Sunday, November 30, 2008

Creepy Kiddie Reads

I'm a voracious reader; I taught myself to read when I was 3 years old and have never looked back. I drove my mother crazy because she'd catch me reading instead of getting ready for school, and my math teachers hated me because they'd find my copy of whatever I was reading at the time tucked into my math book.

Many of my childhood reads I still bust out and re-visit, so I thought I would share some of my favorites. Feel free to contribute your own in the comments, so that I can agree, mock, stare at you blankly, whatever I feel like doing at the moment.

The first, and most obvious is, of course, Bunnicula.

(The cover above is the version I've got.) It was written originally in 1979 by James and Deborah Howe. The writers were a contributing factor for my fascination for these books; Deborah Howe was never listed as author on any of the subsequent sequels. I found out later that she died at a very young age, and for some reason that made me love the book more, like it needed a little bit more attention.

This book is amazingly great, even now. To the best of my knowledge it's never been out of print, and it guaranteed to make a morbid kid like me happy. Bunnicula is about a family, and their adoption of an orphaned rabbit, found at a showing of Dracula. The story is told by Harold, the family dog, and the discovery by the family cat, Chester, that the bunny, named Bunnicula, is in fact.. a vampire! Shenanigans, of course, ensue.

Chester feels that Bunnicula is dangerous-- as he puts it "Today vegetables--tomorrow, the world!" and tries to kill the poor rabbit. Garlic, vegetable vamping, and bunny abuse abound! But I'll ruin it for you: since there are sequels and none of them are named "The Cat and his Rabbit Skin Rug", the rabbit lives.

The storyline is several books long now, and I think more come out occasionally. So far there is Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks At Midnight, Nighty-Nightmare, Return to Howliday Inn, Bunnicula Strikes Again, Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allen Crow, and there's also a Christmas book. These are great for kids (and those like me who are essentially over sized children), so it's a good gift idea. I still have the original copy that I got from the Troll book order when I was in third grade. Give it a read if you're like me and will read almost anything. Be like me. C'mon, all the cool (big) kids are doing it!

My next childhood favorite, one I literally read to pieces, is The Prisoner of Vampires, written by Nancy Garden and with cool illustrations by Michele Chessare.

This is a book that I find I appreciate more and more; it's intended for 9-12 year olds, but there is a lot of vampire lore in here aside from Dracula. This book references Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, as well as Lord Ruthven the Vampire (written by John William Polidori, conceived of the same night that Mary Shelly came up with Frankenstein), and Night Visitor to Croglin Low Grange, a story I didn't even get a chance to read until a few years ago. (If anyone knows who the last title is by, please share; I couldn't find anything online, and was having a hard time finding the author in the Time-Life Enchanted book it's featured in.)

The story is about a 12 year old boy named Alex. He lives in Massachusetts, and has a serious knack for getting himself into trouble. He's not a trouble maker, he just lacks common sense. Alex is a horror buff and decides to write on vampires for a school paper.

While deep in the basement of the local library (which abuts a mortuary) he ends up meeting the phenomenally creepy Radu, who promises to school him in true vampiric legend. Alex agrees, and I'm sure you could see what a huge mistake that was from space.

At the same time a strain of the flu is sweeping through their city, and soon a classmate of his teen aged sister dies. Then his sister becomes ill. It's around this time that he meets the young woman with the tight, frightening braces, scary because of what they are trying to conceal, sitting next to him on the bus.

This is still a really, really strong book, and I'm glad to have a copy. I think I'll reread this over Christmas, in fact.

I was going to go on, but this wall 'o text is threatening to crush the neighboring county. I should probably at least pretend I care, huh? Please, feel free to share more titles with me! I'm always looking for something else to read!


BonesawLtd said...

Just to add one series of books that scared the shit out of me when I was a kid (and I am, in turn, am terrifying my kids with) are the "Scary Stories" books. Here they are:
Scary Stories

These had some of the scariest drawings in them. Much too disturbing for young kids... maybe that's why I turned out the way I did :)

Metal Mikey said...

"Bunnicula" was, and still is, a great kids book to pass on to others. This oddly was of recent curiosity to revisit, due to a local theater putting on a children's musical version of "Bunnicula".

Cins said...

Metal Mikey>>A MUSICAL version of Bunnicula?! I must learn more about this!

Bonesaw>>I used to love those books. They scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. I recently saw a collection of all the Scary Stories books at Borders.

Stac said...

AWESOME point, Bonesaw! I actually have the hard back collection of all three of the books that Border's sells. I LOVED those books when I was little, and damn if some of the images don't still get caught in my head!

Mikey-- A MUSICAL? I must know more!