Of note for teacher/librarians/parents:
Anyone interested in the value of scary books for children ought to check out this article, recently published in the journal of the American Association of School Librarians:
Crawford, Philip Charles. "Hatching Their Wolfish Schemes: Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Wolves in the Walls." Knowledge Quest, Jan/Feb2006, Vol. 34 Issue 3, p39-41.
New Item 11/2/06: Reading Rockets has a great video interview with horror author R.L. Stine, a major influence on horror writing for children and teens. To get up close and personal, ake a look here.
Insanely Twisted Rabbits by Michel Gagne *New Review
Gagne International, December, 2000
Available: New and Used
Insanely Twisted Rabbits is a collection of draft drawings of mutated rabbits by artist Michel Gagne. This book is a fantastic example of what happens when an artist lets his/her imagination wander while staying focused on a subject. The rabbits look to have been combined with all sorts of other creatures, from bats to rhinos to dinosaurs- and then there are just plain scary mutated rabbits with all sorts of horns, fangs, and claws that abound. As with Gagne's Frenzied Fauna, parents and librarians will want to judge the appropriateness of some of the images based on children's reactions. Some might find the images a little too scary, but others will be mesmerized by Gagne's imagination gone wild, resulting in the phrases "neat", "cool", and "awesome". Age: varies based on the child's personality and interests. Recommended.
Andersonís Thrilling Tales: The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen by M. T.
Harcourt Children's Books, June, 2006
The main characters from a variety of fictional series books are all drawn into a mystery while on vacation at the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort. Katie Mulligan, the star of the Horror Hollow series, accompanies her friends Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, and Lily, on what she hopes will be a real vacation. Although itís more of a send-up of series books than a horror story, readers of horror series books will howl with laughter all through the first chapter. Of course, there is no such thing as a series book without an adventure, but Katie tries hard to avoid it! Throughout the book, Katieís resolute desire to ignore anything mysterious, horrifying, or supernatural is extremely entertaining. Jasper also gets his moment of horror- while gagged with duct tape and tied to a chair his allergies kick in, he rolls down a mountain over the edge of a cliff, and a poisonous snake makes ready to strike at his slightest movement. Anderson does a great job of poking fun at series books and genre fiction, and his writing is intelligent enough to also appeal to grown-up kids. A wonderful book to read to yourself or read aloud- if you can keep yourself from breaking down into tears of laughter. Grades 4- up. Contains: fake gore, kidnapping, mild violence. Entry by Francesca the Librarian
Cemetery Dance Publications, October, 2001
Available: New and Used
Timothy Maywood Usher Mouse lives in the library, reading about fantastic adventures. One Halloween night, Timothy gathers his courage to leave the library to go on an adventure. After escaping a run in with a snake thanks to a piece of candy corn. Timothy dreams of going trick or treating but must first survive an encounter with the neighborhood cat involving a jack-o-lantern. In the end, far away from his cozy home in the library, Timothy discovers that having adventures is even better than reading about them. Alan Clark's illustrations are detailed and colorful, and the book is a visual treat. Richard Laymon has created an engaging (if lengthy)story. Although the dialogue is awkward, Laymon's inventive description and great action sequences will grab the reader. Laymon is writing as much for adults as he is for children: some vocabulary and most literary references will go right over children's heads, but will add an extra dimension of meaning for the adult reader. A very cute Halloween picture book. This book could be shared with patient primary grade readers as a read-aloud or with intermediate readers either as a read-aloud or as independent reading.
Reader's Digest, August, 2006
Young Spike sitting in bed hears an ominous "I'm going to eat you!" which leads him on a fantastic exploration of his house finding the source of the voice. Along the way he meets the bogeyman, a sea serpent, a ghost, and a werewolf. In the end it turns out to be his little sister threatening a cookie, "I'm going to eat you!" The illustrations by Jimmy Pickering make the book a treat, as all the monsters are fantastically drawn ,and the popups are wonderful. A must for any parent or child who likes spooky monsters. Recommended.
Gagne International, November, 2001
Frenzied Fauna is an incredibly imaginative animal alphabet book by artist Michel Gagne. Gagne's animals are drawn in fantastic and sometimes scary ways, with spikes, teeth, tusks, and a half dozen eyes. While Gagne tends to stick with fantastic versions of animals that children might recognize such as lizards, horses, and owls, he also adds entries for mutated mammals, microbes, and trilobite. You will want to test a few images of this book with very young children to see how they react. Older children will get a kick out of the book.
Ages: Upper elementary and older, with appropriate guidance.
I am including this book on the list because of the horror I felt as I was reading it, so please don't consider its inclusion to be frivolous. I certainly wouldn't give it to a fourth grader insisting on a "scary book." Although this is a picture book, care needs to be taken about how it is shared with children. It should never be read alone: it is too terrifying. It should always be read with guidance and followed with discussion. The story's main character is Little Rabbit, who watches the animals in his clearing disappear one group at a time as the Terrible Things descend upon the inhabitants. The remaining animals pretend that nothing is happening, and finally Little Rabbit is the only witness to the disappearance of all of the animals. The words are spare and the story on its own is a powerful and frightening one, but the true horror of the situation is expressed through Stephen Gammell's terrifying black and white illustrations. The Terrible Things are shadowy smears across the pages. We never see their true shapes, we only see the fear they create. Terrible Things has been suggested as a tool for introducing the topic of the Holocaust at the middle school or high school level, but with guidance and careful choices of literature, children at the elementary level can understand how fear and intolerance can help evil take root. Entry by Francesca the Librarian
HarperTrophy, Reprint edition, July, 2005
Ages: Elementary and older
The Wolves in the Walls is a sophisticated picture book, which means you will enjoy it as much as your child will. Gaiman, the creator of many graphic novels and a writer of fantastic adult fiction, has created a delightfully dark and entertaining story about Lucy, a little girl who is still learning the difference between reality and fantasy. McKean's chaotic illustrations, which combine drawings with "real" pictures in a format reminiscent of graphic novels, effectively portray Lucy's uncertain world. Lucy hears the sounds of wolves in the walls. Her parents and older brother deny their existence, while at the same time telling her, "If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over." Of course, there are wolves, they do come out of the walls, and Lucy's terrified family runs away. Lucy bravely returns to her house to rescue a favorite toy and discovers that the wolves aren't so frightening after all. She convinces her family to take back the house, and the cowardly wolves run screaming out the door, afraid of the humans coming out of the walls... But is the experience really all over for Lucy's family? She has confronted her fears, but there are elephants in the walls... Gaiman never talks down to the reader, and he is writing for children: it's a great book to read aloud, and it touches on the fears and uncertainties on the child within us all. Wolves in the Walls won the 2004 Stoker Award for best work for younger readers, and the 2004 award for best illustrated narrative from the International Horror Guild. Entry by Francesca the Librarian
Little Devil Books/Necro Publications, September, 2005
Terri and her friend Patricia look to spend their summer playing badminton and having fun, until one day Terri notices a big frog. The frog also has big teeth and frogs aren't supposed to have teeth! This propels Terri and Patricia on an adventure to uncover the mystery of the giant frogs where they end up at the old boathouse by the lake that they are forbidden to visit. It is at the lake where the girls run into monsters beyond their imagination. Edward Lee is known for some very intense adult horror, but here he shows his versatility in writing a monster books for kids that has such a entertaining story that kids won't want to put in down. Appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students requesting a good scary story. I would consider this a good core book to a scary story collection.
Magic Carpet Books- Reprint September, 2003
Available: New and Used
The Monsters of Morley Manor isn't as much of a scary book as an adventure book with monster characters in it. In the book, Anthony and his little sister Sarah buy a box filled with five miniature monster figures, a lizard man, a medusa, a wolfman, a vampiress, and a hunchback. When one of the figures gets wet it starts to come alive and thus begins an adventure involving aliens, giant talking frogs, and ghosts. Coville fits a lot into this book and while it works just fine it seems like it would have been possible for him to have a book just with the five monsters and without the alien story line. A good book for monster loving kids.