cover image Some Things Are Scary

Some Things Are Scary

Florence Parry Heide. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1222-1

In this new edition of a 1969 manuscript, inventively illustrated by Feiffer (Meanwhile...), the hero demonstrates that some things are scary, and those same thingsDwhen they happen to someone elseDare darkly funny. When the panicky character zooms across a blindingly white spread on in-line skates (""Skating downhill when you haven't learned how to stop/ is scary""), the stressful situation is comical because it hits so close to home. Other suspenseful sequences depend on reversals of fortune: ""Waiting to jump out and say BOO! at someone/ is scary,"" but so is ""Waiting for someone to jump out and say BOO! at you..."" Using childlike phrasing, Heide (The Shrinking of Treehorn) makes a list of anxiety-provoking moments-in-progress. She suggests that everyday problems (""Finding out your best friend has a best friend that isn't you/ is scary"") can be as startling as daydreams (""Thinking what if you'd been born a hippopotamus/ is scary""). Feiffer's hyperactive sketches seek an edge between silly and horribleDnot unlike embarrassmentDand the design shows off the visual and verbal pacing. The frantic boy, always tiptoeing and suffering from indecision, floats in negative space and never comes to rest. With perceptive examples and over-the-top images of physical comedy, Heide and Feiffer acknowledge, and perhaps demystify, some shared fears. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)