Michael touched on scariness with his post last week, and I was thinking about it again yesterday while a bunch of us were at Wild Rumpus (a great Minneapolis children's bookstore). They have a special spooky cottage toward the back of the store, where all of the scary books are kept--I spotted the Twilight books, There's a Monster at the End of This Book, and The Graveyard Book, among many others. If you look down while you're standing in the spooky cottage, you can see the store rats through a special clear floorboard. It's a really cool place--perfect for raising some goosebumps while you look for that great scary book.
While my colleagues and I were perusing the shelves, I noticed a little girl standing with us--I think she was probably about four. She seemed perfectly comfortable with the books themselves, but when she looked up and realized that she was surrounded by grown-ups--none of whom were her mother--she started to cry. I helped her find her mom and little brother, and she seemed to be relatively untraumatized, but it got me thinking--for a little kid, so many different things can be scary, and not all of them are the ones we grown-ups expect them to be. Some things--like scary books--aren't scary at all; they're exciting. But looking up and seeing a bunch of strange grown-ups (all of whom, I might add, are on the bookish-nerdy-quiet end of the spectrum)? Nightmare.