STARRED REVIEW
June 27, 2017

Into the woods

illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Scary stories are best at night when shadows—and imaginations—grow with the dark. But what happens when a little spooky becomes a large and looming spooky? A clever tale, The Too-Scary Story by Bethanie Deeney Murguia is just eerie enough to make children hide a tad deeper under the covers.

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Scary stories are best at night when shadows—and imaginations—grow with the dark. But what happens when a little spooky becomes a large and looming spooky? A clever tale, The Too-Scary Story by Bethanie Deeney Murguia is just eerie enough to make children hide a tad deeper under the covers. Murguia’s book begins with Papa’s bedtime story and two intrepid kids. Well, one intrepid kid and her younger—and more hesitant—brother. Add in the obligatory woods and glowing eyes, and Papa’s story tiptoes the line between pleasant bedtime story and campfire tale. The dense, black forest gives way to fireflies, and menacing eyes become gentle, sleepy wild animals. But what about that enormous, frightening shadow?

An expert storyteller, Murguia weaves together two layers, pulling in her characters and the reader. She skillfully pulls back before the story becomes too frightening; nobody gets eaten and no monsters turn up, and we end where we began, cozy in bed. However, Murguia doesn’t veer into cutesy, keeping just enough edge to tame even the pickiest little readers. With scenes bouncing between foreboding trees and a comfortable home, Murguia’s art is energetic and full of personality. The two kids, bold sister and cautious brother, are relatable and expressive.

Just ominous enough to win over the kids, The Too-Scary Story will also win adults with its nightmare-free approach. It’s not terribly difficult to tell a scary story. But to both captivate and charm an audience with the perfect blend of energetic narration and crafty illustration? Well, that’s positively spooky.

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The Too-Scary Story

The Too-Scary Story

illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545732420

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