Not-so-scary Halloween fun with books

Books - October 2005


Judy Belanger

This is one of those great times of the year. We get the beauty of nature in the fall colors and the fun of Halloween. What could be better? Here are a few books that include activities for you to enjoy. The illustrators will provide extra pleasure for you with their colorful pictures.

SCARE THE MOON, by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Sterling, $9.95; ages 3-6.

Little witch Griselda and little warlock George have a booing contest to see which one of them can scare the moon. They each try several times, and you can see what happens as you lift the flaps and pull the tabs to find a mouse, a bat, a ghost and a house that have been really scared. It is only after they begin to work together that they realize their mission can be accomplished.

HALLOWEEN NIGHT, by Elizabeth Hatch, illustrated by Jimmy Pickering, Doubleday, $15.95; ages 3-6.

Hatch builds her story like the popular tale of "The House That Jack Built." A mouse, hiding in a pumpkin, watches the bat, owl and cat, who are all out this Halloween night. Along comes the little child, dressed as a ghost, who gets frightened by the dog and spills the candy. The other characters get scared and run or fly off home. That lucky little mouse ends up with the all the treats. Children love to tell cumulative stories and they will enjoy following along with this lively group.

10 TRICK-OR-TREATERS: A HALLOWEEN COUNTING BOOK, by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Linda Davick, Knopf, $9.95; ages 3-8.

Ten costumed children set out to trick-or-treat. On Halloween night there are many scary creatures around town. As the children travel they are frightened by a frog and then a spider, who each chase a child home. The others meet a ghost, a skeleton and a witch, and again a few more children hurry home. Children will enjoy counting down with this all-rhyme story. Finally the last little child goes home to bed. The costumed characters may give children ideas for their own Halloween attire.

A PIPKIN OF PEPPER, by Helen Cooper, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16; ages 4-8.

Cat, Squirrel and Duck have finished making their famous pumpkin soup when they discover they are out of salt. Cat and Squirrel decide to go to the city to get salt so the soup will taste its best. Duck asks to go along. Duck has never been to the city and he is asked what he would do if he gets lost. He quickly tells them he will call the Police Dog. Duck is told the best thing to do is not to get lost at all, but if he does to stay where he is and they will come back and find him.

As they are going to the store, Duck is thinking they should also get some pepper—the pepper comes in a pipkin which, according to the dictionary, is a small earthenware container. With that on his mind, he isn’t paying attention, and gets lost. With the help of a kind Mother Hen who calls 911, Duck is reunited with his friends.

Cooper has not only written a story of friendship but includes an example to help children learn about safety while shopping. If you are not familiar with the first story (Pumpkin Soup) about these lovable friends, I recommend you read it first. Readers will learn that each animal has his own specific job—until one day Duck wants to trade. This story includes the recipe for pumpkin soup, which sounds like a fun way to spend a fall afternoon.

Be sure to look at all the details Cooper has added in her illustrations.

THE UGLY PUMPKIN, by Dave Horowitz, Putnam, $15.99; ages 4-8.

Among a field of jack-o’-lanterns stands a pumpkin with a very unusual shape. Nobody has picked him, and because the pumpkins have been carved, they all seem to be laughing at him. Along comes a skeleton and he, too, rejects the pumpkin. Halloween has come and gone, so the ugly one moves along to November where he finds a field of squash. Now the ugly one knows where he belongs.Horowitz, with his all-in-rhyme tale, has given a new twist to the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Ugly Duckling." This book provides a good opportunity for obtaining predictions from the child as to why the pumpkin is so ugly or strange looking.

THE SCARY SHOW OF MO AND JO, by Hanoch Piven, Running Press, $18.95; ages 4-8.

Mo and Jo decide to put on a show. They want it to be scary. Mo goes first. She uses a sweet potato for a nose, a straw whisk broom for hair and some garlic for teeth on her round little face. When the top part of the page is unfolded, the reader sees how the addition of those simple objects has turned a circle face into a witch. Jo decides to use a chili pepper for a nose, mop string for a beard and a cone for a hat to become a warlock face.

Hanoch tells us he likes using objects to draw and gives many suggestions of other materials which can be included to make interesting faces. Children will have fun talking about what they see on each page of story. Keep this book in mind for a creative activity on a rainy or wintry day.

Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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