The original cover illustration shows Hap and Chip posing in a garden.
Someone's Been Stalking in My Garden!
Two pink flamingos. A whole family of plaster skunks. Joe Burton's dad loves those tacky lawn ornaments. But then he brings home two ugly lawn gnomes. And that's when the trouble starts. Late at night. When everyone's asleep. Someone's creeping in the garden. Whispering nasty things. Smashing melons. Squashing tomatoes. No way two dumb old lawn ornaments could be causing all the trouble. Is there?
Joe Burton and his sister, Mindy are playing a game of ping pong in their basement. The game halts when Moose McCall, Joe's neighbor and best friend, stops by for a visit. Joe and Moose share something in common: their fathers are both obsessed with gardening. The two men are in a constant rivalry over whose garden looks better. Now that Summer has arrived, Mr. McCall has been growing casaba melons, which Joe's father declares is ridiculous, as the short growing season in Minnesota won't allow them to fully develop. Meanwhile Joe's dad grows tomatoes. With the annual garden show right around the corner, the two adults are locked in a heated battle for first place, especially after Joe's father won the previous year.
The kids head outside, and Mindy sees their dog, Buster, digging in Mr. McCall's garden. Unfortunately, this is far from the first time he's done this; the dog seems to love digging holes and helping himself to the garden's many vegetables. Joe and his sister successfully lure Buster from the garden, but not before Mr. McCall steps out and sees his garden dug up. Joe is terrified of Mr. McCall. The man is large and used to barking orders from his time in the army. Joe is able to make a quick excuse that the wind shook up his dirt, and Mindy promises Buster won't come near his garden again. This seems to please Mr. McCall, who threatens to send Buster to the pound if he catches him digging around again.
Joe and Mindy head back home when they are stopped by their father. After a quick battle with a fruit fly on his prized tomato, he drags them along on a trip to Lawn Lovely, a nearby store specializing in lawn ornaments. Joe's dad loves decorating his garden. The whole front yard is covered in lawn ornaments. There are plastic flamingos and a plastic deer. There's plaster skunks and kissing swans. If that isn't bad enough, he dresses them up on holidays, and a photograph of their yard even made the newspaper one Christmas, when Joe's father dressed the ornaments in Santa suits, much to Mindy's embarrassment. He can never have enough ornaments and heads into the store hoping to find something new, despite protests from Mindy. Immediately, a pair of lawn gnomes catches his eyes. Mindy is repulsed at the sight of them. There's something unfriendly about their smiles. Their eyes seem cold. However, their father buys the two gnomes and names them Hap and Chip.
They walk back home and place Hap and Chip in the garden. Buster begins to examine the gnomes, licking their face and forcing Joe to lure him away with a dog whistle. To his surprise, Joe sees the expression of the gnome change from a grin to an open-mouthed expression of fear. Joe shouts and tells everyone what he's seen, but by the time they look at the gnome, the expression is back to the same smile. The next morning, Joe wakes up to an angry Mr. McCall. He reveals to Joe and his father that one of his casaba melons was smashed into pieces during the night. Blame immediately falls on Buster, who Mr. McCall and Joe's father both order be tied up in the backyard to prevent him from entering Mr. McCall's garden. Joe knows Buster must be innocent and grows angry at Mr. McCall. Later, Moose comes over, and the two play ring toss using the gnome's pointy hats. As they play, Joe notices an orange seed sticking out of Chip's mouth, and struggles to find a proper explanation for it. In the morning, the Burton family are once again called out by Mr. McCall. He shows them that the rest of his casaba melons have been vandalized. Sloppy smiley faces are drawn on the melons in black marker. Mindy reveals that she caught Joe sneaking out at night and that he told her he planned to destroy the rest of Mr. McCall's melons. Joe swears he is innocent, but his father grounds him for two weeks, one for vandalizing the melons and the other for lying.
With nothing to do, Joe takes Buster for a walk. When he arrives home, Joe notices black paint on the gnome's fingers. He once again witnesses the gnome's expressions change and comes to the conclusion that the gnomes must be alive. As Joe lies down on the grass he thinks he hears the gnomes whispering to him. He tries to tell his family about what he heard and saw, but they disregard his story as an unfunny joke.
After dinner, Joe's father finds his tomatoes in pieces over the yard and grows enraged. Joe tells him the gnomes are to blame, and drags his Dad to them, only to discover absolutely no signs of tomato on the gnomes. Joe's father blames Mr. McCall for wrecking his tomatoes, and the two get in a heated argument, which ends with Mr. McCall forbidding Moose and Joe from hanging out together. Later that night, Joe is restless thinking about the gnomes. He looks out his window and discovers the two of them are gone. He tries to wake up his parents and Mindy, but they seem fed up with his constant gnome talk.
The next morning, Joe wakes up to see Mr. McCall's jeep splattered in white paint. Moose informs him that Mr. McCall has the police investigating this, and Joe knows blame will fall on them. Determined to catch the gnomes in action, Joe convinces Moose to help him set a trap for them. Hours pass spying on them, and the gnomes remain as still as statues. At the last second, the gnomes start to move and begin causing mischief. Joe and Moose slowly follow the gnomes, but all the noise wakes up Buster. The dog barks and alerts the gnomes of their presence. They start to chase after Joe and Moose until the two reach the porch. They are stopped by Mindy, who is then grabbed by the gnomes and carried into the street.
Joe and Moose chase after the gnomes until they are eventually face to face with Hap and Chip. The gnomes tell the children they mean no harm, and only wanted to get their attention. They explain that they are Mischief Elves- that causing mischief is simply in their nature. They reveal that they were kidnapped from their native home and forced to work as lawn ornaments. They beg the children to help them free six other gnomes, who are trapped in the basement of Lawn Lovely- if they do, the gnomes promise they will cease their mischief forever. Joe and his sister agree, and they follow the gnomes back to the store.
They make their way into the basement and discover the gnomes were lying to them. A horde of over 600 gnomes is waiting for them. The mob moves in on the three, promising that they are going to have so much fun. The gnomes chant over what they should do with their new prisoners. They hear barking and realize Buster has followed them. The dog peeks his head, but quickly trots away, seemingly disinterested. Joe uses his dog whistle to make Buster come back and discovers while blowing, the gnomes freeze up in terror. He realizes the gnomes must be scared of the sound. Hoping the gnomes are permanently frozen, the three escape the shop.
The next morning, their father is saddened at the apparent theft of the gnomes. Their replacement is a large plaster gorilla which Joe's mother finds hideous. Joe and Mindy decide anything's better than the gnomes and tell their Dad they love it. Joe looks up at the gorilla and tells it to behave. In response, the gorilla winks at him.
Reprints and rereleases
2003 - 2007 reprint series
- The UK releases usually use the American titles. However, for this book, it was retitled to Revenge of the Garden Gnomes.
- In Portugal, this is the thirty-fifth book in the original Goosebumps series.
- In the Portuguese adaptation of the story there are some notable differences:
- Joe and Mindy Burton are called 'Joel and Renata Brito'
- "Moose" McCall is called '"Morsa" Mendonça'
|Audiobook||Release date||Length||Narrated by||Published by|
|November 1996||60 minutes||Justin Shenkarow||Walt Disney Records|
|December 2015||2 hours, 43 minutes||Maxwell Glick||Scholastic Inc.|
- The cover art by Tim Jacobus originally featured the gnome on the left picking his nose. Unhappy with the hand gesture, Scholastic asked Jacobus to adjust the gnome's hand and face. On Jacobus' website, you can purchase a sketch of this cover with the nose picking intact.
- When asked which Goosebumps books could've been better, R.L. Stine brought up Go Eat Worms! and this book, stating he wasn't happy with the writing.
- Joe and Mindy's parents are Jeffrey and Marion Burton in the book and Moose's father is Bill McCall.
- Marion Burton was also the first mother to be mentioned by name in the books.
- The 1996 audiobook adaptation features voice work from Justin Shenkarow and Charlie Adler.
- This book references MTV.
References in other Goosebumps media
- In Deep in the Jungle of Doom, Cronby the Troll asks the reader questions about The Cuckoo Clock of Doom and this book.
- The Lawn Gnomes appear as antagonists in the film Goosebumps, and the original cover of the book is featured in the end credits animation.
- The Lawn Gnomes appear in both Goosebumps: The Game and Goosebumps: Night of Scares as enemies.
- The gnomes appear in Goosebumps HorrorTown.
- Hap and Chip appear as minor antagonists in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.