Books are one of the best ways to introduce very young children to Halloween customs. Mouse's First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a gentle and beautifully illustrated portrait of the happier side of the holiday's sometimes frightening aspects
Illustrator Buket Erdogan's use of nighttime shades of indigo, deep reds, and autumnal umber on textured canvas are masterful, fit to be hung on your child's bedroom walls.
For those who have ever had difficulty coming up with creatively creepy costumes, party ideas, and miscellaneous decorations for Halloween events, Jane Bull's The Halloween Book: 50 Creepy Crafts for a Hair-raising Halloween will surely open the door to a mausoleum full of ideas guaranteed to turn a few heads (and maybe a stomach or two). There are tons of practical and very innovative ideas, basic pumpkin carving to making scary window silhouettes, lamp shades, and simple but scary costumes without having to lose an arm and a leg buying all the supplies. The latter section is the real winner, providing some wild food, drink, and game ideas to make your Halloween party a definite scream. The Halloween Book is as valuable at Halloween as Martha Stewart at a summer wedding.
Observe the trials and tribulations of your average small child: brush your teeth, do your homework, clean up your room, etc. Now transform him or her into a ghost, not the frightening transparent anomaly kind of ghost, but the good old fashioned bed sheet variety, and there you have the premise of author Ana Martin Larra aga's Woo! The Not-So-Scary Ghost. Woo, not yet even ghost in training, decides it's time he should stop listening and start scaring, so just before the sun rises (for ghosts, that's the equivalent of dusk) Woo packs a little bag on a stick, hobo-style, and floats out of his bedroom window to begin his not too scary odyssey. Soon Woo finds himself trapped in full daylight, being treated as less than a scary ghost and more like a bed sheet by everyone he meets. In the end Woo proves the scared can be scary, especially when longing for the safety of family and home. The story of Woo is presented in cuddly primary-colored pages with endearing caricatures throughout to charm the little runaway ghost in everyone.
From beyond the grave comes a new macabre twist on the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. This love story, Cinderella Skeleton is the latest work from author Robert D. San Souci whose previous works include one of many multicultural interpretations of the original Cinderella tale called Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story. San Souci's latest version of the classic children's tale features a deceased and downtrodden girl, Cinderella Skeleton, living miserably with her evil stepsisters, Bony Jane and Gristlene, and their insufferable mother, Screech, in a well appointed mausoleum located in Boneyard Acres. The elements of the classic story are included with all the appropriate graveyard treatments: Prince Charnel invites all but Cinderella to his Halloween Ball; a spell by a good witch transforms her into an exquisitely adorned corpse.
When dawn breaks, Cinderella Skeleton flees leaving behind only a slipper, plus a large part of her lower left leg. The rest of the story won't surprise you. Most impressive about Cinderella Skeleton are the brilliantly colored and detailed illustrations by syndicated political cartoonist David Catrow, which bring to "life" the skeletal world in which the story takes place.
Some of the scariest incidents on Halloween can frighten the living daylights out of you. It's all in fun, of course, and so too is the latest in incredibly creative pop-up paper engineering books by Corina Fletcher called Ghoul School. What better medium to express the whimsically ghoulish story of Ms. Vampira's Ghoul School, "where timid souls are transformed into spooky ghosts and goblins in the twinkling of a bat's eye" than with three dimensional interactive pages that beckon young readers to touch, participate in, and read all at the same time. Every page of Ghoul School is a masterfully designed system of moveable pieces and feature remarkable detail in the illustrations and in the foldouts, some of which rise to over eight inches off the page. As with any pop-up book, it will be hard to keep the little ghouls from pulling the pages apart, especially when they offer so many hidden surprises! Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
In this sweet tale of corpse-meets-corpse, San Souci creates a bony heroine whose trip to the ball has a distinctly Halloweenish cast. The plot follows the original folktale closely, with one grisly exception: instead of retaining her glass slipper, Prince Charnel gets her entire foot, snapped off halfway up the leg bone. The potentially scary moments are made humorous in Catrow's caricatures and dynamic compositions. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #5
"Cinderella Skeleton / Was everything a ghoul should be: / Her build was long and lean and lank; / Her dankish hair hung down in hanks; / Her nails were yellow; her teeth were green- / The ghastliest haunt you've ever seen. / Foulest in the land was she." San Souci (Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story) takes his interest in Cinderella variants one step further by creating a bony heroine whose trip to the ball has a distinctly Halloweenish cast. Even children who've never heard of The Addams Family will recognize the conventions (Cinderella Skeleton's housework consists of hanging up cobwebs instead of taking them down), and the plot follows the original folktale closely, with one grisly exception: instead of retaining her glass slipper, Prince Charnel gets her entire foot, snapped off halfway up the leg bone. This and other potentially scary moments are made humorous in Catrow's caricatures, which employ the long lines and angles of the skeletons to create particularly dynamic compositions in pencil and watercolor. Cinderella wears a fluttering cobweb gown and a blooming dandelion as her headdress, while Prince Charnel is just as handsome with deeply sunken eyes and ornamental cockroaches scurrying over his Napoleonic dress uniform. Although San Souci's unusual rhyme scheme, complex syllables, and breaks in meter may trip up a few unwary readers, much remains to be admired in this sweet tale of corpse-meets-corpse. anita l. burkam Copyright 2000 Horn Book Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 September #1
This fancy little piece of septet versifying works nicely as a vehicle to tell the story of the graveyard Cinderella. San Souci (Callie Ann and Mistah Bear, p. 1045, etc.) follows the original tale quite closely, substituting things from the bone orchardwhere appropriate: her coach is a hearse; the prince is named Charnel; her stepfamily is Skreech, Gristlene, and Bony-Jane; and, of course, she herself is a skeleton. Instead of simply losing her slipper at the ball, this Cinderella has her lower tibia snapped off. (Picture the prince traveling everywhere with the foot in a velvet case.) Yes, there are touches of the macabre here (each prospective bride pulls her own foot off to try on Cinderella's), but never overmuch or to the point of terrifying. And most of it is hysterically funny. San Souci's verse ultimately takes the show: "Cinderella Skeleton! / The rarest gem the world has seen! / Your gleaming skull and burnished bones, / Your teeth like polished kidney stones, / Your dampish silks and dankishhair, / There's nothing like you anywhere! / You make each day a Halloween." What a picture she makes. Catrow's (The Fungus That Ate My School, p. 474, etc.) artwork is reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas--perhaps that can't be helped when skeletons are the principals--but very much its own thing, with abundant cartoony comic licks and ghoulish creatures galore. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #2
"No glass slipper appears in this often funny graveyard romance," PW said. "Instead, the skeletal prince breaks the heroine's shinbone as she flees the Halloween Ball. A Cinderella story that girls and boys will love." Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 September
Gr 3-7-Not for the faint of heart, this retelling continues the author's fascination with "Cinderella" tales. In challenging vocabulary and a complex rhyme scheme, the clever narrative tells of Cinderella Skeleton, a wraith who lives in a mausoleum with her horrific stepmother, Skreech, and stepsisters Gristlene and Bony-Jane. She wiles away her days streaking the windows, hanging cobwebs, and feeding bats until the Halloween Ball invitation arrives. A good woodland witch conjures up the usual participants into a funeral wagon, dragon steeds, a gown, and slippers, but in fleeing from Prince Charnel at sunrise, Cinderella breaks off her slippered foot mid-calf. Gross, yes, though later other ghosts break off their shinbones with the hope of fitting the leg-and-slipper remains ("Wire or glue; you're good as new!" snaps the stepmother as she pulls off each girl's foot). Catrow's wonderfully weird pencil-and-watercolor illustrations feature wiggly lines, lurid pink and bilious green accents, large-eyed skeletons, and grotesque mutantlike creatures. The envious stepfamily conveniently shrivels to dust, which is certainly less horrible than other endings (though younger readers will still be disturbed about those broken legs). This darkly humorous and spooky variation will tickle the twisted tastes of upper-elementary and middle-school readers if it is displayed where they'll find it.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.