Charlie Brown's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Charlie Brown's A Series of Unfortunate Events is actually a collection of five separate books where Charlie Brown and the rest of Peanuts gang find themselves in dangerous or scary situations, very similar to ones that many children find themselves facing each day. The goal of the series was to present potentially troublesome situations to children and through humor, arousal, and intimidation, teach them to avoid or handle the same situations should they be confronted with them.
The five books were entitled Charlie Brown Meets Simon the Brown, Charlie Brown's Baseball Team Gets a Kooky Coach, Linus Learns the Hard Way, Watch out Lucy,Schroeder Can Sue, and 64 Things You Should Never Do with a Raccoon. The books were very controversial at the time of their release, which was in 1971. Widely banned by schools and denounced by parent's groups, the series still became popular enough to be formatted into a made for TV movie which aired on February 20, 1972. Singer and raccoon rights activist Sammy Hagar was quoted as having said "This is wrong. It's just plain wrong. David Lee Roth is somehow behind this, I just know it. Damn his oily hide."
Charlie Brown Meets Simon The Brown
Widely considered to be the most famous and effective book in the series, this is the book in which Charlie Brown encounters Simon the Brown. This book seeks to teach children the importance of locking the doors and windows in their homes at night, that playing with corpses is wrong, and that if you value your testicles (or ovaries as the case may be) you shouldn't question the actions of others. Though adapted from early Peanuts strips from the 1960s, Simon the Brown is much more well known from the book. Simon the Brown is a local fecophiliac who stands 4'1 and weighs 231 lbs. He needs to use cross country skis to get around because his significant weight and short stature make it difficult for him to walk long distances. He likes to break into Charlie Brown's room at night, sing Bobby Darin songs, and stuff feces under Charlie Brown's eyelids. One fateful night, Snoopy kills Simon by shoving a rusty railroad spike into him, which infects Simon with tetanus which he succumbs to 11 days afterward. For reasons unknown, Lucy and Snoopy decide to move Simon's corpse around to create the illusion of him being alive, a technique that was later used in Weekend at Bernie's. One night Charlie Brown dares to question this and Woodstock pecks him in the testicles and he ends up having to go to Nabisco Valley General Hospital. While there, he tells his doctors about Simon's exploits but they do not believe him, and he is consequently placed on a heavy dose of anti psychotic medication. This causes him to become very uncoordinated and slows down his reaction time. This is the reason why he can't kick a football anymore. A brief cameo appearance is made by Ethan the Yellow, Simon the Brown's fraternal twin brother who stands 7'2", weighs 97lbs and needs to use iron braces to walk. He is a urine fetishist.
Charlie Brown's Baseball Team Gets A Kooky Koach
The second book of the series relates the tale of woe that ensues when Charlie Brown's little league team gets a coach who has an uncontrollable lust for children. This book seeks to educate children on how to know a pedophile when they see one and to trust their gut when they think their Little League coach is behaving in an inappropriate manner. It also casts a very critical eye on today's loose parole system in American prisons. After their Little League coach decides to move to Connecticut and start a jetski dealership, Charlie and company start their search for a new coach. While walking by a torched circus tent, they meet a trembling man dressed in a pink t shirt and yellow sweat pants named Mr. von Friendly. He overhears their talk of needing a coach and jumps at the opportunity. Delighted by the stranger's charm, the kids make him their manager. Pain, confusion, and frustration ensue as Mr von Friendly refuses to focus on baseball and repeatedly makes the team wear speedos and jump around on a trampoline while he watches and grins unwholesomely. Pigpen eventually tips off the authorities when Mr Friendly insists on taking showers with the team at the end of each game, and he is promptly carted off to jail. Traumatized, the gang vows never to play baseball again.
Linus Learns the Hard Way
The darkest of all the books in this series, Linus Learns the Hard Way focuses on the toll that drug abuse and addiction takes on teens, their friends, their families, and the community at large. This book takes place ten years in the future, when Linus finds himself as an acne encrusted, socially awkward, and Del Monte obsessed teenager. He strikes out with the girls, loses interest in school, and just can't seem to fit in socially. His constant references to Del Monte annoy his classmates and isolate him further. One day, a DARE officer comes to Linus's high school to talk about the dangers of drug abuse but Linus doesn't listen to him. On his way home from school that day, he meets a drug dealer named Horace who he buys some heroin from and starts shooting up. This becomes a daily habit for Linus and soon heroin is all he cares about. A particularly heart wrenching moment comes when Charlie Brown, desperate to get his pal to do something that doesn't involve smack, tells him about a new kind of fruit salad that Del Monte is about to release. Turning away from Charlie, Linus says, "Who the fuck cares? Del Monte is dead to me, Del Monte can't give me what I need." After several failed attempts at conducting interventions for Linus, his friends eventually give up until Linus holds up the local Burger King, demanding the cash register be handed over to him because he's out of money and needs his fix. He shoots three Burger King employees, then collapses to the ground realizing what he has become. Shakily, he points the gun toward himself and shoots, and the last page of the story contains nothing but a blood red page. On a mildly uplifting note, the book contains a "final thought" which says that this is a probable, but not definite future for Linus and that kids need to do what they can to avoid becoming like him. The book suggests such methods as joining the local 4H club, getting addicted to porn instead, or just killing themselves when they finish reading the book to make sure they never try that first shot of heroin.
Watch Out Lucy, Schroeder Can Sue
This is the fourth book of the series and is seen as the weakest both in content and plot. It's been rumored that writing staff and illustrators didn't get the cost of living increase they wanted and in reaction they purposely made this book as poorly as they could. The year is 1971 and the women's lib movement is gaining momentum. Lucy feels emboldened by this and takes her pursuit of Schroeder up a notch. When Schroeder ignores her, she yanks some piano wire out of his piano and slashes Schroeder's left index finger in half with it. After getting his finger sewn back together and taking some time to recover, Schroeder decides to sue Lucy. The reader never learns what happens after this because the rest of the book just contains 32 mostly blank pages. The pages that do contain text largely consist of the letter N and what appears to have been a brainstorming session for writing a slogan for Dan Quayle's would-be 1972 presidential run. The slogans were all so horrible that Quayle decided not to go forward with his candidacy.
64 Things You Should Never Do with a Raccoon
This book is the last of the series and as the title implies, it educates children on things that should never be done with a raccoon. Examples include purposely infecting a raccoon with rabies then turning it loose on your oilman, jamming the raccoon down buxom women's shirts on the subway, swinging a raccoon by its tail as a makeshift lasso, and getting practice on how to give an effective handjob through stimulating a raccoon. The most memorable section of the book is when Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy, and Peppermint Patty try to gain control of old people's minds by using a raccoon. After they bring a raccoon into a convalescent home and untie it, they try to pick it up and get it to stare into the old people's eyes as they slowly chant hackneyed hypnosis cliches. This doesn't work and the raccoon jumps from their grasp and runs amok through the convalescent home, biting old people, knocking pills out of their jars, causing a kitchen fire, and tearing the shorts of an unsuspecting UPS delivery worker. As punishment, the kids are sent to juvenile hall for a month, then have to serve 50 hours of community service at the very same convalescent home.