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Halloween Books Roundup

I love Halloween …

Maybe it’s because fall is my favorite season. Maybe it’s because the weather gets a bit cooler here in L.A. The street where I live gets tons of trick or treaters beginning about five o’clock with the littlest monsters, penguins, princesses and elves making an appearance before bedtime. The creative costumes never cease to amaze me. One year I recall we had a Mozart, a rain cloud and a laundry basket!  I look forward to every shouted TRICK OR TREAT?!  In honor of Halloween I’ve put together a varied selection of books to sit down and peruse after they’ve emptied bags and examined their hauls.

Where's Boo? by Salina Yoon

Where’s Boo? by Salina Yoon from Random House Books
For Young Readers, 2013.

WHERE’S BOO? (A Hide-and-Seek Book) by Salina Yoon, Random House Books for Young Readers, $6.99, Ages 0-3. This interactive board book will attract little ones with its velvety-faced kitty on the cover and velvety tail at the end. Parents can help children solve the mystery of where Boo is hiding beginning with a jack-o’-lantern and ending with a door in this die-cut 18 page guessing game. The pictures are sweet not scary, a perfect introduction to All Hallows Eve!

 

 

 

VAMPIRINA SLEEPOVER cover

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts A Sleepover by Anne Marie Pace with illustrations by LeUyen Pham, Disney-Hyperion 2013.

VAMPIRINA BALLERINA HOSTS A SLEEPOVER by Anne Marie Pace with illustrations by LeUyen Pham, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, ages 3-5. Last year’s Vampirina Ballerina was so popular she’s back again and this time she’s hosting a sleepover. While this picture book is not strictly for Halloween, what better time of year than right now to share a vampire tale? Dad helps with homemade spider invitations, Vampirina tidies up, the menu is prepared and the sleepover party begins! Full of the same delightful detailed artwork featuring all the necessary vampire accoutrements including caskets and headstones plus all the not-to-be-missed facial expressions courtesy of Pham, this latest picture book is something to sink your teeth into. Pace throws in puns galore so parents can get a giggle, too. There’s even a pull-out spread to add to its appeal.  This sleepover’s a lids down success.

 

Ghost in The House by Ammi-Joan Paquette with illustrations by Adam Record

Ghost in The House by Ammi-Joan Paquette with illustrations by Adam Record from Candlewick Press, 2013.

GHOST IN THE HOUSE by Ammi-Joan Paquette with illustrations by Adam Record, Candlewick Press, $15.99, Ages 3-7. What works so well in this picture book is that it’s not only a cumulative counting book beginning with a little ghost, but it’s a fun read-aloud as well with its catchy rhythm and rhyme. Ghost in the House manages to mix a slightly spooky premise and lighten it with a cute cast of characters including a mummy, a monster, a skeleton, a witch and a little boy. The bonus: No trick or treaters anywhere in sight makes it an ideal read for any dark and stormy night!

 

 

 

Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson

Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson with illustrations by Kevan J. Atteberry, Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2013.

HALLOWEEN HUSTLE by Charlotte Gunnufson with illustrations by Kevan J. Atteberry, Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99, Ages 4-8. Get ready to boogie to a funky beat that will get your youngsters chiming in. Skeleton’s in a dancing mood, in fact he’s got a whole crew of hustling creatures following his lead, but things keep tripping him up, first a crooked crack, then a cat and finally a zombie’s foot. Here’s the catchy refrain your kids will latch onto:

“Bones scatter!
What a clatter!
Spine is like a broken ladder!”

There’s a hoppin’ Halloween party where Skeleton enters a dance contest, but can he keep it all together?  Let’s see what a friendly skeleton girl and a little super-strong glue can do!

Ol' Clip Clop by Patricia C. McKissack with illustrations by Eric Velasquez

Ol’ Clip Clop by Patricia C. McKissack with illustrations by Eric Velasquez, Holiday House, 2013.

OL’ CLIP CLOP, A GHOST STORY by Patricia C. McKissack with illustrations by Eric Velasquez, Holiday House, $16.95, ages 6-9. This haunting, well-paced and tersely written story is one you’ll want to tell by a roaring fire while huddled next to your child. The climax, where there’s usually a fright, though not as scary for an adult as it may be for a child, is deeply satisfying. The good part is that it’s actually a happy ending because it’s good riddance to the villain, mean John Leep. This well-off, but miserly and greedy landlord has a cruel fate planned for the widow Mayes of Grass Hollow. He’ll demand the rent in full or evict her, throwing her out into the night on a cold Friday the thirteenth, 1741. Velasquez’s artwork of dark upon dark sets the ominous nighttime mood, with the lightest color being the white of widow Mayes’s cap and mean Leep’s linens. The clip, clop, clip, clop sound of Leep’s horse Major gets more and more frightening as Leep feels he is being followed on his way to the widow’s house. What’s in store for the stingy man as leaves the desperate widow wondering if she’ll lose her home? Will he make it home alive?

Three other books I’d like to recommend are:

Calendar Mysteries: October Ogre #10CALENDAR MYSTERIES #10: OCTOBER OGRE
by Ron Roy with illustrations by John Steven Gurney,
Random House, $4.99, Ages 6-9.

 

 

Substitute Creature by Charles Gilman, Quirk Books, 2013.SUBSTITUTE CREATURE: TALES FROM LOVECRAFT MIDDLE SCHOOL #4
by Charles Gilman,
Quirk Books, $13.99, Ages 9 and up,

 

 

Twisted Myths: 20 Classic Stories With a Dark and Dangerous Heart, Barrons Educational Series

TWISTED MYTHS: 20 CLASSIC STORIES WITH A DARK AND DANGEROUS HEART

by Maura McHugh with illustrations by Jane Laurie,
Barrons Educational Series, Inc., $19.99, Ages 11 and up.

Find these books at your local independent book seller or online today.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

 

Scared Silly

 Reviewer Rita Zobayan gets hoppy and in a Halloween mood.

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that you are being stalked? Perhaps someone or something is at the root of your suspicions? Jasper Rabbit believes that villainous vegetables, namely creepy carrots, are on his tail. What is a rabbit to do when the vegetable he loves the most won’t leave him alone?

Written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown, Creepy Carrots ($16.99, Simon & Schuster, ages 3 and up) is an amusing read with a shadowy twist. We meet Jasper, consumer of carrots, who has a sneaking suspicion that there is more than meets the eye regarding the carrots of Crackenhopper Field. Could it be that the carrots are alive and following him?! Is Jasper imagining the bevy of beta-carotene watching his every move?!

Jasper was about to help himself to a victory snack…when he heard it. The soft…sinister…tunktunktunk of carrots creeping. He turned…but there was nothing there. Just my imagination, he thought. But he hopped a little faster. That night, as he was brushing his teeth…there they were! Jasper whipped around…but nothing. He laughed at himself, picked his toothbrush off the floor, and went to bed…quickly.

Jasper’s growing unease of carrots is portrayed in a kid-friendly manner. My three year old daughter was held captive by this storyline and by the pictures of common items that children can so easily mistake for scary bad guys (or scary carrots). This clever read is enhanced by the cartoon-like illustrations. Set to a simple color palette of black, white, gray and orange, the illustrations seem like a film noir in charcoal. The expressions on the carrots are fun to pick out.

 

Creepy Carrots makes for an entertaining Halloween or meal-time read. Just be sure to watch your back the next time you’re in the produce section of your grocery store. Click here to see a video interview with the illustrator, Peter Brown.

All Treat, No Trick Halloween Giveaway Part 2

Did you read yesterday’s post when we introduced a fun fall giveaway? In order to be eligible to win, go back and check out yesterday’s review and then, after reading today’s as well, enter if you dare. You just might be the winner of over $150 worth of Halloween books!

Halloween’s just 22 days away! And to get the excitement brewing, we’re giving away a bunch of books for boys and ghouls (and one for parents as well) to enjoy before their big night out. Scroll to the bottom for more info after reading all the reviews.

Vampirina Ballerina writtten ($14.99, Disney/Hyperion Books, ages 2-6) by Anne Marie Pace with pictures by LeUyen Pham, is wicked and whimsical with arabesques and a twist. Pace takes a typical budding ballerina tale and turns it on its head in the best possible way! Add the plethora of vampiralicious puns coupled with killer artwork from the ever talented Pham, and this ballerina picture book rises above the others, or should I say flies, soars and sweeps? If Vampirina just follows her mom’s advice (remembering not to turn into a bat or trip on her cape to name a few), she’ll achieve her goal. Fangs a lot for this fab read.

The Secret History of Hobgoblins ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 8 and up) by Professor Ari Berk had me at Hob! I have been fascinated by the lore of of these little folk since falling for J.K. Rowling’s Dobby so it came as no surprise that I found myself studying every last word on each elaborate page. The old-world style in which the book is presented will no doubt capture your child’s attention as it did mine. Full of detailed artwork in color and black and white, fold-out spreads, flaps to flip and facts to glean, The Secret History of Hobgoblins (is that a tongue twister?) fascinates as it entertains. We learn from the book’s opening that the Secret Folk (who thrive on hospitality and domestic order) are sharing their privately held practices with us in order to “herald a swift return to the hospitable practices of the past.” Hear! Hear! Learn about where they live, what their spells and charms are and how to peacefully cohabit with them. Frankly, while I could really use a hobgoblin at home, I must resign myself to just reading about them in Berk’s engaging new book.

The Monster Alphabet ($7.99, Price, Stern, Sloan, ages 3-7) by Michael P. Spradlin and illustrated by Jeff Weigel provides a field day for monster hunters like narrator Morgan Marvin Marshall. This intrepid traveler will take children around the world searching for monsters from A-Z. There’s the Abominable Snowman hiding in the mountains of Nepal, the Ogre found “most everywhere” and Zombies (aka living dead) who will “eat the brains straight from your head,” and Spradlin’s monster hunting Marshall will find them all. Now I am not sure I want to read this to a 3-year-old at bedtime, but with the light-hearted illustrations that definitely don’t scare, I certainly would not hesitate to illuminate my little one about gargoyles, hydras and imps around Halloween. And it’s told in uncomplicated rhyme, too. Kids may even find a bit of costume inspiration from Weigel’s artwork. Bonus feature: For each alphabet letter illustrated, there are 3 hidden objects beginning with the same letter to be found on every page.

Haunted Castle ($15.95, AZBooks, ages 5 and up) by Nadezhda Shumovich is the perfect Halloween book for pop-up book fans. It’s Halloween night in a small village where threesome Nick, little Alex and Kristy find themselves bored after their local trick or treating is soon finished. Kristy suggests they visit the castle at the forest’s edge for some more exciting entertainment. Who should greet them when they arrive but a vampire butler along with a slew of other costumed party goers or so they think! It’s not until they notice no mirror reflections of these dressed up ghouls that the kids realize they might be the biggest treat at this gathering. Some quick thinking saves the trio but not before readers get to share the spooking with REALLY SCARY SOUNDS in this sound effects and “Nightmarish 3D” book.

Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin ($10.99, Schwartz & Wade Books, ages 2 and up) is yet another delightful board book for the preschool set and for story time by author/illustrator Tad Hills. The pages are large and durable, the art is adorable, bright and inviting and the story is just simple enough for your littlest reader. Duck and Goose go in search of a pumpkin after they see the one Thistle has found. It’s not long before the pair are looking in a log, a pile of leaves, up in an apple tree, in a pond, on top of a stump all for naught! But with Thistle’s help, perhaps the pair’s luck will change. Learn more about this award-winning author and his other Duck & Goose books by clicking here.

It wouldn’t be Halloween without mentioning the always popular Scream Street series, Book #7, Invasion of The Normals ($5.99, Candlewick, ages 8-10) by Tommy Donbavand available in paperback. As the first page professes, “The fiendish fun continues at www.screamstreet.com” so what are you waiting for kids?  This is an ideal choice for reluctant readers with short chapters, imaginative illustrations and even free collectors’ cards inside the back cover! Take a walk down this street, but you’ve been warned! Something strange is going on and it could be NORMAL!

On Monday, October 8 and then again on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 we’re reviewing and/or briefly mentioning books that we’ve read recently then giving them away the following week! So **read both posts before entering. And guess what? If  you LIKE us on Facebook and also send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 you’ll be entered to win a prize package of all 11 books covered (worth a value of $153.77) just in time for Halloween!! Remember to write Halloween Book Giveaway in the subject line.  **YOU MUST LIST ALL BOOKS COVERED IN THE 2 BLOGS as part of your entry eligibility so be sure to read the blog every day!! Click here now for more detailed rules. Good luck!

Halloween Books, Bones & Boo!

If you are in need of some good, ghoulish tales tonight and tomorrow, take a look at this roundup of recommended reads.

Sally’s Bones by MacKenzie Cadenhead ($6.99, Sourcebooks, ages 9-12)
Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall ($16.99, Little, Brown, ages 4-8)
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: A Lullaby by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Kelly Murphy
Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas ($9.99, HarperCollins, ages 2-5)
What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen by Nick Sharratt ($12.99, Candlewick Press, ages 3 and up)
The Monstrous Book of Monsters by Libby Hamilton with illustrations by Jonny Duddle and Aleksei Bitskoff ($17,99, Templar Books, ages 5-8)

 

An Interview With Carl Reiner

51zybomaivl_sl500_aa240_Just in time for Halloween and all the haunting activities which typically accompany it, I was thrilled to interview multiple Emmy-winning comic icon, and a personal fave, Carl Reiner, about his new hit book, Tell Me Another Scary Story…But Not Too Scary! Illustrations are by James Bennett and the book, ($16.95, ages 4-8) published by Dove, an imprint of Phoenix Books, is available in stores everywhere as well as online. Fans will love the fact that a bonus ‘read-along’ CD of the book is included so they can take Reiner reading his Scary Story on the road.

carlrQ. Where did your idea for Tell Me Another Scary Story… come from as you certainly did not have a next door neighbor named Mr. Neewollah and how does it differ from your first Scary Story?
A. It came from the original Tell Me A Scary Story and it being a hit, and the publisher asking me for another Scary Story. In the second story, the boy becomes friends with the neighbor who one frightened him to death in the first story.

Q. The message in the story is an important one and so well conveyed. Do you think children today are less respectful, less thoughtful than when you were a child?
A. I think children have already reflected the mores of society and the disciplines that their parents instilled in them, and that has not changed.

Q. Has the media together with books actually helped make children of the 21st century more prepared for emergencies like the one in your story?
A. Yes, the media has prepared children. At the end of Tell Me Another Scary Story, the boy, faced with a man who obviously fainted, calls 911. Weeks before on TV, I had seen or heard or learned about a four year old who actually dialed 911 to get help for his mother, who had collapsed while driving.
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Q. Is it harder or easier to write for children?
A. Equally. It is the same process. I get a good idea and develop it.

Q. I love how you tease the reader with your warnings about turning the page. To me that’s the fun part of a scary story and Halloween; all the frightful possibilities.
A. I’m very proud of the fact that I found in the first Scary Story the idea of warning the children that they have an option…that if they get scared, they have the option of not turning the page.

Q. What elements come together to make a great scary story for kids?
A. The same elements that make any great story. Good characters, good situations, suspense, and ultimately, a happy ending.
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Q. Apart from the candy, what makes Halloween such an enduring holiday in our culture? I’m a sucker for Tootsie Rolls, what’s your treat of choice?
A. Dressing up. Kids always love to put on costumes and make believe they are somebody else, and this holiday makes it possible for them to live out their dreams… and get candy while doing so. I think Tootsie Rolls were everybody’s favorite, including mine.

Q. What do you say to children who ask you how to become a writer?
A. Write…write…write…write…write. Nobody can stop you from writing if you have paper, a pencil and an idea.
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Q. What is the best thing about writing for kids?
A. Hearing about how much they enjoyed reading and re-reading, and re-reading, and re-reading and re-reading the book you have written.

Q. Are people simply born funny?
A. I think people are born with a clean slate. If they are born where parents put a premium on laughter and expose children to television, movies and albums that are meant to make you laugh, they will appreciate and be honed by, this experience.
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Q. Who are some other authors you admire?
A. Let’s start with Mark Twain, who was probably the greatest writer of all time, and then of course, we have Phillip Roth and Richard Dawkins, and Doctorow, etc. etc.

Q. Do you know what you’ll be writing next?
A. If that’s the last question, then nothing…oh yes, for next year, I have written Tell Me A Silly Story and Tell Me A Sillier Story, which I think may be my best works. We’ll see.

Hurry Up Halloween

Fall is my favorite season. Pumpkin patches that sprouted up overnight are beginning to be depleted of their stock while houses around my neighborhood are gearing up for the big night with scary bats and goblins hanging up creating a wonderfully frightening effect every evening. Those very same pumpkins are now decorating doorsteps as families prepare costumes for their kids and amp up their candy collection.

9781402230967-mOne of my favorite things every Halloween is finding some fun books to tell readers about, ones which I hope will make your hair stand on end or simply set you up with some spooktacular Trick or Treat spirit.

Halloween just got more ghoulish with the release of The 13 Days of Halloween from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, written by Carol Greene, illustrated by Tim Raglin, and originally published in 1985. I didn’t have children when the book first came out and I am grateful to Jabberwocky for bringing it back. Now the kids and I can carol our way through Oct. 31 with this twisted take on “The Twelve Days of Christmas:” “On the first day of Halloween, my good friend gave to me: a vulture in a dead tree.” The illustrations are cool and creepy and when coupled with the offbeat verse make this an irresistible read.

For more ideas about what to read, check out my Halloween Book Roundup at http://losangeles.parenthood.com/Halloween_2009Roundup.php today!

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