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Boo! Participation encouraged

An easy reader, a seek-and-find, and two poetry books bring Halloween silliness to early elementary readers. Eager participation is anticipated.

“Scarlet and Igor were very good friends. The trouble was, they could never agree on anything,” begins early reader Spooky Friends by Jane Feder. In three brief stories, vampire Scarlet and mummy Igor first argue, then eventually learn how to compromise and work together. Feder’s text addresses experiences that are relatable to children, and it includes useful repetition and age-appropriate vocabulary. Julie Downing gives the “spooky friends” distinct and humorous personalities in spare pen and watercolor illustrations. (Scholastic, 6–8 years)

For Where’s-Waldo-esque search-and-find fun, look no further than Bruce Hale’s Monsters on the Loose!: A Seek and Solve Mystery! The mystery: all of the Halloween candy has been stolen. The suspects: Vampire Bob, Willy the Werewolf, Joey Bones, and more. Each of eleven spreads, boisterously illustrated with smiley, blobby ghosts and silly monsters by Dave Garbot, contains clues to the theft (“Find Frankenstein’s Monster, and see what he’s holding!”). The final spread reveals the culprit, along with “Bonus Search” items. (Harper Collins/Harper, 6–8 years)

A child helps a lost ghost dog in a graveyard “ventur[e] through the gloom / to try to find his master’s tomb” in Your Skeleton Is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under by Kurt Cyrus. As the twosome passes headstones, readers learn something about each grave-dweller’s demise. Black-and-white gothic-style illustrations by Crab Scrambly, enhanced by pops of color and buoyed by characters’ cartoonish features, complement the dead-on pacing, tone, and content of these ghoulish yet funny rhyming poems. (Disney-Hyperion, 6–8 years)

Debbie Leppanen’s Trick-or-Treat: A Happy Haunter’s Halloween presents Halloween-y poems told from shifting perspectives — those of the scared trick-or-treating youngsters and the creepy monsters. Some are mildly chilling, others are humorous, and they sound smashing aloud. Tad Carpenter’s digital illustrations embody this mix, too: children wide-eyed with fear are greeted by benign-looking creatures just having a good time. (Simon/Beach Lane, 6–8 years)

From the October 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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