Thursday, January 12, 2023

Scholastic book: "Arrow Book of Spooky Stories"

A few days ago, author J.D. King asked on Twitter, "Do you guys remember Scholastic Book Fairs? Did you have those in your school?" It's one of the great evergreen Twitter prompts for bookish types, because it always spurs plenty of enthusiasm and nostalgia in the replies.

But responses these days also leave me feeling a bit old. They're from people happily reminiscing about times long, long after I was attending Scholastic book fairs and filling out those monthly forms to order books. Some folks talk fondly now of the "good old days" when they got Goosebumps and Animorphs books.

For me, the heyday of Scholastic fairs and in-class order forms was about 1978 to 1983. So I was getting stuff by Judy Blume, Three Investigators books, Peanuts-themed novelty books like the Peanuts Lunch Bag Cook Book that's on my list to write about, and maybe a compilation of Garfield strips.

For me, though, the keenest nostalgia is for the time even before that. I love discovering and writing about Scholastic books from the 1960s and early to mid 1970s, and have have fifty-plus post on that topic over the years.

In 2015 I wrote about 1960's Arrow Book of Ghost Stories. Today, it's the paperback volume that was a followup to that title: 1962's Arrow Book of Spooky Stories, also edited by Nora Kramer1, and this time illustrated by Erwin Hoffman. It's Scholastic book TX 331 and initially had a cover price of 35 cents.

Here's the table of contents:
  • Horace the Happy Ghost, by Elizabeth Ireland
  • Never Mind Them Watermelons, by Maria Leach
  • The Tinker and the Ghost, by Ralph S. Boggs & Mary Gould Davis
  • The Lucky Man, by Maria Leach
  • The Stubbornest Man in Maine, by Moritz Jagendorf
  • Here We Go, by Maria Leach
  • The Friendly Ghost, by Elizabeth Yates
  • The Dancing Jug, by Lupe De Osma
  • The Strange Visitor, by Joseph Jacobs
  • A Shiver of Ghosts, by Cyril Birch
  • The Ghostly Fisherman, by Natalie Savage Carlson

Some of these authors show up in other Scholastic anthologies. Leach, a folklorist who wrote The Soup Stone: The Magic of Familiar Things, and Jagendorf have stories in Nine Witch Tales. Cyril Birch was also a folklorist who wrote a book about Chinese myths that I discussed last summer. (When you've blogged this long, you can almost always find ways to connect to past entries.)

There are, of course, a lot of fond memories of this book. Some folks specifically remember that it was through Scholastic that they discovered the book. Writing an Amazon review in 2011, The Grey Piper stated, "Great spooky stories! Aimed for kids of course, I had this when I was a kid and just wanted to revisit. Some of these might even make good stories for adults, told in a more mature style around a fireplace on a winter's night! Very nice introduction to the ghost story for young readers."

And in a short review for Goodreads in 2014, Pamela wrote: "I read this when I was in third grade. It is best read with a flash light in a tent with your girl friends or with your Girl Scout troop. Lots of fun."

1. Nora Kramer lived from 1896 to 1984. Her obituary in the July 6, 1984, edition of The New York Times described her as an author, editor, and expert on children's book, adding, "She was founder and director of the Book Plan, a personalized book selection service for young people, which she began under the name of Eleanor Brent." She also went by Edna Mitchell Preston for some works.


  1. I've always said, my favorite day in school every month was the arrival of the Scholastic Order form along with the books you ordered the previous month. I loved these spooky story books along with the "mysterious monsters" books and was sure to order whenever offered. And I'll have you know, I do get these spooky story books out and read from then when my family has a campfire outside.

  2. My family was poor growing up but I was always given $1.00 to order from Scholastic. Back in the 1970's that dollar would go a long way, sometimes 4 books! And those books were well written, professionally illustrated and amazing. Today's kids have the magic of the internet but they will never have what we had back then. Thanks for this great post!