Monday, August 11, 2008

Series 2000 #03 Creature Teacher

Series 2000 #03: Creature Teacher

Front Tagline:
This is one killer class!

Brief Synopsis:
In the days before Ashton Kutcher made punk'ding socially acceptable, children like protagonist Paul were punished for their childish antics. See, Paul taught his pet parrot how to say "Don't do your work, the teacher is a jerk," which is not even clever for a parrot. This alone isn't enough to get him expelled, but on the way to the principal's office, he accidentally trips his jerk teacher and she gets hurt. See, hurtful words will never compare to actual physical harm. This is why bullies model themselves on Oscar de la Hoya, not Wilde.

So Paul gets himself sent to a boarding academy for overachievers, The Caring Academy. Paul isn't an overachiever but his dad pulls some strings and gets him accepted. Because expensive private schools often accept students who will lower their average testing scores. Paul's new roommate Brad is a violinist practicing for one of the strativarious acts at the upcoming school-wide talent show. Paul is warned to get a talent before the big show. Unfortunately, stumbling over teachers and sending them to the hospital is hard to translate to the variety show format.

Paul's parents leave and he meets up with two girls, Celeste and Molly, who warn him to leave as soon as he can. Paul thinks it's a big joke and starts clowning around before class starts. Unfortunately, he learns the hard way that he's not funny when a giant grotesque monster enters the room and licks his arm with her enormous cow tongue. The lessons in these books are so easily translatable to the everyday situations kids face.

See, though several kids warned him that the teacher was a monster, Paul took the literal figuratively. Turns out Paul's teacher Mrs. Maaargh really is a giant monster. God, with a name like that, who knew? She's given plenty of disgusting physical traits, like lumpy wet bloated feet with black claws on the toes, and her skin is yellow like "chickens in the supermarket." Insert jaundice/the Simpsons/fake tan/questionable Asian joke here.

Mrs. Maaargh and her students explain how she's a big booster on Darwinism and survival of the fittest. So the hideous monster is in favor of evolution? If the right thinks the left is full of nothing but baby killers, Stine takes ludicrous political allegory to the extreme by having Mrs. Maaargh expressly promise to eat the worst-performing student in her class. There's a bunch of index cards with the name of every student and Mrs. Maaargh moves them around as she sees fit. Paul notices that his new friend Molly is one away from the bottom.

In the lunch line, Molly and Celeste tell Paul that he can get ahead by working on extra credit projects and performing well in the talent show. In the dining hall, there aren't three seats open so Paul sits away from his new friends and across from a lonely-looking chubby kid. He makes small talk with the kid, Marv. He learns that the other teachers are normal and only his is the monster. Paul wastes no time in bitching about his teacher to Marv, only to be dragged away from the table by Celeste and Molly, who inform him that Marv is Mrs. Maaargh's son. Paul decides that the best plan of action is to get to Mrs. Maaargh before her son can and do damage control. He runs to find the teacher and interrupts her snack of crackers and mice. Great.

Molly and Celeste brainstorm ideas with Paul on what his talent can be. Paul wants to be a stand-up comedian and tell jokes, but the girls warn him that she's never laughed at anything and he'd better do something spectacular to dazzle her. Spectacular like doing balloon animals while performing stand-up! That is his actual solution. Marv shows up in Paul and Brad's room and offers them some dessert, but Paul rudely rejects the treat as he suspects the boy is only trying to fatten him up for his mother.

Several days later at the talent show audition, Paul's roommate Brad gets sabotaged when someone pours "pure skunk scent" from the science lab into his violin case, causing a noxious odor to fill the rehearsal hall when he tries to play his instrument. Mrs. Maaargh heads over to the science lab and retrieves a bottle of the skunk scent and drinks it for no reason than to elicit a cheap "Ew that's gross" from the reader. Since Molly and Brad were both competing to play violin in the talent show, Mrs. Maaargh disqualifies Brad and allows Molly to stay in the show. Paul has the misfortune of trying to make people laugh after all the commotion, and he's shocked to discover someone has poked holes in all the balloons, ruining his act. Paul immediately suspects his manipulative far-sighted girlfriend.

Back in his room, Paul discovers a block of Marv's fudge next to the rest of his pricked balloons and Brad's ruined violin case. He suspects Marv of the treachery and though it's not expressly revealed, he probably expressed his frustration by yelling out "Oh fudge."

After school, Celeste and Molly are working on some sort of model using Nerf balls and sticks. When pressed, they admit they're working on a model of the galaxy. Um, they might need a few more balls. The girls suggest Paul get in good with Mrs. Maaargh by doing a molecular model of the most complex molecule in existence. The molecule is not named in the book, because that would have required five minutes to pull a book of a shelf, and five minutes in RL Stine time is three chapters written. Paul decides that extra credit could only help, given that he accidentally stepped on Mrs. Maaargh's foot and severed one of her clawed toes, which she then ate. I really can't imagine why this series failed.

To the surprise of exactly no one, when Paul presents Mrs. Maaargh the model he spent several countless nights constructing, he discovers that someone has sabotaged it to simply form the words 'YOU UGLY.' Paul, who ain't got no alibi, backpedals and insists someone is out to sabotage him. Mrs. Maaargh chastises him on his improper grammar and moves his card down off the chart and onto the floor.

Taking a page from, oh, I don't know, every book Stine's ever written about camp, the phones don't work at the school and none of the outgoing mail ever gets deilvered. So Paul decides he'll escape, even though Molly tells him that it's impossible to escape the grounds. See, on her second day at the academy, after she discovered her teacher was a monster, Molly tried to escape, but was caught and that's how her name ended up so low on Mrs. Maaargh's list. Before Paul can escape though, his parents show up at the school.

Mrs. Maaargh has invited Paul's parents to feed them a story about how their son tried to run away, revealing that the woods surrounding the academy as so dense that were he to run away "again," he'd be lost forever. Paul realizes she's just covering for his disappearance once she eats him. So, just like any other parent-teacher conference. Paul begs and pleads with his parents to take him with them, but they refuse.

Finally the day of the big talent show arrived. During lunch, Paul is handed a note from the office and told he is to report to the auditorium immediately. While he waits in the spotlight to go on in the eerily empty concert hall, Molly shows up and informs him that the talent show was canceled, meaning Paul's still on the bottom and was only called to the auditorium to be Mrs. Maaargh's luuunch.

Mrs. Maaargh lowers Paul down under the stage using the trapdoor and prepares to eat him. Molly causes a distraction and attempts to save Paul's life. It turns out Molly, not Marv, was the one who sabotaged all the projects, so she could get moved off the bottom of the chart. But she feels awfully sorry and attempts to hoist Paul up on the elevator to the top. Unfortunately, Mrs. Maaargh pulls him back down and only Molly escapes. Paul wriggles free and runs for help, only to bump into Marv.

Mrs. Maaargh's son reveals that he considers Paul a friend, since he's the only one who ever talked to him. So like all good friends, he gives advice on how not to be eaten by his mother. If Paul can make his teacher laugh, she'll fall into a coma and hibernate for six months. Well of course. Paul realizes his jokes won't do the trick (It's hard to type out a sarcastic "No!" but if you can imagine one here, that would be swell) so he drops to the ground and starts tickling the monster's wet clawed toes until she falls into a deep sleep. 2000 times the scares!

But the Twist is:
Marv tells Paul he's hungry.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Paul and his new friend Molly, who disappears up an elevator 7/8ths of the way through the novel.

Questionable Parenting:
Paul's dad admits that his teacher looks like a monster, but insists that beauty is only scaly skin deep.

Questionable Teaching:
Mrs. Maaargh's lesson for her class of gifted students, who are so smart and talented that they're sent to an advanced-placement boarding school, is to just write a sentence on the board and have one of her pupils identify the subject and the verb.

Minority Alert:
The protagonist's surname is Perez, meaning the odds are pretty good that he's either Hispanic or enjoys drawing squirting MS Paint penises on pictures of celebrities.

Less is Lorrie Moore Alert:
The book opens with a second-person prologue for no reason whatsoever. Because you enjoy reading things written in second-person.

Where Have I Heard This Before Alert:

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 22/23

Great Prose Alert:
She howled and slapped her knees, which made her dress bounce around as if it were filled with soccer balls.

There are only so many times I can say the book under discussion is the worst Goosebumps book ever.

See you guys next week for even more amusement.


Anonymous said...

Remember kids, fat people are monsters, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, no wonder this took an extra week. Poor Troy, you deserve a cookie.

Big Bob said...

Iunno Troy, while the premise is ridiculous and some parts of the book were disgusting, I have to admit that that synopsis caught my attention all the way through.

Though the next one should have plenty of complaints in terms of prose...

Anonymous said...

Great write-up ... I'm enjoying hearing about these Series 2000 books as I never read them.

eepman said...

This one left me in tears man. I think I want to buy a copy of this book.

Anonymous said...

I kinda agree with Robert here. I think a lot of these books would be better if they were done by an author who didn't suck. Some good concepts (most bad) ruined by awful prose and taking the easy way out in the end. Like tickling her feet. WTF? And the twist ending. I can't believe I didn't get it.

"Paul's new roommate Brad is a violinist practicing for one of the *strativarious* acts at the upcoming school-wide talent show."

Stradivarius reference? That wins.

Great entry, Troy, can't wait for Body Squeezers!

Anonymous said...

The entire time I was reading the review, I had Teacher from the Black Lagoon floating about in my head. Seems like I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

She howled and slapped her knees, which made her dress bounce around as if it were filled with soccer balls.


Anonymous said...

The "you ugly" thing was ace! Good job. I wish we got 2 updates a week.

Anonymous said...

Now this one really was as bad as I remember it. Grotesque was one of 2000's most unfortunate excesses, but given how loose Stine's definition of "scare" is...

The Guindo said...

How did she even get a job teaching at a prestigious boarding school D=


Anonymous said...

Total win for Creature from the Black Lagoon. I used to love that book.

Paigealicious! said...

"'YOU UGLY.' Paul, who ain't got no alibi"


Paul should have done a ventriloquism bit for his talent.

Cerebelle said...

Wow, what was the prologue about? Was it just the parrot thing? And why would it be in second-person? Should I be expecting some kind of logic in a Goosebump book, though?

Okay, that's enough of that. Great post, completely understandable that you took an extra week to get through this one.

troy steele said...

The prologue was Paul in bed, telling the reader to imagine they were being chased by a monster. It was excessively unnecessary, even by the standards of this series.

Anonymous said...

So a projectile vomit party, and then eating toes.

2000 is a nice series of children's books.

Anonymous said...

And then they all turned out to be dogs, right?

Anonymous said...

Hey troy IMDB says Your Dead
Also According to Googlefight you get more result then R.l Stine

Also,Is there any chance of you doing the TV show?

Anonymous said...

You have to admit, there's nothing scarier than reading in second-person. Stine was onto something.

Anonymous said...

Nothing? Not even lawn gnomes?

Anonymous said...

This was a poor book all around, although you haven't seen the worst until you read Fright Camp... the dictionary definition of phoning it in and a complete waste of paper.

What struck me about this book was that even a child would see this as immature.

I'm surprised you didn't have a bad parenting moment for when Paul's parents left him in a school that employs a monster as a teacher.

John said...

Are we correct in assuming that the series 2000 books will be done in order, unlike the original goosebumps books?

On a side note, this was one of what I think were two series 2000 books that I read. I think this book killed the entire franchise for me.

Great blog, as always

Anonymous said...

This story is about a boy who moves to a different school,and he goes to a strange room, where his teacher is a monster! And they're going to have a tallent show, and their teacher is going to watch them do their act, they get to pactice in their room, but if the teacher doesn't like their act, she puts them where ever she wants on a chart called 'the food chain,'and whoever is on the bottom at the end of the tallent show,she eats! I can't tell you who's on the bottom or what happens in the end, becase for one; it'll spoil who's on the bottom, and for number two; the end's too creepy and surprising. Buy the book and find out why I can't tell you the end. (Buy it anyway because the book's toogood to not buy or I wouln't of called it This is the best Bruce Coville book ever! I recommend it to people who don't read or like GB.

Anonymous said...

Are You on some kind of medication?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the soccer balls part more of an "Out-of-context" alert

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's R.L. Stine.

Anonymous said...

Alright, now I'm definitely glad I grew out of Goosebumps before Series 2000 started getting published.

Can't wait for the next review!

Anonymous said...

Maybe lawn gnomes. What about reading in second person about lawn gnomes? I think that's as terrifying as it gets.

Anonymous said...

No update this week, Troy? R.L. Stine has said that it takes him about a week to write a volume in the series, but you can't handle a 2,000 word review in that same time span?!

troy steele said...

There will be an update this week, I'm writing it right now. I had intended to do The Beast this week (Shame on no one picking up the hint) but it didn't arrive in time so I'm forced to do something else

Anonymous said...

Lawn gnomes in second person?

Thanks a lot, now I won't get to sleep for weeks.

Anonymous said...

Unneccesary Trivia:
Goosebumps knockoff Bone Chillers came out with a story called Teacher Creature prior to this book. In this one the teacher was some kind of toad man and I believe it ended with him getting eaten by swamp trees or something. Tim Jacobus did the cover for that book too.

Sometime after another Goosebumps knockoff Graveyard School came out with Creature Teacher (or was it Teacher Creature?).

troy steele said...

The one Bone Chillers where giant insects took over a school and they were feeding the children, who served as incubators, to their young was pretty good/twisted if memory serves

Groggy Dundee said...

You know, Mrs. Maaargh laughs at a couple of points through the book, so the twist at the end doesn't even make sense.

Millie said...

Re. the Bone Chillers book with insects taking over a school - that contained one of the most disgusting scenes I've ever read in a kid's horror book, in which the whole school is force fed lasagne that turns out to be full of live, crawling bugs. I'd love to find it again just to see if my stomach could handle it.

As for Creature Teacher, there might actually have been something creepily borderline sexual about Mrs M licking Paul and being all "I'M GONNA EAT YOU UP." Might have, if she weren't so grotesque ...

Bob said...

I know this sounds stupid but What is 2nd person?

Heather Nicole said...

"he's shocked to discover someone has poked holes in all the balloons, ruining his act. Paul immediately suspects his manipulative far-sighted girlfriend."

Oh sweet jesus LOL love the "strativarious" remark too...

Anonymous said...

To Bob,
I'm not sure, but I think it means written as if it is you in the story, ie. instead of "I went to the movies" or "He went to the movies" it's "You go to the movies". Note the change in tense.

Anonymous said...

Benny here. I read this one and I have to say I LOVE IT. The whole trying to escape thing just gives me a thrill. I love situations like this. Though R.L.Stine reused some of the elements in Why I Quit Zombie School. It's number four of Hall of Horrors under the Horrorland Banner. *********SPOILERS********** It's about this kid that gets enrolled in this school and everybody there are zombies. He meets this one girl who gives him hints on how to survive, even though she's a zombie too. He tries but they all go downhill. At the end he escapes. He arrives in a new school where everyone there are vampires in a school called dracula Middle School. I love that one too. Back to this book. The teacher I thougt was a B****. She was so mean and sarcastic. And was alway judging everybody. Which I was like Dang. She's got some serious Issues. Oh and the whole " I'm a monster" thing. Which she said so, so many times. So 10/10. How come they hardly made any episodes of the 2000 books? They only made episodes of the first too books. That's it. Well bye, and really good book.

Anonymous said...

Hadn't Bone Chillers already done an entirely identical book called "Teacher Creature?" Goosebumps 2000 ripped off a ripoff!