Judging R.L. Stine’s Books By Their Covers: The Coolest And Creepiest From The Master of Chills

Today we celebrate the birth of R.L. Stine and begin counting down to the premiere of the Goosebumps movie. The premise is awesome: Boy falls for beautiful girl next door (so far, so good), girl turns out to be the daughter of R.L. Stine (super cool twist!), R.L. Stine is played by Jack Black (hell yes!). And then? Boy unleashes the monsters and spirits and ghouls from within the pages of Stine’s books (obvs!), and now it’s up to the boy, R.L. Stine and the beautiful daughter to put those beasts back where they belong.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll keep the monsters inside the pages, and focus on the coolest and creepiest book covers in R.L. Stine’s long and storied career. Henceforth, we will judge his books by their covers with this ultra scientific fright-measurement spectrum.


1 Goosebump – kid stuff. Might, in a pinch, scare a baby.

5 Goosebumps – Now we’re entering bone-chilling territory. Maybe you can still fall asleep in the dark after looking at this cover, but you might have to count a lot of very fluffy-ass sheep.

10 Goosebumps – THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE RIGHT AGAIN! Your skin has pretty much melted off with fright and your face is stuck in perma-scream forever and ever, the end.

Enter if you dare…

I Saw You That Night
Published: 1994
Goosebump Rating: 1

This skeleton looks super chill and fun to hang out with, and not scary in the slightest! Totally digging the hot pink font and matching shades. Not to mention the bony fellow’s posture which seems to scream “WHAT’S UP, BROS?”more than “BEEEEEWAAAARE!”

Ski Weekend
Published: 1991
Goosebump Rating: 6

That figure in the ski mask is scary (or cold)! Loving the duality in this cover of warm and cozy ski lodge with the fuzzy lighting (and sweaters!) against the dark and snowy world behind the window. This book seems all about the setting, and this cover paints that picture explicitly.

Published: 1993
Goosebump Rating: 2

This cover screams early ’90s (also, Baywatch), and we love it for that. The subtitle: “The perfect tan … or the perfect murder?” is just amazing. Do you trust that blond babe? She looks shocked…but is she hiding a secret?

Camp Cold Lake
Published: 1997
Goosebump Rating: 8

Maybe stay out of the lake at night. Those eyes! Those eyes! The reflection on the water freezes the screams in our throats. But mostly, the curiosity of what the rest of that ghost creature looks like under the cold, cold lake makes us want to jump into the nightmare. This one is pretty solid.

The Babysitter
Published: 1989
Goosebump Rating: 7

There’s hardly anything more terrifying than not being able to see what sees you. This cover elicits that feeling perfectly! Also worth noting: did Scream rip off R.L. Stine? Can we start throwing around accusations without reading the book? [Probably not. Babysitting and horror stories are inextricably linked. -ed]

Published: 1990
Goosebump Rating: 6

Why are windows so creepy? And whoever writes these captions is a genius. Is the prowler alive or dead? We need to know! Things to love about this cover: the full bright shining moon, the hot prowler in a mom jeans pose, the ethereal curtains and the girl in the nightgown’s hairstyle.

Stay Out of the Basement
Published: 1992
Goosebumps: 4

There’s something creepy about a tree mutant monster… but not THAT creepy. Maybe it’s the playful color scheme that steadies the nerves. We’re still digging the angle and the vibe though we may not be shaking in our sheets. (Note: if the creepy tree mutant comes into my dreams tonight, I may have to edit this).

The Night of the Living Dummy
Published: 1993
Goosebumps: 9

Look, the post has had some hyperbole. But haunted dummies are legit scary, that’s a fact. This one looks like a more intelligent version of Chucky from Child’s Play. All the menace with more brains. Now that’s scary.