The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone

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The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Finding truly terrifying picture books is like finding like hen's teeth. After years searching the banned books lists I have found three - and as far as Halloween books go, this is the best - assuming of course you have a child who loves a wee fright.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: September 1984
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 978-0395300848

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The Tailypo is an old story from Appalachian folklore. It has not been tamed down at all like so many of the old stories but retains all its original spine-tingling terror for the very young. Although it is listed as ghost story, it really is not. Instead it the story of a strange beast which is best left well alone.

This book begins with an old man in little cabin, deep in the woods. He lives alone with his three hunting dogs and depends on hunting for his food. After a very poor day's hunting, with only one scrawny rabbit for his dinner, and feeling quite hungry one night a strange creature comes into his cabin. He snatches up his axe and has a go at the creature but is only able to chop off the tail, which he promptly throws in his pot and eats before climbing into bed contented, but his peaceful rest will be short lived. His slumber is disturbed by a scratching sound, which I feel is best read starting softly, and growing louder with each scratch. As if this were not bad enough, he soon hears a more chilling sound, a wailing voice crying out: Tailypo tailypo all I want is my tailypo.

The illustrations in this book are just perfect. The beautiful fall colours suit the season and something about the pictures really gives the reader a glimpse of a backwoods life many years ago. Just enough of the creature is shown bit by bit to build up tension, matching the story perfectly as the book grows more and more frightening. This reads much like a campfire story, or the type of tale my family use to tell around the kitchen table with a single candle burning. The story really lends itself to spooky sounds and wailing voices. It can be great fun for children who enjoy scary stories.

While we love this book, I would most strongly recommend against this book for easily frightened children, or for parents who do not like gruesome books. I would also caution that while there are no pictures of the actual outcome of hunting, it is mentioned. Some children may be upset at the idea of the rabbit being eaten. But the biggest concern is that the book does not have a happy ending. We finally see the creature at the very end, with large eyes and larger claws, just before it rips the old man to pieces. Thankfully we don't see the actual death, but this could certainly be the stuff of nightmares for some children.

My children were ages five and two when we bought this. They may have listened to this story with the quilts pulled up to their chins, but they have asked for again and again, year after year, and they still enjoy it as much now as they did when it was first bought. This is an absolute delight for children who like a small fright on a cold winter's night, but parental discretion is advised.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy:

Haunted by Susan Cooper, Joseph Delaney, Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Matt Haig, Robin Jarvis, Derek Landy, Sam Llewellyn, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve and Eleanor Updale

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

Buy The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone at Amazon.com.


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