Written and Illustrated by Ethan Long
It was the night before Halloween when Vladimir called one last Fright Club meeting to go over OPERATION KIDDIE SCARE.
The plot in a nutshell: A cute bunny wants to join a monster club.
The Fright Club includes a lot of traditional monsters and their leader, Vladimir the vampire, is going over some habits of ‘highly successful monsters’ when there’s a knock on the door. It’s a little bunny, asking to join the club. Vladimir laughs and turns the bunny away, stating that Fright Club is only for monsters. Vladimir tries running some exercises with the club, but the truth is that none of them are really very scary. The next knock at the door is an attorney, representing the bunny. The monsters try to ignore the bunny and the small crowd of cute animals gathered outside, but then they all come running in, moaning and cackling, and they scare everyone in Fright Club. Seeing their value, Vladimir admits them to the club, where they all learn from each other and they have a wonderful Halloween.
This story, from author/illustrator Ethan Long, has a great message about stereotyping lurking beneath the great Halloween-themed story. Kids who enjoy scary books will enjoy this story, but it’s likely that kids who aren’t big fans of spooky stuff will like it even more. I like that everything is kind of turned on its head here. The traditionally scary characters are just not very good at being frightening, which is what makes it really work well when the bunnies, butterflies and turtles show some proficiency in scaring. It underlines the book’s message in a very funny way.
The artwork was done in graphite pencil and then colored digitally. The color, though, is sparse, with most of the pages consisting of superbly shaded greys and blacks, which helps create the perfectly creepy mood to suit these characters. There are lots of opportunities for fun voices when reading this story aloud and it would make a great addition to your Halloween bookshelf.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that everyone has layers of personality and talent that you can’t see just from looking at them.