by Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Fred Koehler
Boyds Mills Press, 2017
A story for those who dare to adventure. The words, done in rhyme, set up the ‘scare’ and the illustrations keep readers turning the pages to see what is next, imagining what it might be like for them.
In this story, a brother, sister and their little brother are outside in their treehouse at night. The older brother uses the light to make everything appear scarier, leaving the rest to the others’ imaginations. The flashlight,
“leads you past old post and rail
alongside a long-forgotten trail
into woods no others dare,
for fear of what is waiting there.”
This story’s action takes place outside the treehouse. Illustrations show what could be in the shadows, like tigers. They explore water, underbrush, walls and halls where wolves and lions and skulls and bones might lurk. They travel to foreign shores, where pirates and octopi threaten the trio.
After the scary stories are shared, we see the trio in the tree house and it’s lights out. In the shadows we see the little brother smiling and the tiger below preparing itself for another adventure. While the story threatens danger, the characters are always safe.
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The Pomegranate Witch
by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Chronicle Books, 2017
This haunting tale of the Pomegranate Witch will be appreciated by adults as well as titillating for children. Written in ‘dense’ rhyme, each word contributes to the story’s ambiance and action.
On the edge of town stood the spooky pomegranate tree where kids scared themselves with made-up tales, daring each other to grab the trees treasure. Finally, five brave adventurers take on the task. Surprising them, the Pomegranate Witch challenges them to a duel, the next day, at noon. While their second plan of attack, plan B, is in progress, their youngest member sneaks in a back gate and steals a treasure. They won! Then Kindly Lady, whose sister is the witch, or so she says…, invites them over for Halloween cheer. The perfect tale for a late night scare.
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The Too-Scary Story
by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017
Walter and Grace get Dad to tell a scary story. Grace, the oldest, wants a real scary one, for she has a magic wand to protect her. Walter wants a scary story, but not too scary. They enter a forest which is dark. “The spookiest, creepiest kind of dark!” says Grace. “Too scary!” says Walter. But then fireflies appear and Walter cheers. And so Dad balances scary with not too scary. A fun, scary story where Graces uses her magic to save the day!
Dark and scary illustrations balance out the safe ones as Grace and Walter imagine a walk through the forest making the story the perfect scary story.
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