It’s trick-or-treat time again, but we’ve got something better than candy—a roundup of the season’s creepiest new books! Readers, beware: Nothing says “boo” like the spooky titles below.
TOO MANY TREATS
A madcap Halloween adventure featuring two supernatural siblings, The Sweetest Witch Around by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss is the irresistible follow-up to the duo’s best-selling book, A Very Brave Witch. It’s Halloween, and young Witchling listens dutifully as big sis urges her not to be afraid of humans in spite of their odd ways, like the strange tradition of trick-or-treating. “Candy is gross,” says big sis. Witchling samples some, thinks otherwise, and hops on her broom in hopes of scoring more. She falls in with a group of costumed kids and collects a brimming hatful. Big sis tracks her movements and soon retrieves her, but the trip home by broom proves precarious. Witchling’s haul of treats is too heavy! Forced to abandon the candy or crash, they toss it overboard. Back home, big sis sees her sibling in a new light, admiring her pluck and sense of daring. Bliss’ trademark ink-and-watercolor illustrations are filled with not-to-be overlooked details, like Witchling’s EZ-Bake Cauldron and Graveyard Barbie. This is a sweet treat from start to finish.
A TERRIFYING TRANSFORMATION
Edgar Dreadbury, the protagonist of Keith Graves’ ingenious book, The Monsterator, is a bit of a creep. A pampered lad who’s lord of the Dreadbury manse—an unwelcoming gray pile that has all the makings of a haunted house—he has a seen-it-all attitude toward Halloween and its requisite dress-up ritual. “I wish I could be something screamingly scary,” he says. On a quest for fresh ways to be frightening, he happens upon a store with a strange machine and, following the instructions on its exterior, inserts a coin. Inside the contraption, Edgar morphs from boy to monster, a transformation that’s complete—he sports horns, fangs and a tail—and, as Edgar soon learns, permanent. Appropriately enough, every day is now Halloween for the Dreadbury boy, who’s pleased indeed with his monster makeover and takes singular delight in terrorizing trick-or-treaters. Graves’ brilliant acrylic-paint illustrations have a classic yet creepy quality, and there’s a scary surprise at the end for readers, who can make their own monsters with pages that flip. Frightening fun!
A clever coming-of-age story and sweet celebration of the season, Little Boo, by Stephen Wunderli, is the tale of a not very scary, really rather adorable pumpkin seed who can’t wait to grow up. Little Boo was born ready to unleash his inner Jack-o’-lantern. As a young seed anxious to reach his full, frightening potential, he tries—and inevitably fails—to spook his garden companions. “Boo!” he says, addressing a bug, who doesn’t blink an eye. “Boo!” he exclaims to a snowflake, who smiles in response. And so it goes, though the four seasons, until sufficient time has passed, and Boo at last achieves pumpkin status. As a full-fledged Jack-o’-lantern placed in a prime spot on the porch, he proudly sends his ghoulish glow out into the world. Tim Zeltner’s swirling acrylic and glaze illustrations, executed on plywood, capture the spirit of the most mischievous night of the year. Boo is the perfect companion for little tricksters, but Halloween lovers of all ages will fall for this festive story.