Tales of happy hauntings

BOOKS - October 2004


Judy Belanger


Halloween. Always a fun time with parties, costumes and a day when children can get their fill of candy. As a school librarian I always enjoyed reading and telling Halloween stories. It is always fun to watch the parade as the happy students go around the block for everyone to see the colorful costumes.

HERE THEY COME! by David Costello, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15; ages 3-6.

Mother Monster is explaining to her two children that they are in for a treat this night. First they must get ready for the guests who will be coming. Among the many guests arriving for the party in the forest are witches, ghosts, hobgoblins and gremlins. The great ghost storyteller delivers his scary tale and then announces "the scariest creatures of all" are coming. Everyone scatters and hides to watch the annual Halloween parade. The monster children agree it was a fun scare.

PUMPKIN CAT, by Ann Turner, illustrated by Amy June Bates, Hyperion, $15.99; ages 3-7. One stormy night a little cat finds her way into the book drop at the library. Because of her orange color she is named Pumpkin Cat. The days are very busy for her with all the children in the library, but the nights are lonely. Even the sock monkey won't talk to her. The only sounds she hears are the mice in the basement. One day the library is filled with activity as all the children arrive in costumes.

When everyone leaves, the librarians find a basket with a kitten in it and a note saying Halloween Cat needs a home. Pumpkin Cat takes charge and knows she will no longer be lonely.

She will tell her new friend all about the mice and the monkey another day.

SIXTEEN RUNAWAY PUMPKINS, by Dianne Ochiltree, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin, Simon & Schuster, $16.95; ages 4-8.

Sam the raccoon heads out with her wagon on grandpa's farm to harvest some pumpkins. She has fun looking for them under the vines. Readers can count along with Sam as she loads her wagon. When Sam is finished she starts back to the house with 16 pumpkins piled in her wagon. The wagon wobbles, tips and the pumpkins go rolling down the hill. Some of the pumpkins skid right into the kitchen onto the clean floor. Gramps tells Sam not to worry as baking ingredients are assembled on the kitchen table. All work together to make pumpkin pies.

HAPPY HAUNTING, AMELIA BEDELIA, by Herman Parish, pictures by Lynn Sweat, Greenwillow Books, $15.99; ages 6 and up.

Amelia Bedelia is at school helping all the children with their Halloween costumes. When she arrives home the house is a mess. Mr. Rodgers quickly reminds Amelia Bedelia they are having a Halloween party that night and she should leave the decorations alone, it took them a long time to get the house looking like this. There are a few things she could help with, such as crack a window and add a leaf to the table. I'm sure anyone who has ever read an Amelia Bedelia book can guess how she accomplishes those tasks. The only thing left now for Amelia Bedelia is to get herself ready for the party.

THE WORST BEST HALLOWEEN EVER, by Barbara Robinson, HarperCollins, $14.99; ages 8 and up.

The Herdmans are back, all six of them, and just in time to spoil another Halloween, or so it seems. One way they always ruin the fun for the other kids is by stealing their treats and then selling their candy back. This year things are going to be different. Mr. Crabtree, the principal at Woodrow Wilson School, wants all Halloween activities to take place at school under the direction of the parents. He is sure this means no Herdmans to contend with because they won't show up. To the kids it means no trick-or-treating and no candy. Halloween will be safe and controlled according to the principal and the PTA. All seems to be going well as the kids go through Mystery Swamp, bob for apples and eat doughnuts with punch. What fun. It soon is discovered that some of the children seem to be missing. Then all the lights go out. Are the Herdmans at it again? How could they possibly change this Halloween from the worst to the best ever?

GLUE & GO COSTUMES FOR KIDS: SUPER-DUPER DESIGNS WITH EVERYDAY MATERIALS, by Holly Cleeland, Sterling Publishing Co., $14.95; all ages.

Are your children ready with their Halloween costumes? If not, here is where you will find some creative ideas for making some very different costumes. These are made from supplies you already have around the house: cardboard, plastic cups and bowls, tape, paint and glue. Each costume pattern includes, along with the directions, a list of supplies, tools needed and what the child wears. There are 28 different ideas. Ever wonder what to do with those plastic foam peanuts that come in packages? How about a box of popcorn? An old laundry basket and empty milk cartons combine to make a lovely basket of flowers. What fun families can have working together to make this Halloween a little different.




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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