Bookworm: Scare up some good reads for kids

‘Runner’s High’ is for athletes who want to make their daily run fun

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

Kids Halloween books

  • c. 2021, various publishers
  • $16.99 to $18.99; various page counts

Everything suddenly feels scary these days.

It gets dark outside earlier, for one. Tree branches are almost bare, and they make a clack-clack-clack noise like a dancing skeleton. Plastic bags blowing in the wind look like little ghosts, and sometimes if you listen close, you can hear howling right outside your window. Also, this time of year, there are lots of new Halloween books for your scary pleasure ...

Kids Halloween books.

For the littlest (3-to-7-year-old) All Hallow’s Eve fan in your life, “Three’s a Witch In Your Book” by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott (RCH Books) could be lots of fun. It’s an interactive book that invites kids to follow the prompts to make sure the cute little witch inside its pages won’t make a great big mess with her spells. But watch out! Because she’s crafty, she might turn your child into a host of funny creatures. It’s as much fun to read as it is to play. Get this book and gather goblin giggles, young and old.

Where else would a kid find scary stuff? Read “Hardly Haunted” by Jessie Sima (Simon & Schuster) and your 4-to-7-year-old will know. It’s the story of a house that’s very sad because nobody lives inside it. Houses were meant for people, right? And not for ghosts, because the house “did not want to be haunted.” Or maybe she did because sounding empty and haunted sure was fun! Either way, kids who like things that go bump in the night will like this book that goes bang in the night, too.

For the kid who loves reading and words and something unusual, “The Ghoul’s Guide to Good Grammar” by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Mary Sullivan (Sleeping Bear Press) might be a great choice. This language-and-grammar book masquerades as a Halloween treat with humor; kids will laugh at the scenarios inside this book while they also learn things their teachers hope they absorb.

And finally, remember those scary games you used to play when you were in high school? Well, they’re still around and in “Mary, Will I Die?” by Shawn Sarles (Scholastic), four teenagers play the Bloody Mary game. When someone says “Bloody Mary” into a mirror, their true love is supposedly revealed but in Calvin’s case, he sees Bloody Mary and that’s not good. Fast forward five years and the friends-no-longer-friends have mostly forgotten that terrifying night.

But something that was let loose hasn’t forgotten them.

Beware: this is truly scary stuff, and you really don’t want to hand this book to a 12-to-17-year-old who’s prone to nightmares.

There are a lot more books for big and little ghosts and goblins out on the shelves so if these four, above, don’t fit your exact idea of a boo-tiful read, then look for some of your beloveds from your own trick-or-treat days or be sure to ask your favorite bookstore or librarian for help. They’ll know exactly what to put in your cold, cold hands because not having the best Halloween reading is too scary to imagine.

More:Bookworm: ‘Gastro Obscura’ – See what else is on the menu

“Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes is Changing the Science of Sports”

  • By Josiah Hesse
  • c. 2021, Putnam
  • $28, $37 Canada; 308 pages

The top of the mountain is well above your head.

You can’t see it from the bottom, but you’ve been there a time or two. You’re going up there again, in fact, on a trail that’s filled with rocks and branches, streams and trees, and seems to go straight up. You’ll run it, all of it, and as in the new book “Runner’s High” by Josiah Hesse, you’ll go high.

“Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes is Changing the Science of Sports” by Josiah Hesse.

For most of his life, Josiah Hesse looked at exercise as something like punishment. He hated the very idea of competition, and any kind of physical effort reminded him of high school “locker rooms” and “homophobic meatheads who threatened my safety.”

These thoughts were drifting through his mind when, in 2015, he was waiting for the start of a marathon and noticed discarded edibles wrappers in a garbage can. He’d brought edibles along and had planned on “discreetly consuming” them; by the end of the race, he was joyful and “giddy” and had discovered something he believes is “underreported.”

He thought he was alone in his enjoyment of running high, but Hesse found a surprise: many athletes – particularly distance runners, he says – use CBD, THC, and marijuana to enhance performance. It’s quietly common in amateur sports and, he avers, though most organizations ban or discourage it, marijuana use is also well-known in pro sports.


“Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes is Changing the Science of Sports” author Josiah Hesse.

Science, he says, has proven in many ways that marijuana and its derivatives can actually help athletes. The human body contains cannabinoid receptors; it’s well-known that marijuana works to eliminate pain and induce relaxation, and it can decrease anxiety. Hesse noticed that “ripping a bong” before he ran made running more like “play”; if couch-potatoes could tap into that feeling, then maybe, Hesse posited, they wouldn’t be sedentary.

So why isn’t marijuana legal and easily available, then?

Says Hesse, “Enter Big Tobacco, Alcohol, and Pharma.”

Getting any useful information out of “Runner’s High” is very clearly, pure and simple, going to depend on your stance on the use of marijuana.

If you’re steadfastly negative, you can stop here and page ahead.

Lean toward the positive, and author Josiah Hesse still won’t make things easy for you. Readers, for example, will quickly notice that several iterations of the word “play” show up in this book really often, which is generally distracting and doesn’t, until toward the end of it, leave much room for serious discussion on what he’s found. While there is a good amount of science-and-businesslike dialogue here, the antsy insistence on “play” overshadows it.

Others, particularly those who are specific in their usage, may find deep offense in labels like “stoner,” “pothead runners” and “dirtbag.” Casual use of user slang also changes the tone of this book, from investigative to impudent.

For athletes who want to make their daily run fun, or for “couch-monsters” who need impetus to get up and go, there’s a lot of solid science to be had inside “Runner’s High.” If you aren’t anywhere convinced, though, this book could be a mountain of controversy.

More:Bookworm: Author Kathy Benjamin puts the fun in ‘Funeral’

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.