The Short Shelf
Book Services by Barb Weber
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For Halloween you can go fun or spooky, or a little of both. Here are some favorite books for every age.
In their zeal for the perfect Halloween pumpkin, the Baxter boys unleash a little mayhem down on the farm. But it’s nothing the affable, unflappable–and resourceful–Baxter clan can’t handle. It all ends with a tableful of tasty treats, and the perfect jack-o-lantern. Lewis’ rhyme is as bouncy as that runaway pumpkin, and perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween family fun, along with S.D. Schindler’s expressively humorous illustrations.
Is there room on the broom for all of witch’s helpful new friends? Yes! And good thing, too, when their witch runs into a spot of dragon trouble. Not specific to Halloween (read it any time of year!), but Room on the Broom has witches and dragons and bog monsters and a dark and stormy night. Another terrific rhyming read aloud from the dynamic author/illustrator duo of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Another enigmatic, atmospheric tale from the man who brought you The Polar Express. A tired witch’s broom, that’s no longer reliable for flying, is replaced, but it still has plenty of magic left in it, as the widow Shaw discovers after the abandoned (and well-meaning) broom starts helping around the house! But the suspicious neighbors are fearful and plot to get rid of this “evil, wicked” thing in their midst. Van Allsburg’s tale of ignorance, suspicion and fear is neatly wrapped up in this supernatural story.
Ever wonder about gargoyles, up there on their lofty perches, grinning, scowling, uncanny? Eve Bunting does, and imagines a wonderful, slightly unsettling secret life of those odd grotesques of the human imagination–to terrific effect. Wiesner’s atmospheric illustrations “flesh” out Bunting’s lyrical story, and give her words meat and bones, or should I say, solid stone.
A Halloween book for the littlest revelers. A tiny bit suspenseful (but not too much). A teensy bit scary (but not too scary). Little Mouse goes exploring one fall evening, and comes across a series of “frightening” firsts, the rustle of fall leaves, the flickering of a grinning jack-o-lantern, that all turn out to be not just harmless, but good fun. And at the end of the eventful evening, Little Mouse goes home to his loving parents with his own piece of Halloween candy to share.
Pull out the Poe for a scary, lights-out read aloud for the older kids. There are a couple of illustrated editions that kids (and adults) love, with humorously creepy pictures by Gris Grimly (Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness is one), but Poe is also great for just listening while the tension builds. The Pit and the Pendulum. The Tell-Tale Heart. What’s your favorite?
Barb Weber has been a fan of children’s books all her life (she still has her copy of her favorite Golden Book, The Little Yellow Taxi, torn page and all, and it still chokes her up), and has been a children’s bookseller for over ten years. She likes nothing better than to share her enthusiasm and bring terrific books to people’s attention.