Disclaimer: I am 36 years old and the stories in the book still scare me. Hence, this book recommendation is for older aged children or at least children who are braver than I. This was THE book for slumber parties growing up. I vividly remember sitting at my friend Damara’s house, with flashlights on and spooky music in the background, and her mother, all dressed up as a witch, reading “High Beams” from the story collection, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Do you remember high beams? The urban myth of the woman driving home and the car behind her keeps putting on its high beams? I shudder now just thinking of it. This story continues to force me to look in the backseat of my car when I get in. And who could forget “May I Carry Your Basket?” and “The Big Toe.” Ack! This is the penultimate scary story collection and I dare you to read it and not feel that little chill up your spine.
Boogie Bones is a skeleton who loves to dance, but who afraid to strut his stuff in front of people. So, he grabs some clothes and enters himself in the town dance contest. But what happens when he boogies right out of his outfit? Little readers will have to check out Elizabeth Loredo’s hilarious book to find out…A great story with adorable illustrations.
Nate the Great is at it again – this time with a truly spooky Halloween mystery. Little Hex, the cat, has disappeared and only super sleuth Nate the Great can get to the bottom of this mystery. With a compelling tale and great little boy humor, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s book is a favorite for Halloween. A great chapter book for early readers with plenty of jokes and silliness to keep your little book worms engaged.
Growing up, we used to sing “Trick or treat, smell my feet, dance around the toilet seat” and the image of boogie-ing around the potty was always a show-stopper for me. And now, thank Heavens, we have Lisa Desimini’s “Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet” to entertain us just as hilariously. This is the tale of twin witches, Delia and Ophelia, who take it upon themselves (as all true witches do) to ruin Halloween for the sweet neighborhood kids. So, they concoct a spell using, you guessed it, stinky socks. All does not run smoothly for these identical hags, and your kids will adore the result. I do…almost as much as lambada-ing around the john.
I apologize in advance for recommending a book that has within its title a word that will invariably cause incessant repetition on the part of your children. Or perhaps that’s just my children. Nevertheless, “The Hallo-Wiener”, by Dav Pilkey (of “Captain Underpants” fame) certainly belongs on any list of great Halloween books. Oscar is a dachshund who is “half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long” and is regularly teased by the other dogs. But nothing causes more ridicule than his mother’s decision to dress him for Halloween with a bun complete with mustard. Poor little Oscar – what shall he do? Come to the rescue, of course, as the little readers will find. A tale of inner strength and the best sausage puns you’ve read…
‘For my wonderful family, who ate most of the contents of this book.” Thus is inscribed Saxton Freemann and Joost Elffers’ fantastic book, “Food Play” – a photography book that has kept my family in stitches since we bought it a year ago at the SFMOMA. Halloween book? Not really…but because there are many pumpkins and gourds in it, I’m going to include it. Basically, what we’re looking at here is a photo book of fruits and vegetables, made into characters. We have onion people, radish dogs bowling, strawberries kissing and chef made of mushrooms. Green onion families wait for a zucchini train and kiwis become barbershop quartets in this wonderfully wry and stunning book. No words are necessary – and my sons love to create captions for each of the photographs. Don’t miss this book. It’s witty and creative and quirky and cute and all the best that photography books have to offer for children and parents alike.
Hooray for the Herdmans! Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Halloween Ever” may, in fact, be the funniest book on the market. The author of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, among others, has a lightening-quick wit and a tenderness towards her characters that is unparalleled. Reading this out loud to my boys is an act in self-control since her lines are so funny and so heartwarming you want to laugh and cry at the same time. I adore adore adore this book and can’t recommend it highly enough. Somehow the horrible Herdmans always save the day – and we, as the reader, end up rooting for them despite our better judgment. Don’t miss the audio recording of this book, read by Elaine Stritch. Hers is the only voice i could imagine for this. Sheer perfection.
What would Margaret Wise Brown think if she saw “Goodnight Goon”? Probably laugh herself silly…just like my sons do every time we read this soon-to-be Halloween classic. Michael Rex already followed in Brown’s footsteps with “Runaway Mummy” and now we can giggle ourselves to sleep with “Goodnight skull/And goodnight shoe/Goodnight creature/Goodnight goo/And goodnight to the old werewolf hollering ‘Boo.'” My boys love the words and the illustrations and were fascinated by the fact that an author can take something old(er) and make it new(er). A valuable lesson for readers young and old(er).
For anyone who has marveled at the words and illustrations of Jon Muth (of “Zen Shorts” and “Zen Ties” fame), or for those of us who just can’t resist a giant panda named Stillwater, you’re in luck. Muth has just published his next entry into the Zen series – right in time for Halloween. “Zen Ghosts” follows our same characters, Stillwater, Addy, Michael and Karl as they trick-or-treat for candy and then are treated with scary stories from a mysterious visitor. These books are utterly gorgeous both textually and graphically…and my children just adore them. Happy reading!
While it may not be a Halloween book, per se, no spooky book list should neglect to include Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” – one of my (and my sons) all time favorites. Not only do we get to meet a cigar-smoking Norwegian grandmother, but we encounter ladies with itchy scalps, quite a few references to dog poo (and really, who could resist that!?!) and several reasons for your children not to bathe regularly. The coupling of Roald Dahl and long-time illustrator Quentin Blake is a marriage made in heaven for any book, but for this one in particular. Don’t miss Lynn Redgrave’s reading of “The Witches” on the audio book, and, if you’re feeling particularly witchy, check out the movie starring Angelica Huston. It’s nowhere near as spectacular as the book (few movies are), but entertaining nonetheless.