Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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This Hallowen, get your hands on these fun picture books for kids and read about a few messy monsters, odd creatures and scary pumpkins. Yes, it’s that time of the year when witches and vampires become children’s most popular friends and when monsters and pumpkins get all the fun. Do you have a Halloween costume yet? Are you ready to carve your Jack’o Lantern? Have the trees on your street turned into their best fall colors yet? Bring on Halloween!
Ten Timid Ghosts
Written and illustrated by Jennifer O’Connell
A witch tries to scare ten ghosts out of a haunted house so that she can move in. One by one, the timid ghosts are all scared by different Halloween creatures and they fly away to the nearby woods. Are they happy about the mean witch moving into their house? Oh no. Thanks to a clever ghost, the ten timid find a way to be back in their house, just in time to welcome trick-or-treaters. Have fun!
Ages: 2 years+
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures
Written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
When Julia’s house settles in by the seashore, Julia realizes that the house is too quiet. Hanging a sign outside her doorstep, she invites lost creatures to keep her company. Soon enough, the little girl welcomes sad trolls, excited goblins, moody mermaids and other fantastical castaways. The guests are nice but they’re way too messy and way too noisy, Julia wants more quiet and order. Here comes the Chores Chart! Illustrated with wonderful details, this story brings home the message that harmony can come if everybody pitches in, even if we are all very different. Plus, the book is a terrific non-scary monster bedtime read.
Ages: 4 years +
Written by Stephen Wunderli, illustrated by Tim Zeltner
How can you be scary when you’re small and cute? Planted in the fall, a small pumpkin seed tries its best to scare falling leaves or snowflakes in the garden but to no avail. Small pumpkin seeds simply aren’t scary. Reassured by the wind that her time will come, the seed falls asleep in the winter ground and wakes up in the spring—water! Sunshine! At the next fall, the seed grows into a large pumpkin destined to become a scary jack’o’lantern! This tale of harvest, perfect for Halloween, shows children the lifecycle of a pumpkin with a fun twist on the impatience to grow up. You young gardeners be nice with your pumpkin seeds—they could become scary one day!
Ages: 3 years+
Penguin and Pumpkin
Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon
Penguin and Pumpkin talks about every child’s favorite farm day in the fall—a trip to the pumpkin farm. When Penguin and Bootsy plan a day at the pumpkin farm, Penguin’s little Brother wants to come but he’s too small! He’ll need to stay behind at the North Pole and won’t be able to see what fall is like in warmer climates. What should Penguin do to make him better? Wait til you see how Penguin recreates the fall season for his little brother. This story of friendship is cute as can be and will be a perfect companion to your own day at the pumpkin farm—or to a windy day when leaves fall from trees.
Ages: 3 years+
At the Old Haunted House
Written by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Nate Wragg
At the old haunted house in a room with no sun, lived a warty green witch and her wee witchy one. “Spell!” cried the witch. “Poof” cried the one. And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun. This Halloween take on Over in the Meadow is fun! Each new page brings a fresh batch of werewolves, vampires, or witches, all involved in spooky activities on their big night. If you’ve ever visited The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, you’ll feel like this story fits right in with the gothic atmosphere. Empty hallways, misty graveyards, floating ghosts—it’s authentic Halloween candy for the eyes and the book will surely become a favorite Halloween read. Ready for a silly Halloween bash?
Ages: 3 – 7 years.
This review is also published in the Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine, October 2014 issue, as the Books for Kids column. I’ve been writing this column since 2005 and love discovering new books for all ages.