I’m going to give it to you straight. When the zombie apocalypse comes, the library is going to help keep you alive.
Seriously. Do you have a zombie apocalypse survival plan?
As journalist Alex Weiss recently wrote in Bustle (dot com): “The hospital is out of the question, since that has the highest chance being the cause or at least responsible for the mass-spreading of the disease. Staying at home will clearly do you no good, unless you’ve built yourself an apocalyptic survival cave underground. Then there’s always CostCo or giant warehouses, but there might already be a ton of people heading there.”
The Lennoxville Library is your best bet. It’s a good solid building, and we’ll pile up heavy books to reinforce the front doors.
Oh. And there’s the essential reading that we offer.
Need to know how to dispatch a zombie? Train with Elizabeth Bennet in 19th century England, as she lops the heads off nasty zombies (all the while parrying the ill manners of a certain Mr. Darcy), in the how-to novel Pride And Prejudice And Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance, Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem (by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen, 2009, filed in Young Adult).
Best to start reading it now. Before the zombies arrive.
Still, zombies are not the only monsters. Learn a different coping strategy from author Jonathan Stroud (whose popular four-book series follows the travails of the djinni Bartemaeus and his magician masters, filed in C-264), in the novel The Screaming Staircase (2013, also filed in C-264). In a world that looks very much ours, ghosts suddenly begin appearing. And killing people. Because if you touch a ghost, you die (gruesomely).
It’s called The Problem, and England in particular is suffering from a bit of an outbreak.
Only children can see spooks clearly, and so are trained in ghostbusting 101. (Adults see only shadows and feel the creeps.) The kids carry permits, a silver rapier, and lots and lots of iron chains. The Screaming Staircase follows Lockwood & Co., a group of bad-luck teens dedicated to finding enough clients to keep the business afloat. Too bad they’re not very good at their jobs…
You can often learn more from mistakes than successes, making this book a good primer. Be prepared, and all that.
It’s also important to be able to tell the good bad guys from the bad bad guys. Meaning not all spectres are evil. The graphic novel The Graveyard Book (volume one, by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, 2008, filed in C-400A) begins with the murder of a toddler’s parents. But the wee one waddles away and is adopted by a gaggle of ghouls: “It is going to take more than a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will take a graveyard.” And so little Nobody Owens is raised by well-meaning ghosts (and one vampire) in a cemetery.
Eventually, the murderous human hitman returns.
The moral of this story is, check in with a vampire before staking it.
For more background material on the bad guys, try the spiral bound 10,000 Ghost Stories (by Lisa K. Weber and Jason Hook, 2014, C-400A). You can mix and match whole chunks of tales, and illustrations too. The tome is filled with haunted books and cursed paintings, ghastly trains, and floating heads that whisper, “Today is a good day to die!”
From the intro: “First and foremost, this book is intended to revive and reanimate the old tradition of telling ghost stories aloud. Imagine yourself and a few friends… on a cold winter’s eve, at a table lit by flickering candlelight with the rain drumming its fingers against the window panes. It is the moment when the veil between day and night, light and dark, living and dead, is at its thinnest, and the time is ripe for the telling of terrifying tales.”
Are you scared yet?
Adults will make a big deal of shrieking and jumping about, but in truth, it’s rather hard for little kids to spook a grownup on All Hallow’s Eve, no matter how hard the kidlings try.
It’s very easy for an adult to serve up horror to a child, however.
Consider this terrifying tale: One night, a little boy is forced by his father to put on a tie and sit at the supper table with dad’s work colleagues.
Even worse: IT IS VERY BORING.
This spookifyingly scary evening is portrayed in the children’s book Worms (by Bernard Friot and Aurelie Guillerey, 2010/2015, filed in C-64, an Adopt A Book purchased for the Lennoxville Library by Ginny Stroeher). But soon the little boy decides it’s time to turn the tables on pater and his pals. Now the dinner guests must cope with real fear!
But they also, rather smugly, watch as the mischievous little boy eventually pays the price for his brattiness. (And all along, dad’s none the wiser.)
Let’s just say that worms are made of protein, plus a bit of fat for yummy flavour. Pro tip: Wash wrigglers before serving. Bwahahahaha.
Not all Halloween tales end in horror. On Halloween, Saturday, October 31, please pop by at 10:30 a.m. for an English-language telling of Beauty And The Beast, aimed at children aged 5 to 11. Costumes are encouraged. (And it’s free.)
— Eleanor Brown, October 30, 2015