Deadtime Stories – Grandpa’s Monster Movies (a Review)

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I am so glad to have discovered the Deadtime Stories series! I picked this one up by chance while browsing the shelves and the title kind of leapt out at me. It sounded like a bit of fun – and it sure was. Some investigation has revealed the authors (who are sisters) have written 17 stories designed to give kids the creeps (in a good way!) in a similar style to the Goosebumps books.

The action in Grandpa’s Monster Movies begins straight away, with cousins CT and Lea running through their Grandpas’s cornfield to escape from the clutches of their weird distant cousins at a family reunion. Just as they think they have gotten away from one of the Bob’s Twins, they come across a rolling, furry tumbleweed that growls. Uncle Ernie adds to the mystery by shooing all the kids out of the field in an unexplained hurry.

Trying to avoid their strange cousins, CT and Lea overhear Grandpa and Uncle Earl arguing about a secret that involves Uncle Ernie and a mysterious disappearance sixty years ago. Something is clearly not right, and CT and Lea determine to find out what is really going on.

CT looked over his should to see Grandpa covering Uncle Earls stack of tools with a tarp. He saw Grandpa shake his head sadly. “There’s going to be  trouble around here again,” Grandpa said to himself. “Big, big trouble!”

The suspense continues to build as CT and Lea find some old home movies in the attic (hiding from those cousins again!); movies that hold some disturbing clues. In true horror movie style, their moms don’t believe them and insist that they be polite and mix with the family and quit running from the other kids.

“But Mom,” CT tried again. “You don’t understand what’s going on around here. We could all be in danger.”

“No” his mom answered. “You’re going to be in danger if you don’t get your little butts downstairs pronto. I mean it.”

Their determination to get to the bottom of the monster mystery leads them to the old barn they have been forbidden to go near. What they find in there proves they are right. And, thanks to their dim-witted cousins, the monster is on the loose!

Kids will love reading this story, with its clever suspense building and mini-cliff-hangers at every chapter. CT and Lea are everyday kids who find themselves in the middle of a scary and dangerous situation, but by keeping a cool head and working together, they make sure that their family is safe – even the cousins they don’t particularly like.

The action and scariness are not heavy handed or graphic; there’s just the right amount of creepiness to keep the pages turning, and keep readers wondering what will happen next; right up to the Twilight Zone-ish ending…

Originally published in the late 90’s, most of the Deadtime stories have been re-released in the last few years and some have also been dramatized into a TV series on Nickelodeon. I definitely want to read more of these – and recommend maximizing the creep factor by reading them by flashlight!

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About Vanessa Hatley-Owen

A book lover and children's story writer from New Zealand.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr Seuss.

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