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April 23, 2014

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Bewitching Tales | Great Books for Halloween

Perfect for sharing aloud, these captivating stories offer up ghosts, ghouls, and giggles galore.
Halloween1 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenClick, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat. By Doreen Cronin. Illus. by Betsy Lewin. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6553-4. PreS–Gr 1.

Farmer Brown hates Halloween and holes up in his house, unaware that his farmyard animals are brewing up a shindig. Mysterious sounds fill the air, a dark creature lurks outside, and something is “tap, tap, tapping” on the door. Gathering his courage, he discovers a message“Halloween party at the barn!”left with a “quack, quack, quackle” by a vampire-cape-wearing duck. Onomatopoetic phrases and moonlit cartoon artwork build just enough shiver, while the satisfying ending (and a glimpse at Farmer Brown’s moon-and-stars long johns) will leave youngsters smiling.

Halloween2 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenFive Little Monkeys Trick-or-Treat. By Eileen Christelow. Clarion. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-85893-7; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-85909-5. PreS–K.

While out trick-or-treating, the mischief-loving siblings try to fool their babysitter by switching costumes with friends. However, the prank falls flat when astute Lulu hurries the imposters home for a big Halloween treat, and the re-outfitted monkeys believe that they will be left out of the fun. All ends well with a gentle scolding from Mama, and eyeball cookies and worm juice for everyone (recipe appended). Christelow’s vibrant artwork and lighthearted silliness are spot-on in this fine addition to a kid-favorite series.

Halloween3 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenGhost in the House. By Ammi-Joan Paquette. Illus. by Adam Record. Candlewick. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5529-7. PreS–Gr 2.

Gliding through a creepy house on a spooky night, a wide-eyed ghost is frightened by a mysterious “Groan!”…until the noisemaker is revealed to be a smiling mummy. Tension builds as the late-night prowling continues, and the friends are joined by a monster, a skeleton, and a witch (each introduced by a scary sound and suspenseful page turn). But beware, the most frightening creature is yet to come: a pajama-wearing boy. Bouncing rhymes, bold artwork, and endearingly depicted ghouls make this counting book a read-aloud must.

Halloween4 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenHalloween Hustle. By Charlotte Gunnufson. Illus. by Kevan J. Atteberry. Amazon/Two Lions. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1477817230. PreS–Gr 1.

Wearing a jack-o’-lantern-print shirt and a mile-wide smile, Skeleton is finger-snapping and toe-tip-tapping his way to Ghost’s Halloween party, but keeps tripping over things and falling all to pieces (“Bones scatter! What a clatter! Spine is broken like a ladder!”). Never fear, with the help of rubber bands, tape, twine, and finally Ghoul Glue (gently applied by a skeleton guest), he is back in jump-and-jive form just in time for the dance contest. Buoyant artwork accompanies the rollicking verses of this crowd-pleaser.

Halloween5 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenHow Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? By Wendell Minor. Illus. by author. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24684-5. K–Gr 2.

Minor’s lively text and handsome autumn-hued artwork prove the sky’s the limit. Full spreads showcase increasingly gargantuan jack-o’-lanterns that aggrandize famous American landmarksa “gigantic” pumpkin blocks traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, a “mighty” specimen is equal in size to the Mount Rushmore presidents, and a “colossal” orange behemoth fills the Grand Canyon (brief facts about the 14 featured sites are appended). The soft, realistic paintings make the surprising and somewhat spooky additions all the more awe-inspiring. A vocabulary-fortifying and imagination-stirring treat.

Halloween6 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenSkeleton for Dinner. By Margery Cuyler. Illus. by Will Terry. Albert Whitman. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-7398-3. PreS–Gr 2.

Eager to share their just-brewed stew, two witches decide to invite their friends to dinner; however, a misunderstanding has Skeleton, Ghost, and Ghoul convinced that they are ingredients rather than guests, resulting in a madcap getaway. It takes clear-thinking Crow to sort things out and guarantee a happy ending. This humorous read-aloud pairs a tongue-tingling narrative with dusk-hued artwork and packed-with-personality characters.

Halloween7 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenSpooky Friends. By Jane Feder. Illus. by Julie Downing. Scholastic. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-47815-1; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-47816-8. PreS–Gr 1.

Although they argue about almost everything, from snack choices to the perfect name for a pet kitten, Scarlet and Igor can agree on one important truth: they are the very best of friends. Starring a vivacious pigtailed vampire and a chubby mummy, this sweetly rendered easy reader presents a positive message about getting along that will speak volumes to little monsters everywhere.

Halloween8 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenTen Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book. By Stephen Savage. Illus. by author. Dial. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3938-3. PreS–Gr 2.

Savage’s rhyming verses and spookily spectacular illustrations reveal how 10 fresh-off-the-vine gourds vanish in eerily appropriate waysspirited away by mummy or ghost, stolen by skeleton pirates, mixed into a bubbling witches’ brew, or carved into glowing jack-o’-lantern. Featuring glossy black silhouettes and gleaming color contrasts, the slick graphic artwork blends ominous atmosphere with playful details, including an inquisitive cat that appears on every spread.

Halloween9 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenTrick-or-Treat: A Happy Haunter’s Halloween. By Debbie Leppanen. Illus. by Tad Carpenter. S & S/Beach Lane. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3398-4; ebook $11.76. ISBN 9781442433991. K–Gr 3.

From a humorous take on bumps in the night (“I hear a scream, could it be…Wait, that noise came from me!”) to a look at a trick-or-treating Frankenstein (“Knock, knock. Is that a mask? Close the door and just don’t ask”), 15 short and snappy poems treat Halloween themes with a tone that leans more toward light than fright. The smile-inducing selections are enhanced by neon-hued cartoon illustrations that present a “boo’s who” of costumed children and not-too-menacing monsters.

Halloween10 Bewitching Tales | Great Books for HalloweenA Very Witchy Spelling Bee. By George Shannon. Illus. by Mark Fearing. Harcourt. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206696-3. Gr 1–4.

Likable young Cordelia spends all of her time spelling, studying how to spell words, practicing magic spells, and combining the two (changing C-A-T into C-O-A-T, for example) in order to win the Witches’ Double Spelling Bee. However, current champion Beulah Divine, a crotchety 203-year-old, is committed to keeping her crown. It comes down to a nail-biting final round, but Cordelia proves her mettle by cleverly utilizing an “R” to transform her adversary from F-I-E-N-D to F-R-I-E-N-D. Illustrated with hilarious artwork, this tale of orthography and perseverance zings with witty wordplay and bewitching inventiveness.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who lives in southern Colorado. She spends most of her free time meeting the needs of the three voracious readers in her household.

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