Friday, October 26, 2012


Sendak's Mommy? and More Halloween Fun

Thursday October 25, 2012
Mommy? cover artMommy? is the only pop-up book illustrated by the extraordinary Maurice Sendak. Mommy? is an almost wordless pop-up book. Since it tells the story of a toddler searching for his mother among monsters and mummies, Mommy? is perfect for Halloween. Young children will find it delightfully creepy while older children and adults will appreciate the humor and the exceptional paper engineering. Maurice Sendak's award-winning books include Where the Wild Things Are, a Caldecott Medal winner.
Whether your child is a preschooler, an independent reader, or somewhere in between, I have a children's Halloween book to recommend. You'll find some not-too-scary picture books, one pretty scary picture book, a joke book, a science book about pumpkins and a cumulative tale, among others. Several of the books feature popular characters (Nate the Great, the Berenstain Bears) and are part of a popular series. One of the Halloween picture books comes with an audiobook and an animated version of the story.

1. By the Light of the Halloween Moon

children's Halloween picture book cover art of By the Light of the Halloween MoonMarshall Cavendish
By the Light of the Halloween Moon is an unusual Halloween picture book, a cumulative tale. Set at night and featuring a child with a wiggling toe, the tale is both amusing and slightly scary. The story, by Caroline Stutson, features alliteration and repetition. Kevin Hawkes's dramatic illustrations greatly add to the appeal of By the Light of the Halloween Moon. I recommend it for most kids ages 6-8 and some younger kids. Marshall Cavendish published the book in 2009.

2. Celebrate Halloween

Cover art of Celebrate Halloween nonfiction children's picture bookNational Geographic Society
Celebrate Halloween with Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy is a nonfiction book, one of many in the Holidays Around the World series. The book, by Deborah Heiligman, uses color photographs of children celebrating fall and Halloween in several different countries to illustrate the story of Halloween, its history and celebration. An afterword provides directions for a Halloween game, information about The Day of the Dead, a recipe for a Spooky Graveyard cake, a glossary, a map showing where the photographs were taken, a one-page essay by scholar Jack Santino, and recommended books and Web sites for readers eager to learn more about Halloween.

3. Too Many Pumpkins

Cover art for children's Halloween picture book Too Many PumpkinsHoliday House
What happens when a woman who hates pumpkins unexpectedly, and despite her best efforts to prevent it, has a bumper crop of pumpkins? What can she do? Her solution makes a very entertaining story. Author Linda White stresses community in this delightful Halloween picture book. Megan Lloyd's illustrations are delightful. Holiday House published the book in 1996.

4. Tucker's Spooky Halloween

Tuckers Spooky Halloween, a children's Halloween picture book with DVD Audiobook and AnimationCandlewick Press
Tucker's Spooky Halloween provides extra fun for young kids because, in addition to the picture book, it comes with an animated version of the story, plus two audio versions. The story by Leslie McGuirk features a little white dog, Tucker, and the problems he encounters as he tries to convince his owner to dress him in a scary costume for Halloween. The illustrations by McQuirk have a nice simplicity. Candlewick Press published Tucker's Spooky Halloween in 2009 as part of its Candlewick Storybook Animations Series.

5. Los Gatos Black on Halloween

Cover art of Los Gatos Black on Halloween children's picture bookHenry Holt and Company
The Halloween picture book Los Gatos Black on Halloween will send shivers of delight down the spines of older children who thrive on creepy stories and illustrations. The influence of her childhood in Mexico is reflected in the paintings by illustrator Yuyi Morales. Elements of the Day of the Dead celebration can also be found in the text by author Martha Montes, who was born in Puerto Rico. This picture book would make a wonderful Halloween read-aloud, as well as a read-alone, for 8-12 year olds who love scary stories and pictures. It is scarier than most picture books, which is why I don't recommend it for all ages or all 8-12 year olds. (Henry Holt and Company, 2006. ISBN: 9780805074291)

6. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Cover art for The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of AnythingHarperCollins
This just-scary-enough story is both a good read-aloud and a goood read alone. A little old lady goes walking in the forest until dark and then heads for home. On the way, she keeps hearing ominous sounds. She finds herself followed by noisy clomping boots, then by wiggly pants, and more. Kids will enjoy repeating the story's refrain and will delight in the little old lady's creative solution to the problem of what to do with these noisy objects who are upset because they can't scare her. (HarperCollins, 1998. ISBN: 0064431835)

7. A Tiger Called Thomas

Cover art for the Halloween picture book A Tiger Called ThomasHyperion
This charming story by Charlotte Zolotow is about Thomas, a little boy who moves into a "new house on a new street" and never ventures from his front steps because he thinks his neighbors don't like him. Day after day, he watches children playing and neighbors walking by. When Halloween comes, he is surprised to find that his neighbors, children and adults alike, recognize him, despite the tiger mask he hides behind, and want to be friends. He goes home a happy boy.

8. Humbug Witch

Cover art for Humbug Witch a Halloween picture book.Star Bright Books
Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian tells the story of a scary-looking little witch who finds that, despite looking like a witch, she can't do what witches do. The little witch is quite a sight, with a big nose, crooked teeth and stringy red hair. Although she tries, the little witch can't cackle like a witch, fly on a broom, cast magical spells or make magic potions. We find out why when the little witch removes her costume and mask, and we see she is a little girl who has been dressed up for Halloween. The simple illustrations are full of humor, much of it the result of the expression on the face of the black cat as he watches the little witch. This is a good book for three- to five-year-olds.

9. What was I Scared of?

Cover art of What was I Scared of? by Dr. SeussRandom House
What Was I Scared Of? by Dr Seuss is a new picture book edition of an old Dr. Seuss story that first appeared in The Sneeches and Other Stories. Subtitled: A Glow-in-the-Dark Encounter, this children's book is a sweet story of two creatures who start out scared of one another, even though one is "A pair of green pants / With nobody inside then!" The narrator is scared of the pants, but ends up comforting the pants when he realizes the pair of pants is very scared of him. While not a Halloween story, it's a good very slightly scary story for ages 4-8 during the Halloween season, particularly since special ink makes some of the artwork on every page glow in the dark. (Random House, 2009; ISBN: 9780375853425) Compare prices.

10. The Berenstain Bears Trick or Trick

This book is part of Stan and Jan Berenstain's First Time Books series. For the first time, Brother and Sister Bear are going trick or treating without an adult along. While the authors emphasize the rules for Halloween safety, they also tell an entertaining story about not judging by appearances. (Random House,1989 ISBN: 0679800913) Compare prices.

11. Boo Who? and Other Wicked Halloween Knock-Knock Jokes

This clever book works on several levels. It's a book of funny Halloween knock-knock jokes; it's a fun interactive lift-the-flap book, and it's the amusing story of a boy's and girl's adventure in a haunted house.

12. Moonlight: The Halloween Cat

If you are looking for a warm and gentle book about Halloween for a very young child, Moonlight: The Halloween Cat is it. Halloween is Moonlight's favorite night, and author Cynthia Rylant describes how he enjoys walking around the neighborhood, watching the children in costume and seeing the jack-o-lanterns glow. Illustrator Melissa Sweet's full page artwork provides a window on a magical Halloween night. (HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN: 0060297123) Compare prices.

13. The Monster Trap

This delightful picture book features the wonderful oil paintings of Dean Morrissey. Although not a Halloween story, it features some of the most delightfully odd looking monsters you will ever see, perfect for the Halloween season. A little boy, Paddy, spends the night at his grandpa's place, which includes a shop filled with antiques and equipment. When Paddy worries about monsters, his grandpa builds some monster traps for him, with surprising results. (HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN: 0060524987) Compare prices.

14. Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden

The rhythmic text and the colorful photography make Pumpkin Circle a very appealing science book for a wide range of ages. The author, George Levenson, covers the life cycle of pumpkins, from seeds to pumpkins to jack o' lanterns back to seeds. At the end of the book, there is a page of additional information about pumpkins, including planting tips. The engaging photographs by Shmuel Thaler, which cover a year in the garden, complement the text. (Tricycle Press, 1999. ISBN: 1582460787) Compare prices.

15. Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt

This entertaining detective story by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, with illustrations by Marc Simont, is written at the 2.1 reading level and will appeal to beginning readers. On Halloween night, Nate's friend Rosamond comes to his house to ask him to help find her missing cat, Little Hex. Nate the Great and his dog, Sludge, are on the case! (Yearling Books, reissue 1990. ISBN: 0440403413) Compare prices.


Ten Creepy Monsters by Carey Armstrong-Ellis (Oct 1, 2012)

Room on the Broom Board Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler (Aug 16, 2012)

The Monster Alphabet by Michael Spradlin and Jeff Weigel (Aug 16, 2012)

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler (Aug 31, 1992)

Teeny Tiny by Jill Bennett and Tomie dePaola (Dec 29, 1997) otherwise known as the Teeny Tiny Woman. 




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