The contrast between the sister’s understanding and depicted reality is not enough to maintain this 32-page joke.

THE SWEETEST WITCH AROUND

In the companion title to A Very Brave Witch (2006), the gutsy, green-skinned girl hopes to teach her little sister to be courageous as well.

McGhee positions the older, unnamed witch girl as narrator, reacting to events with a rather smug superiority. She wants Witchling to “study the humans and learn their mysterious ways,” but at the sight and then taste of candy, Witchling’s reaction is “yum” instead of the prescribed “yuck.” At first the older sister is proud of the little one’s bravery, but readers will see that all Witchling’s developed is a sweet tooth. Parents can relate! Misadventures follow as Witchling takes off on a broom to participate in Halloween trick-or-treating. Bliss infuses humor into his watercolor-and-ink scenes by including an anxious yellow cat who interjects “Holy catnip” and “Holy whiskers” in thought bubbles. When Witchling ends up with an overflowing, too-heavy hat full of candy, her older sister swoops in. But the extra weight is too much for the broom, and Witchling must dump out her great haul to the delight of the humans below. Although well-intentioned and not without charming moments, the book lacks a punch in the ending. The older witch is proud of her sister, but it is unclear for what. Taking off on her own?

The contrast between the sister’s understanding and depicted reality is not enough to maintain this 32-page joke. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-78336

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more