Since this website is about the Ghost of the Talking Cricket, I thought Halloween might be a good time to explain here the title and review a few other ghosts in children's literature.
Two classic ghosts in Children's Literature
In Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio (1883) the Talking Cricket is the voice of reason. The Cricket is patient and philosophical. Instead of getting angry, he speaks in a calm, considered way. In chapter 4, Pinocchio becomes angry with the cricket who has honestly described the wooden boy's problems. He throws the insect against a wall and kills it. In chapter 5, Pinocchio remorsefully realizes that the Talking Cricket had been right and that he did need to stop telling lies and improve his life. Pinocchio, however, continues his path of misadventures. In chapter 13, the Ghost of the Talking Cricket reappears to give Pinocchio advice again. The Ghost tells him not to believe the Fox and the Cat as they will cause him to foolishly loose his gold. Pinocchio does not believe him. The ghost says "Remember that boys who are bent on having their own way and on pleasing themselves are sorry for it, sooner or later." (from the Penguin Classics edition with original translations by M.A. Murray, page 49)
Ghost of Marley in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Marley's ghost appears to his former partner Ebenezeer Scrooge at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. Dickens' clever combination of ghost story and positive Christmas message continues to inspire generations.
Less scary books for younger readers that explore fears, spooks and monsters
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain When Jacob was about 5, he found this story scary but enjoyable. The young bears imagine taking a romp through a scary tree and find a good monster at the end.
There's a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer. Another classic that Jacob also found both scary and intriguing when he was young. We read this numerous times as a way to figure out how to think about monsters. Billy Crystal reads it aloud on YouTube.
The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable Furry, Old Grover by Jon Jon Stone and Michael Smollin. Preschoolers will enjoy trying to figure out with Sesame Street's Grover who the monster at the end of the book is. Then on re-readings they will enjoy being in on the joke.
Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. Loved by adults from their childhood, this continues to be a wonderful book to share with children. Watch the 2009 film for an intriguing adapation of book until film.
Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe. Most rabbits eat celery, Bunnicula seems to like eating something else. This story is both funny and scary and will keep early chapter readers on the edge of their chairs as they try to figure out why vegetables loose their juice, the bunny's eyes turn red and other weird things happen. This book is the first in a series.
The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisen, illustrated by Martin Matje, translated by Georges Moroz. A Stepping Stone chapter book about a vampire, named Draculink, who's allergic to blood and instead drinks ink from books. Funny, slightly scary with interesting plot twists to keep young children what will happen next.
The Boy of A Thousand Faces by Brian Selznick. Selznick's book celebrates early monster films in his richly illusrated book about a boy who loves films and monsters.
Play with Your Pumpkins by Joost Elffers, Saxton Freyman, and Johannes Van Damm. Finally, if you need ideas for carving pumpkins -- scary or funny -- check out Play with Your Pumpkins. We frequently look at the book for inspiration whether we're carving pumpkins or other vegetables.
Here's a link to an exhibit of monsters in children's literature at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in 2002. It featured some of my favorite children's book artists including Peter Sis and Barry Moser.