GPPL column: Halloween Horrors (for older children)

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It’s spooky time! Which is an excellent time to find a few terrifying reads. There’s something about the heart-racing, spine-tingling, edge of your seat excitement that only happens when you are the perfect degree of scared. Children’s horror is wonderful because while it can contain genuinely frightening scenes most of the time it also demonstrates how to overcome the terror. This attribute can lead to much more satisfying stories than you find in other age categories.

Check out some of the scary books below, and let us know what you think by filling out one of the Book Review forms on our Children’s Halloween Display. Don’t forget to grab a free activity kit and Halloween pin while you’re at it!

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini is a fun and scary adventure novel. Kelly is a middle school student whose babysitting charge is kidnapped by monsters. With the help of a secret society of monster hunting babysitters, Kelly has to get the child back and save the day – ideally without embarrassing herself in front of her friends.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker is the story of Mia and Uly, two young foxes separated from their litters and venturing through the dark to find home. It touches on fox-like fears, such as rabies and traps, as well as more traditional witches, ghosts, and zombies. A sometimes violent and intense read designed for children who want a scare.

Afraid of Everything by Adam Tierney is a collection of short stories, each based on a different phobia – from Arachnophobia to Zoophobia. The stories are extremely short and many are more goofy than scary. Great for read alouds and kids with shorter attention spans.

Small Spaces by Catherine Arden is the first book in a four-part series that seems to focus on different seasons. Small Spaces is set in autumn, and if you aren’t creeped out by scarecrows yet, you will be by the end. It’s a great book that balances the horror and adventure well, rounding everything out with a smooth conclusion that puts fears to bed… at least until you pick up Dead Voices, the second book in the series.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh (founder of We Need Diverse Books) is another novel that does a great job balancing the horror and the adventure, but this one focuses on ghosts. Harper knows something is wrong with her new house, but it isn’t until her younger brother starts acting oddly that she is able to start putting the pieces together. This spooky mystery also has a sequel, The Island of Monsters, that came out in 2018.

The Doll’s Eye by Canadian author Marina Cohen is the obligatory creepy doll book. The story is based on a really neat premise, and it is the only novel on this list that does not do the traditional middle grade happy ending wrap up. The horror doesn’t reach the same levels as some of the other stories, and the ending is ultimately what makes this a scary story.

Mikyla Meyer is the children’s program co-ordinator for the Grande Prairie Public Library.

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