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Ghostbusters Little & Big Golden Book Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Oct. 20, 2016 at 11:34 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Books, The 2016 Parody Remake

Little Golden Books is a popular series of inexpensive, well-illustrated, hardcover children's books that were first released way back in 1942 (two years before my father was even born!). The eighth book in the series, The Poky Little Puppy, is the top-selling children's book of all time.


Penguin Random House (current owners of the series) released a few Star Wars Little Golden Books earlier this year, and now they're giving Ghostbusters the cutesy Little Golden Books treatment. Each of the Ghostbusters books, suitable for boys and girls ages 3 to 7 (or us big kids, too), was written by John Sazaklis, and features some incredible illustrations by Alan Batson, resembling the classic books that we all grew up with. Let's take a closer look at each one...


The first book, simply titled Ghostbusters, is based on the original 1984 classic...though I'm sure you figured that out from the cover photo above. The 24-page, 6.5"x8" hardcover tome simplifies the story so that it can be easily understood by little kids.


The story glosses over the library case, and jumps right in to the guys starting the business and taking the hotel case, where they meet "Slimer". Yeah, the name has been retconned in, but at this point, you're not likely to see him being referred to as Onionhead anymore. Besides, everyone knows him as Slimer, so that's his now-and-forever name. Anyway, after they bust Slimer and become very busy, they hire Winston - lest you think that he's been forgotten yet again. Dana and Louis encounter trouble, and the Ghostbusters go to help them, only to find them on top of the building with Gozer. As expected, the more "adult" material of possessed Dana in her bedroom with Peter is left out, as is possessed Louis being taken in at GBHQ, and the entire character of Walter Peck. Again, John Sazaklis kept the story down to the extreme basics, and that's fine. It still works because it's a great story. By the way, Alan Batson did a fantastic job of making Stay Puft more adorable than he's ever been.


The second book is titled Ghostbusters: Who You Gonna Call?, so as to distinguish it from the first book, and is based on the 2016 remake/reboot. It follows the standard formatting of the series, being a hardcover book that is 24-page long, and sized at 6.5"x8".


As with the first book, the story is simplified, and if you read my review of the movie, you'll know why I think that's a benefit here. The book starts off with Erin, Abby, and Jillian all working together studying ghosts when Erin gets the idea to check out the Aldridge Mansion (Ed Mulgrave Jr. never comes to her with the case). Yeah, the whole issue of Erin and Abby not being friends and living separate lives is non-existent here. It never happened. Some of you wish the same could be said about the movie, but I digress... I have to give kudos to Alan Batson for adding in the ParanormalStudiesLab.com reference on the whiteboard. That's a nice attention to detail. Okay, so "ghosts are real", and BOOM; they've set up shop above an old Chinese restaurant and have a secretary named Kevin, who shows no signs of the rampant stupidity that he did in the movie. Already, I'm liking this book better than the movie.

Patty sees a ghost in a train tunnel, calls the Ghostbusters, and on the next page she's a part of the team heading to a haunted rock concert. From here on, certain parts of the story are altered slightly to trim it down. For example, after busting Mayhem on stage at the concert, the Ghostbusters find Rowan backstage planting one of his devices, and proceed to follow him to the Mercado Hotel basement. Because this is a Children's book, Rowan does not commit suicide, nor does he possess Abby and Kevin. Oh, thank God for "The Power of Patty compels you" line being exercised. One of the worst pieces of dialog in the entire movie. Anyway, instead of killing himself, Rowan unleashes a horde of ghosts, and the story jumps to the parade balloon attack in Times Square. The ghosts are defeated, Rowan transforms into the logo ghost (no reference to the logo, though), the Ghostbusters fire into the portal, thus sucking everything into it...The End!

Had the movie been this concise, I think everyone would have liked it better. It also would have been about 10 minutes long. Interestingly, while the first book uses snippets of dialog from the 1984 film, this one uses 100% original dialog, and does not use a single line from the 2016 film. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that John Sazaklis knew that Fieg's & Dippold's script didn't contain any worthwhile dialog.

The only bad thing I can say about the story is that John Sazaklis, pretty much, copy and pasted his ending from the first book.
The heroes were greeted by thousands of cheering fans. "I love this town!" Winston said. Now the city knew exactly who to call - THE GHOSTBUSTERS!
The Ghostbusters had single-handedly saved the city from paranormal peril. Now everyone in New York knew exactly who to call!

The third book is Ghostbusters (A Big Golden Book), and it is a compilation of the other two books, reprinted in a much larger size (9"x11"), over 44 pages. The gold spine on the Big Book has No Ghost logo, Slimer, and Stay Puft drawings. The Little Books have the series' standard bunny, duck, flower, etc. drawings.


The Big Book is printed on higher quality paper, but leaves out some artwork and reformats a few pages from the original Ghostbusters story. The Ghostbusters 2016 story is complete in the Big Book. Since it only results in a 4-page decrease, I have to wonder why they didn't just include every page "as is" in the Big Book. The scan above shows a two-page spread from the original Ghostbusters story that is formatted differently from the Little Book. In the Little book, Gozer gets her own left-side page, the guys are on the right, and the Stay Puft drawing is actually a two-page spread that shows the Ghostbusters on the roof on the left-page (that half of the drawing is completely omitted here; the text has been moved to the lower right corner).

(L-R: Big Book 1st Copy, Big Book 2nd Copy, Little Book) (click to enlarge)

Before I wrap this up, I'd like to bring attention to a printing defect that was present in both of the Big Book review copies I was sent by Penguin Random House. In the Big Book (not the Little Book), on page 3 of the GB2016 story, there are black streaks running down the center of the page. In the first book they sent, it ran down the entire page, heavy at the top (across the text), and lighter at the bottom (across Abby's face and hands and the food box). In the second copy, it's at the bottom only (across Abby's hand and body). It's a little more discreet in the second copy because Abby's dark blouse hides it. This printing error does not exist in the Little Book's rendition of the same page. In the first copy, there was also the same type of printing error a few pages later on the left-page of the two-page Ecto-1 spread.

In an effort to help Penguin Random House know how widespread the issue is, if you bought the Big Book, please post a comment to let us know where you bought it, and if your copy has this same error. Maybe the problem is just relegated to the copies Penguin Random House has in their warehouse.

[UPDATE - 12/3/2016]
I just purchased another copy from Target.com and I'm happy to report that it does not contain any printing errors at all! I guess Penguin Random House just had a bad batch of books in their werehouse/review stock. That's a relief!

The two Little Golden Books carry a MSRP of $4.99, while the Big Book has a MSRP of $9.99. You can buy them all right now at Amazon: Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters: Who You Gonna Call?, and Ghostbusters (A Big Golden Book). I highly recommend all three books, whether you have little kids or not. I only wish Penguin Random House had the rights to reprint some of the art as posters.

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