[Book Review] Disney Scary Storybook Collection: A Treasury of Tales

Try to outrun an eerie Ghost Light with Mater. Chase after Captain Hook's shadow with Peter Pan. Watch out for skeletons in Mickey's attic. All kinds of surprises await your favorite Disney and Pixar characters in these eighteen thrilling adventures. From a crazy brook ride with Donald Duck to a scary rescue mission with Buzz Lightyear, these spook-tacular stories are sure to frighten and delight.

The Incredibles: Jack-Jack Attack is a short story adapted from Jack-Jack Attack by Mark Andrews and Krista Swager, which was in turn an adaptation of Pixar's Incredibles tie-in short, "Jack-Jack Attack".

The plot of Jack-Jack Attack is the same as the animated short of the same name, which occurs during the movie The Incredibles, with one glaring exception: the short story cuts out both the framing device and the end of Kari's story. If you intend to read this short story with your child, I highly suggest sitting down to watch the animated version instead, given how the cut scenes were rather integral to the story.

Aladdin: Who's That Ghost is an original short story by Kim Ostrow. In the story, Jasmine and Aladdin are bored with their ludicrously anachronistic pseudo-medieval Arabian lives, so Genie decides to give them some mysterious, spooky fun. It's a story best suited to Jasmine fans, while those of us more likely to be annoyed by such gems as Jasmine and Aladdin making ice cream sundaes and Jasmine needing a friggin' map to get around the palace she's lived in for sixteen years might not be quite so amused.

Mickey Mouse: Haunted Halloween is a short story adapted from Haunted Halloween by Diane Muldrow.

As Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy, and Mickey gather for a Halloween party, a series of spooky coincidences give them the "scariest, most exciting Halloween ever". It's a very tame story featuring Disney's most famous cast of characters, and young children should find it a sufficiently amusing Halloween read.

Peter Pan: Captain Hook's Shadow is an original short story by Jasmine Jones, and it occurs after Disney's Peter Pan, but before Return to Neverland.

Some time after the events of the film, Peter steals Captain Hook's shadow as a prank... but it gets away from him and escapes Neverland in its quest to get the Darling children. Little Michael Darling and Peter must work together to bring the shadow back to Neverland. It's great for fans of the character Peter Pan, though fans of Wendy, John, Tinker Bell, or the other Neverland cast will likely be a bit disappointed at when their favorite character(s) fail to appear (or sleep through most of their appearance).

Snow White: The Scariest One of All is a short story adapted from The Scariest One of All by Irene Trimble.

When a duke invites Queen Grimhilde to his annual Halloween party, the queen is determined to have the scariest costume of them all! But after she transforms into her most frightening visage--that of the hag--the Magic Mirror warns that Snow White will be the scariest one at the party instead.

Given that it's a story about Grimhilde trying to out-spooky Snow White at a costume party, it's really pretty ridiculous. Children might love it, though, and it's probably especially suited to Snow White fans for a Halloween read.

Dumbo: An Icy Adventure is an original short story by Jan Carr.

When Mrs. Jumbo accidentally falls off the circus' train, Dumbo flies to her rescue. But when the little elephant can't do it alone, all his animal friends come to help save the day. Honestly, I'm not sure what this story is doing in a "spooky storybook collection", but it's a cute little story nonetheless.

Tarzan: One Brave Gorilla is an original short story by Jasmine Jones that takes place before the Tarzan movie.

When Terk, Flynt, and Mungo want to play without that wannabe gorilla, Tarzan, following them, Terk makes up a scary story to discourage him. But when the three gorillas are the ones who end up frightened and lost, it's Tarzan who saves the day. It's a somewhat silly story with a subtle message of acceptance. (And it kind of made me want to see if I can find some Tarzan animated series episodes somewhere.)

Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh is a short story adapted from Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh by Bruce Talkington, which was in turn an adaptation of Disney's Halloween television special, Winnie the Pooh: Boo To You, Too!

When Halloween turns into Hallowasn't and Winnie and friends try to cheer up a frightened Piglet, the anxious little stuffed animal must overcome his fears to save his friends from the dreaded spookables.

It's a short story with a really authentic voice, which is less surprising now that I know it was based on a television special. While I can't speak for the difference between the short story and the special, I expect the latter offers some much-needed expansion to plot points that were rather rushed in the former; so if you have to choose which of them you're going to share with your child, I'd opt for the special. (Not that there's anything wrong with the short!)

Cars: Mater and the Ghost Light is a short story adapted from Mater and the Ghost Light by Andrea Posner-Sancez, which was in turn an adaptation of Pixar's Cars tie-in short, "Mater and the Ghost Light".

After Mater plays one too many pranks on his friends, the other cars decide to prank him back. Like the other Pixar example above, I really prefer the experience of the animated short over the short story; something just feels missing with the later.

Monsters, Inc.: The Scary School is a short story adapted from Monsters Get Scared of School, Too by Melissa Lagonegro.

When Mike must go through a safety training class to continue working at Monsters, Inc., he's terrified of reliving his awkward school days.

Essentially, it's a story that's supposed to occur after the end of Monsters, Inc., but it was clearly written with no idea that Monsters University was going to exist. As I haven't yet seen the later, I can't speak for how large the plot holes are, exactly, but... they're definitely there. Also, Mike is extremely out of character, so I'm kind of inclined to recommend giving this one a pass on principle.

Toy Story and Beyond: Where's Woody? is an original short story by Jasmine Jones.

When Woody falls out of Andy's window, Buzz & Jessie brave the outdoors to save him. The story is meant to occur sometime between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, and while it's not exactly "spooky", it's not a bad story, either.

Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent's Revenge is an original short story by Sarah Nathan.

Two years after the wedding of Aurora and Philip, a solar eclipse darkens heir kingdom and allows Maleficent and Diablo to return to life. Vowing revenge on Aurora, the wicked fairy turns Philip and the citizens of her kingdom to stone; but after Aurora trades her freedom for theirs, Philip must once again save her from eternal sleep with the power of love.

Essentially, it's a complete rehashing of Sleeping Beauty. The rest button gets hit to resurrect Maleficent and force Aurora into another eternal slumber so that Philip can play hero again in much the same way he did in the movie. Maleficent dies again, and true love reawakens Philip. Again. I'm honestly a bit boggled as to why they didn't try for a more original story with this one.

Donald Duck: The Witch Next Door is an adaptation of Donald Duck and the Witch Next Door.

When Madam Mim moves in next door to Donald and his three nephews, Donald's shenanigans chase the witch out of the neighborhood. In spite of the story's crossover element, one does not need to have seen The Sword and the Stone to understand the story (though familiarity with that movie may add some measure of extra amusement to the experience).

The Little Mermaid: The Sea Witch and the Sharks is an original short story by Sarah Nathan.

When Ariel accidentally discovers a way to hypnotize the sharks outside of Atlantica, Ursula tries to use the sharks to take over Triton's kingdom. I imagine that this story is intended to occur shortly before The Little Mermaid, but I'm also fairly sure that it creates a plot hole in regards to the Ariel-Ursula partnership in that movie. Eh.

The Fox and the Hound: One Scary Day is a short story adaptation of Hide-and-Seek.

After Copper and Tod get lost in the woods during a game of hide and seek, it's Big Mama the owl to the rescue, and the fox and the hound promise to be friends forever. As I'm not sure if I've ever seen the entirety of The Fox and the Hound, I can't say how well this does or doesn't mesh with the movie. But it's a cute story nonetheless.

Disney Fairies: The Home Tree Spook is an original short story by Laura Driscoll.

When a ghost seemingly joins Beck and Fawn's prank war, the two fairies plot to unravel the mystery. Fans of the Disney Fairies franchise should enjoy this one, though the other fairies, including Tinker Bell, get only a passing mention. Not being particularly familiar with that franchise myself, I have no idea if this fits into any kind of continuity within that world, but it's a pretty good story with a reasonable twist ending.

101 Dalmatians: Cruella's Surprise Visit is a short story adaptation of Puppy Power! by Barbara Bazaldua.

When Cruella shows up at Dalmatian Plantation in another attempt to steal the puppies, she's thwarted once again by the 101 dalmatians. It's a sequel story to the movie, and it seems to want to tell two stories at the same time, really--one about how easily the puppies can get into trouble at the plantation and another about Cruella being an easily defeated, obsessive animal murderer. (And... didn't Cruella go to jail at the end of the movie? WTF is she doing at the plantation, then? Jeez, this woman.)

Trapped! is a short story adaptation of Fish Are Friends, Not Food! by Annie Auerbach.

When Ward, one of Nemo's friends, wants to be field-trip leader after Marlin can't make it, his quest to prove himself manages to get Bruce and he trapped in a sunken ship.

I am 99.9% positive that Ward is an original character, which seems odd given that I don't recall any others being in the book. Also, in spite of the fact that the story clearly takes place after Finding Nemo and Marlin's decision to chill the hell out a bit about his son's safety, he also seems just a bit out of character in this. And Dory's lacking most of her quirky charm, given that she gets so little screentime. Alas.

All in all, this is a cute collection of Disney tie-in stories, some of which fit the "spooky" theme better than others. Some of the stories are specifically suited toward Halloween, so it might be a great collection to read to a child over the month of October and/or the nights leading up to the 31st. Not highly recommended, but worth a read if you have both a child and a copy.

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