Time for a Scary Story! (And a Cozy Giveaway!)

Hey, it’s almost Halloween!

That calls for a scary story.

But not TOO scary.

Luckily, I’ve got the perfect book: I Want to be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien (Candlewick, 2017).

Why is it so perfect? Because Little Monster wants to be in exactly  that kind of story—scary, but not TOO scary. And a little bit funny too.

Sean Taylor is one of my favorite picture book authors. His books are imaginative and full of quirky humor and lively language. In this one, Little Monster “co-creates” the story through the dialogue-only meta narrative—meaning he and the narrator discuss how the story should go.

Despite this advance discussion, the story is full of suspense. For example, what happens when Little Monster enters a dark and frightening forest . . . or a spooky house . . . or encounters a creepy witch?

Well, for one thing, we get some funny exclamatory outbursts:




After all this scariness, Little Monster decides the story needs to go in a different direction. Notice how the page turns slow things down and build the drama (Little Monster’s lines are in purple):

I want to be in a scary story where I do the scaring!

Oh, you want to be the scary one?


OK then. You can creep up the stairs,

Sneak over to the door and then . . .


All right!

(page turn)

This is more fun now!

(page turn)

I’ve found the door!

(page turn)

Now I’M going to be scary!

Just as he’s about to turn the handle, Little Monster realizes he doesn’t know what’s on the other side of the door. And neither do we. But we WANT to know. And that’s what keeps us turning the pages. (By the way, this is a 48-page picture book, so there’s some extra room for those dramatic page turns!)

Then Little Monster disappears. We chase after him—down the eerie hallway, outside the spooky house, into the dark forest.

Where IS he?

Sorry, can’t give away the ending. Let’s just say that it ends with a scary surprise. But not TOO scary.

And a little bit funny too.

*****BOOK NEWS & GIVEAWAY !!!*****

Today is the official pub day for A Cozy Good Night, the large-size board book version of William’s Winter Nap. Except for the title, and the board book format, it’s exactly the same—same text, and same Chuck Groenink artwork. So why the title change? Apparently some large retailers prefer titles without names, at least for board books. (Which is funny, because in the original version of the text, the boy didn’t have a name—Disney asked me to give him one, and to include it in the title…)

SO, to celebrate, I’m giving away TWO copies. Just leave a comment below by November 5th and I’ll pick two random winners.


And, finally, the winner of Vincent Comes Home from last month’s interview with Jessixa and Aaron Bagley is Linda Swingle. Congratulations!

Happy Halloween y’all!



Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. Sounds like the perfect winter time read!

  2. I love a good Halloween story and this one sounds like great fun! Thanks for recommending. Also, very interesting to hear why the title for William’s Winter Nap was changed. Congrats on the release of A Cozy Good Night!!

  3. I always enjoy your book posts. You not only tell a little about the stories, you examine WHY they work so well. I appreciate your analysis of how Sean Taylor creates tension in Time for a Scary Story. Thanks also, for sharing why the title for William’s Winter Nap was re-written over the past several publications.

  4. Rebecca Gardyn Levington

    This looks so fun! I love meta books like this. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Now I have to find the book to find out the ending!

  6. Becky Scharnhorst

    A scary (but not TOO scary) book sounds like the perfect book for me! Thanks for the fun review! I’m looking forward to reading this one. I already have a copy of William’s Winter Nap and it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s warm and charming and lovely in every way. I’m excited for whoever wins the giveaway.

  7. This looks like a fun book! I’ll have to tell my library to buy it if they don’t already carry it. .. .

  8. This sounds like such a fun book! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks.

  9. How fun…congrats! And Happy Halloween! 🙂

  10. How funny that you had to change the title to not include a name. The publishing industry can be confusing sometimes. Thanks for the post.

  11. Thank you for always doing a good job and I always find something to take away. Much appreciated.

  12. EEEeeek! Oh, you scared me! 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us.

  13. Ah! A publishing house that asks for a change and later wants it changed back! I believe I have heard this song before. But William’s (or not William) story is perfect for a board book!

  14. Spooky, but in a sweet and funny way – Kids will love this! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Cute book!!

  16. I always learn so much from you. A friend was asking about a not too scary Halloween book and this will be perfect. And yay! for your board book!!!

  17. I’m always up for a nap!!!

  18. Cute new Halloween book, and what a funny story about William’s Winter Nap!

  19. Looks like a great Halloween book. Most of us want scary stories that aren’t too scary.

  20. Danielle Hammelef

    I found the title change very interesting and can see the point of not having a name. Thanks for the chance to win this cozy book. The Halloween book definitely sounds like one I must read for mentor text for pacing and humor.

  21. Linda, I love your work and am in need of A Cozy Good Night since we had snow in MN on Sunday!

    I Want to be in a Scary Story sounds like a winner – keeping the reader turning the pages.

  22. Such a fun book. I love it the premise. I want to know what’s on the other side of that door.

  23. Linda! I love this- congratulations! I hope you are well. Love from Denver

  24. I like my movies and my books to be scary but not too scary! Thanks for sharing this fun story!

  25. This book looks adorable! I love the purple monster’s big mouth and three teeth.

  26. A Cozy Good Night is destined to be another classic by the best children’s book writer since Dr Suess.

  27. Adorable-looking book, no matter what the title is!

  28. I love a good Halloween story and what a cute little monster! Anxious to read it.

  29. Eek!
    Love how the white text pops against that dark night sky.

  30. I love Sean’s humor…just right for younger monsters. Jean’s art is friendly scary too, exactly right. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

  31. Congratulations! It looks just as cozy with the new title.

  32. I’d love to give this to my two-year-old granddaughter. It looks perfect.

  33. I loved William’s Winter Nap from the get-go—the story line, the cadence, and of course, the adorable characters! The “new” board book will be perfect for younger children. I’m looking forward to find out what William encounters when he wakes up in February 2019. (the sequence, William Wakes Up).

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