A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

hist wist

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

hist wist

hist    wist
little ghost things

little twitchy
witches and tingling
hob-a-nob    hob-a-nob

little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
little itchy mousies

with scuttling
eyes    rustle and run    and

whisk    look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she'll do to yer
nobody knows

for she knows the devil    ooch
the devil    ouch
the devil
ach    the great




~ e. e. cummings

This has to be one of my all-time favorite Halloween poems. I love all the spooky sounds that e.e. cummings uses: "hist wist", "hob-a-nob", "scuttling", "rustle", "whisk", "ooch, ouch, ach", and of course, the "wheeEEE" at the end!  

Wishing all of my readers 
a frighteningly fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

When I asked my friends on Facebook to list some of their favorite words a couple of months ago, my brother-in-law Nathan replied with several words, including eldritch [el-drich].  I have to admit, I had never heard that word before, and had no idea what it meant.  When I looked it up in the dictionary, I realized it was a great word for Halloween! Eldritch is an adjective that means "eerie, weird, spooky".

The wind rattled the windows and 
blew through the cracks with an eldritch howl.

My heart pounded as I stood motionless 
in the darkening woods, staring up at the bare trees 
silhouetted against an eldritch sky.

How would you use the word eldritch?  Can you think of other interesting words for Halloween?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mr. Macklin's Jack O'Lantern

Our jack-o'-lanterns, Oct. 2012

Mr. Macklin's Jack O'Lantern

Mr. Macklin takes his knife 
And carves the yellow pumpkin face: 
Three holes bring eyes and nose to life, 
The mouth has thirteen teeth in place. 
Then Mr. Macklin just for fun 
Transfers the corn-cob pipe from his 
Wry mouth to Jack's, and everyone 
Dies laughing! O what fun it is 
Till Mr. Macklin draws the shade 
And lights the candle in Jack's skull. 
Then all the inside dark is made 
As spooky and as horrorful 
As Halloween, and creepy crawl 
The shadows on the tool-house floor, 
With Jack's face dancing on the wall. 
O Mr. Macklin! Where's the door?

~ David McCord

I just love carving pumpkins, don't you?  I found this poem online and thought it was perfect for the day after our family made jack-o'-lanterns.  I like the way McCord uses rhymes in this poem.  I also like how he describes this traditional Halloween activity -- how "three holes bring eyes and nose to life", how the candle goes into the pumpkin's skull, and how Jack's face dances on the wall. Spoooooky! :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dreams do come true...

"Work at your craft, 
write daily, 
and follow your dreams 
dreams do come true."

~ Christopher Paul Curtis

This is another quote that I need to print out and post some place where I'll see it every day.  It's important to remember that I need to keep working hard on my writing and that dreams do come true....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Double, double toil and trouble

Image courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery

An excerpt:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake:
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

~ from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1,
written by William Shakespeare

I've never actually seen a performance of Macbeth, and I'm not sure that I've ever read the entire play, but I have read through parts of it before, including this scene.  I love Shakespeare's eerie chant-like rhymes....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Witches' Menu

Photo courtesy of

Witches' Menu

Live lizard, dead lizard
Marinated, fried.
Poached lizard, pickled lizard
Salty lizard hide.

Hot lizard, cold lizard
Lizard over ice.
Baked lizard, boiled lizard
Lizard served with spice.

Sweet lizard, sour lizard
Smoked lizard heart.
Leg of lizard, loin of lizard
Lizard a la carte.

~ Sonja Nikolay

Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this post!

This is such a fun poem, with its bouncy rhythm, rhymes, and dark humor.  Of course, I prefer my lizards live... and want them to stay that way!  Isn't the little guy in the picture up above cute? :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We may sit in our library...

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"We may sit in our library 
and yet be in all 
quarters of the earth." 

 ~ John Lubbock

I love how reading leads me on exciting adventures -- across the country, across the world, across the universe, or even to lands that have never been -- all while sitting in my own living room....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Photo courtesy of

I was trying to think of a good word for this week, something Halloween-related, and finally decided on macabre [muh-kah-bruh].  Macabre is an adjective that means "gruesome, horrifying, or ghastly".  Sometimes you might see the phrase "danse macabre" in a book -- this means "dance of death".  Here are a few examples I came up with, using our word of the week in a sentence:

I prefer slightly spooky Halloween decorations
 to macabre ones.

The book was a bit too macabre for young children, 
but older horror fans will love it!

No matter how hard he tried to forget it, 
the macabre scene continued to haunt his memories.

What other ways can you think of to use the word macabre?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Books That Go Bump In the Night

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I don't think that I'm a particularly brave person.  I'm scared of storms and fire and flying and speaking in front of strangers. (Heck, I'm scared of speaking in front of people that I know!)  However, I love spine-tingling books and movies.  When I know that I'm safe, that what I'm reading or seeing on screen isn't real, I love that feeling of suspense, of goosebumps and my hair standing on end.  I've read several chilling tales this month, and thought I'd share them here for older kids and adults who share my affinity for the horror genre.  (Please note: Not all of the books below are actually classified as "horror".)

I'll start you out with some haunting poetry:

Halloween ABC,
written by Eve Merriam
and illustrated by Lane Smith, 1987

You may wonder why I'm sharing an ABC book in a post for middle grade and young adult readers.  I decided to include it here instead of mentioning it in my post about Halloween picture books because I feel some of Merriam's poems might be too spooky for young children.  Older children and teens (and adults!) who enjoy a good scare, however, will appreciate her poetry, along with Smith's dark illustrations.

I wrote more about this book in a previous post, which can be seen here.


The Whispering Room:
Haunted Poems,
chosen by Gillian Clarke
and illustrated by Justin Todd, 1996

This anthology contains both classical and contemporary poetry, including that of Carl Sandburg, Lilian Moore, William Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Marchette Chute, and Jack Prelutsky.  Subjects range from ghosts and the bogeyman to a dark, dark wood to the Titanic to the wind.


Witch Poems,
edited by Daisy Wallace
and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, 1976

A collection of eighteen poems about witches, this book includes the work of e.e. cummings, Karla Kuskin, James Reeves, Myra Cohn Livingston, and more.  Along with the poetry, each two-page spread also features deliciously eerie black and white illustrations by Hyman.

I first noticed this book on the library shelf several months ago, but didn't pick it up until earlier this month.  When I finally started flipping through it and reading the poems, I knew I wanted to bring it home and read it over and over again.  A reviewer on Amazon called this book "creepy-crawly" (in a good way), and I have to agree.  It's perfect for reading aloud on Halloween or any time you want to scare up some fun!


If you're in the mood for something that will make you shiver but don't have time to read a longer book, I suggest trying one of these compilations of short stories:

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,
collected from folklore and retold by Alvin Schwartz,
and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, 1984

Many of the stories in this book were already familiar to me. I'd heard versions of them when I was younger, at slumber parties and Girl Scout camp.  Schwartz collected the tales from folklore and then wrote them down in his own words. Most of the stories are only two or three pages long, so they make for a quick read.

My favorite parts of this book were the ghoulish illustrations by Gammell -- in my opinion, they are much scarier than the stories themselves.


Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror,
edited by R. L. Stine, 2010
R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series, put together this anthology of thirteen short stories by different authors including Meg Cabot, Jennifer Allison, and Walter Sorrells.  (Stine also contributed a story of his own.) While each offers moments of terror and suspense, the plots of the stories vary widely-- from the disappearances of humans on a distant planet to a school shooter and his victims to a portal into a shadowy world.


The Oxford Book of Scary Tales,
selected by Dennis Pepper
and illustrated by many, 1992

This book contains 35 stories and poems, both classic and contemporary, representing a wide variety of cultures and traditions.  Many authors are featured, including James Kirkup, Grace Hallworth, and Robert Scott.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book, but my favorite entries were the poem "This is the key to the castle" by Dave Calder and the story "Tiger in the Snow" by Daniel Wynn Barber, which literally gave me goosebumps!


The House of Dies Drear,
written by Virginia Hamilton
and illustrated by Eros Keith, 1969
Thirteen-year-old Thomas and his family move to Ohio, to a Civil War-era home which used to be a station on the Underground Railroad.  Filled with secret doors and tunnels, the house is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of the abolitionist Dies Drear and two runaway slaves who were murdered there.  When strange things begin happening, Thomas starts to think there really are ghosts in his new home.

This book was required reading for my kids Emmalie and Nick in elementary school (5th or 6th grade, I believe).  I remember both of them talking about it at the time, and when I spotted it at the library awhile ago, I decided to read it myself.  More a mixture of history and mystery than a horror story, the book does still have an aura of spookiness about it, with a dash of suspense thrown in as well.


The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe,
written and illustrated by Scott Gustafson, 2011
Young Edgar Allan Poe (Eddie) is falsely accused of destroying his neighbor's chicken coop.  With the help of his raven, an imp named McCobber, and the magician Captain Mephisto, Eddie tries to solve the mystery and find the true culprit.  Though the story is fictional, Gustafson does offer quite a bit of factual information about the real Edgar Allan Poe.  He also provides several pages of stunning artwork that illustrate his story.

I found this to be a cleverly written book, a quick read that kept me engaged.  While the tale has a gothic feel, as well as moments of suspense, it also contains a healthy dose of humor.


The Graveyard Book,
written by Neil Gaiman
and illustrated by Dave McKean, 2008
When a man named Jack murders a family, he inadvertently leaves one survivor -- a young toddler.  The boy escapes from his home and ends up in a nearby graveyard.  Ghostly residents there adopt the boy, naming him Nobody (aka Bod).  They raise him in the graveyard, where Bod learns all about the living and the dead.  Now a teenager, Bod finds himself in danger from the man Jack who is still hunting him.

As Gaiman himself says, this story was inspired by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, only instead of being raised by wolves, Bod is brought up by ghosts.  I thought this was an interesting plot idea, and Gaiman succeeds in mixing the macabre with humor and fantasy to create an engrossing book.


Looking for a quirky and frightfully funny book series?  Try this one:

May Bird and the Ever After,
written by Jodi Lynn Anderson
and illustrated by Leonid Gore, 2005
Ten-year-old May Bird lives near the woods of Briery Swamp, a place where several different people have mysteriously disappeared over the years.  She's considered an oddball at school and her only friend is her pet cat, Somber Kitty.  One day May finds a letter from 1951 that is somehow addressed to her.  The letter leads her on a quest -- into Briery Swamp and then to the land of Ever After, where people go after they die.  There she encounters ghosts, ghouls, the Boogeyman, and the evil Bo Cleevil, all the while trying to get back home again.

May Bird Among the Stars, 2006
May Bird is still alive... and still stuck in the Afterlife.  She is torn between going home to her mother (if she can ever figure out how to get back) and saving her friends in Ever After from the evil Bo Cleevil.

May Bird Warrior Princess, 2007
May Bird is finally back on Earth and famous for having survived "the land of the dead".  She feels out of place, however, and finds herself missing those she left behind in Ever After.  When she returns to the Afterlife, she discovers that much has changed (for the worse) in her absence.  Can she save Ever After -- and Earth itself -- from Bo Cleevil?

Though this series is filled with ghosts and otherworldly creatures, and it does have an eerie quality about it, the thing I liked most about it was Anderson's dark, tongue-in-cheek humor and the way she pokes fun at popular culture.  I laughed out loud many times while reading these books!


The Crowfield Curse,
written by Pat Walsh, 2010
An orphan in the winter of 1347, fourteen-year-old William works as a servant at a monastery.  While out gathering firewood, he discovers a hobgoblin caught in a trap.  William saves its life and learns that only people with the Sight can see hobgoblins.  Soon the boy is caught up in a mystery involving dead angels, evil curses, a haunted hollow, and creatures of the fay -- and danger looms ever closer.

I found this to be an intriguing, spooky story, filled with suspense and enchanting characters.

Walsh has written a sequel to this book, The Crowfield Demon (2011).  Our library doesn't have a copy of it yet, but I am on the waiting list to read it when it arrives.


Anya's Ghost,
written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol, 2011

This young adult graphic novel shows readers the life of high school student Anya, a Russian immigrant who is trying to be more "American" and fit in with the other teens at school. One day she accidentally stumbles down a deep hole in a park.  While trapped there, she encounters a ghost named Emily, who died in 1918.  When Anya is rescued from the hole, Emily follows, offering to be her friend and give her advice to succeed in life.  After awhile, Anya discovers that Emily may have ulterior (and sinister) motives for helping her....

This is only the second graphic novel that I've ever read.  It took a little while to get used to because of that.  There really is a difference between reading a regular novel and reading a graphic novel.  However, once I adjusted to that, I found Brosgol's story entertaining.  It pulled me in right away and kept me eagerly flipping pages.  

Just a note:  At first glance, the "comic book look" to this novel may make it seem like it's a story for middle grade readers -- but it's not.  Some of the content and situations presented are much more suitable for older teens and adults.


Finally, for those who are eager to be scared over and over again, here is an entire horror series that I highly recommend.  I found this series in our library's section for middle grade readers, but if it were up to me, I think I'd put them in the young adult section.  I'm pretty sure these books would've given me nightmares if I'd read them when I was 9 or 10:

The Last Apprentice:
Revenge of the Witch,
written by Joseph Delaney
and illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith, 2004
Twelve-year-old Thomas is the seventh son of a seventh son. When he is apprenticed to Mr. Gregory, a Spook whose job is to fight evil spirits and witches around the County, Thomas foresees a lonely, dangerous life ahead of him.  He does not expect to face a powerful enemy, Madame Malkin, on his own and so soon after leaving his home.  Despite warnings from the Spook, Thomas befriends Alice, the young daughter of a witch family.  Will she help him?  Or betray him?

The Last Apprentice:
Curse of the Bane (2005)
Thomas and the Spook travel to Priestown on unfinished business. A terrifying, vicious monster called the Bane has been imprisoned deep in the catacombs of the town's cathedral. Though it has been unable to break free to roam the land, the Bane can reach out with its thoughts, controlling the minds and actions of the town's inhabitants.  As if Thomas and the Spook didn't have enough to worry about, they must also evade another enemy in Priestown, the Quisitor -- a man who pursues and executes anyone suspected of witchcraft or being too close to the Dark.  Now the Quisitor is on the hunt for the Spook, who is high on his list.

The Last Apprentice:
Night of the Soul Stealer (2006)
Thomas and the Spook travel to Anglezarke, Mr. Gregory's bleak and desolate winter home.  There Thomas meets Meg, a lamia witch who doesn't remember what she is, and hears rumors of a barbaric beast called Golgath.  He also encounters Morgan, one of the Spook's former apprentices.  Morgan hates Mr. Gregory and, since leaving his employ, has learned necromancy (communication with the dead).  Now Morgan hopes to use his new powers -- and Thomas -- to unleash a malevolent spirit on the County.

I have really been impressed so far by Delaney's writing.  The story is chilling -- it has kept me on the edge of my seat through all three books.  The characters are well-developed and Delaney manages to weave several different plot lines together to create an interesting story with many twists and turns.  Arrasmith's illustrations lend a creepiness to the story, as well.

Other books in this series include Attack of the Fiend (2007), Wrath of the Bloodeye (2008), Clash of the Demons (2009), Rise of the Huntress (2010), Rage of the Fallen (2011),  Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin (2011), Lure of the Dead (2012),and Slither (2012).  I just started reading Attack of the Fiend yesterday, and plan to read through the entire series.  I can't wait to see what happens to Thomas, Alice, the Spook, and the others....


For even more spooky stories, please check out my post from last year, Oh, the horror!

Do you like reading scary books?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  I'm always on the lookout for book recommendations!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumn Woods

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Autumn Woods

I like the woods
In autumn
When dry leaves hide the ground,
When the trees are bare
And the wind sweeps by
With a lonesome rushing sound.
I can rustle the leaves
In autumn
And I can make a bed
In the thick dry leaves
That have fallen
From the bare trees

~ James S. Tippett

This poem is filled with sensory images.  When I read it, I can picture the forest of bare trees with the bed of leaves beneath them.  I can hear the swish and crunch the leaves make when someone walks through them.  I can feel the wind sweeping past.  What other images come to your mind when you think of the woods in autumn?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Real Witch

Image courtesy of Clkr.com

An excerpt:

     A REAL WITCH gets the same pleasure from squelching a child as you get from eating a plateful of strawberries and cream.

     She reckons on doing away with one child a week.  Anything less than that and she becomes grumpy.

          One child a week is fifty-two a year,
          Squish them and squiggle them and make them

     That is the motto of all witches.

     Very carefully a victim is chosen.  Then the witch stalks the wretched child like a hunter stalking a little bird in the forest.  She treads softly.  She moves quietly.  She gets closer and closer.  Then, at last, when everything is ready... phwisst!... and she swoops!  Sparks fly.  Flames leap.  Oil boils.  Rats howl.  Skin shrivels.  And the child disappears.

~ from The Witches,
written by Roald Dahl

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Love of books...

Image courtesy of Clkr.com

"There are many little ways 
to enlarge your child's world. 
Love of books is the best of all."

~  Jacqueline Kennedy

It warms my heart whenever I see a child who's captivated by a book.  I'm so thankful that my parents instilled a love of reading in me, and I'm happy to have raised three BookWyrms of my own.  I sincerely hope that their passion for books stays with them all through their lives....

Friday, October 19, 2012

What is Black?

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

What is Black?

Black is the night
When there isn't a star
And you can't tell by looking
Where you are.
Black is a pail of paving tar.
Black is jet
And things you'd like to forget.
Black is a smokestack
Black is a cat,
A leopard, a raven,
A high silk hat.
The sound of black is
"Boom!  Boom!  Boom!"
Echoing in
An empty room.

Black is kind--
It covers up
The run-down street,
The broken cup.

Black is charcoal
And patio grill,
The soot spots on
The window sill.
Black is a feeling
Hard to explain
Like suffering but
Without the pain.
Black is licorice
And patent leather shoes
Black is the print
In the news.
Black is beauty
In its deepest form,
The darkest cloud
In a thunderstorm.
Think of what starlight
And lamplight would lack
Diamonds and fireflies
If they couldn't lean against

~ Mary O'Neill

I love all these different descriptions of the color black, especially "things you'd like to forget", the sound it makes, and the final image.  I also like how O'Neill uses rhymes in her poem to answer her title question.  Can you think of anything you might add to your own list of things that are black?  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You are not a hundred dollar bill...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"You are not a hundred dollar bill. 
Not everyone is going to 
like you or your story. 
Do not take rejection 

~ Meg Cabot

I think I need to print this quote out and hang it some place where I'll see it regularly.  It's hard to take rejection time after time, but I need to remember that different people have different opinions.  Just because some agents or publishers have rejected a story, that doesn't mean everyone will.  There may be someone out there just waiting for it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

A few weeks ago, when I asked friends and readers of this blog to list some of their favorite words, one person wrote phosphorescent [fos-fuh-res-uhnt].  I like the word, too, especially the sound of it.  It has a certain spookiness about it.  Phosphorescent is an adjective, and it means "exhibiting phosphorescence (the property of being luminous)". Synonyms for the word include "glowing" and "shining". Here are a few example sentences:

Some marine animals, like jellyfish, 
are phosphorescent and produce their own light.

When my son turns off his gecko's lightbulb at night, 
the phosphorescent lamp surrounding it 
continues to glow for several minutes.

She used phosphorescent paint 
when making ghosts for the annual haunted house.

What other things can you think of that are phosphorescent?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spell of the Moon

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Spell of the Moon

Owl floats through the midnight wood
His terrible voice.
Small creatures alive on the ground
Keep still as ice,
Afraid their bones will be snapped
In his talon's vice.

But the moon hangs in the air,
In the tree's arms,
And she throws on trees and ground
Her silver charms,
Healing the fear of the dark
And night's alarms.

The fox to his lair in the dark
Through shadows will slip,
The shrew and the mole and the vole
To safety creep,
And the moon rides silent and high.
And the wood's asleep.

~ Leslie Norris

I love the imagery in this poem, especially the moon in the tree's arms, with her silver charms -- it gives me goosebumps!  I also love the sound of this poem when it's read aloud, particularly all the "s" sounds in the first stanza.  And I like how Norris tells a story in just three short stanzas.  How about you? Do you like this poem? What do you like (or dislike) about it?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Once there was a tree...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

     Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy.  And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.

~ from The Giving Tree,
written by Shel Silverstein

This excerpt reminds me of the maple tree our family had in our backyard when I was growing up.  (The photo does, too.)  Oh, how I loved that tree... and I was convinced that she loved me back. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"There is more 
treasure in books 
than in all the pirate's loot 
on Treasure Island." 

~ Walt Disney

While I certainly wouldn't turn down a pirate's treasure chest filled with gold and jewels, I do agree with Walt Disney.  And not only is there more treasure to be found in books than on Treasure Island, the treasure in books is, in many ways, more valuable than that of the pirates'.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bootiful Books for Young Kids

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net
It's almost time for one of my favorite holidays!  We've got our house and yard all decorated with spoooooky items, we're planning a Halloween party, and we're working on gathering materials for our costumes.  Another way we're getting ready for this fun holiday is by reading Halloween-themed books.  Last year, I shared a few picture books (fiction and nonfiction) in my Not-So-Spooky Stories post. This year, Ben and I looked for some new Halloween books at the library.  Here are the ones that we enjoyed the most:

Pumpkin Fever,
written by Charnan Simon
and illustrated by Jan Bryan-Hunt, 2007

Erin and her family have pumpkin fever!  They drive to a field and find two big pumpkins to bring home.  Erin's father helps her carve a jack-o-lantern in one pumpkin, but what is her mother doing with the other?

This is a short but sweet story for beginning readers.  In addition to the tale about Erin's family, the book also introduces several shape concepts.


Boo to You!,
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 2009

The mice are planning a harvest party, but that scary black cat keeps sneaking around.  Maybe, with a little creativity, the mice can scare the cat away!

Among other materials, Ehlert uses photos of flowers, plants, and vegetables to help create her artistic collages on each page of this story.  Ben and I love studying the illustrations, pointing out all the details.  At the end of the book, Ehlert also provides instructions for roasting pumpkin seeds.


Sheep Trick or Treat,
written by Nancy Shaw
and illustrated by Margot Apple, 1997

The sheep make Halloween costumes for themselves and go trick-or-treating at the barn.  Little do they know, wolves await in the shadows.

Shaw and Apple have created a series of sheep books, including Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep in a Shop, and more. All of them are fun rhyming stories, and this is no exception. Ben and I giggled over the silly costumes the sheep create and the various items the sheep are offered while trick-or-treating.


Minerva Louise on Halloween,
written and illustrated by Janet Morgan Stoeke, 2009

Minerva Louise is a chicken.  Unlike the sheep in the story above, Minerva Louise doesn't seem to have any concept of the Halloween holiday.  She interprets the things she sees based on her experiences around the farm.  For example, when she sees children dressed as ghosts, she thinks they are sheets that have blown off the clothesline.

This is a cute, amusing story.  Kids are sure to get a kick out of Minerva Louise's misunderstandings -- I know Ben and I did!


Bone Dog,
written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann, 2011

When his dog Ella dies, Gus doesn't feel much like doing anything, and isn't even excited about Halloween.  He does dress up as a skeleton, and soon finds himself surrounded by a group of real skeletons.  Ella, now a Bone Dog, comes to his rescue, and together they frighten the skeletons away.

This is a sad, tender story of friendship, loss, and a dog's loyalty -- with some humor thrown in, as well.


Pumpkin Moonshine,
written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, 1938

Sylvie Ann wants to make a pumpkin moonshine (jack-o-lantern), so she sets off across her grandparents' cornfields to find a pumpkin.  When she finds one that seems perfect, it is too large for her to carry.  She begins to roll it home, but when she reaches the top of a hill, the pumpkin gets away from her.  Can Sylvie Ann catch it before the pumpkin runs into anything?

This book is a good pick for children and adults who prefer the "softer side" of Halloween.  It is a gentle story that made me smile.  (Ben, too.)


Arthur's Halloween Costume,
written and illustrated by Lillian Hoban, 1984

Arthur hopes to win a prize for most unique costume at the school Halloween party.  Originally, he plans to go as a ghost.  When his sister tells him that several others are also going as ghosts, Arthur tries to come up with other ideas.  In the end, he is wearing a very unusual costume indeed -- but what is he?

Readers will get a chuckle out of Arthur's mishaps, and may be inspired by his resourcefulness, as well.


Big Bob and the Halloween Potatoes,
written by Daniel Pinkwater
and illustrated by Jill Pinkwater, 2000

Big Bob and Big Gloria are second graders who love potatoes.  When their teacher, Mr. Salami, announces that they will be making pumpkin decorations for Halloween, Big Gloria tries to convince him that they should use potatoes instead.  (According to her, pumpkins are "meaningless".)  Mr. Salami stands his ground.  When Big Gloria and her friends come up with a way to include potatoes in the Halloween celebration -- and Mr. Salami devises a plan to make pumpkins more meaningful -- everyone wins!

Big Gloria has some great lines in this book that Ben and I found very funny.  We also enjoyed the creativity shown by Mr. Salami and his students.


The House That Drac Built,
written by Judy Sierra
and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, 1995

This is definitely not the house that Jack built!  In this cumulative rhyme, Drac's house is full of ghoulish figures who are getting a bit out of hand.  When a group of young trick-or-treaters arrive, they know just what to do to put the house back in order.

This book is rated for 4 years and above on Amazon, but I would say it's more suited to 6- and 7-year-olds.  I think younger children might find some of the illustrations too scary.  (There is an adorable picture of a bat, however!)  Ben and I enjoyed the humor and the unruly monsters.


J is for Jack-O'-Lantern:
A Halloween Alphabet,
written by Denise Brennan-Nelson
and illustrated by Donald Wu, 2009

This Halloween alphabet book offers a poem for each letter, as well as an educational sidebar for each of the twenty-six words used.  It also includes riddles, game and costume suggestions, and recipes for Halloween treats.

Ben and I appreciated all the information provided -- we learned some new things from this book!  We also liked the lyrical rhymes.


The Runaway Pumpkin,
written by Kevin Lewis
and illustrated by S. D. Schindler, 2003

When Buck, Billy, and Lil spy the biggest pumpkin they've ever seen, they attempt to roll it home.  Very soon it is out of control, bumping and thumping down the hill and towards their farm.

This comical rhyming story is sure to please kids and adults alike.  It's a fun one to read aloud, but beware -- it does have a bit of a tongue-twister quality to it!


written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley, 1997

While the narrator insists that the stories inside will scare you, this corny, madcap spoof on tales of terror is much more likely to make readers groan or giggle over bad puns than it is to frighten them.

Ben and I found this to be a very silly book.  We especially liked the sarcastic commentaries provided by the animals in the illustrations.


Halloween Night:
Twenty-one Spooktacular Poems,
written by Charles Ghigna
and illustrated by Adam McCauley, 2003

This collection of Halloween poems, including "I'm Not Afraid", "Sick or Treat", and "The Scary Dictionary", is perfect for reading aloud.  Most of the poems are humorous, with upbeat, bouncy rhymes.  Only a few are slightly scary.

Ben and I thought that Ghigna's poetry was a treat!  We also loved McCauley's bold illustrations on each page.


Celebrate Halloween
with Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy,
written by Deborah Heiligman
and photographed by many, 2007

This nonfiction book contains many colorful photographs from around the world.  It provides information about Halloween, including the history behind the holiday and different ways that it is celebrated.  It also offers a few game ideas and recipes at the back of the book.


Have you read any good Halloween books for young kids lately?  I'd love to hear about them!