Christmas comes but once a year in this house, but Halloween is celebrated day in and day out. Annabel was introduced to monsters early because I wanted her to make friends. Don't act like this surprises you. (I live on the edge.)
It's genetic, really. One of my earliest memories of my grandmother was of watching Frankenstein movies with her while my parents had stepped out for a night on the town. Together, curled up in blankets, we'd also listen to General Electric's Mystery Theater on the radio. So when Annabel decided the sharks in Nemo were scary - and that's why she liked them - I understood completely, and even felt a little pride that she was a mama's girl.
Since then I've been collecting a veritable library of frightful tales for bedtime, read, of course, with the covers pulled up and monster spray in hand.
I believe these books are not only a joy to read aloud, but they are really wonderful literature as well. So in the spirit of the season, and without further ado, here's our favorite spooky reading list for you.
Curse in Reverse
Written by Tom Coppinger
Illustrated by Dirk Zimmer
Simon & Schuster, 2003
Agnezza the witch is an unlikely heroine. She spits green phlegm at those hard-hearted souls who turn her away in the bitter cold. Of course Ittybit loves her and her wicked ways. But when Agnezza meets the lovely and charming Trettors, a childless couple of modest means who give her the best of what little they have, she repays them with a curse. And it's the most wonderful curse ever. Keep an eye out though for little details in this woodblock-esque illustration that will make your little demon howl in delight.
The Spider to the Fly
Written by Mary Howitt (1821)
Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Simon & Schuster
You won't go wrong with this Caldecott metal winner based on Howitt's early 19th century cautionary tale about falling into the trap of vanity when you believe a silver-tongued devil such as DiTerlizzi's silvery arachnid. No happy ending here folks, but believe me the beauty of the words are worth the brutality of the deeds ... even for an almost big girl.
Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale
Written by Barbara Jean Hicks
Illustrated by Alexis Deacon
Ripped from the funny pages, this book tells a heart-warming story of what would happen if a little monster stood his ground with the red-headed boy that torments him during daylight hours when he is supposed to be fast asleep. A wonderfully illustrated book, Jitterbug Jam is told in an unmistakable, buttery southern drawl that will make your mouth water as you read it to your little monsters. A great book for kids who are afraid of things that go bump in the night. They'll learn monsters have fears of their own.
Who Will You Meet in Scary Street?: Nine Pop-Up Nightmares
Written by Christine Tagg
Little, Brown; Pop-up Edition
I'm a sucker for pop-up books, and I this one is so gross it's good. I love books that have a rhyme and reason, and a few blood curdling twists and turns, too. Although the age recommendation on this one is 3 and up, I got it for Ittybit when she turned 2, and she loved all the eye-popping characters from the Mummy pair traveling everywhere to the Vet with all the ferocious pets. And a surprise ending that will make you scream for more. We read it over and over again.