'm 10 and i think this blog is awesome, i keep the blogs swears a secret from my family lol

Anonymous said...

benny here. this is one of the first ones i read and the part where she knew that everyone disappeard i think she got hungry went to the store was going to take some stuff but then thought that the security camera was on. i was like no ones there how can you get in trouble. but i probably would have done the same thing. 6/10 very weird book. but i love the cover

17_MISSING !! said...

I spent my childhood reading Goosebumps.. miss those days :-)

Anonymous said...

Benny here. The TV episode changed the ending. Instead of turnig sam into a bird. Judith wished that everyone would admire her so she turned into a statue. So 4/10 boring episode.

Anonymous said...

"a good parody for this would be:be careful what you piss might get wet"


anon, u iz 1 clever mutha f-

Anonymous said...

Benny here. Troy have you ever watched the Haunting Hour. Its on the hub. Saturdays at 5:00 P.M. (central time)