Thanks to a poor decision made by some clueless HarperCollins publishing exec, the horrifying artwork in the children’s book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will be altered, three decades after the book’s original publication.
The short story collection, written by Alvin Schwartz, is a classic children’s book that is undoubtedly remembered by nearly anyone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. Though the stories are quite scary for a kids’ book (“The Red Spot” still freaks me out), it was the illustrations by Stephen Gammell that were what gave us nightmares that would last throughout our childhoods. And by association, it made the stories that much better.
The Scary Stories trilogy would become one of the most contested children’s book series of all-time (conservative parents’ groups repeatedly tried to have the series yanked from library shelves), due mainly to the illustrations. Unfortunately, after three decades of withstanding the pressure, HarperCollins caved. The new illustrations are by Brett Helquist, and appeal to a younger demographic. However, as stated on the i09 blog, “if your child couldn’t handle Gammell’s paintings, they’re certainly not going to be able to stomach a short story about a scarecrow who skins a farmer alive and dries out his skin sack trophy on the roof.”
Below are comparisons of the artwork, new vs. old:
More of Gammell’s classic illustrations to be replaced: