Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: 'Spell Booked' by Joyce & Jim Lavene

✰✰✰✰✰ Who knew witches have to find their own replacements before retiring to Boca Raton? I didn't, but that's exactly what Molly, Elsie, and Olivia are trying to do. Unfortunately, before they can even seriously begin to recruit and train new witches, Olivia ends up dead and their prized spell book has disappeared. With their magical powers beginning to fade, the witches must face an evil so powerful, that even the Grand Council is keeping quiet. Nevertheless, Molly and Elsie do their best to find their dear friend's murderer and defeat the rogue witch that is terrorizing their small town.

The Bottom Line: This charming, fast-paced cozy mystery was so much fun to read. This is the first book in the series, and I am really looking forward to reading the others. Enthusiastically recommended to fans of cozies who enjoy a paranormal twist. This is the perfect weekend read.

Details: Spell Booked (Retired Witches Mysteries) by Joyce & Jim Lavene. Paperback published by Berkley Prime Crime in 2014. 304 p. ISBN: 978-0-425268254

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book Review: 'Who Let the Ghosts Out?' by R. L. Stine

✰✰✰½ Max is just your average eleven-year-old with the same problems as any kid. However, he has one problem that you probably don't. His bedroom is haunted by two ghost kids. When the ghosts were alive, they used to live in Max's house. They have returned looking for their parents. Unfortunately, they don't live there anymore, and no one knows what happened to them. 

The only one who can see and talk to the ghost kids is Max. So it's up to Max to help them. Unfortunately, in order to find out what happened, Max must battle with the most evil spirit of all, Phears. Will Max be able to help the ghost kids find their parents and get his bedroom back?  Only time will tell. Pick up this quick read at your library today! 

The Bottom Line: This is the first book in the series. It will appeal to kids in upper grade school and middle school as the main character, Max, has the typical problems of any eleven-year-old. This is a fast-paced read. 

Details: Who Let the Ghosts Out? (Mostly Ghostly) by R.L. Stine. Hardcover published by Delacorte Press in 2004. 144 p. ISBN: 978-0-385-74663-2 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Review: 'Queen of Halloween' by Mary Engelbreit

✰✰✰✰✰ Ann Estelle is excited about her Halloween costume. She is the fairy queen. Her friend Michael is a pirate. Together they are going trick-or-treating. Even though Michael doesn’t think they need grown-ups, Ann Estelle’s father comes along. The night is really dark, and there are lots of ghosts and witches running around. Ann Estelle and Michael get lots of candy and treats until they come upon the very last house. It is scarier than the rest, and Ann Estelle’s father doesn’t go with them. All they have to do is walk up to the house and ring the doorbell. Will the two friends have the courage to complete the task? Together they find out that being brave has its rewards.

The Bottom Line: Filled with Mary Engelbreit’s signature illustrations, this charming and vibrant Halloween book is a winner. Little ones who are just a tiny bit afraid to go trick-or-treating in the dark will identify with Ann Estelle and her friend. Highly recommended reading for kids ages 4 – 8.

Details: Queen of Halloween (Ann Estelle Stories) written & illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. Hardcover picture book published by HarperCollins Publisher in 2008. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-008191-1

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Book Review: 'Ready for Pumpkins' by Kate Duke

✰✰✰✰ Hercules is a classroom guinea pig. It’s an easy life, but he wants to do more. He wants to grow things. So during summer vacation he plants the pumpkin seeds he saved from last Halloween. Hercules can’t wait, but plants don’t grow overnight. Hercules and a friend wait and wait; at last the seeds sprout. It takes a lot of patience to grow a garden. The pumpkins are still growing when it is time to go back to school. However, Hercules has plenty of class activities to keep him busy until a surprise arrives.

The Bottom Line: Watercolor illustrations in soft colors help tell a seasonal story of patience and friendship. Fun classroom reading for grades K – 2.

Details: Ready for Pumpkins written & illustrated by Kate Duke. Hardcover picture book published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2012. 40 p.  ISBN: 978-0-375-870068-2

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book Review: 'Big Pumpkin" by Erica Silverman

✰✰✰✰✰ Once there was a witch who planted a pumpkin seed. It grew and grew until Halloween arrived. The witch wanted to take her pumpkin off the vine to make pie, but it was no use. She tried and tried, but the pumpkin just sat. What's a witch to do?

Along came a ghost, a vampire, and a mummy all eager to help. Each tried, but it was no use. Then a tiny bat had a large idea. Will it work in time for the witch to make Halloween pumpkin pie? Read this charming picture book with your little one to find out.

The Bottom Line: Silverman's clever story features rhythm and repetition popular with little ones learning to read. Schindler's illustrations bring the spirit of teamwork to life with vibrant paintings. This amusing book is perfect for story time for kids in grades K – 2.

Details: Big Pumpkin written by Erica Silverman & illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Hardcover picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 1992. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-02-782683-8

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review: 'Bone Soup' by Cambria Evans

✰✰✰✰✰ Finnigin is always hungry. He visits town after town taking with him only an eating stool, an eating spoon, and his gigantic eating mouth. When Finnigin arrives in a new town on Halloween, all the other creatures avoid him.

Finnigin's infamous appetite has preceded him. Just what is a hungry skeleton to do? With only his spoon, the town's largest cauldron, and a magic ingredient, Finnigin comes up with a plan to whip up an amazing Halloween feast. 

The Bottom Line: This Halloween-themed take on the classic story, Stone Soup, is a real winner. Kids will delight in the disgusting ingredients as they learn about sharing, and the author's charming, but creepy, illustrations are perfect with the story. Highly recommended for story time reading for children in grades K – 3.

Details: Bone Soup written & illustrated by Cambria Evans. Hardcover picture book published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2008. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-618-80908-0

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: 'Here They Come!' by David Costello

✰✰✰✰ The scariest creatures appear Halloween night where there's a party every year. As guests begin to arrive, a mama goblin explains to her little ones "that a good scare lets you know you're alive." One by one they come...warlocks, witches, ghosts, an owl, ghouls, and more. The party has begun with candy, stories, and dancing. It's really swinging now. Then suddenly it's time to hide because the scariest creatures have arrived. Can you guess who they are? I won't tell, but be ready for a fun little scare.

The Bottom Line: This rhyming book is fun to read aloud. Costello's watercolor illustrations are lively, colorful, and entertaining. Kids ages 3 – 6 will love the twist ending. It's a great introduction to Halloween for the little ones.

Details: Here They Come! Written and illustrated by David Costello. Hardcover picture book published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 2004. 32 p. ISBN: 0-374-33051-4

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: 'Vampire Boy's Good Night' by Lisa Brown

✰✰✰½ Two friends happen upon a Halloween party where things aren't what they seem. Bela, a vampire boy, and Morgan, a witch girl, are looking for children. They can't seem to find any children anywhere. The children are not in school, and they are not in the park. Where can they be this time of night? Do children even exist? When they enter a beautiful house decked out for the holiday, Bela and Morgan find others like themselves. They enjoy the games and contests, but when the party comes to an end, the pair is in for a big surprise.

The Bottom Line: This delightful, seasonal tale is a fun choice for story time. Lisa Brown's illustrations are colorful and charming, and the story is fun to follow. Pick this one up to read with kids ages 6 – 8.

Details: Vampire Boy's Good Night written & illustrated by Lisa Brown. Hardcover picture book published by Harper in 2010. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-114011-2

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book Review: 'Beware, The Snowman (Goosebumps) by R. L. Stine

✰✰✰ After losing her mother, Jaclyn DeForest lived with her aunt in the crowded city of Chicago. She was happy there. Unfortunately, her aunt suddenly decides to uproot the middle schooler and move to the wintry, isolated village of Sherpia. With nothing to do, Jaclyn goes for a long walk. Along the way she notices that there are identical creepy snowmen in front of every house. When her new friends offer to help her build one, Jaclyn decides there is something weird going on. At night there are strange howling noises, and it's always snowing. Jaclyn feels like there is something her friends aren't telling her. With danger lurking just up the way, Jaclyn comes face to face with an evil so dark, there just might not be a way home.

The Bottom Line: This fun, quick read is perfect any time of the year. Middle grade readers will enjoy the surprise twist ending of this supernatural tale. Recommended for kids who enjoy horror.

Details: Beware, The Snowman (Goosebumps) by R. L. Stine. Hardcover published by Scholastic Inc. In 1997. p. ISBN: 978-1-4242-3699-2