Scary Stories!

Halloween is fast approaching, and it means different things to different people.  Some people love to dress up, some like to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.  Here in the children’s literature realm, it means (cue Vincent Price voice and ominous, spooky music)…SCARY STORIES.  Beware all who should dare to read the following blog post, as it is terror-filled; here you will experience a zombie uprising, a haunted forest, and places where real-life tragedies transpired.  TURN BACK WHILE YOU STILL CAN!

OK, I figured that wasn’t quite dramatic enough to keep you away.  I am glad you are still reading.  Now go grab some candy corn and read about some great new titles sure to tingle your spine.

Good Night, Zombie by James Preller. 9781250018908. 2013. Gr. 2-5.

Home Sweet Horror by James Preller. 9781250018861. 2013. Gr. 2-5.

I Scream, You Scream by James Preller. 9781250018885. 2013. Gr. 2-5.

Nightmareland by James Preller. 9781250018922. January 2014. Gr. 2-5.

In this new series, Scary Tales, author James Preller is trying to fill a gap.  He was chatting with a children’s librarian who felt there was a need for a Goosebumps-like series for a slightly younger audience.  Scary Tales is the result of that conversation.  Each title has short, suspenseful chapters, and excellent, shadowy, black & white illustrations by Italian illustrator Iacopo Bruno.  The fright within the pages is mostly mild.   However, the illustrations are spooky, and a child’s greatest fear is realized…the kids get trapped in their school at night and can’t go home!  Oh, did I not mention the zombies that are trying to get in and the creepy night janitor who seems to know that this all would happen? Overall, these books are good fun for those who like their tales slightly scary.

Haunted by Various Authors. 9781849393218. 2013. Gr. 4-7.

For the slightly older set, Haunted is a collection of scary stories by some of the best young adult authors writing today, including Matt Haig, Mal Peet, Derek Landy, Philip Reeve, and more.  In Reeve’s tale, titled “The Ghost Wood”, he uses familiar horror archetypes such as branches scraping against windows in the night and waking from full sensory nightmares to set an eerie tone. This particular story in the collection has more of a warm, fuzzy ending to the eeriness, which is a nice departure from the typical horror story ending!    Other stories in the collection deal with ghosts, a haunted prison, a man’s best friend back from the dead, and more creepy tales.

Scary Places (series update):

Abandoned Amusement Parks by Dinah Williams. 9781617728846. 2014. Gr. 4-7.

Tragic Theaters by Natalie Lunis. 9781617728853. 2014. Gr. 4-7.

When looking over these two nonfiction titles, which are updates to the Scary Places series, I felt that the cover art was a little cheesy and overdone, as they feature ghoulish, “undead” creatures that obviously aren’t real and therefore don’t appear in the pages of the true stories featured within.  But, upon further reflection, I decided that it is the covers that would entice a student to pick these up, and there is actually some good history and culture contained in the book.  For example, in Abandoned Amusement Parks, the Pripyat Amusement Park in the Ukraine is featured, and it is explained that it was abandoned due to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown.  In Tragic Theaters, the site of Lincoln’s assassination is explored, as is the place where Harry Houdini met his untimely death.  So, readers might just learn something after being tempted to pick up this book by its sensationalized cover!   The many older titles in the series trod similar ground, with volumes on ghost towns, haunted castles, insane asylums, and more.

Happy Halloween, and Trick or Tweet (you can follow our Collection Development librarians on Twitter at @MackinBooks!)

Ryan H.Blogger: Ryan H.