Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Treats! No Tricks! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

--> Although Halloween excites even the youngest children, they can be easily frightened by the darkness of early evening as the seasons shift.  Also, costumes can be scary to youngsters who have not yet developed the ability to know the difference between real and make-believe. Bedtime is for sweet dreams, not nightmares. Choose from titles that tease without terrifying.

The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth 
by Margaret Musgrove
illustrated by Julia Cairns
 Scholastic, $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 1-4 
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, Edison, Lemon City, Miami Lakes, North Shore.)
Long ago, a beautiful spider wove a complex and wonderful web.  Two weavers, who discover the web, ruin it by trying to take it with them to study.  Later, they decide to hunt for the spider weaver to watch her work.
            Sunlit paintings feature African people, animals and plants in lush scenes.  The dancing gold and black spider creates her amazing web between jungle green banana leaves. 
Plain clothing in the early pages contrasts to glowing colors in the kente cloth at the end.  Even today, weavers in Ghana craft bright patterned fabric.  They tell the legend of the spider’s web dance to share her generous gift.
An Afterword explains more about the famous African cloth featured in this remarkable picture book. A strong storytelling voice lingers in the reader’s ears long after the book is closed.

Ghost in the House 
by Ammi-Joan Paquette
illustrated by Adam Record  
Candlewick, $15.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level:  Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:
A ghost meets up with a mummy, a monster, a skeleton, a witch and more, in this lively, rhyming picture book.  Repeated lines, “in the creepy haunted house/on this dark spooky night” invite listeners into the rhymes.  Along with counting up to five and back down again, the digital illustrations show friendly-looking, mock-scary creatures. 
 The artist uses gray, black and white, and blue to make a shady beginning.  Adding orange and yellow starts to lift the gloom, with the bouncy text.  A witchy green brightens the dark, as the creatures, used to scaring others, are the ones who are now afraid.
Instead of frightening the boy, he scares them away in a satisfying ending.


Haunted House, Haunted Mouse 
by Judy Cox
illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Holiday House, $7.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level:  Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:
Mouse sees Halloween candy going into sacks carried by kids at the door.  He wants some goodies.  When someone drops a trick-or-treat bag, Mouse scampers in.  He begins nibbling gumdrops and chocolate.
            Soon Mouse gnaws a “peekaboo hole” to watch where they’re going. He doesn’t see as candy leaks out.  When the “ghost” drops the bag again, a sick Mouse staggers out.  Lost, he shelters from the thunderstorm in a creaky, empty house.
            Darks and brights, colors of Halloween night, fill the double pages with costumes, raindrops, puddles, and flashing lights.  Spooky text matches a quivering Mouse with the shadowy house.  His shivering boldness is coupled with golden moonlight as Mouse takes charge!
What happens in the scary house, and how Mouse finds his way home make for a reassuring ending.

Pumpkin Eye 
by Denise Fleming. 
Square Fish, $7.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Lemon City, Miami Lakes, Naranja. 
Also may be purchased from Books & Books online:

Rhymes that seem effortless describe sights, sounds, and smells of Halloween night.  Those who are out for trick-or-treat may discover scary sights. 
Jack-o-lanterns and bright house windows light up the otherwise dark night artwork.   The artist used hand-cut stencils and colored cotton fibers to craft the spooky illustrations. Surprising costumes match the playful text. 
Moon-cast shadows change the ordinary into heart thumping unexpected. Repeated words, “trick or treat – pounding feet” give something familiar to sooth listeners.
Everyday places like our street, fill with “eerie shadows.”  Even the neighborhood cats look surprised in this perfect picture book for the youngest listeners.

More terrifying titles to try!

Trick or Treat: A Happy Haunter’s Halloween 
by Debbie Leppanen
illustrated by Tad Carpenter  
Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Who’s Who? 
by Ken Geist
illustrated by Henry Cole
 Macmillan, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online: 
(Inspired by Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth)

Big Brown Bat 
by Rick Chrustowski 
Henry Holt, $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main, Allapattah. 
Also may be purchased from Books & Books online:  (Nonfiction)

Ol’ Clip Clop 
by Patricia C. McKissack
illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Holiday House. $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 1- 5 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:  
 (A Ghost Story inspired by a spooky tale told by storytellers in the author’s family.)

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