Halloween’s here in less than a week, but just like the candy, kids’ interest in Halloween will last well beyond October 31. (Just watch for the little ones still in fairy wings and super-hero capes as we approach Thanksgiving!)
Recently we checked out three new Halloween books for kids to see how they rate for quality of story and illustrations, as well as for satisfying a lingering fascination with this fun and spooky holiday.
Halloween Surprise, by Corinne Demas, illustrated by R.W. Alley
Halloween Surprise follows Lily’s search to find the perfect Halloween costume. After many tries, she looks to her pet kitties for inspiration and finds the right outfit.
Lily’s costume ideas will appeal to kids who love to dress up and who take great care in deciding what they want to be for Halloween. The story’s illustrations sweetly detail Lily’s many tries and kids ages 2 to 6 will enjoy seeing Lily craft each costume herself from household items. This story has no scary elements, except a ghost costume which is not presented in a frightening way.
Haunted House, Haunted Mouse , by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
In Haunted House, Haunted Mouse, Mouse hitches a ride in a trick-or-treater’s candy sack, only to get lost and take shelter in a seemingly haunted house. When the rain clears, Mouse discovers the house isn’t haunted and luckily finds his way back home.
This story is simple enough for preschool kids, especially those who like candy (ha!), but does make mention of scary themes, including a skeleton and a ghost. Some vocabulary is too advanced for the story’s target age range of about 4 to 7 years. The illustrations, likewise, seem too sophisticated and abstract for the level of the storyline, and only serve to distract the reader from following along.
Mouse and Mole, A Perfect Halloween, written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee
Mouse and Mole, A Perfect Halloween is one of a series featuring characters Mouse and Mole and includes four related stories. In the stories, Mouse and Mole prepare for Halloween, select and carve their pumpkins, enter the pumpkins in a jack-o-lantern contest, and read a Halloween story together.
Aimed at slightly older children, around ages 5 to 8, this book contains more advanced themes such as Mouse and Mole purposely scaring and tricking one another. Appealing illustrations accompany the stories, though the plots of the stories seem disjointed with extraneous elements. (Example: After Mole carves his pumpkin for the contest, he has a nightmare where all the other jack-o-lanterns look exactly like his.) In the final story, Mouse helps Mole discover that being a little bit scared can also be exciting, and together they dress up and go trick-or-treating, still teasing and scaring one another.
Our recommendation: Check out Halloween Surprise for kids who love costumes and dressing up for Halloween. Reserve the other selections for kids with an insatiable appetite for Halloween, and for those who don’t mind being a tiny bit scared!
Nancy Chaney is a Seattle writer and parent of a rambunctious toddler.