It’s easy to see Halloween just around the corner, with decorations appearing all over our neighborhoods. Readers can embrace the season, too. Older children who enjoy a little spooky surprise in their stories have some great choices, with everything from Dr. Seuss characters to witches and ghosts.
Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears A Boo!, opens a new window by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Tom Brannon
When Horton the elephant hears a strange “Boo!” one night, he doesn’t know what it is, and the sound scares him. He goes around asking his friends if they made the noise, but it hasn’t come from any of them. As he asks them, the sound continues, now scaring not only Horton but all his friends, too. They join together to find out where the sound is coming from, wandering deep into a cave filled with scary shadows. Once in the cave, they discover the source of the sound is not scary at all, but another friend needing help.
I Will Read to You, opens a new window by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Charles Santoso
It’s time for a little boy to go to bed, but he doesn’t want to stop his climbing and exploring. To get him to quiet down, his mother promises to read to him. The little boy asks for a spooky story. His mother is skeptical, but he talks her into it. As they read, the little boy hears howls, thumps, growls, and hoots outside. Are the stories his mother is telling him about scary beasts true? He begins to worry about these creatures and who tucks them in at night. Taking his mother by the hand, they go outside and through the woods, with the boy calling to the creatures to not be afraid. As he calls the vampires, skeletons, ghosts, and goblins, they gather around him, and he tells them he will read to them. The creatures settle in and the little boy reads them a story until they all fall asleep.
If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja, opens a new window by Ana Siqueira, illustrated by Irena Freitas
If your new babysitter shows up with a black hat and a broom, she might be a witch. Beware if you try to trick her, and she catches you; she may make you take a bath. But you know the solution to that: splash her with water! But when the babysitter bruja makes you delicious treats and lets you wear her hat, you start to think you may have misjudged her. This bruja must be a good witch, because she gently puts you to bed with a sweet goodnight (or is it a spell?).
No Such Thing, opens a new window by Ella Bailey
In October, Georgia notices strange things happening. Objects are not where she put them, and sometimes they completely disappear. Some of these happenings were easy to figure out, like when the cat knocked down a vase from the counter, or when her friend borrowed her colored pens without permission. And the spooky shapes at night… Those are just tricks of the light. Georgia is very good at explaining away these strange things, but what if there really is something more spooky involved?
Witch & Wombat, opens a new window by Ashley Belote
Wilma, a witch in training, has been looking forward to the day when she gets her cat. A cat is a witch’s constant companion, and Wilma thinks longingly about how she and her cat will ride on brooms together, and how her cat will be by her side as she casts spells and brews potions. When Wilma goes to the Beast Buddies Pet Store to pick up her cat, she is dismayed to be told they are all out and instead, they have a wombat for her. A wombat? Wombats are nothing like cats, and Wilma is immediately nervous about how the kids at school will react, so she tries to disguise her wombat to look like a cat. None of the kids are fooled, and Wilma is embarrassed. But when the wombat goes missing, Wilma discovers she may be more fond of the funny animal than she realized.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.