All of these are great books, and they get a lot of great play here at our house. It rips my heart out that I'm no featuring Shy Mama's Halloween on this list. An amazing, inspirational story about an immigrant family discovering Halloween for the first time... but honestly, it's a bit too long for all ages.
Now on to the top 5 books in my top 10 countdown!!!
See the top 5 books after the jump!
#5. Here They Come! by David Costello
This book tells the story of a Halloween party in the woods put on by a group of ghosts, and spirits and monsters. They meet in one very special spot on one very special night every year because they want to see the most scary creatures ever imagined. The whole book tells us of the guests arriving, the food and entertainments planned, all leading up to the big event. In attendance are scarecrows, strange two dimensional phantoms, ghosts, goblins, sprites, autumn spirits, The Thing That Goes Bump In the Night, and a spirit that is literally a walking pair of pants wearing an enormous hat. My kids love that one.
And if you can't figure out what the scariest creatures on Halloween are, I'll give you a hint: They knock on your door and shout "Trick or treat!" until you throw candy at them. Yeah. Them. The artwork in this book is gorgeous, colorful, and full of character. It is a perfect Halloween tale, and turns the tables on the spooky creatures that come out on that one fantastic night.
#4. Pumpkin Heads! by Wendell Minor
Pumpkin Heads! is a pretty simple little book about Jack O' Lanterns. Each page shows a different Jack O' Lantern, or set of them, in different styles, shapes, and personalities. It all builds on the idea of pumpkins putting on new personas as Halloween draws near.
This book is one of our favorite ones to kick off the season. Each rustic, autumn filled painting depicts another pumpkin getting into the mood of the season, and serving as a harbinger of Halloween. The writing is cheery and vibrant, and filled with pumpkin-y goodness. Plus all of the inventive Jack O' Lantern ideas contained withing impress the kids, make them ooh and aah, and give us decorating ideas to use in the future.
#3. Halloween Howls Poems selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins, illustrated by Stacey Shuett
I am all about Halloween poetry. I love it. And of all the Halloween poetry books that I have in my VAST collection, Halloween Howls has the most even and balanced collection of poems that deal directly with the Holiday itself. The season starting up, the candy, the selection of a costume, the walking house to house, the fear and excitement, and even the sweet, strange mixture of both sadness and relief when the Night of Masks is over.
The illustrations are colorful, full of Halloween spirit, and the exact right mixture of fun and spooky Halloween cheer. The poems themselves nail the Halloween spirit, and in small, kid-digestable packages, that adults like myself can also appreciate... meaning they're short and sweet, like a Tootsie Roll Midge.
#2. Witch, Witch Come to My Party by Arden Druce, illustrated by Pat Ludlow
This book is one of my kids' absolute favorite books. Absolute. Favorites. It's a simple repetitive chant, a series of party invitations to a series of traditional Halloween creatures. "Witch, witch come please come to my party..." and the reply from the creature in question always comes with a stipulation: "Thank you I will, if you invite..." and the next creature is named, followed by the next invitation. The story is easy for kids to chime in with, as they pick up the rhythm very quickly.
Where this book really shines is in Pat Ludlow's illustrations. Each character is painted hyper-detail and every wrinkle, every hair, every scale and wart is visible. Some range from spooky, as is the gothic ghost, to sly and menacing, as the Big Bad Wolf (pictured above) is. Every creature is gorgeous, and some very untraditional characters are introduced along with the traditional. You have scarecrows, pirates, and goblins alongside baboons, trees, and cobras. We've been reading this book at our house since my daughter was little, and even as repetitive as it is, it never gets old.
#1. The Bones of Fred McFee by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus.
This one is a more recent edition to our collection, only having made it into our circulation about 2-3 years ago. But as promised, we see Eve Bunting rear her head once again on this list! And this book... oh my goodness. Out of all the books we own celebrating Halloween, none of them so clearly encapsulate the feeling behind the holiday as this one does. There is a whimsy to it, with a seemingly harmless plastic skeleton as the star, and the unmistakable menace of the spirits of Halloween creeping out from every carefully chosen word.
Fred McFee is the skeleton in question, and the story is told by one of his owners. A pair of children preparing for the oncoming Halloween season get Fred and hang him up in their sycamore tree. Then... the strange things start happening, which all culminates in an even stranger end to the eponymous Fred McFee. The story is genuinely creepy, in part due to the strangeness of the story, the hypnotic effect of the words, and the incredibly eerie artwork of Kurt Cyrus. But it's not a straight-up horror story. It is Halloween in flavor and in spirit completely. It's one we try to only read once per season... because it tends to be a little unsettling... but in a way that leaves the kids begging for more, and leaves delicious little chills in its wake.
So that's it! That's my Top Ten Kid's Books for Halloween! Now what the hell am I going to write about for the next 6 days? 6 DAYS!!??!!?? Holy crap!!!
I'll be back soon with more Ghoulish Goodwill Goodies! Until then... Happy Haunting!