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Tag Archives: halloween

Okay, I have to warn you, this one is going to be long. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday of the year (and I say that without putting quotes around holiday intentionally) and there are just too many books with too many Halloweeny undertones. So let’s divide up the Halloween vibes, shall we?

First we have the books that put you in the mood. One totally awesome book that does this is Jeremy Holmes’ There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. I actually mentioned it last year but never really described it. That was wrong. It deserves describing. Beautifully crafted, designed, and illustrated, Holmes creates a highly interactive book that proves to be a wonderful interpretation of the famous nursery rhyme. With a unique and innovative design, the book highlights the creepiness of the woman who continues to swallow animal after animal as the reader turns page after page over her stomach. The illustrations are dark and the end of the book is even darker as the woman shuts her eyes with the turn of the final page. Perfectly done. Other wonderfully dark books are those by Gris Grimly and Edward Gorey. Anything they touch is gold. Right now my favorite Grimlys are Wicked Nursery Rhymes, Boris and Bella, and his illustrated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness. I think my favorite Goreys have to be The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Curious Sofa. Each of these books features dark, shadowy illustrations with dark messages attached to them and virtually every character in each book does meets a gruesome, if not deadly, fate. I also want to quickly throw in Brian Anderson’s The Prince’s New Pet and Mary Howitt’s and Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Spider and the Fly; they each feature dark, heavy illustrations with strong shadows, both of which are perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit.

If you’re looking for something spirited but not necessarily gruesome or dark, check out then look no further than Spells by Emily Gravett. She’s one of my absolute favorite illustrators and she creates a fantastically creative book with interchangeable flaps so readers can mix and match different spells. And, of course, there’s a surprise ending. Lisa Wheeler’s and Mark Siegel’s Boogie Knights is also a low key but super fun book with multiple story lines that are perfect for getting you into the Halloween spirit. A pseudo-counting book, Boogie Knights tells the story of a prince who watches the armored knights in his castle come to life and throw a wild party with the ghosts, witches, and goblins that roam the halls. But even better is the illustrated-only storyline of the prince making friends with the girl in the painting. Again, not scary but perfect for Halloween.

Now for the category of “yes, they have monsters but they’re adorable monsters so it’s not scary.” A couple of new books out this year are Frankenstein by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale, Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham, and Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger. Each features an adorable set of monsters while still maintaining some level of cynicism and dark humor that makes the illustrations engaging and helps highlight the spirit of Halloween. There’s also a lot of buzz around Patrick McDonnell’s The Monster’s Monster. In all honesty, I haven’t had a chance to check it out but School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews (or the Big 4, as I like to call them) can’t stop talking about it. Check it out, let me know what you think. Finally, two previously-mentioned-but-still-great favorites are Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer and Scott Magoon and Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio and Scott Campbell: still funny, still Halloweeny, and still wonderfully dark.

So those are my favorite Halloween books. What are yours?

Hauntingly yours,

Mel

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In the spirit of Halloween I’m going to talk about monster picturebooks. My new favorites for this year are Zombie in Love and Mostly Monsterly, both tales of creatures who don’t quite fit in with their surroundings. Written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Scott Campbell, Zombie in Love features Mortimer, a zombie looking for love in all the wrong places. DiPucchio and Campbell work together beautifully to fill in the comical gaps in the text and together they create a fun story about holding out for true love. Tammi Sauer and Scott Magoon take a slightly different route to self-fulfillment in Mostly Monsterly, the tale of a girl who is the only monster at her school who has interests in things other growling and lurching (like petting kittens and picking flowers). She struggles to reconcile these two parts of herself in a way that is comical and relatable, teaching readers the ideas of compromises and group hugs.

As I mentioned in the last post I have an awesome Frankenstein pop-up book, as well as the Maurice Sendak pop-up, Mommy? Frankenstein is set up as a pop-up book meets graphic novel so if you’re a fan of graphic novels it’s definitely worth checking out. Sam Ita does an impressive job of mashing the two concepts, as well as a fine job of engineering the pop-ups. Sendak’s Mommy? Is about a lost boy who looks suspiciously similar to Max from Where the Wild Things Are. He loses track of his mother and searches in various rooms of castle for her, including the laboratory and Dracula’s room. Will Bizarro Max ever find his mother? And when he does, what kind of monster will she be? Sendak worked with Arthur Yorinks, who won a Caldecott in 1987, and master paper engineer Matthew Reinhart (swoon!) to bring you the answers to those questions

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey is an alphabetical list of ways to kill, be killed, die, etc. featuring zombie-esque children so I’m going to add it to the list of awesome monster picturebooks and if you’re a fan of Gorey you should definitely check out Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story by Andy Rash. Both Gorey and Rash find comical and unusual ways to kill their victims characters and the illustrations are always funny and straightforward. I’m also adding in the coolest/creepiest version of There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Jeremy Holmes because even though it’s not exactly “monster” it has a very monsterness about it. It’s by far one of the coolest looking books I’ve ever seen (http://www.amazon.com/There-Was-Old-Lady-Sallowed/dp/0811867935).

Spookily, Scarily yours,

Mel

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