Book Specification Info: 122 Pages; ISBN #0-590-45366-1
Summary: A family is dealing with the father/husband being an out-of-work scientist who is conducting experiments in their basement. Almost from the moment the story begins, the mother has to leave to go tend to a family member out-of-town. She doesn't return until the end of the book. While the mother's gone, the children start noticing changes in their father but are scared to mention them. Being children, they are curious about what their father is doing in the basement even though he has told them to stay out. During one of their trips to the basement, they realize things are not as they seem with their father. It comes down to the daughter being forced to make a decision that could ultimately lead to her father's death.
Banned Reasons: Excessive Violence
For this book, I'm a little torn between agreeing and disagreeing with the banned reasons. There wasn't excessive violence, but there was a little violence (i.e. one person is stabbed with a knife and another is chopped in half with an axe). However, the violent incidents are explained in the book and are an integral part of the story. Ironically, it is the violent incidents which help resolve several confusing situations in the book. So, should the book be challenged for being violent when the violence has a purpose?
Overall: I did enjoy the book and do think that it would be okay for a child to read. The ending was a little unexpected. It made you wonder if the issues in the book had really been resolved at all ... which, an ending that makes think about the story beyond what's written in a book, is a good thing. It helps feed a person's imagination, which can never be bad.
I have noticed, though, within these first two books that R. L. Stine has stayed with the same type of family. A mother whose patient and understanding. A father whose a little preoccupied and can be short tempered. A daughter/sister who is the oldest and is the first to notice the weird things that are happening. Finally, a younger son/brother who is slightly spoiled, a nuisance and who thinks everything is fine until the weird stuff is practically shoved in his face. It makes me wonder if R. L. Stine grew up in this type of family or if this was the family he had always wanted ... ???
I can certainly understand why a parent would not want their child to read this book. However, I think if a parent restricts their child from reading this book the parent is a little too overprotective. Strictly my opinion, of course. Most children like a little scare and violence in their books. That's the whole point of buying a book like this, isn't it? You don't buy a book with a creepy cover and expect to read a love story, right? Right!
Off to read book #3 ...
Happy Reading! =)