Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Scarum Fair

Scarum Fair

Jessica Swaim
Illustrator:  Carol Ashley 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Boyds Mills Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-1590785904

It is almost midnight, and some children have walked up to the gate that leads to the Scarum Fair. A child standing in front of the gate warns the visitors to “Turn back / or you’ll regret it,” but his words come too late and the children are pulled into the fair by “The Hand.”

Once in the fair, there are all kinds of things for the children to do and places to visit. It really doesn’t matter what the children choose, because all the ‘attractions’ in this place are horrible, terrifying, and potentially dangerous. It is true that some are worse than others. The Sleeping Dead Band is certainly creepy but the dead musicians are not likely to cause a visitor bodily harm. The same cannot be said for the devil’s food cake and I-scream stands. The cake will catch your tongue on fire and the I-scream will “chill you to the bone.”

In addition to the rides, and the dangerous edibles and drinks, there are also a wide variety of thoroughly terrifying characters walking, drifting, and flying around. There are werewolves who will want to eat you, a “ghostly red chicken” that will drop disgusting eggs on you from on high, witches, vampires, and goodness knows what else.

Children who have a fondness for all things creepy will love this collection of bizarre, weird, and hair-raising poems. The poems are perfectly complimented by Carol Ashley’s illustrations, which are filled with wacky and spooky beings and beasts.

This book would be perfect for reading aloud during camp outs, sleepovers, and Halloween.