I admire the offbeat comedy of James Stevenson, the illustrator and New Yorker cartoonist, particularly his children’s stories about a curmudgeon who longs to connect with others, The Worst Person in the World and The Worst Person in the World at Crab Beach. But I missed his That Terrible Halloween Night (Greenwillow, 1980), a picture book for ages 3–8. So I’ll quote what Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize–winning critic for the Washington Post, says about it in Readings (Norton, 2003): “When the kids try to scare grandpa, he tells them about the shocking thing that happened to him in a forbidding old house many years before. One of a series of fine tall tales related by Grandpa.”
That Terrible Halloween Night is out of print, but Stevenson has written dozens of popular picture books. If you’re lucky, the children’s department of your library will have this one. If not, it may have other books by Stevenson, shelved near those of his equally gifted New Yorker colleague, William Steig, whose Spinky Sulks might make a fine consolation prize if you strike out www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.