In their picture book for readers aged 4 to 8, first-time author McConnell and artist-illustrator Gregory put the “treat” in trick-or-treat with a sweet Halloween tale that takes an unexpected turn as a little boy discovers his best friend’s bewitching secret.
Told in colorful if uneven verse, McConnell’s first children’s book is, at its kind heart, a tale of friendship between a caring little boy and a mysterious little girl. “Friends for life” after Marlin dives to the rescue when Marsipity’s chair tips over in class, the pair can’t wait for Halloween to roll around. They missed out the year before due to the unfortunate Marsipity, “who tucked in tight in bed that night / missed Halloween in all its fright / with chicken pox, a stuffy nose / an achy tummy, and stubby toes / all together in illness throes.” This year, to Marlin’s surprise, Marsipity delays their much anticipated trick-or-treat adventure after a fortifying dinner of soup and bread by insisting on dessert. Not just any dessert as it happens, but a slice of Halloween pumpkin pie that transforms Marsipity into a little green witch—“her eyes they twinkle as her nose a wrinkle / begins to crease the end. / Wobbly and wimbly her legs go quite spindly.” The transformation complete, the pair sets out on a broom-flying, moonlit romp through the neighborhood, much to Marlin’s delight. McConnell has wisely teamed with accomplished artist Gregory, whose eye-filling illustrations—hand-drawn and digitally colored—resemble soft watercolor paintings that generously elevate the story’s homespun charm. Nine pages without text allow Gregory free rein to gorgeously render the pair’s supernatural adventure, followed by a wrap-up to readers in rhyme, nicely capped by McConnell with a gentle wink to Marsipity’s dessert of choice.
Aside from rhythmic bumps in her poetry, McConnell offers a Halloween picture-book adventure to stir the imagination, enhanced by Gregory’s beautifully rendered illustrations.