It’s fun to get a little scared on Halloween, and here are some scares appropriate for little kids and big kids.
It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Yes, this is “An If You Give… Book,” as in, if you give the world a successful book, they’re going to want another. But this breaks the mold of the other Numeroff books and is a delightful board book about emotions. Mouse has seven pumpkins to decorate, and he gives them all kinds of faces: happy, sad, surprised… But one of Mouse’s pumpkins goes missing. Dog has painted a scary face on it! What’s great about this scary face is that it’s actually a little bit scary, but just the right scare factor for a toddler to recognize the emotion without freaking out. Ozzie’s been loving this book, and shouts “SCARY PUMPKIN!” when we get to that part. Spoiler: the scary pumpkin is followed up by some friendly ones, leaving the book on a happy note.
AlphaOops! H Is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis
I picked this one up at Comic Con when a quick thumb through of the pages revealed some of my favorite monsters: Y is for Yeti. Z is for Zombie. K is for Kraken. L is for Lycanthrope!!! (Sorry to overuse exclamation points, but dude, lycanthrope.) The premise of this alphabet book is that there is a Halloween show, and these are the antics of the letters in costume. There’s a great running joke through the book that B can’t find a costume that hasn’t already been taken. B sees P as a Pirate, but B wanted to be a Buccaneer. Y has Yeti, but B wanted to be Bigfoot. Don’t worry. There’s a happy ending for B that’s perfect for Halloween.
Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask by R. L. Stine
When you’re too old to be spooked by Scooby Doo but too young for Stephen King, there’s the world of Goosebumps. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Goosebumps, Scholastic released the first ever Goosebumps hardcover edition. The thing that’s effectively scary about Goosebumps is that it’s stuff that happens to kids, and they have to deal with their fear alone. Wanted: The Haunted Mask reads a bit like a short story collection in four parts, but they all weave together in the end. In part one, we’re introduced to the Haunted Mask. An elderly man is a mask maker who takes great pride in his work. His brother shows up with hideously ugly masks, forcing one on the man, thus cursing him with this awful mask. You see, the mask latches onto your face and won’t let go. It consumes your emotion, making you destructively evil. In this gruesome beginning, the man rips off the mask, taking his face with it. He has the wherewithal to hide the mask in an attic trunk before bleeding to death in the closet.
Cut to part two and 40 years later. Lu-Ann, a 12-year-old girl, likes telling stories and playing jokes with her friends. When they go to a lame Halloween party at their friend Polly’s house, they set off in search of something to liven up the party and end up in the attic. You can see where this is going, right? Yes, Lu-Ann puts on the mask, even being warned by the man/skeleton/ghost in the closet. The good news is that she doesn’t rip her face off. No, she’ll be needed in part three.
In part three, Lu-Ann’s friend Devin had to miss the party because his dad leased a pumpkin farm for the season and Devin had to go help out. But something’s off about this farm. Could it be that it was built on top of a graveyard without moving the bodies? (Could you still call that organic?) The pumpkins are imbued with the evil spirits of the dead, and only Devin can see that they’re out to get him. Lu-Ann’s story and Devin’s story intertwine, and then we’re left with an extra little bit of creepy back at Polly’s house in part four.
Goosebumps is for ages eight and up, but be warned: it’s genuinely scary. And awesome in that classic spookfest kind of way.
I received a review copy of It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse, and an advanced review copy of Goosebumps, which means I haven’t actually laid my hands on the hardcover version but I bet it’s cool.
More Halloween Books: