It’s the day before Halloween, and things that go bump in the night are high on everyone’s reading list. Even at the age of five, kids ask, “Where are the scary books?” Of course, their definition of scary differs from older students. So for kids whose idea of frightening fare is a talking pumpkin, haunted cupcake, or plotting carrots, these books are perfect.
BAR-EL, Dan. Illustrated by David Huyck. That One Spooky Night. Kids Can Press, 2012. ISBN 9781554537518. JLG Level: GE : Graphic Novels Elementary (Grades 2-6)
Big yellow eyes are featured on the front cover of this Halloween graphic novel, presented in three short stories. Youngsters go trick-or-treating with real witches and vampires. Mermaids and sea monsters lead two brothers on an underwater adventure. It all happened that one spooky night. Or did it?
GOODRICH, Carter. Zorro Gets an Outfit. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. ISBN 9781442435353. JLG Level: K : Kindergarten (Grades PreK-K)
Maybe you want a Halloween tale, but your students prefer tamer titles. Enter a dog named Zorro. Zorro and his friend Mister Bud have an average kind of life. They eat. They sleep. They go for a walk. They eat dog biscuits. Today is different. Zorro gets an outfit―a fitted mask with attached cloak. “Zorro was embarrassed. He didn’t want to go for a walk.” All the other dogs make fun of him until a new dog comes running through the park―in his own get-up. No longer outsiders, Zorro and Mister Bud run and play with the new guy. Spending time with his new friend makes him realize that maybe wearing a costume isn’t such a strange idea after all.
JENKINS, Emily. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins. Balzer + Bray, 2012. ISBN 9780061802232. JLG Level: HE : Humor Elementary (grades 2-6)
Sometimes a book’s fear factor is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. Jenkins delivers just the right mix of laughter and terror in the second book about Hank and the invisible bandapat. Hank is having a hard time in school. His friends are far and few between. His big sister thinks he is a bother. And most importantly, he lies all the time in order to protect Inkling, his bandapat. When Inkling gets Hank into trouble after trouble, a Halloween ghost delivers a surprise that does more than scare everyone.
MCELLIGOTT, Matthew. Even Aliens Needs Snacks. Walker & Company, 2012. ISBN 9780802723994. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K-1)
“My mom says I’m a good cook…[My sister] says that no one in the whole universe would eat the things I cook.” A young boy who wants to become a chef has a strange experience one night. His first customer is from out of town― way out of town. Arriving by spaceship, the alien seems to like his mushroom iced tea. Every night the boy creates new dishes for hungry aliens. Filled with great illustrations and a good dose of humor, McElligott’s new tale is a great read aloud for your primary readers.
JONES, Diane Wynne. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Earwig and the Witch. Greenwillow Books, 2012. ISBN 9780062075116. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4)
For your independent readers, Diane Wynne Jones has a new “orphan” book. Earwig leaves the orphanage to become a foster child at the house of a witch. Not willing to be bullied, she devises a foolproof plan and learns some magic along the way. Graduating fans of Clementine and Lucy Rose will love her. Zelinsky’s illustrations evoke Quentin Blake and enhance the hilarious tone.
REYNOLDS, Aaron. Illustrations by Peter Brown. Creepy Carrots. Simon & Schuster, 2012. ISBN 9781442402973. JLG Level: P : Primary (Grades K-1)
Sometimes a guilty conscience may make you see things. So after you steal carrots, you may see the orange vegetables following you after school. You may see them watching you from under the bed or in the closet. You may see them hiding in the tool shed and bathroom. Guilt can also drive you to action. Building a fence with a moat seems to be the best solution for keeping the creepy carrots at bay in this cautionary tale. Use of orange as a highlight against a dark and scary background adds to the “creep” factor. Your young readers will delight in being scared and laugh out loud at the surprising conclusion.
SPECK, Katie. Illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos. Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake. Henry Holt and Company, 2012. ISBN 9780805094688. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4)
Maybelle the cockroach and Henry the flea team up in this comic story. No bugs are allowed at Mrs. Peabody’s residence at Number 10 Grand Street, but Bernice the ant is oblivious to any danger. When the miniature cupcakes are too much for Maybelle to resist, Mrs. Peabody is sure that the moving cupcakes are haunted. Will Bernice get the cupcake? Can her new friends save her from the cat and extinction? How does Maybelle like being the Queen? Find out in this mini-mystery for your independent readers.
For ideas about how to use these books and links to supportive sites, check out the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.
Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.
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