This most fun time of the year for children can help engage them in humorous and/or entertaining mysteries. Except for the last book, which is an early chapter book for ages 7 to 10, the rest of these books are picture books and are good for all ages.
Bats in the Band, by Brian Lies, is a picture book rich with acrylic paintings that fill the page and toe-tapping rhythm that begs to be read out loud. Bats await the night to fly to a deserted theater with their various instruments to play on the stage. Their greatest desire is to play in the band. And when dawn breaks into the dark, the bats are dreaming of returning and becoming “the bats in the band”. There are violins, cellos, guitars and many improvised instruments and the bats perform solos, quartets and more. This book adds to the other “Bat” books: “Bats at the Beach”, “Bats at the Library” and “Bats at the Ballgame”.
Penguin and Pumpkin, by Salina Yoon, is a sweet tale of friendship. Penguin and his friend, Bootsy, are going with friends in search for Fall. However, Penguin’s little brother, Pumpkin, wants to go too. But he’s too small to go on this voyage across the ice and sea to get to land. Penguin and his friends find pumpkins and colorful falling leaves everywhere. But he didn’t forget about his little brother and is able to bring back something that is especially “Fall”. The sparse text, and digitally made illustrations, makes this book perfect for preschoolers. There are two other companion books about Penguin.
The Sweetest Witch Around, by Alison McGhee, and brightly illustrated with black ink and watercolor by Harry Bliss, is a clever story told by a big sister witch as she advises her little sister, Witchling. She wants her little sister to “…study humans and learn their mysterious ways”. But once Witchling learns about the “candy-yuck”, she thinks of it as “yum” and heads to houses to begin her own “trick-or-treeing” (as she calls it). This event makes for a fun and funny story and an ending that kids will want to have reread over and over! This book continues the entertaining story: “A Very Brave Witch”.
Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma, by Jacky Davis, and illustrated with the perfect autumn colors using ink and watercolor by David Soman, has adorable Lulu and her basset hound enjoying the fall leaves. But when it comes time to decide on her costume for Halloween, she attempts trying on many different costumes. What she finally decides on will be something she should have figured out before all of the trials!
The Witches’ Supermarket, by Susan Meddaugh, was first published back in 1991. It’s easy to see why this very clever story, along with the inventive illustrations, was recently reissued. Young Helen is dressed as a witch for Halloween and she has just made her dog dress up as a cat. “Witches have cats, not dogs” she tells him. As they set out to go trick-or-treating, they come upon an older woman who has just dropped something. They pick up the lost item and attempt to catch up with her but enter into a supermarket which displays a “No Dogs Allowed” sign. It doesn’t take them very long to realize they are in a secret supermarket for witches. The shelves are filled with items witches would buy: “bug bars”, “gummy snakes”, “candy eye-balls” and much more. How they escape will bring about a smile to your child’s face – and yours.
I Am a Witch’s Cat, by Harriet Muncaster, is a cleverly told story from the viewpoint of a young girl dressed up like a black cat. She believes her mom is a witch because of all her potions (which are really makeup creams by the bathroom sink). She sees her mom buy jars of “EYEBALLS and GREEN FINGERS” at the grocery story, (which are actually green olives and pickles) and so on. The ingenious illustrations are a unique blend of watercolor, ink and mixed media adding to the three-dimensional scenes. Youngsters will get a kick out of figuring out what mom is actually doing on every page.
Where’s My Homework?, by Michael Garland, has a young boy distraught from losing his homework. His imagination begins to spin possibilities of where it could be. Perhaps a wicked witch turned it into a frog, or a dragon turned it into toast. What actually happened to his homework shows a typical excuse for kids, but in this situation, it really happened. The brilliant illustrations fill every page with creative images of the possible thief.
The Worst Witch to the Rescue, by Jill Murphy, is an enchanting fantasy featuring sweet Mildred once again in this sixth book in a series. Those familiar with the other installments in the series will recognize selfish witch Ethel when she comes upon Mildred high in a tree and steals her idea for a project at witch school. But in the end, Ethel gets her comeuppance and Mildred shines throughout with her big heart. The author also drew the delightful illustrations found throughout this book. There is no need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this adventure, but chances are you’re going to want to read them all.