Young Scrooge, by R.L. Stine, for Timeslip Tuesday

In Young Scrooge (Feiwel & Friendsm, Sept 2016)  R.L. Stine (of Goosebumps fame) reimagines Dickens' Christmas Carol as middle grade horror.

Rick Scroogeman is a middle school kid who hates Christmas (in large part because it's also his birthday and he feels cheated and bitter, with some reason).  He is not just a Christmas-hater; he's also a psychopathic bully with no empathy for the other kids.  He has so little empathy that he doesn't even realize he is an utter jerk and that no one else is laughing at the cruel things he does that he thinks are funny (which is a change from the usual middle grade bullying one reads about, in which the bullies are under no illusions about how their victims feel....).  

One of young Scrooge's Christmas traditions is to find and open the presents his mother has hidden away for him (and why she hasn't learned from past Christmases to hide them better I don't know), and it is there in the attic with ripped paper and a some really not good presents that he is found by  the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.  They have decided to take action and intervene in his life to see if it is possible to turn him into a decent kid who can appreciate Christmas and not make life hell for those around him. 

So the time travelling starts.  First Scrooge gets a lesson from some kids in the 19th century of the be-done-by-as-you-did variety, which involves time in a pigpen.   Then he's whisked to the present, where he gets to hear the kids he thinks of as friends expressing their loathing for him, and spends time with a family suffering severe poverty, with creepy snowmen outside their house.  And finally there's a trip to the future, where he finds himself at Dead Middle School with zombie classmates who try to kill him (if there was a moral lesson here, I missed it).

Young Scrooge's redemption is pretty flimsy, not at all convincing, and lacking emotional depth. The story doesn’t even come close to the power of the original, but fans of R.L. Stine may well enjoy it, though the scariest part is the main character's casual acts of cruelty that he fails to recognize as anything but jokes.  The bits of interest that come from the various time travel scenarios are bright (but somewhat pointless) sparks in an otherwise uninspired effort.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Free Blog Counter

Button styles