Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Books for Halloween Part 2

There are so many really good books out here that is it hard to pick just one. As a children's librarian, it is always best to keep an arsenal of books on hand to keep children interested, and entertained for the annual Halloween story time. For parents, educators or avid readers, a full list of Halloween tales is available by contacting me at In the meantime I will be remiss not to mention two more outstanding picture books for the younger crowd and two for the older elementary crowd who want a little more "scary in their holiday.
Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer is a great book about a little monster of a boy who has to find his place in his very scary Frankenstein family. His parents don't think he looks like them, his hair is the wrong color. His skin is not the right shade of green either. Actually it is quite soft and peachy. And walking like them, well that seems to be a bit of a problem too. So little Frankie decides he will find his own way of being scary. Children will love to find out how he accomplishes this task.
The Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything by Linda Williams is a delightful story of a woman on her way home being followed by shoes, pants, shirts, top hat, gloves and a scary pumpkin face. By the end of the story, the readers find out that the Old Lady is not only fearless, but also a very clever lady. Pick up the book to find out how she uses her wits.
Now, on to the books for the Older Children. The first selection and perhaps the best book about Halloween is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. This book weaves the many traditions and historical facts about the holiday into one fantastic trip for eight little boys who want to save their best pal, Pip. The children travel through Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Scotland, England, Latin America and home again in a journey that is literally life changing. There is a small part of the book where the children make a deal "with the devil" to save their friend, Pip. Was the deal worth it? Or was it too late for Pip? Only way to find out is to pick up the book. It is a fun ride!
The Boy of A Thousand Faces by Brian Selznick reminds adult readers what it is like to sit up late at night and watch those awful black and white monster movies that scared us silly when we were younger. For the reader in which this book was intended, it is a story about a Alonzo, a boy who born on Halloween, loves monsters and knows that they exist. Who's gonna believe him? He has the proof when The Beast comes to town and everyone is wondering where it is from and how to capture him. Alonzo tries to solve this intriguing mystery and find a birthday/Halloween surprise that is shared with the entire neighborhood, including nostalgic grownups.

As stated earlier, if anyone would like a full list of Halloween titles please email me at

Happy Haunting for great books ;-) !

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spooky Reads For Halloween

As you see by the title, this is a list of books that are cute, spooky and fun for Halloween. I am not a real big fan of Halloween, but it's the children that have always made my night. To see them getting all excited about dressing up and going door to door is a blast. My favorite Halloween story has to do with "Madeline", but that is a story for another day. Now is the time to start planning those great Halloween story times for groups of children or just the one special one that loves to curl up with you and a good book. This is by far not the most inclusive list, but for this librarian it just wouldn't be Halloween without these characters.
First on my list, The Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian. This is definitely an oldie but a goodie. it was published in 1965 but it is so cute that it stands the test of time. A cute little story about a witch who just can't seem to get her laugh right, her broom to fly or get her potions to work. I'm Not giving away the ending, but let's just say, it is a very nice ending that leaves the reader with a smile on their face.
If the kids you are reading to love counting books, and who doesn't, try 10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman. Perfectly written and illustrated with little ones in mind. The colors are bright, the are Halloweenish without being to ghoulish and the countdown is perfect for audience participation. It's quick, funny and fun!
Who can go on enjoy Halloween without the traditional rhyme of the Five Little Pumpkins? Thank goodness Iris Van Rynback knew to put this rhyme into a cute little book with perfect illustrations to match. It's not the traditional bright colors one would see in other books of the season. Instead, knowing that the audience would be for toddlers, the pictures are done in soft pastel colors with the perfect shade of orange for the five little pumpkins. It is warm, whimsical and winning. A can't miss if toddlers are around.
Eve Bunting is a favorite children's author of mine so it was a surprise find The Bones of Fred McFee. Expecting something light and cherry, this book swept that notion away with the very first page. Children will wonder if Fred McFee was real or just a plastic skeleton. The rhyming story of how the skeleton jangled and danced in the sycamore tree will capture the attention of young listeners as they find out the fate of ol' Fred McFee.
My favorite new Halloween book is Goodnight Goon! A sweet parody of the Margaret Wise Brown's classic tale Goodnight Moon. Michael Rex does a wonderful job in capturing the spirit of the original tale and turning it into a Halloween Classic. Now, I said it was a sweet parody, and it is. But don't tell Mr. Rex I said that. The subtitle of the book is : A petrifying parody. which is kind of misleading. How can a cute little wolf-man be so petrifying? He just needs his rest just like any other little boy!
To say the least, this list is not complete. There are so many more wonderful stories to share but for the moment I will leave you with these titles to search your local library's shelves. Next time around, has anyone heard of The Halloween Tree? The next installment will be titles that are for the older reader (Middle school and up) Be ready for some serious titles that a Trick-or-Reader can really sink their teeth into on a really scary October night!