Halloween can be scary. For some grown-ups (and older kids) that’s half the fun. But for any child (or parent) who has been kept awake all night, for nights on end, by something that was scary enough to induce nightmares, the spook-ily stuff (as Molly and Jacob, the now 3 1/2 year old twins we’re forever talking about) is to be avoided. Now these books are just plain old Halloween fun for the younger set. So enjoy, worry free!
Zen Ghosts by John Muth
It’s Halloween and Stillwater the panda arrives at the home of his friends Addy, Michael, and Karl. The children are excited about the magical evening, their costumes, their bags full of treats. Taking up a Chinese calligraphy pen, Stillwater draws a story of wonder for the children. But is it Stillwater telling the story or a special visitor? And who are the real characters in the tale? It’s a not-too-scary ghost story that is based on a Zen koan that leaves you with more questions than it answers. As usual, John Muth’s illustrations are gorgeous, and the writing lyrical. Stillwater, the Zen panda who spouts haikus and gentle wisdom is also featured in two of John Muth’s other books: Zen Shorts and Zen Ties.
Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
What does a skeleton do when it gets the hiccups? He can’t drink water, eat sugar or hold his breath (though kids and adults will giggle to see him try). Even his friend Ghost can’t scare his hiccups away. What will work? Even more fun than finding out is enjoying the silly, detailed pictures along the way. This is a great book for de-spooking the idea of skeletons.
Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kahora
This deceptively simple book stays with you. Whether it is the beautiful illustrations, the vibrant Halloween colors, or the charm of the story, everyone in the family will appreciate this book. Not scary at all, it’s the gentle tale of a nice witch who moves into a haunted house and has a very practical application for all the ghostly inhabitants. When winter comes, don’t miss Kahora’s other book, Here Comes Jack Frost.
Bone Soup by Cambria Evans
Witches and zombies and mummies, oh my! This charming story features all the usual Halloween creatures, but they are rendered so charmingly, and the story is so delightful that there isn’t a scare in the whole tale. It’s a Halloween themed telling of “Stone Soup”, and a fun idea for a Halloween Dinner would be to make a soup, and throw in a bone as a surprise. (We’re already planning on making Pumpkin Soup at our house, in honor of the holiday and Helen Cooper’s fabulous books – now we can’t wait to add a bone for a little cross book cooking!)
These two goofy parodies are actually enjoyed more by parents and older kids who remember the Margaret Wise Brown classics. But we had to include them:
“Once there was a little mummy who wanted to run away. “If you run away,” said Mother Mummy, “I will get you! For you are my rotten little mummy!” If you are a child who read this book recently, or a parent who has the words to the classic imprinted on your brain forever, you’re already cracking up. Watching the little Mummy change into different horrid creatures is pretty funny, as is the scariest creature he can think of… And there’s also Goodnight Goon: “Goodnight skull/And goodnight shoe/Goodnight creature/Goodnight goo/And goodnight to the old werewolf hollering ‘Boo.'” That’s a perfect Halloween good night story for any little monster!