There are plenty of Halloween titles out there, but for families looking to read a no-scare celebration of the season,...


Spooky Things


Sinclair’s (The Three Little Pigs, 2014) charmingly child-friendly rhyming ode hails spooky (but never scary) monsters.

In the fall, after the sun goes down, that’s when the spooky things have their fun. Under the light of a full moon, early independent readers and lap readers see a scarecrow, ghosts, and a mummy in a local graveyard. The mummy and ghosts travel to the home of the local mad scientist, working to raise his monster, while a hungry spider and a skeleton join the throng. After leaving the mad scientist’s house, the wandering monsters meet a werewolf, a witch, and a sea monster in a mud bath. In the illustrations, the poor skeleton nearly loses his head in the mud, giving readers an opportunity to invent fun stories of their own about the monsters. Finally, they all arrive at the castle of a “dapper” vampire, who’s waiting for them to arrive at his big Halloween party. Sinclair’s rhymes are easy and consistent (she offers an afterword following the story to introduce concepts of iambic tetrameter to both beginning readers and their parents). While these don’t offer much in the way of plot, there are plenty of great visuals and new vocabulary words for the young audience: “These playful ghosts cannot resist— / They frolic in the graveyard mist!” Several of the illustrations feature hidden details—at the party, there are giant flies in the punch, for example—so that, while the images are in a brightly colored, cartoonish style, there’s definitely enough detail to keep lap readers going over them again and again for future readings.

There are plenty of Halloween titles out there, but for families looking to read a no-scare celebration of the season, Sinclair’s comfortable rhymes and kooky pictures are an excellent choice.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937186-99-9

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Chthonicity Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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