The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena

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I read the kindle version of

The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena (1995) by R. L. Stine ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read this as part of a book club. The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena was an absolutely fun read. At first, I did not have high expectations for this one, but I was wrong! It was very enjoyable, so this is why I’ll point out up front that I gave it 5 stars.

This is the 38th book in the original Goosebumps run, and the longest title in that original series. It is also one of the few Goosebumps books where the children’s parents are divorced.

It’s a pretty solid adventure story, and the beginning definitely reminds you that it’s the mid-nineties from the get-go with name drops like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Super-Soaker. Lets get on with the summary. The following will definitely have spoilers.

Jordan and Nicole Blake are brother and sister that are just so bored in the California summer heat. Their father, Garrison Blake, is a photographer and often goes on trips, leaving them with Mrs. Hitchens, which Jordan likes to call Witchens. The divorce must be recent, because it is stated that the kids can’t stay with their mother, as she has not settled into her new place yet. Mr. Blake has just come back from a trip to Wyoming with photographs of bears. In the darkroom, the kids are hanging out while he excitedly develops his pictures. But something is wrong with the photos! These aren’t real bears at all — they’re all pictures of teddy bears! How could this have happened? What would Mr. Garrison tell his boss?

Turns out that Jordan is a bit of a practical joker. Before Garrison went on his trip, Jordan had stolen his camera and took pictures of teddy bears to prank his father. Even though this is a terrible joke and kind of mean, Garrison encourages this nasty behavior by joining in on the laughter. No big deal if he just thought he was about to lose his job. Hilarious joke, Jordan! Besides, Garrison had pulled a similar joke on a friend that had just come back from Africa to photograph gorillas. He’d gotten with the magazine editor to go along with the joke, telling him that all his photos were of people in gorilla suits, and not real gorillas at all! It’s so funny, because his friend nearly had a nervous breakdown about it. Hysterical!

Anyway, the kids go out to ride their bikes and visit their neighbor Lauren, who is complaining about the heat. Soon they are joined by the terrible, mean, red headed Miller Twins – Kara and Kyle. The twins spray them with Super Soakers and mess up their bikes. Kyle claims that he knows Arnold Schwarzenegger and calls him by first name. That made me laugh. So quintessentially 90s.

Soon, Garrison comes out and tells the kids that he just got another job, and he is going away again on another trip. He has called Mrs. Hitchens again to see if she would babysit, (to the kids’ horror) but she is unavailable, so the only choice is to bring the kids with him. They are going to Alaska, and they will be seeing snow for the first time! The job is basically to hunt down and take pictures of a reported abominable snowman that lives in those parts.

My first thought is that Garrison must not realize how dangerous this mission is. Yeah, the kids are excited about seeing snow for the first time, but they’re going to have to rough it in a cabin in the cold that they’ve never known before. Not to mention, a monster is supposed to be there. Furthermore, Garrison doesn’t even know how to use a compass.

When they get off their private plane, they land and meet Arthur, their guide. The four of them walk ten miles — yes, ten miles — in the freezing cold snow. The kids have never seen snow before or been anywhere near as cold as it is in Alaska before, remember. There’s no way they would have made it. But, in this magical world, the kids don’t complain at all about the cold. They run around and throw snowballs at each other and make snow angels. The kids run ahead of the dogsled playing, and eventually Jordan is careless and falls into a crevasse. They have to throw a rope down 20 feet to pull him out.

When they get to the cabin, it is late, as the fact that they have kids with them slowed the trip way down, according to Arthur. Arthur has no sense of humor at all, and grumbles the entire way, not ever cracking a smile. The next morning, they wake up to see huge tracks in the snow outside the cabin. Arthur is very frightened and says multiple times that this trip is too dangerous, and that they should go back. Not to worry, though — it’s just another hilarious trick played by master prankster Jordan Blake. Garrison is not amused this time, though, and tells him that he is not to make any more practical jokes for the rest of the trip. I mean, the kid is always encouraged to make stupid jokes any other time. How would he know it wasn’t the time or place to do it now? Well, he promises not to do any jokes for the rest of their time there.

Today the three were to trek with the dogs and sled to a snow rise where the abominable snowman is to live. When they get close enough to the snow rise, the dogs start acting weird. They start howling and refuse to go any further. Arthur insists that they must go back. The howling is not a good sign, and he is just too afraid to go any further. Garrison insists that they’re not going back. He was hired to do a job, and he was going to do it. My thoughts were: Why did Arthur take this job if he was going to be too scared to go through with it? Better yet, why did the Garrison even hire a guide if he wasn’t going to listen to any advice he had to give? Garrison tries to force Arthur’s dogs to mush forward, but they continue to refuse. Arthur starts walking back to the cabin by himself, and the dogs start to follow. Then and only then is when Garrison decides that they will have to go back, despite Jordan’s urgings that they should go on without him. Garrison, disappointed, says that without a guide, they couldn’t do this on their own.

Back at the cabin, the kids are instructed to gather firewood, and they find a frozen stream that they know their dad will enjoy photographing. After dinner, Garrison goes off alone to photograph the stream. The kids try to sleep while he’s gone, but they can’t because it’s still light out. As we all know, kids do not like to go to sleep when it’s light out. They decide to go outside, and they see Arthur outside, who promptly leaves with three of the dogs and their sled. The kids try to follow him. He had all their food! What did they think they were going to do if they ever caught up to him, anyway? Beat him up?

Well, they don’t catch up to him, and, unsurprisingly, they get lost in the snow. They try to follow their footprints, but they quickly are erased by a snowstorm that blows up. They start running blindly, and they both fall down another crevasse. At the bottom, Nicole yells and yells for their father, but this only causes an avalanche, which completely seals them in. They soon realize they are in a passageway that has stone walls instead of snow. They see a light ahead and follow the light into a cave. They now see huge footprints, and come face to face with the monster, who is encased in a block of ice! He seems huge, but he is just a head taller than Jordan, and he’s really ugly with white fur all over.

Looking for a way out, they hear a crack. The abominable snowman has broken out of its ice encasement! The monster goes for Nicole and…. grabs her backpack! He finds trail mix inside, and eats it with gusto. He then grabs Jordan’s backpack, and not finding any trail mix in it, he grabs both of the kids and brings them outside through a back passageway. Outside, the monster hears a dog barking, and he gently drops the children to the ground and goes in the direction of the distraction.

Finally free, Nicole and Jordan start running, and they realize that they are not too far from the cabin. Their dad is not there. They seem to have forgotten that Garrison has gone out to photograph the stream, because the kids are frantic. They huddle inside the cabin thinking the monster is back, but in comes dad, completely unaware that the kids had not left the cabin. They tell him they found the monster, and though he first does not believe him, they prove it by leading him to the cave where they found him.

The snowman is again completely frozen in the block of ice. Garrison is overjoyed, and suggests that they cut the ice and put the snowman in the supply trunk and send it back to California. The logic is that the supply trunk is airtight, so it won’t melt, which, in itself, is no logic at all. At the last moment, the kids grab some snowballs from the cave and stow them in the trunk with the monster. They find an old sled in the shed of the cabin, and Arthur left one dog with them.

Back at home in sunny California, the snowman is still in the supply trunk and is being stored in the dark room with the air condition way up. The kids are instructed not to tell anyone about the discovery until Garrison gives them the go-ahead. He leaves to talk to some scientists about the discovery.

With their father gone, they can’t resist telling Lauren, who happened to be over at the time, about what was in the darkroom. They show her the snowman, and decide it would be funny to surprise her with throwing a couple of the snowballs at her. Turns out that the snowballs that were taken from the abominable snowman’s cave are magical snowballs that leave snow on everything it touches —- and freezes people. Lauren gets a snowball thrown at her, and she is frozen solid. Nothing works to thaw her, and Nicole and Jordan panic. Finally, Jordan remembers how warm the snowman felt when they were picked up by him. Desperate, he gets the idea to lure the snowman awake with trail mix to see if he can thaw his sister that way. It works! The snowman squeezes Nicole enough to thaw her, and she has no idea what happened. The snowman also rolls around and picks up all the snow that is all over the ground. Apparently, he is the only way to fix the magic snow. After that, he runs away.

The three decide to put the last two snowballs in a garbage bag and bury it in the lot next to Kara and Kyle’s house so no one would run into this problem again. When dad is back, he is disappointed that the monster is gone, but he is mostly happy that the kids are ok. At least he has the pictures. They’re better than nothing, and they would sell for a fortune to some magazine.

Developing the pictures, they discover that every shot he took of the monster…. Well, in short, the monster is not in them. They are just pictures of snow. It’s like their encounter never even happened.

The kids come walking up the side of the house, and they see Kara and Kyle across the street in the vacant lot digging up the snowballs. The book ends with Jordan yelling at Kyle not to throw it. We then see the sound of the snowball connecting with something with a loud Thwak!

This was a surprisingly fun book, though I predicted the ending when there were just two snowballs left and they were burying them next to Kara and Kyle’s house.

Apparently, the newer reprint does not mention the Arnold Schwarzenegger bit, which is a shame. It instantly made me love the book, and it was only a few pages in at that point!

Definitely a recommended entry in the Goosebumps series.

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