Scared Silly: (Still) the Perfect Book for Halloween

One of the only things I still have from my childhood is a book by American children’s author James Howe; Scared Silly. I’ve read it so many times, just this past month alone, that I have, once again, lost count. Every time I read it I am immediately transported back to my childhood room in my parents house, where I am sitting on a blue bean bag chair, on a chilly October afternoon, just after supper when the house was always unusually the quietest. (Making it the ideal time to curl up with a favorite book).

The story is narrated by Harold the dog, of Bunnicula fame, and concerns a cat, a dachshund, a rabbit, and, of course, a scary Halloween night. The animals have known all day that a storm has been rolling in, arriving that night, when they'll be all alone in the house.
Once the Monroe family heads out for the evening's festivities, goblins wander the streets, and in the storm, the power goes out. Suddenly a witch arrives and decides to start a brew in the kitchen, before then wondering:

``Now where are those animals?''

They all try to escape, but they're stopped at every exit by hideous monsters. It's the invasion of the . . . Monroes, who’ve come home and the witch turns out to be none other than Grandma, who arrived early for her visit.

The illustrations really brings the story to life and were very well done by Leslie Morrill, and are an integral part of the story in this light-hearted, corny caper. The pictures show the atmosphere growing visibly scarier once Harold and the gang are alone. When the intruders turn out to be family, Morrill also echoes the animals, and the reader's relief, by showing all the characters in full length. The illustrations are beautiful: the pictures are artsy, the backgrounds gray and dark and the animals are colorful, and expressive. This effective blend of words and art could summon a shiver any time of year (under ten at least).
Scared Silly will forever remain a staple in my life every fall season. It’s a great book to read out loud and it evokes such pleasant memories. Memories which are pregnant with hot chocolate and home made treats, the smell of new and old books alike, coupled with the warmth of a coal fired stove. It’s also just a fun read about animals having adventures, bunnies who look like vampires, sarcastic cats saying crazy things, and doubtful dogs reluctantly following along. I love Halloween and I (still) love this book.


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