Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Just in time for Halloween: Raising the Horseman by Serena Valentino

Raising the Horseman, by Serena Valentino, (Sept. 2022, Disney-Hyperion), $17.99, ISBN: 9781368054614

Ages 12+

The Disney Villains series is one of series I can’t keep on my teen shelves. My library teens devour them and they devour the Disney Twisted Tales series faster than authors can write them, which goes to show you can’t go wrong with the classics, especially when there’s a fun change-up. Serena Valentino, author of the Disney Villains series, takes on the Headless Horseman and the legend of Sleepy Hollow in her newest book, Raising the Horseman. Kat Van Tassel is the latest in a long line of Katrina Van Tassels; the famed heroine of Sleepy Hollow was her many times great-grandmother and every woman in her line has been named for her. She’s straining against that legacy, though: she wants to leave and go to college; she doesn’t want to get married and stay in Sleepy Hollow like every other Katrina, despite her mother’s gentle pushing her toward the very thing. Kat finds herself captivated by a new girl in town just as she’s drifting further apart from her boyfriend, Blake: Isadora Crow challenges Kat to see Blake and his gaslighting behavior and to consider a life beyond expectation. As the 200th anniversary of the Headless Horseman’s rise approaches, Kat’s mother gives her Original Katrina’s diary, and Kat begins unraveling the secrets held within. What really happened that night, so long ago? Valentino gives readers a fun, female-forward twist on the classic spooky story, a smart, bisexual heroine who knows there’s more to life than reliving a legend, and a warning about toxic relationships. There are moments where the story struggles with repetition, but the action is fast-paced and the developing relationship between Kat and Isadora, plus the deftly placed twist in the original Sleepy Hollow story, make this worth the time.

Bottom line? You can’t go wrong with Disney YA. A good purchase.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

It’s time to get spooky with new Halloween books!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! When the weather gets just a bit crisp and the leaves start to fall, it’s time to get spooky. Luckily, Halloween books start hitting stores now, giving me a little taste to get through the last weeks of Summer. Here are a couple of new books to consider adding to your shelves for your little goblins and ghouls.

A Costume for Charly, by C.K. Malone/Illustrated by Alejandra Barajas, (Sept. 2022, Beaming Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781506484051

Ages 4-10

Halloween is coming, and bigender Charly wants to find a costume that “showed they were both a boy and a girl”. After trying on multiple outfits that either hid them or swallowed their masculine or feminine identity, Charly gets to work and makes their own costume that makes them feel as fabulous, frightening, and fantastic! Cartoon art meshes with realistic artwork to give readers a brown-skinned bigender child aware of themselves and unwilling to settle for anything less than perfect. Charly’s confidence and creativity are uplifting; their friends’ supportive reactions are important for readers to see. Details throughout Charly’s room encourage both halves of their identity. A note on nonbinary and bigender identities and resources for further reading make up the back matter. A good first purchase for collections.

Visit CK Malone’s author webpage for more resources.

 

Construction Site Gets a Fright!, by Sherri Duskey Rinker/Illustrated by AG Ford, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797204321

Ages 1-4

I love the Construction Site books by Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford, and my library kids do, too! The adorable trucks and the soothing rhyme make for such good readalouds and bedtime stories. In the latest board book, Construction Site Gets a Fright!, the trucks are all dressed for Halloween, but when it’s time to power down for the evening, we see that even big trucks can be afraid sometimes. Each of the trucks thinks they see something spooky, but on closer examination – and a quick lift of a sturdy flap on the reader’s part – we discover that there’s nothing to be afraid of after all, and that sharing laughs with friends is the best way to chase the “boos” away. AG Ford’s artwork is instantly recognizable; little readers will delight in seeing familiar friends, like Crane Truck and Bulldozer. The artwork has purple and green tones to add to the ghostly atmosphere, with bold blacks popping off the background. Verse is playful, making for a fun Halloween read. An instant purchase for your board books collections.

 

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.