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From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn BOO! 2018

In addition to Samurai Scarecrow, The Ghostly Carousel, and two Mary Shelley picture-book biographies reviewed in the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, here are nine new books our staff thinks are unboolievably right for Halloween reading.

Atkinson, Cale  Sir Simon: Super Scarer
48 pp.     Tundra     2018     ISBN 978-1-101-91909-5
ebook ISBN 978-1-101-91910-1

Gr. K–3  When ghost Simon is assigned to haunt an old house, he’s thrilled that an easy-target grandma is moving in. However, her grandson, Chester, is excited, not frightened, by their spectral housemate. Exasperated, Simon tricks Chester into doing “ghost chores” like rattling chains, but they soon discover common interests and become friends. Expressive retro-style digital illustrations complement the humorous, spooky tale.

Cummins, Lucy Ruth  Stumpkin
56 pp.     Atheneum      2018     ISBN 978-1-5344-1362-7
ebook ISBN 978-1-5344-1363-4

Gr. K–3  As, one-by-one, his fellows (even the gourd!) at a big-city neighborhood market are sold, a stemless pumpkin worries that nobody will appreciate his many other jack-o’-lantern-worthy qualities. Warm, gently funny text and friendly mixed-media illustrations leave no question that everything will work out for the insecure but lovable pumpkin. Orange and green accents pop amid the muted setting on creamy paper.

Frith, Nicholas John  A Werewolf Named Oliver James
32 pp.     Scholastic/Levine     2018     ISBN 978-1-338-25433-4

Gr. K–3  As dusk descends, young Oliver and his fellow school-band members wait for their afterschool bus — wait, why did everybody run away? The zippily cartooned pictures, in lusciously Halloweeny oranges and deep purples, explain: Oliver has become a werewolf. The boy’s bewilderment turns to delight after he glimpses his lupine reflection — and the full moon — in a puddle. An additional surprise awaits at home.

Gonyea, Mark  One Little Monster
40 pp.     Simon/Aladdin     2018     ISBN 978-1-5344-0674-2
ebook ISBN 978-1-5344-0675-9

PS  A little boy’s nap is interrupted as he counts the little monsters that begin appearing in his room, from one to ten. Graphically bold illustrations in cheerful candy colors capture all the mayhem — and gross humor, with snot, ooze, and farts involved. Everything ends well, with the boy in control of the situation…or is he? Benign, silly fun for preschoolers.

Goodner, David  Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed to Open This Box
40 pp.     Houghton     2018     ISBN 978-0-544-76415-6

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Louis Thomas. “Ginny Goblin is not allowed to open this box. Not until dinnertime.” The (offstage) narrator concocts increasingly elaborate schemes to stop cunning Ginny. Finally, at dinner, Ginny (and the now-curious narrator) are overjoyed to discover a cake inside for dessert…once Ginny finishes her peas. Goodner’s droll, effectively repetitive text and Thomas’s carefree pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations capture a child’s insatiable curiosity and boundless ingenuity.

Kolar, Rachel  Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters
32 pp.     Sleeping Bear      2018     ISBN 978-1-58536-392-6

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Roland Garrigue. Kolar ably transforms classic nursery rhymes, preserving their cadences and their old-fashioned feel but making them humorously Halloween-themed: “Mary Had a Little Ghost”; “Zombie Miss Muffet” (who eats the spider). Garrigue’s illustrations contain moody purple-and-black backgrounds, but the cheerful, loose-lined figures — and grinning ghosts — make it clear that the seasonal scariness is all in good fun.

Quinn, David  Go to Sleep, Little Creep
32 pp.     Crown     2018      ISBN 978-1-101-93944-4
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93945-1
ebook ISBN 978-1-101-93946-8

PS  Illustrated by Ashley Spires. In this creature-feature bedtime story, a series of monster families prepares for sleep. The tale’s humor comes from its pairing of treacly night-night rhymes — “A little wonder, yes, that’s true. / A miracle, uniquely you” — with warm cartoony pictures showing mummies, dragons, werewolves, vampires (“We’ve had a wild and woolly night. / Now give Daddy one more bite”), and more.

Reagan, Jean  How to Scare a Ghost
32 pp.     Knopf     2018     ISBN 978-1-5247-0190-1
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-0191-8
ebook ISBN 978-1-5247-0192-5

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Lee Wildish. This author-illustrator team has provided advice on myriad topics, from How to Babysit a Grandpa to How to Catch Santa. This how-to gives kids all the tongue-in-cheek pointers they need for scaring — and befriending — a ghost this Halloween. For example, “GHOSTS CAN’T RESIST: Bobbing for apples. Cupcakes. Games. Glitter.” Lighthearted illustrations show round-faced kids and their amiable ghost pal enjoying various Halloween thrills.

Yolen, Jane and Heidi E. Y. Stemple  Monster Academy
32 pp.     Scholastic/Blue Sky     2018     ISBN 978-1-338-09881-5

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by John McKinley. At Monster Academy, Miss Mummy’s monstrous pupils undertake science experiments and search for Vampire Vic’s recently lost fang. A new student’s contrary behavior becomes the scariest thing in school, earning her the title “Worst Monster Ever!” (even after a plot-twist revelation about her humanity). Humorous details (e.g., Miss Mummy is cursed to speak in rhyme) and colorful pastel-hued illustrations keep the story playful and energetic.

Reviews are from a forthcoming issue of The Horn Book Guide. For more information about subscribing to the Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online, please click here.

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