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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great Children's Books for Halloween

Halloween is just days away, so I thought I would share with y'all some of my favorite children's picture books about Halloween. As a preschooler, the Tongginator shied away from All Things Scary, so our book collection reflects that. Out of deference to many young children's sensitivities, as well as religious beliefs, I will be sure to mention whether a book contains ghouls, witches, ghosts and other such scary "creatures."

The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene. This parody of The 12 Days of Christmas makes scary seem almost silly. Although the book is meant to be creepy and crawly, and contains creatures such as ghouls, ghosts and witches (and is definitely the scariest of the Tongginator's Halloween collection), the silliness of the song - because you really SHOULD sing this book - helps ease fears. Repeatedly singing about gifts such as a vulture in a dead tree, two hissing cats, three fat toads, four giggling ghosts, five cooked worms, and on and on, makes for a hauntingly good time! And it teaches counting... for 13 scary days.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll. This book follows the growing season of one very special pumpkin from its start as a tiny green nub on a vine to an enormous carved jack-o-lantern that wins the town pumpkin contest. Clayton, a house mouse, and Desmond, a field mouse, unknowingly provide this special pumpkin with twice the tender loving care, each hoping to eventually enter this pumpkin in the town's carving contest. The pumpkin grows so large, it becomes difficult to move, but fortunately Desmond and Clayton discover one another and use a bit of teamwork to enter the contest.

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. Although this Caldecott Medalist is not Halloween specific, it's a great choice for little ones frightened of All Things Scary. A clever series of die-cut pages allows children to construct and then deconstruct a big green monster. Go Away Big Green Monster is an excellent empowerment tool during a rather scary time of year since, once Big Green Monster is all put together, the text reads "YOU DON'T SCARE ME! So, GO AWAY..." and, page by page, the scary features disappear as ordered. The book ends with "GO AWAY, Big Green Monster! And DON'T COME BACK! Until I say so."

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schultz. What can I say about this selection except that it's a classic? I think the Husband and I might love this book more than the Tongginator, but I don't care. Although it in no way compares to the DVD version (which is oh-so-much-better), this book remains on our shelf because of my Extreme Loyalty to All Things Charlie Brown. Oh, and because who can help but adore Linus for his eternal hope, despite overwhelming odds. "Just wait until next year, I'll be waiting for the Great Pumpkin to come."

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Megan Lloyd. This just-spooky-enough tale follows an old lady's journey through the woods as she's followed by a pair of floating pants, gloves, a shirt and a hat. Storytime readers should definitely encourage the children to act out and chant "clomp, clomp, clomp" when the boots appear, "shake, shake" when the shirt floats along, and on and on. The little old lady walks more and more quickly with every object, but of course she's NOT afraid of anything. Heh. In the end, the little old lady cleverly uses each item to create a scarecrow for her autumn garden.

The Littlest Pumpkin by R.A. Herman. The littlest pumpkin dreams of becoming the center of attention on a pumpkin's most important holiday of the year, but - alas! - his small size causes him to be overlooked again and again. His dreams seem dashed when Bartlett's Farm Stand closes late on Halloween night, with only the little pumpkin remaining behind. But just when he begins to lose all hope, mice scurrying around the pumpkin stand make the littlest pumpkin's dream of becoming a jack-o-lantern come true in a most unexpected way.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington. Muted colored-pencil illustrations give this story a calming effect during a rather crazy holiday. Pumpkin, Pumpkin teaches young children several new vocabulary words, sequencing and the life cycle of a pumpkin. Author/ illustrator Titherington reveals the pumpkin's growing size in relation to the boy Jaime's size, until the pumpkin is so large Jaime is eventually able to sit on it. He carts it home using a red wagon before carving a jack-o-lantern on Halloween night.

The Stubborn Pumpkin by Laura Geringer. The Tongginator loves this cumulative tale in which a farmer, his wife, his daughter, his cow, his dog and his cat can't pull the enormous pumpkin off its vine until the entire crowd is helped by one tiny mouse. The simple, repetitive lines and vibrant illustrations make this a true crowd pleaser, especially with the younger crowd. A great story stretcher is to test your child's memory by asking him or her the correct order of the pumpkin pullers. In the classroom, I would use photocopied, laminated cut-outs of the characters on a felt board so that we could later check their accuracy.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. Rebecca Estelle is one of my all-time favorite children's picture book characters. To put it bluntly, Rebecca Estelle LOATHES pumpkins because she was so poor growing up, she was forced to eat only pumpkins (baked, steamed, boiled, stewed, mashed, and rotten) her entire childhood. As an adult, she copes with her pumpkin hatred quite beautifully until one day SPLAT! - an enormous pumpkin fell into her yard as the pumpkin truck rolled past. She hid the unsightly mess by burying it in her yard and successfully ignored the situation until the following fall when a bumper crop of pumpkins overtook her yard. So what does one Rebecca Estelle - who LOATHES pumpkins - do with too many pumpkins?

The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston. A 700-year-old-woman and an 800-year-old-man go out to the patch to collect a pumpkin to make a pie, only to discover that their pumpkin's been "snitched." They set off down the road to find the missing pumpkin and run into several kooky Halloween characters, including a ghoul sporting a stovepipe hat, a rapscallion who looks like a Star Wars Jawa, a rat-like yellow varmint and a wizard clad in starred robes, spectacles and pointed shoes. All along the way the old man and the old woman play tricks on these odd-looking folks, hoping they'll surrender the pumpkin which, of course, they don't have. It's an innocent story with some creepy characters that somehow manage to look delightfully whimsical. Illustrator Tomie dePaola did a wonderful job creating drawings that look more funny than frightening.

So what are your favorite Halloween books?


Andrea said...

My favorite is The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Kim K. said...

As you can imagine with our Halloween obsession, we own quite a few Halloween books. Josie's favorite book right now is the Bumpy Little Pumpkin by Margery Cuyler.

Wendy said...

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is my all time favorite Halloween book. As a matter of fact, it's one of my all time favorite children's books. Period. I love using different fun voices for the articles of clothing the lady bumps into, and I always turn off the lights in my classroom when I read this one in a very quiet, slightly spooky voice!

Lisa said...

Ditto Wendy ~ in a classroom ( or living room!) setting, The Little Old Lady....,(with props) is tremendous!

We also adore the Twas the Night Before series, and especially love The Night Before Halloween (Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving is darling too!) and both my kiddos adore Corduroys Best Halloween Ever ~ such a story of friendship and giving.

Nods also to The Spooky Wheels on the Bus(Scholastic)...fabulous for toddlers/preschoolers as they can sing along with the familiar tune!

For learning about how a pumpkin grows to become a Jack O' Lantern I like: It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall.

marcie said...

We just got the 13 Days of Halloween for a review and AJ loves it.

Miss Ashley said...

Discovered a new book last year, "And Then Comes Halloween," by a local author. The prose is fantastic and I don't mind reading it again and again. Beautiful pictures as well.

Gwen said...

These are great choices! I also like Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and Stellaluna (the bat who is raised like a bird).

lmgnyc said...

We love the Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey. That one is left over from her brothers but Sonia just loves it.

Tammie T. said...

A favorite at our house is The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano, a great story about acceptance! :)

Football and Fried Rice said...

I know, i will shock you and make you gasp - I'd rather watch the Charlie Brown Special than read a book. I promise you I was better with my first child..I promise ;)

Aunt LoLo said...

Great! I'll keep my eyes out for those. :-)

Around here, both my kids LOVE the Teeny Tiny Ghost (http://www.amazon.com/Teeny-Tiny-Ghost-Kay-Winters/dp/0064435903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288214097&sr=1-1-catcorr)

Asianmommy said...

I like Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli.