From the Publisher
“[A] Hitchcockian thriller-within-a-thriller.” Publishers Weekly
“The spooky-reading atmosphere and theme… are appealing, and the verse refrain has a pleasingly haunting flavor.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“The well-crafted plot is beautifully complemented by McElligott's dramatic watercolor illustrations, which make wonderful use of shadows and warped perspectives to create ominous scenes.” Booklist
“An enigmatic story-within-a-story that tweaks the imagination.” Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this Hitchcockian thriller-within-a-thriller, "Andrew shook as he opened the cover of a spooky book." The sepia pages show a girl opening the same tome. Odd coincidences continue. If lightning startles the girl, a flash surprises Andrew. Stranger still, they both scan the mirror image of this very volume. McElligott (The Truth About Cousin Ernie's Head) strategically uses color to signal scene changes, and his perspectives are agreeably vertiginous. Patschke (Don't Look at It! Don't Touch It!) unforgivably rhymes "spooky" with "droopy" and "a bat flying kooky," but otherwise his meta-book stimulates the mind. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
PW called this tale about a boy and girl who both seem to be reading a book about the other a "Hitchcockian thriller-within-a-thriller." Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
This imaginative story will appeal to children, especially those who like to read and enjoy a surprise. The illustrations, as well as the overall layout of the book itself, add to the suspense as a young boy named Andrew sits down to read a spooky book on a dark night in a great big house while the wind howls and lightening flashes. On that same stormy night, a girl named Zo Zo is frightened while reading a spooky book and runs from the shadows creeping across the wall of her room. Zo Zo runs through the storm until she comes to a big old house. "Zo Zo knocked, and the old door echoed. From inside the house there came a MONSTROUS CRASH and then a long, fearful howl . . ." For the ending, you will have to read the book, which is not merely spooky, but even a little kooky. There is more than a ghost of a chance you will enjoy it.
K-Gr 3-This book within a book is cleverly conceived, but not as deftly executed. The interpolated stories concern two children, Andrew and Zo Zo, who both commit an act against common sense that is the basis for all horror. Both choose to read a spooky book on a dark and stormy night. Spooky house, spooky shadows, spooky night, and thunder and lightening-it's all creepy enough to make Andrew don a bicycle helmet and arm himself with a broom while he reads on. A ghostly knock brings the tale to its climax as the frightened boy slowly opens his front door to find Zo Zo, the protagonist of his book, holding her own copy of The Spooky Book. McElligott goes whole hog in depicting the parallel stories. He elongates shadows, skews perspective, and adds nontextual touches with gusto. However, there is something just a little awkward about Patschke's tale, and McElligott's pop-eyed, lipless cartoon children are a little bit too flat to express true surprise in their confrontation. While young listeners will probably overlook these flaws and appreciate this playful effort, beginning readers and adults will bemoan the pastiche of typefaces that renders the text barely legible on some pages.-Sue Sherif, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, AK Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.