Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Alvin Schwartz, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)
HarperCollins, 2010 (first published 1981)
I chose unwisely. My edition is the 2010 “updated” version published by HarperCollins with new illustrations by Brett Helquist. To say that it’s been sanitized for safe consumption is an understatement. The reason the original 1981 edition became an instant classic and a frequently challenged book in schools and libraries was for Stephen Gammell’s ghoulish and nightmarish artwork.
I cry foul and bullshit. You don’t mess with perfection and genius. Without Gammell’s drawings, this collection loses its bloody, beating heart and is barely worth the paper it’s printed on. Who thought this was a good idea? I’m incensed, especially for all the kids who might pick up this book expecting to have the bejeebers scared out of them and wind up merely bored or slightly amused. Unforgivable!
I was going to rant here about our ill-conceived, often hypocritical efforts to “protect” our children and censor their reading materials, but I’ll save that for another day. Perhaps for when I write a real review for the real version of this book, the only one that counts, the only one that should be bought and gifted to any young person seeking his or her gateway drug into the realm of the macabre.