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NEW BOOKS, REPRINTINGS CAN PUT THRILLS AND CHILLS IN HALLOWEEN

SHARE NEW BOOKS, REPRINTINGS CAN PUT THRILLS AND CHILLS IN HALLOWEEN

Sometimes there are few new and original books to share at Halloween time. Not so this year. What is enticing about this selection, both recent and reprintings, is that they will be fun to share all year long, not just for this autumn holiday.

THE WIDOW'S BROOM by Chris Van Allsburg. 1992. Houghton Mifflin. $17.95.Everyone is pleased when a new Van Allsburg book appears. His dozen award-winning picture books ("Jumanji" and "Polar Express" are both Newbery medal winners) are well-known and loved by readers of all ages.

"The Widow's Broom" is one of Van Allsburg's best in both text and illustration. Its striking size, 131/2x81/2, and overall sepia-toned illustrations are a big draw, but the intriguing story with its mystical ending has a powerful punch.

When the witch's broom loses its power of flight and dumps the rider in Widow Shaw's garden, it takes on a new verve and intent. Widow Shaw teaches it to sweep, chop wood and "play the piano well, considering that it struck just one note at a time . . . "

The innocent and hardworking broom becomes the talk of the village, a fearful thing for the Spivey family and other neighbors who tie it to a stake and burn it to ashes.

The next night it returns, white as snow, "circling . . . tapping the axe lightly at the Spivey's door." The Spiveys flee the village and the widow continues to enjoy the company of the talented broom.

What Van Allsburg hasn't done - consistent with his other books that leave the reader to develop a solution - is tell how the broom retains its powerful force.

The illustrations are glorious with highlights, details and shadows in each masterful full and two-page spread. One scene of the witch is like a portrait with folded expressive hands shown at an angle to make her facial features startlingly beautiful.

"The Widow's Broom" will be a book for sharing time and time again.

THE GREAT PUMPKIN SNATCH by Megan McDonald. Illustrations by Ted Lewin. 1992. Orchard Books. $14.95.

This picture book - a story told by a grandfather - is an extension of the author/artist's "The Potato Man" in a time and setting of much reminiscence. When the two boys accidentally break Rosie's prize-winning pumpkin, a replacement is made and a happy ending occurs.

JEB SCARECROW'S PUMPKIN PATCH by Jana Dillon. Houghton Mifflin. 1992. $14.95.

A child scarecrow protects the family pumpkin patch from marauding crows. The cartoon-style characters of Mommo and Daddo and Jeb are all delightful, and the original storyline will please children aged 3-7.

THE GHOST OF WHISPERING ROCK by Nancy K. Robinson. Holiday House, 1992. $13.95.

This is a short-chapter book about two 9-year-olds and their competition in telling the spookiest ghost story.

MAGGIE AND AND THE BOGEY BEAST Retold by Valerie Scho Carey. Illustrated by Johanna Westerman. Arcade. 1992. $14.

When an old English tale is combined with enchanting new illustrations like these, a good read-aloud book is achieved. The magical powers of Maggie are fun, even when she meets the terrible Bogey.

The publisher lists this for age 4-8, but I think it is best for those who don't think the bogeyman looms in the closet or under the bed. My suggestion is to save this for `sophisticated' middle readers who can handle the shadows and suspense.

The following books could really "trouble your sleep:"

THE MAGIC WOOD Poem by Henry Treece. Paintings by Barry Moser. HarperCollins. 1992. $14.

Treece (1912-66) was an acclaimed poet, novelist and anthropologist who lived in England. This poem, "The Magic Wood" is a spooky verse, to say the least:

The wood is full of shining eyes,

The wood is full of creeping feet,

The wood is full of tiny cries:

You must not go into the woods at night!"

From black end-paper to black end-paper and the shaded blue paintings on black paper in between, Moser has set the tone for a spine-tingler!

For an evening of pure terror, "The Magic Wood" could be combined with SCARY STORIES 3: MORE TALES TO CHILL YOUR BONES, folklore collected and retold by Alvin Schwartz. (HarperCollins); THE SCARY BOOK compiled by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson (Morrow); THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN RIDES TONIGHT: MORE POEMS TO TROUBLE YOUR SLEEP by Jack Prelutsky (Mulbery) and THE WEDDING GHOST BY Leon Garfield/Charles Keeping (Oxford).

Marilou Sorensen is an associate professor of education at the University of Utah specializing in children's literature.