Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Get ready for a Pumpkin Hunt!

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt, by Mary Hogan-Wilcox/Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-118-7

Ages 3-7

The latest spin on the classic “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” is this Fall story about a group of animal friends who go off in search of the biggest orange and round pumpkin in town! Dressed in costumes for trick-or-treating fun, the friends wander into the “dark, shiver-your-socks night”. The story has all the sensory fun that every retelling features; in this case, squeaky gates, blinking night time bugs, tickly grass, and an unexpected surprise! Lots of repetition helps kids get into the story with you, and the check-ins – “I’m not scared. / Are you? / Not me.” – are a nice opportunity to check in with your own listeners and make sure no one feels too nervous about the story. Pen, ink, and watercolor artwork is gentle and soft. A cute addition to your storytime collections; most folks are familiar with We’re Going On a Bear Hunt and like the different variations on a familiar theme.

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Creepy, Kooky, Oogie: Weird But True Halloween!

Weird But True! Halloween: 300 Facts to Scare You Silly, by Julie Beer & Michelle Harris, (Sept. 2020, NatGeo Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1426338281

Ages 7-12

These books are the backbone of my nonfiction section. These little Weird But True! books MOVE; kids love the wild facts that NatGeo writers keep unearthing, and the incredible photos throughout are creepy, freaky, and downright cute. What facts await us in this volume? There are some good ones: a theme park in St. Louis, Missouri, held a “Coffin Challenge” where contestants lay in a coffin for 30 hours to win a prize; there are gummy tarantulas the size of a kid’s hand; there are more Halloween emojis than there are U.S. states. There’s a Halloween theme running through, with Halloween-themed facts, eerie facts, and overall Fall facts. These don’t even require a handselling in my library – I just put it on the shelf and watch the kids surge. The NatGeo Kids digests are essential for pleasurable, nonfiction, reading.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Halloween March! The Ghosts Went Floating

The Ghosts Went Floating, by Kim Norman/Illustrated by Jay Fleck, (July 2020, Farrar Straus & Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374312138

Ages 3-6

Inspired by the classic favorite, “The Ants Go Marching”, The Ghosts Go Floating is a Halloween counting story where ghosts, skeletons, witches, mummies, zombies, and more all join a march by the light of the moon. Where are they going? You can only find out if you read the story!  Colorful, friendly ghouls and ghosts march across the pages with with rosy cheeks and friendly faces. The repetitive text lets kids jump in and be part of the storytelling, calling out the “Boo-Rah!” cheer and “moon, moon, moon”, which leads into the next group of monsters to join the dance: “The goblins galloped, six by six, / Boo-rah! Boo-rah! / while waving clubs and pointy sticks. / Boo-rah! Boo-rah! / The goblins galloped, six by six. / They dragged their knuckles on pointy bricks / and they all trooped up the hill, / in the chill. / by the light of the moon, / moon, moon, moon”.

Halloween fun, and a must for readalouds. Just make sure to have treats ready for your little goblins and werewolves! Pair with Tony Mitton’s and Guy Parker-Rees’s The Spooky Hour for Halloween Party fun.

Posted in geek, professional development

Happy Halloween Week!

Hi, all! I took a couple of days off and actually got to GO somewhere: my Hubs, my Kiddo, and I took a nice weekend trip upstate to visit family (we wore masks the entire time; let’s hear it for the Kiddo, who didn’t sweat it once for the 8 hours or so that we were with family!) and enjoy the leaves turning color. We had cider donuts, hot drinks, and relaxed, and it was so nice to be somewhere that isn’t my living room. Now I’m back, rejuvenated, and ready. I’ll be starting up my posts again shortly, but in the meantime, I created a little Halloween Bitmoji library for you. Each book will link to the book’s detail page on WorldCat; from there, you can enter your ZIP code and find libraries in your area that have them. Come on in, help yourself to some Halloween candy, have a seat if you can get that black cat to move over, and enjoy some books and my dorky dab dance.

Posted in Toddler Reads

Don’t miss these Halloween reads for babies!

Developing a love of Halloween starts early. Encourage your littles from the beginning! Read Halloween!

Brooms Are for Flying!, by Michael Rex, (July 2020, Henry Holt), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250241481

Ages 0-3

Michael Rex has been an essential part of my Halloween storytimes for years. Goodnight Goon and The Runaway Mummy get regular rotation and my kiddos love the familiar spin on beloved bedtime stories. His 2009 book, Brooms Are For Flying!, is now available in board book for your littles to gnaw on (but not if they’re library books, please!) and wander through again and again. If kids love Goodnight Goon and The Runaway Mummy are because they love the similarities to Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, then Brooms Are For Flying! will appeal to kids who love Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance!: a young witch leads a group of her fiendish friends through a spookytime dance that gives every part of the body a workout: “Legs are for marching/  Feet are for stomping.  Eyes are for peeking. / Arms are for reaching.” Get your little ones up and stomping, shambling, and dancing like their favorite ghouls and ghosts! Perfection for Halloween readalouds and for any old time, really.

 

Spooky Pants, by Roger Priddy, (July 2020, Priddy Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9780312530211

Ages 0-3

Part of Priddy Books’s Turn the Wheel series, Spooky Pants gives kids a treat – lots of laughs! – as they scroll through various tops and bottoms to match 8 costumed friends with their missing pieces. Give Billie Bones a Jack-o-Lantern head, or Hound the Werewolf a groovy disco pair of pants and platform shoes. Little prompts on each page offer a seek-and-find for little pointer fingers, as they are prompted to search for other items in each picture: magic wands and fizzing potions, jingly-jangly chains and fancy collars. A fun page at the end lets kids see all the different possibilities, and choose their favorites. Study cardboard pages and wheels hold up to lots of use by exploring hands! Priddy Books are great to have for little explorers – I’ve had some in my own home collection since the third grader was wee.

Check Priddy Books’s free downloads page to get activity sheets, picture puzzles, and more.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Halloween-ish Reading: Ghostology

Ghostology: A True Revelation of Spirits, Ghouls, and Hauntings, by Dugald A. Steer & Lucinda Curtle/Illustratrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, Garry Walton, & Doug Sirois, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $27.99, ISBN: 9781536209150

Ages 8-12

A spooky letter from a ghost hunter who’s just seen too much. A tome filled with information, including notes about (in)famous hauntings and maps of haunted rectories, and sketches of ghost towns; journal excerpts and information on hunting ghosts, with flaps and secret notes throughout. And… a missing page, torn from the book? Are those… notes from a ghost, scribbled hastily all over the book? Ghostology is a ghost-hunting adventure in a book, with fun facts on putting together a ghost-hunters kit, detailed information on the types of ghosts and a map of notable spottings, haunted houses, hotels, and forts, and so much more. Perfect for Halloween collections and for readers who love reading about ghosts all year long, but make sure you keep a copy on your Reference shelf; my library kids love the “-Ology” books, but they are eaten alive in circulation.

Back when I used to have actual people and programs in my library – fun times, right? – I used the “‘Ology” books as part of my program planning. I would recreate notes, leading kids to clues that they could look up in the books (Wizardology); read excerpts and use codes (Spyology) as part of dossier files I’d hand out to the kids. They are just so much fun for grownups and kids alike – imagine what I’d have been able to do for this last year’s Imagine Your Story Summer Reading? Now, to think about ways to recreate these programs virtually… Actually, these are pretty much made for Escape Room planning, so let me just get my notebook out and start writing!

The ‘Ology books are largely authored by Duglad Steer and have been around for a while, but as they’ve had different publishers, it’s hard to find one spot for all of them. I linked to Candlewick’s page earlier, and I also found a Beautiful Books page that lists quite a lot of them. If you click through to the Ghostology book detail page, check the lower left-hand part of the screen for more titles by Dugald Steer, and that’s also a pretty detailed list. Dugald Steer also has an ESL-ology website for teachers and educators, with free tools for English lessons in the classroom!

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade

Halloween seek and find with Waldo

Where’s Waldo? Spooky Spotlight Search, by Martin Handford, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536211580

Ages 5-9

Waldo’s getting into the Halloween spirit with his newest Spotlight Search book! Similar to the Spectacular Spotlight Search (2018), this book contains six seek and find challenges, all under cover of darkness – but fear not! You have a glow-in-the-dark spotlight searcher to help you shed some light on the details! Look for Waldo, Woof, Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard, and Odlaw in every scene, in addition to changing, challenging checklists on each spread. And don’t forget to find all the carved pumpkins! Inspect ghostly galleons and shipwrecks, stage a great escape from a hidden cave and watch dragons fly, and seek shelter at a gloomy castle, where you can join a creaky dance party! Sharpen your eyeballs and wield your spotlight wisely, and have fun!

My third grader thoroughly enjoys the Waldo books, and has been swooping his spotlight around since this book arrived at our house, courtesy of Candlewick. Need more temptation? Fine. Remember, the first Where’s Waldo was a banned book. Scandal!
These books are classic fun and belong with your I Spy books and your puzzle books. They keep readers sharpening their attention skills and they’re just fun to do. Enjoy.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

This Halloween, invite Gustavo The Shy Ghost to visit!

Gustavo the Shy Ghost, by Flavia Z. Drago, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536211146

Ages 3-7

Gustavo is a sweet ghost, but he’s terribly shy. He has a big crush on a monster named Alma, and wants to be friends with the other ghosts and monsters in his neighborhood, but he’s so shy, he just ends up hiding around them and hoping he’ll be noticed, to no avail. But one thing Gustavo loves to do is play violin, and he decides to invite all his potential friends to a Day of the Dead violin concert. That’s got to win them over! But… will they show?

A perfect choice for Día de los Muertos and Halloween alike, Gustavo the Shy Ghost is a story of friendship, overcoming fears, and celebration. Mixed media illustrations give us adorable renderings of ghosts and monsters, with Latinx touches like the papel picado cover and decorations in Gustavo’s and other monsters’ homes. Gustavo’s mother is a skeleton and his father is a ghost; his mother looks like a simpler, stripped-down sugar skull and sugar skulls and Mexican art decorate his home. There are other smart touches throughout, like the goldfish skeleton in the fish tank, the book cart with Edgar Allan Poe and Cthulhu books, and the altars at headstones in the cemetery. Front endpapers show a photo booth strip of Gustavo by himself, and the back endpapers show photos of Gustavo enjoying the company of his new friends.

Adorable, and perfect for holiday reading. Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable activity kit with a maze, drawing, and writing activity. There are so many great Día de los Muertos crafts and activities now, too! AZ Central has a 32-page downloadable packet with information about the holiday, coloring pages, and activities; the Think Make Share blog has a step-by-step instructional post on making papel picado, complete with templates.

Gustavo the Shy Ghost has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Halloween Books: Bears and Boos

Bears and Boos, by Shirley Parenteau/Illustrated by David Weber, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208375

Ages 2-5

In the seventh Bears outing by Shirley Parenteau and David Weber, the bears are getting ready for Halloween and couldn’t be more excited! They rifle through a box of costumes, but as they get excited, manners give way to chaos, and little Floppy’s knocked right on her plushy behind! Floppy decides to let everyone else have their turn, but when the fuzz clears, there’s nothing left for Floppy but a crumpled sash. The other bears realize their mistake, and each takes a turn in giving part of their costume to Floppy, creating a wonderful costume. Now that they’re all ready for Halloween, they can all enjoy their holiday. As Shirley Parenteau writes, “When the bears all share, the bears all win. Let the Halloween celebration begin!”

A gently rhyming story that makes for a wonderful readaloud about sharing and kindness, kids and adults alike will recognize the chaos that can happen when emotions run high and even small tasks, like choosing a costume from a box, becomes a free-for-all. Having the teddies empathize with their friend and share their costumes with Floppy teaches a valuable lesson about kindness. The acrylic artwork is soft in color and depicts the teddies in their different colors, with cheerful costumes. Soft orange endpapers feature hanging ghost decorations for a fun Halloween feel. A fun Halloween addition to an adorable series.

Shirley Parenteau’s author website has downloadable resources for educators and caregivers, including writing prompts and drawing sheets.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate

Spooky Halloween Activities – A spooky wipe-clean doodle pad

Spooky Halloween Activities, by Priddy Books, (July 2019, Priddy Books), $6.99, ISBN: 9780312528836

Ages 4-7

A quick Halloween goodie to crow about: Spooky Halloween Activities is a fun activity book from Priddy Books, that comes with wipe-clean pages and a dry-eraase pen. Kids can complete scary mazes, decorate a door and design a Halloween monster, or use the included stickers to design a costume and fill a witch’s cupboard. The book is spiral-bound and sturdy, and you can use any dry-erase pen if the one that comes with it goes missing, or if two kids want to work together on a creation (and since the book is spiral, it can be laid out flat to let two kids work on a page simultaneously). If you are able to invest in a few of them, are a nice, reusable handout to kids at the reference desk, classroom for quiet time, or your living room. It’s a fun, creative way to get the Halloween vibes flowing.