Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Trick-or-treat! I mean, I know its not Halloween yet, but it's coming up, so we had better start practicing. After I've dished up a few of my favorites, how about sharing some of your in the comments section? Friends in the children's lit blogosphere, want to add to the caudron-luck?

THE ESSENTIAL WORLDWIDE MONSTER GUIDE by Linda Ashman, illustrated by David Small (Simon and Schuster)
"Guaranteed--some day, some place--/You'll meet a monster face to face./Don't destroy a great vacation--/Arm yourself with information!/With this handy monster guide,/You can take these beasts in stride./Save yourself the stress and strife!/Save your spirit! Save your life!" So begins the voyage via hot air balloon to thirteen countries, each page luckily illustrated by a Caldecott artist in top form and unluckily plagued by lengendary creatures such as the nefarious Russian Domovik, the terrible Japanese Tengu, or the not-so-hot Hotots of Armenia. Anyone who reads this book is likely to learn something new in this international monster who's who, and the frontspiece is an attractive world map to help you locate the monsters (and steer clear of them). Let each child in a classroom make up their own monster description using the format in the book, and bind them together for your own homemade Essential Monster Guide! (7 and up)

THE BEASTS OF CLAWSTONE CASTLE by Eva Ibbotson, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Dutton)
Anyone up for auditioning things-that-go-bump-in-the-night to help haunt a house? That's what Madlyn and Rollo have to do to keep up with the Joneses. After all, they are not going to let their aunt and uncle's castle, and the mysterious white cattle that graze behind it, to play second fiddle to the competing Trembellow Towers, the tourist attraction down the road. It seems, however, that there is more at stake than they might believe...or desire. Ghosts abound in this latest by a beloved and spellbinding author, who always manages to combine just the right measure of humor and fright. If you know a child who enjoys John Bellairs, he or she will love Eva Ibbotson, too. (10 and up)

by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Curtis Jobling (HarperCollins)
When I first looked at this book, I thought, "oh, ho-hum, another skeleton-y Halloween book," and I only mention that in order to say, folks, this is not just another ho-hum Halloween book. A little skeleton is thrillingly, chillingly following a harrowed tyke up the stairs (counting stairs adds to the suspense)…in order to…raid his closet! (He's a modest little skeleton, after all). Children will laugh out loud when they see the funky duds this dude picks out! Skeletons may not have tongues, but luckily you do, so you can try on this aboslutely delicious language, oh, goodness ghostness, I hadn't had this much fun with an itty-bit of rhythm and rhyme since Dr. Seuss. A former elementary school teacher, this author knows how to write a story that screams "feltboard!" and kids will enjoy dressing their own homemade skeletons. If you're looking for a shivery story to share with kids that delivers a little trick and a lot of treat, this is one you'll all enjoy right down to your bones. Like the skeleton in the story, you've really got to try it on for size! (4 and up)

THE PERFECT PUMPKIN PIE by Denys Cazet (Atheneum)
I just had a great time reading this aloud to third graders, now it's your turn to have some fun! Slightly rowdy illustrations make this a pick for your slighty older and more fortified group, who will howl and shiver as Mr. Wilkerson rises from the beyond in order to bully a piece of perfect pie from Jack and his fearless grandmother. A balanced combination of put-the-flashlight-under-your-chin-and-speak-slowly prose and join-in-the-refrain verse ("Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkin pie!/ I must have one before I die./ It must be round and brown as toast/ Or I'll haunt this house as a hungry ghost.") will make for perennial pumpkin fun. Just as a perfect pie must have all the right ingredients, so does this book have the right dashes of fright and delight, and as the ending suggests, old Mr. Wilkerson may put in a few more appearances before all is said and done (apple pie, anyone?). Believe me, if you stood in line for a half an hour at the bakery, you could not come up with a more delicious Halloween storytime treat. (7 and up)

Also of interest:
Have you checked out the new Cybils, the 2006 Children's and YA Bloggers Literary Awards? Cool beans!

On a personal note
Hope this reading feast tides you over for a while...check back next week for more book-a-day! Meanwhile, I'll be touring for VIVE LA PARIS throughout Wisconsin. If you're in the area, please come stop by at some of the public events:

Friday, 10/20, WONDERLAND BOOKS, 7:00 p.m.
1625 North Alpine Road, Rockford, IL 61107, (815) 394-1633

Saturday, 10/21, HARRY W. SCHWARTZ BOOKSHOP, 2:00 p.m.,
10976 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, WI 53092, (262) 241-6220

Sunday, 10/22, Reading and signing at the WISCONSIN BOOK FESTIVAL,
4:00 p.m.
Madison Public Library-Main Branch, 201 W. Mifflin Street, Madison, WI

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Congrats on the great review of Vive La Paris in this month's School Library Journal.

I'd like to add Monster Goose by Judy Sierra to the Halloween list. This book is a hilarious and creepy take on the traditional mother goose rhymes.



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