H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers looks like a children’s easy reader book, but it’s definitely not one! Written, illustrated, and bound in the style of Dr. Seuss, it tells the basics of the Cthulhu mythos. I wouldn’t use it as bedtime reading for your 5 year old, but my teenagers and their friends found it really funny.

If you’re the kind of parent getting a Cthulhu picture book for your kids, you don’t need me to spell out all the nightmare-inducing (literally!) things that happen in the book. You know what you’re getting into. I’m far from a Cthulhu expert, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the text, but I am kind of a Dr. Seuss expert, and the book is a delightful parody on that front. I spotted homages to specific illustrations from several of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, and the rhythm of the text is great.

The rhyming text and Seussian illustrations prevent the book from being particularly scary itself, but the death and insanity throughout might be a bit much for more imaginative young readers!

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


Lots of death. So much death. Most of it is treated pretty lightly, but people start dying on page 2 or so.

The most potentially troubling one is that a bunch of people are kidnapped—the illustration makes them look like kids (possibly the kids from The Cat in the Hat?)—and on the next page they’re sacrificed by cultists. That part, thankfully, is not illustrated. But the text leaves no wiggle room. They’re all dead.


Mental illness is a core part of the Cthulhu mythos (learning the truth will make you insane!), with all the potentially problematic and ablist issues that brings up. There’s a lot of insanity and madness going on in this book, and if that’s an issue that’s sensitive to you, the book may be problematic.


If you’re trying to convince your kids that honesty is the best policy, you may not want this book that explicitly discusses how some things need to be kept secret for the good of the world. On the other hand, if you’re ready to discuss the gray areas of honesty, this might provide a good place to start. There are definitely some things you probably don’t need to tell everyone.

Nightmare Fodder

The dreams of the Old Ones may influence the dreams of people. Cthulhu has risen once and is likely to rise again. He heals himself after someone pretty much drives a boat through his head.

Happy Endings

It’s Cthulhu. Most people end up dead. The cultist lurking behind the chair at the end suggests even our narrator isn’t long for this world, and the secrets he’s trying to keep will be loosed upon us all. There is no happy ending. We’re all doomed.


When your kid wants to know more about Cthulhu, this seems like a pretty good place to start. Right now I’m much more comfortable with my kids reading this than Lovecraft himself! And it tells them enough that they can be somewhat conversant with other geeks and have more insight when playing games like Lost in R’lyeh. I’d recommend it for 10 and up, depending on how comfortable your kid is with casual death, human sacrifice, and monsters that communicate through dreams.

Disclosure: the publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers by R.J. Ivankovic
Published in 2017 by Chaosium, Inc.
Read a hard copy provided to me by the publisher

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