One-Minute Book Reviews

October 19, 2008

James Stevenson’s ‘That Terrible Halloween Night,’ a Picture Book for Ages 3–8

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:22 am
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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

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Oh good, my curriculum collection has this book, as well as 22 others written and/or illustrated by Stevenson. Did you know he has illustrated for Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky, and has written a few poetry books of his own?

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — October 19, 2008 @ 9:45 am | Reply

  2. So glad to hear your library has so many. That’s great news for Texas children, because Stevenson is so good.

    I did know he has illustrated a lot of books by others. His art for Jack Prelutsky’s The New Kid on the Block may be his best-known collaboration. I didn’t mention it because I had posted another children’s review this weekend and didn’t want to distract from it by making this one too long. But I was hoping people would mention some of Steenson’s other books in the comments. Thank you for fulfilling my hope :).

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 19, 2008 @ 1:01 pm | Reply

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