Eerie Tales from the School of Screams. I cannot for the life of me seem to be able to remember this title! But title aside, Eerie Tales from the School of Screams was a pretty cute little graphic novel! I think it will be a popular middle grade read, especially around Halloween.
AUTHOR: Graham Annable
ILLUSTRATOR: Graham Annable
PUBLISHER: First Second
PUBLICATION DATE: July 18, 2023
GENRE: graphic novel, scary stories
SETTING: a school classroom where students are telling their best “eerie” stories
GIVE IT TO: professional reviewers recommend Grades 3-7, and I agree with that
AWARDS AND KUDOS
- Booklist starred
- Publishers Weekly starred
School is tough.
School is scary.
School is EERIE.
No one knows this better than Davis and Emily. But they’re not scared of school because of tough tests or merciless vice-principals. No, they’re scared because their teacher wants her students to present the class with the spookiest, most chilling stories they can think of.
THE SHORT VERSION
Fun, colorful, and a little confusing.
WHAT I LIKED
The illustrations, but I’ll talk more about them in the Illustrations section below.
The short stories aren’t that scary, but some of the images may be frightening to sensitive readers. The upside-down heads (see the cover) are sufficiently creepy. I don’t see many sensitive readers really wanting to checkout a book with “School of Screams” in the title. Sensitive readers mostly know they are sensitive readers and do not seek out scary books.
I love the format of a classroom point of view alternating with the students’ stories. We begin and end in the classroom, and between each student’s story, we return to the classroom.
Eerie Tales from the School of Screams reminds me a bit of Assassination Classroom but for younger readers and less violence and no guns.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I was left scratching my head at how the classroom skeleton came to be. It seems maybe a story was edited out that explained that? It’s not super-important to the story, but it’s a plot hole that should have been explained.
Most characters have paper-white skin and large dark eyes. One boy in the class has brown skin and an Afro-hairstyle.
Okay, here’s my favorite part! I love how each of the student stories has a different main color, and the classroom has its own color.
I also love how the illustrations are scary, but not gory or over-the-top. They are a nice balance of scary and silly for upper-elementary and middle school students. If your students can handle the Amulet series, they can handle Eerie Tales from the School of Screams.
A fun detail to watch for: In the classroom scenes, notice the changes in the “Health and Fitness” poster behind the skeleton as the story continues. It’s easy to miss, but a fun detail to spot!
Some sample illustrations (click the images to see larger versions):
- demons, portals, grandparents, teachers, school, storytelling, monsters, school assignments
LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW
Would adults like this book? Maybe! I enjoyed it, but I enjoy MG graphic novels.
Would I buy this for my high school library? No; it’s too young and definitely not a “scary” story for high school.
Would I buy this for my middle school library? YES, 100%. This will be so easy to booktalk with 6th and 7th grade.
Would I buy this for my elementary school library? YES, but know your audience and be aware of who you recommend it to. No worries about mature content for elementary, but some of the illustrations may be too much for sensitive readers.
Violence: mild; cartoonish “splat” type violence. No blood or guts–it’s more green slime and tentacles; one story depicts emotional child abuse with forced work (and some off-screen violence that is left unspoken)
Other: The classroom skeleton may be a bit creepy for some students.