Saturday, October 30, 2010


Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends at Halloween: Candlewick SparksAlphaOops: H is for HalloweenBones
Here are three good new Halloweenish books to help celebrate a holiday most beloved by children.

Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends at Halloween
By Megan McDonald
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Candlewick Press, 44 pages
$14.99, ages 7 to 10

This charming early chapter book tells the tale of two pals working to come up with a complementary pair of Halloween costumes. Ant has decided their usual pilgrim garb is too boring and itchy. They run  through a series of ideas then come up with a brilliant one - a washer and dryer. A creative frenzy ensues, with cardboard boxes, cotton balls, toilet paper, ketchup and a pilgrim dress all put to use.

The third and last chapter - Trick or Treat - is laugh-out-loud funny as Ant and Honey Bee try to walk in their big boxes and their friends guess what they are. "A pair of dice." "Two chunks of Swiss cheese." "A couple of ice cubes." Ant and Honey Bee are frustrated – and to make matters worse it starts to rain.
They decide to go to their friend Cricket's house and as they are walking up the front steps, they discover that the rain has turned their cardboard costumes into a perfect beehive and anthill.
Whimsical illustrations by the talented G. Brian Karas complement a terrific  story that celebrates friendship, creativity and resilience.

ALPHA OOPS! H Is for Halloween
By Alethea Kontis
Illustrated by Bob Kolar
Candlewick Press, 32 pages
$15.99, ages 4 to 8

This sequel to AlphaOops!: The Day Z Went First revisits a theatrical troupe made up of letters who can't seem to keep themselves straight. This time the show is about Halloween and the letters dramatize word such as "witch," "vampire" and "goblin." But "a" for "apple" can't go on stage first because in a Halloween show, "H" must be the star of the show.  After that, it's hard to make sense of who and what will appear on stage next.

But youngsters will love it all, as illustrated with vivid digital art by Bob Kolar, and with humor and interest added by side dialogue from the letters.

By Steve Jenkins
Scholastic, 32 pages
$16.99, ages 7 to 10

"Bones: Skeletons and How They Work" isn't strictly a Halloween book, but Steve Jenkins is one of the finest of all nonfiction book creators for younger children and I try not to miss a chance to let people know about him. (One favorite: Actual Size.) His illustrations are cut or torn paper and they are astounding in their beauty and ability to capture their subjects. His prose is simple, yet vivid and packed with fascinating information, just right for its intended audience.

Bones is a visual look at human and animal skeletons. Some spreads lay out various skeletal parts side-by-side, making it clear how an arm or forelimb, for example, is adapted to how a creature uses it. Another spread takes one bone, the femur, and explains why in a bird it is thin and hollow and in land animals it is often the longest bone in the body. Three exceptionally cool foldouts show an entire python skeleton; many skulls compared, and a human skeleton – after first showing every human bone unassembled. And there's much more.

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