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Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not TOO Scary!

Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not TOO Scary!

by Carl Reiner, James Bennett (Illustrator)

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Everyone loves scary stories and award-winning comedy writer/director Carl Reiner invites readers to huddle close as he tells a young boy's tale of the mysterious house next door.

Something with red beams of light shooting from its eyes was coming down the basement stairs. It came closer and closer... the hair on the back of my neck was sticking straight out. I


Everyone loves scary stories and award-winning comedy writer/director Carl Reiner invites readers to huddle close as he tells a young boy's tale of the mysterious house next door.

Something with red beams of light shooting from its eyes was coming down the basement stairs. It came closer and closer... the hair on the back of my neck was sticking straight out. I finally saw it- and it was alive!

As the story becomes spookier and spookier, Reiner pauses to ask "Shall we turn the page- or is it too scary?" That's for you to decide!

Parents and children can read along together as they listen to spooky sound effects and Carl Reiner's hilarious performance of Tell Me a Scary Story... on the accompanying CD.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Actor/director Carl Reiner makes his first foray into writing books for children, hosting a superbly suspenseful Halloween tale -- accompanied by a CD that features Reiner reading the book -- about a curious boy who has a spine-tingling run-in with his neighbor, Mr. Neewollah. Taking a cue from Jerry Seinfeld's bestseller Halloween (also illustrated by James Bennett), Reiner stars in his own holiday book, narrating the story to a little girl at bedtime and to the reader as well. The author holds us all rapt as he tells about his younger days, when he once made the frightening error of returning a dropped marble to creepy Mr. Neewollah. After the lad discovers that the marble looks like an eyeball, he accidentally falls into the old man's basement, getting an unwelcome surprise when Mr. Neewollah discovers him, lures him farther into the house, and gives him a monster-sized scare. Fortunately, the boy discovers Neewollah's true identity and even gets a gift out of the ordeal, and readers get an extra taste of Reiner's good-natured humor when he leaves us with reassurances that we surely knew what was really happening all along. With Bennett's amusing, often hair-raising illustrations that heighten the tension through the use of dramatic angles and shadowy colors, Reiner's ode to Halloween fun is a marvelously spooky read that will add shivers to your holiday and put a smile on your face. Matt Warner
Publishers Weekly
A boy sneaks into his neighbor's basement and comes face-to-face with a red-eyed ghoul. "I can't describe this awful monster except to say that it looked exactly like-like the picture on the next page!" gasps comedian Reiner, who asks, "Shall we turn the page-or is it too scary?" Bennett, who caricatures Reiner as he did Jerry Seinfeld in Halloween, doesn't pull punches in his creepy images, and these nearly live up to the narrator's promise to "give you nightmares forever." Gross-out enthusiasts will probably lap this up. Other youngsters, however, may indeed be haunted by the flesh-crawling close-ups of monsters (monster masks, as it turns out) and might prefer Annie Was Warned (reviewed above), which rewards a similarly teasing, scary buildup with a comic ending. Or kids can skip the pictures altogether by listening to the audio CD included here, which features Reiner in a masterly readaloud (but watch out for those irresistible references to turning the page). Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"Something with red beams of light shooting from its eyes was coming down the basement stairs..." A truly scary story indeed. A narrator who strongly resembles the author relates a story of an encounter with a very scary neighbor. After being introduced to Mr. Neewollah, our young man observes this strange neighbor drop a marble resembling an eye and begins to wonder what exactly his neighbor is up to. Peering in the basement window after midnight, he is caught by Mr. Neewollah and meets some very scary monsters. After being chased by the monster coming down the stairs, the boy discovers his neighbor is actually a special effects man making masks for horror movies. The story is scary enough to bring shivers to those kids who demand a scary story and humorous enough to relieve any built up anxiety at the end. The narrator asks several times if the story is getting too scary and offers to stop, which makes this a great read aloud for Halloween. The illustrations are excellent, appropriately scary when they need be and bright and welcoming for the non-scary scenes. Included is a CD of Reiner reading the story to great effect. A must have for any library serving children who crave scary stories. 2003, Little Brown and Company, Ages 5 to 10.
— Sharon Oliver
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-As this book opens, the author is preparing to tell his tale to a young listener, gently assuring her that he'll stop if it gets too scary. He then proceeds with his story, supposedly a recollection from his own childhood, during which a mysterious man named Mr. Neewollah moved into the house next door. As he watched him unload boxes, something fell out, and when he picked it up, the boy discovered that it was a marble that looked just like an eyeball. He decided to return it at midnight, saw a light in the basement, and fell through the window. This inevitably led to a meeting with his neighbor and the spooky costumes he created. This tale has the makings of a shivery treat, but the surprises are rather predictable and the chills fail to materialize. Reiner continually interrupts his narrative with questions: "This isn't too scary for you, is it?" and "Should I keep going?" and the tale unfolds at a glacial pace. Bennett's cartoon characters with their oversized heads and exaggerated facial features are appropriately grotesque but seem better suited for comedy or parody. The trouble is that readers simply aren't drawn into the young protagonist's story. Stick with old favorites like Bill Martin, Jr.'s The Ghost-Eye Tree (Holt, 1995) or one of Alvin Schwartz's fine collections, such as In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (HarperCollins, 1984).-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite its subtitle, this may indeed be too scary for some of its intended audience, though some children just love to be frightened. Exaggerated angles, dramatic dark colors, and distorted facial close-ups both induce and display fear, and the Reiner look-alike narrator seen in the frame story is at least as disturbing as the officially scary neighbor. Catching an eye-like marble that his new neighbor drops, a small boy ventures next door at midnight to return it, and the following events are terrifying despite eventual benign explanations (the neighbor’s a costume-maker, it turns out). The rational explanations come too late to assuage readers already frightened, and readers who aren’t so frightened may feel condescended to by the narrator’s repeated (dare-like) question about whether to continue reading. The illustrations are successful, so choose their audience carefully; the words are too forced to make a shivery tale to be relished. (CD included) (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Book and CD(Audio)
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.45(d)
AD560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Carl Reiner is a twelve-time Emmy-award winning writer, producer, director, and comedian who co-starred in the legendary television program "Your Show of Shows" and created and co-starred in "The Dick Van Dyke Show". He also made comedy history as the co-creator of "The 2,000 Year-Old Man" and has directed many hit feature films including "Oh, God!", "The Jerk", and "All of Me". Mr. Reiner lives with his wife in Beverly Hills, California. Inspired by his grandson, Tell Me a Scary Story... But Not Too Scary! was his first book for children.

James Bennett is the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld. A Hamilton King Award-winning artist from the Society of Illustrators, he has also illustrated for many major publications including Time, Sports Illustrated, and Mad. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his family.

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