A Picture Book to Ease your Kids into the World of Scary Stories

By Kathy Ceceri

One of the scariest stories I ever heard was one that I wasn’t even there for. I remember just drifting off to sleep one night with the sound of the TV show my parents were watching barely audible down the hall. Gradually I realized some terrible noise was coming from down the hall. It was a terrifying voice, quietly screeching and whining. I listened, horrified, unable to make out the words but sure that something had taken over our house. The noise continued, softly but steadily growing until a terrific SHOUT made me scream and jump up out of bed.

Turns out my parents had been watching Hal Holbrook’s one-man show Mark Twain Tonight, in which he recreates Twain’s highly effective retelling of the classic Uncle Remus story “The Golden Arm.” Like many traditional tales, it uses repetition, (“Who’s got my golden arm? Who’s got my golden arm?”), an accumulation of details (the voice follows him through the fields, it follows him into the house) and a surprise ending (“You got it!”) to achieve its goal of scaring the bejeepers out of the listener.

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