Sunday, October 24, 2010

Best Halloween Picture Books (Primary to Intermediate)


I believe I am burned out on Halloween books!  I have been reading dozens of them over the past couple weeks in an effort to highlight the best books from the largest number possible.  This post is the last on the subject, at least for 11 months!  Since there can be large discrepancies in what is considered appropriate based on age and family values, please peruse them in advance to reading to children. 
The Hallo-Wiener (ages 5-10) by Dav Pilkey
The Hallo-wienerI love this book!  Oscar is a wiener dog (dachshund), so he has a hard time keeping up with the other dogs.  As a result, he is incessantly teased by the other dogs.   Then, to make matters worse his mother makes a costume for him that fuels the ridicule fire.  He wears it though because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings.  Despite having a discouraging Halloween night experience, he saves his friends through bravery and cleverness.  There are puns and other play on words in this story that would be fun to discuss.  For instance, it says he is looking “frank.”   Discuss how it is a reference to a hot dog and to looking serious.  In another example, it states the dogs “hounded every treat.”  They are dogs, so they are “hounding.”  It also means to badger or bother.  Not only is it a good Halloween story, but it also includes lessons in friendship, teasing, being scared, courage, cleverness, and family.  
The Skeleton in the Closet (ages  7-11) by Alice Schertle
The Skeleton in the ClosetAt first, the tone of this story is a bit frightening though fortunately the illustrations are not creepy.  There is a skeleton at the door, trying to get into the house.  After the boy runs and hides in his room, the skeleton gets into the house and slowly makes his way up the stairs.  When he gets into the room though, he merely wants to borrow the clothes in the boy’s closet.  Then, the tone becomes silly.   This story is a good read for older kids who are not easily alarmed. 

Shake dem Halloween Bones (ages 5-10) by W. Nikola-Lisa
Shake Dem Halloween BonesAfter the city is quiet and the lights go down, music begins at a hip-hop Halloween party.  Using a rhythmic, playful verse, people dance at the party dressed up as various characters from popular fairy tales, such as Snow White, Goldilocks, and Little Red Riding Hood.  Interspersed repeatedly between the descriptions of the boogying characters is a chorus about shaking them bones.   
The Halloween Kid (ages 5-10) by Rhode Montijo
The Halloween KidThe Halloween Kid keeps trick or treating safe for the children.  Each time villians come along to spoil it, such as toliet paper mummies or pumpkin suckin' vampires, he saves the day dressed part cowboy, part regular kid while riding on his stick horse.  When a group of goblins wreak havoc, he returns once again.  This time it is with the help of some tricker or treaters that he saves Halloween.  The orange-hued cartoon pictures are mature enough that older children will enjoy it, but not at all scary so younger ones can too.  This interesting mix of reality and fantasy is sure to induce yearly readings of this holiday tale.

Room on the Broom (ages 5-10) by Julia Donaldson
Room on the BroomIf you do not object to books about witches, this tales is a sweet must read!  As an affable witch flies around on her broom, various animals ask for a ride.  She willingly allows them on, but the broom gets crowded and eventually breaks.  Then, a dragon attacks the witch, but the animals rescue her from his clutches!  The witch designs a creative, new broom that accommodates everyone more comfortably.   The pictures are colorful and cheery.  Motifs for discussion are friendship, generosity, and bravery. 
Honorable Mentions
(ages 6-10) by Kathryn Lasky
It is a creative retelling of the story Frankenstein using pigs and the big bad wolf.  It is worth checking out.The Costume Copy Cat (ages 5-9) by Maryann Macdonald
Each year Angela picks her costume based on what her sister wore the previous year with less than desirable results.  When she finally picks a costume based on her unique personality, she has the ideal Halloween night. 
Did I miss any of your favorites?  Let me know!  I’ll check them out for next Halloween season! 

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