Five animals dressed in jolly jack-o’-lantern costumes experience Halloween traditions.
In this not-too-spooky board book, an odd combo composed of a cat, a dog, a goat, an elephant, and what appears to be a dinosaur go trick-or-treating. Told in boisterous rhyme that starts out comparatively strong, the first half of the book describes the process of going house to house, knocking, and filling a treat bag with candy, making it an adequate vehicle for preparing the smallest of trick-or-treaters for the festivities. But when the story veers to a late-night trip to the pumpkin patch to gorge on candy, it models behavior that most caregivers will find less appealing or useful. At the same time, the rhyme becomes strained and uninspired: Children with “tummies that all ache” usually don’t “GIGGLE, and then JIGGLE, / and then DANCE around and SHAKE.” Interspersed capitalized words might help adults read aloud with emphasis, but it’s overwhelming in its forced enthusiasm. The folksy art is competent, but the simple lines, busy fall-leaf–themed foreground, and blobby, uninspired cartoon animals aren’t especially compelling, and there are some elements, such as menacingly leering mushrooms or evilly grinning jack-o’-lanterns, that feel too dark for such a light book. A padded, lightly embossed cover is solid enough to hold up to rough handling by small, candy-coated fingers.
Not quite a trick—but not really a treat, either. (Board book. 2-4)