Wednesday 9 October 2019

Seasonal round-up: Haunting Halloween reads

It's that time of year again! Darker nights, shadows and spooks. So why not fill up those cauldron with sweets, carve out those pumpkins and settle down for some seasonal tales.
These are some of our favourite Halloween stories - both new and old.

Beast Feast by Emma Yarlett      👍👍👍👍👍

This is the first Emma Yarlett book I have read and, to me, it's picture writing at it's best. A Halloween classic in the making, this story is told by the monster on the cover, who is holding his 'Dinner'.
Monster writes to his friends and invites them to share his 'Dinner' by having a feast. His equally hungry monster friends respond via a series of letters, each one making clear how they expect their 'Dinner' to be served. Can he meet their demands? Or is he getting a little too close to his feast?
Funny, original and charming, this is an alternative to the more traditional 'spooky' tale. The monsters and colour schemes creates a great Halloween atmosphere and Emma Yarlett makes the story seem so deceptively and deliciously simple. Why didn't I think of writing this??!! Because, I clearly don't have Emma's brilliant talent.
Other books by Emma Yarlett (which I am now determined to read):
Dragon Post
Nibbles: The Monster Hunt
Nibbles: The Book Monster
    Poppy Pickle
   Orion and the dark

Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet. Illustrated by Nick East


This delightful story offers a more traditional Halloween tale with witches, haunted houses and pumpkins. Told in rhyme, this lives up to Sue Hendra's other brilliant stories.
When a witch brings her pumpkins to life so they can help her prepare for Halloween, she doesn't expect to create Christopher Pumpkin. Challenging gender stereotypes, Christopher isn't like the other 'scary' pumpkins. Instead, he loves pink parties, balloons and cupcakes. But when the witch threatens to turn him into soup he if can't be scary, Christopher must create a frightful plan.
For any little ones out there who get a bit intimidated by spooky tales, this has a wonderfully pink, sparkly end. Christopher is one of the most charming characters I have ever met and I would love to meet him again. The story humorously shows how we all are different and how important it is to be yourself.

What's in the Witches Kitchen? by Nick Sharratt  👍👍👍👍👍
Trick or treat? This interactive Halloween story still remains champion in our house.
Quick! The witch is out! It's time to explore her kitchen. But, depending on what you choose, what lies in store could be a trick or a treat...
and be careful the witch doesn't come back!
Children will love lifting the flaps over and over again to reveal the Halloween surprises. Oh and by the way, they rhyme.
Would you rather have strawberry tea or goblin's wee?
A delight year after year, our Halloween just would not be the same without it.

And now to some series reads:
Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg 👍👍👍👍
This timeless classic goes back to when I was at school and I can still remember the spooky feeling it gave me now. These books are funny but atmospheric with repetitive, rhythmic language that my children enjoy just as much as I did. The pairing wouldn't work as well without the ever-present dog who adds incredibly fun.
Nothing rivals these books in terms of uniqueness. The stories are all set in the iconic 'dark, dark night' and the characters create 'spookiness' in a fun and familiar way.
There is now a whole series of Funnybones stories. On reading the whole collection, I did find that they became a bit repetitive and tiresome to read. I didn't say that to children that, of course. They regularly pick them out at bedtime and especially delight when the skeletons are reduced to a pile of muddled bones-which happens often.
Flippin' good family fun.

Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Winnie lives in a completely black house. Problem is, her black cat Wilbur is also completely black and it's causing a problem. The answer? To turn Wilbur into a range of wonderfully bright colours. But these colours are causing problems too and Wilbur is not a happy cat! Will this loveable witch ever find the perfect solution?
Winnie and Wilbur make the perfect pairing. Across the series of stories they embark on a wide range of hapless adventures, all of which feel unique. Look out for the especially brilliant, Happy Birthday, Winnie, Winnie and Wilbur meet Santa, The Amazing Pumpkin (my favourite). These titles are still being released and my kids have never turned down a Winnie story!
The biggest draw to the Winnie and Wilbur books is, not only the loveable characters, but the illustrations. Korky Paul's attention to detail is fantastic and my daughter loves spotting familiar faces among the crowds. Also hugely popular in our house is the accompanying Winnie the Witch Search and Find Book, which includes a scene from each of the original series stories, with creative things to find on each page. Unfortunately, I can no longer find a link to buy this book new but there is currently a Winnie the Witch Sticker Book and Doodle Book.
Winnie and Wilbur are such colourful characters that these stories crossed over to the chapter book market. A whole series of Winnie chapter books, penned by Laura Owen (who is actually Pippa Goodhart) has opened an exciting new door to fans as they move onto the next phase of their reading journey. Watch out for a review in our chapter book section.

Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll👍👍👍👍👍
Perfect for younger readers, these comic strip style stories are both fun, adorable and just a little bit wacky. Meg, Mog and Owl are always up to something! From being rescued from a desert island to trekking up a foggy mountain and meeting a yeti to hatching dinosaur eggs, it always turns out alright in the end. Well usually!
I love the way how Mog and Owl communicate through speech bubbles and sound effects and how Meg's spells often go horribly wrong.
Don't miss out on sharing this treat with your little ones. I don't think they ever lose their appeal whatever age you are!

I could spend hours reviewing all the Halloween stories we have read. But this is a round-up of our top favourites! Can't wait for more next year! Happy October reading :)

Christopher Pumpkin:
What's in the Witch's Kitchen:
Funny Bones:
Winnie the Witch:
Meg and Mog

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