I’m always telling the fifth graders I visit that I don’t usually read creepy books. This makes them want to tell me more about scary books they love, and occasionally I give it a whirl and survive. Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest was super creepy, but I couldn’t put it down, so there you go. I was expecting something else when I started it; otherwise, I might not have actually picked it up. Serendipity, right?
Anyway, you just don’t come across that many picture books that could be described as creepy. The Riddlemaster actually might not have set out to be creepy, but the title character sort of gives me flashes of the Child-Snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is my baseline for whether or not something is creepy. The Riddlemaster pretty much stays creepy throughout, and the kids are always on the verge of getting eaten by creepy, hungry-looking animals. I kept reading mainly because I was trying to figure out who the audience was for this weird book – future R.L. Stine and Stephen King readers?
The ending, however, really turns things around, and the last few pages are light and happy and superbly un-creepy. So if you’re willing to walk a little on the strange side, check this one out. You might like it, too.
The Riddlemaster by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Stéphanie Jorisch