A couple of dark-haired, big-eyed siblings explore the rooms of a monster-filled hotel with the warning to never look behind door 32.
In this Halloween picture book from the team of Fegan and Wen (Titch the Itch, 2017, etc.), the proprietor, Nicholas Noo, greets two pale-skinned children who are the first (human) guests at the Hotel of Hoo. But their stay in room No. 1 comes with the caveat about door 32. The kids proceed to examine each room, counting up to 32, meeting such creatures as grounds-cleaning clowns, light bulb–changing knights, dancing zombies, purple goblins, mad scientists, “miniature giants,” vampire mermaids, and the rest. The children’s facial expressions in Wen’s illustrations are priceless: The brother is clearly more reticent than his perpetually amused younger sister, who shows no fear of kitchen ghosts or old trolls. In several images, the brother pushes or pulls her past particularly troublesome rooms, including one reserved for visitors, and a daunting maze. What is behind door 32? The answer isn’t what readers will expect, and the finale of the charmingly rhymed book has a pleasing twist designed to make kids chuckle with relief that nothing really terrible is lurking. While the tale offers plenty of creepy-crawlies and spooky hazards for monster lovers, there are also delightfully cute dragons, a fantastic library, and adorable baby wizards for readers who prefer their Halloweens less frightening.
With its appealing pictures and smooth rhymes, this book makes an excellent choice for a scary story read-aloud.