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

Most children enjoy books that are at least a little scary from time to time. When there is tension, both young and old cheer for the hero or heroine to win. Such is the case with the books under review today. From a fun ghost story, a tale about a witch and a good girl, and a book that lives up to its title, kids are sure to be entertained by these stories and more your librarian has to offer.

Books for loan

The following book is available in many public libraries.

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

Read Aloud: Ages 8 – 9 and up.

Read for yourself: ages 8 – 9 and older.

For more than 500 years, the Canterville Ghost has been successfully scaring every resident of Canterville Chase Mansion. His scare tactics left many insane, some permanently stunned, and some dead.

The Otis family are the new owners of the Canterville Chase and are too modernized to believe in ghosts, or at least fear them. The Canterville Ghost tries his best to add the Otis family to the list of victims, but he fails to achieve his goal. In fact, his methods backfire and it is he who is scared and stunned. The Canterville Ghost, rescued by the kindness of young Virginia Otis, may finally resolve his age-old dilemma.

Wilde was one of the most famous wits of the 19th century, and his delightful tale gives younger readers a chance to get to know this talented writer. Readers will be delighted by this edition of this classic story, beautifully interpreted with delicate, detailed illustrations by award-winning artist Moore.

The librarian’s choice

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

Library Executive Director: Melissa Adams

Head of Department: Betty O’Neill

This week’s picks: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Corman; A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Buy books

The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.

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

Reading aloud: age 4 – 8 years.

Read for yourself: age 7-8.

In the desert near the town of Santa Fe, Alice Nizzi Nazi lived in her adobe hut, which stood on the skinny legs of a road runner. There was a hedge of prickly pear around her hut, and wherever her hut went, there was a fence of cacti. All parents taught their children that they should never go near Alice Nizzi Nazi 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 footsteps when she noticed that they led to a strange adobe sitting on the feet of a highwayman. She immediately realized that Alice Nizi Nazi lives here. Although scared, Manuela will not leave this place without her sheep. Building up her courage, Manuela soon comes face-to-face with Alisa Nizzi Nazi, who promptly puts Manuela in a 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 a satisfying ending. Perfectly complemented by dePaola’s gorgeous illustrations, this guide is sure to appeal to children.

Tales That Will Keep You Up at Night by Dan Pablotsky is a hair-raising masterwork. (Courtesy of Penguin Workshop)

Tales to Keep You Up At Night by Dan Pablotsky, Penguin Workshop, 262 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Reading aloud: age 10 – 13 years.

Read for yourself: age 10-13 years.

Amelia found an old book in her grandmother’s attic after her grandmother disappeared. The book belonged to the library, and Amelia decided to return it to its rightful place. When the librarian said the book was not from her library, she told Amelia that she had read the same book a long time ago and wished she had the chance 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.” It seemed odd, but so did the title: Tales That Will Keep You Up at Night. Although Amelia didn’t like scary stories, she still decided to start reading them.

As she delved into each story, Amelia began to feel how interconnected they were. The further she read, the nagging fear that her life was tangled up in stories that would not end well came over her.

On sale August 16th, put this on your radar. “Tales to keep you up at night” is a masterful work that will leave you speechless.

Kendall Rautjan is a nationally syndicated writer and lecturer on children’s literature. She can be contacted at

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