Saturday, October 31, 2020

Book Review: 'Vunce Upon a Time' by J.otto Seibold & Siobhan Vivian

✰✰✰✰✰  Dagmar is a very shy, little vampire. He's afraid of humans, and he's even a vegetarian! While he likes eating veggies, he loves candy even more. Unfortunately, his vegetable garden is slow to grow, and his secret stash of candy is almost out. What's a hungry, vegetarian vampire to do? Go trick-or-treating, of course. There's just one problem (or maybe two), Dagmar doesn't have a costume, and he's really, really afraid of people. Will he find the courage he needs to to out on Halloween to replenish his stash of candy before he runs out? Check out this popular picture book to find out.

The Bottom Line: Seibold's vivid, digitally created illustrations are a real treat in this humorous, yet charming, Halloween book about friendship and courage. A spooktacular read for kids ages 3 - 8 and highly recommended for storytimes.

Details: Vunce Upon a Time written by J.otto Seibold & Siobhan Vivian and illustrated by J.otto Seibold. Picture book published by Chronicle Books in 2008. Unpaged. ISBN: 978-0-8118-6271-4

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Book Review: 'Scary, Scary Halloween' by Eve Bunting


✰✰✰✰✰ Two green eyes peer out into the darkness and watch carefully as a skeleton passes by. Soon there are witches, goblins, gremlins, a ghost, and even a vampire parading by as the narrator wonders if it's safe to go outside. It must be Halloween, but when will it ever be safe to go out? Check out this spooky tale to find out.

The Bottom Line: Bunting and Brett are a fabulous combination when it comes to picture books. With intriguing text and fantastic, full color illustrations with lots of spooky details, they'll keep you guessing who the narrator is until the very end. Enthusiastically recommended for spooky, seasonal reading for kids in grades 1 - 3.

Details: Scary, Scary Halloween written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by Jan Brett. Picture book published by Clarion Books in 1986. 40 p. ISBN: 0-89919-414-1

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review: 'Zen Ghosts' by John Muth

✰✰✰✰½ It's Halloween, and by the end of the evening Addy, Michael, and Karl have loads of candy treats. However, the fun's not over yet. Their panda friend, Stillwater, has one more surprise waiting for them. A mysterious panda storyteller draws them a story, and when it's finished, the kids are mystified. What happened to Stillwater, and just who was this mysterious storyteller? You'll be left wondering too when you check out this seasonal treat.

The Bottom Line: This gentle Halloween ghost story contains a story within a story that will make the reader think about who they really are. Muth's beautiful artwork in watercolor and ink tell the tale as much as the text. Highly recommended for storytimes for grades 1 - 4. Check out the Author's Note at the end for discussion ideas.

Details: Zen Ghosts written & illustrated by John Muth. Picture book published by Scholastic Press in 2010. 40 p. ISBN: 978-439-63430-4 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Book Review: 'Ghoulia' by Barbara Cantini

✰✰✰½ Ghoulia is a little zombie girl who lives in a haunted manor. Although she has her dog to play with, she longs to play with children her own age. Unfortunately, her dear Auntie Departed has warned her many times to hide from the local children in the village. But Ghoulia is not your ordinary little zombie girl. When she learns about Halloween, she comes up with a plan to join in the fun. Will it work? Or will Auntie Departed foil her plans? Check out this first book in a fun new series to find out.

The Bottom Line: Ghoulia just wants to be ordinary, and tries very hard to fit in. When she finally learns to be herself, she discovers that making friends isn't scary at all. Recommended for kids in grade school, who enjoy creepy little tales of friendship.

Details: Ghoulia (Book 1) by Barbara Cantini. Hardcover published by Amulet Books in 2018. 64 p. ISBN: 978-1-4197-3293-5

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Review: 'Pumpkin Moon' by Tim Preston

✰✰✰ It's Halloween, and when the trick-or-treaters are finished, the Jack-o'-lanterns come out to play. After midnight they sail off porches and through the woods, flying high into the night sky. Up and up they go to unite as the Pumpkin Moon.

The Bottom Line: Bartram's big, bold artwork is the highlight of this seasonal picture book. I read a well-used copy that older children will enjoy. However, this pick might be a bit frightening for little ones.

Details: Pumpkin Moon written by Tim Preston & illustrated by Simon Bartram. Picture book published by Dutton Children's Books in 2001. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-525-46713-7

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Book Review: 'Mouse's First Halloween' by Lauren Thompson

✰✰✰✰✰ On one spooky night, a little mouse creeps out and encounters a spooky noise. Not to worry, it's just bats. As the little mouse creeps along, he hears more spooky noises. "Flit! Flit! Flit!" " Plop! Plop! Plop!" What could the noises be? The brave little mouse continues on his night out only to discover that maybe it's fun to be just a little scared after all.

The Bottom Line: This sweet adventure tale is perfect for little ones who are tiny bit reluctant to celebrate Halloween. Illustrated in bold colors, with rhyming verses, repetition, and large print, this seasonal picture book is just a little bit creepy. Highly recommended for children ages 2 - 5 and for story times.

Details: Mouse's First Halloween written by Lauren Thompson & illustrated by Buket Erdogan. Picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2003. 34p. ISBN: 978-0-689-83176-8

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Book Review: 'Frankie Stein Starts School' by Lola M. Schaefer

✰✰✰✰½ In a world full of monsters and ghouls, young Frankie Stein is a clean-cut kid. When he starts Miss Wart's Academy for Ghouls & Goblins, the other kids notice the difference right away. Despite being bullied and teased, Frankie tries his best to be scary and gross. When Frankie mixes a potion and grows frightening fangs, the other kids are impressed. Through perseverance, Frankie demonstrates that there's more to being scary than just looks.

The Bottom Line: This story illustrates that you shouldn't judge a book just by the cover. There's so much more to people if you just give them the opportunity to shine. With big, bold art by Atteberry, this picture book is a fun pick for a seasonal storytime. Highly recommended for kids ages 5 - 8.

Details: Frankie Stein Starts School written by Lola M. Schaefer & illustrated by Kevan Atteberry. Picture book published by Marshall Cavendish Children in 2010. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-7614-5656-8