Along with the cooler days of the autumn season comes Halloween, a holiday tailor-made to engage children’s imaginations and sense of adventure. Child360 taps into that spirit with our monthly reading recommendations, chosen to delight children of all ages.
For Infants and Toddlers
by Ellie Sandall (Margaret K. McElderry $17.99) Ages 1-4
Books for our littlest readers require a special balance of just the right elements—the latest from author Ellie Sandall hits all the right notes with a largely pictorial story of cavorting lemurs, depicted with long, striped tails and round, red eyes that look incessantly surprised. Pre-readers will be engaged by the colorful pencil-and-collage illustrations that successfully convey the storyline with or without text, while older children can master the lilting poetry and embellish the story with their own imaginations.
Amid a geometric background that features a maze of tree branches and golden leaves, the lemurs bounce around the page, in search of “things to chew, things to chase, things to hunt, and things to race.” The story is told with minimal text, using this simple rhyme structure and the appealing repetition of “Follow me! Follow me!” After a gently ominous encounter with a hungry crocodile, the gang eventually settles down for an afternoon nap.
A note for our teachers: The large-format artwork makes “Follow Me!” a great choice for group story time.
For Preschool and Beyond
by Adam Rex (Lucasfilm $17.99) Ages 4-8
Which Halloween costumes will be popular this year? Some of the most traditional choices either fall into the “scary” category – ghost, witch, or vampire – or feature characters from perennial film favorites like “Star Wars.” If either of those describe the children you know, here’s a lighthearted (and hilarious) seasonal read; it’s also likely to elicit an amused chuckle from any adults reading along.
Taking center stage in a series of black-shrouded drawings accented with bright yellow graffiti-style text, the masked Darth Vader stands impassive and unimpressed as he’s challenged by a wolfman, vampire, witch, and other threats. Asked if he’s afraid of the dark, Vader responds with a deadpan “Is that a joke?” He insists, “I am not scared. I will never be scared.”
Ultimately, the core question (what could possibly scare Lord Vader?) is resolved with a clever twist at the end, to the delight of both readers and their teachers/parents.
by Blake Liliane Hellman, illustrated by Steven Henry (Atheneum $17.99) Ages 3-8
Elliot’s a cute kid, and one morning he awakens to the realization that…something smells! Thus begins this endearing story animated by witty ink-and-watercolor drawings.
He looks around for the culprit: there’s no skunk outside, it isn’t coming from Mr. Jiggles the pet guinea pig, nor the bubbling kettle of Grandma’s “gefartzenschnaffer.” Trotting around in his favorite skeleton costume – the one he’s refused to take off since Halloween – Elliot pokes around the trash, looks under his bed, even sniffs his little sister, but finds nothing to explain what’s driving his nostrils crazy.
Almost as disturbing, his mother now insists he take a bath. Funny thing is, after Elliot takes his bath and Mom puts his costume in the wash, something doesn’t smell anymore! Yes, there’s a hygiene lesson hidden in these pages, making the book both fun and educational.