A cowboy, a pirate, a witch, Frankenstein’s monster, and a mummy count their way through a slightly scary board book.
Each creature they meet is introduced in a rhyming six-syllable couplet that starts with the spelled-out number but is also preceded by the numeral. The rhymes tell readers which character to count, but the busy spreads are geared to toddlers who’ve moved up from simpler books. Some creatures may also be hard for young children to identify. For instance, the ghosts floating against a dark blue background look like sleek clouds, or perhaps tadpoles, and the eight gargoyles look like a shadowy row of animals with vampire teeth. On that page, the most prominent image is of two smiling witches stirring a cauldron. The counting is interrupted between nine and 10 by a double-page spread of one black cat and one smiling jack-o-lantern with the verse, “Pumpkin-grin, / Goosebump-skin.” It’s fun, but it’s also potentially confusing for young children. Dark tones of purple, orange, and teal evoke the spirit of Halloween. Interspersed die-cut pages hint at the spooky scene to come with the next page turn. The ending is no surprise: “Ten small feet / Trick-or-Treat. / Door swings wide... / Kids inside! / Glad we dared. / We weren’t scared.” The pirate is the only primary character of color.
Not too scary, not too sweet—a pleasant-enough way to get the Halloween party started for older toddlers and young preschoolers. (Board book. 2-4)