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 play…until they try hide-and-seek. Ink, pencil, and watercolor illustrations capture Boo's evolution from shy and tentative to happy and confident. The text is as brief as can be, augmented with often-humorous dialogue and comics-style sound effects — making this winsome picture book suitable for preschoolers and emerging readers alike. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)

Written in the style of a pet-owner's manual, Rebecca Green's How to Make Friends with a Ghost covers "Ghost Basics," "Ghost Care," and "Growing Together." The gouache and colored-pencil illustrations follow one girl-and-ghost pair through milestones in the human's life (e.g., moving, entering the workforce, having a child, growing old). All the while (and "even after"), her forever friend is right by her side. With rosy cheeks, wide eyes, and childlike interests, this ghost is not just not-scary but utterly endearing. (Tundra, 5–8 years)

In Bethanie Deeney Murguia's The Too-Scary Story, big-sister Grace asks Papa for a scary bedtime story, but little-brother Walter proclaims, "Too scary!" Papa shifts to something tamer; Grace protests. But when the narrative gets too frightening even for Grace, the siblings team up to fight their mutual fears. Murguia's mixed-media illustrations balance the (only intermittent) creepiness factor with the reassuring yellow of the children's bedroom with Papa there. (Scholastic/Levine, 5–8 years)

While underwear-shopping with his mom, young bunny Jasper Rabbit spies a "glorious" pair of green glow-in-the-dark undies with a Frankenstein's-monster face. But once he's alone in the dark, they start to glow a "ghoulish, greenish glow" and Jasper's fears take flight. In Creepy Pair of Underwear, Aaron Reynolds's humorous text captures Jasper's age-appropriate not-quite-a-big-kid dilemma. Peter Brown's illustrations heighten both the silliness and the spookiness, which are on display in equal measure. (Simon, 5–8 years)

From the October 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She was a 2019-2020 member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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