Halloween’s not just for little boys and ghouls. Here are some funny, eerie, and downright creepy titles to scare up readers of all ages.
The goofiest of the group is David LaRochelle’s picture book The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories. Ghost siblings Franny and Frankie demand a story before bed. Of course, one is never enough, and Father Ghost is persuaded to tell three. The humor is freewheeling and perfectly calibrated — diapers! lipsticky smooches! yuck! — for the book’s audience. Paul Meisel’s illustrations lend an exaggerated tongue-in-cheek quality. Perfect for Halloween (but too good not to read all year round). (6–8 years)
Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann takes place on Halloween night. When skeletons come out of the graveyard to taunt trick-or-treater Gus, he’s protected by the ghost of his beloved, recently deceased dog, Ella. The skeletons’ corniness (“You’ve got guts kid . . . but not for long!”) doesn’t detract from Gus’s grief or the book’s moving scenes of boy and dog together. The forceful black lines and high contrast of Rohmann’s relief prints give his potentially spectral characters pleasing solidity. (4–8 years)
For chapter book readers, Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances also combines humor and death. A misunderstanding leads second-grader Alvin’s classmates to first think GungGung, Alvin’s grandfather, has passed away–then to believe he’s a zombie. Copious illustrations by LeUyen Pham capture moments both silly and sad as Look tackles real-kid worries in a truly funny story. (6–10 years)
For older readers who prefer their Halloween macabre, Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein is just the thing. When sixteen-year-old Konrad Frankenstein contracts a mysterious illness, his twin brother Victor — headstrong and rash — risks his own neck to concoct the Elixir of Life. Secrecy, a love triangle, and ultimately deception complicate this meticulously researched and highly original Frankenstein prequel. (12–16 years)