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Give a Spooky Book This Halloween (or Anytime!)

October 27, 2010

Give a scary book on Halloween.  That’s what author Neil Gaiman proposed on his blog last weekend.  We love his idea and we’re in.  Are you?  Here are a few of our favorite spooky books that we’ll be giving this Halloween holiday! 

The Spooky Smells of Halloween by Mary Man-Kong; Illustrated by Viviana Garofoli 

The Spooky Smells of Halloween has been a favorite of all of my kids over the years. It’s not so much about the story (Sammy’s having a Halloween party!) as it is about the novelty of the scratch & sniff. Long after the stickers lost their fragrance, the kids would continue to scratch and “sniff”, pretending to smell the Berry Brew or the cookies. It was even a way to teach them how to sniff. Maybe my kids are particularly slow, but they all had to be directed to breath in, not out. After all of the fun party and candy smells throughout the book, the end is a real “stinker”: a skunk! I guess that’s a trick, not a treat.
Happy Halloween!


Switch on the Night by Ray Bradbury; Illustrated by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillion

One of my favorite all-time picture books… one that is sweet and spooky at the same time… while not specifically a Halloween title, is Switch on the Night. It’s written by Ray Bradbury, with playful, Escher-like illustrations by the supremely talented Leo and Diane Dillon. Originally published in 1955, Random House brought it back as a hardcover in 1993, and now it’s only available in trade paperback. This beautiful and playful story of discovery cleverly de-constructs a child’s fear of the night, and introduces him to the magic and wonder of nighttime beauty. Ultimately, it’s a lovely, and hugely satisfying, spin on nighttime fears…cleverly flipping a switch in our imagination to help a young boy (and by extension, all of us) overcome them. Like all great picture books, it’s the perfect marriage of text and illustration. Our family’s hardcover edition is totally dog-eared and tape-enhanced—to preserve it for our daughter’s children.

— Alan

Babymouse #9: Monster Mash by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Babymouse is an endearing and completely hilarious graphic novel series about a sassy young mouse dealing with everyday elementary school life, written by sister and brother team Jenni and Matt Holm.  In the ninth book, Monster Mash,  Babymouse can’t wait to dress up, trick-or-treat and throw the best Halloween party ever.  But will she be the Pharaoh mummy she daydreams about or will she succumb to the peer pressure of Felicia Furrypaws and dress up as a princess?  The Babymouse books are absolutely funny and completely engaging, and the positive underlying messages make parents and teachers happy too (book 1 was the first graphic novel ever to be named an ALA Children’s Notable Book).  To learn more about Babymouse check out her website where you can find out what she’s up to, send a Babymouse Halloween e-card and even print her Monstrous Monster Mash Cupcakes recipe!


Pumpkinhead by Eric Rohmann

This quirky, imaginative picture book is a perfect Halloween choice for preschoolers. The pictures and text portray the adventures of Otho, a boy born with a pumpkin for a head. The story may be a little scary for very young children, but it’s a welcome change for parents who like the pro-individuality message and the cool graphic art.


The Book That Eats People by John Perry and Mark Fearing

The humor in this book is definitely meant for children kindergarten age and above. In the vein of Lemony Snicket, the author and illustrator show, with a very dry tone and bloody, outrageous comic art what happens to people whose lives intersect with this murderous book. It’s hilarious, dark and a must-read for Halloween!

And one more group favorite…

Hubknuckles by Emily Herman; Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

This classic Halloween story is perfect for a young child who is ready to be a little bit spooked but not outright scared.  Every Halloween, Hubknuckles pays a visit to Lee and her younger sisters and baby brother. The children watch the ghostly figure from the safety of their warm kitchen, experiencing delicious little tickles of fear.  But this year, Lee has decided that Hubknuckles isn’t real. “Hubknuckles is just a sheet and a flashlight,” she tells her sisters. “Either Ma or Pa makes him dance.” And she is determined to prove it.  What Lee discovers after an eerie dance on the lawn with her silent, shadowy partner is sure to delight young readers, who will be enchanted by the softly glowing illustrations of this unusual Halloween happening.

What’s your favorite spooky book?  Will you give a copy to someone special this week?

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