Five on Friday: Halloween Picture Books

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October is hands down my favorite month of year and it’s all because of my favorite holiday, Halloween. So for this month’s Five on Friday, I chose five of my favorite Halloween picture books (plus one board book) to share with you. Click on the book title to go to the catalog.


Pick a Pumpkin – Patricia Toht

Going to a pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin and carve it into a jack o’lantern is one Halloween tradition I always look forward to. This delightful picture book has beautiful, vibrant art and rhythmic text perfect for reading aloud. It’s a fun celebration of every step in creating the perfect jack o’lantern on Halloween night.



The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything – Linda Williams

little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, a tall black hat, and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her. This isn’t very Halloween specific except for the jack o’lantern head, but I like the interactive aspect of this book; kids can nod, wiggle, and clap along with all the creepy disembodied clothes following her through the woods.



I Spy Spooky Night – Walter Wick

Rhyming verses instruct readers to find hidden objects on each page. I remember poring over the wonderfully detailed and spooky photographs in this fun Halloween addition to the classic picture book series.



Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is the funniest book about monsters you’ll ever find. Older kids will probably understand the references better, however, but these illustrated poems are still a delight to read out loud and even the pictures have funny little Easter eggs hidden…or whatever the Halloween version of an Easter egg is. I loved the running joke about the Phantom of the Opera having a song stuck in his head. The follow-up, Frankenstein Takes the Cake, is just as great.



Mother Ghost – Rachel Kolar

As you might be able to guess from the title, this book adapts common nursery rhymes into spooky ones! I think “Twinkle, Twinkle, Lantern Jack” and “Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary” were my favorites.



And as a bonus, I have to mention Dracula: A Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams. It’s not technically about Halloween and it’s a board book besides, but it’s adorably spooky and perfect for Halloween. She has an entire series of these primers with classic literature, so if Frankenstein is your literary monster of choice, she has that as well!

And that’s it for this month! I hope you check out some of these picture books the next time you’re looking for some spooky fun books. Be sure to check back in November, same bat time, same bat channel for the next Five on Friday.

Miss Jessica



Banned Books Week


What is Banned Books Week? The American Library Association started Banned Books Week to bring attention to censorship and celebrate our freedom to read and write whatever we want, even if some people don’t like what you choose.

Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. (2)

It may seem like a thing of the past, but books are still being banned and challenged today. A ban is the removal of books from the library because they object to it. A challenge is when someone tries to remove or restrict these books.

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The world is a huge and diverse place, with lots of different beliefs, religions, ideologies, cultures, and viewpoints. You won’t agree with all of them, and that’s okay! According to the statistics collected by the American Library Association, most challenges come from parents wanting to remove books that they believe should not be available to not only their own children, but other people’s children too. These parents fear that these books will teach their children about topics they don’t want them to know, whether it is language they believe is inappropriate, sexuality, different religious viewpoints, or other people or beliefs that they would prefer their children not know about. But ultimately, fear prevents important learning opportunities, no matter what side of the issue you are on.

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Instead, try reading banned books with your kids and explain your thoughts about the content. Talk to your children about why some people are unhappy with the book and discuss why you do (or do not) agree with them. Books can be excellent teaching tools for the lessons and values you want to pass on to your children.

Stop by the Children’s department to see our Banned Books Week display and take one home! You can find out more about Banned Books Week here, and find other banned or challenged titles from the ALA’s lists of most challenged books by year.

Miss Jessica


Review: Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker



From the publisher:

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.


I admit, I was skeptical by the premise of this book. Scary stories…for animals? Young animals? But I like foxes, and I like scary stories, so I was willing to give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did, because this book was a hit for me. Scary stories for kids are tricky; most standard horror fare is not kid-friendly, but young readers will protest at anything that’s not scary enough. So I have to give kudos to Christian McKay Heidicker for coming up with the perfect solution by making all of the characters (save one surprisingly familiar human antagonist) animals. The threats to our adorable fox kit characters are both realistic and scary, including hunters’ traps, badgers, and in my personal favorite of the stories, rabies. I was almost immediately attached to our two main characters, Uly and Mia, and rooted for them to overcome the terrifying trials that threaten them. I also really liked the framing of the story, where seven fox kits are listening to these scary stories that build on one another. After each story, one kit is too frightened to continue and goes home, but the rest beg the elderly storyteller to know what happens next.

I will warn you that Heidicker doesn’t pull any punches and is realistic about the brutality of nature. Some animals do die. Some family members are cruel. Not everyone gets a happy ending. But, as the publisher recommends, if you/your child enjoys Coraline, Goosebumps, The Night Gardener, or The Graveyard Book, then they are sure to enjoy Scary Stories for Young Foxes. Ages 10 and up, highly recommended.

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica


Five on Friday: Literacy Link Round Up

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Happy Friday! I’ve got another link round-up for you for this month’s Five on Friday, including helpful tips, movie read-alikes, and debates on the relevance of Holden Caulfield.

  1. It’s no secret that kids today are busier than ever. Here are some expert tips to keep them reading.
  2. It’s never too soon to start reading to your child, even if they haven’t been born yet! Book Riot has some interesting information about what your baby can hear and suggestions for what to read to your baby in utero.
  3. Check out these Read-Alikes for children’s movies coming out this fall! This list includes books similar to Abominable, The Addams Family, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
  4. Move over, Jay Gatbsy: Debates about back-to-school reading lists have come up around the internet. What books do you think should be added to the high school canon?
  5. There’s a new Wayside School book on the way! Louis Sachar announced that for the first time since 1995, he has written a new book for the Wayside School series. I remembering loving these when I was a kid and they are still popular today, so I can’t wait to see what comes next. Wayside School: Beneath the Cloud of Doom will be out in March of 2020.

And that’s all for this month’s Five on Friday! I hope you all enjoy checking out what’s going on in the kidlit world. Be sure to check back in October, same bat time, same bat channel for the next 5 on Friday.

Miss Jessica


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell was the book to read when I was in grade school. Just seeing the cover now is enough to bring back fond memories of Scholastic book fairs and poring over the creepy illustrations, half-scared and half-fascinated. Clearly I wasn’t the only one, as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark remains popular to this day. First published in 1981, each book in the trilogy follows a simple formula: several short stories of the strange and supernatural written in a fairly straightforward voice, similar to the style of the Hook Man and similar urban legends told around campfires or sleepovers for decades.

As popular as it’s been, it hasn’t been without its controversy. The American Library Association lists Scary Stories as the most banned or challenged book throughout the ’90s and it still made it to the top ten for the early 2000s.

As a lifelong fan of the strange, the unusual, and the spooky, needless to say I was thrilled to hear that a movie adaptation of the series was being made. Released on August 9, the studio’s release reads “It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind…but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time-stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying tome.”

It is rated PG-13, so it may not be appropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers, but it is likely to appeal to middle grade fans of the book series. Check out the trailer here. And if you just can’t get enough of Alvin Schwartz, there was also a documentary about him and his Scary Stories released back in March. It doesn’t look like it’s available on DVD or Netflix yet, but you can find it on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu. 

Miss Jessica


Fortnite Books


With its combination of the excitement of shooters and the creativity and construction of sandbox games like Minecraft, Fortnite has taken the video game world by storm and it doesn’t seem like its popularity is letting up anytime soon. These books full of tips and tricks will help readers become the last one standing in the Battle Royale, plus an art book if they want to learn how to draw their favorite characters.



Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Advanced Strategies – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Secrets of the Island – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : The Unofficial Gamer’s Guide – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Building Strategies – Jason R. Rich

The Fortnite Guide to Staying Alive: Tips and Tricks for Every Kind of Player – Damien Kuhn

Official Fortnite Battle Royale Survival Guide

Unofficial How to Draw Fortnite for Kids : Learn to Draw 40 of Your Favorite Fortnite Heroes by Andrew Howell

An Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters : An Unofficial Guide for Battle Royale – Jason R. Rich

An Unofficial Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters : ATK Driving Techniques, Challenges, and Stunts – Jason R. Rich

Miss Jessica


Spooky Series!

There’s something about summertime that always puts me in the mood for spooky stories. Maybe I’m just gearing up for autumn and Halloween early? Or maybe it’s the rolling thunder and cracks of lightning during summer storms that remind me of mad scientists and haunted houses. If you’re also looking for some beach reads that tend towards the spooky and spine-chilling, then any of these series are sure to satisfy your kiddo for awhile. These short, illustrated chapter books are perfect for those who are just branching out into chapter books on their own. All of the links go to the first book in the series.


Ghost Detectors – Dotti Enderle

Monster Hunters – Jan Fields

Graveyard Diaries – Baron Specter

Eerie Elementary – Jack Chabert

The Notebook of Doom – Troy Cummings

Lucky 8 – Lea Taddonio

A Deadly Fall – Rich Wallace

Scream Street – Tommy Donbavand

Ursula’s Funland – Johanna Gohmann

Miss Jessica