Written by Sue Fliess
Illustrated by Jay Fleck
(Cartwheel Books; $6.99, Ages 0-3)
Haunted Halloween is a die-cut board book that not only encourages counting, but has tons of trick-or-treat fun packed into every page. Fliess’ rhyming will have even the youngest readers learning the words and repeating the phrases such as: One bat hangs, Pointy fangs. Two toads sleep. Earthworms creep. All numbers are presented both numerically and spelled out to help identify them in increasing order up to ten. Fleck’s assorted costumed trick-or-treaters in this glossy board book are not scary looking, making this an ideal introduction to the popular holiday. As the children make their way past a gate, a Guests Beware! sign greets them. They encounter wolves, owls, ghosts, snakes, spiders, crows, black cats, pumpkins and other All Hallows Eve creatures and things before arriving at the massive front door. What’s inside? A nice surprise – a Halloween party!
SPOOKY FAIRY TALE MIX-UP:
Hundreds of Flip-Flap Stories
Written by Hilary Robinson
Illustrated by Jim Smith
(Barron’s; $11.99, Ages 3-7)
If you have a child with an active imagination, Spooky Fairy Tale Mix-up is the book for them! If you have a child that needs some prompting to get creative, this is also the perfect book, especially at Halloween. This mix and match Halloween hardcover, with its 26 pages and hidden spine, turns what could be a spooky night into a laugh-filled mash up of some fairy tale faves including Ghostilocks and The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Mother Goose, Puss in Boots, Rapunzel and lots more. Just a flip of a flap and a story’s changed from the expected to the unexpected with ogres, zombie rats, skeletons and even some princesses doing the zaniest things. Kids can choose from hundreds of possibilities to make a simple story go wild.
A Spooky, Tasty Tale
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrated by Tom Knight
(Paula Wiseman Books; $17.99, Ages 4–8)
Three hungry witches have only a bone with which to cook their soup. Sound familiar? That’s because Bone Soup, a welcome spin on Stone Soup, the beloved folktale about community and making nothing from something when everyone pitches in, works so well for a Halloween tale. This time around the witches go door to door in their neighborhood to seek out ingredients for their soup. Each time, they’re initially greeted with reluctance. Is it a trick? But Naggy Witch assures them that “Piff-Poof! It’s no trick.” First a monster for water because you cannot have soup without water. Then onto a ghost, a ghoul, a bat, a goblin, a mummy, a skeleton, a werewolf and a vampire to complete the concoction. When the donors begin to have doubts and tempers flare, it’s thanks to a little monster’s resourcefulness that nothing goes awry. And the magic readers have been waiting for comes through in helping produce “a steaming bowl of bone soup for all.” Capucilli’s created a yummy read-aloud that can be shared with or without the original story to complement it. Knight’s illustrations feature a cast of friendly creatures, playful spreads and a lot of movement on every page. But one warning, don’t read on an empty stomach. Mine’s growling as I type! The good news is there’s a recipe included in the back matter if kids and their parents want to try a hand at conjuring up their own delicious Halloween soup.
Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters
Written by Rachel Kolar
Illustrated by Roland Garrigue
(Sleeping Bear Press; $16.99, Ages 5-7)
Mother Ghost is a frightfully fun and entertaining collection of poems for children that is sure to get them in the Halloween mood. It just doesn’t get more ghoulishly delightful than this. Old Mother Hubbard for example is so clever that it makes me think using nursery rhymes for Halloween poems would make a great class exercise. Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard/To Fetch her poor dog a bone;/But the skeleton there said, “Hey! Don’t you dare!/Leave all of my pieces alone!” Two of my other favorites are Zombie Miss Muffet and Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary with lots of spiders, worms, witches and slimy things kids love at Halloween. Kolar clearly had a blast reworking these 13 nursery rhymes and, like Spooky Fairy Tale Mix-up, it’s wonderful how changing just a few lines in a poem can have the most uproarious results. Garrigue’s artwork makes gruesome look great and creepy totally cool. Have some wicked good times reading these aloud.
THE FRIGHTFUL RIDE OF MICHAEL MCMICHAEL
Written by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by Mark Fearing
(Candlewick Press; $16.99, Ages 4-8)
Come along my friends for the ride of your life, well Michael’s life actually. The building doom and the perfect rhyming pattern in The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael promise twists and turns for young Michael on the ominous number Thirteen bus. The events of this story take place on November thirteenth, adding to the suspense and sense of dread. While something felt off, Michael still got on the bizarre bus nonetheless. He really had no other option. Besides, he was charged with transporting his Gran’s pet. And, of all the passengers, Michael seemed to be the least terrifying. Suddenly things were not looking good for the lad. When the last rider departed, Michael was left alone with the fanged and sneering driver. Why did the bus look ready to devour him? Soon the vehicle began veering “toward a slathering maw most horrid!” Rather than bring the story to an immediate satisfying conclusion, Becker beautifully brings on more drama as the menaced becomes the menace. Michael faces the impending evil actions by releasing one of his own! Between the dark tone of the illustrations, the spot on typeface, the right mix of mildly scary characters along with a foreboding feeling depicted in both the art and verse, The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael is a story to read with the lights on any time of year! Pick up a copy along with a flashlight today
Want more suggestions for Halloween reads? Check out last year’s roundup right here.
BEST KIDS BOOKS FOR HALLOWEEN 2015
A Round Up of Wickedly Wonderful Halloween Books for Boos & Ghouls
Peek-a-Boo! – By Nina Laden (Chronicle Books; $6.99, Ages 0-2)
Presenting the third in Nina Laden’s popular Peek-a board book series. Youngsters will delight in 22 pages of adorable Halloween sights and sounds, infectious rhyme and best of all, a mirror at the end for Peek a WHO ARE YOU? Laden’s adorable artwork is complemented by the many die-cuts that will have kids exploring and eager to turn every page.
Boo! – By Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick Press; $6.99, Ages 0-3)
A bigger board book than Peek-a-Boo!, (this one measures 7″ x 7″) and with more pages and text, Boo! addresses a lot of what a first Halloween is like for youngsters. The diaper clad little laddie from Toot, Tickle, Tubby, Binkie and Blankie is back to share all the excitement of Halloween with readers. He picks out a pumpkin, then carves it (with his dad’s assistance of course!), decides what costume he should wear as Mom helps narrow down the choices, and then heads out to trick-or-treat with his dad. It may seem dark and scary at first, but the rewards from lots of ding, dong doorbell ringing add up to a bunch of yummy candy treats and a great time had by all!
Fright Club – Written and illustrated by Ethan Long (Bloomsbury Children’s Books; $16.99, Ages 0-5)
I gravitated towards this book because of the fab title and cover art, and then the original story idea kept me interested to see where Long would take it. Vladimir calls a meeting of the Fright Club in preparation for OPERATION KIDDIE SCARE, but as the creatures are reviewing the rules, a bunny interrupts the meeting. Hilarious antics ensue as the cute little rabbit is determined to be admitted to the exclusive club. Once Frances Foxx, Public Attorney enters the picture, it’s laugh after laugh as a bunch of determined critters prove their worth and gain entry into Fright Club because “… when it comes to scaring, the more the merrier.”
A Moonlight Book: Halloween Hide-And-Seek – Written by Elizabeth Golding & Moira Butterfield and illustrated by Dean Gray (Running Press Kids; $12.95, Ages 4-8)
This clever and engaging book includes over 200 scary, halloween related things to find and as the subtitle instructs, all readers have to do is move the magic flashlight to find the hidden objects. And was that ever fun!! There are 12 pages of spooky entertainment in this haunted house, enough to keep your child happily occupied as they search for items listed on each page. There are extra SPOOKTASTIC challenges to be found on every spread from bedroom to ballroom. From chattering teeth in a glass to crazy zombies, A Moonlight Book: Halloween Hide-And-Seek has ’em all! NOTE: Even my teenager got in on the action because he liked how the flashlight worked!
Other fun books we also recommend buying this Halloween:
Trick Arrr Treat: A Pirate Halloween –
Written by Leslie Kimmelman and illustrated by Jorge Monlongo
(Albert Whitman & Company.; $16.99, Ages 4-8)
Spooky Pookie –
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
(Robin Corey Books; $5.99, Ages 0-3)
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 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 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 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 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:
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, 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 #10: OCTOBER OGRE
by Ron Roy with illustrations by John Steven Gurney,
Random House, $4.99, Ages 6-9.
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
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
A Very Witchy Spelling Bee
A Very Witchy Spelling Bee written by George Shannon with illustrations by Mark Fearing from Harcourt Children’s Books is perfect for Halloween!
In A Very Witchy Spelling Bee, (Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99, Ages 4-8) written by George Shannon and illustrated by Mark Fearing, reviewed today by Rita Zobayan, Cordelia is a young witch with aspirations. Not content with practicing spelling words (“Mama, please pass, P-A-S-S, the broccoli”) and magic spells at home, she has her sights set on winning the Witches’ Double Spelling Bee. “I’ve studied. I’ve practiced. I’m ready to win!” she declares to her mother. However, the current champion, a one very nasty Beulah Divine, is delighted to best Cordelia with whatever it takes!
This clever wordplay story—which can encourage interest in word spelling—unfolds as Cordelia and the other contestants compete in the Bee. The contestants must pull a letter and using that letter, change an object into something new. Witch Opal changes ice into mice and mage Madge changes a lock into a clock. But how will Cordelia beat Beulah, who is not only much, much older but also much, much sneakier? Readers will love the twist at the end.
Mark Fearing’s illustrations are spot on. Filled with bright colors and vivid depictions (green witches with warts and moles, anyone?), the art work is fun and just scary enough for young readers. Spiders, cobwebs, and all manner of witchy accoutrements are scattered throughout the book, providing a howling good time in searching for them.
A Very Witchy Spelling Bee is an engaging story that demonstrates how aspiration and competition don’t have to include poor sportswitchship, S-P-O-R-T-W-I-T-CH-S-H-I-P.
Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett with illustrations by Paul Meisel from Candlewick Press.
IF YOU THINK YOUR BABY SISTER’S A VAMPIRE BABY…
Don’t let her nuzzle your neck!!
The old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” came to mind when I first saw Vampire Baby (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 3-7) . With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect book for all of the little monsters in your life, yet it’s SO much more. Together author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Paul Meisel offer comic relief to the sometimes sensitive new-sibling-on-the-scene situation (in this case blood sucking’s the issue rather than rivalry), give it a new twist and take the bite out of a biting baby.
Tootie, like most newborns, is an adorable, chubby-cheeked baby. She coos and gurgles and captures her big brother’s heart. When Tootie gets her first teeth, (which happen to be upper canines), develops a widow’s peak, favors red foods, and bites everything in sight, her brother is convinced she is a vampire baby! He wastes no time trying to find Tootie a home with a vampire family. However Brother sees red when Tootie is yelled at by the new family’s vampire boy after she has bitten his nose. Only then does he realize that even if she is a vampire baby, she’s his vampire baby.
Interior artwork by illustrator Paul Meisel
from Vampire Baby written by Kelly Bennett.
3 lucky winners could receive a free signed copy of Vampire Baby + swag. Just LIKE our Good Reads With Ronna Facebook page, then follow instructions below on how to enter. This great giveaway from Kelly Bennett ends 10/31/13.
Just in time for Halloween …
Prizes include an autographed copy of VAMPIRE BABY by Kelly Bennett for your little ghost or goblin – along with fun VAMPIRE BABY swag such as a bookmark, postcard, and fangs.
It’s easy to enter, here’s what you do:
2) Post a comment about the book trailer on that page (below the trailer)
3) You’re entered! It’s just that easy!!
Today’s guest reviewer, MaryAnne Locher, majored in education and went on to teach pre-school before having children of her own. As a young child, she would create picture books to popular songs, then read them to her family. Now that her two daughters are grown, she has again pursued a career in writing. A New Jersey native, MaryAnne now calls Southern California home.