Throwback Thursday: Vintage scares

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and it's my favorite holiday to experience here at Scholastic. With all of our creepy titles from classic authors like R.L. Stine or new authors like Dan Poblocki, there are plently of scares to go around. (Last year a co-worker of mine once came back to his desk after a quick trip to the kitchen to find Slappy the Dummy sitting on his chair; true story.)

So for this week's Throwback Thursday, I decided to see what scary books we published before Goosebumps mania started in the early 1990s.

The first book we found in the Archives was 1973's The Attic Witch by Sonia  O. Lisker – a picture book about a little girl who discovers a "magic" broom in her attic and ends up in a magical land full of witches who take her on an excitng adventure. Although perfect for Halloween, this title is more fun than scary.

Next we spotted a very familiar face: Norman Birdwell's Clifford the Big Red Dog! Clifford's Halloween was published in 1966 and features Clifford and Emily Elizabeth dressing up in Halloween costumes, celebrating at a party with friends, and trick-or-treating. Again, not a scary title, but a great Halloween-themed book to get little ones excited for the holiday.

Both The Attic Witch and Clifford's Halloween were published by the Scholastic imprint Four Winds Press; they published hardcover versions of books.

Now we're getting into the REALLY creepy stuff! The titles of these two books shouted out at us from their spines: 1977's Tales for the Midnight Hour and 1978's Where Monsters Walk. Collectively they contain 30 short stories "guaranteed to keep you awake and shivering with anticipation." Here some of the titles of the short stories in these books:

  • The Black Velvet Ribbon
  • The Jigsaw Puzzle
  • What's-His-Face?
  • Only Devils Have Horns
  • Helen, Don't You Haunt Me

Then we found a collection of short horror stories featuring popular authors like Daphne du Maurier and Roald Dahl, and a book released in conjunction with the Ripley's Believe It Or Not franchise: 1963's Stories of Suspense, and 1968's Ghost Stories and Plays. These short stories were licensed from other publishers, but the books were put out by us.

And last but certainly not least, we found this thin activity book from 1977 called The Dark House. Inside were tear-apart cards featuring the cover art and spooky classroom activities.

Special thanks to Librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey for her ongoing help with this series!

Gina Asprocolas