Boo-Marks and Devil Ears: Bookmarks of the Beast

The "after" version of the Christmas demon bookmark.

September 23, 2016 — My oldest is six, and she’s at that age where she’s constantly drawing and then constantly awarding those drawings to me like she’s a celebrity and I an autograph hound. At one point, she made me a bookmark. She knew I liked books, she wanted to draw something, so she made me a bookmark.

“I know you like monsters,” she said as she handed it to me. It was shaped like a demon. Green rectangle for a body, head and arms and pointed tail all red. On its body she had lettered “Monster Bookmark” and then jotted a line of numbers down one side so I could “use it as a ruler.” I stuck it in the book I was reading…which happened to be Joe Hill’s NOS4A2.

That turned out pretty serendipitous. I think, although I’m never quite sure how to use that word. Hill’s book is about a Christmas demon (more or less), and here my daughter had made me a Christmas-colored demon.

And that’s when I...did not get the idea.

By the end of NOS4A2, the Christmas demon bookmark was beaten up pretty bad. I mean, it’s a long book. By the end of it, the bookmark was missing an arm and its tail. Esme saw that, so she asked me if she could draw me a new one.

“Yeah, I’m about to start a new book, actually.”

“How about I draw you a new bookmark every time you start a new book.” And there it was. “What kind of bookmark do you want?”

I held in my hands Robert Bloch’s lithe little Psycho. “This one’s about murder. How about a bloody knife?”

I posted an image of that bookmark to the socials, and of course, it got more likes and reactions and RTs than anything I’ve ever written in my life. So I wanted those who are interested to know that we’ve continued the tradition and it’s working out well. Now, every time I start a new book, it turns into a big occasion for us both. Hopefully, that’ll translate into her being way into books, but I’m not holding my breath. Thanks, iPad. (“Dad, can I have tablet time?”).

I picked out a few of the more seasonally relevant ones from the past four months to show you how it’s going. Sometimes she asks me what the book’s about, sometimes she goes by the title or the cover alone.

For this bookmark, I explained to her that the book was about people trying to find monsters and aliens in real life. So she drew me an alien because “Bigfoot’s fur is too hard to draw.” I asked her why the alien was so sad, and she told me that’s how they always look on TV, and then she put her mouth in a frown and turned her head slowly back and forth just like every serious EBE I’d ever seen.

This one was a hard one. It’s not a book of ghost stories per se, but Haunted is a good title for it. My daughter went with a ghost. On the back of it, she wrote me a joke: What do you call a man who does the bogey? A bogeyman.” No more KC and the Sunshine Band for her.

For this one, I told her a few titles of the books Ray Bradbury had written, and since she had recently asked me about the bottle of dandelion wine I keep on the shelf in the study, she drew me a dandelion. “It’s not a monster, though,” she told me.

I stuck with Ray Bradbury for my next book, and I told her he was a big fan of Halloween and reminded her that he was the author behind The Halloween Tree animated special that we watch every season.

From Hell was about Jack the Ripper and probably an even harder subject matter for her to illustrate than Joyce Carol Oates. I couldn’t play the “bloody knife” card again since we did that with Psycho. I also didn’t want to show her the title because me and her argue about heaven and hell more than we argue about her cleaning up her room. I asked if she knew what the British flag looks like.


I thought about describing it to her, but realized the British flag is more impossible to describe than a Victorian Era serial killer. So I just said, “Have you ever heard of Jack the Ripper?”


“Ok. I guess that’s good. So basically a good bookmark for this book will be a guy in a top hat and dark cape. You know what a top hat is?

“Yeah, it’s shaped like this.” She drew a rectangle in the air. “Magicians wear them.”


“So was this a bad guy?”


“A murderer?”


“So he’ll need some blood. Is he your favorite murderer?”


“Do you like him?”

“He’s a bad guy.”

“You just like reading about him.”

“I’m just reading about him.” At this point I wished I had just asked her to draw a white chapel.

“Okay. Can I Google him to see what he looks like?”

“I’ll do it.” I pulled up a screen of Google images, did a quick parental check of them, found a section that were all basically dark silhouettes, and showed her. She looked at it for a few seconds, and then came up with that midnight blue and black scrap of paper above.

I say my goal with this was to get her to made a big deal out of reading, but I must admit that I’m starting to look forward to this part of starting a new book more than the new book itself.

Disclaimer: This story not brought to you by Amazon Kindle.