Title: The Bailey School Kids #31 – “Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream,” a.k.a. “Local Children Harass Depressed College Student”
Authors: Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Illustrator: John Steven Gurney
Summary: There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the new worker at Burger Doodle with very pale skin and sad eyes really be a ghoul spying for a family of vampires? The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!
“Scout said she works for a family,” Liza said with a gulp. “Maybe it’s a whole family of vampires.”
“Don’t tell me you think a whole batty family is going to swoop into Bailey City as soon as a ghoulish spy finds them a nest?” Eddie said.
“That’s it!” Howie shouted. “Mrs. Jeepers is bringing more vampires to Bailey City.”
Eddie rolled his eyes. “That’s a bunch of bat poop. After all, ghouls don’t scoop ice cream.”
And now we venture into a YA horror series slightly better known than the other non-Goosebumps books I’ve recapped. “The Bailey School Kids” was aimed at a reading group one level below the Goosebumps audience, which makes sense given how incredibly short they are along with the use of illustrations.
The broad premise focuses on a group of four children, sensible Melody, smart Howie, scaredy Liza, and annoying Eddie, as they find themselves surrounded by odd and creepy adults who may or may not be monsters and other sorts of creatures.
Is the albino art teacher with braces actually an alien trying to steal color from the planet Earth?
Is the new lunch lady who looks inexplicably like Bette Midler really Cupid serving up love potions in time for Valentine’s Day?
Is Mr. Jenkins, the virile camp counselor with a love for rare burgers and late night strolls, a werewolf?
The thing is, the kids are never able to prove if these people are monsters, ghosts, aliens, or other types of creatures. But then again, they’re never able to prove they AREN’T.
The only other reoccurring character is their teacher, Mrs. Jeepers, a redheaded Eastern European woman with a love for polka dots and who might be a vampire. It’s believed she’s capable of surviving in sunlight because her green brooch she wears on her collar has magical powers.
The series is pretty infamous due to the outrageous covers from the original print run and how utterly scandalized and shocked the kids appear in response to whatever new person they’re investigating.
I used to own a fair number of these back in the day, but at some point I ended up giving them away because it was believed I was too old for them (you wouldn’t believe the fit my mom had when I bought one in Barnes & Noble back when I was in middle school). As of right now, counting this book I own three. I remembered this was one of my favorites mainly because of Scout, the depressed ice cream worker who may or may not be a vampire’s ghoul. I bought the book again a couple of months ago specifically for this recap. And I made sure I got the original print because, no offense to the artist of the reissues, you just can’t beat that level of outrage.
[Wing: That cover is adorable. I’ve never read any of these books, so I’m excited to see what this series brings to the table.]
Eddie, Melody, and Liza can’t believe they’re being forced to complete a hundred math problems for tonight’s homework. Liza’s especially upset because she wanted to spend the evening by reading the rest of her library book. Howie, on the other hand, thinks the review problems are pretty easy and is looking forward to working on them. Eddie throws his hat at Howie, telling him to get a clue. Math is not fun, and homework is especially not fun. What IS fun? Getting a doodlegum shake. Liza suggests they all go to the local Burger Doodle for milkshakes to cheer up. [Wing: A doodlegum shakes sounds disgusting, because I am imaginging it is bubblegum flavoured. I am with Howie on this, actually; I love math problems, even though I’m not all that great at advanced math, and would happily do, say, geometry theorums for pages and pages. Or long division. Or multiplication sheets. Or — oh god, I want to go back to school. I don’t need another degree, I don’t need more student loans, but I want to go back to school.]
As the four friends head to Burger Doodle, Eddie gripes other third graders probably don’t have this much math homework. Howie adds other third graders don’t have Mrs. Jeepers, a vampire, for their teacher. Liza reminds the group they’ve never concretely proved Mrs. Jeepers is a vampire, even though they believed she walked around during the day because of some magic power coming from her green brooch. Liza sympathetically adds even if Mrs. Jeepers IS a vampire, she can’t really do anything about that, can she? Howie wonders if she’s not actually a vampire, but a ghoul. Melody recalls when she and Howie read about vampires in their investigation as Howie explains he learned ghouls were spies who worked for vampires. Once they reach Burger Doodle, Liza asks they forget about such ridiculous things… until she gets a load of who, or what, is behind the front counter.
(When Generation Y met Generation X)
The kids are shocked to see a pale, morose-looking young woman working behind the counter in the restaurant. She’s dressed in a dark blue sweat suit with the hood over her dark hair, her nails are painted long and purple, and her eyes are bloodshot and red. She looks like she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in forever. Her name tag contains the name “SCOUT.” Howie remembers seeing her the previous evening with his dad. [Wing: I think I have a crush on Scout already.]
As Liza orders a Doodlegum Shake, the kids watch as Scout slowly puts the drink together, and asks for Liza’s payment in a slow, almost sleepy tone of voice. Hurrying to a booth away from the counter, the kids start to discuss this strange young woman. Eddie questions why her eyes are red when Liza reasons she might be sick and can’t help it, but Eddie is livid and doesn’t want a sick person making his milkshake. He doesn’t want to end up with red eyes too even though Melody quips they’d match his hair. As well as the syrup Scout is currently using.
(Ask her what makes the special sauce so special)
The kids turn to see Scout is preparing a snack for herself. A rather… disturbing snack. The young woman’s dished out a single big scoop of red ice cream in a bowl, and is practically drowning the scoop in dark red syrup. She doesn’t even use a spoon to eat the ice cream. Scout crouches down, leans toward the bowl on the table, and begins DRINKING THE CONTENTS. The kids are a bit grossed out by her table manners, and Liza is silently horrified by how the red syrup dripping down Scout’s face looks like blood. [Wing: Aaaaand that’s the end of that crush.]
At that moment, Carey, the richest girl in the third-grade class at Bailey School, entered Burger Doodle. It was no secret Carey had a crush on Eddie, much to his frustration, when she makes a direct beeline towards the table the four kids are sitting at. Carey decides to join them (well, join Eddie) for a milkshake. Carey explains she can’t go back home just yet because her parents are still moving their stuff to their new house on Olympus Lane. Carey boasts her new place is the biggest house in the neighborhood, but Melody reminds her no one would want to live there since the houses are located next to the cemetery. [Wing: I want to live there because the houses are located next to the cemetery. Imagine how creepy and beautiful it would be every night!] Suddenly, Scout drops an ice cream scoop and heads towards the kids with a speed betraying her slow speech. She wants to hear all about Carey’s new neighborhood. Carey explains it’s very quiet because of the cemetery, and there aren’t actually that many houses around. Scout thinks this is excellent for some reason. She reveals she’s employed by a family searching for a new house, and she was sent to look for prospects in Bailey City. Carey’s new neighborhood sounds like the type of place her employers would love. Scout retreats to behind the front counter and begins talking into a small tape recorder. The kids are baffled at the idea of a house detective, but Howie suspects Scout is a spy.
The next morning the kids (except Howie) moan about how late they were up working on those math problems. Eddie jokes he didn’t even bother trying, causing Liza to point out if he fails and has to repeat the third grade he’ll be stuck with Mrs. Jeepers forever. Liza asserts if anyone scares her it’s Scout from the Burger Doodle, and the discussion on whether or not she’s a spy is cut short when they notice Mrs. Jeepers.
(Miss Frizzle’s evil vampire twin sister)
The kids watched as their homeroom teacher walked by, yet for some reason she was talking into a handheld tape recorder which looked suspiciously similar to the one Scout had. Exactly similar. Liza notes the oddness in the similarities which earns some mocking from Eddie. [Wing: Understandable. It’s not shocking at all that two tape recorders look exactly alike.]
“Just a minute,” he said. “My shoe is ringing.” He slipped off his shoe and held it up to Liza’s ear. “It’s the super-spy channel for Liza. They want to know what it’s like to have a head full of air.”
Melody asks Howie to talk some sense into Liza, who believes something strange is going on in Bailey City. Howie, sadly, has something to share they’re not gonna like. As Eddie continues to joke around, Howie pulls out a big book on vampire lore, the same book he used for their investigation on Mrs. Jeepers. Howie goes back to what he was talking about regarding ghouls.
“In the world of the undead,” Howie read, “vampires depend on help from ghouls to survive. Half dead and half living, ghouls travel the earth searching for perfect homes where families of vampires can live safely. The ghouls’ lives are full of sorrow and they are rarely known to smile. Without these trustworthy spies, vampire would be in serious danger.”
Eddie and Melody don’t get what this has to do with them until Howie and Liza guess Scout is really a ghoul working for a vampire family. Mrs. Jeeper’s vampire family, no less. Eddie calls Liza crazy, but Howie agrees with her. Eddie points out EVERY time the kids come across something strange or unusual they think it’s a monster.
Melody shook her head. “If that were true we would have put you in a cage a long time ago.”
“Ha, ha,” Eddie sneered.
Eddie vehemently insists Scout’s just some creepy ice cream worker, not a fictional ghoul. Calling Eddie’s bluff, Liza suggests they go back to Burger Doodle to learn more about Scout. After school, the kids head back to the restaurant and, similar to yesterday, which as Scout slurps down another disgusting, syrup-drenched sundae. Melody wonders about Scout’s red syrup; Eddie believes it’s strawberry-flavored, but Liza thinks it looks too much like blood.
The kids see Mrs. Jeepers heading into the Burger Doodle and try not to get her attention out of fear she’ll lecture them for not working on their homework. They proceed to take out their books to look as though they’re focusing on their spelling problems, but Mrs. Jeepers never notices them. Mrs. Jeepers heads straight to the counter and hands Scout a small notebook before departing. Howie asks if it’s strange Mrs. Jeepers knows Scout, but Eddie replies they live in a small city so why shouldn’t they know each other. Melody reasons Mrs. Jeepers wouldn’t need a spy because she already knows everyone in Bailey City, but Liza wonders if Scout is working for an entire family, not just their teacher. Eddie asks if they seriously think vampires are gonna swoop into Bailey City. Howie believes that’s exactly what Scout’s job is, to find a home for more vampires to invade the city.
Eddie decides to find out for himself if Scout is a ghoul by walking straight up to her and asking to drink some of her red syrup, proving she’s not a ghoul, she’s simply a freak. Liza asks Eddie what’ll happen if that IS blood? Eddie goes momentarily pale, but figures so what? His dad drinks Bloody Marys, he’ll settle for a Bloody Scout! Howie explains a Bloody Mary is actually made with tomato juice (among other things). Eddie knew that, DUR HOWIE.
Eddie marches towards Scout and is about to ask her a question. Howie and the others fear Eddie truly is dumb enough to ask if she’s a ghoul and attempt to drag him away. Eddie instead asks Scout about the family she’s working for. Scout answers their name is a secret, and they’re interested in a house with stone walls and no windows or neighbors. Like a cave, Scout confirms. Like, Eddie helpfully adds, Ruby Cave, a local landmark. As Scout reaches towards Eddie, the kids drag his sorry ass out of the Burger Doodle and don’t stop running until they reach the nearby cemetery.
Eddie asks what the hell they were doing, to which Liza responds they saved him from Scout. Eddie reminds everyone there’s no law against asking an innocent question about house hunting, but Howie fears ghouls don’t acknowledge the laws of humans. Oh boy, in Eddie’s opinion, if there’s anything worse than a ghoul, it’s the ghoul fools his friends have become. Howie’s not laughing because the situation is pretty… grave. They’re in a cemetery, geddit Wing? 😀 [Wing: NOPE.]
Scout is working for Mrs. Jeepers’ family to find them a cave to live in, and now she’s aware of Ruby Cave and might do anything to get the info out of Eddie to complete her task. Eddie boasts he ain’t afraid of nothing and nobody; Liza clamps a hand over his mouth out of fear for his well being. She thinks Scout would love to have Eddie for a snack.
(Eddie: All lives ma- / Liza: NO)
Eddie snarks nothing could possibly make THAT girl happy. Liza wonders how sad the life of a ghoul must be. Eddie continues to make jokes, even as Melody scolds him about hard it can be when you’re sad and have no friends. Hey, as he puts it, no one feels sorry for Eddie even though he’s surrounded by crazy people so why should he feel sorry for Scout? Liza has noticed Scout hasn’t smiled once since they met her.
Melody poked Eddie in the stomach. “Maybe it’s Eddie’s fault. Adults never smile he’s around.” Eddie was good at causing trouble, and everybody knew it. Especially adults.
It’s then Howie has a brilliant idea!
Howie heads back to Doodle Burger, much to the confusion of the others as he explains he knows how to save Bailey City. Melody points out if Scout really IS a ghoul, they shouldn’t be heading towards her, they should be running away. What could they do to scare a vampire’s ghoul away? Howie agrees with them and declares it’s now time for Operation Eddie. Eddie thinks Howie literally wants to operate on him since Howie’s dream is to be a doctor when he gets older. The kids are confused as Howie explains they’re gonna sic Eddie on the ghoul because he’s such a smart aleck. And because Eddie is so funny, THAT is how they’ll save Bailey City from Scout.
Howie logically points out ghouls are all about the doom and/or the gloom; they abhor laughter and anything funny. [Wing: But … but why?] Scout tried to grab Eddie because he mentioned Ruby Cave, and they fear she’ll be relentless in learning more about the cave from him. Eddie’s legitimately creeped out by the idea of Scout stalking him, but Howie promises he’ll be able to prevent that if Eddie listens to him. Howie whispers the plan to the other three to make sure no one overhears them. Eddie is skeptical, but Howie orders everyone go to their houses to get ready and then return to Burger Doodle in half an hour.
Howie and the girls are the first to arrive at the Burger Doodle, and boy they are dressed for the occasion.
(On the plus side, she’s gonna have a lot to talk about in her next therapy session)
Scout, predictably, doesn’t react at all towards the ridiculous outfits the kids have on. Scout flatly asks if they would like another shake. Melody responds by bursting into song. Liza and Howie dance around the restaurant as Melody sings louder and more obnoxiously. They flap their arms around like rubber dolls as they dance and sing, and Liza hits Howie with her rubber chicken. Scout doesn’t smile or laugh, and instead, she grabs Howie’s arm when who should arrive but… SUPER EDDIE!
(Scout: This is my life, and my life is getting sprayed with whipped cream by a nine-year-old in his underwear)
But not even Eddie’s ridiculous get-up is getting so much as a giggle out of Scout. Eddie jumps on a nearby table and starts churning out joke after joke to get a reaction from Scout, who only stoically shakes her head or simply shrugs instead of doing ANYTHING to stop these kids from making a mess in the restaurant. Eddie brings out the big guns and grabs hold of the chocolate syrup ladle and whipped cream hose. Eddie accidentally drenches himself in syrup and cream before he loses control of the hose and the kids get sprayed in the sweet topping. Eddie turns the hose on Scout before grabbing her red syrup bottle and pouring some on her head.
Is the sight of all that sugary crap on Eddie’s face and chest causing the corners of Scout’s mouth to turn upward? And HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS SHE’S STARTING TO GIGGLE. Eddie tells one more joke before using the whipped cream to do an impression of Jim Belushi from “Animal House.”
Right as Mrs. Jeepers enters the Burger Doodle and into the line of fire.
The sight of the teacher’s face splattered with whipped cream makes Scout lose all control as she laughs her ass off.
(EVEN THE FUCKING NAME TAG IS SHOCKED)
The next day at the Burger Doodle, Scout is gone and a pimply-faced teenage boy named Skip’s behind the counter. Liza admits she thought Mrs. Jeepers was gonna murder Eddie after what he did. Eddie claims he hadn’t done it to their teacher on purpose. Apparently, the kids had to clean up the mess they made the previous evening, but Howie’s glad his plan to get rid of Scout worked. Melody wants to know how he knew it would.
Howie grinned. “Don’t you know how to get rid of a blue monster?” he asked.
His three friends shrugged. Howie laughed. “You cheer it up!”
(Scout by Chris Russo – Mondays, amirite?)
So, was Scout really a ghoul working for Mrs. Jeepers’ vampire family? Or was she simply a depressed young woman trying to make ends meet in a crappy job?
For that matter, her prospects don’t look good no matter what she was. If she was a ghoul, then Mrs. Jeepers probably murdered her for the way she laughed at her, or Scout got fired for letting the kids make such a huge mess in the Burger Doodle.
[Wing: And this is why kids are terrible, the end. Though I’m going with the idea that Scout decided that sort of people-facing work wasn’t for her and went to find some job where she doesn’t have to worry about getting sprayed in the face with whipped cream (unless she wants to be).]