Regardless of the origins and meanings behind Halloween, we just love the excitement and playfulness, and dare I say – innocence – behind this spooky and oftentimes, gory festival! And for little ones, dressing up, crafty decorations, and sweets make it one of the best events of the year. Today I’ll share some devilishly fun and oh-so-sweet Halloween picture books perfect for pre-schoolers to get their teeth (fangs!) stuck in to…
Is It Halloween Yet? by Susannah Chambers and Tamsin Ainslie is a tale of disguise; a story underneath another where the ‘hidden’ truth finally reveals itself much to the surprise of an oblivious, but understandably busy Mum. The dialogue between the little girl, Emily, and her Mum takes us on a ‘tricky’ path contrasting the heightened eagerness for Halloween to arrive, and the gentle dismissiveness of any festival preparations. “Mum, can we make a jack-o’-lantern?” “We don’t have any pumpkins, pumpkin.” Vampire bats or fruit bats? White cats or black? Squishy eyeballs and leaving your little brother alone! Readers will absolutely devour Tamsin Ainslie’s gorgeous, energetic pencil and watercolour illustrations and absorb the witty, highly revealing and warming atmosphere in this lively home environment with one ultra-keen trick-or-treater and her loving, supportive family. All the while Emily is asking Mum, ‘is it Halloween yet?’ and deciding on whether she should dress up as a unicorn princess, a superhero, or a kitten, her guise becomes unravelled (whilst Mum is wrapped up!) and the little girl has played the ultimate trick (and treat) for all to enjoy. A deliciously sweet and funny story of independence, family, and all the goodness of Halloween that preschool-aged children can explore, and plan for, to liven up their kooky, spooky festivities. Enclosed with a bat origami instruction sheet as well!
Allen&Unwin, September 2019.
In the Dead of the Night is a ghoulishly entrancing tale of overcoming fears when a ‘TAP. TAP. TAP’ is enough to frighten even the greatest spooky-monster cadet. Arthur McBain writes a spirited rhyming text that will have readers hanging on to the edge of their seats as we are, STEP by STEP, steadily walked through a suspenseful walk to the tapping-offender. Whether it be a sock-ravenous beast, or a horn-wielding monster under her bed, a vampire looking for prey, or a Lily-engrossed ghost, this little girl must be courageous and protect her younger brother despite despising the dead of the night. But who’s scared of what, and who’s doing all that tapping? A thrilling and amusing story, with the most heart-warming ending to boot, all enlightened with deep and rich illustrations by Tom Knight that show off shadows and angles (and bold-looking expressions) to suck the readers right in to the action. Children from age four will cheer for the banishing of ghouls and will be sure to surrender to re-living the nighttime suspense over and over again.
Little Hare Books, October 2019.
When a star turns into a supernova, it becomes extremely bright. This is the story of a bright young star called Nova who has the whole family fooled, all except one – her bigger brother. And it’s perfect for Halloween because of its underlying themes in bravery – especially when it comes to defeating sharp teeth-gnashing, slimy tentacle-oozing and creepy eye-balling aliens from another planet. Author Krys Saclier sweeps us up in the mysterious problem-solving adventure leading to an explosive finale, whilst Rebecca Timmis’s aptly bright and bold illustrations tease with delightful clues and sneaky secrets to uncover from start to end. Super Nova is science fiction / chemistry / comedy / heart-warming all rolled into one. Space-lovers from age four will believe this tale is out of this world!
Ford Street Publishing, October 2019.
Wolves are scary, right?! Especially werewolves howling under the light of the moon and frightening all the townsfolk. Well, in this awesomely non-scary fractured fairy-tale, there’s no denying who the scary ones are, and it’s not who you think. Although, the name, ‘The Quite Nice Wolf’ might give away some clues… Kitty Black and Laura Wood (quite suitable names for a story like this!) charm their readers in Who’s Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf? with their endearing and ravishing combination of exuberant text and strong storytelling illustrations. The other wolves in the Wolf Pack tease Wilfred for his gentle, helpful and vegetarian ways, attempting to enlist him as the bold and fearsome recruit that he should be. However, breaking all stereotypes, Wilfred dreams of becoming a hair stylist, or a vet for baby chickens, or even writing poetry for the Queen, rather than attacking sheep as predictably planned. Turning the ‘BIG BAD WOLF’ on its head, it’s now the ‘FEARSOME, BOLD and SCARY’ sheep, led by the courageous Wilfred in a hi-jinxing, charging rampage against the pesky Wolf Pack. Lots of fun and lessons on being a leader and not submitting to the stereotypes, as well as friendship, kindness and loyalty, this tale will open the minds and hearts of all its readers from age three and up.
New Frontier Publishing, September 2019.
Reviews by Romi Sharp.