Fright Month Post #2: Let’s Get Scared!

In October, we’ll review books and series that ooze with delicious creepy crawlies, heebie geebies and chilly willies.

 ScaryTales Cover


By James Preller, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno


Published by: Feiwel & Friends (July 9, 2013)

Available in: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review there were five books in the Scary Tales series.



“… a zipper of fear….”

Home Sweet Horror (Scary Tales) is the ultimate spine-tingling ghost story. The well-deserved 2013 Cybils winner for early chapter books*, this is a dark, scary tale from calm beginning to incendiary, bone-chilling conclusion.

Writer Preller employs a mature voice that respects kids’ intelligence. There is no doubt that these kids and this family are real, from dialect to sibling rivalry to compassionate yet grief-stricken father. This tethers the story to the believable.

And yet all the fantastic, horror elements exist. A moan. Doors that slam by themselves. A bang, creak and screech. A muffled voice. A basement with a single, dim bulb hanging off a dangling wire. An absolutely petrifying, terrorizing ghost character.

Artist Bruno’s spooky illustrations enhance the feel and mood with dark drawings in the wood block style. Deep and frightening, the illustrations are perfectly matched with the text and genre. Combine this excellent pairing with pages that are mottled gray and cobweb-strewn, even when no formal illustrations are present, and you have one of the best chapter books around.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….


A note on this award. The Cybils (Children and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) have defined categories. For chapter books, “early chapter books” is the only category available. Home Sweet Horror (Scary Tales) is most definitely not an early chapter book. In fact, I’d say it skews to the upper range of chapter books with language, story structure and fright level. I can only assume the Cybils crew views chapter books and middle grade as similar books. And thus the “early” definition implies not middle grade. Yet again, the confusion between middle grade and chapter books continues….


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