Sunday, October 17, 2010

T-Rex Trick or Treats by Lois G. Grambling

It's Halloween night and T-Rex still hasn't decided what costume to wear. He wants to have the scariest costume of all of his friends. He thought about going as a ghost, a skeleton, or a witch, but when his friends came to get him they had used all of his costume ideas. As T-Rex tries to figure out what costume to wear his frown gets bigger and bigger, until it's so big that he scares himself when he looks in the mirror! So he goes out dressed as himself wearing a big scary frown and gets lots of treats. But when he starts to smile with his long, sharp, pointy teeth, people seem to be even more afraid of him. So the ultimate question is: Is T-Rex more scary when he frowns or smiles? The friends decide they will figure out that problem next year. This is a fun, not to scary, book that's wonderful for preschoolers. It's a great way to help them act out feelings and practice making different facial expressions. It's always been a highly popular book on my shelf.

I'm Not Afraid of This Haunted House by Laurie Friedman

What more could you ask for from a Halloween book than pictures of ghouls, howling werewolves, and ghosts? The hero of the story, Simon, tries to convince his friends that he is brave and definitely not afraid of a haunted house. In rhyming text he proclaims, "I'm not afarid at the Vampire Feast. I can handle these blood sucking beasts! I bare my neck and face my fate. I help myself to a dinner plate. I'm Simon Lester Henry Strauss, and I'm not afraid of this haunted house." Simon continues to explore the creepy house and keeps telling his friends that he's not afraid, until the very end when he encounters a ......mouse. This is a fun and engaging book that lets children know that even the bravest person can still be afraid of something. This has been a big hit with my preschool crowd!

The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

This is a rollicking story of a giant pumpkin that gets cut free from the vine by Buck and Billy Baxter. The pumpkin starts to slowly roll down the hill, but quickly picks up speed and zooms down the hill. The pumpkin breezes past Mama Baxter and Grandpa Baxter, until Poppa Baxter figured out how to stop the pumpkin. The Baxter's took the pumpkin home and made pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie to enjoy at a Halloween feast. They even carved a jack-o-lantern out of the pumpkin shell. It's a fast paced, fun story and the repeating chorus of "Thumpety, bumpety, thumpin', bumpin, round and roll-y runaway pumpkin" is one that children like to shout out (between giggles).

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper

Although this isn't technically a Halloween book, it seems to fit in with stories about autumn and pumpkins! The story is of three friends who all live together in a pumpkin house. Cat, Squirrel, and Duck are friends who made the best pumpkin soup ever. Cat sliced the pumpkin, Squirrel stirred the water, and Duck adds the salt! But one morning Duck decides he wants to stir the soup! The friends have a fight and Duck leaves. Cat and Squirrel wait for him, but he doesn't come back, so they make the soup without any salt. Soup without salt wasn't very tasty, so Cat and Squirrel decide to find Duck and tell him that he can stir the soup if he comes back. When Duck returns he stirs the soup so fast it slops out of the pot and the pot gets burnt. But the friends still insist that it is the best soup they have ever tasted. This is such a great story, filled with lively characters, that I've used with fairly young children and have always gotten a positive response from them.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming

This is an eye catching book for young children that offers up all of the glorious and spooky delights of Halloween! The text is comprised of simple rhymes that are paired with lush, pulpy pictures of all of the different sights that make Halloween a spooky night. As the story progresses the rhythm of the text quickens and keeps little listeners glued to the book. The pictures and text create a wonderful energy when reading and I have found that some of my older two year olds really enjoy the story. It's a classic tale of Halloween!

Room on a Broom by Julia Donaldson

This is a story about an affable witch who makes room on her broom for a variety of animals friends. The story starts with the witch and her cat flying along on a windy night, when her hat suddenly blows away. She and the cat search for the hat, but can't find it until a friendly dog brings it back. The dog joins the duo and the three fly off on the broom. Next the witch loses her hair bow, which is found by a bird who joins the other animals on the broom. The next thing this happy witch loses is her wand, but it is promptly recovered by a frog who decides to ride along with the others. Suddenly, the witch's broomstick snaps in two and she falls into a cloud where she is discovered by a scary dragon who plans to eat her. But her animal friends form together to make a creature that scares the dragon away leaving the witch safely with her friends. The text has a great rhythm to it and the moral of the story is that together we can all be greater than the sum of our parts. It's a fun book for preschool children.

Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard

Mitzi is a little witch who is searching for the perfect, creepy pet. She goes to a pet shop called Cackle & Company that specializes in scary pets. Mitzi tries a toad covered with slime named Mumps, but he wasn't all that creepy. Next, she tried two bats she named Toothache and Earwax, but all they did was hang around one another. Mitzi returned the bats and decided to think long and hard about the pet she would chose. She went home and soon there was a scratching at her door. When she opened it up she found an adorable marmalade kitten - YUCK. But as Mitzi gets to know the kitten, she discovers that she likes him and wants to keep him as her own. She names the kitten Hoodwink and even all of her creepy relatives like him. Despite the pictures of witches and other creepy critters, this is a very uncreepy, sweet, and fun picture book suitable for little ones who are just getting into spooky things.

Guess What? by Mem Fox

Let me start by saying that I really enjoy this book, but it is definitely not one for young children. It's filled with off beat humour and style that only a truly simplistic story could pull off so easily. The story opens with the simple statement "Far away from here lives a lady called Daisy O'Grady". What follows is a series of simple questions and quirky (and a little creepy) pictures that gradually reveal who Daisy really is - she's a witch, but not a mean one. The pictures give you clues to the answers of the questions (all of the answers except for the last one is a resounding "YES"). The simplicity and predictability of the text would lead you to believe that this would be a great book for really young children, but the pictures seem to be geared towards slightly older children. If the text had been paired with more whimsical drawings it would be a perfect toddler Halloween book, but as it stands it would be much more appealing to an older preschooler or even young school aged child.