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Bewitching tomes for the little ones

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By Ann Cannon

Special to The Tribune

First published Oct 05 2013 01:01AM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:35PM

Looking for a few good Halloween books this fall? Check out the following titles.

"Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat" • Fans of "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" will be happy to know that Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin have teamed up once again to bring us another adventure involving Farmer Brown and his barnful of precocious animals. "Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat" chronicles the good farmer’s attempt to avoid the dreaded Halloween holiday altogether. Will he succeed? (Hint: The answer starts with "n" and ends with "o.") Although not as beguiling as the original, this new picture book is still loads of fun.

"Five Little Monkeys Trick-or-Treat" • Eileen Christelow’s mischievous monkeys are also back, starring in their own Halloween adventure. In "Five Little Monkeys Trick-or-Treat," the five conspire to play a trick on their favorite babysitter, only to have the tables turned on them by their clever mother. (Moral of the story: Moms rule.) (Memo to my kids: And don’t you forget it.)

"A Very Witchy Spelling Bee" • This book by George Shannon tells the story of a young witch named Cordelia who decides to take on senior citizen and 13-time champion Beulah Divine in an epic spelling bee full of wicked wordplay. Which witch will win? (And how many more words beginning with "w" can I use in this paragraph?)

Vampires and more • Then there’s the entertaining new series for young readers by Aaron Frisch. Each book, written for early readers, examines mythical monsters (vampires, zombies, mummies and witches) in a faux nonfiction format.

"How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?" • While not strictly a Halloween book, "How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?" by Wendell Minor takes a look at a pumpkin-growing contest and wonders how big a single pumpkin could get. As big as a boat? A hot-air balloon? Even a skyscraper? Minor’s fanciful illustrations are set against the backdrop of iconic American landscapes, including The Brooklyn Bridge and Mount Rushmore.

"Silly Skeletons" and "Silly Ghosts" • For fans of pop-up books (like me), "Silly Skeletons" and "Silly Ghosts" by Janet Lawler provide "not-so-spooky" adventures for children and their parents.

"Zombelina" • Certain books that work well for the Halloween season can also linger comfortably on the shelves all year round. "Zombelina," the story of a zombie who experiences a scary case of stage fright before her first ballet recital, is a good example. As always, local author Kristyn Crow displays a deft hand when it comes to rolling out a string of rollicking rhymes.

"Dracula: A Counting Primer" • This book by another local author, Jennifer Adams, is a good choice for young children who are learning their numbers. (Incidentally, Alison Oliver’s artwork from Adams’ BabyLit series is on display through Nov. 15 at the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane in Reservoir Park, Salt Lake City.)

"Frankenstein" • Another example is Gris Grimly’s stunning visual take on the Frankenstein story. A cross between a graphic novel and a traditional narrative "assembled from the original text by Mary Shelley," "Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein" takes readers to the haunting heart of the classic tale.

Still in season • Other examples of books that can linger on the shelf for more than one season include Ed Emberley’s "Nighty Night, Little Green Monster," a simple bedtime story told with bright, vivid die-cuts. "Sophie’s Squash" by Pat Zietlow Miller tells the tale of a little girl who buys a squash at the farmers market and turns it into her favorite imaginary friend.

And, of course, a book like "100 Grossest Facts" by Olive Gifford can provide entertainment (and education!) all year round. For example, did you know that King Louis XIV took only three baths in his entire life? Or that Romans ate flamingoes and ostrich brains? Or that a woman once ate 45 hot dogs (how gross is that?) in 10 minutes on Coney Island in 2012? Because apparently she couldn’t find any flamingos or ostrich brains?

Halloween favorites • Finally, do not forget old Halloween favorites that are still in print. Everybody’s favorite pet pig breaks out a pink dress and a snappy tiara in Kate DiCamillo’s early reader "Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise." Lovers of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky will also enjoy "Hallowilloween," a collection of funny holiday poems by Calef Brown about characters like two witches from Texas (who are practicing their hexes).

Local authors and illustrators represent with "Frankenstein," a terrific "Madeline" parody by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale, while Jed Henry’s energetic illustrations in "Just Say Boo" by Susan Hood capture the spirit of the season.

There’s also "Room on the Broom" by "Gruffalo" author Julia Donaldson, the story of a witch who can always make room for one more creature as she rides through the night. And don’t forget the classic chapter book "Bunnicula" by James Howe about a vampire rabbit. Best of all, the 60th-anniversary edition of "Little Witch" by Anna Elizbeth Bennett has just been released. New readers will enjoy the adventures of 9-year-old Minx as much as their mothers and grandmothers did.

And, as always, one must not forget to break out a copy of Dav Pilkey’s "Hallo-wiener," the story of a dachshund who wins the respect of one and all in spite of his unfortunate frankfurter costume.

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