Books are one of the best ways to introduce very young children to Halloween customs. Mouse's First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a gentle and beautifully illustrated portrait of the happier side of the holiday's sometimes frightening aspects Illustrator Buket Erdogan's use of nighttime shades of indigo, deep reds, and autumnal umber on textured canvas are masterful, fit to be hung on your child's bedroom walls.
For those who have ever had difficulty coming up with creatively creepy costumes, party ideas, and miscellaneous decorations for Halloween events, Jane Bull's The Halloween Book: 50 Creepy Crafts for a Hair-raising Halloween will surely open the door to a mausoleum full of ideas guaranteed to turn a few heads (and maybe a stomach or two). There are tons of practical and very innovative ideas, basic pumpkin carving to making scary window silhouettes, lamp shades, and simple but scary costumes without having to lose an arm and a leg buying all the supplies. The latter section is the real winner, providing some wild food, drink, and game ideas to make your Halloween party a definite scream. The Halloween Book is as valuable at Halloween as Martha Stewart at a summer wedding.
Observe the trials and tribulations of your average small child: brush your teeth, do your homework, clean up your room, etc. Now transform him or her into a ghost, not the frightening transparent anomaly kind of ghost, but the good old fashioned bed sheet variety, and there you have the premise of author Ana Martin Larra–aga's Woo! The Not-So-Scary Ghost. Woo, not yet even ghost in training, decides it's time he should stop listening and start scaring, so just before the sun rises (for ghosts, that's the equivalent of dusk) Woo packs a little bag on a stick, hobo-style, and floats out of his bedroom window to begin his not too scary odyssey. Soon Woo finds himself trapped in full daylight, being treated as less than a scary ghost and more like a bed sheet by everyone he meets. In the end Woo proves the scared can be scary, especially when longing for the safety of family and home. The story of Woo is presented in cuddly primary-colored pages with endearing caricatures throughout to charm the little runaway ghost in everyone.
From beyond the grave comes a new macabre twist on the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. This love story, Cinderella Skeleton is the latest work from author Robert D. San Souci whose previous works include one of many multicultural interpretations of the original Cinderella tale called Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story. San Souci's latest version of the classic children's tale features a deceased and downtrodden girl, Cinderella Skeleton, living miserably with her evil stepsisters, Bony Jane and Gristlene, and their insufferable mother, Screech, in a well appointed mausoleum located in Boneyard Acres. The elements of the classic story are included with all the appropriate graveyard treatments: Prince Charnel invites all but Cinderella to his Halloween Ball; a spell by a good witch transforms her into an exquisitely adorned corpse. When dawn breaks, Cinderella Skeleton flees leaving behind only a slipper, plus a large part of her lower left leg. The rest of the story won't surprise you. Most impressive about Cinderella Skeleton are the brilliantly colored and detailed illustrations by syndicated political cartoonist David Catrow, which bring to "life" the skeletal world in which the story takes place.
Some of the scariest incidents on Halloween can frighten the living daylights out of you. It's all in fun, of course, and so too is the latest in incredibly creative pop-up paper engineering books by Corina Fletcher called Ghoul School. What better medium to express the whimsically ghoulish story of Ms. Vampira's Ghoul School, "where timid souls are transformed into spooky ghosts and goblins in the twinkling of a bat's eye" than with three dimensional interactive pages that beckon young readers to touch, participate in, and read all at the same time. Every page of Ghoul School is a masterfully designed system of moveable pieces and feature remarkable detail in the illustrations and in the foldouts, some of which rise to over eight inches off the page. As with any pop-up book, it will be hard to keep the little ghouls from pulling the pages apart, especially when they offer so many hidden surprises!