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by Nancy van Laan & illustrated by Victoria Chess

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-81875-0
Publisher: Atheneum

Van Laan (Tickle Tum!, p. 59, etc.) presents a collection of three not-too-scary rhyming tales populated by Chess’s (The Beautiful Butterfly, 2000, etc.) wickedly loathsome, dark-eyed creatures. The first story is of the unsavory Old Doctor Wango, an unpleasant character who has starved his dog Towser, his cat Mouser, and his poor gaunt horse Sam by feeding them just pebbles and grass. He then takes a ride and all are blown away by a wahooing wind. A bit of a let-down. The second describes a gruesome being pulled together piece by piece: “Two legs inside a pair of pants / came bounding down the stairs. / They danced a jig and spun around / Then something else came wooshing down.” Right, the arms inside a shirt, and so forth. And the final installment in this trilogy of horror is an old favorite of the up-past-midnight sleepover set: An old woman is picking peas (the bright green pea pods are as long as her arm) and finds a detached hairy toe on the ground. She buries it and that night the original owner haunts her to get it back. This version is kinder and gentler than usual, thanks to the rhyming and the lack of the traditional jump, but it’s creepy enough for a younger scare. Children will enjoy Van Laan’s storytelling cadence and the sheer fun of the language—and you can’t beat Chess’s ghoulish creatures with a hairy toe. (Picture book. 4-6)