Best Horror Books for Children
The term “children’s horror” may seem like an oxymoron. Horror is the stuff of nightmares, and the last thing that parents want their children to have are nightmares, but kids seek out scary books all the time. In fact, exposing children to the horror genre at an early age is actually pretty important. To quote Joss Whedon, “Children need horror because there are things they don't understand. It helps them to codify it if it is mythologized, if it's put into the context of a story, whether the story has a happy ending or not. If it scares them and shows them a little bit of the dark side of the world that is there and always will be, it's helping them out when they have to face it as adults.”
Horror helps children face the monsters of everyday life and growing up. The trick to children’s horror is to know your audience, what is the right blend of scary and funny. What will send shivers down a kid’s spine but not have them spending the night in mom and dad’s bed.
Children’s horror spans the age ranges from cute, not-that-scary picture books for preschoolers such as Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems to series that straddle the line between middle-grade and young adult with kids fighting some truly scary monsters such as Jonathan Stroud’s new series, Lockwood and Co. In this list, you’ll find award-winning modern horror classics such as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline as well as tales that have haunted children for decades such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. There is macabre humor, dark fantasy, adventure and mystery in all of these stories.
On this list, you will find the perfect book for any budding horror fan or a great introduction to horror for children who have yet to experience the spooky joys of the genre.
Children's Horror is aimed for anywhere between 5 and 12.
If you want to read the sequel list for a slightly older audience, check out the Best Horror Books for Young Adults list, which is geared for readers between 13-18.
The Screaming Staircase is the first of the Lockwood and Co. series, and it’s a wild ride: a ghost story, a mystery, with snarky characters and dark humor. If any of those things sound great to you, seriously, pick up this book, no matter what your age. The Screaming Staircase is geared toward 10-12 year olds, but it’s such a smart book that even adults will love it. Lucy Carlyle is a ghost hunter in an alternate version of England that has been overrun by ghosts. On the heels of a ghost hunt gone wrong, she is hired by Lockwood and Co. Run by Anthony Lockwood and his friend George Cubbins, Lockwood and Co. is the smallest ghost hunting firm in London, but when Lucy is hired, they are tasked with investigating the city’s most haunted house. Lockwood and Co. has a very gothic feel to it. The ghost hunters fight with rapiers and salt, but there are modern elements too, particularly in the wittiness and sarcasm of the three main characters. This book has plenty of humorous elements throughout which is great because it’s also action packed with scare-your-socks-off moments as well. The ghosts range from merely eerie to downright revolting, and so do the experiences of our three heroes as the plot twists and turns. This is a book that you want to make sure that you’re reading with the lights on because once you’ve started, you won’t be able to put it down.
A cross between Lemony Snicket and some of the darkest of the Grimm’s fairy tales, A Tale Dark and Grimm is gruesome and gory and awesome. This is the true story of Hansel and Gretel, who were, in fact, the son and daughter of the king in “Faithful Johannes”. Angry that their parents tried to behead them in order to bring their servant back to life, Hansel and Gretel embark on a quest to find better parents. They meet the witch who lives in a candy house and tries to eat them and a whole host of Grimm’s darker characters. Drawing from actual fairy tales in such a way that it’s hard to tell where the Grimm’s work ends and Gidwitz’s book begins, this dark fantasy weaves a dangerous and suspenseful tale about the terrors of growing up. As much as this book is scary and gory, it’s also incredibly funny. The narrator's dark humor serves a dual purpose of lightening the atmosphere of the story and warning readers when a terrifying scene or gross-out scene is approaching. The narrator also adds a modern take on
The Ghost’s Grave is a thrilling mystery. It’s not as scary as some of the other books on this list, mostly because the ghost, Willie, is not that frightening. It’s the human monsters that are terrifying in this book. The Ghost’s Grave is the story of twelve-year old Josh who is stuck spending his somewhere in the boring town of Carbon City, WA with his crazy aunt. When he finds a secluded treehouse in the woods near her house, he thinks that the summer might not be so bad after all, and then he meets the ghost of Willie Martin. Willie has a favor that he needs from Josh, one that has shocking consequences. The story is off like a shot, quite literally, when Josh’s aunt shoots a bat in her kitchen on the first night he’s there. The characters are instantly likable. Josh is incredibly relatable in his misery about being stuck in Carbon City for the summer instead of playing baseball with his friends, and his aunt is kooky and spooky, claiming that the peacock on the farm is the reincarnated spirit of Josh’s Aunt Florence. Aunt Ethel’s character really sets the tone for the story. There’s also a subplot involving stray animals that will tug at any animal lover’s heartstrings. The Ghost’s Grave is a great pick for 10-12 year olds who are looking for a funny, slightly scary mystery.
The Dead Boys is a haunted house book that will have you on the edge of your seat from page one. Being the new kid in town can be murder, especially if something from the house next door is stalking you. That’s how Teddy Matthews feels when his mom moves him out to Richland, AZ in the middle of the summer. As Teddy tries to make friends, weird and horrific things start happening. Each of Teddy’s new friends has a secret, and if Teddy can’t figure out what it is, he may be a dead boy. The Dead Boys is a creepy read that is also action-packed. You’ll race through the pages just like Teddy as he tries to figure out what’s going on in Richland. The culprit isn’t too surprising. This is a haunted house story, after all, and the eerie illustrations on each chapter heading will give it away. The reader will feel the tension mounting through the pages as the thing gets closer and closer to Teddy until the shocking conclusion. Teddy’s, a smart kid, who quickly learns that he’s on his own against the monster that he’s facing. Nothing truly gruesome, this book would be great for the 10-14 year old that has graduated from scary stories like Goosebumps and is looking for something with a little more bite.
At a little over 80 pages, Among the Dolls is a short read, even for the audience for which it is intended, but those 80 pages are intense. This is the story of Vicky who really wanted a bicycle for her birthday and instead receives an antique dollhouse. Vicky takes out her frustrations on the dolls, and as her home life gets increasingly worse, so does her treatment of the dolls. Then, one night, she wakes up inside the dollhouse, and the dolls want revenge. It’s a very creepy and quick read, but it’s also a haunting tale that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. This deceptively slim book packs a lot into it’s pages: murderous dolls, and a possible connection between Vicky’s unhappy family life and the behavior of her dolls. Each page is packed tight with tension and suspense, and even the most reluctant reader will fly through the book, eager to find out if Vicky will make her escape. Vicky learns some very important lessons about relationships as she tries to escape the mad dollhouse. If you’re looking for a quick, spooky read for a fourth or fifth grader, this is the book for you. It’s like Toy Story meets Coraline. Remember kids, always take care of your toys… or they might try to kill you.
The Ghost in the Noonday Sun was published in 1965, but don’t let the publication date scare you off of this gem. It is one of the scariest adventure stories that you will read. Twelve year old Oliver is kidnapped by the infamous Captain Scratch, and he is pressed into service when the pirates discover that he was born on the stroke of midnight, which means that he can see ghosts. Captain Scratch is on the trail of the ghost of Gentleman Jack and his treasure, and Oliver is the only one who can see Gentleman Jack and the dredgies that attempt to board the Bloody Hand. Can he outwit Captain Scratch and find his way home? This book is a fast-paced adventure story, perfect for 9-12 year olds. There are some creepy moments, but nothing too scary, and it’s got a good dose of humor too. This book stands the test of time with several reprintings since it was first published and even a movie made in 1973, and it’s definitely one of those stories that will stay with you. Anyone looking for a rollicking, seabound adventure with a hint of spookiness will love The Ghost in the Noonday Sun.
The Ghost by the Sea is a good old-fashioned, gothic ghost story. When ten year old Robin goes to visit her grandmother at the family home in Scotland, she discovers the ghost of her willful aunt Milly and a family mystery. The family mystery is that Milly only seems to haunt the members of the family named Tom. As Robin and her cousin John slowly uncover the mystery surrounding Milly’s death, Milly begins to terrorize Robin and John in a series of vicious pranks which culminates in a tug-of-war between Milly and Robin for the life of Robin’s brother who lies in a coma in a hospital far away. Set in a Scottish seaside town, The Ghost by the Sea is a creepy, atmospheric mystery. It is also a dark tale about sibling rivalry, perfect for 9-12 year olds who want a fast-paced read with lots of twists and turns. Even reluctant readers will fly through the pages to find out what new torment Milly has in store for Robin, and whether or not Robin will prevail. There’s plenty of drama throughout the tales as Milly’s actions become increasingly hostile toward Robin and John, and the sad truth behind Milly’s haunting is slowly revealed.
Nightmare Academy: Monster Hunters is the first in the Nightmare Academy series, and it reads like a horror version of Harry Potter. Charlie Benjamin has a gift, or some might call it a curse, of being able to open portals to a region called the Nether while he is sleeping. Monsters come through the portal, monsters straight out of his nightmares. When Charlie’s nightmares begin to hit closer to home, he finds himself whisked away to the Nightmare Academy where he must learn how to control his power or risk having his IQ lowered significantly to take it away. At Nightmare Academy, Charlie accidentally summons one of the most powerful of the monsters of the Nether, and all hell breaks loose, literally. Charlie and his friends are, with the exception of their powers, normal, likable kids up against some pretty scary stuff. The monsters in the Nether feed off of their fears, and it’s interesting that these fears are the very things that gives the kids their powers.Although the monsters are threatening, they’re not (pun intended) nightmare-inducing. Nightmare Academy is a fun, fast-paced, dark fantasy that 9-12 year old readers will just breeze through, and maybe learn a thing or two about facing their own fears.
You know the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” In this case it’s wrong, so wrong. The first in the Tales of Lovecraft Middle School, Professor Gargoyle is amazingly eerie, with an amazingly eerie cover. What you think is a portrait of a distinguished looking, bearded professor morphs into something hideous as you turn the page, such is the case with Lovecraft Middle School. On the surface, Lovecraft Middle School is an incredibly modern new school with smart boards instead of chalkboards and a huge labyrinthine library, but all of this high-tech gadgetry hides a sinister truth. Robert Arthur is transferred to Lovecraft Middle School with the bully that used to torment him. That’s when he knows that things are going to be bad, but when he encounters spiders pouring out of the students’ lockers, a teacher that eats hamsters whole, and two students go missing, Robert knows that things just got much worse. Professor Gargoyle is action packed and suspenseful with enough scary moments that you may want to check for monsters in your closet before going to sleep, just in case your closet has been turned into a portal to another dimension. It’s also filled with nods to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Give this book to the 9- 12 year olds who have outgrown the Goosebumps series and are ready for something wittier and darker, but not necessarily ready for books like Revenge of the Witch or the Lockwood and Co. series.
Wait Till Helen Comes is the perfect introduction for young readers to the creepy kids genre of horror. Molly and Michael’s artsy parents have forced them to move out to the country, to a church! With a graveyard in the backyard! When Molly spies on her stepsister, Heather, having a conversation with the ghost of Helen who died in a fire a century ago. Molly is certain that Heather is in danger, but every time that she tries to reach out to Heather, Heather gets her in trouble! As Molly struggles to help Heather, it becomes clear that Heather and her ghostly companion are trying to destroy their new family. Mary Downing Hahn is the queen of spooky ghost stories for kids. This is a haunting book that even adults will enjoy. Mike and Molly deal with sibling rivalry and adjusting to their blended family as well as Heather, who is a holy terror before she meets Helen, and Helen is truly horrifying. This book is not for children who get scared easily, but well worth the read for 8-12 year olds who are looking for a timeless, eerie mystery…. or who can relate to the horror of dealing with nasty siblings.
Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow is a gothic tale about bullying and being an outcast. When strange things start happening, it’s up to three social pariahs from Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls and their friend, the son of the cook from the nearby boy’s school to figure out what’s going on. Adelaide, Beatrice, and Maggie are different that the other girls at their school. They have special powers, and because of this they are shunned and mistreated by the townspeople. Only geeky Steffan is their friend. When the group of unlikely allies discover a hungry carousel in the woods, they have a very difficult choice to make. This book is geared toward eight to twelve year olds who like the dark humor of the Lemony Snicket books, but would like a more supernatural bent to their stories. It’s also got one of the creepiest rhymes in children’s horror. It’s a song that is used by the other students to taunt the girls. Sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”, it goes like this: "Scar-y chil-dren, Scar-y chil-dren, Where are they? Where are they? You can't run from Maggie! Adelaide will smell thee! Beatrice cries! Then you die!!” Talk about an incredibly spooky earworm. One of the best things about Skary Childrin is that it doesn’t rush you through to the end at a breakneck speed. Skary Childrin is content to let you meander through its atmosphere of creeping dread as the mystery surrounding Pernicious Valley unfolds.
Part mystery, part dark fantasy, The Stone Child is all scary. Eddie is a huge horror fan who just got a dream come true. His family is moving to Gatesweed, the hometown of his favorite author, Nathaniel Olmstead. Even before moving in, it doesn’t take Eddie long to figure out that something is not right in Gatesweed, and that some of the townspeople believe that Nathaniel Olmstead’s stories might actually be true. Eddie and his new friends try to piece together the mystery of a hand-written Olmstead manuscript, something that reading his stories has well-prepared them for. What they aren’t prepared for is the thing that tries to stop them. Eddie and his friends are normal kids. They aren’t the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. They have some missteps and moments of self-doubt, and the savvy reader will probably piece together the mystery before they do. That’s half the fun. It’s like watching a scary movie and trying to yell warnings to the unsuspecting people on screen. With dark themes and some frightening images, this book will give little kids nightmares, but it’s sure to send a shiver down the spine of any 9-12 year old who can appreciate monsters, creepy old houses, and things that go bump in the night.
Soon to be a major motion picture, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has been freaking out children since 1981! This book is filled with ghost stories collected from folklore and urban legends and retold by Alvin Schwartz. Some of them are humorous, some of them are beyond spooky. One of the spookiest tales in the collection is called “Harold” and it’s about what happens when two nasty farmers steal a scarecrow. Another haunting tale is “The Green Ribbon” about a girl named Jenny who wears a green ribbon all of her life. The descriptions of these stories may not seem scary, but the twist is actually the terrifying part. On the other hand, tales like “Bloody Fingers” may seem terrifying at first but actually turn out to be quite humorous. This is a fun, quick read for 8-12 year olds, particularly at a slumber party or around a campfire at Halloween. A 30th Anniversary edition was released in 2011 with new illustrations by Brett Helquist. Brett Helquist’s illustrations are creepy, and perhaps, more appropriate to the intended audience. However, if you want to be truly terrified, find a copy with the original illustrations by Steven Gammel, which really up the creep factor of these stories.
The Witches is one of Roald Dahl’s scariest books. First published in 1983, it was adapted into a wonderful movie starring Anjelica Huston in 1990 as well as a stage play and a radio drama. There are plenty of differences between the book and the movie though, most notably the ending, which I won’t be giving away. When Luke’s parents die in a car crash, he is sent to live with his grandmother. His grandmother tells him stories to help ease his grief, stories about witches and how to spot them. When Luke’s grandmother becomes ill, the doctor’s prescribe a seaside holiday to cure her, and she and Luke wind up in the exact same hotel as the annual conference of the witches of England. Luke is in grave danger when he hears the Grand High Witch’s plan to rid the country of its children. The witches discover him and turn him into a mouse. With his small stature, will he be able to put a stop to their dastardly plans? With fantastically creepy illustrations by Quentin Blake, The Witches tells a story about bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and about the importance of family. There’s plenty of dark and disgusting bits, such as the ways that the witches go about getting rid of children, but in Roald Dahl’s capable hands, these turn into darkly humorous, even whimsical. This is a classicly spooky adventure to share with 8-12 year old readers who enjoy Lemony Snicket’s books and Coraline.
Winner of the 2003 Hugo Award, the 2003 Nebula Award, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers, Coraline has a universal appeal. It’s a haunting, creepy tale that warns us to be careful what we wish for. Coraline Jones is bored. She’s just moved into a new home and is stuck inside all summer because it is damp and rainy. Her parents are too busy for her, and her neighbors are just plain weird. The man upstairs, Mr. Bobinsky trains mice for a supposed mouse circus, and the retired ladies downstairs, Ms. Forcible and Ms. Spink, warn her of danger in her tea leaves. One particularly dreary day, Coraline finds a strange little door. What it leads to is beyond her wildest imagination: a whole new world where her mother showers her with appreciation and delicious treats, but when Coraline tries to leave this new world, her other mother reveals a dark and nasty side. Coraline was adapted into a movie in 2009, but the addition of Wybie adds comical elements to the story that diffuse its otherwise brooding atmosphere. It’s also been turned into a graphic novel with beautifully realistic artwork by Craig Russell. The book itself has some seriously creepy illustrations by Dave McKean. Geared toward readers aged 8-12, this dark fantasy is filled with twists and turns and will easily appeal even to adults, and the button eyes of the Other Mother will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page.
Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror is the first book in the Tales of Terror series, and it just may give Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories a run for its money as to which series is going to scare the wits out of kids for years to come. The book is a collection of nine tales all told to Edgar by his Uncle Montague, who is both an avid collector and an excellent storyteller. Each of the stories originates with an item in Uncle Montague’s study, and soon both Edgar and the reader are trying to convince themselves that that’s all these tales are… stories. Although, there is some light humor throughout the book, these tales are dark and sometimes deeply disturbing, in the tradition of Grimm fairy tales. Very bad things happen to naughty children. Some of the stories feature some sort of moral or lesson, but generally too late for their characters to learn. The spooky, gothic atmosphere of the tales is only enhanced by the illustrations by David Roberts which call to mind Edward Gorey’s drawings. This book is a perfect read-aloud for the eight to eighty year old looking for a really good thrill on a dark and stormy night but definitely not for the kids who get nightmares easily.
Michael Hague’s chilling watercolors bring this Irish folktale to life. Kate Culhane is the story of a young woman who inadvertently steps on a newly dug grave, awakening its inhabitant who commands Kate to release him from his grave. She is compelled to do so, and next the creature orders her to take him into town and prepare him an oatmeal mixed with freshly drawn human blood and share in the gruesome meal. What other horrors lie in store for the poor girl, I cannot tell. Will she escape sharing a grave with the cruel monster who has ensnared her? The story is a chilling supernatural tale sure to send shivers up your spine. However, as the book is designed as an older picture book, perfect to be read aloud to children ages seven and up, the gory details are left out of the images that accompany the text. Kate is a smart, resourceful girl who uses her wits to help her escape a dire situation, and the illustrations do much to evoke the haunting atmosphere of the story. Not for the faint of heart, this would be a great read-aloud for Halloween or a scary introduction to the genre for kids who have outgrown the slightly scary stories and are ready to be truly frightened.
The Ink Drinker is the first in a delightfully creepy vampire series by Eric Sanvoisin. It’s a beginning chapter book with plenty of pen and ink illustrations that add to the eerie atmosphere of the story. When the unnamed narrator is forced to work in his father’s bookstore over the summer. There’s only one problem, the narrator hates books, so much that he loves to hear the sound of paper tearing. While he’s watching the store, a customer floats in with a straw and starts sucking the ink from the pages. This book is a great introduction to vampires for the budding horror fan who are transitioning from picture books to chapter books. The concept of a vampire who drinks ink because of a blood allergy is a unique and fun concept. It’s a short, quick read that’s got a bunch of humor in an eerie Twilight-zone kind of way. Reluctant readers will identify with the narrator’s feelings about books and just may be surprised and inspired by the twist at the end of the story. This book won’t give any little ones nightmares, but it may just give them a voracious appetite for stories, much like the Ink Drinker.
What kind of horror story do you give to kids who are afraid of the monster under the bed? How about a story that makes monsters on the bed fun? A story where the kid is actually friends with the monster under his bed? Ethan is getting ready for bed when he discovers a note from Gabe, the monster under his bed, that says he’s has gone fishing for the week. Most children would be thrilled to be free of their monsters, but not Ethan. Ethan cannot sleep without his monster’s eerie slime and his comfortable snoring. So, Ethan calls in some replacements, but none of the quite live up to Gabe. This fun, gently scary story is a cross between Monsters, Inc. and Leonardo the Terrible Monster. It’s a great bedtime read whether your child is a budding horror fan or scared of the monster under the bed. The colorful, cartoony artwork makes the monsters fun, not scary. If you know a five to eight year, they need this book. It doesn’t matter if they like scary books or if they are still get scared, every kid needs to read this book. This creepy and kooky book is a great introduction to the silly side of scary stories.
In a Dark, Dark Room is Alvin Schwartz’s introduction to scary folk tales and urban legends. Written in short sentences with vocabulary suited to beginner readers, this collection of seven short stories includes some of Schwartz’s creepier tales. “In A Dark, Dark Room” follows the traditional tale, and children will get a kick out of repeating the titular phrase as they get closer and closer to the surprise at the end. “The Teeth” is a funny tale that follows a young boy who is running down the street after seeing a man with scarily long teeth and the series of more sinister characters that he meets on his journey. “The Green Ribbon” is one of the more haunting tales in the collection. It is the story of a girl named Jenny who wears a green ribbon around her neck all of her life. Parents with sensitive, easily scared children may want to shy away from tales such as “The Night it Rained” where a man finds out the boy to whom he gave a ride home turns out to be a ghost, but the last two stories in the collection are funny. “The Ghost of John” is a very short poem about a ghost with no skin. The illustrations by Dirk Zimmer perfectly compliment the stories whether they are humorous or eerie. This is a book that you don’t want to miss.
If you’re looking for a traditional alphabet book, you’re looking at the wrong list. This is horror for kids, and Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet is anything but traditional and full of dark, slightly macabre humor. A Victorian boy and girl and their gazelle attempt to navigate an alphabet in the city’s sewer system. There’s just one problem, this alphabet is filled with monsters and pirates, and is not in any kind of order. Along the way, the girl is kidnapped and it’s up to the boy and their gazelle to save her. This book is a great way to introduce young readers to the dark fantasy that they will later encounter in books like Coraline or A Series of Unfortunate Events. The illustrations by Gus Grimly are just that, grim and grisly, just like out of a Tim Burton movie. A picture book designed for five to eight year old readers, nothing truly gruesome occurs on the page but is instead merely suggested. While this may not be a great book for teaching the alphabet to young readers, it is a fun, macabre ride through the letters that will have young readers shivering in anticipation for the next letter.
Skelly the Skeleton Girl is an adorable read aloud, perfect for to read to the four to six year old with vocabulary easy enough for the beginner reader to read on their own. If you’re a fan of Tim Burton or if you’re just looking for a witty mystery with a slightly spooky edge, you need to pick up Skelly the Skeleton Girl. One day, Skelly finds a bone in her house. She goes in search of its owner. She asks the ghoulish residents of her home, including the man-eating plants, but the bone doesn’t belong to any of them. She even x-rays herself to find out if the bone is hers. It’s not. Children will be delighted with the mystery as they fly through the pages to discover who the bone belongs to, and the surprise ending is a sweet treat. The illustrations are the star of the show, making the monsters of this book adorable rather than scary. Skelly the Skeleton Girl is a creepy treat for Halloween or really any time of the year, particularly for anyone who has quirky, slightly gothic tendencies, and really, the only thing scary about it is how much fun it is.
Leonardo the Terrible Monster is a great example of toddler-horror where the monster is not at all scary, and that is the problem. Leonardo is a terrible monster. In a world that is a less-scary, pastel type of Monsters Inc., Leonardo details just how scary that he is not. He doesn’t have 1,642 teeth, and he isn’t just plain weird. Then, Leonardo hatches a plan to find the most scaredy cat kid in the world and scare the “tuna salad out of him”. That’s when Leonardo meets Sam and realizes that he has a big decision to make. Leonardo the terrible monster is a great read-aloud, particularly for younger kids with it’s big, cartoonish illustrations and it’s simple words. Make sure that you do the voices for Leonardo and Sam. It’s got a sweet message about friendship and acceptance that will make even parents say, “Aww”. Another thing that kids will love about Leonardo the Terrible Monster is that it’s funny. The faces that Leonardo makes when he tries to be scary are fun to imitate and will have children of all ages chuckling along with the story. Everyone, of all ages, needs to read Leonardo the Terrible Monster. It is one of Mo Willems’s classics.
Winner of the Gold Parent’s Choice Award, Go Away Big Green Monster is a cumulative tale that is great for children, even if they are afraid of monsters because it’s designed to help children make their fears disappear. The story opens as each piece of the big, green monster materializes on the page, from his big yellow eyes to his sharp white teeth. Once the monster’s big green face appears, children can then tell that big, green monster to go away. Kids who are afraid of monsters will gain courage as after each repetition of the phrase “Go away”, a piece of the monster disappears. Caldecott winner Ed Emberley’s die-cut illustrations are brilliant as you assemble and disassemble the monster. The big green monster, himself, is more comical than scary. This is a great book to teeth basic colors as well as parts of the face. The repetition of the phrase “Go away” and the use of the parts of the face encourage the children to participate in the story, making it perfect to read-aloud to preschoolers and toddlers. It’s the perfect introduction to toddler-horror, teaching children not to be afraid of monsters, and the final line “And don’t come back until I say so” shows that they can even embrace them.
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie is the perfect ghostly treat for Halloween. Old Man Wilkerson is a very grumpy, very finicky eater. On Halloween night, his wife makes him the perfect pumpkin pie darkly reminding him that he won’t get pie when he’s dead and gone. Little does she know, that he’s going to be dead and gone before he even gets a bite of her delicious pumpkin pie. After Mr. Wilkerson’s death, his wife buries him in their pumpkin patch and moves away, selling the house to Jack and his spunky Grandma. On Halloween night, Grandma makes a pumpkin pie that brings Old Man Wilkerson right up out of the grave, but Grandma’s first effort is not quite up to Wilkerson’s high standards, and so he returns again and again until Grandma gets it right. The story with it’s catchy refrain “Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins pie, I must have one before I die…” is a great read aloud to encourage kids to participate in the story. The watercolor illustrations are just the right blend of macabre and funny, and Old Man Wilkerson looks like a picky zombie chef, complete with a fork sticking out of his head. Some sensitive readers may be frightened by Wilkerson’s rather sudden death, but this is the perfect recipe for some spooky fun.