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Hiding in between the covers with 'Goosebumps'

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Gates Warwas holds a copy of “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” by R.L. Stine. One of the main characters is named after Gates, who is a student at Westwood Elementary School.
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Author R.L. Stine sent a signed copy of his new Goosebumps book to Gates Warsaw. Gatesgot a spot in the book after his dad, Adam, won an online contest last year.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Second grader Gates Warwas knows a thing or two about scary stories.

Gates was watching movies one night with his family when they heard a thump outside.

Peeking out the window, they saw a crate sitting on the ground.

The wooden box was emitting an eerily green light.

“There was a bunch of worms and glue and glowing stuff, too,” Gates remembered.

Sticking out of the mysterious crate was a small paperback novel.

It was a book called “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!”

The story is about a robot named “Francine” who starts malfunctioning in creepy ways. The robot was built by characters Livvy Jones and ... Gates Warwas!

That’s right.

Westwood Wildcat Gates Warwas is an official character in the newest Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine.

Gates’ dad, Adam, entered a contest last June to try winning a spot in Stine’s new book. Money raised through the online contest helps the Authors Guild Foundation.

It sounded like the perfect surprise for Gates.

“He secretly entered me in the contest and somehow, somehow we won,” Gates said.

Along with having a main character named after him, Gates also received a couple copies of the book straight from R.L. Stine.

The author even signed one especially “for the REAL Gates!”

At first, the Warwas family thought maybe the books they received in the mail were just specialized copies from Scholastic. A sort of thank you for taking part in the contest.

But then they found copies on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. It was very real.

And how does the real Gates feel about making it into one of his favorite book series?

“I think it’s super cool!” the 8 year old said with a smile.

Gates has been a fan of the spooky series since he was about 3 years old. Gates had the flu that year and Adam read him Goosebumps to make him feel better.

“He loves reading, and he loves Goosebumps,” Adam said.

Gates is such an avid reader, he scored 100 Accelerated Reader points during one grading period at Westwood.

Gates wanted other people to be able to enjoy the new Goosebumps book, too.

“I donated one to my awesome librarian, Mrs. Krupp, and one to one of the best teachers ever, Mrs. White,” Gates said. “They were super surprised.”

When teacher Mica White saw the book sitting on her desk, her first thought was that a student had just found it laying around somewhere.

She was shocked to see “Gates Warwas” written on the back cover.

“I’ve been teaching for 15 years and have never dreamed one of my kids would be a main character in an R.L. Stine book,” White said. “We feel like we have a star in our class, for sure!”

White has been reading the book out loud to her class. Their goal was to have it all done before spring break.

“The class keeps begging me to read the next chapter,” she said.

White thinks it is great that Gates stars in the book. She also likes that the story is about robotics, even if it is dressed up in a spooky tale.

White said her second graders are starting to make connections between “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” and the Westwood Elementary School competitive robotics team.

She thinks Gates will make a good member of the Wildcats robotics team one day ... as long as he doesn’t build another Francine!