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 fun with these board-book treats, all of which are more sweet than scary.

boynton_eek-halloweenEek! Halloween
by Sandra Boynton
Workman     24 pp.
8/16     978-0-7611-9300-5     $6.95

Chickens are “nervous” when they find themselves surrounded by jack-o'-lanterns, witches, robots, and more. "WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?" A friendly pig in a chicken costume ultimately assures the wary flock that there’s nothing to fear: “Relax, silly chickens! It’s HALLOWEEN!” Boynton’s iconic illustrations convey emotion through the slightest changes of expressions — viewers will understand what each animal is feeling from eye movements alone. This is a perfect book for assuring young children that they, too, have nothing to worry about when they notice that “strange things are happening.”

diterlizzi_seeking-a-witchSeeking a Witch
by Angela DiTerlizzi; illus. by Allie Smith
Simon     30 pp.
7/16     978-1-4814-6959-3     $7.99

A black cat seeks a witch to belong to, meeting a host of ghouls and monsters along the way. Every creature the cat encounters during the search shares a trait with the cat's perfect witch. Frankenstein has the witch’s green skin, Dracula shares her love of spiders and bats, and other monsters have her “creepy hands” and “crooked nails.” Using all the details given, children can imagine the witch even before she appears on the final page. And they needn’t worry too much about the witch’s spookier habits, since she’s friendly and only allowed to be scary one night of the year: Halloween, when she meets up with all her monster friends.

maubert_i-dare-youI Dare You!
by Nicole Maubert
Twirl     20 pp.
9/16     978-2-7459-7895-0     $14.99

In this touch-and-feel board book for the brave of heart, the narrator dares viewers to interact with a host of scary creatures, both real and fictional. A shark bares its shiny fangs, a pop-up wolf opens its jaws wide, and a monster is under the bed, hidden by a little boy's soft bed sheets. Do viewers have the courage to press on as more and more frightening situations present themselves? On the concluding page, the established pattern takes a delightfully meta turn in the form of a mirror as the book suggests that perhaps the viewers themselves are the scariest creatures of all.

wan_you-are-my-pumpkinYou Are My Pumpkin
by Joyce Wan
Scholastic     16 pp.
9/16     978-0-545-88092-3     $6.99

Joyce Wan returns to the theme and structure of You Are My Cupcake with a collection of Halloween-themed terms of endearment. The text reflects the various things a child can be to a parent — everything from a “happy, smiley pumpkin” to a “wild, messy monster.” Thickly lined cutesy-minimalist illustrations in a pastel palette accompany the pet names, making this a good choice to share with a little one at bedtime: "Baby, I'm batty for you!"

wunderli_little-booLittle Boo
by Stephen Wunderli; illus. by Tim Zeltner
Holt     30 pp.
8/16     978-1-62779-557-9     $7.99

All the pumpkin-seed protagonist of Little Boo wants is to grow up and become scary. As a seed and then a sprout, he scares nobody with his attempts at “boo"s. A friendly wind assures him that, if he is patient, he’ll "be scary soon." Richly hued mixed-media illustrations take listeners through the seasons — and the life cycle of a pumpkin — as the seed grows and grows. Eventually, he gets his wish: the matured pumpkin is carved into a (not-too-scary) jack-o'-lantern to spook trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
Kaylee Anzick
Kaylee Anzick is a former editorial intern for The Horn Book, Inc.

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