"From out of the darkness came a blood-curdling scream."
Begin a story with such words and wide-eyed children will gather 'round to hear the ghoulish tale that is sure to follow. This is Halloween tradition. But the current crop of Halloween books for children has a cheerfully unique twist that seems to hold equal appeal for aspiring witches, ghosts and goblins. The horror may be gone, but the memories are sure to linger on. Ages 3-6 years:
The teeny, tiny witches. By Jan Wahl. Illustrated by Margot Tomes (Putnam, $6.95).
This miniature witch family perseveres through a series of home-movings forced upon them by larger, bullying creatures. The gently-pushed conclusion: Everyone has a place in this world.
Georgie's halloween. By Robert Bright. (Doubleday/Zephyr, $1.95).
Georgie, a gentle little ghost, is jut too timid to join in the neighborhood contest for best Halloween costume. Shy trick-or-treaters at your house will understand just how Georgie feels.
The candy witch. By Steven Kroll. Illustrated by Marylin Hafner.(Holiday House, $7.95).
A young witch, who feels that her cast-a-good-spell family is neglecting her, resorts to mischievous tricks that bring her more attention than expected, along with more understanding. Ages 5-8 years
The witch who was afraid of witches. By Alice Low. Pictures by Karen Dundersheimer. (Pantheon, $5.95).
Wendy couldn't cackle, cast spells or even ride a broom as well as her older sisters. This beguiling tale of how Wendy discovers her own special witch power will delight younger siblings.
The halloween pumpkin smasher. By Judith St. George. Illustrated by Margot Tomes. (Putnam, $6.95).
Tension builds through four suspenseful chapters as a not-so-brave girl sheds her dependence on an imaginary friend in solving the mystery of the neighborhood pumpkin smasher.
More witch, goblin and ghost stories. By Sue Alexander. Pictures by Jeanette Winter. (Pantheon, $3.95).
Three spooky friends share one lively adventure after another in six bewitching stories. Ideal for beginning readers, these stories contain a limited vocabulary, but an unlimited amount of frightfully fanciful fun. Ages 8-12 years
Meet the vampire. By Georgess McHargue. Drawings by Stephen Gammell. (Lippincott, $7.95).
Here is everything you've ever wanted to know about vampires (prevention, myths, history of the real Dracula, etc.) but were -- literally -- afraid to ask. It's enough to make you double-check your canine teeth after each brushing.
Frankenstein moved in on the fourth floor. By Elizabeth Levy. Illustrated by Mordecai gerstein. (Harper and Row, $6.95).
Mr. Frank, the new tenant on the fourth floor, was more than strange, He was downright scary. Was his name a clue? Children will shiver with excitement over Levy's new mystery.
Haunted house . By Jan Pienkowski (Dutton, $7.95).
Eerie and unexpected surprises lurk behind every page of this new pop-up book. This unusual house tour will appeal to strong-hearted kids of all ages. b
Halloween crafts and cookbook. By Nancy Hathaway. Illustrated by Hannah Berman. (Harvey House, $5.69).
This complete Halloween book offers everything from a brief history of the holiday itself to nutritional recipes, usual and unusual craft ideas, and games for the entire family to enjoy.