From shivers to shrieks: Spooky stories for Halloween

A lot of people enjoy being scared. I'm not sure why that is, but the plethora of scary movies, scary books, scary television shows — and scary vampires and zombies everywhere — confirm that to be true.

Even my grandsons like to be scared. Sort of.

Bubby and Mac like sort of scary stuff that sort of scares them a little. Especially sort of scary Halloween stuff. And sort of scary Halloween books, in particular. In fact, when I visited my grandsons in July, we went to the library one day and Bubby made a B line for the Halloween picture books. In July!

(Of course, his mom contributed to the early enjoyment of all things spooky. Megan loves Halloween picture books, too, and checked out a huge stack of sort-of-spine-tingling tales for her and the boys to enjoy. In July.)

The joy my grandboys — and their mother, my daughter — get out of Halloween books is part of the reason I was delighted to receive (free for review) several Halloween books from Candlewick Press. I'll be packing a few of them — the sort of scary ones, at least scary for wee ones — in my Grandma Bag to share with Bubby and Mac when I visit next week.

Another reason I was delighted to get the spooky stories? So I could share them with you here today.

(Don't be afraid... they're mostly just sort of scary. I promise.)

Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Paul Meisel ($15.99, Ages 4-7) Mac is going to love, love, love this one, as he's been experiencing a few bites from one of his fellow toddlers at his babysitter's. I'm thrilled there's a trailer for it, so you can get a real taste (har, har) for this treat.

Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Adam Record ($15.99, ages 3-7 years) A rhythmic tale where the spooky stuff grows in number with each turn of the page.
From Candlewick: When a little ghost goes slip-sliding down the hallway, he suddenly hears... a groan! Turns out it’s only a friendly mummy, who shuffles along with the ghost, until they encounter... a monster! As the cautious explorers continue, they find a surprise at every turn — and add another adorably ghoulish friend to the count. But you’ll never guess who is the scariest creature in the house!

Filbert, the Good Little Fiend by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Jimmy Liao ($15.99, ages 3-7) I love this book so, because Filbert makes me think of Bubby and the angel character makes me think of Mac. I have a feeling they will agree (or fight over who's who; we'll see).
From Candlewick: Daddy and Mommy Fiend want their little Filbert to be gruesome and ghastly, but he won’t trample or terrify, roar or holler. He’d much rather help an old lady with her bags or go bird-watching. What are they to do with him? When Filbert starts school, he quickly learns that good behavior isn’t tolerated in class, and he is banished outside until he can act like a proper little fiend. Suddenly a little angel appears, flying fast and furious until... bump! Could this naughty Angel-School dropout be just the friend Filbert needs? Could they find a way together to make everyone accept them as they are?

The Music of Zombies by Vivian French, illustrated by Ross Collins ($15.99, ages 8-12) See? I told you: Zombies are everywhere. But this book seems like a must-have for preteens who enjoy sort of scary tales. I envision the entire series (this is the fifth Tale from the Five Kingdoms) being a great gift for the holidays.
From Candlewick:
Prince Albion expects a unique occasion when he starts planning Cockenzie Rood Day to celebrate his kingdom—and himself. What he doesn’t expect is boppings on the head and kidnapping, all because a zombie wants to play his fiddle in the talent contest. With a misbehaving path, a romantic bat, and a greedy butler to set them on their way, Gracie Gillypot and Prince Marcus are off on their fifth adventure. It’s up to a Trueheart, a resourceful prince, and Gubble the troll to stop the zombie before he does some giant damage to the Five Kingdoms.

Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith ($17.99, ages 14 years and up) This is one I plan to read in the nights leading up to Halloween. The back-cover quote from The Horn Book calling it "A hearty meal for the thinking vampire reader" has me intrigued... and ready to be sort of scared.
From Candlewick:
When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, Werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde — a perennial sidekick — to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?

Find out more about these books and others at

Best wishes for a splendidly spooky weekend!

Disclosure: The books above were sent to me free for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.

Today's question:

What is the last scary — or sort of scary — book you read?