Weird Books for Weirdos (of the children variety)
Fun fact: all kids are weird.
And we think that's beautiful.
The following are recommendations for all our fellow oddballs, the strange, kooky and far-out, would-be Wednesday Addams of the world.
Learn your ABCs!
Let’s start with Edward Gorey’s iconic abecedarium, The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Find out how Amy, Basil, Clara, and more meet their untimely ends. Delightfully gloomy!
If that sounds too dark, try P is for Pterodactyl. This ABC book celebrates the quirky (and infuriating) ticks of the English language by using words with silent letters—aisle, bdellium, czar, and so on. This book feels very modern-day Gorey (O is for Ouija board, for crying out loud).
Creepy Dollhouses? Yes, please!
Believe it or not, we have a few books in the store about this very important topic. The Dollhouse Murders is a reissue of one of my childhood favorites. Amy visits her aunt, finds not only a weird dollhouse, but also dolls that come to life and reenact her great-grandparents’ murders. I’m thrilled that this book has been reissued, but I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed with the new cover. I know, I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But just take a second to compare and contrast the new cover with the 90s cover:
Freaky covers forever, please! Do you know which cover completely delivers though? 2019’s The Doll’s Eye. LOOK AT IT. Now I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m horrified! I’m intrigued! I’m sure young horror fans will be too!
(Bonus dollhouse book for grownups: In Miniature by Simon Garfield. This book is about miniatures, not just dollhouses; however, one chapter focuses on dollhouse icon, Frances Glessner Lee. In the '40s, Lee constructed dollhouse crime scenes, which are still used today to train students how to detect clues!)
I’m not sure what the appropriate age to begin reading true crime is, but Aladdin just started publishing a series called “History’s Worst,” so I guess the answer is age 8 and up! Learn about Lizzie Borden, Bonnie and Clyde, and other notorious and devilish icons.
Who doesn’t love a real-life mystery? Missing! covers several high-profile missing persons cases: the two princes in the Tower (a great introduction to Shakespeare), Jimmy Hoffa (not sure how much kids care about Jimmy Hoffa), and Amelia Earhart.
And trust me, it’s never too early for kids, especially young Angelenos, to learn about Amelia Earhart. You see, Earhart has a local connection. Did you know she made her last public appearance at the historic Ebell on Wilshire, mere minutes from Chevalier’s? History is all around us...and so is crime!
Probably the strangest history book in the store is Carlyn Beccia’s They Lost Their Heads! Read bizarre stories about Einstein's brain, Sarah Bernhardt’s leg, and Elvis’s wart (once you’re done with this book, take a roadtrip to Redlands to look at some of Abe Lincoln’s hair).
Prefer graphic novels? Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales features stories of heroics, dangers, and daring—including one about the Donner Party. Whenever I show the books to kids and parents, the parents always ALWAYS want to get the Donner Party one. There are some amazing parents out there!