Sunday, September 6, 2009

Scaring the Pants Off Of Your Child

I recently read a trio of spooky kid books that cover the bases from preschoolers to teens.

The first story was one of Z's bedtime stories -- What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss. This is the story of a small bear-like guy who feels menaced by the repeated appearance of a "pair of pale green pants". They seem to always show up right where this little guy needs to be. At first he is brave but then he gets a bit scared of these floating trousers.

When I was a kid, I thought they were long underwear but now they look like they might be knitted like a sweater. Maybe the pants are alone because they were itchy! The beautiful, dark turquoise background and plenty of black ink gives this story a spooky feel. The best part is that it has a happy ending, which always seems to wipe out the scared feelings that were there a moment before. We read this one in our Sneetches book but they have just released a glow-in-the-dark version of the story that looks pretty cool.

The next book that I read was The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket. This is the third in the Series of Unfortunate Events. I bought and read the first two books a few years ago but then never continued with the series. However, finding a pristine hardcover for one dollar at Half-Price Books convinced me to move forward with these painfully good stories. I knew the basic premise of the story because I had seen the movie a few years back and it covered the first three books. However, I had forgotten how witty and funny Lemony Snicket's writing was. Here's one of my favorite passages --
But even if they could go home it would be difficult for me to tell you what the moral of the story is. In some stories, it's easy. The moral of "The Three Bears," for instance, is "Never break into someone else's house." The moral of "Snow White" is "Never eat apples." The moral of World War One is "Never assassinate Archduke Ferdinand."

This is another dark tale in the short lives of the Baudelaire orphans and I'm in the mood to go looking for book four.

The final book that I read was another one dollar find -- The 13th of Never by Crab Scrambly. This is a small illustrated short story. It's a short and dark tale and isn't appropriate for younger children due to some scary images and the use of an awesome swear word-turned-adjective. (I know you're curious!) It's the story of Zazil, a "13th son of a 13th son", whose unlucky life is about to take a significant turn for the worse. The drawings are stronger in some places than others but I really like Zazil. He reminds me of Victor, the main character in Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. The writing is simple but strong and this was definitely a lucky little find. I don't read many graphic novels or comics but the ones I do read are definitely along this vein. I wouldn't mind seeing this made into an animated short either.

I read this fun trio to kick off the R.I.P. IV Challenge. I'm not sure how to count them because they were all quick reads but I don't think it much matters because I'm already through my first full novel for the challenge and I still have two full months to go! I love getting in the mood for fall with some good reads about mystical, dark mayhem. And I guess that technically Z is through one story too. Maybe I will try and incorporate even more scary kid books into our reading this fall.

Steering clear of the Lachrymose Leeches,

Support our site and and buy What Was I Scared Of?: A Glow-in-the Dark Encounter, The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) and The 13th of Never on Amazon or find them at your local library.


  1. My son loves the green pants story .. I think it is is in the Sneetches book as well.

    And I loved the excerpt from Lemony Snicket. Totally made me giggle.

  2. Lemony is a genius - which is why I read the whole series even when it started to get repetitive. Book 4 is hilarious to anyone who has ever held a job.

  3. Lenore - I am totally going to go read book four now. I ended up getting four through eight the other day at Half Price Books for 80 cents a piece.

  4. I think I'd be terrified if I saw a pair of green pants floating around me!!! Yikes!

    In my opinion you count each one of these as books read for the challenge. I'm not a stickler about page counts, etc. A book is a book is a book. Glad you're getting your kids in on the action as well.

  5. Carl - Yes, luckily I have a kid that isn't afraid of being scared!