SALT LAKE CITY — We're over halfway through October, which means it's high time to whip out your favorite Halloween tales. We've compiled a list of clever new stories that will become instant classics — like one of our favorites, "How to Scare a Ghost" — but also kept room for familiar stories like "Go Away, Big Green Monster" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Cozy up with a cup of cider and ring in Halloween with these not-too-spooky stories!
"DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS," by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Jorge Gutierrez, Simon & Schuster, 22 pages, 2-4 years (nf)
"Día de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead" will educate and entertain children about Mexico's most immortal holiday. Author Hannah Eliot doesn't skimp on any detail of this ancient tradition that honors loved ones who have passed on — she includes dreamy descriptions of pan de muertos, flor de muertos and decorative skulls made of sugar. The colorful and vibrant illustrations of detailed altars, painted skeletons and draping papercuttings, drawn by Emmy Award-winning animator Jorge Gutierrez, will enchant kids and parents alike. As if that's not enough, children will leave with a sweeping vocabulary, knowing words such as "ofrendas," "artesanías" and "papel picado."
"HOW TO SCARE A GHOST," by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish, Random House Children's book, 32 pages, 4-8 years (f)
Your favorite "How to" duo (author Jean Reagan and illustrator Lee Wildish are creators of New York Times' bestselling book "How to Babysit a Grandpa") is back for a clever tutorial on all things ghostly. It's the children here who educate readers on essential "how to's" concerning ghosts, including: how to attract a ghost, how to tell if a ghost is real, how to play with a ghost, how to trick-or-treat with a ghost, and of course, how to scare a ghost. This fun-filled story will entertain kids from start to finish and they'll especially appreciate that ghosts are only visible to kids and cats — not grown-ups! Paired with expressive, bright illustrations and a ghost that feels more like a friend than a foe, this story is the perfect way to kick off spook season.
"LOTS OF CATS," written and illustrated by E. Dee Taylor, HarperCollins Publishers, 4-8 years (f)
What happens when a lonely little witch brews up a potion to make friends? She gets cats instead — lots of cats. But having all these cats is no easy task for Margaret. It is "a lot of food, a lot of poop, a lot of hair and a lot of mess," the narrator tells. After wishing her furry friends away, Margaret quickly regrets it and musters up "kooky-ooky-mooky" spells to bring them back. But it's author and illustrator E. Dee Taylor's vibrant color pencil illustrations that make this story fly off the page. Each intricate and expansive illustration will put readers in a trance, from Margaret's striking magenta carpet to the peach hues of sunsets to kaleidoscopic puffs of smoke. This Halloween tale will remind kids to be careful what they wish for.
"GO AWAY, BIG GREEN MONSTER!" by Ed Emberley, Little, Brown and Company, 32 pages, 4-8 years (f)
Ed Emberley's classic and Caldecott Medal-winner "Go Away, Big Green Monster" is back on bookshelves as it celebrates its 25 year anniversary with over 1 million copies sold. This interactive picture book gives kids the chance to face their fears head on as they turn each die-cut page to see the colorful monster evolve and disappear before their eyes. They're encouraged to yell, "You don't scare me!" and witness each hair, tooth and eye of the monster fade. Emberley lets the power reside with the kids in this timeless tale, and what better time to quiet their nightmare jitters than Halloween?
"BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER," based on the series by Joss Whedon, illustrated by Kim Smith, Quirk books, 40 pages, 4-8 years (f)
Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" jumps off the screen and onto the page in this action-packed picture book starring the show's beloved characters: Buffy, Willow and Zander. After giving a good ol' roundhouse kick to a vampire, Buffy explains in the book that she wasn't always so brave. The book takes children on a journey as it helps them master their biggest fear: monsters in the closet. What Buffy discovers is that our fears aren't as scary as they appear and perhaps the monsters are the ones who are more afraid of us. Illustrator Kim Smith's characters are likeable and bright, making use of detailed shadows to intensify the scenes and reel readers in.