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The Banshee

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“SCREE . . . SCREE . . .”

Terry is half asleep when he hears the wailing, rising and falling like the waves of the sea. He wishes it were a dream, but he knows it isn’t. It isn’t an owl screeching, either. Or the Flannerys’ old cat. Could it be the Banshee—the ghostly figure of Irish legend who wails outside a house when death is near?

Why would she come here?

In spite of his fears, Terry goes out to confront her. Is it really the Banshee, or . . . something else?

32 pages, Hardcover

First published September 14, 2009

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About the author

Eve Bunting

335 books384 followers
Also known as Evelyn Bolton and A.E. Bunting.

Anne Evelyn Bunting, better known as Eve Bunting, is an author with more than 250 books. Her books are diverse in age groups, from picture books to chapter books, and topic, ranging from Thanksgiving to riots in Los Angeles. Eve Bunting has won several awards for her works.

Bunting went to school in Ireland and grew up with storytelling. In Ireland, “There used to be Shanachies… the shanachie was a storyteller who went from house to house telling his tales of ghosts and fairies, of old Irish heroes and battles still to be won. Maybe I’m a bit of a Shanchie myself, telling stories to anyone who will listen.” This storytelling began as an inspiration for Bunting and continues with her work.

In 1958, Bunting moved to the United States with her husband and three children. A few years later, Bunting enrolled in a community college writing course. She felt the desire to write about her heritage. Bunting has taught writing classes at UCLA. She now lives in Pasadena, California.

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5 stars
26 (15%)
4 stars
55 (32%)
3 stars
64 (37%)
2 stars
24 (14%)
1 star
2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,242 reviews
November 9, 2010
This story was scary!!! with both supernatural fears and the very real fear of the possible death of an ill child/sibling in this family's house. In Irish hfolklore, the banshee is said to cry around the house of one who will die--so the older brother in this story is very worried when he hears a "scree! scree!" outside because his brother is not well and he is afraid it means he will die--and because banshees are really scary looking and he doesn't want one around! His mother won't believe that it's a banshee, so the boy bravely goes to investigate, taking his beloved peacock feather as an offering to the banshee, hoping she will take it an spare his brother's life. But, is there really a banshee outside???

This story nicely displays brotherly love, selflessness and bravery... and the conflagration of imagination when given just a little bit of frightening fodder. Truth be told, it was a little scary/dark for my taste, but I definitely appreciated the effort.
Profile Image for Krista the Krazy Kataloguer.
3,873 reviews267 followers
October 7, 2010
A creepy story about a young Irish lad who thinks he hears a banshee wailing in the night. It turns out to be something else entirely...or is it? And why is the lad holding a peacock feather in his hand on the cover? Read on and find out, preferably on Halloween night! Well told, and atmospherically illustrated. It seems to be based on something the author's father claimed happened to him when he was a boy. A great choice for a Halloween readaloud.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,113 reviews186 followers
May 30, 2019
Awakened by the "Scree...Scree..." of a banshee outside his window, young Terry seeks the comfort of his parents' room, where his mother (after ascertaining that his brother Liam, who is in "delicate" health, is well), assures him that it is only a bad dream, and tucks him back into bed. Terry knows better of course, and recalling that the wailing of a banshee is said to presage a death, he decides to steal out and offer the banshee his "best thing" - a beautiful peacock feather given to him by his father. His brother Liam is often sick, after all, so perhaps this gift will convince this nocturnal visitor that she has come to the wrong home...

A picture-book that would have had me quaking in my bed, if I'd read it before going to sleep as a little girl, The Banshee is another winning story from the prolific Eve Bunting! Frightening, but also heart-warming - I liked the fact that Terry was willing to sacrifice his greatest treasure to ensure his brother's health and safety - it addresses a common childhood fear (night terrors) in a culturally specific way (the banshee), highlighting, through its ambiguous conclusion, that whether the creatures of the night are fact or fantasy, they still have the power to terrify. The accompanying by Emily Arnold McCully, who also illustrated Bunting's That's What Leprechauns Do and Sing a Song of Piglets: A Calendar in Verse , is appropriately spooky! Recommended to anyone looking for scary children's stories, whether for the approaching Halloween season, or just in general, or for contemporary tales with an Irish theme.
Profile Image for Amanda M. Lyons.
Author 59 books135 followers
July 8, 2010
This is well written but I think it might be better for older kids than my son. At 5 he found this pretty scary. It plays off the creepiness very well especially with the art style.
Profile Image for Nancy Kotkin.
1,396 reviews19 followers
February 13, 2019
Set in Ireland, a boy wakes up to wailing on a cold wintry night and believes it is a visit from a banshee. He takes his peacock feather (his "best thing") outside as an offering in place of his frail brother. He finds evidence that the noise wasn't a banshee after all, but he's not totally convinced of that. Beautiful prose. Both the text and the illustrations are rather scary, so I consider this a picture book for upper elementary or middle school children.
Profile Image for babyhippoface.
2,443 reviews133 followers
May 7, 2010
Lying in bed on a cold and windy Ireland night, Terry is frightened by the screeing of a banshee outside in the yard. Is it coming for him? For Liam, his sickly brother? Or for Ma or Pa? Ma says banshees are just superstition, but Terry's friend Colin saw one once, so Terry's not sure who to believe. This book is spooky enough in tone to keep kids listening but not so scary they'll abandon it in fright, and the reassuring ending will be welcomed by many nervous children. McCully's watercolors in dark browns and grays with a touch of blue almost tell the story on their own, revealing the boy's emotions vividly. Read this to younger elementary students at Halloween for just the right amount of creepy.
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book643 followers
March 17, 2014
This is a wonderfully haunting tale that is just the right amount of creepy without being over-the-top or giving a child a nightmare. The Irish lore incorporated into the tale is terrific and I love the concern the boy has for his brother. Overall, it's a great book to read aloud, especially at Halloween. We really enjoyed reading this book together.
Profile Image for Rosa Cline.
3,322 reviews39 followers
July 10, 2017
This was kind of a spooky scary book for younger and or sensitive readers-listeners. My adult special needs son got scared from time to time as I was reading it him so not real sure he enjoyed the book; but to me it was a pretty nice book (of course for age appropriate)

A little boy was afraid of the Banshee that he'd been told of. He was afraid she was after him. So he got his curage up and went outside with his favorite feather that his dad gave him. it gave him courage and he felt if he gave it to the banshee she wouldn't come after him or his family. What he found wasn't the banshee but things in his yard and it's shadow. BUT he wasn't taking any chances and left the feather 'just in case'....
Profile Image for Donna.
960 reviews23 followers
May 24, 2021
Challenge: Book-A-Day in May 2021 (25/31). The second of two haunting books written by Eve Bunting that recall her Irish heritage read for this day in May 2021. A story of a boy who makes a symbolic offering to the banshee who announces death; more than an Irish superstition as the banshee has been heard and experienced by many in the land. The illustrations in watercolor, pen and ink by Caldecott award winner Emily Arnold McCully evoke the fear held for this spirit and the experience of many as it is encountered in the night.
1,980 reviews22 followers
November 29, 2018
Actually a pretty dark kids book! The pictures reinforce the atmosphere too, very dark and shadowy. Between the monsters and scary night noises and potential death of a sibling... I had the spooky shivers, and I'm in my thirties! I guess that means, not a storytime book for my usual audience (they're a little young). If you know your audience and think they're up for it, this could be a good one as something spooky for a Halloween program or similar.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
824 reviews
September 5, 2018
This book would have scared the holy bajesus out of me as a child, but my sister would have adored it. If you kid is into scary stories, this is definitely the story for them! The tension of this story is so beautifully built. Even as an adult, it gave me the edge-of-the-seat shivers.
Profile Image for Patricia Ross.
48 reviews
September 7, 2019
I liked this book. As you’re reading it you are wondering if there really is a banshee or what is the noise he is hearing. Is the superstition going to come true in this story or is it just a little boy’s bright imagination? I think this would be a fun book to learn about predictions.
Profile Image for Shane Bradley.
Author 14 books3 followers
September 9, 2022
My son and I love Eve Bunting books, and this one is another good one. I love Irish folklore, so I was excited to read it. It's spooky without being too spooky. The illustrations are perfect; dark and creepy.
Profile Image for Caleigh.
93 reviews9 followers
February 7, 2019
This book was beautifully illustrated and haunting, but not too scary for kids. It would be a good Halloween story to read in the classroom.
October 31, 2019
This book was so much fun for story time. I shared it with grades K-2. It had all the kids on the edge of their seats.
Profile Image for Y.Poston.
1,579 reviews1 follower
March 16, 2020
Very interesting lore,
reminds me of being a child
and being told to "Quit screaming
like a banshee!"
81 reviews
March 24, 2017
Would be a scary/thrilling story for elementary students. Fun to read around Halloween! Can also talk about different cultures and their folktales and stories. Banshee is an Irish superstition of a ghost woman who calls outside of the house where there may be death.
November 20, 2014
“Banshee: The ghost figure of a woman who wails and keens outside a house where there may be death. An Irish superstition.” Terry is fading into sleep one night when he suddenly hears the Banshee outside of his house “SCREE… SCREE…” he quickly awakes, checks on his brother who is sleeping in the bed next to him then decides to go warn his parents. Once he wakes up his mom she reassures him that it is nothing but a superstition then guides him back to his bed. He begins to feel a little better once he remembers that his friend is always making up crazy stuff like the story of the Banshee and that he shouldn't believe him. But as soon as he starts fading into sleep once more he suddenly hears the noise again! “SCREE… SCREE…” Now Terry is certain that she is out there and most likely here for his brother who is often sick. He realizes it is all up to him to save Liam. He decides to offer the Banshee his “best thing” which is a beautiful peacock feather that his “da” gave him; in return for his family’s. Building up his courage Terry steps out into the dark scary night, as he walks further into darkness he suddenly sees the Banshee in a dark corner against the back wall.

The Banshee was a very creative and relate-able book it not only teaches children about an old true Irish superstition but it also gives children a positive example of learning how to face your fears and what it means to be brave. The main character has qualities that are easy for children to identify with such as being afraid because of a spooky story you heard or because of a scary movie and believing in . I also really liked that Bunting provides the reader with the definition of Banshee this helps set the spooky mood of the story. Her word choice also helps set the spooky mood for example; "slither" and "keens" which are very likely new vocabulary for most children reading this book. Her short sentences make the book an easy read and it sound a bit poetic. The illustrations are very striking ,vivid and reinforce the theme rather well for example, when Terri gets scared the colors become darker and cover the entire page. Over all this is a great picture book children will relate to and truly enjoy you

Profile Image for Miss Ryoko.
2,602 reviews125 followers
January 22, 2013
What I love the most about living in a large metro area and having these big huge libraries to choose books from is I often find books I'm surprised to find as picture books. To me, I honestly don't care. I know even small children all have different tastes and I think there should be a variety of books out there for them. But I know most adults, especially parents, think otherwise and feel as if they know everything about what is best for all children of the world, and therefore when a story like this comes along, I'm surprised there wasn't such stink about it that it got banned from libraries.

This is, for all intents and purposes, basically a scary story for children. The illustrations could be considered a bit frightening and the storyline is for sure. But, I think it's cool. I nanny for a little 7 year old girl that loves all things scary and creepy. She would probably love this book. For me, it was kind of "eh." It was an alright story and the illustrations were okay. The ending felt very abrupt to me. But besides my own personal opinion of the book, I do find it quite fantastic that such a scary book exists for children.

However, if you are a parent, I would advise reading the book through first before deciding to read it to your children. I can imagine many an unsuspecting parent either checked out this book or bought this book for their child thinking it might just be another cutesy kid story about witches and whatnot to find something completely different. And I'd guess that many of those parents probably weren't happy about it.

But for me, I think it's neat a book like this exists, even if I didn't enjoy it that much.
34 reviews
October 11, 2013
"Final Project" - Author Study: Eve Bunting

This was not particularly one of my favorite stories, but it still teaches the lesson of facing fears. Many children/young adolescents today have fears that appear much larger and more intimidating than they really are. Whether it be the darkness, storms, wild animals, etc. children go through everyday life terrified of certain things. In this story, Bunting and her main character, Terry, show that facing fears is the only way to dispatch of them completely. At first, Terry will not move from his bed and is terrifying himself with thoughts that the Banshee is coming for him. However, he decides to face the Banshee once and for all to put an end to his being scared. As it turns out, the "Banshee" is just an overturned bucket that is aiding in the horrible whistling noise he was hearing all night.

Overall, children reading this book will hopefully understand that oftentimes their fears are simply illusions stemming from their wildly expanding imaginations. Even though this was not my favorite book, it still delivers an important message that can help kids combat many fears.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
772 reviews
April 24, 2010
This would make a great Halloween read-a-loud! My heart was pounding the whole time. Terry, who lives in Ireland, is asleep when he is awoken by a "Scree....Scree....." sound. He thinks its the Banshee, a ghost figure of a woman who wails when there may be death near. Terrified, he deals with it the only way he knows how...by courageously going outside to confront the Banshee.
This is a pretty scary book and the fact that it is written in first person makes it seem even more real. The dark pictures add to the spookiness of the story. One thing I didn't like was that the Irish voice wasn't consistent throughout the story. Sometimes it sounded Irish and other times it didn't. I would definitely put this book out during Halloween, but I probably wouldn't read it aloud to 2nd grade or younger.
Profile Image for Karen Arendt.
2,671 reviews12 followers
August 4, 2010
I was concerned that this book would be too scary for grades K-1. And it may be for some of them, but I liked this book. I love Irish folklore. Terry hears what he thinks is a banshee outside his window. His brother, Lim, is delicate (sickly) and so Terry thinks the banshee has come for Liam. Terry is brave and offers a special object of his own to the banshee will let Liam live. Turns out that it wasn't a banshee just the wind.... This would be good around St. Patrick's Day for Irish culture or around Halloween for a spooky story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Luann.
1,278 reviews116 followers
September 23, 2010
I'm considering using this one in my Halloween storytime with my fifth and sixth grade classes. It's a nice blend of scary yet not too scary while giving the chance to introduce some Irish folklore. The illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully really add to the scariness of the story. I think my students will identify with Terry, the boy narrating the story. He's brave! I also really like how the story ends. I'll add more to this review about student reactions if I end up using the book. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Karen.
Author 9 books27 followers
March 18, 2016
My first grade son has become obsessed with banshees. He was convinced that they come out on St. Patrick's Day night (last night), and so he checked this book out from the library yesterday.

I liked this book. It dealt with some very real issues -- such as the nearness of death -- but also gave a logical explanation (should you choose to believe it) for the harbinger of death.

Wonderful illustrations, too.
Profile Image for Mirranda Rhea.
40 reviews
September 2, 2013
What I would say about this book is I probbaly wouldn't read this to my children, if I had any. The book explains first that the banshee is an Irish superstition. The book is about a boy thinking that a bnashee is outside his window. Like any child, he is scared to death of it. To me this book is a scary book for chidlren, one of those books that could take it as a scary story for children.
Profile Image for Shanessa (Children Books).
50 reviews5 followers
October 21, 2016
A new favorite of ours. Creepy story with the right amount of scare. Loved that it was set in Ireland. My son was very interested in learning the folklore of Banshees. It's hard to find stories this scary for kids nowadays and my son loves scary books. Glad we came across this one.

Wonderful illustrations and descriptive language and a somewhat cliffhanger of an ending.
Profile Image for Allison.
437 reviews
January 15, 2010
Terry wonders if the legendary banshee is outside his house in Ireland, coming to get his delicate younger brother. Courage, bravery, self--sacrifice.

Eve Bunting made me practically pee my pants with fear when I was six, and honestly not much has changed.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews

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