Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Scary Books I Recommend to Jumpy People


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Scary Books I Recommend to Jumpy People


I am not a huge scary book fan because I am really jumpy, and they can definitely make me have bad dreams, but these are ten scary books I’ve enjoyed recently and can recommend because the awesomeness of the story outweighs the side effects of the jumpiness.

1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood

Now, I won’t lie. This one is pretty darn scary, but Anna is a fascinating character.

2. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey


Rick Yancey’s story mixes fantastical science with treacherous monsters to make a truly smart horror story.

3. Doll Bones by Holly Black


Yes, this doll is super creepy!

4. The Haunting of Derek Stone: City of the Dead by Tony Abbott


I read Derek’s story years ago, but it hasn’t left me yet.

5. and 6. In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

in-the-shadow-of-blackbirds cure for dreaming

Cat Winters has a way of writing magic realism with a touch of suspense and a dash of creepy. But it all mixes up into stories you won’t be able to put down.

*These are not sequels*

7. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

this dark endeavor

How did Dr. Frankenstein become the mad scientist we all know? Read to find out.

8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman


After reading, you will never hope to have a different family!

9. Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Sciezska


A collection of spooky stories ranging from humor to horror.

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a monster calls

Not a traditional horror story, but instead is a fantastical story filled with pain and fear and love.

Which scary books would you recommend?


Whose Story Is This, Anyway? by Mike Flaherty


whose story is this anyway

Whose Story Is This, Anyway?
Author: Mike Flaherty
Illustrator: Oriol Vidal
Published May 3rd, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: What’s this book about? That depends on who you ask. Our humble narrator thinks he’s got a great story for you, but he barely begins before he’s interrupted . . . by a scallywag pirate with a thrilling legend of mermaids and sea monsters! Soon an entire cast of colorful characters—including a hungry dinosaur, an alien bent on world domination, and a heroic knight—derails the boy’s saga. Everyone has a tale to tell—but if they can all get on the same page, this might turn out to be the best story ever!

About the Author: Mike Flaherty is an author and occasional hockey coach trying to keep up with his two kids and rather voracious cats. His secret lair is hidden somewhere in New Albany, OH, and he would be the world’s greatest super-villain if he could figure out how to get his Doomsday Device working. Until then, he’ll just keep writing stories.

About the Illustrator: Oriol Vidal is an illustrator and storyboard artist based in Barcelona, Spain. He graduated from UB Barcelona with a degree in Fine Arts. Including illustrating books and magazines, Oriol has worked in animation where he developed character designs and storyboards for clients in the US, France, UK, South Korea, and Spain. He happily works and lives with his little daughter, his wife, his cat, and his rowdy budgie.

Kellee’s Review: This book made me laugh out loud. The characters are zany, the premise is fun, and the outcome is perfect. I also loved the comic-esque layout of the book with dialogue bubbles and colorful illustrations. Trent and I were enthralled with the cast of characters–the author really made sure to include all kids’ favorites.

Ricki’s Review: This is a book that somehow manages to cram in almost all of my son’s favorite things—and in an interesting, humorous way! With each page, my son says, “Ooooh!” because he is so excited by the characters. I particularly like how the narrator has a cat. Too often, male narrators always hold dogs and female narrators always hold cats. My son, who loves cats, is catching on to this, and it frustrates me. The creativity in this book is admirable, and kids will love it.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be such a fun addition to the classroom. It can be used for writing activities and for discussions (or as a mentor text) for point of view, voice, dialogue, humor, or narration. First, it would be really fun to rewrite this story from different points of view. Since each character thinks it is their story, their view of how things went down would be very different than the boys. It is also so great how the author gives each character their own voice and personality which would lend it to be a good mentor text for distinguishing voice and using dialogue. Also, students would have so much fun writing their own story about how each character ended up on this particular beach with this boy.

Discussion Questions: Why does the boy change is mind at the end of the book?; Which character would you want a whole story about?; How do you think each character ended up at this beach?; How would you have reacted if you were the boy?

Flagged Passages: 

Whose Story Spread

Read This If You Loved: Faraway Friends by Russ Cox, By Mouse & Frog by Deborah Freedman, Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, Nibbles by Emma Yarlett, Journey by Aaron Becker

Recommended For:

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**Thank you to Sterling Publishing for providing copies for review!**

Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett



Nibbles: The Book Monster
Author and Illustrator: Emma Yarlett
Published: March 1, 2016 by Kane Miller Books

Goodreads Summary: Nibbles is a very naughty book monster—he’s chomping, munching and nibbling his way through fairytales that don’t belong to him! Can you help catch him and put him back in his own story? Children will love to lift the flaps, peek through the peep holes, and chase Nibbles through a fantastical world of books, in this quirky story, exquisitely illustrated by Emma Yarlett (My Daddy’s Going Away and Bear’s Big Bottom). Jam-packed full of your kids’ favorite fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Ricki’s Review: This is a very clever book! Nibbles loves to nibble on things, but most of all, he loves to nibble on books. He eats his way into stories and changes their outcomes! My son had so much fun reading this book. He loved the cutouts, lift the flaps, and books within books! I can imagine this is a huge hit with any kids who read it. It is very funny and creatively crafted—from the story to the illustrations to the way the book is presented. Two thumbs up to Emma Yarlett and Kane Miller books for thinking outside of the box with this one. It shows readers that books don’t have to be traditional!

Kellee’s Review: Trent is a big fan of monsters. He loves Monsters, Inc. and Don’t Push the Button!, so it is no surprise that he loves Nibbles. He fascinated with following Nibbles’ trail throughout all of the books and it became like a game of hide and seek for him. Not only is Trent a fan of Nibbles, I am as well. I loved the creativity of this book. The interactive and 3D aspects of it really bring the book to life, and I love that the author incorporates actual fairy tales in the books that Nibbles enjoys. Such a clever book that will keep readers come back over and over.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be used to start any fairy tale retelling unit! Readers of all ages will fall in love with Nibbles and want to participate in this adventure. I’d love to have my class create their own fairy tale retelling with Nibbles’ influence! I imagine there would be a lot of laughs and a lot of joy in this assignment. It teaches kids that reading can be very fun!

Discussion Questions: How do the author/publisher allow us to rethink our conceptions of traditional books? Which text features were your favorites, and why?; What other stories could Nibbles nibble his way through? How would he change the plot/outcome?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett; Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, Fairy Tale Comics by Chris Duffy, Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller Books for providing copies for review!**

Reviews and Giveaway!: The Color Monster by Anna Llenas, Dining with Monsters by Agnese Baruzzi, Mind Your Monsters by Catherine Bailey, and Monster Trouble! by Lane Fredrickson


Halloween Button 2015

Monster Color Monster

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings
Author and Illustrator: Anna Llenas
Published September 1st, 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: We teach toddlers to identify colors, numbers, shapes, and letters—but what about their feelings? By illustrating such common emotions as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and calm, this sensitive book gently encourages young children to open up with parents, teachers, and daycare providers. And kids will LOVE the bright illustrations and amazing 3-D pop-ups on every page!

Kellee’s Review: I was blown away by this book. The personification (monsterfication?) of the emotions were so well done. It is hard to explain without showing an example: 

Monster Color Monster spread

Llenas did a beautiful job making entire scenes and monsters that embodied the emotions. I also liked the uniqueness of the pop ups. They were multimedia with collages and rope.

Ricki’s Review: Opening a pop-up book is exciting. Opening this pop-up book is mind-blowing. This text is a work of art, and I kept spinning the book in different ways while wondering, “Wow. How did she do that?” My son couldn’t keep his hands off of this book. It is quite magical. Every child deserves to have this book. It would make a great gift.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Color Monster would be a great text to mix socio-emotional lessons with academic lessons. While reading the book, the class can discuss the different emotions, why the author illustrated them the way she did, and how emotions look in real life. Then students could choose emotions and illustrate them with their own setting and monster.

Recommended For:

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Dining With…Monsters!: A Disgusting Way to Count to 10!
Author and Illustrator: Agnese Baruzzi
Published September 1st, 2015 by White Star Kids

Goodreads Summary: What do hungry monsters like to eat? 1 spider swallowed whole, 2 leaping frogs, and 3 entire whales for the ogre with gigantic claws and scales! And for Mr. One-Eye, four mice are very nice. Kids will enjoy this fun feast of a counting book, with 10 colorful creatures and their meals of grasshoppers, scorpions, owls, and prickly porcupines. Foldout pages and simple, humorous rhyming text make this a delight to read aloud.

Kellee’s Review: This book is so much fun! Trent had such a fun time reading this book with me because the flaps are like a little surprise each time you lift them. We would open and close them like the monsters’ mouths and make nom nom noises. The illustrations of the scary-ish, (though more) funny monsters are elaborate and colorful, and the text is quite funny. 

Ricki’s Review: My son absolutely loves books with flaps, and he is a tough critic. If the flaps aren’t interesting enough, he tosses the book over his head. He was engaged in this book from the front to the back cover. At each flap, he started bouncing up and down in excitement. I am really happy to have this book because it will be very helpful for me as I teach my son to count. This is an excellent counting book, and I highly recommend it.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: What a fun text to use in early education classrooms to talk about colors, adjectives, rhyming, and counting! This text would be perfect for around Halloween because each page has a different monster that is described with adjectives then, with a flap flip, you find out a rhyming thing the monster eats.  This text could also then lead to a writing activity with describing a monster and finding a rhyming thing for it to eat. Additionally, there are some great vocabulary words (shrieks, icky, grisly).

Recommended For:

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Monster Mind your Monsters

Mind Your Monsters
Author: Catherine Bailey
Illustrator: Oriol Vidal
Published August 4th, 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: Vampires and werewolves and zombies—oh my! It’s a monster invasion, and the stinky-smelling creatures are destroying Wally’s peaceful little town. They scare the kids, knock over the lampposts, and make a mess of everything. And no one can stop them—until, fed up, Wally says . . . the magic word, “PLEASE.” Learning good manners has never been as monstrously fun!

Kellee’s Review: I love the realistic setting and character illustrations mixed with the huge, imaginative monsters in the book. It really brings the book to life. I also think the protagonists will be kids that readers can connect with because they just seem so real and easy-going. Also, this book will be a very fun book to read with kids because it really doesn’t go the way you think it is going to go when you start reading it (and the message is one that we want all kids to learn).   

Side note: I appreciate the author including diversity in the town featured in the story. There are all different types of people which really does reflect society realistically.

Ricki’s Review: Parents and teachers love books about manners, and this book is no exception. Both teachers and parents will nod enthusiastically when Wally says, “Please.” The illustrations are gorgeous, and readers will be drawn to the beauty of this text. I loved the many different kinds of monsters that were featured in the story (from more traditional to contemporary). This will provide teachers and students with many opportunities to make connections to other texts about monsters and scary things! 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like many teachers, we enjoy making social contracts with my students. Together, we created a list of rules and then signed the contract. It involves students in a more democratic process. We think that this book would be a great way to kick off a discussion on rules and manners. This could precede the creation of the social contracts.

Recommended For:

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Monster Trouble

Monster Trouble!
Author: Lane Fredrickson
Illustrator: Michael Robertson
Published September 1st, 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do? (Hint: Monsters HATE kisses!) The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.

Kellee’s Review: What a fun premise and a great way to promote love instead of fear! I can just picture this book being paired with Monsters, Inc. to discuss perceptions and fears of monsters. Maybe teachers could even talk about where the folklores that started the “monster/bogeyman in your closet” fear. My only worry about reading this book aloud at bed time is that this book will make young readers think monsters are going to invade their room, but I think it is something we can discuss and hopefully move on from after talking about how there isn’t anything to be afraid of. 

Ricki’s Review: The monsters in this book are illustrated in a silly way, which makes the concept of monsters much more approachable for kids. I was giggling as I read this one to my son, and that made him giggle, too. (Then, of course, I smothered him in kisses.) I loved the premise of this charming book and will absolutely be keeping it in my library for when my son develops a fear (monsters or not).

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers could hold a classroom discussion of fears, and students might critically examine their fears. Winifred is quite brave, so the students could discuss how they would show bravery when they encounter their fears.

Recommended For:

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**Thank you to Josh at Sterling Children’s Books for providing copies for review!**

Jellaby: The Lost Monster & Jellaby: A Monster in the City by Kean Soo


jellaby 1

Author & Illustrator: Kean Soo
Published February, 2008 by Hyperion Books for Children
(Rereleased in 2014 by Stone Arch Books)

jellaby 2

Author & Illustrator: Kean Soo
Published April, 2009 by Hyperion Books for Children
(Rereleased in 2014 by Stone Arch Books)

Jellaby Goodreads Summary: Quiet, brilliant Portia has just moved to a new neighborhood with her mom. Adjusting to life without a father is hard enough, but school is boring and her classmates are standoffish — and even Portia’s mom is strangely distant. But things start looking up when Portia mounts a late-night excursion into the woods behind her house and discovers a shy, sweet-natured purple monster. Life with Jellaby is a lot more exciting, but Portia’s purple friend has secrets of his own; secrets that may even lead to the mystery of Portia’s father’s disappearance!

Jellaby: Monster in the City Goodreads Summary: As Portia, Jason, and Jellaby continue their journey through the city of Toronto, Portia is torn between her friendship with Jellaby and her duty to help the sweet monster find his way back to his home. How can Portia say goodbye forever, when Jellaby has become her best friend?
But the clues leading them to Jellaby’s origins begin to turn sinister. When a hooded wizard introduces them to another monster like Jellaby, Portia and her purple friend are in for a gruesome shock — this monster befriends children, too — and then she eats them Now Portia must find a home for Jellaby, save Jason from the grasping tentacles of his new “best friend,” and come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of her father. It’s a lot to take on, but Portia is mad, bad, and ready to kick some monster butt.

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I am a big fan of the mostly single color comics (ala Babymouse, Lunch Lady, etc.) and Jellaby is one as well with primarily purple in its illustrations. Also, Kean Soo’s style of illustrations are perfect for the story he is telling. They are very comicy, but realistic and filled with emotions.

This little graphic novel has a lot of heart in it. Portia, Jason (her classmate) and Jellaby all feel abandoned and the story is not only about finding where Jellaby belongs, but also helping Portia and Jason feel like they belong as well.

You will want the second one as soon as you are done, so make sure you have it available! And luckily, this sequel is a continuation of the first Jellaby because that one definitely left you hanging and the story does not disappoint. You see the characters growing so much through this journey even when they encounter obstacles that they shouldn’t be able to overcome. I, personally, didn’t like this one as much as the first one because I wish it had more answers, but I truly loved the ending. I am sad that there is no more Jellaby, but luckily the author has extras on his website!!  I will be buying both for my classroom.

Discussion Questions: Portia doesn’t feel like she fits in at her new school- when was a time that you felt like you didn’t belong? How did you deal with the situation?

We Flagged: “I hope you like Tuna.  I remember mom making me a tuna sandwich for my first day of school.  It was terrible.  My first day of school, I mean, not the sandwich. We had just moved out here, and I didn’t know anyone at all.  Everyone was so strange and they all had their own friends anyway.  I really didn’t want to be there, so I snuck out at lunchtime and ate my sandwich out on the bleachers.  Now whenever I smell tuna, I always think about that first day.” (Jellaby p. 28-29)

Since the snatch doesn’t give you the full picture, below you will find the an interview with Kean Soo to give you an idea of the drawing style:

Read This If You Loved: Bone (series) by Jeff Smith, Zita and the Spacegirl (series) by Ben Hatke, Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Recommended For: 



**Thank you Netgalley and Stone Arch Books for providing the e-galleys**

Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson


boys of blur

Boys of Blur
Author: N. D. Wilson
Published: April 8, 2014 by Random House

Ricki’s Summary and Review: 12-year-old Charlie Reynolds’ family travels to town of Taper to attend the funeral of a beloved football coach. When Charlie’s stepfather is given the opportunity to coach the town’s football team, Charlie is not thrilled to learn that they will be living in this creepy town filled with ancient stories of runaway slaves, native tribes, and monsters that rise organically from the murky swamps. He tries to fit into this mysterious place, where boys chase rabbits through burning sugarcane and everything seems to revolve around football. As he comes to learn about this town of secrets, Charlie wonders if he has the courage to uncover the mysteries that surround him.

Set deep in the heart of the Florida Everglades, this text is sure to grip readers with its muck, swords, blood, and gore. Wilson integrates complex allusions to Beowulf, which will compel readers to uncover all of the parallels with the classic legend. The beautifully complex language of this fast-paced story inspires close readings while also teaching readers lessons about evilness, heroism, and family.

Kellee’s Review: What I found most intriguing about this book is that Wilson was able to allude to Beowulf in a middle grade book without completely scaring away the reader.  Although I have read in multiple reviews that this book will grab reluctant readers’ attention, I think that some of the allusions are hard to grasp without prior knowledge, so reluctant readers may need some assistance understanding thus making the book a great read aloud as it will grab attention and start deep discussion (see Tools for Navigation).  In addition to the allusions, there are opportunities to discuss hero’s quest, abuse, and loyalty.

You will also find some beautiful writing in this novel. Wilson has a way with words that made this novel lyrical yet easy to read. From the very first line: “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.” I was impressed with how literary the novel was.  

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: There are obvious parallels between this novel and  the legend of Beowulf, and pairing these two texts for discussion would prove very rewarding. Perhaps, teachers could use this Boys of Blur in conjunction with Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel of Beowulf. Then, the class could compare and contrast both the story lines and the differing formats authors might employ to convey a story and message.

Discussion Questions: How is Charlie characterized? Do you find him to be a strong character?; What role does Cotton play in the story?; What role does Charlie’s father play in the story? Can he be forgiven?; How does the author use language effectively?

We Flagged: “‘Yes,’ Mrs. Wisdom said, ‘you are. You’re made of tiny spinning bits as fast as light. But those bits aren’t all of you. They fly off. They get lost, and new ones come on and join the swirling Charlie-shaped dance that is your body. And dwelling in that dance, woven through every racing bit, heating it all with life and guiding it, there is a fire, a soul—you. It takes a dream to see something like that, something closer to the way things really are” (110).

Read This If You Loved:  Beowulf by Unknown, 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, Holes by Louis Sachar, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen FoxleeRaining Sardines by Enrique Flores-Galbis

Recommended For:

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Encyclopedia Horrifica by Joshua Gee



NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying TRUTH! About Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters and More!
Author: Joshua Gee
Published August 1st, 2007 by Scholastic

Goodreads Summary: Bursting with eerie photos and Special Investigations, a nonfiction compendium of all things ghoulish and ghastly–from Aliens to Zombies!

Vampires, ghosts, monsters, and more–Encyclopedia Horrifica invites you to join our quest for the terrifying truth about all things ghoulish and ghastly. But beware! Surprises lurk at the turn of every page. . . .

Discover a time line of ALIEN LIFE on earth–beginning 4 billion years ago! Meet a man recruited by the U.S. government to become a PSYCHIC SUPERSPY. Spend a dark and stormy night with professional GHOSTBUSTERS. Visit a mysterious library in search of DRACULA’s shocking origins. Witness new photos of the actual sea monster that inspired the mythical KRAKEN. And much more!

My Review: This book is full of crazy information that students are going to love. Information about ghosts, aliens, zombies, pixies, mummies, and crazy other things. The book is a perfect mix of text and photos/illustrations that will keep middle grade readers turning the pages.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book will find a happy home in the classroom and school libraries of middle schools around the world.

Discussion Questions: Do you believe in _____?; Pick one of the historical elements of the book and research it. What did you learn? What is your conclusion about the historical mystery?

We Flagged: Some of my favorite parts of the book are:

Ghost or Hoax? A section where the reader must decide if the photos being shared are a real ghost or just a hoax.

Q&A Sections There are sections throughout the book filled with questions and answers from paranormal people like a psychic spy and “Professor Paranormal” who knows all you want to know about the afterlife.

The Top Five Most Horrific Hoaxes Exactly what it sounds like and so interesting!

Read This If You Loved: Ghost stories, Nonfiction books about ghosts and monsters

Recommended For: