Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?
We got you! Books for Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but are also entertaining for adults. This week we review ‘Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight’ #1, an all-new, all-ages horror series from IDW Publishing.
By Stefania Rudd. In the 1990s R.L. Stine was the king of YA horror. For me, Stine’s Fear Street series was the epitome of his craft; it enthralled me with lurid tales of teenagers getting into all sorts of spooky scrapes, either falling in love with the dead or accidentally prank phone calling a murderer, instead of their crush. Y’know, regular teen stuff.
However, it was his more kid-friendly spooky series, Goosebumps, that introduced a generation of kids, like my younger brother, to the genre of horror through novellas and then a television series. Now children (and nostalgic adults) can get back into that Goosebumps spirit with a new series from IDW Publishing, Monsters at Midnight.
Though R.L. has dipped his toe into writing comics in the past, Monsters at Midnight is written by Jeremy Lambert, who is no stranger at taking on licensed material and giving it his own spin. In this introductory issue we return to HorrorLand with two sisters, Mia and Ginny, who are spending the summer at their grandmother’s house. Athletic Mia is nursing a broken leg and trying to not get too annoyed at her book smart, vocabulary-word reciting little sister, Ginny. Both girls are bored out of their minds and capitalize upon an opportunity to break free one evening after their grandmother falls asleep.
They take that freedom and return to the local bookstore so Ginny can pick up a horror novel she is dying to finish. However, there are red flags all over the place: for starters, the store is called “Cursed Editions”, and there’s a cackling hag behind the desk counter who keeps alluding to their ultimate fates. Moments later the girls find themselves transported to HorrorLand and are greeted by Slappy the Dummy, one of Goosebumps’ most enduring villains.
Lambert lays a great foundation for what’s to come. The sisters are set up as opposites with different strengths, which provides enough conflict to keep us engaged; after all, it will likely take both of them to defeat whatever is thrown their way next. That’s good plot point for any book aimed at kids, but that sentiment also serves as a good reminder for us adults to remember that everyone has skills that can be utilized for success. I’m excited to see how this all plays out.
Chris Fenoglio’s artwork does a superb job at capturing the book’s spooky all-ages vibe. The eeriness conveyed through the art is toned down enough to make kids feel a bit creeped out — don’t worry about the younger ones checking under their beds for things that go bump in the night. For example, Slappy the Dummy still has an ominous vibe to him with his red eyes and minions of skeletons and demons around him, but again, it doesn’t come across as too frightening. The blue and green tones are highlighted with glowing effects of yellow and splashes of reds and pinks, which make this a vibrantly colored book.
This new Goosebumps series is a great way to get younger kids into the horror genre, just as the original book series did in the past. It’s spoopy, it’s fun, and for younger readers, it’s the perfect gateway series. Beware! You’re in for a scare!, indeed.
Written by Jeremy Lambert.
Art by Chris Fenoglio.
Lettering by Christa Miesner.
This book contains a creepy ventriloquist dummy and supernatural horror.
Age range: 8-11, 12-15
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.