True confession: I thoroughly enjoy teasing children.

As my grandchildren, strapped in their car seats, are backing down our driveway, I'm running after the car, snarling, grimacing and pretending that I'll eat them up if I can just catch them. When they shriek, it encourages me.

So, it's not surprising that "Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue" by Maurice Sendak is one of my favorite books for children.

Gently scary, wacky books need a place in a child's reading life. Perhaps just a little place, but a place.

"Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion" by Hilaire Belloc and Mini Grey is a laugh-out-loud, lift-the-flap, pop-up picture book "not for those of a nervous disposition."

"Pierre" is saved from death by the lion's regurgitation. All that's left of Jim is his head.

Belloc wrote the cautionary tale of "Jim" decades ago. From the press release: " 'Jim' (was) ... a satirical response to the didactic morality tales popular for children in Victorian times, and it was intended as much for adults as it was for children."

Although the book is recommended for children 3 and up, I wouldn't want to be responsible for the nightmares of any pre-schooler.

"The Odious Ogre" by Norton Juster is truly odious and "extraordinarily large, exceedingly ugly, unusually angry, constantly hungry, and absolutely merciless."

The ogre proudly refers to himself as "invulnerable, impregnable, insuperable, indefatigable, insurmountable."

Children familiar with "Shrek" and "Beauty and the Beast" will glom onto this story without hesitation, even though the ogre is scary. The story ends when a young girl literally kills the ogre with kindness. This book is a wonderful read-aloud for kindergarten through second grade.

"Always Listen to Your Mother" by Florence Parry Heide and Kyle M. Stone is another funny book, but it's just gently funny.

"Ernest never: spilled, whined, dawdled, talked back, got his own way ... or had a good time." Until the new neighbors moved in.

At the neighbor's house, the mother bathes in mud and encourages chaos. The boys listen to her, do as she says and play with rambunctious abandon.

"Children Make Terrible Pets" by Peter Brown is a silly book for pre-schoolers. It may be a bit wacky and scary for a small child to hear about another small child being conscripted into life as a bear's pet, but the story ends happily.

Do you aspire to scare little children? Are you looking for ways to encourage terrible behavior? These titles will get your started and help to perfect your technique.

Fran Hawk is the author of "Ten Tips for Raising Readers." Contact her at