Scary stories to tell in the dark
Author Arden Druce must be a fine dancer. She knows good rhythm. And after 21 years in the classroom, she has mastered a flair for putting a catchy beat on the page.
ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT
When it's dark and scary,
Who can swoop through the air
With a swish and a flurry?
"I CAN," SAID THE WITCH
And so the pattern is set for each of the traditional symbols kids have come to love and fear about Halloween, including a floppy scarecrow, a jack-o-lantern with a crooked smile, a big-eyed owl and more. But none are too scary, really. Even the witch, complete with broom and scraggly hair, has a sweet smile and looks a lot like your Aunt Edna. The hissing, arch-backed black cat seems to be trying his best to frighten passersby, but you just want to pick him off the page, scratch his furry head and say, Cut it out, Midnight. How about a kitty treat to stop all that noise? The art is that fun.
Illustrator David Wenzel portrays a typical night of trick-or-treat that is spooky, but charming, dark, but full of bright energy. Light from the children's flashlights creates interesting shadows on fences. Details on every page hide secrets and surprises. Most impressive is a transparent ghost (how does he do that with paint, anyway?) who is eerie, yet strikingly beautiful. And the rattling-bones skeleton looks as if he could do a fine Charleston.
All the images work hand in hand with the rhyme, rhythm and repetition that all picture book lovers savor. The added elements that take both the author and the artist to successfully pull off are what this old schoolmarm use to call predicting, context clues and searching for details. With page-turning anticipation, readers and art lovers will enjoy Halloween Night several times before discovering all of the story's secrets. Sure, it's a tale about the scariest night of the year, but it's so fun! Hopefully, this pair will team up again. They seem to have a bookmaking one-upmanship that promises to give us another delightful treat.