Showing posts with label halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label halloween. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Harry’s Spooky Surprise by NGK


Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated charmingly by Janelle Dimmit, this is the story of Harry’s plan to have a fun Halloween, and rather than go out grabbing candy, he’s not thinking of himself, but of others! It’s a great theme to have for a book about a holiday that kicks off a fall and winter season during which it all too often seems that our lives revolve around “What can I get for myself?” be it candy at Halloween, feasting at Thanksgiving, or receiving presents at Christmas.

Harry is a bit of a nervous nelly, since it’s dark out and he sees a lot of strange shadows, but the mildly scary bit is soon resolved as he realizes that not every shadow is a problem. Few are as it happens! He ends up meeting his friends, preparing his surprise, and then surprising his unprepared friends! I think this is a sweet, fun book, and it tells a worthy tale for Halloween.


Ghosties by Gerald Hawksley


Rating: WORTHY!

Another fun and silly rhyming book from the guy who does them so well. This time, in time for Halloween, it's Ghosties, and never was there such a bunch of goofy ghosties. They're everywhere, and they're into everything. Floating in the sky, rushing around, woo-hooing. There's even ghosty cats and dogs, ghosties wearing hats, ghosties on stage. It's all the rage. I think this is a fun and non-frightening book for kids to enjoy a Halloween with.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

You Are My Pumpkin by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the first of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Halloween. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Halloween story follows the rhythm of You Are My Sunshine. The composer of the original song is somewhat of a mystery, but is apparently thought to be Paul Rice. The author offers no history or credit for any of the songs she riffs on, which is sad.

That said, her re-wording of the song is amusing. Instead of 'sunshine', we get 'pumpkin', as Emma views skies that are black with bats instead of blue with sunshine, on Halloween night, and she plays with the owls. I found it a bit sad that the author retained the line "you'll never know pumpkin ['dear' in the original] how much I love you" - I would have thought that loving parents would find ways to communicate that much! They may not understand the cost of such love, but kids sure understand its power.

That said, I liked the story and the easy rhyme and the fun artwork, so I recommend this one.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Kat McGee and the Halloween Costume Caper by Kristin Riddick


Rating: WORTHY!

"Long Ranger" should maybe be "Lone Ranger"?!

This is my first Katherine McGee, and indeed my first Kristin Riddick, novel, and it was a worthy read, although as a series, it’s not something which at my age I feel any compulsion to continue, but for the intended age range, I see no problems with it at all. It was a fun, inventive story of wild derring-do, support and friendship and sends a very positive message. I have to add that the illustrations are remarkable and worthy of a novel aimed at any age. Nick Guarracino is a fine artist - and a useful contributor. For example at one point the questers came upon a wall of trumpets and I was picturing that completely wrong until I saw the artist's depiction of it. Hopefully he saw it as the author intended!

Kat loves Halloween, and makes her own costume every year, but this year, "the menacing Dr S" has prevailed upon the powers that be to cancel Halloween, based on problems of vandalism and theft which have accompanied previous events. I strongly suspected Dr S of actually orchestrating those very events, and we soon learn why. Kat's grandmother - the only one who fully supported Kat's amizing costuming ambitions, feeds her a special home-made lollipop one evening which not only puts Kat to sleep, it transports her from her native Totsville to Treatsville, which is the town where the Halloween costumes live. Someone there, who looks remarkably like Dr S, is stealing those costumes for his own benefit, which in Treatsville, where the costumes have a life of their own, is nothing short of kidnapping!

Kat is hosted by Dolce, who frankly creeped me out despite her charming demeanor and her appealing looks. Dolce initially prevaricates about being a witch, and certainly doesn't behave or look like traditional witch, but later she describes herself as a "wee witch-in-training," and she explains to Kat why this young girl is so important to Treatsville's future - but can she brave the Forest of Fear, the Pits of Gloom, and the Swamp of Sorrow? Kat calls to herself costumes from previous Halloweens: The Jujitsu Princess, and The Candy Cane Witch, and with these trusty companions, she launches herself on this quest, bravely if cautiously, but with Preppy Pirate spying on them and Snaggletooth trying to kidnap all costumes and thwart (yes, thwart!) her quest, can she succeed? I guessed that she would!

I had an issue or two over some of the events in the story like this one: "...like when Ellie Byrd stepped on the end of a rake two years ago. A fish head attached to the handle flew in her face. She hasn’t been able to go near a hay maze since." I know that's meant to be scary and funny, but stepping on a rake can lead to puncture wounds that in turn necessitate a trip to the Doctor for a tetanus shot, or at the very least a painful whack in the face. Even if we assume it was a leaf rake it's still potentially dangerous. Could the author not have called it a hoe or a shovel or something less spikey? Or maybe had the fish-head come at her by some other means?

Minor complaints like that aside, I liked Kat's attitude and the sense of humor which pervaded this story, and some of the text was choice. How about this for a rich phrase: " A festering laugh", or this comment on vampires: "...if this vampire’s bite doesn’t kill me, his four-hundred-year-old breath will!" I loved that, and it's for those reasons I am rating this a worthy read for the intended age range.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Big Witch's Big Night by Sally Huss


Rating: WORTHY!

I have a mixed relationship with Sally Huss books. I dislike about as many as I like, so at least I know that if I hated the last one, there's a really good chance that I'll love the next. That's what happened here. This one was thoughtful and funny and educational. The premise is Halloween (yes, I know this is one of several I'll be reviewing late! Sorry! At least I'm getting them out of the way before Xmas reviews, which I'll no doubt post in January!)

The poetic meter is that of Clement Clarke Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas, but here it's all about Halloween so instead of "'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" we get "'Twas the night of Halloween and all through the house every creature was stirring, even the grouse."

The witch is greeting trick or treat-ers by offering them dead fish or worms, and she seems to be having little luck until one particular kid finds a way through her thorny exterior - and that;s the end, but not the end of being kind! It's a fun story; it's well told, and I recommend it.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zen Ghosts by Jon J Muth


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the third of my children's Halloween book reviews for today. This one is a fine-looking work of art illustrated by the author. When Karl says there's a ghost outside, Michael hardly believes it, and he;s smart not to because this is Stillwater, the giant panda who wears a tiny wolf mask on his head. Karl explains to Still water that he's going to be a monster for Halloween, while Michael is still trying to choose between an owl and a pirate. Perhaps he could be both if Karl didn't object to that so strenuously.

When Addy joins them, Stillwater tells them of a ghost story they could hear after they're done trick-or-treating, and if they meet him by the big stone wall. The giant panda leads them back to his house and illustrates a story for them with some fine brush strokes. It's the story of Senjo and Ochu, two youngsters who were destined to be married until Senjo's father became so ill that he could not work. Senjo would have to be married off to Henryo instead. Ochu: Ouch!

Ochu decides to leave the village, but Senjo discovers his plan and abandons her father and leaves with him. I guess she was that kind of girl. On the other hand, he was going to sell her off to the highest bidet. It wasn't until the had married and had children that Senjo started to feel bad about deserting her sick parent. What will they find when they return? Well, I'm not even going to tell you, but it's awesome. I thoroughly recommend this one.


We're Going on a Ghost Hunt by Susan Pearson


Rating: WORTHY!

Continuing today's Halloween theme, we're going on a ghost hunt with a really stirring and adventurous text by Susan Pearson, and some cool illustrative work by SD Schindler. Four young kids (where are their parents?!) are rampaging across the countryside searching for ghosts, and nothing, not swamps, not windy woods, not rivers, no, not even cornfields are going to stop them, but when they find the ghost in a cemetery? Well, maybe they will stop then and beat a hasty retreat the way they came to hide under the covers. I loved this book for its feisty, adventurous spirit, and the crazy kids.


Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee


Rating: WORTHY!

It's the right time of year for some Halloween books, so I'm posting three children's book reviews on my blog today. The first is this one, written poetically by Alison McGhee, and illustrated gorgeously in suitably earthy tones by Taeeun Yoo. I love the way the poetic meter trips along from page to page irreverently as the young wannabe witch dreams of flying, and tries to fly but falls, yet she doesn't give up. She's aiming high and she's confident she'll get there. A nice easy listening book to read to your kids. I think they might have chosen a better font to write in - the 'f' looks like an 'i' and caught me out a couple of times, as I tried to figure out what the heck word it was in, but aside from that, I recommend this completely.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Monster of the Fall by Daria Aran


Rating: WORTHY!

This is a colorful, fun, and interesting picture book for young children, with minimal text. I positively reviewed Sharee by the same author in May 2015. This is a different story altogether from that one, and still a winner. The Monster of the Fall isn't such a bad character after all, Mischievous, yes, but serving a useful function, climbing trees and shaking down the dead leaves, messing people's hair by making the wind blow.

I think this would be a fun book to read and a fun game to play as you read. Your child can climb onto the couch to imitate climbing a tree, and blow some pieces of tissue paper around to simulate the falling leaves. Or maybe you even have some real fallen leaves in the yard. In the bathtub at bedtime, she can make it rain, and make thunder noises while you flick the light on and off to simulate lightning. I think that would be a fun game. But whether you do all that, or simply sit quietly with a nice cup of cocoa, your child tucked in bed, and you reading this quietly, it doesn't matter. the point is to read! I recommend this as a great excuse to sit down with a cup of cocoa.