Small Things

Library Books Enjoyed, 10/31/13: Halloween Edition


We apparently checked out Halloween books early and often this month, so here they are. Happy Halloween!

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness. This one gets a five for the sheer amount of enjoyment my kids have gotten out of it. I don’t know if it’s the colorful Halloween pictures, the rhyme, the counting down (which my kindergartner was especially attuned to) or what, but they LOVED this and we read it OVER and OVER, and even had to keep it out an extra week.

Basically, it follows 10 trick-or-treaters on their Halloween, and the numbers dwindle as one trick-or-treater is scared off on each page. There’s nothing really very scary here (good for my crowd…and their mother), but lots of Halloween characters (a witch, a mummy, a bat, etc.) make appearances.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A short (great for a late bedtime story!), sweet Halloween book. Bright pictures, simple rhyme. Enjoyed all around.

(This one was borrowed by my kindergartner from his school library rather than our public library…we are expanding our horizons!)

Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a cute Halloween story about a monster who has trouble deciding on what costume to wear…a dilemma familiar to many parents. I really enjoyed the story, and the conclusion, and I think my kids loved it as well. The pictures are very vivid and add to the comedy (although the little boy who’s in charge of Monster seems to be very sympathetic to him).

I have one persnickety problem with it, which is that Monster is obviously a boy in the story, but when he wants to be a ballet dancer, he is dressed as a girl ballerina with a pink tutu. My problem is not with any gender-bending, but with the fact that this completely ignores the fact that boys can be ballet dancers, too! And when boys and men dance, they dress differently from girls and women, and to be a ballet dancer does not just mean to wear a pink tutu. Ok, that’s the end of my rant.

Monster Needs a Costume is a great Halloween story, and you should enjoy it with your kids as soon as you can get your hands on it at the library.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read Zen Shorts, so I didn’t know what this would be like going into it. It was a beautiful story, and absolutely beautiful pictures that gave just the right atmosphere of fall and spookiness.

Trick or Treat, Marley! by John Grogan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let’s just be honest and say I didn’t like this. I have read, and did enjoy, Marley and Me, but I am a little perturbed by all the spin-offs it has spawned. I think two things bothered me the most about this: the kids’ character names did not even slightly correspond with Grogan’s kids in the original (yes, you could make an argument for the kids’ privacy, but if you are doing a spin-off, it should be an accurate spin-off, right?) and, after all the trouble Marley got in, they put him in charge of handing out candy? Really?

However, I’m still featuring the book in the “Halloween Books Enjoyed” because the target audience at our house ate this right up. The combination of cute dog and Halloween is just too much for them, apparently.

Ol’ Clip-Clop: A Ghost Story by Patricia C. McKissack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I grabbed this, first because it was by Patricia C. McKissack, who has written lots of great picture books (until earlier this year, with her husband, Frederick L. McKissack), and also because it looked fun, historical, and a little spooky. I purposely did not share it with my kids…I read it myself, and then decided I didn’t want to share it with them quite yet.

This is mostly a spooky tale who’s atmosphere is conveyed by suggestion…describing how mean the main character, John Leep, is, repeating the clip-clop sounds (and making them get faster and faster), and the dark (as in colored dark pictures)…but it’s a jump tale (the right reader could really go crazy with this in an elementary school read-aloud setting), and the last page has a somewhat scary picture (a skeleton-like ghost coming to swallow up John Leep). I am definitely on the “chicken” side for judging scary stories, but I would recommend this for 1st or 2nd grade up through about 4th…maybe 5th, but “kids these days” seem harder to scare than I am. 😉

Although I didn’t read this aloud, I think it’s a fun story, and the pictures are great…definitely worth it for the right audience.

Betty Crocker Halloween Cookbook by Betty Crocker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My three-year-old saw this on display and insisted we check it out, and all three of my kids have been poring over it since, to decide what they want me to make out of it…we have finally settled on one or two recipes that I will photocopy and try to make sometime this month.

As a cookbook, I don’t think much of it (most of the recipes include such ingredients as Bisquick, premade cinnamon rolls, cake mix, etc…nothing wrong with using those, but they don’t really tell you how to make most of the food). As a decorating book, however, it’s pretty great…and the recipes we’ve decided on are basically easy ways to decorate a sheet cake and pudding in cups to look like witches.

As a picture book, this is also great, because I think the kids have enjoyed it as much for looking at the pictures as for any actual treats that they get out of it.

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