So a few days ago, the child_lit email list was having a hoppin' debate about scary and warped picture books and using them with the tots. Warped in this case includes surprising and dark elements, like Kara LaReau's Ugly Fish, Sylviane Donnio's I'd Really Like to Eat a Child, or the monkeys who tease Mr. Crocodile.
All of the above are favorites of mine. I enjoy a good warped picture book, (hey, no comments from the peanut gallery) but I watch my audience. Above the age of four or so, they get into it. Below four or three, they're too sensitive still. And of course, individual results vary--you can have a pretty warped two-year-old who enjoys the crocodile snapping the monkeys down, and then a preschooler who bursts into tears when the old lady who swallowed a fly "dies, of course."
What do you guys think? Do your kids enjoy darkness or scares in their picture books, felt boards, or fingerplays? When did you introduce them?