Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween! Ten spooky sizzlers designed to make your little ones squeal with delight!

We love Halloween and though we're not much on Trick or Treating, we do love to nestle down in All Hallows Eve with a good spooky book or ten.

So here are ten favourites that err on the dark side of the street.

Teaming up for a breathtakingly original book, Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen's sublime "The Dark" is the story of Laszlo, a little boy who lives in a big draughty house.

When Laszlo's night light breaks one evening, The Dark seizes the opportunity to steal into Laszlo's room.

But Laszlo isn't scared - he knows where the dark comes from, and knows just how to make the darkness go away.

It's inventive stuff, a well deserved Book of the Week when it first appeared on the blog and a book that we always read and re-read around Halloween - breaking out the croakiest whispering voice for The Dark itself.

"The Dark" by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen is published by Orchard Books. 


Darkness is a recurring theme in the spookiest children's books and another classic also crops up in our top ten with darkness as a character...

Ella Burfoot's "Darkness Slipped In" features a much more mischievous dark who visits a young girl's room one evening.

This particular darkness might look scary and spooky but young Daisy isn't the least bit scared. She invites him in for tea and cakes, and for a spooky halloween dance!

We weren't sure whether this one was a mite too disturbing and nightmarish when we first reviewed it, but it's gone on to become a real fave now Charlotte is a lot older.

"Darkness Slipped In" by Ella Burfoot is published by Macmillan Children's Books. 

This may be a relatively new book on the blog but we were instantly impressed with how spooky this book is...

Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem "The Raven" is brought to stunning life in this new adaptation, with David Pelham and Christopher Wormell literally making a book that leaps out at you from the shelf.

It's a 3D papercraft tour de force in a pop-up version of the poem full of chilling rhymes and of course equally chilling spring-out-and-nip-your-nose bits that are so deliciously crafted, that you can't help wondering if that tapping at the window pane is just a branch, or the dark cawing bird itself!

Utterly divine book engineering coupled with Poe's verse really should see this become an instant halloween classic for wee ones who love a chilling tale.

"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, David Pelham and Christopher Wormell is out now, published by Abrams Books. 


Slightly more light hearted but still a great spooky read...

"The Deep Dark Wood" by Algy Craig Hall and Ali Pye is a neatly spooky twist on a well-loved favourite.

Down in the wood, little red riding hood innocently trips along the dark paths, off to granny's house for a visit.

Naturally the dark creatures of the wood are keeping a close eye on her - including a big nasty wolf.

But who is actually the REAL menace in the woods? This book keeps the twist right until the end but it's so beautifully delivered that we couldn't help but laugh out loud!

"The Deep Dark Wood" by Algy Craid Hall and Ali Pye is published by Orchard Books. 

Book Number 5? Are you still alive? Keep reading as there's more brilliance to come!

Talented actress Evangeline Lilly teams up with a creative genius from the award-winning WETA Workshop team for a twisted tale with a difference.

In "The Squickerwonkers" a rather spoilt little girl meets her comeuppance in a rather horrible way, but does she deserve her dark fate? As she watches a stage show by a group of puppets, the rhymes hide their true intention - to show the girl a lesson she'll never forget - for she will join their terrifying troupe!

We loved this when we reviewed it, surprised to find that a celebrity-penned book could be so brilliantly original and spooky. Quirky illustrations also lend the whole thing a Gaiman-esque air of menace so it's a perfect little chiller of a book to share this evening!

"The Squickerwonkers" by Evangeline Lilly and Johnny Fraser-Allen is published by Titan Books. 

We're over the halfway mark, so what's at number six in our halloween list-me-do?

A glorious modern telling of classic Hans Christian Andersen tales comes from the hugely talented duo known as Metaphrog.

"The Red Shoes and Other Tales" starts off with the titular tale, presented here in its original form - a darkly delicious moral tale of a young girl whose avaricious love of a pair of amazing new shoes leads to her ultimate undoing.

There's only one way to stop those shoes from dancing away with you! EEEEK!

Presented here with several other dark tales from Andersen's stories, Metaphrog's brilliant graphic novel treatment of the stories are absolutely perfect to share out loud as this evening's torchlit spooky storytimes begin.

"The Red Shoes and Other Tales" by Metaphrog is published by Papercutz. 

Sticking with brilliant graphic novels, here's a witchy tale full of magic and mighty girls...

"Maddy Kettle - The Adventure of the Thimblewitch" by Eric Orchard is a fantastic action-packed adventure full of originality and invention.

Maddy's parents are always telling her to be careful, but one day when dad brings home an amazing floating singing toad, Maddy's life takes a dark turn for the worse. Goblins invade and her mum and dad end up being turned into mice by a nefarious dark entity known as The Thimblewitch.

Maddy has no choice but to track down the witch to her lair, to demand that the spell is lifted!

Whimsical and brilliant, this is the sort of comic adventure that we love recommending to folk who think comics are daft.

"Maddy Kettle - The Adventure of the Thimblewitch" is published by Top Shelf Books. 

Book Numbero HUIT next...so what else can we chill you to the bone with?

(See what we did there?)

Ten Spooky Skeletons by Garry Parsons is a great little counting book for tiny tiddlers.

It's full of skeleton antics as children count up to ten along with the craziest gang of bony dudes you've ever seen in your life.

Special mention to the book that glows gently in the dark, perfect for reading by torchlight!

You can find our original review of this fun toddler-friendly book here.

"Ten Spooky Skeletons" by Garry Parsons is published by Caterpillar Publishing.


Number 9 is looking just fine, let's dip into the deep dark book bag for just two more...

We couldn't possibly miss this fella out, it's one of our favourite picture books of all time.

"The Bear Under the Stairs" by Helen Cooper is a spooky tale though not really linked with Halloween.

In the book, a young boy imagines that a rather gruff grizzly bear lives in the under-stairs cupboard (must be a bit of a squeeze for Harry Potter when he comes to stay!). Is the bear really in the boy's mind?

Helen Cooper playfully works awesome bear-shapes into her illustrations (you'll have as much fun spotting them as you will reading the story). It's utterly brilliant and one of those books we love introducing folk to.

"The Bear under the Stairs" by Helen Cooper is published by Picture Corgi.

Last one, let's see what we've got next...

This one completely took us by surprise when we first reviewed it. A stunningly illustrated and hugely original dark tale of a mysterious hotel, a pair of perfect villains and a little boy who just wants to be happy.

"Warren the 13th and the All Seeing Eye" by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle is a brilliant spooky read for older kids - perfect for fans of "The Addams Family" and other cool ghoulish stuff.

Poor Warren's uncle and aunt - his guardians -  are completely hopeless, leaving Warren to run their hotel mostly by himself.

Warren soon discovers that the hotel holds deep dark secrets, and his Aunt seems to know more about them than she's letting on. When her sisters also turn up to stay, things go from bad to worse for Warren. Will a new-found ally help him discover the hotel's hidden depths before it's far too late?

Quirkily brilliant - well it would be - "Warren the 13th and the All Seeing Eye" is published by Quirk Books. 

Have a fantastic halloween - and stay safe!



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