It’s a well-known fact that monsters are bad with money.

That’s why we moved to Monster Grove.

My dad’s an accountant—a very good one. And when the monsters asked my dad to come work for them, he said, “What an interesting opportunity.”

“It will be a wonderful cultural experience for the children,” said my mom. “Just think of the friends they’ll make.”

“Ooh! Mon-stuhs!” said my baby sister, Barbara. We call her Boo.

“The monsters will eat us!” I said. “They’ll suck our blood and boil us in vats and haunt us.”

“I made them put a clause in my contract that says they won’t eat my family,” said Dad.

“What about boiling in vats?” I asked. “What about haunting? What about sucking blood?”

“Amelia,” Mom said, “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure they’re all very, very nice. And even if they’re not, just make sure you always have cookies with you. I’m sure monsters would rather eat cookies than kids.”

Sure. A pack of hungry monsters are bearing down on you and then they stop for a cookie? Well, maybe one of Mom’s cookies. They’re delicious. But even so, monsters probably like cookies made out of dead toads,
spider webs, and rotten guts—not Mom’s cookies.

As we drove toward our new home, the sky grew darker, the trees reached out their branches at stranger angles, and a mist rose from the road.

We passed a sign that read, “Welcome to Monster Grove. Population: Alive, 64; Dead, 142.”

“Looks like they’ll have to change the number for the living population,” Dad said.

“I hope that’s the number they change,” I said.

We weaved through narrow lanes, up gloomy avenues, and around a corner.

Then Dad stopped the car and said, “Here we are!”

I looked at our new house.

I felt the blood drain from my face and ducked down in my seat.

The house looked just fine.

It was what was in front of the house that frightened me.


They must have heard we were coming and were going to eat us.

Mom, Dad, and Boo got out of the car and went over to meet the monsters.

I decided to stay in the car and hide until Dad decided we should move back to reality. Or until the monsters ate them, whichever came first. I was pretty sure I could drive the car.

The car door opened.

The monsters had come to eat me!

I waited for their teeth to bite into me.

“YIKES!” I screamed. A hand had gripped my arm.

“Come on, dear.” It was Mom. “There are some very nice people I’d like you to meet.”

“They are not people; they’re monsters,” I whispered.

Mom pulled. I pulled back.

Mom let go, and another arm reached in. It was small and soft and cute.

“Mon-stuh?” she said.

How could I say no?

I held her hand and got out of the car.

I let Boo lead me to the crowd of scary things.

A fairly normal-looking man came up to me and shook my hand. “Welcome to Monster Grove!” he said. “I’m Werewolf.”

“You look very clean-shaven for a werewolf,” Dad said, and then he laughed.

“There’s no full moon,” I said.

“Smart kid!” Werewolf said. “This is how I norm-ally look, but you should see me when there is a full moon. I’m one handsome canine!” He laughed.

The next one to greet us was a mummy. He was already holding Boo. Nobody could resist Boo. “Glad you’re here,” the mummy said. “We really need your help. I hope you like your place. I haven’t been inside yet, but I hear it’s nice.”

A bony hand reached out next. And when I say bony, I mean just bones. My eyes followed the arm to its owner. A skeleton!

I jumped back.

“My name is Skeleton,” he said. “Do you have any dogs?”

“No,” I said.


The next monster to introduce himself was big and knobby with hair in all the wrong places.

“Welcome,” he said. “Glad meet you. Me Ogre. We be friends.”

“Sorry we’re late,” a voice said from behind us. It was a witch. Actually there were two witches: a big witch and a little witch that looked like her daughter.

“Kids are hard to get ready, aren’t they?” I said.

“How did you know that?” the big witch asked.

“Her shoes are on the wrong feet,” I said. “And she’s still wearing her pajamas under her dress.” Dad had taught me to notice the little things.

“Smart kid!” the big witch said. “It took me forever to get Little Witch ready. She hates going out, you know. Of course you don’t know. But now you do.” She shook our hands. Little Witch ignored us and began playing games with Boo.

I felt a cold chill go through me.

“Sorry about that,” a voice said. A form appeared in front of me. “Sometimes the easiest way past someone is right through them. My name’s Ghost.”

I could have guessed that.

“And who’s this handsome fellow?” Mom asked. She cleared her way through the crowd and went up to . . . something. I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like a huge blob of pudding that had been dumped out of its bowl.

“Blurp!” it said.

“Well nice to meet you, Mr. Blob!” Mom said. She has a way of understanding anyone.

Mr. Blob oozed around Mom and hugged her legs.

By then we had met everyone, or everything, unless one of the trees or rocks was a monster, too.

We chatted with our new neighbors. I was surprised at how quickly I got used to them. I was talking about my last school to Skeleton, and it felt perfectly natural until I remembered that we had something that looked just like him in our science room.

“I don’t want to interrupt a good time,” said Werewolf, “but our new neighbors are probably tired, and we should let them settle in.”

“You’ve been very nice,” Mom said. “It’s so wonderful to make new friends this quickly. Before you all leave, I know that some of you would like to see the
inside of our new home. Who’d like to accompany me on my first trip through the house?”

Every monster raised his/her/its hand/paw/ tentacle.          Mom led the way.

In the entrance, she stopped and looked at the floor.

“My, my!” she said.

Muddy prints went down the hall.

“Unforgivable,” said Werewolf. “These weren’t here when I arrived. We’ll clean these up right away. And while we’re at it, we’ll be happy to dust and straighten pictures.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Mom said. “I’ll take care of it in the morning.”

Mummy leaned over and whispered to me, “Werewolf is a clean freak. It drives the rest of us nuts sometimes, but his house does look very nice.”

We followed the prints to the kitchen. There, at the end of the prints, was a huge basket of goodies sitting on the table. Lots of chocolate, cookies, a doll for Boo, lots more chocolate, some hot chocolate . . . Someone had figured out what we liked.

“What a nice gift,” Mom said. “Thank you all!”

“It wasn’t me,” Skeleton said. “But I wish it had been. And I wish I had a digestive system again so I could eat chocolate.”

“So,” said Mom, “it must have been one of you. Come on. Who brought us this wonderful gift? I want to give them a hug.”

No one spoke.

I knew I shouldn’t say anything because an anonymous gift is a good thing, but I knew who had given the basket, and I liked them. And I knew Mom gave great hugs.

I decided to tell.

“Mom, I know who you owe a big hug.”

Who was the nice, sweet monster who filled our home with chocolate?

ANSWER: The giver, the one who made the muddy prints was not Mr. Blob or Ghost (they don’t make prints). Werewolf is too clean to make such a mess. Mummy hadn’t been in the house. Skeleton said he didn’t bring a gift. And the two witches arrived late. That left . . .

Ogre, who got a great big hug.

Posted in 01 Welcome to Monster Grove | Leave a comment


          “What a lovely day!” Dad said as he steered our car through the swampy streets. Cobwebs grabbed our antenna, and shadows jumped out at us. It was just after noon, but you wouldn’t know it.

“Lovey day!” said Boo.

“Are you guys looking outside?” I asked. “It’s dark and gloomy. It’s creepy.”

“Ah, but we’re going to meet a new client!” Dad said.

“We’re going to make new friends,” Mom added. She held a plate of homemade cookies on her lap. “It’s always a lovely day when you meet new friends.” Mom and Dad thought of their clients as family.

“And this client sounds so interesting,” Mom said. It was a family of werecats—people who turn into jaguars when the moon is full.

I looked out the window. I couldn’t see a moon of any kind.


“Do you have the address, dear?” Dad asked. We were approaching the south end of Monster Grove.

“I do,” Mom rummaged around in her handbag and pulled out a strip of paper. She held it up and read, “Now Shh EIEIO.”

“What?” we all asked.

“That’s what it says,” Mom said. “It must be one of those creative things the monsters do here.”

“Let’s see,” said Dad. “‘Now’ must mean it’s coming up soon. ‘Shh’ means it’s a quiet place. And ‘EIEIO’ means it’s probably a farm. So we should look for a quiet farm coming up soon.”

“I still can’t believe that’s an address,” I said. “Are you sure you read it right?”

“Of course,” Mom said. She looked at the strip again. “It’s right here; it says . . . Well, will you look at that. I did read it wrong! It says . . . I don’t know how to pronounce these. I’ll spell them. N O O W  S S I H  E I O E I.”

“Hmmm,” said Dad. “Interesting.”

“And even more confusing,” I said. “Can I see that address?”

“Of course, dear,” Mom said. And she handed it back to me.

I took one look at it, and knew where we were supposed to go.

Have you figured out where the Werecat family lives?

ANSWER: The Werecat family was delightful. At first I was nervous. When Mr. Werecat answered the door I was surprised to see that he was in his cat form. (Turns out they like their cat form best, so they had artificial moons installed in their house.) This was the first time I had been that close to a jaguar without bars between us. But he was very nice. He shook our hands, picked up Boo, and licked her face. Then he showed us in. He introduced us to his wife and their four kittens. We had cookies and milk, and then Boo and I played with the kids while the grown-ups talked. We had a ball. We didn’t leave until almost midnight. As we drove home, I looked up at the full moon, glad that I had turned the strip upside-down and seen the real address—13013 HISS MOON.

Posted in 02 The Mystery of the Lost Werecats | Leave a comment


“Why thank you!” Mom said. “I’m so glad you
enjoy them, you sweet thing.”

“Thing” was right. It had tentacles and a dozen legs, and fur and hair and feathers. But my mom loved him. She loved all of the monsters as soon as she met them. And they immediately loved her. And her cookies.

A new tradition had begun. Every Monday was baking day at our house. Our first Monday in Monster Grove, Mom had invited all the monsters she could over for cookies. On this, the second Monday, they needed no invitation. The word had gotten out and monsters came from all over.

Today, Mom was serving her raisin oatmeal chocolate chip double fudge raspberry cookies.

To each monster she gave a cookie and a pat on the head or a hug. Then she sent them on their way.

“May I have another, please?” some asked. Or, “We want more!” But Mom said, “Just one each, until everyone has had one. Come back this afternoon and there may be seconds.”

The monsters then headed out, except for those who were trapped by Boo.

Boo had a smile no monster could resist. They stopped and picked her up and gave her big hugs. She laughed, pulled their ears, and poked them in the nose.

Suddenly, there was a commotion. A monster on a mission. He pushed past Mummy. He shoved Goblin to the floor and gave him a glare. He stepped on Dracula’s cape.

He just bulldozed his way through until he was at the front of the line.

“Me want nother cookie!” cried Ogre.

“I’m sorry,” said Mom, “but you know the rules, dear.” I’m sure it was hard for Mom to say no. She really liked Ogre.

“Me want nother cookie!” Ogre slammed his fist against the brick wall. “Ouch-chow-chow-chowch!” he cried as he hopped around, sucking on his hand.

“Calm down, dear,” Mom said. “I’m glad you like my cookies. Come back this afternoon, and I’ll be happy to give you another cookie if there are any left.”

Big tears welled up in Ogre’s eyes. “Me not know if me like your cookies.” He turned and pointed. “Goblin take my cookie! Goblin eat my cookie!”

Goblin stood up, came to the front of the line, straightened his vest and his jacket, smiled at Mom. “My dear Mrs. Stevens. I’m so sorry for the commotion, but I must assure you, I did not improperly acquire or
consume Ogre’s fine baked product. He is obviously the victim of a wicked spell at best, or at worst, he is trying to defraud you of another of your delicious treats.”

“Huh?” said Ogre.

“He’s saying he didn’t take your cookie,” I explained to Ogre.

Smoke came out of Ogre’s ears. His eyes turned fire red. “Goblin STEAL cookie! Goblin EAT cookie! Goblin give me cookie or I eat GOBLIN!”

“Come now, my friend” Goblin, stepped back. “I want no trouble. I’m only here to acquire and enjoy
another of these baked delights. I do not mean you any ill will, and I will forgive you of your misplaced outburst. Now, do as Mrs. Stevens suggests: Run along, and return this afternoon.”

I had heard enough. “As much as I think it would be fun to see Ogre eat Goblin, I think there’s a better

All the monsters turned and listened to me closely.

“Here’s my solution. Goblin, you get your cookie and give it to Ogre.”

“Come now,” said Goblin. “What kind of solution is that? Where is the justice? Why must I pay for a cookie I didn’t eat?”

“Oh, but you did eat Ogre’s cookie,” I said. “Shall I tell you how I know?”

How did I know?

ANSWER: Goblin had said he was “here to acquire and enjoy another of these baked delights.” He had already had one. He hadn’t got it from Mom; he had stolen it from Ogre.

Goblin glared at me and my blood ran cold. I wondered whether I should have spoken up.

But then Mom said, “Goblin, you realize that if you hurt my daughter, I’ll never want to bake for you again. You wouldn’t want that, would you, dear?”

Goblin’s eyes softened a bit.

And then Boo looked up at Goblin with that sweet, irresistible smile and said, “Gob hurt Amelia, Boo hurt Gob.”

Goblin couldn’t resist. He picked up Boo, hugged her close, and said, “Gob no hurt Amelia. Gob love Amelia. Gob love Boo. Gob love cookies.” He smiled at Mom. She smiled at Goblin as she handed Ogre a cookie.

All was well.

Oh, and one more thing. As fast as word spread about Mom’s cookies, word spread that I had a knack for solving the monsters’ problems. My peaceful life was over. The fun was just beginning.

Posted in 03 The Mystery of the Ogre's Cookie | Leave a comment


           The first time I met Frankenstein, he almost scared me to death. I might have dropped down and died right then if it hadn’t been for his goofy grin.

I was walking home from my first monster party. It was Mummy’s birthday. We watched him wrap gifts. And wrap furniture. And his guests. And then he taught us mummy dances.

I was still doing one of the mummy dances when I saw Frankenstein.

I gulped.

I trembled.

I laughed.

That grin.

“Knock knock,” he said.

“Huh?” Was he telling a joke or warning me that he was about to knock my head off?

“Knock knock.”

“Uh . . . who’s there?”

“Hi Ma,” he said.

“Hi Ma who?” I asked.

“I’m a monster! What are you?” he bent over laughing. He laughed so hard that his head fell off. It rolled to my feet. It grinned at me. “Could you put me back on, please? Thank you so much.”

I nudged his head within reach of his searching arms. Frankenstein picked it up and stuck it on his neck. He then took a wrench from his pocket and tightened the bolt on his neck.

He gave the bolt one hard, last twist, and put his wrench away.

He held out his hand. I took it. It came off in my hand.

He doubled over laughing again.

This time his head did not fall off.

“Gotcha!” he said. I handed the hand back. He screwed it on his wrist.

He held it back out to me.

I hesitated.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It won’t come off this time . . . but yours might!” And he roared again with laughter.

I shook his hand carefully then checked my hand. It was on good and tight.

“I’m Frankenstein,” he said. “Well, actually not Frankenstein. That’s a misunderstanding. Frankenstein was the crazy scientist who put me together. He also invented the automatic nose picker.” He pointed to his face. “He used it to pick my nose. Hah!”

“So you’re Frankenstein’s monster?” I asked.

“That’s my name,” he said. “But you can call me Frankenstein for short.”

And that’s how I met Frankenstein, the silliest monster in Monster Grove.

So when I got the phone call, I was expecting a joke.

But no, Frankenstein was very serious.

“It’s gone,” said Frankenstein. “Somebody took it.”

“What’s gone?” I expected him to say the last two minutes of my life, stolen by a goofy monster.

“I was sleeping in a tree,” he said, “and when I woke up, it was gone!”

“What’s gone, Frankenstein?”

“I don’t know where I’ll get another one. Maybe on the Internet. That’s it! I can order another one off the Internet! This time I’ll get one prettier and smarter.”

“Get one what?” I asked.

“MY HEAD!” yelled Frankenstein. “Somebody stole my head! Find them! I’ll take them apart and use the parts to fix my toaster!”

“Uh, Frank . . .”

“If you find my head I’ll do my Franken Steinatra impersonation.” He began to sing, “I’ve Got Screws . . . Under My Skin . . .”

“Who’s Franken Steinatra?” I asked.

“Someone my ears listened to when they belonged to somebody else. Enough about my ears. And my arms. And you just leave my toes alone.  But please, find my head!”

“Frankenstein,” I said, “I know right where your head is.”

Where was Frankenstein’s head? And how did I know where it was? (This one is so easy that if you don’t get it I’ll have to feed you to the monsters.)

ANSWER: Frankenstein’s head was on his body. Otherwise, how could talk to me? I wasn’t sure if was playing with me or if he had a bolt loose.

Posted in 04 The Mystery of the Missing Head | Leave a comment


            “Someone broke into my gallery!” Dracula woke me up in the middle of the night.

Or rather, my mother woke me. She handed me the phone. “It’s for you, dear.” She went back to bed.

My sleep patterns had flip-flopped since word had gotten around about my detective skills. I, like most normal humans, like to sleep at night and play all day.

Many of the monsters, though, were creatures of the night. When they had a financial problem, they woke up Dad. When they had a mystery to solve, Mom woke me up.

I tried to train them to wait until morning, but monsters are impatient. They’re like two-year-olds.

“Was anything stolen?” I asked Dracula.

“Not that I can see. I just want to know who did it and why.”

“Don’t touch anything,” I said. “I’ll be there in the morning.”

“By then it may be too late,” Dracula said.

“Too late for what?”

“Too late to find the evidence,” he said. “It might disappear.”

“What evidence?” I asked.

“How should I know?” he said. “You’re the expert.”

“Oh, all right,” I said. “I’ll be there soon.”

I put on my jacket, left a note for my parents, and headed out into the night.

A full moon pushed its way through light fog. Odd noises—creeks, rattles, and groans—crept out from the dark corners.

I wasn’t sure what worried me more: the dark and the noises, or the fact that I was quickly getting used to the dark and the noises. Was I becoming one of them? Nah.

The tree branches reached out toward me, as if to grab me . . .

“YIKES!” I jumped as something heavy gripped my shoulder.

I turned then laughed. “Hi, Werewolf.” He stood there with a big grin. He had long ago quit attacking people and tearing them apart. In fact, he had become a vegetarian. And a neat freak. Tearing people apart was far too messy.

Werewolf did enjoy proving that he could still make people jump.

“Nice facial hair,” I said. “I like the way it curls.” I’d survived a couple of full moons in Monster Grove. Werewolf liked to come visit my family “at his handsomest.”

“Thank you,” Werewolf said as he stroked his cheek. “I like it too. Are you off for a midnight walk?”

“Dracula has an emergency he wants me to help with,” I said. “Want to come?” I was still getting used to walking alone at night in the dark.

“Happy to join you,” he said.

As we walked along winding, shadowy lanes, we talked about our families, upcoming events, and the other monsters. I told him it would be fun to be a werewolf. He said it would be nice not having to comb so much every month. And he hated shedding hair all over the furniture.

At last we climbed the steep hill to Dracula’s
castle. We knocked. The huge doors creaked open.

“Finally!” Dracula said. “Come in. Hello, Werewolf.” He nodded at my companion.

Werewolf nodded back.

“Show us to the scene of the crime,” I said. “Drafty in here, isn’t it.”

“Old castles are required by law to be drafty,” Dracula said. “That’s why all the doors and windows have gaps in them.”

“Doesn’t that let in a lot of bugs?” Werewolf asked

“It does,” Dracula said. “I have hired help that comes in once a week and eats them.”

Dracula led us to a large door. Sure enough, there was a two-inch gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.

Dracula inserted a key into the lock then pushed hard on the door. It creaked forward.

We stepped into the gallery. “It’s . . .” I began. But I was interrupted by bells, sirens, clanking, screaming. I covered my ears. Werewolf started howling.

Dracula leapt to the door and entered a series of numbers on a keypad.

The noise stopped.

“What was that?” I asked.

“My alarm,” Dracula said.

“So that’s how you knew you’d been broken into,” I said. “What time did the alarm go off?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” he said. “I’m a deep sleeper. The alarm was on when I woke up this evening. I don’t know how long it had been screaming.”

Werewolf walked around the room, looking closely at the paintings on the wall. A casual observer might think he was a lover of fine art, but there were two problems with that conclusion:

First, I don’t think you could call the paintings fine art. They were paintings Dracula had done of his friends—Frankenstein, Little Witch and Big Witch, Ogre, Goblin, Mr. Blob, Skeleton, the Werecat family, and others. The paintings were recognizable, but they wouldn’t make an art lover tingle with joy.

The second problem was that I knew Werewolf was a clean freak and a bit obsessive compulsive. I knew what he was doing, and it wasn’t looking at the quality of the art.

While Werewolf growled disapprovingly, I asked Dracula, “Was everyone happy with their paintings? Maybe someone just broke in to look at theirs.”

“They come all the time to look,” he said. “They don’t need to break in. I gladly let them in.”

“Any complaints?”

“Just one, who demanded I change his painting. But I refused. I have my artistic integrity.”

We watched as Werewolf went from picture to picture, staring closely at the frames. He stopped in front of Mr. Blob’s picture and grasped the bottom of the frame with his right paw and the top with his left. He straightened the painting, smiled, and said, “There. That’s better.”

Then he looked at his paws. He held up his right paw. It was covered in dust.

“Look at this, Dracula! The bottom of this painting is filthy! Don’t you ever dust in here?”

“Duh—this is a spooky castle! There’s supposed to be dust and cobwebs and drafts and strange noises!”

“Just because our ancestors had bad habits doesn’t mean we have to,” Werewolf said. “If I can stop ripping up people . . .” He didn’t go on. He brushed off his paw and folded his arms.

“Back to the crime,” I said. “So you don’t see anything stolen or moved?”

“I don’t.”

“And the door was locked?”

“It was. I don’t see how anyone got in.”

“And yet the alarm went off?”

“Faulty alarm,” said Werewolf. “Probably had dust on it.”

“I just had the alarm cleaned and checked last week,” said Dracula.

I looked at the door.

I looked at the paintings.

And then I said, “I think I know who broke in and why.”

Have you figured out who it was and what they’d done?

ANSWER: Something had been moved. The painting of Mr. Blob. When Werewolf grabbed the frame, he found dust on the bottom of the frame instead of where it should have been—on the top. That’s because the painting had recently been turned upside down.

Or, as the object of the painting later explained, right side up. Mr. Blob had been so frustrated at Dracula’s refusal to turn the painting around that he oozed in through the gaps under the door and made the change himself.

Dracula realized that if he hadn’t noticed the change, it didn’t really matter. He let Mr. Blob have his way.

Posted in 05 The Mystery in Dracula's Gallery | Leave a comment


            “I’d like to lodge a complaint,” said Skeleton.

“Why are you complaining to me?” I was in my yard with Boo. We were jumping into piles of moss. “Don’t you have a mayor or something you can complain to?”

“We have a night mayor,” said Skeleton. “But he’s not any use. He’s only around when you’re asleep.”

“So what’s your problem?” I asked.

“My funny bone,” he said. “Frankenstein stole it.”

“Frankenstein stole your funny bone?” I asked. “I don’t see any bones missing.”

“You must be having trouble with your eyes,” said Skeleton. “You should put some eyes cream on them.”

“Okay, where was your funny bone?” I asked

Skeleton looked at his left arm. “It was over here somewhere.” He pointed to his elbow. “On my laughed arm.”

I groaned. “So why do you think it was Frankenstein who stole it?” I asked.

“Because he told me,” Skeleton said. “He called me on the phone and said he stole my funny bone and wouldn’t give it back until I told him a joke. I told him one: What’s the meanest pig on the planet? Frankenswine. But he still won’t give it back.”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“Tell your Dad to take away Frankenstein’s money until he gives me my funny bone back.”

“My Dad would never do that,” I said. And he wouldn’t. He doesn’t blackmail his clients.

“Then you tell Frankenstein to give me my funny bone back,” Skeleton said. “He likes you.”

“I’ll talk to him,” I said. “But he won’t give your funny bone back, because he never took it.”

How did I know?

ANSWER: The funny bone isn’t a bone. It’s a nerve. And though Skeleton was pretty brave, he had long ago lost his nerves. The funny bone is also a sense of humor, and Skeleton’s bad puns showed that he had not lost that.

Posted in 06 The Mystery of the Stolen Bone | Leave a comment


           We were walking through the forest, me and Frankenstein, on our way to visit Dracula for a midnight lunch.

“It’s spooky in here,” I mentioned.

“Oh no, it’s not spooky,” Frankenstein said. “Besides, if something tries to hurt you, I’ll help you.”

“You couldn’t hurt a butterfly,” I said.

“But I can scare one,” he said. He smiled proudly. “I am the biggest thing alive in the forest.”

“I know you’ll protect me,” I said, “even if you aren’t the biggest thing alive in the forest.”

“I’m . . . not?” said Frankenstein. “Who’s bigger? Witch isn’t bigger. Skeleton isn’t bigger. Mr. Blob isn’t bigger. Who’s bigger?”

I told him.

What thing living in the forest was bigger than Frankenstein?

ANSWER: The trees. Frankenstein laughed. “You scared me. Trees aren’t scary. They are not mean. They won’t hurt me. They don’t have teeth and claws or . . .”

WHAM! He walked right into a low branch.

“Ouch,” said Frankenstein. “Mean tree!”

Posted in 07 The Mystery of the Forest Menace | Leave a comment


I’ve been to a lot of all-you-can-eat buffets. I love the variety. I love to try new foods.

But the variety at the monthly Monster Grove
Potluck Party is downright scary. And probably dangerous.

Mom won’t let us try anything unless Dad tries it first. Not that she’s trying to kill Dad, but Dad has a
titanium stomach. Things that would kill us only give him an upset stomach.

So he tries a new food first, and if he doesn’t get sick, we go ahead and eat it. We know if we follow these rules, the worst that can happen is that we’ll get queasy, maybe throw up, and maybe have to go to the hospital and get our stomachs pumped.

We knew Mom’s food was safe, so when we walked in on that fall potluck, the first thing I did was take a big serving of Mom’s bread pudding.

The second thing I did was shout, “Dad, get eating so we’ll know what won’t kill us!”

Dad obliged. He likes trying new foods, too.

I looked over the dishes.

“I make a fine crème brûlée,” said Frankenstein as he put his dish on the table.

Mummy brought an assortment of—you guessed it—wraps. Good, I thought. Nothing could go wrong here. “What’s in them?” I asked him.

“Roast beetles,” he said.

I decided to skip the wraps.

Skeleton brought ribs. “They’re not yours, are they?” I asked.

Skeleton stopped and said clearly and with great annoyance, “Of course not. I have no meat on my bones.”

“Good,” I said. “So let’s see—they look like beef.”

“Uh, no,” said Skeleton.

“Then they must be pork,” I said.

“Guess again.”


“Not even close.”

I decided to skip the ribs.

Big Witch was cutting a large pie. “What kind is it?” I asked. I love pie.

“Boysenberry,” she said. “My favorite kind of buy.”

“Mine, too,” Little Witch said.

I’d have to find out where she bought it. “It looks delicious,” I said.

“We bicked the berries ourselves,” said Big Witch.

I moved on to look at the other selections.

Dad filled his plate with main courses, ate it all, and smiled. “Burp!”

“Dig in,” he said.

We filled our plates high with anything that didn’t look disgusting.

But just before we began eating, it hit me. I dropped my plate and ran to Boo and my parents. Dad was just starting on the desserts. “Don’t eat the pie!” I yelled.

And I told them why. Do you know why?

ANSWER: When Big Witch spoke, she said her P’s like B’s. Which meant that her “boysenberry buy” might just be “poison berry pie!” It wasn’t worth taking a chance.

Posted in 08 The Mystery at the Monster Buffet | Leave a comment


            It was a dark night, but not a stormy night. The sky was clear—a rare occurrence in Monster Grove. The moon would have lit the sky, and the earth, if there had been a moon.

But there was no moon. So as I walked through the night, enjoying the cool air, I held my flashlight
before me and let it guide me on.

It wasn’t long ago that I would have been terrified at the thought of walking alone at night. I’d still be afraid of walking alone at night where we used to live. But, here, where I have picnics, play games, work and play with creatures of the night, walking alone at night has lost its threat.

I knew that if something jumped out to attack me, say, something that did not belong here in Monster Grove, like an angry kangaroo, I only had to shout and someone would come to my rescue—someone like Dracula, or Frankenstein, or . . .


“Werewolf, is that you?” I shined my light at the figure that approached, but I couldn’t see for sure
because of a light shining at me.

“It’s me,” Werewolf said. “I’ve been looking for you. Your mother said you’d be here.”

“Glad to see you,” I said. “What’s up?”

Werewolf turned his light from my face and shined it on his. “Look!” He was almost in tears. “Look! Someone shaved me when I was asleep!” His light showed a smooth, handsome face, but I liked him better as a Werewolf.

“Who would do that?” I asked.

“It could be anybody,” said Werewolf. “But I suspect Frankenstein. He’s jealous because he can’t grow fur and you know how he is with practical jokes.”

“Werewolf, what did you eat last night?” I asked.

“No one you know,” he said.

“What did you really eat?” I knew Werewolf would never eat someone.

“Radishes,” he said.

“Just radishes?” I asked.

“Just radishes,” he said.

“And do you ever walk in your sleep?” I asked.

“My wife says I do, but I don’t believe her,” he said. “I’ve never caught myself sleepwalking,”

“Well, I think I have,” I said. “I think you’re sleepwalking right now.” I took him by the hand. “Here,” I said, “let me take you home.”

“Aren’t you going to find out who shaved me?” he asked.

“I already know,” I said, and I led Werewolf home.

Who did I think shaved Werewolf, and how did I know?

ANSWER: The night was dark. There was no moon. Everyone knows that werewolves only get hairy on nights with full moons. No one shaved Werewolf. He wasn’t hairy and wouldn’t be again until there was another full moon. I knew Werewolf would understand this unless he didn’t know what he was doing, like if he was sleep-walking.

Posted in 09 The Mystery of the Shaven Werewolf | Leave a comment


           Big Witch and Little Witch had invited me and Boo to dinner. We told them we weren’t hungry, but we would love to visit them. It wasn’t a total lie. We did like visiting the witches, but we were afraid of their food. And that poison thing. We remembered the “boysenberry” pie.

So we were sitting in the witches’ parlor, enjoying the crackling fire and the cackling conversation, when Little Witch, who was usually pretty quiet, stopped playing with Boo. She spoke up, “I just had an adventure.”

“Oh, we do love adventures,” said Big Witch, “except for Little Witch. She never goes out of the house.”

“Oh, I do, too,” said Little Witch. “I go to the
Stevens’ house for cookies. And I went to the buffet. And yesterday I went way out of the house—all the way into the big city.”

“The beople city?” Big Witch asked, amazed.

“The people city,” Little Witch said.

“Oh my,” said Big Witch. “How brave of you! Were you afraid?”

“Very afraid!” Little Witch said.

“Then why did you go?” I asked.

“I wanted to see if everything I’ve heard about it was true!”

“And was it?” asked Big Witch.

“It’s worse!” said Little Witch. “There are monsters there, too! Worse monsters than here! And they have magic!”

“The monsters have magic?” Big Witch asked.

“The PEOPLE have magic!” Little Witch said.

“BEOPLE have magic?” Big Witch asked.

“We have magic?” I asked. “Where?”

“There were doors that open by themselves!” said Little Witch. “Stairs that go up and down, and little rooms that eat you—they open their mouths and you’re gone!”

“Oh, what a scary blace!” said Big Witch.

“It’s not magic, it’s . . .” I began.

Little Witch interrupted me. “And the scariest of all was the last monster I met. I wasn’t looking where I was going, and I walked right into its mouth. It had
already eaten another man. He yelled at me to get out. I did, and the monster growled and ran away. But before it did, I saw part of its name reflected in a store window. The name was tattooed on the monster’s side. I can’t
remember the first letter, but the second was X. The third I can’t remember. And the fourth was T. What could it mean, Big Witch?”

“It’s—” I began again, but Big Witch interrupted me.

“Blank X blank T.” She wrote the inscription on the wall in spray paint as she spoke. “Obviously it sbells EXIT.”

“But, Big Witch,” said Little Witch, “I didn’t EXIT it until I had already ENTERED it. Why didn’t it say, ‘ENTER’ too? I’m so confused!”

“Little Witch, I believe it’s a good thing that the man told you to get out. He knew he was lost, but he thought he could save you. Because that monster is the horrible EXIT MONSTER, who helbs you exit this life! Oh, Little Witch,” Big Witch hugged Little Witch and held her tight. “I almost lost you!”

Boo started to cry, too, and joined in the hugging.

“Uh, Little Witch? Big Witch?” They stopped crying and turned to look at me. At last I got their attention. “That monster wasn’t what you thought it was.”

What was the monster?

ANSWER: Little Witch saw _ X _ T in a store window, which means it was reversed from what it really was: T _ X _ . Or TAXI. I was going to explain that a taxi is not a monster, but then I remembered the last taxi ride I’d had. Maybe the witches were on to something.

Posted in 10 The Mystery of the Witch-Eating Monster | Leave a comment