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Frights and fun in R.L. Stine’s latest Goosebumps offering

In ‘Revenge of the Invisible Boy,’ a 12-year-old magician finds out not every trick is a treat.

Ever wished you could be invisible? Maybe listen in on people’s private conversations, pedal your bike down the street and amaze those who see it whizzing by without a rider, play tricks on kids who give you a hard time? It sounds like fun — but what if you couldn’t figure out how to reappear?

That’s just what happens in the latest in R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps Slappy World series, Revenge of the Invisible Boy.

Stine himself is anything but invisible. Since the late 1980s he has been writing horror tales for young readers, becoming one of the bestselling and most honored authors in the world. He has published more than 330 books, about 130 in the Goosebumps series. They’ve been translated into 35 languages and have sold more than 400 million copies. Along the way, they’ve inspired TV shows, movies, even theme park attractions. A new trilogy of movies based on his Fear Street series will all be released in 2020.

Although it’s tough to imagine how he finds time with all that writing, Stine makes frequent appearances to meet his multitudes of fans. Even though he has made a fortune scaring the pants off readers, he’s a fun and funny speaker.

Speaking of scaring the pants off someone, pants aren’t the only things that disappear in Revenge of the Invisible Boy. Its narrator is 12-year-old Frankie Miller, an aspiring magician who has a magic club with three friends. Melody and Eduardo are as enthusiastic about learning tricks as Frankie is, but their friend Ari is a wet blanket, always sarcastically pointing out the mechanics of tricks rather than enjoying the wonder. Frankie also suspects Ari sometimes sabotages his friends.

When the four friends get to attend a performance by the legendary Mystical Marvin, even Ari is impressed by Marvin’s vanishing trick, which seems to be the real thing. When Frankie steals Marvin’s invisibility potion to play a trick on Ari, it all goes horribly wrong. Being invisible is fun at first, but definitely has its drawbacks.

As usual, Stine builds his story with lively characters, plenty of chills and lots of humor. You’ll see. ... Or maybe you won’t.

[ Scholastic Books ]

Goosebumps Slappy World: Revenge of the Invisible Boy

By R.L. Stine

Scholastic Books, 132 pages, $6.99

Times Festival of Reading

R.L. Stine will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 9 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He will speak at 10 a.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. Free.