For many kids, dressing up as their favorite pirate or princess and collecting candy sounds like perfection. Some, though, are intimidated by the whole thing. Who can blame them? Big monsters are parading up and down the street where they live; they’re even knocking on their door! For those kids, a gentle story about the silly side of Halloween can help them feel more comfortable. And for those who have had their costume picked out for weeks, these books can make the day even more fun.
Boo! Haiku, by Deanna Caswell; illustrated by Bob Shea
Even if your children have never heard of haiku, they’ll love these poems. Each haiku describes a Halloween character: “an orange porch pal/scooped for pie and roasted seeds/a candlelit grin.” The next line asks “Can you guess who from this haiku?” Kids will have to turn the page to find out if they guessed correctly. Bold illustrations of friendly-looking skeletons, ghosts and witches nearly pop off the page, and the haiku appear in easy-to-read lettering against lots of white space.
This Is The House That Monsters Built, by Steve Metzger; illustrated by Jared Lee
Kids who know about the house that Jack built will giggle at this spooky-house version. It begins: “This is the mummy who raised the wall,/Inside the house that monsters built./This is the spider who started to crawl,/That shocked the mummy who raised the wall,/Inside the house that monsters built.” And on it goes, until a werewolf, monster named Frankie, black cat, bats, zombies and more get their turn at building the house. A group of trick-or-treaters are the last creatures to cause mayhem in this story that offers lots of quirky humor and richly detailed ink drawings.
Birdie’s Happiest Halloween, by Sujean Rim
Birdie has a problem. All her friends know which character they’ll dress up as for Halloween, but she isn’t sure. A trip to the museum introduces her to famous leaders and pioneers, including Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Betsy Ross, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. Which will she choose? The story conveys a message of “you can be whatever you want to be” in a fun and unexpected way. Cheerful watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are accented with collages of art that add dimension to a delightful tale of girl power.
Grimelda: The Very Messy Witch, by Diana Murray; illustrated by Heather Ross
Grimelda, a spunky young witch, wants to make her favorite pie, but she needs a particular ingredient. If only her house weren’t such a mess, she might be able to find it. She finally resorts to sweeping, which helps her find what she needs. But Grimelda isn’t comfortable with all that neatness; how will she resolve the situation? Playful, creative rhymes tell an engaging story that will resonate with kids who groan at pleas of “time to clean up!” The digitally-produced illustrations offer lots of clever details to pore over.
Bad Kitty Scaredy-Cat, by Nick Bruel
The latest entry in Bruel’s popular series contains new antics of the frenetic Bad Kitty, and showcases the alphabet four ways. Early on, we learn Bad Kitty wasn’t always a scaredy-cat. She used to be “an angry kitty,” “a brave kitty” and “a clumsy kitty,” all the way to “a zestful kitty.” What caused this newfound fear? A horde of trick-or-treaters dressed as characters from A to Z! But when she finds a mound of dropped candy (also A to Z) she decides to become a “bad kitty” and the alphabet once again records her moves, as we see she “Attacked the Alien,” “Clobbered the Clown” and “Overturned the Ogre.” The book is packed with fast-paced action, and kids will learn while laughing.
Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating, by Laura Gehl; illustrated by Joyce Wan
The adorable and toddler-like Egg is hiding behind a bale of hay, because she’s scared to go trick-or-treating. Her equally cute friend, Peep, tries to help. But when Peep says they can visit the duck pond as a start, Egg vocalizes her fear: “Vampires!” When Peep suggests visiting the cows, Egg is unmoved. “Mummies!” she says. Peep tries a few Halloween-related jokes, but they don’t convince her. Peep decides to halt the back-and-forth and leaves; Egg gets scared and searches for her. When they’re reunited, Peep tries a little more gentle coaxing, and Egg decides to give it a try.
EEK! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton
A new board book by Sandra Boynton? Yes, please! Not many people can resist the charms of the prolific artist and writer who never writes down to her readers, but always surprises and enchants. With humorous rhymes and boisterous, expressive drawings, “EEK! Halloween!” is a treat. The first two pages show chickens looking nervous. Why? Because “Strange Things Are Happening.” Strange things, indeed: “One saw a pumpkin with flickering eyes.”/”One saw a mouse of enormous size.”/”One met a duck with enormous feet.” The tight prose reminds little ones that on Halloween, silly reigns supreme over scary.
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