Let me start by saying that this is Okeeday, the guy who brought you Denied!!, Playin' Games With Brent Parts 1 & 2, and The Crew. I got a different email and retrojunk glitched my new username somehow so now I'm known as "Bro." I don't dig it, but I'm not gonna register again so oh well. I hope you've all been enjoying my stories so far, as I've had a blast telling them. I'm really enjoying the articles you've all been posting recently. Nostalgia forever!!
Anyway, as those of you who've read my other stuff have figured out, video games were my main hobby as a kid. But if I had another to equal it, it was (and still is) reading. I'm not a hardcore bookworm who always has his nose stuck in a book, but I love me a good story. Always have. Ever since my folks taught me to read at home I've never stopped. As a young child, I read Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss. But my memories don't really begin until I started reading chapter books.
I used to love it when we read books in class. I wasn't a fan of everything that was required reading in school, but for the most part I enjoyed myself. The first standout book I remember reading in school was Isle of The Blue Dolphins.
It was about a girl whose people had to leave the island they lived on, but her and her little brother got left behind. I don't remember how though. It was interesting to read about how they survived, but then her brother died. I remember it being just sad after that. She get's rescued in the end but she's obviously a different person by then. I can't go into too much detail because I only read it the one time in elementary school but I remember it being a good book.
One of the first author's I remember becoming a fan of was Bruce Coville. I found this book at Waldenbooks called Aliens Ate My Homework and I thought it looked cool so I bought with my allowance.
New books were like new video games to me back then and I could barely wait to get home and read it. I would read before going to sleep so I spent the rest of the afternoon practically waiting for bedtime. Again, I only read it the one time but I remember really enjoying it. I think the aliens introduced in this story continued on for a few books more but I only read one other one. It was called I Left My Sneakers In Dimension X and I wanted to read it based entirely on the title.
Unlike Aliens ate My Homework though, I found this book to be boring, unfunny, and I couldn't wait to be done with it.
Bruce Coville wrote a lot about aliens, along with fantasy and mystery/pseudo-horror stories. One of his other alien series is the My Teacher series that involved aliens disguising themselves as teachers to take gifted children back to their home planet for study.
I think My teacher Fried my Brains was the first one I read, but I read them all in time.
The other major series I know of is his Space Brat Series.
I saw Space Brat for the first time in school Book Fair order form and I really wanted to read it. I found out that our school library had it and I was thrilled. Since it was the only one available, I had to start with book 3; The Wrath of Squat. The series was about a kid named Blork who as the title suggests is a brat. He's a huge brat and who whines and complains about everything but then he has to step up and be the hero. Lessons get learned, and everybody's happy in the end. I read the three shown, but I recently found out he wrote a fourth and fifth one as well. I check out a lot of Bruce Coville from both our local and school libraries. He wrote one book called The Monsters Ring I really enjoyed, along with another one called Goblins in the Castle.
If I remember right, the Goblins ended up being good guys. I'm pretty sure I read it twice.
Library day at school was something I anticipated as much as recess. I think it was a bi-weekly thing. Much like our local Hesperia library, I poured over every book available like a forensic scientist going over evidence. I checked out classics like Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. During one of my excursions, I discovered Judy Blume's creation Fudge.
I apologize for the small picture, but I was trying to find the cover of the copy I read back then. Fudge was the main character Peter's little brother and he was a huge pain in the butt. I thought the book was hilarious though. Then I found out the adventures of Fudge continued on in the books Fudge-a-mania and Superfudge. I didn't really like these though. Fourth Grade Nothing was much funnier, and my cousin Brent agreed with me on that.
Another series I enjoyed was Wayside School, by Louis Sachar.
These were silly stories about Wayside School. It was built sideways, which meant that instead of laying flat on the ground, it was built straight up like a skyscraper. The kids in the book had the class on the top floor. Their first teacher turned them into apples. One kid named Jon always went home early on the kindergarten bus. Another kid got a tattoo of a potato. It was strange, but I loved these books. I remembering checking out a book called Alligator Wrestling and You that I thought was funny. I also read one called Fat Men From Space. I had strange tastes back then...
Another event at school I looked forward to was the book fair. Preview day filled me with demands for my parents when I got home. I was usually allowed to get a at least one book whenever a book fair rolled around. One book I never bought but was a huge hit among my classmates nonetheless was Garfield's Insults, Put-Downs, and Slams.
Most of the jabs were actually pretty good with the exception of Comical Curses section. It consisted of statements like "May your Air Jordans be dunked in pudding." Still a humorous read regardless. As much as I hate to say it, I missed the first Jurassic Park in the theaters when it came out, so I was really excited when I brought home the junior novelization.
I loved it and I remember reading it multiple times. A couple years ago, I read Michael Crichton's actual novel and I liked that too. Some of the scenes in that first novel wound up being in The Lost World film.
On my own, I read a lot of mysteries. My dad read my sister and I a chapter from A Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew book every night, and it was great. Even though the chapters were short, my Dad would only read one so we'd going crazy the next day wanting to know what happened since those books always had cliffhangers for endings. I think I may have read some Box Car children mysteries too. Of course, no 90's childhood is complete without mentioning Goosebumps! I read so many of them, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, The Scarecrow Stalks at Midnight, Welcome to Camp Jellyjam, Welcome to Horrorland, Cuckoo Clock of Doom...I could write a whole article about them alone. I'll give a shout-out to two in particular though; Say Cheese and Die, and The Phantom of the Auditorium.
Why these two? Because they were the only two that actually managed to kind of scare me. Of course, I read a ton of choose your own adventures too, but I can't for the life of me remember the names of any of them. I rarely got the good endings though. One book ended me up on some kind of beach on another planet and I got eaten by a bunch of giant alien worm things.
Nintendo got in on the action and made Mario Bros choose your own adventures. I had one that I ordered through Pringles cans.
I know it's only a book, but it was hard. There were a lot of bad endings in it I think it took me a few months before I found the right path to the "good" ending. I had a Christian choose-your-own-adventure book about two friends exploring an old church. I don't recall any "bad" endings. One had the kids getting scared by something and running away, another had them finding a group of teens having some kind of club in the basement. I tried googling a picture, but no dice.
On the subject of Christian fiction, there was a series about this kid named Wally McDougal. The books were called "My Life As A..." followed by a title. Wally was an Urkel-ish kid who was klutzy but always ended up going on misadventures that ultimately taught him a moral lesson. The two I had were My Life As Crocodile Junk Food and My Life As A Torpedo Test Target.
Crocodile found Wally helping a missionary friend and Torpedo had him finding a lost submarine. Sometimes they were cheesy, but they were pretty funny too. My friend Jonathan had the whole series so I got to read them all.
Getting back to school reading, I attended Carmel Elementary in Hesperia, CA. One time I got in trouble and my punishment was an "in-school suspension." Basically I had to spend the day in the corner of another classroom away from my friends. (With the exception of lunch and recess.) I had a stack of work to do but I ended just reading through the book we were reading through in class:
Seriously, I think I did some math but then I just read this all day. I remember it being really sad.
Something my school did that I thought was really cool was this program called Clue Me In. Two classes from the same grade were given four or five books to read and then a team from each class would meet for a jeopardy-ish competition in front of the school. Books were things like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. During what I think was the last Clue Me In I participated in, the reading list contained a book called Carlotta. For some reason, it was removed from my class's reading list, but not our opponents. Nobody in my class read it, but the other class did. When the tournament happened, questions from Carlotta were still asked so the other team had an unfair advantage. Our team was behind when the judge asked this question; "What happened to Carlotta's father as a result of the white man's bullet?" The other team didn't answer. Though I never read the book, I could only think of one answer that made sense. I pressed my buzzer and my teammates instantly shot me death looks. Nervously I responded "He died?" The judge said that was correct and death looks were immediately replaced by high fives. We won. It's not very often that I end up being the "hero" of anything so I'm kinda proud of the little story. :)
During the tail end of the 90's I discovered something very cool. I was visiting some family in Colorado when I discovered there were Resident Evil novels.
I only read the novelizations of the 1st and 2nd games. In between novelizations of the actual games, the writers wrote original stories to fill in what was going in between the game's stories. I shared the two I had with my best friends and they were very much enjoyed. I also read Mega Man 2 in the Worlds of Power series but KingDonkeyKong wrote an excellent article about those books already.
Anyway, that about wraps up this article. I read so much more than I could ever cram into any one article so maybe I'll do a part 2 down the road. Hope you all enjoyed this, regardless. Until next time, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.