Check It Out: Spooky tales for the season

'Tis the season to get scared, the time of year to get your spook on. Let's celebrate Halloween with some chilling children's chapter books.There's nothing like a good fright, and reading one of these books will do the job. Do you dare? My suggested titles start with the less creepy books and get scarier as you go further down the list. Whether you want to be a little startled or totally frightened, these are great books to choose from. Enjoy!

If you want to be slightly scared and smile a lot, "Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery" (series: Bunnicula and Friends) by Deborah and James Howe is the right book for you. Though scoffed at by Harold the dog, Chester the cat tries to warn his human family that their foundling baby bunny must be a vampire.

Another title that combines humor and horror is "Dial-a-Ghost" by Eva Ibbotson. This would be a good bedtime book, just scary enough. A family of ghosts protects Oliver, a British orphan, from the diabolical plans of his evil guardians.

From children's horror genius R.L. Stine, "It's the First Day of School...Forever!" is perfect for those who like to be frightened. Everything goes wrong for 11-year-old Artie on his first day at Ardmore Middle School, from the moment his alarm goes off until the next morning, when everything is repeated exactly the same way.

If you're in a hurry and like to be shocked on the go, "Half-Minute Horrors" is the book for you: an anthology of very short scary stories by an assortment of authors and illustrators including Chris Raschka, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Jack Gantos and Lane Smith.

If you haven't read this Newbery Medal winner, you are long overdue. "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman is chilling at the beginning and the end, with a spooky and poignant middle. Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except he's been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

"Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz is a children's classic horror collection. I have been suggesting this title to hardcore horror fans for years. It presents stories of ghosts and witches, "jump" stories, scary songs and modern-day scary stories.

Finally, are you ready to be alarmed and terrified? "Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare" (series: The Saga of Darren Shan) by Darren Shan is book for you. Darren and Steve, two boys who are best friends, visit an illegal freak show, where an encounter with a vampire and a deadly spider forces them to make life-changing choices.

These books and many other spooky titles can be found at your local Newport Beach Public Library. Happy, haunted reading!

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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