Roald Dahl: How to Have a Frightful Halloween

Grosset & Dunlap. Aug. 2024. 32p. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780593886809.
K-Gr 2–Characters from Dahl’s beloved children’s stories are brought to life through Blake’s iconic artwork. While the inclusion of familiar faces, such as those from The Twits and The Witches, alongside the ever-popular Willy Wonka, promises a delightful romp, the execution falls short, emphasizing the tricks over the treats in this Halloween book. The narrative reads disjointed, veering away from the whimsical charm toward the unsettling. Instead of evoking a sense of fun and wonder, some passages may leave readers feeling uncomfortable, such as the portrayal of witches with minds “plotting scheming churning burning whizzing and phizzing with horrible thoughts.” The text itself is brief and words are often bolded, capitalized, and colored for emphasis. The illustrations, while nostalgic, lack depth and detail, resembling more a series of posters than scenes from a picture book. Characters sometimes appear jumbled, as if copied and pasted onto the pages, detracting from the overall visual experience.
VERDICT The tone and content may not be entirely suitable for this book’s intended audience, and the execution leaves much to be desired and misses the mark in delivering a delightful holiday read.

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