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on August 2, 2010
I was extremely disappointed when I found out about a reprinting of Scary Stories with a new illustrator. Like many adults I grew up reading these books by myself and with friends. The best part of reading these stories was turning the page to see what sick illustration was next. They creeped you out and I know I am not alone when I say that as an adult, they still creep me out. That's what is so fun about them to this day. I lament that this generation of readers will read a version of Scary Stories with watered down illustrations because uptight and squeamish parents have tried to ban these books from libraries. I have the originals and I will keep them for posterity.
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on October 5, 2010
PLEASE READ!

This collection of folklore is absolutely wonderful. Alvin Schwartz writes in a style that is both easy to read and has a lasting effect that tells the story in a unique way for readers of all ages.

But...

I am VERY disappointed in the artwork. I have the original copies that were printed in the early 90's with illustrations by Steven Gammell. If you wish to see a some examples of his works, here are some links:

[...]

I'm not knocking Brett Helquist; his style is well suited for "Series of Unfortunate Events" but not Alvin Schwartz' "Scary Stories" collection. Some reviewers wrote that this collection was not scary at all; I beg to differ....

The reason the stories are scary is because of the ART! There's the overused saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words" ... that sums up Steven Gammell. I first read these books in third grade and they stuck with me ever since, simply because of the terribly gruesome and disturbing imagery. The stories by themselves are uninteresting and honestly, Brett Helquist's illustrations do not give this book series justice whatsoever!!

I also realize that the older copies that have Steven Gammell's illustrations are hard to find here on Amazon. This saddens me... If you happen to find the originals, PLEASE buy them. You won't regret it.

See for yourself. You make the judgement call.
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on June 5, 2011
I'm sure the editors at HarperCollins thought by changing the powerful (and controversial) imagery of this book, they'd sell more copies. Nothing like compromising art and expression to sell out.

1/5 stars for this homogenized shadow of the original book.
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on October 21, 2010
Shame on Harper Collins for re-releasing these books without Stephen Gammell's artwork! These "new" drawings are awful and ridiculous. Buy The Scary Stories Treasury instead, as it has all the original books intact.
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on October 25, 2010
Alvin Schwartz's stories always played second fiddle to Stephen Gammell's art. Without it, this book is not worth anyone's time or money. Avoid it and seek the originals.
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on August 1, 2010
This version does not include the gruesome illustrations of the original that still haunt me every once in a while. The book has been controversial because of the uncensored gore and terrifying images. This version is compromised fluffy camping-trip stories.
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on June 5, 2011
How dare they censor the original?? The Stephen Gammel illustrations were incredible! The art was what made these books great! The writing is still good, but the new drawings are just nowhere near as good as the old ones! Skip this one and buy the old version(s)!!
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on November 10, 2010
Without Stephen Gammell's artwork, these are pretty close to worthless.

Why would they EVER replace the original, incredible artwork? The reality is, Harper Collins, that Stephen Gammell's artwork MADE these classics.

The artwork now is unoriginal, not the least bit frightening (or artful), and does nothing to complement the stories.

Huge mistake. Someone should be fired. At least five people should be fired... and blacklisted.

This is an atrocity.

Prospective buyers: go buy the other versions! Oh, that's right, they're extremely expensive. I wonder why, Harper Collins? You fools.

And again for good measure: you fools.
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on October 14, 2011
Because I remember loving and being absolutely terrified at these books when I was a kid, I recently purchased all 3 and just received them today. To my horror (and not in a good way) I found that they've published them with a DIFFERENT ILLUSTRATOR! With all due respect to Mr. Helmquist (the new guy) and certainly to Mr. Schwartz (the original author), these books were made for me by the art of Stephen Gammell. I'm sure they did this because so many parents tried to get the books banned in their day because of the ghastly drawings, but this is really a tragedy. I would suggest looking elsewhere for original copies of the books as they should be seen. Don't buy them here - you'll be missing out on part of what made these books so wonderful in the first place.
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on January 2, 2012
Beware, any of you who have fond memories of this book from when you were a child. Most of you remember sitting down in some darkened corner of the library, daring yourself to turn the page and see what horrors awaited you. Most of you peeked a little at the illustrations through your fingers and felt that rush of meeting your worst nightmare.

To this day, the truly special part of Schwartz's "Scary Stories" series has not been the tales, but the wonderful, horrifying illustrations by Gammell. Schwartz's collection, while he put obvious effort into retelling these stories for a children's audience, cannot by themselves evoke a feeling of dread or horror. If anything, they are comic horror, often ending in a punchline. If anything, the stories are a good introduction for black humor for children. But this is not what makes a classic.

This means that the reason this book has survived and been wildly popular for so many years is probably not its stories, but something else. As many reviews have pointed out, that something is those Gammell illustrations. The rotting corpses. The shambling undead. Even the smiling, friendly "viper," who is actually pretty benign in the story, but has something... sinister nonetheless. Gammell's illustrations are so horrifying, that when I read this as a child, I could not help but imagine them... animated and moving around. In my nightmares. The best nightmares that make you love that feeling of being scared.

But, as everyone knows, the only reason people have nostalgia is because they want to see something new. N0obody passes anything down to their kids, because the new versions are always better. Fond memories are made even better by completely replacing them with something more modern.

EXCEPT THAT'S THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT PEOPLE WANT. I hunt down the same editions of Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew that I remember from when I was a kid. I treasure the old bindings on my mother's passed-down copies of Winnie-The-Pooh with the Shephard illustrations, as I am sure those who grew up with the Disney Pooh have transferred that love to their children. So why on earth would a publisher change these wonderful illustrations for ones that, while technically very good, fit more in line with the budget-Victorian-horror craze of "show everything exactly as it is happening in one scene, and leave nothing to the imagination, and don't make it gross or anything"? Even worse, why would they change something so iconic about the childhood horror experience in the 1980s and then continue to call it a "classic"? And why would they change these illustrations when children are even more eager for strong visuals than they were in my time? I cannot imagine a single logical line of reasoning for this decision.

You're better off hunting down used copies with the Gammell illustrations. These new illustrations take all of the impact out of the stories too, and this book as it now stands will not inspire a love of the macabre in any child. Now, it's utterly forgettable like any other dusty book of tall tales on the library shelf, and that makes me sad. Scary Stories dared children to confront the emotion of fear itself. Had it been left alone and simply reissued, today it would be a wonderful antidote to widespread coddling and the sterility of so much of modern children's publishing (Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket being two wonderful exceptions).
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