We Were Scared and Scarred for Life, Too!

BookendsCindy: Recently, Julia Smith wrote about being scarred for life by scary books she read as a child. That Likely Stories post made our hair stand up end as we remembered the books that haunt us to this very day. I loved being scared to death as a kid. I begged my mother to let me stay up to watch Creature Features (The Blob was my favorite) and The Twilight Zone television series. The scary book I remember most from my childhood, though, was Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful (1961).

“Good evening ladies and gentleman,
and welcome to my haunted houseful.
Visitors are always welcome!”

Haunted HousefulI read it again and again and, although I don’t remember much about the stories, just seeing the cover takes me back to when I was an 8-year-old kid lugging that big book around. My copy either fell apart or was sold at one of the many garage sales I held to fund my 45 RPM record addiction in the mid-1970s. If there are other readers nostalgic for this classic, it’s available online at many used-book outlets. Browsing the table of contents, I see it had quite a collection of notable authors. And seeing the story titles, the frightening details are coming back to me . . . .

“Let’s Haunt A House,” by Manly Wade Wellman

“The Red-Headed League,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“The Forgotten Island,” by Elizabeth Coatsworth

“The Water Ghost Of Harroby Hall,” by John Kendrick Bangs

“The Treasure In The Cave,” by Mark Twain

“The Mystery of Rabbit Run,” Jack Bechdolt

“The Wastwych Secret,” by Constance Savory

“Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons,” by Walter R. Brooks

“The Mystery in Four-and-a-Half Street,” by Donald and Louise Peattie

(Michael Cart, did you see that? A story by your beloved Walter R. Brooks of Freddy the Pig fame!)

PinocchioLynn: My younger sister had that Hitchcock book, too, but I was a teenager by then and thought myself far too worldly to read it. The book I remember literally having nightmares about was a classic, one of many that my Dad read with me when I was really young. Pinocchio: The Tale of a Puppet, by Carlo Collodi, had me waking up screaming for a long time. UGH! I still shiver at the thought of the horrible things that happened to a bad “child!”  Talk about pressure to be good!

Which books scared you, faithful readers?



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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