By Alvin Schwartz
Illustrated by Stephen Grammell
This is a collection of three books from my childhood, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984) and Scary Stories 3 More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991). Collecting stories from folklore and urban legend, Alvin Schwartz retells these tales with his own flare and, at times, even adding a hint of comic relief to the darkness swirling in the mind as you peruse the pages.
I’m sure there are many from my generation, Generation X, that remember these books. There is actually a movie being made from them, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark being released in August of this year. I’m not sure what stories they include or from which books they pulled them from BUT, I’m hoping for a good and FUN film that takes me back to the days without cares like going back and reading these books again did.
Seeing as how these books are really meant for kids, they are broken down in each book into sections based on story content, whether the stories are scary, involve jump scares, have humor, include death as a main component, unexplained mysterious happenings, urban legends, those kinds of things.
This is a fantastic collection, perfect for parents and kids to share together, an activity that seems to have been lost with the advent of tablets, smartphones and the endless slew of video games available. When I was a child, my father and I read together every night before bed. And we read all kinds of things. He had a fabulous book collection that included great works like Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, The Wizard of Oz and so much more. We took turns reading aloud but, it was always a book I chose. I don’t think I would enjoy reading near as much if it hadn’t been for those experiences reading with Dad. It got me to read something OUTSIDE of school, OUTSIDE of what THEY assigned and got me to search literature for something more than The Babysitter’s Club or R.L. Stine. (In all honesty, I NEVER read one book that was assigned in school, not one. I didn’t read The Outsiders, I watched the movie. I didn’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1984 or To Kill A Mockingbird, although I watched that movie too. Basically, if a teacher assigned it, it got put in my locker and was never seen again until it was time to turn the book back in. I certainly wasn’t going to pay for a book I had no intention of ever reading. However, if I had been given something like Catcher in the Rye to read, I probably would have read it because even at that young age I was well aware it was on the banned books list and that would have felt rebellious to me way back then. But alas, this was never the case.)
I can’t imagine any of these stories actually scaring any kids but, it’s hard to think back that far and put yourself back in that young of a mindset. There might be one or two in there but, seriously, some of these things I remember from Halloween parties at school.
The artwork is simple yet very effective. Some of the images are actually pretty grotesque for a kids book but, hey, that’s what I like about it. I liked it even as a kid.
My whole purpose for reading these again was to refresh my memory so when the movie comes out I had a better idea of how to gauge the final product. With the kind of technology and special effects that are available these days there is a lot of potential for this to turn into a well done film. However, with the “let’s do everything half-assed” mindset that seems to be permeating the entertainment industry, it has potential to totally suck as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed yeah?
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trailer (all trailer spots and content in one viewing):