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Spooky Things


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

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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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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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