I'm Simon Lester Henry Strauss,/ and I'm not afraid of this haunted house!" boasts this tale's tour guide as other boys and girls shiver and flail. "My friends all scream, `Come on! Let's run!'/ But I march inside. This looks like fun!" Friedman (A Style All Her Own) composes nonstop couplets about the house's creatures and features, including a spider-eating goblin and "rows of coffins"; her swaggering hero finally reveals an Achilles heel ("I'm not afraid of this... eeeek... a mouse!"). Murfin (Hide and Seek Turkey) takes a cue from Lane Smith in her paintings of wide-faced characters, who dodge cobwebs and giggling ghouls. Her light-hearted visual approach mitigates the potentially goose-pimply details. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The dark-colored illustrations—predominantly black—in this book depict frightful characters and places. The main character, Simon Lester Henry Strauss, is definitely afraid of this haunted house. Children will join in reading the two lines that are repeated in rhyme several times throughout this story. Simon brags all the way through the story that he is not afraid. Until the end, when he is frightened by the terrible sound from an unexpected creature, Simon stays steadfast and fearless. It is a fun-filled story that teachers, librarians, and parents would enjoy reading to an appreciative audience around Halloween. A discussion about children's fears and things that frighten older people can be held. Children may want to create their own two-line rhymes or make drawings of frightening things. 2005, Carolrhoda Books Inc, Ages 3 to 8.
—Charlotte M. Krall
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Simon Lester Henry Strauss insists again and again that he is "not afraid of this haunted house." As he and his friends go further inside it, the rhymes and his efforts to prove his bravery get more grotesque. Primary-grade children will love the verses of horrific comedy ("I'm not afraid when a wedding takes place,/and Frankenstein's bride can't find her face") but, unfortunately, they may pass this picture book over, assuming that it is for the preschool set, which it clearly is not. The pictures and perfect singsong rhythm of the rhyming text belie some of the edgier and gorier couplets ("At the reception, I try blood and brains./For dessert, I sample guts and veins"). Simon's I'm-not-afraid mantra gets louder and larger on the page until the end when readers find that though he is bold and headstrong, there is one small thing that does in fact scare him quite a bit. Funny images in muted tones of a screaming ghoul, a werewolf, bloodsucking beasts, and a pool of blood dominate the pages, while the young protagonist relishes all that he encounters.-Julie Roach, Watertown Free Public Library, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"I'm Simon Lester Henry Strauss, / and I'm not afraid of this haunted house," says Simon as he drags his friends through a horror-filled haunted house. While they quail at the likes of a Vampire feast, a moving floor, a spider-eating goblin and a Frankenstein wedding (where the bride can't find her face), Simon just laughs. He withstands every shock the house has to offer and boasts he's looking forward to next year . . . until he sees a mouse and runs away as his friends laugh at him. Listeners will delight in the gruesome details of both the illustrations and the rhymed text. Some adults might wince at the blood, brains, guts and veins served at the reception after Frankenstein's wedding or the swimming pool full of blood, but school-age audiences will eat this up. Murfin's pictures, which really steal the show, seem a mixture of Nickelodeon's AHHH! Real Monsters and Hey, Arnold! A great, gross addition to Halloween collections of all sizes. (Picture book. 5-10)