Some Things Are Scary

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Some Things Are Scary Book Poster Image
A list of serious and silly things that are scary.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

A giant bird carrying away a boy might worry younger or more sensitive children.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that wickedly funny art provides the punch line and keeps kids chortling. Some of the scary things might make some kids nervous.

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What's the story?

Lots of things are scary to kids, from getting a shot to seeing strange-looking food on their plates. But growing up may be the scariest of all. Author Florence Parry Heide gives a list, some serious and some silly, of things that are scary, which cartoonist Jules Feiffer illustrates with wild exuberance.


Is it any good?

Feiffer's style consists of extremely fluid scribbles that combine in ways both warm and hilarious; he is a master of both facial expression and body language. (Even the shadows tell a story, as in the illustration for "thinking you're not going to be picked for either side.") His pictures, mostly with watercolor washes or white space instead of extraneous and distracting background detail, focus on the people and their clearly felt emotions.

The text was first published in the late 1960s, when the world was presumably a less scary place, and "getting hugged by someone you don't like" had a very different connotation than it does now. But it has been newly illustrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and he brings the book to vibrant life, using the rather flat text as a foil for his wildly energetic drawings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about scary things. What frightens you? Kids could make their own book with silly illustrations of things they find scary.

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