cover image Can't Scare Me!

Can't Scare Me!

Melissa Milich. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31052-9

Mr. Munroe and Mr. Hayman spend their evenings on Mr. Hayman's front porch, their rocking chairs creaking in time to the words in the wonderful stories Mr. Hayman tells. Eugenia, Mr. Hayman's daughter and the narrator here, loves to listen in, and after a ghost story or two she gallantly escorts home a trembling Mr. Munroe. The dark terrifies him; ghosts, ghouls and will 'o the wisps lurk at every turn as the evening's entertainment replays in his mind. One night Mr. Hayman spins a special yarn to help his friend overcome his fear. Lilting prose conjures up the thrill of dark nights and scary stories while level-headed Eugenia reassures the reader. Wonderful descriptions fill the text (``Dry twigs popped under his boots, loud as the Fourth of July'') as it swings and sashays with the assurance of an oral telling. Geter's hazy oil paintings capture bucolic Southern nights while exaggerating the ghosts of Mr. Munroe's imagination: spirits of all kinds leer and stretch, a shining skull hovers, evil eyes burn. His artwork swirls with a manic energy, a just-right balance of the exuberant and the eerie. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)