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1. Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz: ‘As my mother always taught me, perfect is the enemy of good.’

CristinHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

We sat down with writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (pictured, via) to discuss her new biography, Dr Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. This book explores the life of Thomas Dent Mütter who is arguably one of the most eccentric medical innovators in history; his namesake museum in Philadelphia has long been considered a hot spot for horror fans. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: I had put together a proposal for my book, Dr Mütter’s Marvels, and friend of mine — who had very successfully sold his debut novel to Random House — asked if he could show it to his agent. I thanked him but explained how it likely wasn’t a good idea. That my weird and fairly grotesque book was very different than his pop culture-infused sci-fi novel, and therefore his agent likely wouldn’t be interested in my proposal. My friend said, “Cristin, if your friend who just sold his novel to Random House asks if he can show your proposal to his agent, that answer is Yes! Thank You! and that’s it.”

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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2. Monster of the Week: Thursday!


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3. Two Thousand and Fifteen

 

Something I drew for this week's Spoonflower challenge to design a 2015 tea towel calendar. I'm planning to print up a few of these and will have them in the shop right after Thanksgiving.

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4. Millie’s Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app review

millie tricks and treats menu Millies Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app reviewIntrepid adventurer dog Millie is back in Halloween-themed offering Millie’s Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 (Millie Was Here series; Megapops, 2012).

Knock on each of ten front doors in Millie’s neighborhood to spin a game show–style wheel and receive either a video “trick” (e.g., “Millie Performs an Amazing Yo-Yo Trick,” “Millie Teleports All Over the Place”) or “treat” (spooky-fied bacon treats such as “Frankenbacon”). Judging from the not-too-scary decorations, it seems Millie’s neighborhood includes friendly families of werewolves, mad scientists, aliens, and vampires. A theremin-and-harpsichord waltz continues the Halloween-y mood. Every screen also offers a scratch-off picture of Millie modeling a different costume and a hidden sticker of a creepy-cute creature. Collect badges by finding all of the stickers and reading through the entire app. Each read-through offers slightly different content as the app cycles through a wide range of trick and treat videos and costumed Millie snapshots.

millie tricks and treats mad scientist door Millies Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app review

Trick-or-treat!

millie tricks and treats open door Millies Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app review

a trick: “Millie Knits You a Nice, Warm Sweater”

As in previous Millie Was Here apps, the humor lies in the juxtaposition of the off-screen narrator’s bombastic voice-over and the equally over-the-top title cards with Millie’s mundane doggy activities and interests. In the trick “Millie Turns into a Vicious Werewolf,” for instance, the small, snuggly dog looks up at a projected moon while a horror-movie-worthy wolf howl plays. Many of the videos show hands of human assistants offering treats and helping Millie perform her various tricks; the intentionally low-tech effects are part of the series’ considerable charm.

The navigation is straightforward — just forward and back buttons — and the app requires no reading. Music, narration, text highlighting, touch hints, and sticker hints may be turned on or off and volume may be adjusted (some of these settings are accessible from the navigation bar at the bottom of each screen, others in a parent-locked info section). A “bedtime mode” dims the screen slightly and disables the sticker hunt for a more soothing experience. Tips for keeping pets happy and safe on “Howl-o-ween” are appended.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); $0.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

share save 171 16 Millies Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app review

The post Millie’s Book of Tricks and Treats Vol. 2 app review appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Lola

This is the time of year where things get  little stretched and a bit schizophrenic as the different categories of making collide. I'll just check in for some show and tell.
 
 
This birdie is going into the Holiday Sale, I'm kind of attached to her...

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6. Watch for It: One Thing Stolen

Thank you, Chronicle Books and Beth Kephart, for preparing to release another of Beth's beautiful novels into the world!



The book itself is a nest of treasure with rich imagery, lyrical language, metaphor, and winged flights through the city of Florence. Nadia is trapped in theft, a loss of words, and a loss of reality while she repeatedly loses consciousness during her family's relocation in Italy. And there is a boy, a boy whose hair glows, who leads her through the streets of Santa Croce, and there is a best girlfriend, who will give all to find him again for Nadia, never losing hope for her.

Keep this one in mind, readergirlz. You'll have a wait for its release. But isn't Beth always worth it?

One Thing Stolen
by Beth Kephart
Chronicle Books, April 7, 2015

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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7. Every Story Is an Escape Story

Escape Title shotHere’s a story theory of mine worth checking out:

http://writetodone.com/facts-of-fiction/

…published today on the Write to Done website.

I mean it when I say, “Check it out.” The next film you see or novel or read, examine it for the escape story it most probably is.

And if you’re writing a story, see if your protagonist isn’t escaping from some kind of prison. Of the different kind of escapes possible, one of them is the key to writing fiction that gives readers their money’s worth.

I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read the post. You can comment here below, or on the Write to Done site.

I’m living in both locations for a few days.

Cheers.

PJ

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8. Creating Beautiful Chalkboard Posters for FREE!

oh yeah....I'm all into this (right now. I'm sure I'll find something else later in the week to play with)

I LOVE posting pics of cool quotes on Twitter so I went to Google images to find one and I saw this AUDACIOUS chalkboard poster.

When I went to the site, of course they were for sale on Etsy, and I thought, "No way!  I'll learn how to do it on my own!"

So I cheated a little and found some hints and tricks from other sites and blogs and then just played around with it for awhile and waa-lah!  You too, can makes these fabulous posters from scratch to share, tweet, blog, or post on your website.  All you need are a couple of great quotes (there are billions online) and start creating!;

First, you have to find a chalkboard background.  If using a Creative Commons website, make sure you add the attribution at the bottom of the background.  Here's one from Alice Keeler on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicegop/13318243535/in/photolist-4U2LU1-6WB15Q-4nnLFX-6WwZF2-6WB16f-6WwZEv-64jkeP-iezaRh-7Nwmv-6SRSMe-9jQxWq-mhTtNx-mhVm7A-8H4sE5-8H4sNq

There are other ways to create chalkboards as well.  If you want a simple black background, create one in powerpoint and save it as a .jpg  My favorite is going to www.picmonkey.com   Go to design, then click on textures and there's are two chalkboard backgrounds you can use.  Canva canva.com has a background as well.

Second, it's time to start looking for some fonts you can use.  I really like dafont.com  There are several that would work including Sketchblock, Blackboard, or Chalk Hand Lettering.  You can also just choose which ones tickle your fancy.  Another MUST font to download would be Dingbats. These will be used for decorating your chalkboard.

Third, find the platform you want to use. I use Powerpoint, but if you know of something else, you can do that as well.  You can absolutely design it completely in PicMonkey (which I did with this one) and use your own fonts.  You can also use Canva, but the fonts are set on it.  Whatever you choose, you're going to have fun!

Fourth, Think outside the box.  The one I created above is pretty simple, but think about the different colors you could use for text, more elaborate shapes you could use as well as the massive amount of other sites out there.

And that's it.  Setting the entire thing up will be the longest part, but after that, the sky's the limit! Have fun and chalk to your heart's content.  Best part of it all?  You don't have to slap the erasers on a tree outside and get chalkdust up your nose, in your clothes, drying out your skin...ahhhhh school days!



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9. ‘Maggie’ Narrator Tavia Gilbert Earns AudioFile Earphones Award

Superstar audiobook narrator Tavia Gilbert has won yet another prestigious AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award — her fifth! More great news: Her performance of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon has been recorded and is now in post-production, almost ready for release! … Continue reading

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10. Zag Studios Sets Up Shop In L.A. To Produce Animated Features

Zag Animation Studios is a new feature animation outfit that plans to release two family-oriented films per year—one fully-CGI and one live-action/CGI hybrid—beginning in 2017.

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11. How Do We Revive A Language When There Are No Native Speakers Left?

tongva

“It’s hard to find information on Tongva. There are no audio recordings of people speaking the language, just a few scratchy wax cylinder recordings of Tongva songs. There are additional word lists from scholars, explorers, and others dating from 1838 to 1903.”

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12. Announcing the Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions!

I’m thrilled to announce that  my good friend and colleague, author and 12X12 Picture Book Challenge Founder Julie Hedlund, and I have officially launched our new course, The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions!

Julie and I have poured everything we know about writing query letters and the process of submitting picture books into this course. We are proud to say it is a one-stop-shopping source for EVERYTHING a picture book author needs to know about submitting picture books successfully to agents and publishers.

In fact, we guarantee that every possible question about the picture book submissions process is answered in this course. How can we make that promise? Because if anyone purchases the course and finds, after going through all the material, that a question they have is NOT answered, we’ll both answer the question AND add it to the official FAQs.

And for this weekend only, we are offering an early-bird special of $50 off the retail price of the course, bringing it down from $197 to $147. (That’s actually $3 less than my professional Query Critique service… and in true “teach-a-man-to-fish” fashion, empowers picture book authors to polish their own queries with confidence forever more.) In addition, those who purchase the course before the early-bird deadline expires will receive a BONUS gift – our comprehensive list of publishers that accept un-agented picture book submissions.

This is NOT a mere ebook, but a complete soup-to-nuts resource for crafting flawless submissions to land an agent or a book contract. Those interested can take a short video tour of everything that’s in the course HERE.

(But remember – the early-bird offer expires at midnight on Monday, November 3.)

To your submissions success!

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13. professional news and thank yous

future - digital divide images

This title sounds fancy but mostly I needed to play catch-up and this seems like the best way to do that. Hi. In the past month I’ve done two public speaking type things that went well and some other stuff. I’ve been remiss in sharing them in a timely fashion. So now I’m sharing them in a list fashion.

  • I went to Mississippi for the MLA Conference which was a great time. I led a facilitated discussion pre=conference which is the first real time I’ve done something like that. You can read the slides here: The Digital Divide and You which includes input from the discussion part of the afternoon. I stuck around for the conference and was very glad I did. I put some photos up here. Thank you MLA, the Mississippi Library Commission and especially MLA President Amanda Clay Powers for showing me a good time.
  • VLA hosted a table at VT’s first annual ComicCon. This was a hugely fun event and terrific for library outreach. We had free stickers and reading lists, a display of banned graphic novels and people could get their photos taken in our “Vermont Comic Reader’s License” booth which netted a ton of delightful photographs (more on facebook). We also sponsored one of the special guests — Dave Newell, Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood) and he did storytime at the booth with puppets. I staffed the table one of the days. Such a good time. Huge shout-outs to other planners: Helen Linda, Sam Maskell and Hannah Tracy.
  • Another MLA! This time the Massachusetts Small Libraries Conference (also the “first annual”) and I was the keynote speaker talking about how to Future-proof libraries. A combination of talking about what the challenges and unique positions small and rural libraries are in as well as some ways to nudge people towards getting interested in the online world. Notes and slides here. Big thanks to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners & the Massachusetts Library System.
  • I started writing for The Open Standard, Mozilla’s new online-writing thing. My first article, After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’, has been up for a while now. I’d love to know what you think.
  • Also I’m not sure if I was explicit in my “I’m moving on” post about MetaFilter but I’m still at least somewhat looking for work. I love Open Library and my local teaching but I’ve got a few more hours in my schedule and would be happy to do some more speaking, some consulting or some writing. I have a one-pager website that summarizes my skillset. Feel free to pass it along to people.

I gave a really quick “How to do an elevator speech” talk after lunch at MLA (the one in MA, not the one in MS) and it was really fun. All librarians should practice their elevator speeches. Here’s my one slide from that talk. You can probably get the gist of it.

how do to an elevator speech in one slide

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14. ‘Boo!’ by Adam Fisher

A ghost possesses a pumpkin for a little Halloween fun.

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15. A Fondness for Ghosts…

Ghost stories are an unusual taste for a six year old, but by this age Joan Aiken was relishing them: I had already read Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James, and nearly died of delicious terror at “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You”. Searching for more fodder of a similar kind – […]

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16. A Halloween comic for fellow A WRINKLE IN TIME fans

From the Will Write For Chocolate archives...

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17. Chapter Titles

Your chapter titles can do more than just announce the next pages of your book. 

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2014/09/chapter-titles.html

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18. Book Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving

From Goodreads:
Perhaps the marker of a true mythos is when the stories themselves overshadow their creator. Originally published under a pseudonym as The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories gave America its own haunted mythology. This collection of larger-than-life tales contains Washington Irving’s best-known literary inventions—Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman, and Rip Van Winkle—that continue to capture our imaginations today. 
To be fair, I have to start this review by saying that the marketing and blurbs for this one are a bit on the misleading side.  It was pitched as a "riveting must-read for fall" and as the basis for the tv show Sleepy Hollow.  So that appealed to me, as well as the idea that these stories form the foundation for what would become American short story writing.  It turns out that even the words "other stories" are a bit off the mark.  This is actually largely a collection of essays centering around Irving's travels in England.  It does contain "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and one or two other actual stories, but it's almost exclusively travelogue and commentary on mores and literary themes in the early 1800s than it is short stories.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the read, as you'll see in my review below. I just think that if you choose it based on the creepy cover, the comparison to the tv show, and the idea of early American short stories, you may be disappointed by what makes up the majority of the book.

Writing
Obviously, Irving is considered a classic in American literature for a reason.  I was very impressed with how engaging his writing was and how accessible and intriguing the stories were, given that the time during which they were written.  As with any collection, there were stories and essays I enjoyed more than others, but I found them all to be remarkable time capsules describing how people lived, celebrated, and mourned in the 1800's.

Entertainment Value
Again, as I realized these were mostly essays, I worried I'd become bored.  I was surprised to find how perfectly apt many of his comments on society and particularly literature were for the modern day.  There's a great essay where he imagines a conversation with an ancient book in an old library that I felt like I might hear on any of the book-related podcasts I listen to.  And I was shocked by his essays on American Indians and their treatment by white settlers.  I was amazed that people were realizing so early that they were facing serious abuses, and also saddened to see how little was changed in the way they were treated, despite essays like Irving's.

Overall
While it wasn't at all what I was expecting, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this collection.  Irving reminded me of an early Bill Bryson, and I think those interested in society at that time will be fascinated by this collection.  That said, there are only a few actual short stories and they contain less creep than the cover and blurbs imply.  I'd recommend it more to those who are interested in travelogues or the time period than I would to those looking for a thrill.

Thanks to Penguin for providing me with a copy to review!

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19. A School Behaves Like An Orchestra, And An Orchestra Behaves Like A School

nyphil

“Both initiatives underscored the extent to which the difficulties facing classical music in the 21st century are forcing venerable institutions to adapt, if not reinvent themselves.”

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20. you know that super smart brother of mine?



He's helping to lead the IBM team now at work on this revolutionary technology in the Cognitive Environments Laboratory. When Jeff describes this to me, he asks me if I remember the film Minority Report, the technologies for which were conjured a decade ago by fifteen scientific researchers during a three-day, Spielberg-assembled think tank.

From the Yahoo Finance article where the video above appears:

Using the capabilities of IBM's pioneering Cognitive Environments Laboratory (CEL), Repsol and IBM researchers will work together to jointly develop and apply new prototype cognitive tools for real-world use cases in the oil and gas industry. Cognitive computing software agents and technologies will be designed to collaborate with human experts in more natural ways, learn through interaction, and enable individuals and teams to make better decisions by overcoming cognitive limitations posed by big data.

Scientists in the CEL will also be able to experiment with a combination of traditional and new interfaces based upon spoken dialog, gesture, robotics and advanced visualization and navigation techniques. Through these modalities, they will be able to learn and leverage sophisticated models of human characteristics, preferences and biases that may be present in the decision-making process.
Jeff, who was inducted into the IEEE two years ago (and whose children respectively dance and race the Rubik's Cube clock), possesses a mind that seems capable of the impossible. He has to dial his intellect down several notches so that he can communicate with ordinary people like me. He has spent many years at IBM doing various fascinating things—and many nights working until 3 AM or later (on concepts, on coding, on new ideas, on computer screens) to be ready for his team the next day.

If you watch this video, you'll see my brother beginning at minute 2:20 in a blue shirt at a long table, thinking. He has blue eyes, light hair, and a brain that is also seemingly unrelated to me.

Thanks to Donna, Jeff's wife, for sharing the article and video, and to my father who was on this news early today.

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21. R.L. Stine Writes a Scary Short Story On Twitter

1257831Goosebumps series author R.L. Stine wrote a scary story called “What’s In My Sandwich?” on Twitter.

Below, we’ve collected all the tweets that make up the short story in a Storify post embedded below—what do you think?

Tomorrow, Stine will unveil another short fiction piece entitled “Let’s Make a Trade” on Wattpad for the “The R.L. Stine Fill In The Fear Contest.” (via BuzzFeed)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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22. Poetry Friday -- The Halloween Tree


 "Always the same but different, eh? every age, every time. Day was always over. Night was always coming. And weren't you always afraid, Apeman there? or you, Mummy, that the sun will never rise again?"

"Yesss," more of them whispered.

And they looked up through the levels of the great house and saw every age, every story and all the men in history staring round about as the sun rose and set. Apemen trembled. Egyptians cried laments. Greeks and Romans paraded their dead. Summer fell dead. Winter put it in the grave. A billion voices wept...Then, with cries of delight, ten thousand times a million men welcomed back bright summer suns which rose to burn each window with fire!

"Do you see lads? Think! People vanished forever. They died, oh Lord, they died! but came back in dreams. Those dreams were called Ghosts, and frightened men in every age..."



"Night and day. Summer and winter, boys. Seedtime and harvest. Life and death. That's what Halloween is, all rolled up in one. Noon and midnight. Being born, boys. Rolling over, playing dead like dogs, lads. And getting up again, barking, racing through thousands of years of death each day and each night Halloween, boys, every night, every single night dark and fearful until at last you made it and hid in cities and towns and had some rest and could get your breath.

"And you began to live longer and have more time, and space out the deaths and put away fear, and at last have only special days in each year when you thought of night and dawn and spring and autumn and being born and being dead.


"And it all adds up. Four thousand years ago, one hundred years ago, this year, one place or another, but the celebrations all the same -- "

"The Feast of Samhain --"
"The Time of the Dead Ones -- "
"All Souls'. All Saints'."
"The Day of the Dead."
"El Dia De Muerte."
"All Hallows'."
"Halloween."

The boys sent their frail voices up, up through the levels of time, from al the countries, and all the ages, naming the holidays which were the same.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Trick or Treat!

This prose poem is from near the end of THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury. The whole book is one long love song to Halloween -- a fantastic historical romp through times and ages, led by Mr. Moundshroud himself, and exploring what this time of death has meant and still means today.

Our beggars are out tonight, disguised in all manner of classic and modern costumes, braving the chill and the early dark, crunching through the dead leaves on the sidewalk, shouting at strangers, and receiving candy in their bags and baskets and buckets as the tradition of the celebration of death lives on.

Linda has the Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance.


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23. New ‘Paddington’ Trailer Reveals More CG Grotesquerie

New "Paddington" trailer; more CGI Paddington grotesqueness.

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24. Creepy Story!!! My own.

So, in honor of almost-Halloween, I am sharing a creepy real-life story. Please, please, please feel free to share your own creepy real-life stories, because I adore them. And it would be really nice of you. Good karma. :)


So, I grew up in this house my dad built in Bedford, New Hampshire. It was on a hill. There'd been another house there about 100 years before but it had burned down.  And after that some people from Connecticut built a camp in the woods and would come there in the summer. That was in the early 1900s, I think. But those were the only known houses on the site before ours.

Anyway, we had this great big picture window in the living room. My dad and mom were arguing at the kitchen table, so I toddled off and went into the living room. It was night time. I know I was really little, probably around three, because my parents were still married. I really hated them fighting so I waddled over to the picture window and decided to blow on it, so I could make those hand footprints in the mist that comes from your breath.
So, I started to blow on the window to see if it would frost up, but then I noticed something outside on our front lawn. Our front lawn was a big grassy hill that sloped down to the road. I cupped my hands around my eyes so I could see better and peered out. There was a woman wearing a long, white dress walking across the lawn, from left to right.
That was weird. Nobody ever walked across our lawn at night. We were really rural, up a long driveway, up a hill.
I was little, but I knew it was funky.
But something else was wrong, too.

The lady was trudging right above the hole for the septic tank. It was a big hole about three feet deep that was covered with two granite slabs. I knew it was there because my mom was always warning me about falling in and breaking an ankle. My mom was really, really worried about my ankles. I grew up thinking pretty much anything could break my ankle --- holes, bikes, skis, horses, soccer, hamsters, the simple act of walking....

So, anyway, even though there was a hole there, the lady walked right over it.
"Mommy!"
She did not fall down. She did not break her ankle.
"Mommy!"

I yelled for her but she and my dad just kept arguing. The woman kept walking. She lifted her arm and waved. She seemed nice.

"Mommy!"
"What?"
"There's a lady in the lawn."
"What?"
"There's a lady..."

My mom and dad both rushed to the picture window.

"There's nothing," my dad said.
"I thought I saw something..." my mom interrupted. She turned me around to look at her. "What did the lady look like?"
"She was a lady... she was wearing white... you could see through her dress..."

My mom put me to bed, right away, but my parents stopped arguing, at least for that night. I looked for that lady all the time, especially when my parents got grumpy at each other. I thought maybe she'd save us. She didn't. She never came back if she was even there at all.

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25. Scary Stories for Beginning Readers

Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark have raised goosebumps in many a child. (The truly spooky illustrations by Stephen Gammell add to the shiver factor.)  But Schwartz also compiled two collections of scary stories for those just learning to read.

In a Dark, Dark Room introduces beginning readers to scary men with long teeth, a ribbon-wearing girl with a secret, and a driver passing a cemetery who stops to pick up a young boy on a rainy night, among others.














Ghosts! continues the shivery suspense with stories about spirits from another realm. In the collection a boy and a girl explore an abandoned house, a cat haunts a pet shop, and a teeny tiny woman takes a set of teeny tiny teeth from a grave.















Both books are a delight, and it's a matter of personal taste which books' illustrations you prefer. Dirk Zimmer illustrations for In A Dark, Dark Room are deliciously eerie, while Victoria Chess's chubby ghosts are more funny than frightening.

And if you'd like to hear "The Green Ribbon," one of the stories from In a Dark, Dark Room, then click here.

Happy Halloween!

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