Halloween books that go ‘boo’ in the night


Halloween-themed books for kids: “Hocus Pocus Hotel,” Always October,” Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins” and “The Monsters’ Monster.” (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)
October 29, 2012

Gather ’round, children. For today is the eve of All Hallow’s Eve, one of the most sacred days in the calendar of childhood.

You could tuck yourself under the covers and prepare for Wednesday’s excitement by getting a good night’s sleep.

But might we suggest — devilishly, impishly, perhaps — that instead you pull an early trick on your parents. Get yourself to bed right on time, with no grumbling or complaints. Wish your parents sweet dreams and climb under the covers. There, you have mis­­-chievously hidden a fearsome book and a flashlight intended for a fright night of reading destined to bring at least a few nightmares.

And if you get caught reading these KidsPost-recommended books, can we offer this suggestion? Smile sweetly and tell your parents that since you’re reading, it wasn’t a trick at all, but really a treat!

Hocus Pocus Hotel

by Michael Dahl. Ages 8 to 12

Charlie Hitchcock is horribly nervous when he gets a note from Tyler Yu to meet him after school. You see Charlie is small for his age, very smart and a little nerdy. Tyler is the biggest seventh-grader at Blackstone Middle School and a bit of a bully.

But to Charlie’s surprise, Ty doesn’t want to beat up Charlie, he just wants to pick his brain to get some help solving a mystery at the slightly creepy Abracadabra Hotel, which is a retirement home for old magicians.

Short chapters, fun illustrations and a fast-paced story with lots of things going bump in the night make this a hard-to-put-down mystery.

Always October

by Bruce Coville. Ages 8 to 12.

If you have a little brother or sister, you’ve probably thought once or twice that they are little monsters. But sixth-grader Jake Doolittle doesn’t just think it. He knows it. “In the same crib where LD should have been, wearing the same yellow duckie pajamas he had gone to sleep in, lay a creature with bright green fur, the beginnings of a snout and enormous pointed ears that curled over his head.”

Jake’s brother may be a monster but when other monsters start showing up to do him harm, it’s time for Jake and his friend Lily to save his brother — and the world — in this funny and just a little bit scary book.

Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins

by Emily Jenkins. Age 7 and older.

Inkling is an invisible, nearly extinct creature called a bandapat. This particular bandapat lives in Hank Wolowitz’s laundry basket and causes trouble. But now it’s October, and fourth-grader Hank hates October because October means Halloween, and his sister always scares him half to death. Plus he’s got to find a costume. Worse, Inkling’s favorite food is pumpkins, so he’s going around the neighborhood eating up all the jack-o’-lanterns. Warning: This book is more likely to make you laugh out loud than cry out in fear. Remember to giggle into your pillow if you don’t want your parents to hear.

The Monsters’ Monster

by Patrick McDonnell. Age 4 and older.

What makes a monster a monster? Is it how big the monster is? How scary he looks? The way he behaves? That’s what Grouch, Grump and Gloom ’n’ Doom discover when these three little monsters who live in a castle decide to make one really big, really scary monster. Older kids will enjoy the references to Frankenstein in this adorable picture book, while little kids will love the playful illustrations. Parents will love the message. That’s why if you do get caught reading a Halloween book after bedtime by Mom or Dad, you want to pull this one out and say, “Please read this to me like you did when I was little.”

A guaranteed treat for everyone.

Tracy Grant

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