The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea

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The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Don't worry, it's not really scary at all, but it does have some fabulously bright, in-your-face illustrations!
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 40 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Hyperion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781484730461

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Ghost is a bit of a scaredy-cat! After spilling some orange juice on his sheet, he stays at home, naked, and we as readers head out into the woods to tell him what's there. Whilst he tries to persuade us that the woods are super scary and full of bad things, and that we'd be much better off staying in and cleaning the bathroom, we get to see what's really going on in the woods, and try to persuade ghost to come out with us…

The very best thing about this book is the naked ghost! It's a clever effect on the page, and it made me smile each time I saw him. In fact, the illustrations and design through the whole book are bright and fun! Ghost remains a clear, shiny figure since he's naked (it's all about the eyes…) whilst the extremely bright oranges and pinks and yellows make everything bright and engaging.

The story, for me, was less successful. I think it's really interesting to write as the ghost, speaking to the reader, but it does mean that anyone reading the book aloud has to be very good at reading books aloud and put plenty of expression and emphasis into all the various happenings. The ghost questions the reader on each page about what they've seen in the woods, and although there are spaces where a reader (or a class of children listening) could conceivably join in shouting things, you do have to take control of the story at times and just push through with the ghost's responses to the unspoken comments he thinks he's hearing. It's tricky, because although it's fun to see the ghost's obsessing over wanting to know what's in the woods and yet being terrified, as below:

Okay, tell me what you just saw.
Okay, tell me.
Whimsical woodland creatures? Invitations? To a party?
Nice Try.

It did just feel a little tricky to read aloud. Older children, who can sit and read the story for themselves, might fare better as they can then flip back and forth, checking over what they just saw and what ghost is surmising they saw.

I also wasn't sure about the ending, as I couldn't tell if the woodland creatures had dressed up to scare ghost on purpose, or if they just happened to be having a fancy dress party when he turned up. Still, it can bring you to an interesting discussion about fears and reality. I liked the ghost's worries over the big dark hole in the woods and what might come out as he says nothing good ever comes out of a dark hole! but then of course it's actually a sweet little bunny that appears!

Perhaps a good one to share around Halloween with little ones who feel nervous about all the witches and monsters roaming the streets that night, and all the drama queen grown-ups will enjoy the chance to play a rather overwrought and anxious naked ghost!

Further reading suggestion: for more not-at-all-terrifying scary stories, you might also like to try Ready Steady Ghost! by Elizabeth Baguley and Marion Lindsay or Little Monster and the Spooky Party by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart.

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Buy The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea at


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