Posts tagged Halloween

The Monsters’ Monster and Frankenstein: Two wickedly fun picture books for Halloween.

Monster's Monster

The Monsters’ Monster

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Patrick McDonnell

32 pages

Little, Brown



Patrick McDonnell’s picture book, Me…Jane, was a 2012 Caldecott Honor book. Taking anecdotes from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, he tells the story of Goodall’s childhood, her beloved toy chimpanzee and her early fascination with the natural world. It is a splendid and captivating book and one I highly recommend.  The Monsters’ Monster is charmingly sweet and another must have from this creator. His art is luscious, and his storytelling is pitch perfect.

Three (rather small) monsters—Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom—lived together in a dark castle high atop a monster-y mountain. Every day the three brutish beasts would argue over which of them was the loudest complainer, or the most miserable.


They decided the best way to settle their argument was to build the biggest, baddest monster ever. The three fiends gathered tape and staples, gunk and goo, bolts and wires and assembled a monster Monster and brought him to life with a great bolt of lightening. (The diminutive size of the comic and adorable monsters is spotlighted by the humongous size of their Frankenstein-y creation.)

The three giddy monsters could barely contain their excitement as the growling giant stumbled toward them.


“And then in a deep, booming voice, he said his first words . . . ‘Dank you!’”

The monster’s Monster, built to be a big, bad menace, was anything but. He was so happy to be alive he threw open a window and giggled. Next he greeted every bat, rat, spider and snake in the castle. When he crashed straight through the castle wall and went down to the village below, Monster’s architects followed in amazement.


Anticipating the monster’s first terrible act, the trio watched as Monster lumbered into the bakery, and awaited the screams and howls that would certainly follow. But after some silence, all they heard was, “Dank you!”

Then Monster clomped out carrying a paper bag and headed toward the beach; Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom followed after him. When Monster arrived at the beach he sat down in the cool sand. Shortly after, the three perplexed and tired monsters collapsed around him. Then Monster gently patted them on their heads and gave them each a warm, powdered jelly doughnut from his bag.


At first the three brutes were stunned into silence but then they repeated what they’d learned from Monster. “Thank you!” they said, and the four friends sat and quietly watched the sunrise and none of them thought about how monstrous they could be.



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Frankenstein: A Monstrous ParodyFrankenstein

Based on Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Ludworst Bemonster

(By Rick Walton & Nathan Hale)

48 pages

Feiwel and Friends



For readers not familiar with the picture book Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans—which was published in 1939 and received a Caldecott Honor—it features a fearless young girl that lives under the tutelage of Miss Clavel, a concerned and doting nun, with eleven other girls. “The smallest one was Madeline.”


One night Miss Clavel senses a disturbance in the house and soon discovers Madeline in distress. The wee girl is rushed to the hospital and promptly has her appendix removed.

Some days later, Miss Clavel and the girls go to visit Madeline in the hospital. The girls covet the toys and candy that fill Madeline’s room but when they see her scar from the surgery they are beside themselves with envy.


That night after Miss Clavel turned out the light, she, once again, knew something was not right. As she entered the room all the little girls cried, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!”

In this delightful parody, the completely adorable main character lives in a creepy old castle with eleven other equally cute monsters. “The ugliest one was Frankenstein.” In the spirit of all things Halloween, the artist uses a variety of orange hues (the illustrations in Madeline were awash in yellow).


“One bleak and dark and dismal night, Miss Devel turned on her light and whispered, ‘Something is not right.’”


She soon discovers that Frankenstein has lost his head! He’s quickly taken to the laboratory. Upon awakening, the formerly decapitated monster finds he’s been given a brand new head, bolted on with two shiny, metal screws. Without delay Frankenstein eats most of the hospital staff, the ceiling fan and a pizza man.


Days later, Miss Devel and her motley pack of monsters visit Frankenstein at the lab. Though they’re jealous of all of his yucky treats, it’s the neck bolts that prompt them to beg to stay. “But Miss Devel replied, ‘No way!’”

Later that night, back at the castle, Miss Devel knows something is amiss once more. Rushing to the monsters’ room she hopes for no more disasters. She opens the gate to discover that all of the monsters have lost their heads!


“Good night, monsters! Now you cannot whine and yell! I’m going back to sleep.”


Most parody picture books don’t deliver on their promise to entertain. They either fall flat or are entertaining for one reading only—but Frankenstein is a wonderful exception to that rule. Fans of Madeline, monsters or Halloween will giggle with glee at this hysterical and thorough parody.


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My top thirteen books for Halloween, from board to young adult.

Five Little Pumpkins


Ages birth to 3

By Dan Yaccarino

16 pages



Dan Yaccarino’s art is bright and bold and features expressive pumpkins, a ghost, a witch and a black cat. Based on the popular rhyme and finger play, this book offers a great opportunity to learn about colors, expressions and counting to five.


One, Two Boo

Board/ Lift-the-Flap

Ages 18 months to 3 years

by Kristen L. Depken

Illustrated by Claudine Gevry

12 pages

Golden Books


Meet a ghost, a cat and other traditional Halloween characters as you count your way through this lift-the-flap haunted house.


Spooky ABC

(Originally published as Halloween ABC in 1987)

Picture Book

Ages 3-6

By Eve Mirriam

Illustrated by Lane Smith

32 pages

Simon and Schuster


This Halloween themed alphabet book features a varied array of spooky items and creatures. F is for fiend, N is for nightmare, and X is for a xylophone made of bones. They’re all creepily and perfectly illustrated by the unmistakably talented Lane Smith.


Dem Bones

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Bob Barner

32 pages

Chronicle Books


White skeletons, set against bright backgrounds, play instruments while teaching young listeners how all our bones connect. This picture book version of the Bones song features additional information about each of the bones as well.



Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Robert Bright

48 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Originally published in 1944, Georgie is not strictly a Halloween book, but it is a great story about a ghost. Every house has a ghost. Georgie loves his house, all its squeaks and its owners. So when some of the squeaks and creaks get fixed, Georgie decides its time to find another house. After searching and searching, Georgie soon realizes he loves his house best.



Picture Book

Ages 3-7

By Dav Pilkey

32 pages



This is one of my favorite Halloween books. Dav Pilkey’s story is sweet and hilarious; his illustrations are colorful, and cartoon-y. The other dogs laugh at Oscar, a dachshund, because he’s so short and long. The teasing gets worse when Oscar’s mother dresses him as a hotdog for Halloween. But it’s Oscar that saves the night after the other dogs are chased into a lake by two mean cats.


The Halloween Play

(Originally published as The Halloween Performance in 1990)

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Felicia Bond

32 pages



Roger has a small and very important part in the school’s Halloween play. This adorable book follows all the pre-show jitters and anticipation through to the performance and post show excitement. Using warm colors to depict tiny Halloween characters, this book could easily become a year-round favorite.


The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Picture Book

Ages 4 to 8

By Linda Williams

Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

32 pages



When the little old lady is followed home by an empty pair of shoes, she tells them, “I’m not afraid of you!” Soon a pair of pants, then a shirt, and a pumpkin head joins them, and they’re all following her! The little old lady is still not afraid, and after rounding them all up, she has a lovely scarecrow for her garden. Lloyd’s bright, colorful folk art is a perfect complement to this spooky story with a funny ending.


Dragon’s Halloween

Early Reader

Ages 4-8

By Dav Pilkey

48 pages



This is another one of my favorite Halloween books. It contains three tales about Dragon and his Halloween adventures: “Six Small Pumpkins,” “The Costume Party” and “The Deep Dark Woods.” Dragon is one of my favorite early reader characters. He’s sweet, funny, adorable and endearing. The stories are wonderful and the art is irresistibly delightful.


Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Halloween

Activity Book

Ages 6 to 12

By Ed Emberly

32 pages

LB Kids


Ed Emberly leads young and aspiring artists, shape by shape, through the steps to drawing spooky characters and scenes. A great book for the family to share.


Little Monsters Cookbook

Activity Book

Ages 6-12

By Zac Williams

64 pages

Gibs Smith


Features thirty recipes for Halloween, or anytime kids want a spooky snack. Some of the recipes are simple and others more complicated to accommodate a range of ages. Large colorful photographs accompany all the recipes in this spiral-bound (genius!) cookbook.


The House with a Clock in its Walls

Middle Reader

Ages 8-13

By John Bellairs

179 pages



(Originally published in 1973)

John Bellairs (1938-1991) was an amazing storyteller who wrote adventurous tales of terror. This is the first book in the Lewis Barnavelt series. After Lewis’s parents die, he goes to live with his uncle in an old, large mansion full of secret passageways. The previous owner of the house was an evil wizard who planted a clock inside its walls, counting down to the end of the world. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock begins ticking even faster.


Halloween Tree

Young Adult

Ages 10 to 16

By Ray Bradbury

160 pages



(Originally published in 1972)

In this eerie tale set on Halloween, eight costumed boys are lead through time and space by Mr. Moundshroud. While searching for their friend Pipkin, who was swept up by a dark something, the boys get a glimpse of how other, sometimes ancient, cultures celebrated this time of year.

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