Chucky the Child's Friend

I recently fielded a letter of complaint from someone bothered by our recommendation, in Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book, of several books in Abdo’s Hollywood Monsters series, among them Chucky and Freddy Krueger. (I haven’t seen any of their movies; have I missed anything?) The letter-writer was bothered that we would recommend books for younger children based on movies they weren’t allowed to see. Of course, movie ratings are extremely easy to get around (I just cued up Bride of Chucky on YouTube) and I’m not sure exposure to the source material is even relevant. Chucky and Freddy, like King Kong and Dracula before them, live in our culture untethered to form or origin; of course children will know of them, and, if they are anything like the kids with whom I worked at Chicago Public Library in the 80s, they will line up and/or fight each other for these books. (What was that Halloween-jacketed series with the copious black and white photos of the Mummy, etc.? Those were more popular than Christmas books.)

 

The letter-writer also wondered if we were subscribers to the “at least they’re reading something” school of librarianship, but nope, not me. If you want to read about horror movies, superheroes, or disgusting facts you don’t need my blessing but you certainly have it, and I have no interest in taking you up the reading ladder unless you want to come. Libraries are free and they are FREE.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
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Elizabeth Law

I'm glad you talked about this, because I still get friends asking me from time to time, "Why are there all these scary books for children? Are publishers TRYING to traumatize kids?" And I always say "There are lots of kids who like a little frisson of fright." And your on-scene reporting as a children's librarian gives me evidence. That and the fact that my friend Walter and I took the record of The Tell-Tale Heart out of the library when we were too young to read the story ourselves. We waited until the sun was low in the sky, and the room was nice and shadowy, to play it. I was so scared by the "thump THUMP, thump THUMP" beating heart sound in the background that I ran out of the room after about 5 seconds. Just the perfect amount of fright!

Posted : Nov 06, 2019 07:23


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