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Halloween will soon be here and what better way to celebrate throughout the month than by reading books to thrill, spook, chuckle and enjoy? The first four books, unless otherwise indicated, are perfect for ages four through eight. The rest of the books are good for ages nine and up, unless otherwise indicated.
Star Wars: Are you scared, Darth Vader?, by Adam Rex, is a hilarious look into the demeanor of villainous Vader. A boy asks questions throughout the book with large yellow print and Vader responds with short clip answers. He stands in all his black armor and seems set against anything as silly as being frightened. The boy, dressed up as a wolf, asks if he is scared of a werewolf. His simple yet powerful reply is that he isn’t afraid of a wolf or a man. The boy brings more monsters and ghosts and Vader’s answer continuously demonstrates his strength and power over any and everything the boy uses to scare him. What finally makes him frightened will have you giggling. The graphite grays and blacks throughout make the yellow questions the boy asks throughout practically jump off the page.
H is for Halloween: A Book of First Words and ABC’s, by Brooke Vitale, is an over-sized board book filled with lift-the-flap fun and die-cut tracing to learn how to write letters. Every page has a large new letter in alphabetical order and every flap features words that begin with that letter. There are several flaps to lift on every page making the total number of flaps reach nearly 100. The pictures are colorful, fill the entire page and feature many Disney movies. Youngsters ages three to five will love this book!
Monster Academy, by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, and painted with ingenuity and color that fills each page by John McKinley, is a clever story about some crazy looking monster students beginning their academy year. The teacher is a mummy and the principal is Frank N. Stein with quite a green complexion. But when a new student enters the class it causes quite a stir as she doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. There is rhyming when the teacher teaches, and the story has a surprise waiting at the end. This book is sure to delight and teach as well.
Lots of Cats, by E. Dee Taylor, is a cute story about a little witch who seems happy to keep her house in order and do things to keep herself busy like planting a garden. But she pines for a friend. So, she sets out to cast a spell and instead of getting a friend, she gets cats – lots and lots of cats. She proceeds to figure out activities to do with them like playing games and riding on a very long broomstick with them. But they seem to result in more work than she likes. And the mess they create is more than she can handle. So, she decides to make them disappear. But that is when she realizes how lonely she is again. Can she make them reappear? This wonderfully illustrated book was made with colored pencils, gouache and watercolors.
Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Scary Library Shusher, by Andres Miedoso, and illustrated with picture etchings on every page by Victor Rivas, is book 5 for this early chapter book set and is good for ages six through eight. Desmond is a fearless boy who runs his ghost patrol always on the lookout for ghosts. The library is the perfect place for Desmond and his best friend to read and learn more about ghosts, UFO’s and, of course, monsters. But there seems to be a problem in this library. Kids new to chapter books will enjoy the adventures and problems Desmond encounters.
Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy, by Chris Priestley, is a humorous story that is never scary. But the humor makes the story a delight to read, as well as very engaging, as two boys must discover the missing school spoon from their school or there will be no holiday break. The mystery grows and they become entangled in an intense adventure as they discover more and more about this school. The name alone is hilarious: Maudlin Towers School for the Not Particularly Bright Sons of the Not Especially Wealthy. Priestly drew the illustrations which are sprinkled throughout, and they are brilliant and oftentimes also hilarious.
Hello Neighbor: Missing Pieces, by Carly Anne West, and illustrated with pictures sprinkled throughout by Tim Heitz, is a mystery that will keep the reader possibly through the night and definitely to the end. Nicky has just moved to a new town where he meets Aaron and they quickly become best friends. But Nicky soon learns something strange about Aaron’s family and feels something ominous is heading their way.
A Festival of Ghosts, by William Alexander, involves Rosa who has just unleashed all the ghosts in town so now they are everywhere. And if that isn’t enough, these ghosts are stealing kids’ voices, so they can’t talk. Rosa and her friend, Jasper, must figure out how to solve these problems when they discover more issues. This book is actually the second book in this series but there is no need to read the first. However, the first book, “A Properly Unhaunted Place”, is just as good!
Out of the Wild Night, by Blue Balliett, is a ghost story with elegant prose befitting this most eloquent of authors. There seems to be strange occurrences in the town of Nantucket. With the beginning of renovations of the town and several old buildings, items are beginning to suddenly disappear and people become trapped and can’t seem to get loose (especially people who have bad intentions towards the town and are intent on its destruction). A gang of kids begin to realize what’s happening and are determined to set things right for their town.