The Buckeye Children's Book Award did not have a winner for 1986, so we are moving on to the 1987 winner for grades 3-5 -- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collected by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Brett Helquist.
I hate scary stories (and scary things in general). I was never one to enjoy them, so while I knew of this collection of stories as a child -- and it's sequel, which will be reviewed next time -- I never read them.
Upon reading it as an adult, I'm realizing that I've actually heard a couple of these stories before, from teachers, camp counselors, and from other kids. Thankfully, the ones I recognize are more silly and funny than scary, which is also something I appreciate in this collection. Schwartz definitely put some scary stories in the book, but he also included some stories to make readers laugh.
My favorite thing about the collection is Schwartz's input. Before the first story, Schwartz has written a brief explanation of why people like scary stories, how long they've been around, and how to tell a scary story. Many kids like to scare, and to be scared, so I like how he helps teach readers to make the stories as scary as can be when telling them aloud. There is also an end notes section that gives deeper insight into each of the stories -- what influenced them, and other examples of the stories, among other things.
Brett Helquist's illustrations up the eeriness of the stories. They are black and white and add detail without giving away the climax of the story. I'm glad for the new cover and the change in drawings. The previous illustrations and cover were extremely scary, in my opinion. I think I avoided this book as a child more due to the illustrations than the stories. But that is just my personal preference. I know kids who like scary things enjoy the original just fine.
While I personally do not care for this kind of book, I enjoyed Schwartz's attempt to balance the scary with the funny and to teach kids how to tell scary stories. I know these books are constantly checked out in my libraries, and it's obvious why.
Jill, did you like scary stories as a kid? Did you ever tell scary stories, at camp or school? I know a couple of the funnier ones I will be using for my fall campfire this year!
Please join us in our reading challenge! We welcome anyone at any time! :)