Monday, October 21, 2019

A Halloween Picture Book Roundup

Halloween is right around the corner and my young readers and I have been reading and re-reading some new favorites that we would like to share with you. We hope you enjoy them as much as we are. 
Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round by Rosanna Battigelli, 
illustrated by Tara Anderson
Pajama Press, 2019, 24 pages
Told in two word rhyming lines, each one beginning with the word pumpkin, cat parents and their four kittens are off to the pumpkin patch to find just the right pumpkins for making Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns: "Pumpkin orange,/pumpkin round,/pumpkin hiding.../pumpkin found!" Getting their pumpkins home, mom and dad carve the pumpkins while the kids watch. then it time for them to get dressed in their Halloween costumes and head out with the neighbors for some trick-or-treating. Finally, it's time to go home, eat dinner, and enjoy a nice pumpkin bedtime story. My kids really liked this story. The kitties are sweet and happy, it's a loving family celebrating Halloween together and sharing it with friends and neighbors. The gentle pencil and acrylic illustrations are all done in a palette of Halloween oranges, greens and purples. The rhyme is fun but one caveat is that without the pictures, it doesn't hold up on its own. But the rhyme and the illustrations harmonize nicely and result in a simply, but merry Halloween story.

Snowmen at Halloween by Caralyn Buehner, 
illustrated by Mark Buehner
Dial Books, 2019, 32 pages
Personally, I love all the Snowmen books, and so do my kids. In this latest adventure, an early snowfall means a snowy Halloween. But before all the treat-or-treating festivities, a sister and brother build a some snowman and of course, they dress them up for Halloween. Later that night, on their way home, one of the kids thinks he sees a snowman wink. That sets off his imagination, wondering what these scary looking snowman do for Halloween. In his imagination, the snowmen first set off on a Halloween parade, down to the village square, decorated with lights and lanterns. Then, there's pumpkin carving, games, face painting, apple-bobbing and gooey caramel treats, followed by fortune telling and a finding their way out of a maze, spooky stories and trick-or-treating before heading home. But, alas, the next morning the snow has melted and so have the snowmen. What they really do at night remains a secret, but they do leave behind a Happy Halloween message for the kids. Told in a rhyme, this is a fun book and one that will certainly set readers imaginations going. The richly oil and acrylic painted illustrations are a nice mixture of merry and sinister, and readers will like scouring each page to discover the hidden rabbit, cat or T-rex. The snowmen are always a hit and my young readers are delighted to have yet another one to add to the library.

Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht, 
illustrated by Jarvis
Candlewick Press, 2019, 34 pages 
It seems kids can't wait for Halloween and have been known to start thinking about costumes as early as September. It's just one of those high-anticipation holidays that is seeped in tradition, and one of those is a family trip into the country to pick out the perfect pumpkins to transform into a Jack-o-Lantern. At home, a space is cleared in the garage for the actual carving, just the right tools are choses, and friends are invited to come and carve their pumpkins, too. Carving is followed by decorating the house inside and out, and finally, dressed in costumes, it's time to light the Jack-o-Lantern: "its red-hot eyes/ will gaze/ and flicker/ Its fiery grin/will blaze and snicker,/to guard your house/while you have fun." Just like its Christmas predecessor, Pick a Pine Tree, this is also told in a four stanza rhyme describing each step taken to end up with a wonderful Jack-o-Lantern, and ending with a two page spread of decorated houses and costumed children and adults trick-or-treating with plenty of brightly lit pumpkins all around and a witch on her broom in the moonlight. Jarvis' pencil, chalk, and paint illustrations are done in a warm autumnal palette of oranges, reds, and yellows, and include diverse character throughout. This is a nice companion to Pick a Pine Tree and I suspect both will become favorites especially given the pleasing rhyme.

I Spy Spooky Night: A book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo, 
photographs by Walter Wick
Cartwheel Books, 2019, 40 pages 
This is an updated version of the original 1996 I Spy Spooky Night with new challenges for sharp readers. Set in a haunted house that is really a victorian dollhouse, each page challenged readers to find the hidden, creepy objects an unseen narrator has already spied. Objects can be found in the different rooms, the hallway, the stairs, the library, even a secret cupboard, the creepy graveyard and the ghoulish garden. How many of the listed objects can you find on each page? None? Some? All? The book photographs are cleverly done for dramatic effect, and it is all described in the back matter. Be careful, Riddlers, you might be fooled by a rebus or a palindrome where you least expect it. What are they? Find the answer to that in plain sight. This book was a little old for my young readers, who are 4-5 years-old, although they did give it a good shot and did pretty well all things considered, but some of what is included is a little too sophisticated for them. I would age this for 6+

5 Very Little Pumpkins by Holly Wearne, 
illustrated by Ivana Forgo
Flowerpot Press, 2019, 20 pages
Some of my four-year-old young readers still like a good board book, and this has become one of their favorites. Five young animals - a turtle, a kitten, a puppy, an elephant, and a goat - are all dressed up as pumpkins for Halloween. As they give trick-or-treating from house to house, the little pumpkins collect so much candy, they just want to keep going: "They are getting so EXCITED/that they never want to stop/'til their bags have SO MUCH CANDY/it is spilling out the top!" This story is definitely a kid's dream Halloween and a parent's nightmare. The illustrations are as sweet as the candy in each Halloween bag. It's actually a nice book for introducing skittish kids to what could feel like a very scary evening, even when accompanies by a parent. Actually, one of my young readers did point out that the little pumpkins were out in the evening with no parent around and that they would never be allowed to eat as much candy as they wanted. That took some explaining to convince her that it was okay, we just didn't see the parent and the kids probably got tired before they ate as much as she thought. Despite that, she still loved this book. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for including Pick a Pumpkin, Alex! It's fun to be in this terrific selection of Halloween books. Happy Halloween - it's just around the corner!


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