1997's Buckeye Children's Book Award winner for grades 3-5 was The Haunted Mask II by R.L Stine. Despite my disinterest in scary things, Stine is an Ohio author, so I am very please to find his name among the BCBA winners!
The Haunted Mask II is actually a sequel in the Goosebumps series -- The Haunted Mask being the first, and two follow up stories even came after The Haunted Mask II. Apart from Night of the Living Dummy (featuring the ever popular Slappy), The Haunted Mask and it's sequels are known for being the most famous and popular books in the Goosebumps series. There was even a TV special for the haunted mask books!
In The Haunted Mask II, our main character Steve pulls a prank at school and as punishment must coach 1st grade soccer. Steve hates the 1st graders, especially after they pull a couple of pranks on him, so he vows to get revenge. He comes across a girl in his class named Carly Beth (the main character of the first Haunted Mask book) and gets her to tell him where she got her Halloween mask from last year. He finds the store abandoned but sneaks in and finds an old man mask to use to scare the 1st graders. He puts the mask on the night of Halloween only to find the mask has melded to his skin and everyone thinks he's an old man. Not only that, but he sounds and acts like an old man as well. When scaring the 1st graders backfires (they treat him kindly, thinking he is an old man), he find Carly Beth to find out how to get the mask off. Several attempts fail, until they go back to the abandoned store and pull out an old tuxedo -- which the mask apparently likes and floats off of Steve's face to join it. The book ends with the mask joining the tuxedo and running off, and with Chuck (one of Steve's friends) finding a mask and being unable to take it off.
I am easily scared, but I found the book to be more creepy than scary. Stine has a knack for using the most grotesque words and descriptions that it will make you shudder at some point, guaranteed. At one point, Steve thinks the mask bites his stomach while he's hiding it under his shirt (eek!). During Steve's merging with the mask, it was a little tense to see if he figures out how to get it to come off (just think about what would happen if he didn't!). The creepiest part was the end, when the kids don't seem to notice or care that the mask has melded with the tuxedo and ran off, and the fact that Chuck now has a mask stuck on his face. I'm guessing the old man mask/tuxedo is a premise for another Goosebumps story, and Chuck must be the main character of the next Haunted Mask book, but I'm too much of a chicken to find out!
You enjoyed scary books as a kid, Jill. Did you read the Goosebumps books? Did you have a favorite?
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