From a little to a lot, scary books can be fun

Most kids like at least a mildly scary book from time to time. When there is tension, young and old alike root for the hero or heroine to be victorious. Such is the case with the books reviewed today. From a fun ghost story, a tale of a witch and a good girl, and a book that may very well live up to its title, kids are bound to entertained with these stories and others your librarian suggests.


Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Inga Moore, Candlewick Press, 128 pages

Read aloud: age 8 – 9 and older.

Read yourself: age 8 – 9 and older.

For more than 500 years, the Canterville ghost has successfully frightened every inhabitant of the mansion Canterville Chase. His scare tactics have rendered many witless, some permanently dazed and some dead.

The Otis family are the new owners of Canterville Chase and are too modernized to believe in ghosts, or at least to be scared by them. The Canterville ghost tries his hardest to add the Otis family to his list of victims, but he is unable to achieve his objective. In fact, his methods backfire, and it is he who winds up frightened and dazed. Saved by the kindness of young Virginia Otis, the Canterville ghost is finally able to resolve his centuries-old dilemma.

Wilde was one of the 19th century’s most celebrated wits, and his delightful tale provides younger readers with the opportunity to be introduced to this talented writer. Beautifully interpreted with the delicate, detailed illustrations by award-winning artist Moore, readers will delight in this edition of this classic story.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Reading Public Library, Northeast Branch, 1348 N.11th St., Reading

Executive library director: Melissa Adams

Branch supervisor: Betty O’Neil

Choices this week: “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman; “No More Dead Dogs” by Gordon Korman; “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket

Books to buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Alice Nizzy Nazzy” by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie dePaola, Simon & Schuster, 2022, 32 pages, $18.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4–8.

Read yourself: age 7-8.

In the desert near the pueblo of Santa Fe, Alice Nizzy Nazzy lived in her adobe hut that stood on skinny roadrunner feet. Around her hut was a fence of prickly pear, and wherever her hut went, the cactus fence went, too. All parents taught their children that they must never go near Alice Nizzy Nazzy because she was a very old witch, very mean, and would eat the children if they got too close to her.

One day young Manuela was looking for her lost sheep. She was following their tracks when she noticed they led to a strange adobe that perched on roadrunner feet. Immediately she knew this was where Alice Nizzy Nazzy lived. Despite being scared out of her wits, Manuela would not leave this place without her sheep. Plucking up her courage, Manuela is soon face-to-face with Alice Nizzy Nazzy who promptly puts Manuela in a cooking pot. Trying her best to bravely win her freedom, Manuela soon discovers that witches don’t like the taste of good children. And the sheep? You’ll have to read the book to get the answer to that!

A delightful take on a Baba Yaga story set in the American Southwest, “Alice Nizzy Nazzy” has just the right amount of tension, twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Perfectly complemented with wonderful illustrations by dePaola, this recommendation is certain to be a hit with kids.

“Tales to Keep You Up at Night” by Dan Poblocki, is a masterful, hair-raising work. (Courtesy of Penguin Workshop)

“Tales to Keep You Up at Night” by Dan Poblocki, Penguin Workshop, 262 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 10–13.

Read yourself: age 10 – 13.

Amelia discovered an old book in her grandmother’s attic after her grandmother had disappeared. The book belonged to the library, and Amelia decided she would return it to its rightful place. When the librarian said the book wasn’t from her library, she told Amelia she had read the same book a long time ago and she wished she had the opportunity to read it again for the first time.

Curious, Amelia found a quiet place to sit, opened the book, and found a handwritten message on the first page: “Do Not Read This Book.” That seemed odd, but so was the title: “Tales to Keep You Up at Night.” Although Amelia didn’t like scary stories, she decided to begin reading it anyway.

As Amelia became absorbed in each story, she began to sense how they were interconnected. The further she read, she had an unsettling dread that her life was entwined with the stories, the outcome of which wouldn’t be good.

On sale Aug. 16, put this one on your radar. “Tales to Keep You Up at Night” is a masterful, hair-raising work, start to finish.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at [email protected]

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