Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: 'Halloween Night' by Marjorie Dennis Murray

✰✰✰✰½ Monsters, zombies, witches, and ghouls prepare for their very own Halloween party. When the giggling children finally arrive, they are in for a big surprise. A feast of treats with fish tails, lizards, mice, and crickets awaits them. It's enough to make the children shiver and run which is just fine for the ghoulish crew. With leftover bugs and grubs galore, the monsters agree it was the best party yet.

The Bottom Line: You'll have a spooky good time when you read this Halloween themed take on "The Night Before Christmas." This picture book is filled with clever rhymes and creepy, colorful illustrations that will appeal to kids in grades 1 - 3. Highly recommended for classroom or library storytime.

Details: Halloween Night written by Marjorie Dennis Murray & illustrated by Brandon Dorman. Hardcover picture book published by Greenwillow Books in 2008. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-1351877

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Book Review: 'One Witch' by Laura Leuck

✰✰✰✰✰ One witch with an empty pot has a plan. As she visits all her friends, each provides a tasty, ghoulish ingredient for to fill her pot. When she finally has enough items to create a spooktacular stew, she sends out invitations. Cats, ghouls, mummies, and vampires are all eager to sample the delectable dish, but there's something missing. You'll never guess what it is unless you check out this spooky tale.

The Bottom Line: This creative, Halloween-themed take on the classic Stone Soup folktale is super fun to read. Kids will enjoy counting up to ten and back down again with Leuck's spooky and silly rhymes. Children and adults alike will delight in Schindler's wonderful ink and watercolor illustrations which are colorful and detailed, but not too scary. This is one picture book you'll read over and over again with your little ones. Also, highly recommended for storytime for children in Kindergarten and Grade 1.

Details: One Witch written by Laura Leuck & illustrated by S. D. Schindler. Hardcover picture book published by Walker & Company in 2003. 32 p. ISBN: 0-8027-8860-2

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: 'Inspector Specter' by E. J. Copperman

✰✰✰✰½ In the sixth installment of E. J. Copperman's A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery, we find Detective Lieutenant Anita McElone asking the 'ghost lady' for help in solving a case. Alison Kerby is shocked, but the lieutenant is not joking. It looks like McElone's former partner may have met with foul play. With Alison's ability to speak to ghosts and the help of Paul and Maxie, ghosts who reside at the guesthouse, the case should be a cinch to solve. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned. This fast-paced mystery will keep you guessing until the very end.

The Bottom Line: This charming cozy is the perfect weekend read for anyone who loves mysteries with a paranormal twist. Although I have not read the other titles in the series, I had no trouble picking up this installment and following along. In fact, I'm looking forward to reading the others as the characters are engaging and fun. Highly recommended for mystery buffs.

Details: Inspector Specter (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery) by E. J. Copperman. Paperback published Berkley Prime Crime in 2014. 304 p. ISBN: 978-0-425-26926-8

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: "Who Will I Be?' by Shirley Neitzel

✰✰✰½ When an invitation for a Halloween party arrives in the mail, a little girl must come up with a costume to wear. With a few odds and ends, she mixes and matches to create not one, but two different costumes. Which one will she choose? Don't be too sure. Just when she figures it out, a surprise arrives just in time.

The Bottom Line: With lots of repetition and rhyme, this rebus book is great for kids just learning to read. Charming colored pencil, watercolor, and pen drawings help early readers associate words. Little ones in preschool and kindergarten will have a fun time learning new words.

Details: Who Will I Be?: A Halloween Rebus Story written by Shirley Neitzel & illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker. Hardcover picture book published by Greenwillow Books in 2005. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-056068-3

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: 'Moonlight' by Cynthia Rylant

✰✰✰✰½ A little black cat named Moonlight loves to pad around and explore the dark. She loves all the nights, but Halloween night is the very best. Halloween night is a tiny bit different from all the other nights. Pumpkins smile at her, and stars shine down on her. The moon is full and bright, and children are out. There's just something special about Halloween night. Read along with your little ones as Moonlight shares the excitement of the holiday.

The Bottom Line: Kids ages 2 - 7 will love this gentle Halloween-themed tale about the holiday adventures of a little black cat. Sweet's colorful acrylic and colored pencil illustrations are fun and friendly for little ones. This is a tender introduction to Halloween especially for children who may be wary of the tradition. Highly recommended.

Details: Moonlight: The Halloween Cat written by Cynthia Rylant & illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Hardcover picture book published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2003. 32 p. ISBN: 0-06-029712-3

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: 'A Tiger Called Thomas' by Charlotte Zolotow

✰✰✰✰ When a shy, young boy named Thomas moves into a new neighborhood, all he wants to do is sit on the stoop of his new house. Everyday he watches the other kids play, and he watches the neighbors. However, he doesn't talk to any of them. Thomas thinks they won't like him because he's the new kid on the block. But when his mother brings home a tiger costume for Thomas to wear on Halloween, everything changes. His neighbors and the other kids all talk to him, and Thomas discovers that it's not so bad being the new kid.

The Bottom Line: This is a tender, classic story about overcoming shyness and making new friends. Bluthenthal's artwork in acrylic, watercolor, ink, and collage perfectly illustrate the gentle text. Children who have recently moved or who are shy will easily identify with the main character. This would make a great storytime pick for the 1st or 2nd grade classroom.

Details: A Tiger Called Thomas written by Charlotte Zolotow & illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal. Hardcover picture book published by Hyperion Books for Children in 2003. 32 p. ISBN: 078680517-X

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review: 'Frangoline and the Midnight Dream' by Clemency Pearce

✰✰✰✰½ Frangoline is a sweet little girl by day, but don't be fooled. When night arrives, Frangoline makes her escape through the window and sets out on dark adventures. While the worried moon watches, Frangoline explores dark and twisted paths. Through the creepy wood and into the churchyard she goes. Nothing can stop her until she goes just a step too far. With nowhere else to hide, a frightened Frangoline turns to the moon for help. It's time for this little girl to sleep snugly in her bed. Sweet dreams Frangoline...until tomorrow night.

The Bottom Line: Many kids will identify with Frangoline, a good little girl who enjoys being just a tiny bit naughty every once in a while. Children will love Elliott's illustrations full of dark colors and just the right amount of creepiness. The rhyming verses make this a great pick for storytime at school or the library. It's perfect seasonal fun for kids in grades 1 - 3.

Details: Frangoline and the Midnight Dream written by Clemency Pearce & illustrated by Rebecca Elliott. Hardcover picture book published by Chicken House in 2011. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-545-31426-8

Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: 'The Witch of Lime Street' by David Jaher

✰✰✰½ The 1920s were a decade of glamour and technology. During this time the Spiritualist movement rapidly caught on after millions died during the horrors of World War I and the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak. Although it might seem obvious that these paranormal phenomena were hoaxes, many people took séances quite seriously. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a believer. To settle the conflict, the Scientific American magazine decided to sponsor a contest and offer a prize to the medium who could prove her gifts were authentic. Several stepped forward. All were easily discredited. All, that is, until one known as Margery entered.

Like other mediums, Margery claimed to communicate with the dead. Unlike the others, Margery never charged for her séances. As a prominent doctor's wife, the beautiful, charming young woman had many believers. She seemed destined to win the prize, if not for one obstacle. The only one able to resist her charms was the famed illusionist Harry Houdini. In fact, Houdini made it his personal crusade to expose fraudulent mediums. While Margery was a tough nut to crack, Houdini publicly disproved her. Nevertheless, Margery's true believers stood by her. With Houdini's untimely death, Margery's secrets will live on.

The Bottom Line: Jaher's fascination with the topic is evident in the extensive research he undertook in order to write this debut book. In doing so, the author has brought to light an interesting lost piece of American history. Presented in short chapters, some were page-turners while others were bogged down with too many details. Overall, this is an impressive and fascinating tome. Recommended for history buffs and fans of paranormal phenomena and magic. The glow in the dark cover is a nice bonus.

Details: The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher. Advance Readers Edition published by Crown Publishers in 2015. 436 p. ISBN: 978-0-307-45106-4 NOTE: I received a free advance reading copy from Crown Publishers in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: 'The Ghost Prison' by Joseph Delaney

✰✰✰ Billy Calder is the new prison guard at the castle. Everyone knows the castle is haunted, but there aren't many jobs available for orphans. In fact, Billy is lucky to have found this one. After preliminary training, Billy is dismayed to be transferred to the night shift. Scary things have happened at the castle; people have died there. However, Billy doesn't have a choice. Billy has heard all the stories about the haunted cells in the castle. He also knows how to take precautions, until one night when he is the only guard on duty to make the rounds. Even though he has been warned to stay away from the Witch Well, it's up to Billy to feed the evil creature within. Whether it's nerves or something else, Billy makes a mistake that will change his life forever.

The Bottom Line: Supplemented with spooky black and white illustrations by Scott M. Fischer, this ghost story is fun for late night telling. This quick read will appeal to kids in middle school. 

Details: The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney. Hardcover published by Sourcebooks Fire in 2013. 112 p. ISBN: 978-1-4022-9318-4

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Book Review: 'Four Little Witches' by T. J. Perkins

✰✰✰✰✰ In the land of Lilly Hollow, four tiny little witches representing the elements play and laugh. With their own special gifts, the best friends help things grow and flourish. When an accident occurs and the planet is threatened, the little witches band together to heal the land. With their nurturing teamwork, the four friends ensure that our beloved Earth will be here for years to come.

The Bottom Line: This magical little book will delight tiny readers ages 2 - 7. Dreamy illustrations in soft hues will appeal to kids of all ages. This is a timeless tale you will read over and over again with your own little ones. Enthusiastically recommended for any time of the year.

Details: Four Little Witches written by T. J. Perkins & illustrated by Eimi Pinero. Hardcover picture book published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. in 2015. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-7643-4943-0

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Review: 'The Hallo-wiener' by Dav Pilkey

✰✰✰✰ All the other dogs make fun of Oscar because he is short and long. They taunt and tease him with names like Wiener Dog and then leave him behind. On Halloween night Oscar dreams of wearing a scary costume. To his dismay his mom surprises him with a silly one. Being a good little dog, he wears it anyway and is soon left behind again. When Oscar finally catches up with his friends, he discovers a monster has frightened them. Can little Oscar save them before it's too late?

The Bottom Line: This is a sweet little tale about friendship and bravery told for the Halloween season. Colorful illustrations, plentiful puns, and a happy ending will appeal to kids in grades K - 2. Recommended for storytime reading.

Details: The Hallo-wiener written & illustrated by Dav Pilkey. Hardcover picture book published by The Blue Sky Press in 1995. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-590-41703-7

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: 'The Amityville Horror' by Jay Anson

✰✰✰ The Lutz family moved into their dream house nearly forty years ago. At the time, George and Kathleen knew that just one year earlier the entire DeFeo family had been murdered in the house by the eldest son. Nevertheless, the price was right. George and Kathy were far from superstitious, so they went ahead with the purchase. They were optimistic that this would be the perfect home for their new family. 

Almost immediately after moving in, strange and terrifying phenomena began to happen to the family. Less than one month later they fled the house in fear for their lives. Believe it or not; this is their story.

The Bottom Line: While I have seen the movie countless times, the book has a more frightening quality about it. Written in a journalistic style, the book is a quick read. Anson's descriptions of the psychic phenomena are quite spooky, and the information about what Father Frank Mancuso experienced was interesting. Also, the book includes plans of the house. Recommended for fans of true crime, paranormal, and horror.

Details: The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. Paperback published by Pocket Star Books in 2005. 256 p. ISBN: 978-1-4165-0769-7