103 – Giving Kids Swords: A Middle Grade Special w/ with Ally Malinenko, Dan Poblocki & Lora Senf
What scared you as a kid? Monsters? Ghosts? The thing in your closet? The perilous state of the environment and the terrible carbon footprint of children’s toys?
If it’s any of the former then you’re in good company. (If it’s the latter then boy did we need you in 1987!) This week’s guests understand the fear that makes the childlike mind tick and tock, they know how to get under young skin, and they know how to inject a little hope into the horror.
Ally Malinenko, Dan Poblocki and Lora Senf are three of the finest middle-grade authors around. Their books, This Appearing House, Tales to Keep You Up at Night and The Clackity present three very different kinds of nightmares to challenge, inspire and slightly terrify readers age 8-12.
In this middle-grade special we dive deep into each of their book, to examine how horror works for younger readers. When does a lot become too much? And what can we say to the gatekeepers and politicians who would rather these precious children not read such awful things. It’s an important question, cos, after all, kids are the ones who are going to have to both survive and save this world – so let’s at least prepare them with some horrors they can conquer in the here and now.
This is a longer episode, and a slightly left-turn. But it’s also a lot of fun and surprisingly dark.
The Clackity is published June 28th by Atheneum
This Appearing House is published August 16th by Katherine Tegen Books
Tales to Keep You Up at Night is published August 16th by Penguin Workshop
Other books discussed in this episode include:
- Hoodoo (2015), by Ronald L. Smith
- Hide and Don’t Seek, and Other Very Scary Stories (20212), by Anica Mrose Rissi
- Ghost Love (2020), by Dennis Mahoney
- The Nest (2015), by Kenneth Oppell
- It Looks Like Us (2022), by Alison Ames
- Liars Room (2021), by Dan Poblocki
- The House With a Clock in Its Walls (1973), by John Bellairs
- Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story (1986), by Mary Downing Hahn
- “The Raft”, in Skeleton Crew (1985), by Stephen King
- The Haunted Book (2012), by Jeremy Dyson
To find out more about my friend Amy Sarthou and her Portable Magic project to increase inclusive school reading – you can follow her on instagram at PortableMagic_reads_books
Support Talking Scared on PatreonSupport the show