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18 October 2010 @ 08:34 am
TOTW: Things That Go Bump in the Night  
1. Spiders.

2. Dolls.

3. Demonic possession.

4. Sinking ships.

What's the Topic of the Week?


With Halloween right around the corner, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that scare us. Any of the items from the list above would set me quivering in my shoes, but and I think it's interesting that I intentionally wrote about two of them in my novel.

Intentionally - like I knew the demonically possessed doll shop in BANISH would give me nightmares, but I wrote about it anyway. In fact, I've found that I actually enjoy reading books/watching movies that scare the crap out of me.


When I was a kid I was drawn to the gothic middle grade books of John Bellairs. I loved the SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK books. Washington Irving's THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. Edgar Allen Poe. Roald Dahl's BOOK OF GHOST STORIES. The chilling R. L. Stine. And recently, my favorite gothicky children's book, Richard Yancey's THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST.

Cursed objects. Evil warlocks. Phantom beasts. Thumping hearts. Mummies and zombies. Creaking floors and talking walls. All things that made me pull the covers up over my head, or sleep with the hall light on. Yet I couldn't get enough! I wanted to be scared. I wanted to be pushed to that limit, to feel that creeping sensation up my spine while I huddled over a book on a rainy fall night. And as the end of October approaches, my need for scary, gothic, bone-chiller tales of the dark and demented creeps up and I find myself in the Horror section of the book store, hoping something (almost literally) jumps of the shelf.

It's Halloween. It's time for spookiness. So tell me, what your favorite scared, creepy children's book?
Current Mood: scared
dawn_metcalfdawn_metcalf on October 18th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
I have to vote for Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Re-read it recently and freaked myself out!

Also, although I read it as a geezer, a tip of the hat to Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book which is MY kind of shudders along with greats from the Brother's Grimm.

There's something about original fairy tales, all bloody and shivery!
annastanannastan on October 18th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit of a wimp, so I couldn't get thru The Monstrumologist because it was too gory. The Forest of Hands and Teeth definitely gave me nightmares (I was warned not to read it after dark, but I didn't listen). But the book that freaked me out the most recently was Z for Zachariah. I reread it a couple years ago and the idea of the entire world just blackened and charred scared the crap out of me and gave me nightmares for days. Just thinking about it makes me shiver!
Leah_Cypessleah_cypess on October 18th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
Wait Till Helen Comes. I don't even remember the plot of the book anymore, but I remember how much it terrified me.

When I finished Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan, I threw it across the room and huddled in a corner of the couch until my parents came home. Actually, most of Lois Duncan's books had that effect on me.

And though it's not YA, I found Passage by Connie Willis to be subtly but incredibly terrifying. She skips past all the "things that could make you die" fears, and instead the book is about the fear of death itself.
ctrichmondctrichmond on October 18th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
When I was a kid, the entire Goosebumps series gave me the creeps. I was afraid of everything as a kid (I slept with a night-light for way too long!) so these books always gave me the willies.
(Deleted comment)
ext_290176 on October 18th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
The Dollhouse Murders. Totally that book. Also, the Meg of Hidden Springs mysteries. They were a bit darker than Nancy Drew, but not DARK. But they ENGROSSED me. Fifth grade was a GREAT year for reading.

OH -- also, Slam Book by Ann M. Martin did me in later on!
Leah_Cypessleah_cypess on October 19th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
OMG YES re: The Dollhouse Murders. *shudders at the memory*
gretchen_mcneil on October 19th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
The Dollhouse Murders: so...wrong...
timothypower on October 18th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
I loved The Monstrumologist too. But it was almost TOO gross. My favorite spine-tingler recently is Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley. The sea and the macabre seem to go together well for me!
gretchen_mcneil on October 19th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Tim, what am AWESOME title! Want.
wanderingdreamr: kobatowanderingdreamr on October 18th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Not going to lie but when I first saw that list I thought this was a post on the Doctor Who com, not Inkpot!

And I've never read much horror (although I do more now, my philosophy is that I now live with tons and tons of people so if something gets me at least one other person is going to hear it) but Garth Nix's Abhorsen Trilogy was plenty creepy to read after dark (and that's YA not MG so it doesn't quite fit with the theme here.
Lisa Greenlisagailgreen on October 18th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
Well, I can remember reading Steven King's The Shining and thinking, 'Pfft.. This isn't too bad.' UNTIL I got to the last 100 pages or so of the book. It was so frightening, I had nightmares. Ah, fun memories.
A Deserving Porcupinerockinlibrarian on October 18th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Ooo, I feel like I should have lots of good answers to this, but I'm not really sure! I don't know how much claim the people above me who claimed to be wimps and scaredy-cats as children REALLY have compared to me-- someday I should just list all the bizarre phobias I had as a child, that alone is pathetic enough-- but I really was afraid of EVERYTHING...
...AND YET...
...ghost stories, horror, murder mysteries, tales of suspense and horrible things happening, THOSE were my FAVORITE kind of books to read. I think something about reading such things in a book gave me a sense of control over the fear or something. (I should point out that I did and do NOT like horror MOVIES, but books were something else entirely).
My favorite scary author in middle school was Lois Duncan, and she's still the first person I think of when asked to name an author of scary books for young people. She was genuinely scary-- not funny-scary or adventuresome-scary or mysterious-scary, but SCARY scary. Yet even with her I don't remember feeling SCARED as much as EXCITED AND INTERESTED. I was more scared of books where the horror was less obvious-- books that had ambiguous endings, books that seemed realistic but just twisted enough... books where the horror is IN YOUR MIND rather than something you can outright fight... unsettling sort of books. I was freaked out by Margaret Mahy's Dangerous Spaces for something like weeks.

Most of my memories of books I truly considered scary are from middle school, which is understandable since that's when I was in my hard-core horror phase; but I read plenty of "scary" books in elementary school too-- I just don't remember finding them scary so much as exciting.
all is always now: meg powersbeth_shulman on October 19th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
Most of my memories of books I truly considered scary are from middle school, which is understandable since that's when I was in my hard-core horror phase

Same here. Lois Duncan, and Joan Lowry Nixon, and especially And then There were None. I was terrified.
A Deserving Porcupinerockinlibrarian on October 19th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
And Then There Were None is my favorite murder mystery EVER! And I also loved Joan Lowry Nixon! (Post I wrote a year ago mentioning all three of them, so as you don't suspect me of making this all up to get on your good side or something. Not that there's anything wrong with your good side.)
all is always now: meg powersbeth_shulman on October 19th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Something happened to my previous reply, so - take two:

That list is made of win. Is this what you usually blog about? Because you have great taste :)

And Then There Were None is one of the only books that scared me the first time about that STILL TERRIFIES ME every time I read it. I have no idea how she does it.
A Deserving Porcupinerockinlibrarian on October 20th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
That's okay, I got email-notified of it anyway!

I have yet to figure out what it is I actually blog about (and lately I'm lucky if I post anything once a fortnight), but because I'm usually doing something book or library related when I'm on the computer, that is usually what I blog about mostly!

And I love the Austins! But belatedly. I skipped over them when I was a kid because they looked too realistic-fictiony to me (and possibly --gasp-- ROMANTIC, dang you Moon-by-Night cover), and a friend of mine in college found out about this and chewed me out, so I quickly caught up, and now A Ring of Endless Light is up there on my List of Favorite Books of All Time too (I've been debating whether I should even try to actually make that list, because I think there's at least forty books on it and even then I'm not sure where to draw the line. A Wrinkle in Time is my number one, but once you get past that-- it gets fuzzy).
all is always now: meg powersbeth_shulman on October 20th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
*grin* You had me at fortnight. Mind if I friend? I'd like to follow your posts.

YES, do make that list. (Or, ya know, try to. I totally sympathize with how difficult it's likely to be.) And I LOVE A Ring of Endless Light. On some days it edges out A Wrinkle in Time as my favorite L'Engle - eep.

And I just realized that my top book Of All Time has been demoted because of Jellicoe Road. (OH I love that book so much.)
A Deserving Porcupinerockinlibrarian on October 20th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, there we must part ways. I cannot find the wonder in Jellicoe Road. Which I know must be something wrong with ME as I'm like the only one in the world who is indifferent to it, and I try to defend my indifference with whining about what an 11 year old really ought to remember from when she was seven, but it's really a lame reason for being indifferent, so what can you do. Anyway, I am actually right now in the middle of Finnikin of the Rock and enjoying it very much so I hope this will be enough to keep the Marchetta Mob from lynching me.

But yes, feel free to friend away! I don't know if I will ever friend back-- I might in December-- my computer time will be less rushed then....
readwriterockreadwriterock on October 18th, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
I need to preface this by saying I, too, am a total wimp and generally steer clear of anything remotely scary, but I'm going to put in a vote for Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Forget the Other Mother - it was the bat-dog creatures that did me in. I know that they are just cure little Scotty dogs with wings in the movie, but that is *not* how I pictured them in the book (and maybe that says more about me than it does about the book, but there it is).

Gretchen, did you know that they are starting to reissue the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books with new covers? I get kids asking for those in the library all the time, and it is going to be hard to get used to looking for something besides those iconic black and white covers.
gretchen_mcneil on October 19th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
I did know that! In fact, I may or may not have ordered the original box set on Amazon after writing this post yesterday... :D
katecoombs on October 19th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
I avoided horror as a kid, but when I was teaching third grade, some of my students LOVED Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (speaking of which); I read the stories at that point and found so many of them deeply creepy.

The only book that really freaked me out as a young reader was Killing Mr. Griffin--scarred me for life. It's that whole unfair/sociopath combo, I guess!

Oh, but if you want to read something simple yet spine-chilling, try Eve Merriam's Halloween ABC, which has a poem for each letter of the alphabet. It's illustrated by Lane Smith. Anyway, some of those poems out-shiver many a more sophisticated horror novel for older readers. (I guess that's why it's been banned at times.)

Edited at 2010-10-19 02:05 am (UTC)