These picture books may not actually scare kids ages four and up, but they'll sure enjoy reading them over and over again.
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: A Lullaby, by Jane Yolen, and brilliantly painted from top to bottom of every page by Kelly Murphy, is a most creative story about the most unique-looking monsters waiting for school to end so they can rush home and begin their nightly routine of eating, bathing and finally getting ready for bed. The hilarious antics they display as they go through their evening's events are great fun and just might make your little monsters better ready for bedtime. These unusual creatures are akin to the bizarre and fun characters in the movie Monsters, Inc.
The 13 Nights of Halloween, by Guy Vasilovich, is a take-off from the holiday version: The 13 Days of Christmas. This version has an eclectic slant and a bit of the aura of Tim Burton's art from The Nightmare Before Christmas. But don't be dissuaded; it's fun and clever, if a bit dark. A little girl, with over-size eyes and bats wrapped around her pigtails, says "On the first night of Halloween my mummy gave to me: a bright, shiny Skeleton Key." Her mummy appears to be a skeleton wrapped in a mummy's sheath. And on it goes. On the third night, the little girl is given three baseball bats that are actually bats flying with baseball caps on their heads.
Frangoline and the Midnight Dream, by Clemency Pearce, and painted with mixed media by Rebecca Elliott, is a rhyming story about nice young Frangoline by day, but when nighttime comes she dons her black cape and leaves her bed and scares animal and the moon alike. The texturized pictures fill the pages and reflect the goings-on for a spooky nightly adventure.
The Sleepless Little Vampire, by Richard Eglielski, has a young vampire attempting to figure out why he can't go to sleep. Throughout the story, the climax builds as the water-colored scene begins to extend to both pages. Upon further investigation, and by returning to the story and gleaning more clues, the answer will become obvious. Onomatopoeias and alliterations make this a perfect read-aloud for bedtime.
Gibbus Moony Wants to Bite You!, by Leslie Muir, and delightfully painted with watercolors and acrylic by Jen Corace, has young Gibbus losing his baby fangs and finally getting his real ones. He's ready to bite something. But his grandpa reminds him that his family members are fruit suckers "and proud of it." But when he meets his new "normal" neighbor, he's about to discover why his bite will never be the same again. This story's de-bite-ful!
Pumpkin Cat, by Anne Mortimer, is a sweet and simple story about mouse showing cat how to grow a pumpkin and then what he does with the pumpkin once it grows to maturity. The painted pictures are bright and perfectly matched to the story.
Here are two level two books for early readers perfect for this holiday. Inside a House That is Haunted, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, and brightly painted by Tedd Arnold, is a story that's been refurbished with Arnold's delightful trade-mark — oversized eyes. This accumulative tale begins with a house that is haunted, a hand that knocks on the door that is haunted, a spider that falls to the floor in the house that is haunted and so on. This is an easy read, but frightfully fun to read and enjoy the hauntingly funny pictures throughout.
Never Kick A Ghost and Other Silly Chillers, from the I Can Read! series, by Judy Sierra, and painted by Pascale Constantin, encompasses five different quick tales that are a blend of surprise and humor. The title tale is about a man who comes across something small and possibly a ghost-like animal, and he kicks it. Each time he kicks it, it morphs into
The last three books are unique with flaps that lift and with designs to build. What's in the Witch's Kitchen?, by Nick Sharratt, is a very clever and inventive flap display of two rhyming choices by either opening to the left or to the right. One will show a nice choice and the other — not so good. For instance, one choice is "biscuits and cakes." Or the other choice is "spiders and snakes.”
The Monstrous Book of Monsters, by Dr. Thomas Jelly (alias Libby Hamilton with illustrations by Aleksei Bitsko and Jonny Duddle) is an inventive over-sized book full of spritely-looking creatures and information of how to avoid or capture each one. The pages are filled with monster friendly (or not-so-friendly) pictures along with pop-ups, flaps and smaller pages. But, beware, not of the werewolf, but of the werefish, for they do exist — or subsist!
Make a Mummy, Shrink a Head and Other Useful Skills, by Pat Murphy, begins with a warning. Don't go any further in this book for you "could find yourself up the Nile without a paddler outing the jungle surrounded by hungry mosquitoes." Be ready for learning how to understand hieroglyphs, Mayan caverns and building a sarcophagus. This book is great fun!