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A Middle Grade Mystery – The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane

THE HAUNTING OF HOUNDS HOLLOW
Written by Jeffrey Salane
(Scholastic Press; $16. 99, Ages 8-12)

 

book cover illustration from The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane

 

 

The middle grade novel, The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane, is a recommended read for chilly, dark winter evenings. When Lucas Trainer’s family inherits a house from an almost-forgotten relative they move from the comforting familiarity of the big city to Hounds Hollow. For Lucas, making new friends means explaining his undiagnosed disease (his parents call it the Dark Cloud). Adjusting to being in the middle of nowhere is complicated by their crazy new mansion—akin to the Winchester Mystery House with rooms that lead to nowhere and a construction crew that doesn’t stop building.

The town’s history of people disappearing coupled with what may be a roaming pack of malevolent ghost dogs is enough to scare anyone away, but Lucas and his two new friends, Bess and Lens, decide they must uncover what’s going on before it’s too late. Lucas has a mysterious key that he hopes will unlock secrets from the past that continue to have hold of the house and its environs.

This book is suited for kids who like plots that delve into horror. The Haunting of Hounds Hollow takes some dark turns, particularly at the end. If you think your kid will grow into a fan of stories like Stephen King’s Pet Sematary then this tale will not disappoint.

  • Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt

Writer, editor, and owner of Write for Success www.Write-for-Success.com

@WFSediting, Christine@Write-for-Success.com

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Don’t Push The Button! by Bill Cotter

9781402287466Don’t Push The Button! written and illustrated by Bill Cotter (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, $16.99, Ages 3 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

Halloween is over but there’s still monstrous fun to be had in Don’t Push The Button! written and illustrated by Bill Cotter. Larry, a friendly purple monster, has a red button in his book. The instructions for it are very clear: DON’T push the button. Seriously. Don’t even THINK about it.  But Larry does think about it, and what happens as a result is interactive, silly, and just plain good fun. The simple but colorful illustrations are absolutely fitting for the idea of the book and the age of the readers.

My four-year-old daughter loves this book—loves it! The allure of doing something forbidden, pushing the mysterious red button, delights her, and the results make her laugh. She especially enjoys being part of the action and being part of the reason that Larry … well, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to Larry. Just be careful to not push the button!

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Boo!

Catherine Linka shares her picks for …

Books Featuring Monsters

This fall’s Halloween and monster-themed picture books are the funniest and most charming in years. Read one of these books aloud,and I think your kids will probably laugh as hard as I did.

In THE MONSTERS’ MONSTER ($16.99, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, ages 3-6) by Patrick McDonnell, three horrible little monsters, Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom create a huge Frankenstein-style monster to scare everyone. But Monster turns out to be the kindest, sweetest monster they never expected. A great book about friendship and gratitude.

Fans of MADELINE will laugh at FRANKENSTEIN: A Monstrous Parody ($14.99, Feiwel & Friends, ages 4 and up) by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale where “In a creepy old castle, all covered with spines, lived twelve ugly monsters in two crooked lines.”

In CREEPY CARROTS ($16.99, Simon & Schuster, ages 3 and up) by Aaron Reynolds, Jasper Rabbit steals carrots from Crackenhopper Field. Is it guilt or is it real when he starts hearing carrots creep after him? Kids will smile when they see that the carrots have the last laugh. NOTE:  Read the GRWR review of this book by clicking here.

SPIKE : THE MIXED-UP MONSTER ($16.99, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, ages 4 and up), by Susan Hood with illustrations by Melissa Sweet, is great for smaller children who will cheer to see little SPIKE save the day. Bright colors, and lively art tell the story of Spike who wants to scare everyone around the pond, but they all think he’s adorable until a gila monster appears, and Spike gets his chance to be a monster.

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

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Yucky and Great At the Same Time!

Rita Zobayan reviews Icky Sticky Monster: A Super Yucky Pop-Up Book! by Jo Lodge ($12.99, Nosy Crow, ages 3 and up).

At a certain age, youngsters are fascinated with gross words and actions, especially the kind that adults try to avoid talking about in public. My three-year old daughter thinks that poop, pee, boogers and fart are the funniest words imaginable. Just the mention of a first syllable or sound will send her into delighted bursts of giggles. At about that same age, many little ones also become convinced of the existence of monsters. Currently, my daughter refuses to walk into a dark room because of suspected monsters hiding under tables, behind curtains, in corners and so on.

To see how she’d react to a book that combines her current favorite topic and her current fear, I left Icky Sticky Monster: A Super Yucky Pop-Up Book! on our coffee table and didn’t mention it. Within seconds of the first sighting, she brought the book over to me and promptly demanded that I read it to her. What followed was 10 pages of ewww and yuck, and one disgusted but thrilled kid.

Icky Sticky Monster, a friendly fellow, is busy being gross, and we get to witness his yucky habits through pop-up fun. Turn the page and see Icky Sticky Monster pick his nose— “That stinky little monster pulls out some snotty goo, and because he’s feeling very kind, he’s giving some to you!” —and drink down one nasty concoction—“Icky Sticky Monster guzzles down a jug of stinky, wormy cabbage juice with added chunks of slug!” The simple rhyme scheme works well with young children, who respond well to sing-song style text.

Pop-up books are engaging, especially when moving parts are included, as they are in this one. The pages are filled with bright (and I mean almost fluorescently-colored) art work and a cool font. The pages are thick enough to handle the wear and tear of little fingers.

Jo Lodge has written and illustrated a great, fun read for young children. If Icky Sticky Monster replaces the imagined boogeymen hiding at every turn, then my daughter (and, therefore, I) will sleep well tonight.

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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!

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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)

 

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Are You Ticklish?

51k8dgp7wl_sl500_aa300_TICKLE MONSTER written by Josie Bissett and illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

Kids love the funny. Kids love the rhyming. Kids love the tickle! And TICKLE MONSTER has all these three ingredients plus truly silly and colorful illustrations. Actress and now terrific children’s author, Josie Bissett, has done a marvelous job tickling the senses of little ones.

“I came from the Planet Tickle, you see.
I’m a monster, but not the kind you must flee.
I’m the happiest, silliest, zaniest kind.
My talent is tickling, I think you’ll soon find…”

And so begins Tickle Monster’s quest to tickle… “footsies and tum-tums and underarm-pitties!”

Now watch out all you mommies and daddies, because after reading this fabulous picture book, your kiddies will be tickling you silly!

Ages 2 to 6 and even beyond will get a tickle out of TICKLE MONSTER.

lindymichaelspic1The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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Listen to What Lindy Says

Meet guest reviewer, Lindy Michaels, whose passion is to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Barnes and Noble in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. where we first met. I think she might even be more gaga over kids’ books than me, if that’s possible!

Head over to BOOKSTAR, 12136 Ventura Blvd., Studio City 91604, (818) 505-9528, and remember to mark your calendars for Sept. 4th. Ted Jacobs has set children’s poetry to Celtic music, has two CDs out and he and his group will be doing a concert at BookStar on Sept. 4, during Lindy’s regular Sat. 10:30 am storytelling. “It’s going to be fabulous!!”

In today’s post she’s chosen to share some of her particular personal favorites:

LEONARDO THE TERRIBLE MONSTER
By
Mo Willems

Leo jkt FINAL 1/5Unfortunately, try as he might and much to his chagrin, Leonardo can’t seem to scare anyone. What’s a monster to do? Determined and after much research, he finally finds the perfect victim that he is sure he can “scare the tuna salad” out of. Sam!

In this utterly delightful Mo Willems’ picture book, Leonardo learns there just might be something more important than to follow what he believed to be his mission in life, which is not to be a terrible monster, after all, but to be a wonderful friend. A humorous and wonderful message for children ages three to six.

THE BEAR THAT WASN’T
By
Frank Tashlin

9781590173442_jpg_180x450_q85One lovely, early spring morning, the bear emerges from his cave after his winter’s hibernation. Imagine his surprise to find his forest gone and in it’s place, a huge factory. Even more of a surprise is when he’s told to “get to work!” by the factory’s Foreman, General Manager, numerous Vice Presidents and finally the factory President.

“But I’m a bear,” he tells them over and over again.
“No, you’re a silly man who wears a fur coat and needs a shave!” they tell him back.

Even the bears in the zoo and circus agree, otherwise, wouldn’t the bear be in a cage or riding a tricycle like them? And so, the bear, not completely convinced, does go to work in the factory… that is, until winter returns and he must question exactly who he is.

Originally published in 1946 and with the original, charming illustrations, this wonderful story still holds up, helping to teach young children to live the truth of who they really are.

ALICE THE FAIRY
By
David Shannon

0439490251_xlgAlice is a fairy, albeit, a temporary fairy, because, let’s be honest, her magical fairy skills are, well, lacking. “You have to pass a lot of tests to be a permanent fairy!” so complains Alice.

Oh, for sure, when she spills fruit juice on her white dress, she does turn it red (magic!) and when she gets on her daddy’s back, she does turn him into a horse! Hey, not too bad for a mere temporary fairy.

Just like Alice, young children can make their own fairy magic and like Alice, get a lot of giggles doing it.

This lesser known picture book by David Shannon, of NO, DAVID fame, is a total delight children will want to hear over and over again and parents will delight in reading it to them, over and over again.

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Welcome to Spookleville! Contest

spooklesincolour1I’m excited to be offering readers of my exclusive Halloween Book Roundup at www.laparent.com a chance to enter this creepy and cool contest courtesy of Spookles, a new series of monsterously funny books from Colleen Wenn. I’ll be giving away two sets of 12 books each worth a total of $59.88 so please click here for your chance to win and remember to put “Spookles Contest” in the subject line. The contest ends on October 26 so enter now. Contest rules are available by clicking here. Read below to see a sample from my roundup which doubles as a review of this frighteningly fun new series.

Meet The Spookles

booksSold individually with various sub-titles such as “Dracula’s Peace Treat-y” or in sets, this new series, Spookles, (Available on Amazon.com or www.wennenterprises.com, $4.99; ages 4-10) by Colleen Wenn and illustrated by her son Daniel Wenn along with Maciej Janczak, is reminiscent of the Mr. Men series, only geared for Halloween and slightly more sophisticated and quirky. There are almost a dozen different characters who inhabit the happy town of Spookleville including wrapped up, mummy-like Rapper, the adorable cupcake loving Drool and Bolts who, as his name implies, has his head held together with metal fasteners. Try one or try them all for some fun, monsterful moments.

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We All Need a Monster To Call Our Own

final_cover2-249x247I wish I had I Need My Monster written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam from Flashlight Press when I was growing up!

Okay, true confessions time. I had a lock installed on my closet after being scared silly when one of my cousins (now a heart surgeon) played a prank on me during an extended session of hide and seek. Now if I’d had a monster to count on to keep all interlopers away and to keep me tucked up tightly, I’d have never gotten the lock, but then again, I had a captain’s bed so where would my monster have lived?

In this imaginative and must-have children’s book (an Indie Next Children’s Pick for summer 2009, chosen by independent booksellers), one night young Ethan looks under his bed and discovers his monster missing along with a note:

GONE FISHING. BACK IN A WEEK.

-GABE

2-3

Now what’s a boy to do with an absentee monster? How is he supposed to fall asleep at night? In a quest for a scary substitute, Ethan knocks on his floorboards and wonders who he has summoned. Enter Herbert (his name being the first clue as to his monster-ability), but upon seeing Herbert’s lack of claws, Ethan quickly dispatches him.

16-17_cynthia-low-resWhen a new monster named Ralph, with well-groomed claws, appears on the scene, followed by a girl monster called Cynthia, Ethan remains disappointed as clearly no one fits the bill. Upon being told by yet a fifth monster that perhaps Gabe’s gone because Ethan is just “SO-O-O picky,” Ethan grows concerned that he’ll never get to sleep until some familiar loud creaking and scratches alert him to one more monster. Is Gabe back? Or will Ethan have to pull an all nighter?

This book is sure to entertain children whose fear of those “things that go bump in the night” is as prevalent today as it was during my lock-on-closet-door-days decades ago. At last we have a story that will help children discuss this perennial fear and look at it from a whole new perspective with the broadest grin on their faces…and one eye on the foot of the bed. What does your under-the-bed, blanket-stealing, pinky-nibbling monster look like?

NOTE: I loved the artwork in this book and felt that both the illustrations and characters would work well as a children’s TV cartoon series.. Ethan and Gabe would get up to all sorts of adventures together (if Ethan dared step down from the bed)! If your child is still itching for more monster fun, Flashlight Press has some great options:

1) Kids can print out a Make Your Own Monster page from the Flashlight Press website. Click here for monster parts to color, cut out and paste in all kinds of combinations. If kids want they can send a scan to the publisher and they will add it to the online Monster Gallery!

2) Look out for the book this October where it is being featured in both Borders and Barnes & Noble stores, in “Spooky Books for Kids” – a lead-in to Halloween. After buying the book and bringing it home, readers can request a free autographed bookplate to stick in the front of their copy by clicking here.



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