Amazon’s editors released their picks for “100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime” this week. While no one’s knocking Babar or Harry Potter, the list felt like it was missing some of our favorite strain of children’s lit: the creepy kind. Although a few notable exceptions — Coraline, Where the Wild Things Are — certainly raise the hair on young readers’ necks, we were nonetheless inspired to put together our favorite children’s lit that’s more macabre than Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
The Graveyard Book
As Neil Gaiman’s best-known work, The Sandman proved the author has an imagination that can get twisted and then some. Coraline and The Graveyard Book, then, take that signature blend of fantasy and nightmare and translate it into children’s lit, which proves to be a natural fit. The Graveyard Book follows Nobody “Bod” Owens, whose parents are brutally murdered by a member of a society called the “Jacks of All Trades” when he’s an infant. Bod grows up in a graveyard instead, raised by its ghosts and given the ability to pass through physical objects like a ghost. Despite its violent beginnings, the book plays out as a touching coming-of-age story.