“The 12 Days of Christmas” inspires a creepy countdown to Halloween night.
Before any text appears, a spunky little witch girl flies into the body of the book clutching her crooked broom and imploring with oversize manga-bright eyes for readers to come, too. “On the first night of Halloween / my mummy gave to me: / a bright, / shiny / Skeleton Key.” The following nights bring a 2-headed snake, 3 Baseball Bats, 4 Icky Eyeballs and so on. (All cardinal numbers are rendered as numerals, while the ordinal numbers are spelled out.) Some days are less successful than others. Ghosts a-Ghosting and Witches Witching—huh? But Vasilovich is one to watch: His extensive experience in television animation and comics illustration is evident. Any page looks like a still from a scary cartoon movie. He achieves a Tim Burton–esque mood with settings full of sharp angles and zigzagging lines. Backgrounds of deep greens and purples and glowing oranges and yellows set off the dark action on each spread. Even though the creatures seem more sinister as each night goes by (the eyes are particularly chilling), the witch seems positively charmed. The big day finally arrives, and the text spirals with the key at the center of the page. It unlocks a room where all the characters come together for a most haunting Halloween celebration.
More shivery than stunning; for slightly older readers. (Picture book. 5-8)