Traffic may not daunt the race car–chasing dog, but Halloween certainly does.
It doesn’t help that Zoë gets Daddy to tell all about Halloween “the scary way.” Denny turns off the lights, puts a flashlight under his chin, and tells of ghosts and spooks running through the neighborhood. The little dog thinks, “It’s going to take all my energy to protect us from this impending invasion.” His tongue-in-cheek first-person (first-dog?) narration provides an unusual perspective on Halloween. For instance, he believes that the jack-o’-lantern Zoë and Denny carved has put an evil spell on his humans (both white), transforming them into a fairy princess and a scarecrow. But the last straw for the dog in the green dragon costume is when his barks cause everyone to run away—from him. To save them, he runs away himself. It is only when Zoë finds him and finally explains that Halloween is dress-up that Enzo loses his haunted and hangdog look, and the night ends on a loving note. Alley’s artwork uses pen and ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylics, and spilled coffee to create joyful family scenes that revolve around Halloween fun—few pages will be truly frightening for young readers, but they will understand Enzo’s fear, nonetheless, which is clear in his body language and facial expressions.
Though his story is a bit wordy (but well-suited to a read-aloud), few will be able to resist Enzo’s charm. (Picture book. 4-8)