Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cozy Halloween Picture Books Old and New

In our family, Halloween has always been more of a cozy celebration than a spooky one. We typically make donuts, drink apple cider, have the kids parade around the house in their costumes, and, of course, read festive stories. Today's post lists some of our favorites as well as a few new titles that have been added to our collection for this year.

The Little Kitten is a recently published picture book by Nicola Killen about a little girl named Ollie, who, while out walking with her cat, Pumpkin, meets a lost kitten. Ollie and Pumpkin look after the kitten, feeding her and making friends with her until she can be reunited with her surprisingly magical owner. The illustrations are key to appreciating the true identity of the kitten's owner, and the reveal is subtle. My five-year-old missed it completely and had to be shown exactly what to look for. Still, it's such a sweet and gentle read that it's worth reading twice to get the full effect. 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything isn't explicitly connected to Halloween, but it's a fun read about not being scared. A little old lady walks home from picking berries, nuts, and twigs. On the dark path, she encounters various articles of clothing, each of which makes a signature motion that repeats throughout the book. When the clothes are finally accompanied by a scary pumpkin head, the little old lady takes measures to ensure that she won't be bothered by this menacing outfit ever again. My kids love to act out this story, as they perform movements to imitate each article of clothing.

In Bears and Boos by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker, the focus is on sharing, as the bears discover a costume trunk and accidentally leave out one of their friends as they all choose costumes. I have to confess that the rhyme scheme and rhythm feel a little bit off in this one, but the illustrations are absolutely adorable. My three-year-old has been the ideal reader for this book, as she is just the right age to be learning to share without hurting other people. She also really loves the end papers in the book which feature a gathering of smiling ghosts.

Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea is a holiday title in the Gossie and Friends series. Each of the characters from the Gossie series appears here in costume as they celebrate Halloween together, prowling through the chilly autumn evening and sharing treats together. The Gossie books are always a huge favorite with my toddlers, and even my older kids still like to revisit the characters.

Room on the Broom is a rhyming story by English writer Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler. In repetitive verse, it tells the story of a witch and her cat. As the wind blows the witch's belongings off of the broomstick one by one, each item is rescued by a different creature who inquires whether there is room for him to fly along on the broom. After the broom is full of animals, the group encounters a dragon whose defeat requires quick-thinking teamwork. My three-year-old loved this book so much last Halloween that she has been reading it weekly ever since. 

In Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Farmer Brown dislikes Halloween, and is maybe even a bit afraid. His animals, on the other hand, love to celebrate, and they dress in costumes, trick-or-treat, and host a big party. This book is a good one for defusing Halloween fears, as the spooky figure outside of Farmer Brown's house proves to be something far less sinister than he suspects, and he joins the fun in the end. 

Finally, Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw is another pleasant rhyming story. The sheep put on costumes to collect treats from their farmyard neighbors. Afterwards, they trick some unsuspecting wolves who would otherwise have had them for dinner. As with other titles in the series, the humor and wordplay are the highlights in this one. My three-year-old is a big fan. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Candlewick for the review copies of The Little Kitten and Bears and Boos, respectively.

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