Beware the brooms on Halloween night.
Bill is a curious bat who loves Halloween and watching trick-or-treaters. The little ghouls and goblins run away when he swoops in for a closer look, but Bill is undaunted. He keeps following them until he takes a broom to the head and gets knocked out. On the advice of a wise old owl, he decides to watch from a safe distance next year. Veteran children’s author Cobb (The Frogs: A Happy Life, 2012, etc.) follows up Bill the Bat Finds his Way Home (2007) with a seasonal story about the flying mammal. His rhythms and rhymes never reach the sublime, but they read naturally, for the most part, and don’t undermine the story. The narrative isn’t particularly rich or complex, and the climax—when the broom hits Bill—comes out of the blue, almost as if a page or two had gone missing from the story. Some kids may be left wondering what is going on, but others will enjoy the brief moment of danger. While kids don’t have to understand every word of a picture book, parents should know they may find themselves explaining random references to Nixon (and why that is the costume that scares Bill the most) and the tango (this one seems to be here mostly for the rhyme), as well as a tactful hint that Bill might get killed (“It is a dangerous game / you are playing, my friend. / One day you may not / wake up at the end.”). Pentangelo’s colorful illustrations fill the page with movement and detail. Glowing golds and yellows against a deep-blue night sky evoke the Halloween nights of our childhoods. Bill himself is a curiously goggle-eyed guy with a toothy grin and big ears that give him personality, but the humans in the book aren’t quite as successful; they tend to look unfinished and awkward.
A fast-moving, fun rhyming picture book to pull out once a year.