I Want to Be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor

I Want to Be in a Scary Story

Sean Taylor, Author

Jean Jullien, Illustrator

Candlewick, Fiction, Jul. 11, 20017

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Monster, Scary story, Courage, Halloween

Opening: Hello, Little Monster. What do you want to do today? 

Publisher Synopsis: Our author would like to write a funny story, but his main character — Monster — has a different idea. He wants to be the star of a chilling, petrifying, utterly terrifying SCARY story. But scary stories . . . well, they can be very scary — especially for their characters! Particularly when they involve dark forests and creepy witches and spooky houses . . . Oh yikes and crikes, this is definitely not the scary story Monster had in mind! Maybe he wants to be in a funny story after all!

Why I like this book:

Sean Taylor has written a playful and clever story about the antics of a Monster who wants to star in a scary story, as long as he is the one doing the scaring. Taylor assumes the role of the narrator and commentator for Monster. The story is character driven and focuses entirely upon Monster. The text flows nicely as the narrator tries to help the Monster set the scene and select the characters. There is only one problem, the Monster doesn’t like dark forests, haunted houses, ghosts and witches.

This is a great example where Jean Jullien’s colorful, bold and creepy illustrations deliver a funny response, much to the delight of readers. The words and illustrations depend upon each other. Readers will focus on the hilarious facial expressions.  I Want to Be in a Scary Story is adorable and has a great ending. It is a perfect Halloween book for children.

Resources: Read the book again and have them help make up other stories for Monster. Give them paper and markers and let them make their own scary story. This is also a time to talk about what scares your child and what makes them feel safe.

Sean Taylor is an author, storyteller, and teacher who has written more than forty books for young children, including Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh!, A Brave Bear and Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise.

*I won I Want to Be in a Scary Story on Mia Wenjen’s website, Pragmatic Mom. Visit her wonderful diverse children’s literature site.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit her website.

A Monster Calls – Grief

A Monster Calls9780763680817_p0_v1_s260x420A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness, Author

Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd

Jim Kay, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, 2011; Reprint Aug. 4, 2015

Motion Picture Release: October 2016

Suitable for Ages: 14 -17

Themes: Grief, Loss, Monsters, Mothers and sons, Breast cancer,  Single-parent families, Bullying, School

Book Jacket Synopsis: The Monster Showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

What I like about this story:

Patrick Ness has written a powerful and haunting story about a 13-year-old boy trying to deal with grief and loss. This beautifully crafted story is also filled with dark humor, vivid imagery, fear, rage, and courage.

The characters are realistic and fleshed out. Conor O’Malley is dealing with the nightly visits of a monster at precisely 12:07 a.m., but it’s not the monster that frightens him. It is the recurrent nightmare “that is filled with darkness, screaming and a hand slipping from his grasp.”  The dream begins when his mother starts chemotherapy and is so terrifying that he hasn’t told anyone. His father is remarried and living in America, his grandmother is cold and doesn’t understand him, and the kids bully him at school. Conor is totally alone. Ness brilliantly creates a monster that resembles a nearby ancient Yew tree to act as a catalyst to help Conor face his greatest fear. The monster shares three tales with him and tells Conor that he will tell the fourth story which will be his truth.

The plot is distinctly realistic and the tension is palpable. Readers will ride Conor’s roller coaster as his world spins out of control. In confronting his fear and releasing his rage, Conor destroys his grandmother’s living room — all important steps that will lead him to face the final truth and heal.

Jack Kay liberally uses his pen and ink drawings to illustrate the darkness and intensity of Conor’s fears and rage on each page, heightening the emotion and the scary truth that lies ahead. The total package is a beautiful collaboration between author and illustrator.

Note: In his introduction,  Patrick Ness says he never met Siobhan Dowd. She had a final story idea, but her premature death from cancer prevented her from writing this story herself. This would have been her fifth book.  According to Ness, “she had an idea, the characters, a premise, and a beginning.” With some hesitation, Ness undertook the project and decided from the start that “he would not write a novel that mimicked her voice.” Visit Patrick Ness at his website.

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

The Monstore9781442420175_p0_v6_s260x420The Monstore

Tara Lazar, Author

James Burks, Illustrator

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages:4-8

Themes: Monsters, Brothers and Sisters, Problem Solving

Opening: “At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gums balls, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside…THE MONSTORE.”

Synopsis: Zach is desperate to keep his sister Gracie from snooping around his bedroom. “Keep Out” signs don’t work, so Zach visits The Monstore to purchase a monster that frightens pesky sisters. He purchases Manfred, but Manfred shows Gracie his favorite hiding place. When Manfred doesn’t work, Zack returns to the store and demands a refund. But the manager says “no returns and no exchanges.” Zach keeps returning to the store to buy more monsters, but they don’t scare Gracie. The house becomes overrun with monsters. Zach is frustrated and not sure what to do. But Gracie does.

Why I like this book:  Hilarious! This a clever and unique sibling book for children who have a MONSTROUS appetite for monster books. Tara Lazar has written a quirky and humorous story that will inspire young minds to create their own monsters.  This is wonderful bed time book that begs to be read repeatedly. James Burk’s illustrations are lively, bold and colorful. They will tickle the imaginations of both children and parents. Visit Tara Lazar at her website.

Resources:  Have children draw the monster they’d like to buy at the Monstore.  You can  fill a box with crafty materials and let your kids make their own monsters and name them.  For monster craft ideas visit Make My Own Monster   and Activity Village.

 

I Need My Monster

I Need my monster9780979974625_p0_v1_s260x420I Need My Monster

Amanda Noll, Author

Howard McWilliam, Illustrator

Flash Light Press, Fiction, April 2009

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Monsters, Night frights, Imagination, Friendship, Humor

Opening“Tonight, when I looked under the bed for my monster, I found this note instead.  Gone fishing.  Back in a week – Gabe.  What was I going to do?  I needed a monster under by bed.  How was I supposed to get to sleep if my monster was gone?”  How will Ethan ever get to sleep without Gabe’s familiar noises, ragged breathing and his spooky green ooze?  Ethan decides that he’s just going to have to find a replacement monster.  He climbs out of bed and taps on the floor and hops back under the covers waiting in fear.  Monsters begin to appear, but Herbert doesn’t have claws…Ralph wears nail polish on his claws…Cynthia is a girl…and Mack has a long, sloppy tongue.  Ethan fires them all.  How is Ethan ever going to get to sleep without his monster Gabe?

Why I like this book:    Amanda Noll has written a humorous and original book for children about a boy missing the monster lurking beneath his bed at night.  I love the power of Ethan’s imagination!  What a great way to help kids turn their fears into laughter.  This book is an entertaining read for both children and adults — one that will elicit growls and slurps as each character is acted out.  It will certainly become a bedtime favorite begging to be read repeatedly.  Howard McWilliam’s illustrations are bold and eye-popping.  The illustrations are drawn by pencil on paper, and is painted with digital acrylic paint.  The book is very large and adds to the appeal for kids.  You may visit Amanda Noll on her website.  I Need My Monster has won countless awards.

As of Dec. 9, 2012, I Need My Monster has become available as an interactive  Children’s Book App.