Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spooky Stories for Tiny Humans Part Two

Here's the Part 2 that I promised.  I'm so excited to get this one out there but BE WARNED, these books are scary.

Books for Middle Grade Readers

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror
by Chris Priestley

Uncle Montague lives all alone in a big old house.  He looks forward to visits from his young nephew.  He has stories to share and all of them are terribly frightening. 

I remember reading the first story in this book and being completely delighted with how creepy it was.  Interesting stories by themselves but the book as a whole is pretty great.

There are more books to read in the Tales of Terror Series.  Here's a little list for you in case you're interested in reading more.

Home Sweet Horror
by James Preller
illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Liam Finn just moved into a new house with his family.  But playing a game leads to an unexpected house guest who is just dying to talk to Liam.

Not going to spoil who the house guest is but she's a familiar figure in scary stories and urban legends.  This story sounds terrifying and, therefore, perfect for the season.

Note:  This is a series but all books feature standalone stories so you could start anywhere.  There are about six books in total.  

Night of the Living Dummy
by R.L. Stine

Twin sisters Lindy and Kris find an abandoned ventriloquist's dummy in the dumpster behind an empty house.  Lindy takes it as hers, making Kris jealous.  But it's only after Kris gets her own dummy that strange and terrible things start to happen.

A classic in the Goosebumps Series because nothing is more terrifying than an independently speaking and moving ventriloquist dummy.  This is one of several novels where R. L. Stine's favorite dummy makes an appearance, here's the list.

Note: Goosebumps is a series.  You can start anywhere but I do recommend starting with the original series books published between 1992 and 1997. They are the classic ones.  You can find a list of all of them here.

written by Annie Graves
illustrated by Glenn McElhinney

Abbey feels like no one understands her until she meets someone new.  Bee is everything she's been looking for in a friend.  Bee even lives in Abbey's house...just on the other side of the bathroom mirror and Bee wants to switch places.

The most frightening books always start out with a bit of sweetness. Definitely a chilling little book that deserves to be read on Halloween night surrounded by a group of friends.

Note:  This one is a series so there are other stories with other children and monsters to discover.  Here's a list.

The Night Gardener
by Johnathan Auxier

Abandoned by their parents, Molly and Kip are sent to a house to work as servants.  But before long, a ghost and an old curse puts them in grave danger.

This is definitely a spooky one from a writer who knows how to use language to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  

All Hallow's Read is going on again this month.  AKA: That thing I talked about last year that involved Neil Gaiman.  HarperCollins put together a list of book recommendations that Neil approved of so here it is in case you wanted more suggestions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Beware of Crimson Peak

Since watching Crimson Peak, I have been in the mood for something Gothic in nature.  No doubt many are feeling the same way.  My gift to you in this time of need are two reading suggestions. These stories are not for the faint of heart.

Gothic Tales
by Elizabeth Gaskell

In this collection, Elizabeth Gaskell crafts eerie Gothic stories inspired by fairy tales, local legends and history.  The darker writing style is a stark contrast with her earlier work, which focused on societal realism.

One story in the collection, "The Old Nurse's Story", is about a child found wandering the cold and desolate moors.

I love Elizabeth Gaskell and finding out that she has a book of unsettling stories is like finding a unicorn.  You didn't think it existed but there it is.  I am definitely excited to open this one up and get to reading.


The Darker Sex
edited by Michael Ashley

A collection of chilling stories by Victorian women writers like Emily Bronte, Charlotte Riddell, Mary Braddon, Louisa Baldwin and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.

The stories are pretty random and they lack context by the editor but they are worth reading.  Victorian women writers! Writers struggling to be taken seriously and to be published.

Not just that but women wrote quite dark, suspenseful and frightening things and they influenced genres before they were even genres.  Also, they're just good stories for Halloween or for whenever you want to feel a little scared.

Gif from allesandersen

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Halloween Scare

A Halloween Scare in Toronto
written by Eric James
illustrated by Marina Le Ray

It's  Halloween night in Toronto and all the ghosts, beasts and witches are walking the streets.

It's not often that you find a holiday book about your home town, which is why I grabbed this off the shelf instantly.

It's such an adorable book!  The text has rhymes that make it fun to read aloud or together with your little one.  The illustrations show familiar landmarks and spaces that every Torontonian will recognize.  It's a humorous and light book. It even has a bit of a surprise in it towards the end.  I won't spoil it but I will say, a little boy faces his fears and it ends a bit spookily.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Train Full of Ghosts

The Spectral Engine
written and illustrated by Ray Fawkes

This graphic novel contains 13 ghost stories from all over Canada that have been historically documented.  The thing that connects them is a ghostly black train engine that defies distance and time.

I love ghost stories, especially, if they're Canadian.  They're usually connected to the Canadian identity and our history, which can be dark and full of sadness.  The book includes stories about a sunken ship in the St. Lawrence River, a hunter meeting a wendigo in the wilderness and the Canadian Pacific Railway and the people who built it.

A great read that is also pretty terrifying not just with the stories but also with the art.  I hope this Halloween you'll give this book a chance.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Spooky Stories for Tiny Humans Part One

I failed miserably last year in making this list but here I am, posting it for Halloween 2015 with even more books than I planned for.  Here are some fun reads for kids during this pumpkin spice month of the fall season.

Picture Books to Read to Children

What There is Before There is Anything There
written by Liniers
illustrated by Elisa Amado

Every night, a boy goes to sleep in his bed but then...THEY arrive.

I did not know what to expect from this book.  The art seemed really cool.  I am a fan of the creepy and bare tree branches.  But as I read it, it began to dawn on me that this might be nightmare fuel for someone who is afraid of the dark.  It's a simple and short story but brilliant.  It does so much in a short amount of pages and it leaves you feeling uncomfortable after you've finished it.  

Ghosts in the House
written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara

A little witch just moved into her new home and it's haunted. Luckily, she knows a thing or two about ghosts.

This is not a scary pick but more of a cute and fun halloween book. Kazuno Kohara always has cute illustrations.  It's the perfect book for October.

written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

A little boy is looking for his Mommy.  His search takes him to a house full of the biggest, baddest and scariest monsters.

Another sweet and funny read but with all those spooky monsters.  It could be a lot of fun for kids to read with you since the little boy is super determined and fearless.

On a Windy Night
by Nancy Raines Day
illustrated by George Bates

As a boy walks home a voice follows him in the darkness, "Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours if you look back."

Definitely a spooky book with atmospheric and rhythmic writing. Read it aloud.  It's a story that builds until the end.   There's also a lot of little hidden things in the illustrations that you can look for and find with your reading partner.   It's a great book about how someone's imagination can really run wild.

The Wolves in the Walls
by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Dave McKean

Lucy sees them.  She hears them.  She knows there's wolves in the walls.

The story starts out pretty spooky.  Even I was a little scared while reading it.  And Dave McKean's art can always be a little unsettling too.  While creepy, the story has it's comical moments too so don't be worried that it will be dark all the time.  And I loved Lucy.  Perceptive and curious, she's brave and saves the day.


Books for Young Readers

I thought I would include some titles for those kids who have started reading but still need a partner along the way.  Some are fun and some are spooky little classics.  Pick and choose what you like or check them out beforehand in order to make sure they are the right pick for your child.

In a Dark, Dark Room 
and Other Scary Stories
by Alvin Schwartz
illustrated by Dirk Zimmer

A collection of horror stories retold for children.  Tales of skeletons, pirates, ghosts, large teeth and heads that roll.

Alvin Schwartz is a master of scary stories.  This small collection has some great short stories that are guaranteed to spook anyone.  

Ghosts: Ghostly Tales from Folklore
by Alvin Schwartz
illustrated by Victoria Chess

A collection of seven ghost stories based on folk tales and retold for children.  Spooky and funny stories to scare you and make you laugh.

Another Alvin Schwartz book here because it fits.  While this little book will have its hair-raising moments, they are not so very intense.  There is humor in a lot of the stories, which lightens the reading the experience.

Scooby - Doo! The Haunted Halloween Party
Written by Gail Herman
Illustrated by Duendes del Sur

Scooby and Shaggy  have been invited to a totally cool Halloween Party.  But when they show up to the house, they find out the party is happening inside a haunted house.

A short Halloween themed read. Everyone loves Scooby and Shaggy and it's a fun story.  Like all of the mysteries they've been involved in, it's never what it seems.  A safe scare-free book for a young reader looking for something simple and colourful.

Note:  Gail Herman put together a lot of these Scooby books.  There's over 25 titles and I hope you'll check them out with your little lady or lad.  

The Big Halloween Scare
by Steven Banks

It's Halloween in Bikini Bottom and SpongeBob is looking forward to scaring everyone this year.  He picks the perfect costume and has the perfect plan. Except SpongeBob doesn't know just how scary he can be.

Expect funny stuff from this one but with a surprise of an ending that may leave your child saying, "Ew!"

Note: Steven Banks wrote more SpongeBob books so if your child enjoys this one, maybe they would like to read other SpongeBob adventures.  Here's a list of the books.

There will be a part 2 to this post coming up soon.  It will feature my suggestions for an older child audience with middle grade books.  Those titles will be super spooky!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shelf Sightings #3: Neil & Some Curiosities

The Art of Neil Gaiman
by Hayley Campbell

Not going to bore you with a constructed description here.  I'm just going to explain my experience with the book.

So...I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman.  Obvious, right? You can tell by my multiple posts in this blog and my bookshelf.  He is the only author whose work I love.  It's not for everyone but it's fantastic for me.

That being said, I think this book is great for fans and for people who are just interested in him as a person.  It gives readers a look into his life as he grew up and the paths in his career as a writer (i.e. journalist, playwright, comics writer, author of novels and picture books, etc.).  You even get to read about stories that haven't been published or seen the light of day.  He goes through his work and offers memories and insight into each piece.

You also find out a lot of interesting things.  For me, the biggest surprise was that he worked on the North American dubbing of Princess Mononoke.  Not as a voice actor but as a writer.   I have adored that movie since my teens when I found it on the shelf at Blockbuster.  I was stunned because I hadn't seen his name anywhere on the box.  There's a reason for it and if you wan to find out, pick up the book.  But gently though since it's incredibly heavy.

It's a fun read.  Honestly.


To Be Checked Out

Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections and Other Obsessions
by Guillermo del Toro & Marc Scott Zicree

All you ever wanted to know about writer-director Guillermo del Toro in one book.   It's a visual guide to his career and to what inspires his work.  It contains pieces of interviews, pages from his personal notebooks and details of his personal collections.

He's a really creative individual.  Hearing him talk about the smaller aspects of Pacific Rim and seeing how much thought he put into it was amazing.

If you follow him on twitter or if you've seen any of his films, he's very much into folklore and monsters from classic horror films.  You'll see a lot of that in this book.

Also, follow him on twitter.  He makes really interesting book recommendations!

Gif made by vablatsky

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading List: Keeping it in the Holmes & Watson Family

Sherlock played again recently on PBS and it got me thinking.  There has to be more books related to Sherlock Holmes now more than ever, right? Right.

I'm spotlighting a few young adult novels tonight because they share a similarity: the main characters are related to Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Watson.  Happy reading!


Secret Letters
by Leah Scheier

Dora is much more than her aristocratic country upbringing.  Curious and sharp, she aspires to one day solve mysteries like Sherlock Holmes.  So when she learns that he just might be her Father, Dora can't get to London fast enough.

She even hopes to engage him in the case of her cousin's stolen and ransomed love letters whens he gets there.  Unfortunately, she arrives just as news is spreading of the great detective's death.

Dora will have to rely on her own skills and an unlikely ally in order to get to uncover the truth and save her cousin's reputation.


by Brynn Chapman

Arabella Holmes does not fit in with society.    It's become such so obvious that her father, Sherlock Holmes, decides to send her away to work at the Mutter Museum.  At the museum she becomes a BoneSeeker, someone who studies abnormal science

Then Henry Watson comes to Mutter Museum.  He comes not only to work as a collector of abnormal scientific items but also to watch over Arabella.  His job would be a lot easier if Arabella would speak to him.

Then Henry and Arabella get a team assignment to investigate the rumor of bones from a Nephilim. Could the remains really be from a half human and half angel creature?  Their quest for the truth becomes dangerous when they learn that the team before them with the same mission died.  Will Henry and Arabella survive and find out the truth?


The Clockwork Scarab
by Colleen Gleason

Two society girls have gone missing in London and a grizzly murder soon follows.  The only clue is a mysterious object, an Egyptian scarab.

The events catch the interest of Mina Holmes, the niece of Sherlock Holmes, and Evaline Stoker, the sister of Bram Stoker.  Drawn together into a partnership, they must solve the mystery or face becoming victims themselves.

Note: This book is part of a series and there are two other books to check out if you like reading this one.  The series also has elements of mystery, fantasy and science fiction.

Coming Soon!

A Study in Charlotte
by Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie Watson is not looking forward to being sent to Sherringford, a prep school in Connecticut.  The only thing waiting for him there is a tense relationship with Charlotte Holmes.

Where Jamie is even tempered like his great-great grandfather John Watson, Charlotte is every bit as strange and unpredictable as her distant relation, Sherlock Holmes.

But when a student dies under mysterious circumstances, everyone seems to think that Jamie and Charlotte played a part in it.  To clear their names, they'll have to work together to find out who is trying to frame them for murder.

Gif made by Henna