From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn BOO! 2017

In addition to Boo Who? and Creepy Pair of Underwear, reviewed in the September/October 2017 issue, here are nine new picture books our staff thinks are unboolievably right for Halloween reading.

Clickard, Carrie  Magic for Sale
32 pp.     Holiday     2017     ISBN 978-0-8234-3559-3
e-book ISBN 978-0-8234-3910-2

K–3  Illustrated by John Shelley. In a story told in sometimes tongue-tripping but often funny limericks and other rhyming text, Georgie braves the elusive Miss Pustula Night’s one-stop magic shop and helps a ghost find all the items on his gross-ery list, from spiderwebs to dragon drool. Muted tones in the pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, as well as creative design elements, heighten the crowded store’s mysterious feel.

Cuyler, Margery  Bonaparte Falls Apart
40 pp.     Crown     2017     ISBN 978-1-101-93768-6
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93769-3
e-book ISBN 978-1-101-93771-6

K–3  Illustrated by Will Terry. Skeleton Bonaparte, who’s constantly losing his bony limbs, worries he’ll be teased when school starts. His monster friends try keeping him together with spiderwebs and mummy wrappings but finally solve the problem more creatively by teaching a dog to fetch his bones. Child versions of classic monsters (e.g., Franky Stein) combine with the mildly spooky atmosphere to make this school-jitters story a Halloween treat.

Grabill, Rebecca  Halloween Good Night
32 pp.     Atheneum     2017     ISBN 978-1-4814-5061-4
e-book ISBN 978-1-4814-5062-1

K–3  Illustrated by Ella Okstad. In this takeoff on the classic counting song “Over in the Meadow,” moonrise brings out a succession of monsters (werewolves, mummies, zombies, goblins, etc.), all heading to “your door.” Although the text can feel quite menacing, the sweet and benign digital illustrations prepare readers for a comforting ending in which “you” (an unflappable, motherly little girl) tuck all the ghouls into bed at sunrise.

Hills, Tad  Duck & Goose, Honk! Quack! Boo!
40 pp.     Random/Schwartz & Wade     2017     ISBN 978-1-5247-0175-8
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-0176-5
e-book ISBN 978-1-5247-0177-2

K–3  Duck eagerly anticipates trick-or-treating in his ghost costume on Halloween, but superhero-clad Goose is worried: their friend Thistle has warned, “Beware the swamp monster!” Ongoing hints at the monster’s true identity (it’s costumed Thistle) temper the scariness, as does the humorous, fear-facing confrontation. Textured illustrations in oil and acrylic paint and colored pencil surround the friends in warm fall colors.

Keller, Joy  Monster Trucks
32 pp.     Holt/Godwin     2017     ISBN 978-1-62779-617-0

PS  Illustrated by Misa Saburi. How do monsters spend time when it’s not Halloween? Doing construction work using “monster trucks”! Snappy rhymes and lighthearted digital illustrations show a street sweeper–operating witch, a Minotaur driving a bulldozer (get it? bulldozer), etc. Luckily, this makes the monsters so tired they don’t have the energy to scare anyone — least of all the child tucked into bed near this entertaining story’s end.

Pace, Anne Marie  Vampirina at the Beach
40 pp.     Disney/Hyperion     2017     ISBN 978-1-4847-7342-0

K–3  Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. In their third book, the ballet-loving vampire girl and her family attend a “Moon Monster Madness” beach party. Vampirina and her fellow fiends welcome an apprehensive human boy and his parents — whose true (lycanthropic) nature is soon revealed — and the festivities culminate in a dynamic four-page-gatefold dance contest. Pace’s text plays it straight as characterization and abundant humor shine in Pham’s expressive watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations.

Rylant, Cynthia  Herbert’s First Halloween
32 pp.     Chronicle     2017     ISBN 978-1-4521-2533-6

PS  Illustrated by Steven Henry. In this low-key father-son story, pig youngster Herbert is “not sure about Halloween,” but his father loves it. Dad’s excitement quickly spreads to son as together they decide on and make Herbert’s costume (tiger), carve a pumpkin (“They named it Jack”), and go trick-or-treating. Henry’s digital illustrations capture sweet moments of this bonding experience and play up the un-spooky aspects of Halloween.

Shea, Bob  The Scariest Book Ever
40 pp.     Disney/Hyperion     2017     ISBN 978-1-4847-3046-1

K–3  A little ghost is too afraid to go into the woods near its haunted house and implores the reader to stay indoors, too. But there’s a party going on out there! The visual contrast between the minimalist appointments of the ghost’s dark house and the busy sunlit fun in the forest is heightened by strategic swatches of gloss on the supersaturated colors.

Sloat, Teri  Zip! Zoom! On a Broom
40 pp.     Little, Brown     2017     ISBN 978-0-316-25673-5

PS  Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet. In this silly-spooky counting book, ten witches all take off on the same broom. Things go downhill fast as they squabble and push, a spell is cast, and one by one they fall off (no one’s injured) until only one remains to “zoom” off into the night. Humorous ink-and-watercolor illustrations (featuring some familiar creepy creatures) are coupled with bewitching rhymes.

Reviews are from a forthcoming issue of The Horn Book Guide. For reviews of many more Halloween books, check out the tag Horn Boo. For more information about subscribing to The Horn Book Guide Online, please click here.

Horn Book
Horn Book

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.