Disney’s answer to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps – namely, the Disney Chills series – has been successfully spooking us since the first book, Part of Your Nightmare, dropped in early 2020.
Since the debut of book one, Disney Publishing and author Jennifer Brody (under the pen name Vera Strange) have rapid-fire released several subsequent novels in the series. We have been keeping our nightlights on thanks to book two (Fiends on the Other Side), book three (Second Star to the Fright), and most recently, book four (Be Careful What You Wish Fur). We had better keep some backup lightbulbs handy because book five (Liar, Liar, Head on Fire) is set for release on August 10. No rest for the wicked.
What is Be Careful What You Wish Fur about?
Strange takes us on yet another strange and chilling journey with 13-year-old Delia in Be Careful What You Wish Fur. Delia loves beauty products and spends countless hours in her room trying to take the perfect selfie. She strives to be as cool and popular as the other girls at school and keeping up appearances can feel like a full-time job, especially with social media in the mix. Delia’s family is also not exactly flushed with cash which adds another hurdle to her attempts to sport the most on-trend fashion.
When Delia finds a rare designer faux fur coat in the most unlikely of places, she transforms. Literally. Delia takes the perfect selfies, her skin is flawless, she is more confident and becomes the most popular girl in school. Everything is perfect… until the owner of the coat decides she wants it back. A ghostly Cruella De Vil will stop at nothing to reclaim her coat and when Delia tries to make a deal with the De Vil, she learns that one should be careful what they wish for.
A streamlined and sufficiently spooky addition to the series
With the appropriate amount of scares, sacrifices and skewed ambition, Be Careful What You Wish Fur is an awesome addition to the Disney Chills family. What is particularly cool about this story is that almost all young people will be able to relate to or empathize with Delia’s struggles with beauty, popularity and the pressures that come from keeping up appearances on social media. The struggle is real. In this way, Delia is a great addition to the other protagonists we have met so far in the series, namely Shelly, Jamal and Barrie.
Delia’s friend Grant is relatable beyond the desire for material things and I expect that he, too, will keep young readers interested. He serves largely as an anchor to real friendship and being true to oneself. The contrast between what drives Delia and what interests Grant invites readers to reflect on what it is they value, and how those values affect their goals and actions in the real world. The price one pays for fake friends is too high and not worth the deeper connection and learning gained from real friends.
A side theme but an important one nonetheless is also the idea that you should appreciate and respect the limits of what your parents can (and cannot) do for you. Parents generally work hard to provide for the family but they cannot necessarily give their kids all the material possessions their heart’s desire. Delia is aware of this and Strange highlighting parental appreciation in this way added a nice touch to the story.
The pace of this book aligns with the first three: Strange strikes the perfect balance between character development, anticipation and the spooks themselves. It is an easy read – one that keen fans will likely get through in one or two sittings – but that does not diminish its value to its audience. It ticks all the great-story plot points and the ending will leave you as uncomfortable and concerned as ever – which is precisely the point.
Be Careful What You Wish Fur grants readers no reprieve insofar as the chills are concerned. They just keep comin’ in such weird and wonderful ways, which is a testament to Strange’s skilled writing and knack for creating relatable characters. While Cruella is the renowned villain from Disney’s 101 Dalmations, this story stands alone as relevant to all young readers encouraging them to be careful what they wish for.
Be Careful What You Wish Fur was released on April 6 and is available now.