Alvin Schwartz - In a Dark, Dark Room: And Other Scary Stories

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Scare The Socks Off The Tots With “In A Dark, Dark Room...And Other Scary Stories

Aug 24, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Seven great stories, awesome for Halloween storytime, fantastic illustrations.

Cons:Some stories are extremely short!

The Bottom Line: Halloween is only 69 days away .. get your reading list started now!





Over the years I have been blessed with a tremendous number of Halloween books. My friends know that I am a Halloween junkie and when they ran out of other things to give me, they started buying me children’s books. I was a little surprised when I received this and started reading it; some of the stories that were adapted for this were from tale, fables and legends that I’d heard about, read about or was told when I was younger. This is a very nice collection of short stories that will have even the most straight laced of kids laughing and giggling when they read it. Make no mistake about it, there are a few that are pretty creepy but most of them will have them rolling on the floor. Since this book relies heavily on the illustrations to get the point across you might want to spend a little extra time letting kids look at them. You can use this to ask them to pick out things or where they think the story is heading.

In A Dark, Dark Room And Other Scary Stories

Without a doubt, the one story that I absolutely loved was “The Green Ribbon”. As soon as I started reading it I knew what would happen .. it was a story that my grandmother told me when I was a kid and it always stuck with me. As this version goes, Jenny is a young girl, fairly average looking except for the green ribbon she always wears around her neck. Alfred is a boy in her class and he always asks her about this but she never tells him why she wears it. They fall in love, get married and live a very full life together but she still keeps secret about the ribbon. When she falls ill and the doctor tells her that she is going to die she finally breaks down and tells Alfred why she always wore the green ribbon. I won’t give away the ending but most adults will be able to pick up on where the story is heading [no pun intended]. My grandmother told us a similar version except the girl had a small tread hanging off of it and someone pulled it not knowing what would happen if the ribbon unraveled. That’s why all the women in my family never pull a loose string from clothing.

There are some extremely short stories in the book like “The Ghost of John” and “In A Dark, Dark Room” The first one is only one page and the second is only six pages - but the text is so large and spaced out that it could easily be condensed to one page if the publisher so desired to do so. This brings up the subject of the illustrations that make up a huge part of the book. Since the stories are a little on the short side, the drawings really helps to add to the mystique of what you are reading. Even though the stories are cute and entertaining, some of them end rather quickly and leave you wondering if maybe a page or two was left out. “The Teeth” is a great example of this - there is a huge build up as the story unfolds - a boy sees a man who shows him his large set of teeth, freaked out he starts running until he sees another man - only this time he has an even larger set of teeth. When this happens the third time he says ...”I took one look and ran all the way home” I know that this is a kids book but come on, they could have at least chased him or taken a bite out of his sweater.

Another story from my childhood was the short but not so sweet, “In A Dark, Dark Room”. This is something that really has to be read correctly to get the best effect from it; why my grandmother used to tell us this she added things to it to make it even scarier - like parts about nosy kids who would go into her pantry and steal snacks or those that dared to not eat all their vegetables When you are five or six and someone starts telling you this story - you are sure to pay attention! Most of the story is built upon repetition

In a dark, dark wood, there was a dark, dark house.
And in that dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room.
And in that dark, dark room there was a dark, dark chest ...


Now, that might seem all that frightening but if you read it right - nice and slowly and add just the right emphasis on certain words - kids will be shaking in their shoes y time you get to the last line. “The Night It Rained” adds a little bit of urban legend to the book, it is a youthful take on the original story, “The Ghostly Hitchhiker”. Everyone has heard the story of the person that died but has been seen on an isolated road or someone that finds out that someone they met a few days before had died long before they could have possibly met. This one makes it a little less scary but still had a creepy feel to it. A small boy is seen walking in the rain and a man offers him a ride home. Seeing that he is soaked he offers him his sweater and then asks him where he lives. he tells the boy he will come by the next day to collect the sweater. When he knocks on the door he gets the shock of a lifetime .. but that is nothing compared to where exactly he finds the sweater that he lent the boy!

My Take

There are a total of seven stories in the book but I only went into detail about a few of them. The others are very interesting but if I wrote about each of them then there’d be no reason for you to read this. This is part of the ‘An I Can Read Book’ series for younger kids; the text is large but not so much so that they will feel like they are reading a baby type book. I’d suggest this for teachers who are looking for something for the first or second grade kids for Halloween storytime or any parent that is planning a Halloween bash that will have younger kids attending. Since some of the stories are on the shorter side you might want to go through it and even things out - have one of the longer ones matched up with a shorter one to stretch things out a bit.

The Bottom Line

I have to hand it to the author, he took some old stories and turned them into some fabulous tales for tots. The illustrations are what really make this something that kids will want to look at over and over again and they add so much to what they are reading. None of the stories are all that horrible or frightening but you can spice them up by turning the lights down low and reading them in a slightly sinister tone. I am sure that this one is going to see a lot of action when Halloween rolls around this year - Annabelle gave it two thumbs up and really liked the story of Jenny and Alfred [The Green Ribbon] as well as “The Pirate”. Now all I have to do is get the other books from Alvin Schwartz to complete this part of the series!


As always, thanks for the read!

~^V^~ Freak ~^V^~

© 2005 Freak369


Other awesome Halloween books for kids ...

The Halloween BookCrafts For HalloweenAunt Eaters Mystery HalloweenThe Halloween HouseLet’s Celebrate HalloweenHalloween Night on Shivermore StreetThe Hallo-WienerMinnie And Moo Meet FrankenswineSpooky AmericaDays of The DeadFluffy’s Happy HalloweenThe Pumpkin FairIn The Haunted HousePoultrygeistBig Pumpkin
The Thirteen Days of HalloweenMy Very Own HalloweenOne WitchThe Best Halloween Hunt EverThe Vampire Rabbit




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