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It’s that time of year when youngsters, young and old, get to dress up and gather bags of candy on Halloween. I have featured some outstanding picture books for kids, ages two through seven, unless otherwise indicated. These books are the perfect way to celebrate the excitement of this season.
Where’s the Witch, by Ingela P. Arrhenius, is a brightly colored and smallish size board book meant for the tiniest hands. Each page features simple questions that have to do with Halloween, along with a lift-the-flap that reveals the answer. The final page asks “…who is ready for Halloween?” with a mirror for a toddler to see themselves.
Laugh-Out-Halloween Jokes for Kids, by Rob Elliott, is a delightfully packaged smallish size paper-back featuring lift-the-flaps on every page. The fourteen jokes featured are adapted for even the youngest to enjoy. One of these funny jokes features a brightly colored ghost on the one side – “What do you call a pretty ghost?” By lifting the flap on the opposite side, you see a ghost and the answer: Boo-tiful.
Pick a Pumpkin, by Patricia Toht, and gorgeously illustrated with pencil, chalk and paint and then colored digitally by Jarvis, is actually a beautiful ode to the season. Children and their parents are selecting pumpkins to take home where you then see them carving them and ultimately creating a Jack-o-Lantern. The colors throughout the book completely fill the page and are rich and layered with intricacies. There is also a rhyming text which flows through the book. Cobwebs strung from post to post / Rings of gaudy dancing ghosts. / Spiders, Tombstones. / Dangling bats. / Skeletons and witches’ hats. The book joyously celebrates family togetherness andfall traditions. The end-pages, both front and back, are a perfect beginning and end to this special book.
Skulls!, by Blair Thornburgh, and brightly painted in watercolor by Scott Campbell, handles a rather spooky subject with an academic approach. What appears to be a skull apparatus as part of Halloween becomes a delightful, enlightening and important book about the purpose and description of the large bone above our neck. Kids learn how the skull gives the face its shape and holds the teeth in place – and much more. It’s the car seat for your brain. The humorous tone of the information regarding the tremendous importance of the skull will have kids learning while they’re giggling. The end pages are clever with the first pages showcasing faces of all sorts and sizes. The last page shows these same faces with just their skulls.
The Most Terrible of All, by Muon Thi Van, and painted with vibrant acrylic and oil by Matt Myers, is about how a little monster discovers something very important as he continues to try to be the “most terrible”. Every day Smugg asks the magic mirror who is the most terrible until one day the mirror tells him he isn’t anymore. He is shocked to learn that there is a new baby right next door. How can this tiny baby be worse than him? But he soon discovers that she eats books, writes on the wall and …. never stops crying. And now she seems attached to him. This is a fun and funny story that begs to be read out loud!
Give Me Back My Bones!, by Kim Norman, and cleverly illustrated digitally by Bob Kolar, has to be one of the best books to teach the anatomy of our body all while being fun and entertaining. The wordplay and rhyming text are perfectly matched with the clever creative underwater scenes with funny bug-eyed fish. There’s a pirate at the center of this biological story who’s trying to locate his bones. Every page brings about more bone parts (labeled of course) for his body. The front end-pages display all of the bones of the body leveled and in an organized scattering. The final end-pages show the pirate skeleton all put together. There’s a poster also included.
Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster for a Pet, by David Goodner, and perfectly illustrated with gouache, pen and ink by Louis Thomas, is the perfect read-out-loud because the narrator is involved with Ginny’s predicament and invites the listener to participate. This type of narration makes for a fun and inviting involvement into the story and youngsters will beg to have it re-read again and again. Ginny’s decision to want goats is dissuaded by the narrator who tells her they are “stinky, and it takes a lot of work to take care of them”. But what Ginny comes up with will have youngsters howling – especially at the end.
The Right One for Roderick, by Violeta Nay, has a very small ghost, Roderic, attempting to be just a little different from the rest of his ghost family. They are all much taller than him and they all wear white sheets. He tries wearing a hat or scarves but finds it just doesn’t fit what he’s looking for. What he does discover is that complying within the boundaries of a good life is what he really desires. That discovery was worth his exploration. The pictures are bright and completely fill the pages and were crafted digitally.
Hide and Seek, by Katie Moss Green, is an over-sized picture book that conveys the muted colors of greens and blues created with graphite and charcoal to present a nighttime gathering. As a large hanging moon shines, twin girls leave their picture framed and hung on the wall. When the rest of the children in their framed pictures discover they are left behind, they also leave in search of the twins. The atmosphere of the beautiful pictures fills each double page. This creates an enchanting and eerie mystery. There is just enough – and not too much – to spook the reader.
Clever Little Witch, by Muon Thi Van, and nicely painted with acrylic, gouache and colored pencils by Hyewon Yum, has little Lion dealing with a big problem. She loves being a magical witch. She has almost everything she needs including a wonderful broomstick and a magical pet mouse. But now she has a baby brother who cries way too much. She tries everything in her magical powers to get rid of him. But the biggest surprise waits just for her in the end!