A Horror Story for the Jewish New Year

“Gershon saw it rising from the sea: an immense black monster covered with scales like iron plates. On each scales was written one of Gershon’s misdeeds.”

Gershon never apologized. Instead he swept his tiny sins into the cellar and once a year dragged them to the sea until one day they became a hug sea monster.

Gershon's Monster is one of many horror fiction books for kids by Eric A. Kimmel and Jon J. Muth

TITLE:

GERSHON’S MONSTER: A STORY FOR THE JEWISH NEW YEAR

WRITER:

by Eric A. Kimmel

ILLUSTRATOR:

by Jon J. Muth

GENRE:

Horror Fiction Books, Illustrated Children’s Story, Fantasy,

DESCRIPTORS:

Horror Fiction Books, Sin, Forgiveness, Repenting, Children, Monsters, The Black Sea, Hasidic Traditions, Tzaddik, Rabbi, God, Baker, Pollution.

CHARACTERS

Gershon, A baker who never asks for forgiveness.

Fayga, Gershon’s wife.

The Tzaddik, A wonder rabbi who lives in Kuty.

Joseph, A young boy, twin to Sarah.

Sarah, A young girl, twin to Joseph.

SUMMARY:

Gershon, a baker, was an ordinary man who, like other men, made mistakes, told small lies and sometimes got angry for no good reason. But, unlike other men, Gershon never apologized for his thoughtless acts. He swept those tiny monsters into the cellar and once a year collected them all into a huge bag and dragged it to the sea.

“Now Gershon was not always the best person he could be.”

Gershon and his wife Fayga were childless. When she heard about a tzaddik — a rabbi who can work miracles — Fayga sent Gershon to ask the tzaddik to bless them with a child. Gershon implored the tzaddik to help. At first he was rebuked but Gershon didn’t give up until the wise man capitulated. When the tzaddik promised the miracle, however, he gave Gershon a stern warning that, if he weren’t careful, in five years Gershon’s misdeeds would catch up with his coming children.

Gershon returned home and soon he and Fayga had twins, a boy and a girl. By the time five years had passed, however, the baker had forgotten the warnings of the tzaddik. But, he made a mistake, and while the children were playing at the seashore, a huge, black, iron-plated sea monster made out of the collection of all of Gershon’s tiny monsters rose out of the sea.

APPEAL:

This is a retelling of an early Hasidic legend that Mr. Kimmel first heard as a child that illustrates the importance of asking forgiveness and trying to make amends. Even though Gershon makes mistakes like other people do, he does not apologize or correct his misdeeds until one day his misdeeds become so monstrous they threaten his precious children.

“Go now, unhappy man. I can do nothing for you.”

The illustrative paintings are beautiful and they are both regional and periodic to Poland only a few generations ago. The tiny monsters are small, looking like black smoke given a pudgy body and definitely not scary. The sea monster made out of all the tiny monsters is also black and smoky but definitely menacing. The monsters are Gershon’s sins, although that word isn’t used in the story.

Appropriate for children ages 4 to 8, and my five-year-old daughter enjoyed the story. It did not give her nightmares. The paintings helped her understand what was going on in the story, although she still had questions about the tzaddik.

NOTES:

On the last page is an author’s note which describes where the story came from and some of the themes in it. He explains the tashlikh (the casting of one’s sins into the sea) and t’shuvah (repentance). The author’s page is optional.

Age range is between 4 years old and 8.

Horror fiction books for kids presents Gershon's Monster by Eric A. Kimmel and Jon J. Muth

Watch out for the Wolves in the Walls

“If the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.”

When Lucy and her pig puppet hear strange noises in their house, no one believes that it might be wolves that are hiding in the walls. Until one night when the wolves come out of the walls . . .

Horror Fiction Books for Kids Presents The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

TITLE:

THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS

WRITER:

by Neil Gaiman

ILLUSTRATOR:

by Dave McKean

GENRE:

Horror Fiction Books, Illustrated Children’s Story, Fantasy,

DESCRIPTORS:

Horror Fiction Books, Wolves, Parties, Family, Home, Video Games, Tubas, Jam, Pig Puppet,

CHARACTERS

Lucy, A girl who is certain she hears wolves in the walls.
The Pig Puppet, Lucy’s best friend.
Lucy’s Mother, A working mother.
Lucy’s Father, A professional tuba player
Lucy’s Brother, A brat and a video game junkie.
The Wolves, They’re hiding in the walls, but for how long?

SUMMARY:

When Lucy and her pig puppet hear strange noises in their house, no one believes that it might be wolves that are hiding in the walls. They believe it could be rats, bats or mice but not wolves. Besides, as her family tells her, “You know what they say. When the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over!”

When the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over

Still, the noises persist until one night the wolves do come out of the walls and Lucy’s family is forced to flee. However, Lucy realizes that her pig puppet was left behind. After everyone is asleep, she runs back to the house, slips into the walls and creeps around until she can rescue her beloved puppet. The next day they try to go about life as usual but Lucy isn’t pleased with their plans to move away and offers a different plan of her own . . .

APPEAL:

The story is endearing and there are lyrical cadences that my children remembered and recited for years — and still do: “You know what they say. When the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over!” and “My walls, my jam, my video game high scores, my second best tuba.”

My walls, my jam, my video game high scores, my second best tuba

Mature children would like this — children who are not easily scared, or who like a good scare with a nice ending. It’s an edgy and quirky story. Lucy is vindicated (her parents and bratty brother were wrong about the noises in the walls) and she is the one that leads her family back into the house. The tone of the story can also be mitigated by the way it’s read. The sing-song quality of the lines lend themselves to vocal exaggeration and fun.

The pictures defy easy description. Some see them as ominous and chilling while others find then enchanting and delightful.

School Library Journal places the ages at about Grades 2-4. Barnes and Noble place it at 5 years to 10 years old. That seems about right but some children can enjoy it at far young ages. My daughter fell in love with the book at age 3 and my autistic son (who is now 3 years of age) loves chanting “It’s all over!” But it is definitely not for every child. Exercise a little caution when considering this book.

READALIKES:

If you like The Wolves in the Walls you might want to read more fiction for young people by Gaiman and McKean such as The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and The Dangerous Alphabet. This year Neil adds two additional children’s books to his list: Crazy Hair with illustrator Dave McKean and Blueberry Girl with illustrations by Charles Vess.

Horror Fiction Books for Kids Presents The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

Horror Fiction Books for Children

Hello. My name is Gregory Fisher but most people know me better as the Undead Rat. I have a website dedicated to giving you the best selection of horror fiction books anywhere.

Horror Fiction Books for Kids

For years now I’ve wanted to add children’s horror fiction to my list of offerings on …With Intent to Commit Horror. However the thing that kept tripping me up was that no matter how hard I tried to keep the website at a level for all audiences, the truth is I couldn’t.

A lot of horror fiction books explore very mature themes in horror, use very grown up language and just aren’t appropriate for young people. Even the titles can sometimes be objectionable. That’s just the nature of the horror genre.

The answer seems simple enough — although it took a few years for me to get to it — off-load the summaries for children’s horror fiction books into its own website.

And Introducing . . .

I read adult horror novels and I work in the adult reference department of my library. So helping me out is my favorite Children’s Librarian, Anne.

Anne has a Master of Library Science degree and has been a children’s librarian for years. She helped my find most of the horror fiction books for children that you’ll be seeing here. She will also determine the best age group for each particular book.

Of course this isn’t an exact science and some children may not be ready for a particular book while other children can handle it at an earlier age. Parents and guardians should incorporate their knowledge of their children with our recommendations.

If reading horror — even children’s horror — is not fun for the child or proves to be disturbing then maybe its time to try a new genre. That’s okay. The important part is to get them the books they love to listen to and when they get older, that they love to read.

Of course there is nothing to prevent an adult from reading and enjoying any one of these horror fiction books too.

Enjoy.