Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Picture Books

written by Danny Schnitzlein
illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Peachtree, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-56145-465-5
Picture Book
Grades 1-3
Reviewed from copy sent by publisher in return for honest review.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Told in rhyme, a young boy tells all about how he overcame his fear of monsters and got back at his brother for their mean tricks.  He explains how one Halloween everything changed when he ended up on Monster street after losing his brothers while trick or treating.  He discovers to his surprise that monsters are afraid of humans and bunnies and puppies, but they like to dress up as human children.  At first he is terrified that he will be discovered, but slowly he relaxes and even makes some friends.  The end is rather poeticly just as his brothers get their comeuppance.

Strengths: Plenty of gross humor and wacky monsters makes the book quite enjoyable. The creative way the boy overcomes his fears by facing them is well done and enjoyable. Lots of kid appeal, especially the brothers getting their comeuppance. The wacky illustrations add to the enjoyment of the story.

Weaknesses: Too gross for my taste, but I think a lot of kids will like it.

by Kevin Shortsleeve, illustrated by Michael Austin
Peachtree, 2013
ISBN: 1-56145-146-0
Picture Book
Grades 2-5
Received for review from publisher.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Hedge-Standing Snit's are very picky about their hair and you better watch out for if you accidentally cut it, they will bite your behind.  Sissyfoos live in wells but can easily be spotted because of their smell. Professor LeGrand of LeGrand University discusses these and eleven other monsters that you really would be better off staying away from.

Strengths: There is plenty of weirdness here in both text and illustrations.  And some kids thrive on weirdness, plus the cover is quite intriguing. The rhymes are quite catchy.

Weaknesses: Too weird for my taste, but I'm not really into gross and weird. I think some of the kids will like this a lot better than I did.

John Leep sets out one night in 1741 on Friday, October 13th to evict the widow Mayes from her home. He could wait till tomorrow, but what's the fun in that. As he rides along he hears the sound of another horse.  But he never sees anything, but it makes him nervous nonetheless. Will he make to the widow's and what will he do there? Who follows him on this dark and gloomy night?

Strengths: What do you know? A horse that looks and moves like a horse. One of my pet peeves is when horses in picture books don't look realistic.  In a book like this with such a historical focus requires realism and the illustrator delivers in a fantastic way. This book is fun to read out loud, especially the clip-clippity clop sounds.  The somewhat mysterious ending is fun to discuss with kids to find out what they think happened. The last page is awesome and a bit unexpected, could easily be used as a jump story.

Weaknesses: The kids I read this to didn't get too scared. But younger kids could easily be spooked by this. I also don't think the kids appreciated the historical nature of the story.


Farmer Brown does not like Halloween, so he puts a bowl of candy on the porch and goes to bed. But something seems to be happening down at the barn. When he hears someone on the porch pounding on the door, will he have to courage to investigate?

Strengths: This is a light fun read for younger children who aren't ready for more spooky stories. The text is short with plenty of sound words to read and have children mimic. And there is a slightly mysterious element to the story, who is the vampire? Not to hard to figure out but younger children will get a kick out of it.

Weaknesses: Doesn't have as much charm as some of the previous books.

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