Since we are now organized enough to have a shelf devoted to holiday books (and feel compelled to brag about it — the organization, not the holiday-themed collection) and said shelf is sagging under the weight of many Halloween books, I thought I’d take out a few to share.
1. First up, The Ghost’s Dinner (1994) by Jacques Duquennoy.
Henry the ghost invites all his friends over for a multi-course dinner. The fun is in the affect the food has — the ghosts change color and sometimes even in shape according to the food they eat. Picture seven ghosts in varying shades of orange with the text, “Henry’s guests love the [pumpkin] soup. Some have seconds.” Entertaining pictures with sparse text. Funny and sweet.
2. This ones not a scary book per se, but one with a scary chapter. It’s the one titled “Shivers” found in Arnold Lobel’s Days With Frog and Toad (1979).
As with all of Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories, even this fireside fright-tale told by Frog to Toad leaves the reader smiling. At the end, “They were scared. The teacups shook in their hands. They were having the shivers. It was a good, warm feeling.”
3. Dorrie and the Screebit Ghost (1979) by Patricia Coombs.
Here’s a series I was unaware of until recently. All the books begin with, “This is Dorrie. She is a witch. A little witch. Her hat is always on crooked and her socks never match.” Cute, eh? And all with black and white pencil sketches with a touch of yellow and spec of light blue.
In this book, Dorrie is told to stay upstairs and clean her room while her mother witch gets to go out to a séance to conjure up a ghost. Dorrie manages to conjure up a mischievous ghost of her own who gives her no end of trouble.
4. Speaking of ghosts, here’s my absolute favorite little ghost, Georgie (1944) by Robert Bright.
Georgie is the friendly little ghost that creaks the stairs and squeaks the doors of the home of Mr. & Mrs. Whittaker. This reminds the Whittakers it was time for bed, the cat it was time to prowl and the owl it was time to hoot. Until Mr. Whittaker nails the loose floor board and oils the door hinges. Poor little Georgie goes searching for a new home. But all ends happilly and everyone is reunited. Sweet, sweet book.
5. The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (2001) written by Joe Triano and illustrated by Susan Banta.
A square-shaped pumpkin is teased for being different. In a raging storm he saves the day and people end up wanting all kinds of funny-shaped pumpkins. Basically a story of acceptance using a pumpkin and told in rhyme that somehow doesn’t end up sounding cheesy. The lovely illustrations help. Great use throughout the book of the vine framing like you see on the cover. It was actually made into an animated film in 2005 (which my son just saw in his first grade classroom).
6. Arthur’s Halloween Costume (1984) by Lilian Hoban.
I think Hoban is at her best when she draws animal characters (think Francis the badger or Harvey the muskrat). So I love the chimps Arthur and his sister Violet. Here Arthur has trouble finding a scary Halloween costume, but succeeds almost by accident.
7. Two Little Witches: A Halloween Counting Story (1996) by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Simms Taback.
I like Taback’s illustrations and the bright colors on a black background seem especially suited to a Halloween story.
8. The Spooky Old Tree (1978) & Bears in the Night (1971) by Jan and Stan Berenstain.
“Do they dare go [up, into,or over...]? Yes. They dare.” “Out the window/ Down the tree/ Over the wall/Under the bridge…” You can read these two books 100 times and not tire of them. True classics. Plus the bears have the old-school longer snouts which I prefer. :)
Rounding out my list are a couple of Halloween themed books I have yet to read, but already wish I had on my shelf!
9. Bone Dog (2011) by Eric Rohmann. I hear that Rohmann’s newest book is both touching and funny and addresses the loss of a pet in a novel way.
10. The Soup Bone (1991) by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Margot Tomes. I adore Margot Tomes and try to get everything I can that she illustrated. This one looks like fun.
Happy Halloween reading!
11/3/11 Update: Here’s another, a recent library check-out, that we were just tickled with.
That Terrible Halloween Night by James Stevenson. Little Louie and Mary Ann try to scare Grandpa — unsuccssfully. And then it Grandpa’s turn! Stevenson takes the familiar “kid trick-or-treating, enters a spooky house” and twists it into a hilarious tall tale.