cover image Psssst! It's Me...the Bogeyman

Psssst! It's Me...the Bogeyman

Barbara Park. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81667-3

In this accurate appraisal of nighttime fear, a bona fide Bogeyman describes his terror tactics. The disembodied Bogeyman, represented as two icy-blue hands with spiky scarlet fingernails, traps a boy at bedtime. As the boy keeps his arms and legs away from the under-the-bed abyss, the monster-protagonist clears up misconceptions, insisting that he doesn't say ""boo"" (""Boo's a baby word, Bubbie""), and that he doesn't plan to ""get ya"" (""If I got ya, what would I do with ya?... My job is to scare ya. I don't want to raise ya""). The Bogey's only mistake is admitting his allergy to smelly socks, and the boy's alarmed expression turns to a sly smirk as he realizes how to banish his nemesis. YA novelist Park (Mick Harte Was Here) expertly toys with her victims. Her narrator is both coy and creepy. Likewise, Kroninger's (If I Crossed the Road) cut-paper-and-cloth collages balance humor and horror. As smiling ghosts and skeletons dance on the bedroom walls, looking like run-of-the-mill Halloween decorations, the faceless, flirtatious Bogeyman instills real fright. Varying type styles and colors emphasize key words, and amateur actors can have a blast performing the sinister monologue. The stinky-sock loophole comes at just the right moment, releasing readers into knowing laughter; still, only true skeptics should dare this before bedtime--unless adequately armed with dirty laundry. Ages 4-9. (Sept.)