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Family curses, grief, and fate

These recent books for middle graders dip into the supernatural (ancestral curses, spectral mothers, ghost frenemies, growing skeletons) to raise larger questions about family, friendship, memory, grief, and love. In Lauren DeStefano’s The Girl with the Ghost Machine, ten-year-old Emmaline Beaumont and her father Julien are devastated by Emmaline’s mother’s sudden death, and grief drives […]

Scared silly

The following picture books perfect for Halloween put their own silly spins on thrills, chills, and…creepy underwear? For more, see “From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn Boo!” In Boo Who? by Ben Clanton, a little ghost named Boo is new to the neighborhood. He isn’t very good at the games his new friends invite him to […]

Supernaturally good scares

From a collection of ghost stories-within-a-ghost-story to classic tales of the macabre reimagined for a new format, these new books offer a fresh take on the usual suspects of supernatural horror. Graphic novelist Gareth Hinds adapts three of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems (“Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “The Raven”) and four stories (“The Masque of […]

Board Book Roundup: Fall 2016 Edition: Halloween

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine. The youngest children can join in on the Halloween […]

Book or Treat!

I hand out books every Halloween. I fill a table in my foyer with books from all genres and for all age levels. As each group of trick-or-treaters comes to my door, I offer books in addition to a bowl of candy. I’ve learn many lessons after years of “Book or Treat”; here are some […]

Horn BOO! 2016

Not sure what to read on Halloween? Never fear! 
We’ve got you covered with picture books about ghosts, bats, and…trucks? Boo! Haiku by Deanna Caswell; illus. by Bob Shea Preschool    Abrams Appleseed    24 pp. 8/16    978-1-4197-2118-2    $12.95 Caswell and Shea return to the format of their earlier book, Guess Who, Haiku, and make it spooky […]

Blood and gore (for Halloween!)

Bedell, J. M.  So, You Want to Work with the Ancient and Recent Dead?: Unearthing Careers from Paleontology to Forensic Science Gr. 4–6, middle school     248 pp.     Simon/Aladdin/Beyond Words Be What You Want series. “Think your Goth lifestyle is a predictor of your future vocation”? This broad series installment examines fields centered on dead things […]

If There’s Something Strange in the Neighborhood…

I’ve been collecting Halloween-y type books for a few years, and when my kids were old enough to understand the significance of the candy-fueled holiday, they really got into reading about ghosts and goblins and trick-or-treating mishaps. We’ve actually made something of a tradition of bringing out the Halloween books at the beginning of October, […]

Ghosts and witches and wizards, oh my!

What better time of year to curl up with a creepy book and a cup of cocoa to ward off the supernatural shivers? These middle-school novels provide just the right balance of adventure and eeriness — along with a few magical villains (or are they?) — for deliciously spooky fall reads. Set in late-nineteenth-century imperial […]

Historical horror stories

History buffs and horror fans alike will appreciate these YA books about characters facing their own demons — of the metaphysical, metaphorical, or, most disturbingly, human varieties. In The Passion of Dolssa, author Julie Berry tells the story of (fictional) Catholic mystic Dolssa de Stigata after she escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 […]