Reserve this for older preschoolers and primary-grade children who may need a fun outlet for candy-fueled Halloween...

MONSTER MASH

Luring readers with a golden, holographic display type for the title and a grooving green monster on the cover, Catrow pairs his freakishly imaginative artwork with the lyrics to the perennial favorite.

The entire song serves as the rhythmic text in this over-the-top visual experience. Adults who read this aloud will find it difficult not to sing it instead, but a slower oral pace is necessary so that younger eyes can take in the decadently gruesome, bizarre and otherwise weird things that populate the pages. The surreal images are created with a combination of pencil, watercolor, gouache and ink. Kids will either cringe or be fascinated by the spiderlike eyeball with blood vessel trailing behind, the skull with two eyes in one socket outfitted with an octopus bottom or the huge Venus flytrap/insect hybrid. The party reaches a crescendo when the coffin bangers arrive with “The Crypt-Kicker Five,” and out come emaciated rocker skeletons riffing on guitars and impressing with gyrating moves à la the Rolling Stones. On the final pages, two normal kids and a dog come to the door of the creepy castle…and “catch on in a flash” when doing the “monster mash.”

Reserve this for older preschoolers and primary-grade children who may need a fun outlet for candy-fueled Halloween craziness. Clever and odd—but ultimately not essential. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-21479-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa.

HOW TO CATCH SANTA

From the How To... series

The creators of the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) continue their series with this story about a brother and sister who want to capture Santa on his annual visit to their home.

The children discuss improbable ideas for spotting or catching Santa, including a complicated sequence with notes to lure Santa up to their bedroom. They wait up for Santa, and a nighttime view of Santa and the reindeer on the neighborhood’s roofs makes his arrival seem imminent. Then, in a disappointing conclusion, the children fall asleep with no sign of Santa’s arrival. In the morning it’s clear Santa has been there, as the presents are under the tree and the cookies and carrots have been eaten. There is a trail of red glitter leading to the chimney from the letter the kids sent to Santa, but that’s the only surprise this story has to offer. Readers might be expecting some sort of exciting trap for Santa or some clever way the children get to meet him or ride in his sleigh. No…just a sprinkle of red glitter. Digitally produced illustration are bright and cheery, with cute kids and amusing details, but sharp-eyed readers will notice the decorated Christmas tree in the living room is inexplicably placed in four different locations on different pages.

Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49839-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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