More (Not) Scary Books for Younger Readers

Happy Halloween! With Halloween season upon us, our daughters are once again asking for scary books. For the last couple weeks, the Notebook of Doom series has been at the top of their request list.

img_2672.jpgThe Notebook of Doom books by Troy Cummings

Alexander Bopp moves to the town of Stermont and discovers that it is filled with monsters. Many of his encounters with these monsters take place at his new school, Stermont Elementary School, which is housed in an old hospital. Alexander discovers an old notebook with descriptions of various monsters. The notebook has the mysterious abbreviation SSMP on the cover. Spoiler alert: SSMP stands for Super Secret Monster Patrol, a now defunct organization that used to protect the town of Stermont from monsters. He and his friends, Rip and Nikki, take up the mantle of the SSMP and have various adventures figuring out how to rid their town of new monsters. The monsters are so over the top that they achieve that elusive combination of being hilarious and creepy at the same time. Examples include balloon goons and meat-eating vegetables. Like other Scholastic Branches books (see post from June 21, 2017), the books are fast-paced and filled with black and white, cartoon style illustrations.

Our daughters have been so inspired by the Notebook of Doom books that they have formed their own branch of the SSMP, complete with their own Monster Notebook. My favorite of their entries into the notebook is the String Snatchers, monsters that eat string.

Which scary books do your readers enjoy? Feel free to leave recommendations!



The Power of Books

Most of the books I’ve included in this blog so far have been books that have entertained us. They have caused us to laugh out loud, transported us to magical places, and introduced us to new characters who now feel like friends. I was recently reminded of the power of books. Books can enlighten us, help us analyze issues, and inspire us. Books can serve as springboards for deep discussions about issues such as discrimination. Books can be tools for teaching our children.


I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis

Our older daughter recently borrowed this book from the school library. It is a powerful book about one girl’s experience at a Canadian residential school. One shameful part of Canada’s history is that approximately 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were taken away from their families and sent to residential schools in order to break the ties between the children and their cultures. For instance, students were punished for speaking their home languages. Abuse and neglect were present in many residential schools. Thousands of children died at residential schools. The practice of removing indigenous children from their families lasted for over a century, with the last residential school closing in 1996. The Canadian government has since issued a formal apology.

Our older daughter was deeply moved by the book. After talking about the book with her, I noticed that its author was coming to our local library to speak about the book. I decided to bring our older daughter to the presentation.

The author described her motivation for writing the book and how she overcame various obstacles she encountered while writing it. I was impressed by the extensive research that went into the writing of the book in order to ensure its accuracy.

Grownups will want to preview the book in order to determine whether it is appropriate for their readers. There are portions that might be better suited for older or more mature readers. Personally, I felt that our younger daughter was a bit too young for the book. For her, I felt that other books about the residential schools, such as Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and When We Were Alone by David Alexander, were more appropriate.