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New Halloween Books for Kids 2020

NEW HALLOWEEN READS

A ROUNDUP

 

pumpkin freeclipart

 

 

This seven-book roundup covers wickedly wonderful Halloween season reads. From a gentle book about the fall season to spooky ghouls, goblin-witches, ghosts, vampires, a witch’s hut, and a haunted house, we’ve got you covered.

 

The Little Kitten coverTHE LITTLE KITTEN
Written and illustrated by Nicola Killen

(Paula Wiseman Books; $16.99, Ages 3-6)

Starred Review – Kirkus

With whimsical art in blacks, whites, and grays offset with oranges and foil accents, The Little Kitten embodies the spirit of autumn. Leaves blow across the pages, bringing movement that propels Ollie on her adventure. As promised by the title, there is a little kitten, but also Ollie’s cat, Pumpkin. Nicola Killen’s art and storyline

beautifully convey the playful, loving spirit of this book. It’s a pleasure to see a gentle story that’s engaging and fulfilling—it even has a surprise ending, shh!

She Wanted to be Haunted cvrSHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED
Written by Marcus Ewert
Illustrated by Susie Ghahremani

(Bloomsbury; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

I’m a sucker for a great book title and just had to read Marcus Ewert’s She Wanted to Be Haunted—plus, what a great idea! As promised, Clarissa, an “adorable and pink” cottage finds herself disappointed with her appearance. Her father is a castle and her mother a witch’s hut, but Clarissa got the short end of the broomstick with her undeniable cuteness. “Daisies grew around her, / squirrels scampered on her lawn. / Life was just delightful! / —and it made Clarissa yawn.”

What kid hasn’t felt bored when things were mellow and nice? Susie Ghahremani’s hand-painted artwork brings Clarissa to life in (dreaded!) upbeat colors. Inside, on Clarissa’s fuchsia, wallpapered walls, we sneak a peek at her family’s photos and, yes, she’s surely the oddball of the bunch. My favorite scenes involve the surprise ending. If you want to know if Clarissa’s attempts to gloom-down her appearance work, you’ll have to read the book. Trust me, the ending is awesome! Click here for a coloring page.

Scritch Scratch coverSCRITCH SCRATCH
Written by Lindsay Currie
(Sourcebooks; $16.99, Ages 9-12)

Scritch Scratch—the title of this middle-grade novel by Lindsay Currie will get under your skin as all good spooky books should. Because, of course, this sound is made by the ghost haunting Claire. Prior to this, science-minded Claire absolutely did not believe in ghosts and found her Dad’s ghost-themed bus tour and book embarrassing. So why did this ghost choose her? Claire’s too afraid to sleep and should have plenty of time to solve this mystery. However, since her BFF’s hanging around with the new girl, Claire may need to figure it out alone.

I’ve never been on a haunted bus tour, but, after reading this book I want to if they’re all as interesting as the one in this story. “Forgotten” facts about Chicago are cleverly woven in—what a great way to sneak in a history lesson! Click here for a discussion guide.

Embassy of the Dead cvrEMBASSY OF THE DEAD
Written by Will Mabbitt

Illustrated by Taryn Knight
(Walker Books US; $16.99, Ages 8-12)

This book opens with a warning from the Embassy that “[b]y signing, you hereby accept all responsibility for any death, dismemberment, or condemnation to the Eternal Void that results from reading.” How irresistible! When Jake Green receives a kind of creepy package in error, a fun adventure ensues dodging bonewulfs and their master Mawkins (a grim reaper). Accompanied by ghosts Stiffkey, Cora, and, an adorable fox named Zorro, the unlikely group tries to avoid being sent into the Eternal Void—a fate worse than death.

Will Mabbitt’s well-developed characters are very likable and Taryn Knight’s art plays up the humor. I appreciate the Embassy of the Dead’s new ideas about ghosts and their companions such as Undoers (someone who helps a ghost trapped on the Earthly Plane move on to the Afterworld). Mabbitt nails a perfectly written ending. I’ll gladly follow Jake and his friends onto the next book in the series. Click here to read a sample chapter.

Ghostology coverGHOSTOLOGY: A True Revelation of Spirits, Ghouls, and Hauntings
Written by Dugald A. Steer; Lucinda Curtle
Illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert; Garry Walton; Doug Sirois
(Candlewick Press; $27.99, Ages 10+)

Fans of the beautifully made Ologies series won’t be disappointed in the latest addition, Ghostology. Packed full of stories, this book will keep you haunting its pages because there’s so much information from psychics and mediums, to fakes and frauds. Want to know what’s in a ghostologist’s field kit (sketchbook, accurate timepiece, and, of course, a ghost-detecting device, just to name a few items), or how to hunt ghosts? You’ve come to the right place. Pay attention to the “Types of Ghosts” chapters.

Beyond reading, the book is a sensory experience with its sealed pages, official documents envelope, flaps, and textures. If there’s such a thing as a coffee table kid’s book, this is it. The icy blue color scheme of the cover is offset by a large faceted red “gem.” Raised letters just beg you to run your hand over them and invite you to look inside. The thought and detail in this book are phantom-astic!

beetleandthehollowbone cvrBEETLE & THE HOLLOWBONES
Written and illustrated by Aliza Layne
Coloring by Natalie Riess and Kristen Acampora
(Atheneum BYR; $21.99, Ages 8-12)

Starred Reviews – Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal

In Aliza Layne’s middle-grade graphic novel, Beetle & the Hollowbones, Beetle is a twelve-year-old goblin-witch being homeschooled by her gran. Beetle, however, would rather hang out with her current BFF Blob Ghost at the old mall (where they are inexplicably trapped). When Beetle’s previous BFF, Kat Hollowbones, returns home after completing her sorcery apprenticeship at a fast-track school, their friendship isn’t the same. Kat’s aunt Marla is the wonderfully drawn skeletal antagonist.

With well-developed characters and plenty of action, this fast-paced book will bewitch you. The struggles of moving through school and friendships falling apart are accurately depicted. The panels, grouped into chapters, capture your attention with their fantastic illustrations, engaging colors, and lively text. I like how Layne includes some concept art at the end, inspiring other artists with a behind-the-scenes peek.

vampiresnevergetold cvrVAMPIRES NEVER GET OLD: Tales With Fresh Bite
Editrixes: Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker
Other authors include Tessa Gratton, Rebecca Roanhorse, Julie Murphy, Heidi Heilig, Samira Ahmed, Kayla Whaley, Laura Ruby, Mark Oshiro, Dhonielle Clayton, and Victoria “V.E.” Schwab
(Imprint/Macmillan; $17.99, Ages 12 and up)

Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite is a YA short story anthology with the goal to “expand on and reinvent traditional tellings.” How awesome is that?? Editrixes Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Porter’s story, “Vampires Never Say Die,” is a suspenseful, modern tale about a teen and vampire who meet online. They also provide the introduction and insightful commentary after each piece, delving into the many areas of the vampire myth. There are so many wonderful things in this collection; I’ll give you a few nibbles to whet your appetite.

“Bestiary” by Laura Ruby is set in a near dystopian future; Jude works at the zoo and has a special connection with animals. This story stood out for me because the reader must piece together the truth. It’s quite a different twist on thirst and the theft of blood and humanity.

“Seven Nights for Dying” by Tessa Gratton opens with the line, “Esmael told me that teenage girls make the best vampires” (because they’re “both highly pissed and highly adaptable, and that’s what it takes to survive the centuries”). We follow Esmael’s chosen girl through a week of uncertainty as she considers joining the undead. This cleverly layered story demands to be reread to truly appreciate Gratton’s well-crafted words.

Weaving in old superstitions, “The Boy and the Bell” by Heidi Heilig expands upon the Victorian tradition of burying their loved ones with a bell (allowing them to call for help if mistakenly buried alive). Set at the turn of the century, Will is a graverobber for all the right reasons—he wants to become a doctor, and “acquiring” freshly buried bodies allows him to trade for a spot at the back of the amphitheater where dissections take place. With only a few glimpses at Will’s thoughts, we find out volumes about his struggles.

This anthology breathes life into the short story and lets readers appreciate the many perspectives and styles from a very talented array of writers. My favorites tend to have unexpected endings. There’s something for everyone. Just read it already!

 

  •  ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READS FROM RONNA
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    IT’S HALLOWEEN, LITTLE MONSTERIts Halloween Little Monster cvr

    Written by Helen Ketteman
    Illustrated by Bonnie Leick
    (Two Lions; $17.99, Ages 3-7)
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    When I began reading It’s Halloween, Little Monster, one of the Little Monster series of picture books, I thought I was reading about the first time I took my son out trick-or-treating 15 years ago. All he had to do was see one or two kids in scary costumes and he hightailed it home before anyone could say boo! I’m so glad Helen Ketteman wrote this picture book because I’m sure it’s going to help make the first Halloween experience for reluctant little ones a lot easier.

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    In this gentle rhyming story, Little Monster heads out for Halloween accompanied by his dad. The reassuring presence of a parent sets the tone. Dad will be right there to calm Little Monster’s fears no matter who or what they encounter. “Don’t fret Little Monster. / See there in the street? / That’s not really a ghost / it’s a kid in a sheet!”
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    Together the pair see all kinds of spooky creatures while trick-or-treating, but the dad anticipates what might frighten his child and is always one step ahead. I like how the papa monster not only comments on assorted pirates, witches, and vampires but scary sounds, too. Leick’s muted blue and purple toned palette of the detailed illustrations will only add to the enjoyment of this charming Halloween read. It’s an enjoyable pairing of prose and art. By the time the surprise ending happens, Little Monster’s smiling just like the children having this story read to them.
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  •  OTHER RECOMMENDED HALLOWEEN SEASON READS:
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    CHRISTOPHER PUMPKIN by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet with art by Nick East
    (Board Book for Ages 0-3, Little Brown BYR)
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    THAT MONSTER ON THE BLOCK by Sue Ganz-Schmitt with art by Luke Flowers
    (Picture Book Ages 4-8, Two Lions)
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    THE REVENGE OF THE WEREPENGUIN by Allan Woodrow with art by Scott Brown
    (Middle Grade illustrated novel for Ages 8-12, Viking BYR)
  • Disclosure: Good Reads With Ronna is now a Bookshop.org affiliate and will make a small commission from the books sold via this site at no extra cost to you. If you’d like to help support this blog, its team of kidlit reviewers as well as independent bookshops nationwide, please consider purchasing your books from Bookshop.org using our affiliate links above (or below). Thanks!
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    Recommended Reads for the Week of 10/26/20

 

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Glitter Girl – A Guest Post by Authors Toni Runkle & Stephen Webb

WHAT PRICE POPULARITY?
GLITTER GIRL GUEST BLOG & GIVEAWAY

Glitter Girl Book Cover
Glitter Girl by Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2013.

I’m delighted to turn this post over to guest bloggers,
Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb
(click here for website), authors of Glitter Girl
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99, ages 10 and up, also available as an ebook). 
Runkle and Webb, writing partners for close to a decade, and parents of young daughters, also call Los Angeles home. Today they’ll be addressing an all too common tween topic which incidentally is the premise for their terrific debut middle grade novel, Glitter Girl, featuring Kat Connors. There’s lots of great stuff to glean from this post so read on.

Friendship and loyalty vs. popularity – what works, what doesn’t and why is this such a big issue for girls?

Now I ask you readers and parents of girls, who amongst you has not had to deal with this troublesome tween dilemma? Ahhh, if only I’d had this book to hand to my daughter when she went through the trials and tribulations of tweendom. But you can have it!

Click here now to enter for a chance to win a free copy of the book courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Giveaway ends December 16, 2013 at midnight PST. Be sure to write GLITTER GIRL in the subject line and include your address. You can also enter on Facebook by posting a comment, but you’ll need to LIKE us for entry to be valid. Good luck! – Ronna

LIFE IN THE FAB LANE

Hi! I’m Kat. Welcome to my blog. I may be from a small town but I’m also Glitter Girl Cosmetics’ newest trendsetter. Thanks to my flair for fashion and my popular style blog, I’ve been chosen to be an Alpha Girl, which means I get to try out all the Glitter Girl products before they hit the stores.

Forty-eight hours after she blogs about the goodies in the new line, every girl at Kat’s school is sporting the gear. Kat’s popularity skyrockets, but Jules—Kat’s BFF—seems to be the only one who’s not buying into the Glitter Girl lifestyle. Is Kat willing to sacrifice her friendship for life in the fab lane?

 

RUNKLE & WEBB: Ah, the friendship and loyalty vs. popularity question. The age-old decision faced by adolescent girls since the beginning of time. We’re pretty sure there are cave drawings in northern Spain depicting this struggle.

We are parents of young daughters so we have seen this struggle first hand. Also, despite what our daughters  may think, we used to be young once, and while that was many moons ago, the scars of adolescence still linger. It’s an exceptional person who doesn’t have them. Mythical, in fact.

This is because as kids reach adolescence, an emotional drama begins to unfold. They become more – no, actually they become painfully, self-aware.  They examine every detail of their being, down to the pores on their noses. They are trying to figure out who they are, where they belong – if they belong.  It can be a very difficult time. There is a great deal of insecurity. Add to the mix the emergence of the “mean girl mentality” that begins at about age 11 or 12 and continues into middle school and girls have a particularly rough road into their teen years.

So of course, what adolescent girl wouldn’t want to be popular? The allure of everyone knowing your name, looking up to you, even liking you – the idea of not only fitting in, but standing out – not only is it intoxicating, it allows you bypass all the angst that comes with being the misfit.

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Where’s the bird?

There are hundreds of books about being different and embracing one’s uniqueness. Ironically, A FUNNY LITTLE BIRD (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $15.99, ages 4-8) by graphic artist Jennifer Yerkes about a lonely, invisible bird, truly stands out!

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“When he was seen, other birds made fun of him.” So the little bird set out on his own, all the while accumulating various beautiful items found during his journey, items like magnificent feathers and flowers that would certainly get him noticed. Bringing attention to himself, however, proved to be a double-edged sword when this funny little bird was pursued by a fox. Yet in his haste to escape, his so-called treasures were lost.

Then, like the Rainbow Fish before him, the funny little bird realized that all the accoutrements would not lead to happiness. In fact, it was his invisibility that made him special. This wonderful gift he could share with his pals could also keep them safe. So, it turns out, that this funny little bird learned a most valuable lesson that takes many others years to grasp – excessive pride can push potential friends away and to have a friend you must first be a friend.

In 48 pages, Yerkes’s crsip yet sparse artwork manages to be fluid, fresh and fun, a beautiful blend of Jon Klassen meets Lois Ehlert. A Funny Little Bird is truly this year’s must have for self-esteem building! Get a copy at your favorite independent bookstore today.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Dorothy, Goldilocks, Black Beauty, Oh My!

Have Library Card Will Travel

My name is not Isabella, but there sure is a lot of Isabella in me.  Read Isabella: Star of the Story (Sourcebooks, $16.99, ages 4-8) by Jennifer Fosberry with illustrations by Mike Litwin to your children and watch how a trip to the library can turn into a magical experience.  In fact the book is dedicated to librarians whose vital role in introducing children to books cannot be stressed enough.

9781402279362
Isabella is a young girl with a keen sense of adventure and an imagination as wide as the continents and oceans combined. Like me, Isabella loves to visit new places and in this, the third book in a richly rewarding series, she ventures inside the pages of some literary classics.

Isabella’s charming banter with her parents is part of the appeal of the story and New York Times Bestselling Author Fosberry wastes no time diving – or in this case, flying – right in! While she won’t answer to Isabella, she will answer to Peter Pan. “I am Peter Pan, and I am flying two stars to the right and straight on to the children’s room.”  Parents, remember to point out the different outfits that Isabella’s trusty plush mouse is wearing with each new book she reads. Illustrator Litwin has also drawn some delightful clues foreshadowing the next story to come. For example there’s a bowl of steamy porridge on top of a book on the page before Isabella transforms into Goldilocks. That’s when she searches for a book that’s “not too short and not too long.” There’s word play for older readers both in the text and in Litwin’s clever and colorful artwork. In addition to Peter Pan and Goldilocks from The Three Bears, Isabella enters the world of Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful World of Oz.

The back matter at the end of the book shares interesting details about the evolution of each classic including a DID YOU KNOW factoid parents may even find more interesting than their kids! Considering we all have grown up with these “Stories for all time …” Fosberry has found a wonderful way to engage a whole new audience while making our trip down the rabbit hole all the more meaningful.

Read my review of Isabella: Girl on The Go (book 2) by clicking here.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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You Better Watch Out!

9781402275159SANTA CLAUS IS HEADING WEST!

I’m excited to share my review of  Santa is Coming to California, one title in a clever new series from Scotland based illustrator Robert Dunn and UK based author Steve Smallman published by Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky ($9.99, ages 4 and up).

Old Saint Nick is getting his Santa-nav ready by entering the correct coordinates for California and then off he will go! Imagine how much fun you’ll have reading this story to your children as you follow Santa’s sleigh and reindeer as they make tracks from the North Pole all the way to the Golden State! Not only will you love the spirited illustrations, but you’ll also love how the story subtly teaches a geography lesson.

9781402277757Santa and company get lost in fog, but when they get reoriented they are zooming over the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco’s notable sites. Eventually they make it to Hollywood plus other delightful points here and yonder despite some weary and hungry first-rate sleigh pullers.

If you’re not a California resident, you can take advantage of Santa is Coming To My House, virtually the same picture book with a different cover and without the specific city names and landmarks (hence some different illustrations) so any child anywhere can enjoy it!

So which list are you on?

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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