Vampires, mummies, goblins—they come out every year, just in time to get little ones excited for Halloween. This year saw a bumper crop of Halloween books—here are five of our favorites.

See our roundup of all of 2011's Halloween picture books.

The Sleepless Little Vampire

Richard Egielski

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Egielski’s saturated watercolor-and-ink artwork takes center stage in this visually rich parade of spooky nighttime creatures. Perched on his bed and holding a Frankenstein’s-monster doll, the young vampire opens the tale by gazing at readers from a small, framed picture surrounded by black. He questions, “Why can’t I sleep? What could it be?” Perhaps it is a spider spitting, bats flitting, cockroaches crawling or the werewolf bawling? As each creepy thing appears—all with delicious sound effects—the framed pictures progressively expand to reveal more and more of the fanged boy’s boisterous surroundings…Preschoolers may not be aware of the impeccable design in front of them but are sure to reap the reward of this winning, interactive bedtime story turned topsy-turvy. (Picture book. 2-5) 

little goblins Little Goblins Ten

Pamela Jane; illustrated by Jane Manning

Numerous titles interpreting “Over in the Meadow” have been published, but trust the team of Jane and Manning to conjure up an impressive new vision in time for Halloween. Set in a fantastical land dominated by watery blues, greens and grays and punctuated by warm reds and yellows, Manning’s tale presents ethereal ghosts, country-bumpkin werewolves, parading mummies, screeching witches, happy bats and boogieing skeletons that readers will instantly want to have as friends. The preschool set should find comfort in seeing how loving and attentive the ghoulish moms and dads are with their offspring…The story begins and ends with the green-horned monster mommy and her little monster one—“ ‘Trick or treat?’ asked the mommy; / ‘Treat!’ cried the one. / So they skipped off together / For some Halloween fun!” (Picture book. 3-6)

bone dog Bone Dog

Eric Rohmann

Beloved dog Ella tells Gus under a full moon, “I’m an old dog and won’t be around much longer. But no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you.” Once Ella is gone, Gus mopes. On Halloween he reluctantly goes trick-or-treating, costumed as a skeleton. Heading back home he cuts through the graveyard. Here Rohmann’s hues darken, and Gus looks small and utterly alone. In a quietly dramatic page-turn, Gus is suddenly surrounded by a group of skeletons. Their goofy behavior and wisecracking taunts turn sinister, and soon they close in. The ghost of Ella comes to the rescue, yet she alone cannot save him. “Together will all their might…, boy and dog howled into the night.”…Sometimes scary, often funny and ultimately heartwarming, Rohmann’s tale successfully balances a tight text full of tough emotions with clear images of an everlasting friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)

mouse Mouse and Mole, a Perfect Halloween

Wong Herbert Yee

Mouse and Mole prepare for Halloween in the sixth book of Yee’s popular series. In the first chapter, Mouse excitedly decorates for the holiday. Mole is not sure he likes Halloween—too scary. The next chapter finds the two hunting for the perfect pumpkin. Mole and Mouse go about the search differently. Mouse cannot believe how many pumpkins there are: “Eeny, meeny, miny mumpkin / Which of you will be my pumpkin…? / You’re it!” Mole is more careful. After tapping, turning and tugging them, he finds one he likes…The final chapter focuses on how the duo overcomes Mole’s fear of trick-or-treating. Mouse, ever the problem-solver, reads Mole a story about how two scared friends can be brave when they are together. This story within the story truly shows how sharing a good book with a friend can work wonders. (Early reader. 5-8)

creepy monsters Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters

Jane Yolen; illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This brief lullaby-story provides just-right toddler-sized chills. The action begins at 3 p.m. as school lets out. Yolen describes it all in rhyme with spare sentences and phrases: “Monsters creep, / Monsters crawl // Over the meadow / And up the wall.” Murphy chooses a muted palette to illustrate the motley bunch of innocuous creatures sporting a horn or two, various numbers of eyes, an occasional tail or tufts of fur. Preschool monster fans…[will] easily relate to the depicted routine of coming home, eating dinner, taking a bath and getting into bed, and they will be charmed rather than spooked as the text’s gentle cadence begins to work a calming magic. But the monsters show a last burst of energy—of course—as they “toss and turn and bounce” before finally snuggling in for the night. Silly going-to-sleep sounds such as “Growl / Gurgle / Burp” gently bring this soon-to-be popular book to an end. (Picture book. 2-4)